WEEK 13 |
OTHER did not get back to her writing all that day, for the red-jerseyed hound whom the children had brought to Three Chimneys had to be put to bed. And then the Doctor came, and hurt him most horribly. Mother was with him all through it, and that made it a little better than it would have been, but "bad was the best," as Mrs. Viney said.
The children sat in the parlour downstairs and heard the sound of the Doctor's boots going backwards and forwards over the bedroom floor. And once or twice there was a groan.
"It's horrible," said Bobbie. "Oh, I wish Dr. Forrest would make haste. Oh, poor Jim!"
"It is horrible," said Peter, "but it's very exciting. I wish Doctors weren't so stuck-up about who they'll have in the room when they're doing things. I should most awfully like to see a leg set. I believe the bones crunch like anything."
"Don't!" said the two girls at once.
"Rubbish!" said Peter. "How are you going to be Red Cross Nurses, like
you were talking of coming home, if you
can't even stand hearing me say
about bones crunching? You'd have to hear them crunch on the field of
battle—and be steeped in gore up to the elbows as likely as not,
"Stop it!" cried Bobbie, with a white face; "you don't know how funny you're making me feel."
"Me, too," said Phyllis, whose face was pink.
"Cowards!" said Peter.
"I'm not," said Bobbie. "I helped Mother with your rake-wounded foot, and so did Phil—you know we did."
"Well, then!" said Peter. "Now look here. It would be a jolly good thing for you if I were to talk to you every day for half an hour about broken bones and people's insides, so as to get you used to it."
A chair was moved above.
"Listen," said Peter, "that's the bone crunching."
"I do wish you wouldn't," said Phyllis. "Bobbie doesn't like it."
"I'll tell you what they do," said Peter. I can't think what made him so horrid. Perhaps it was because he had been so very nice and kind all the earlier part of the day, and now he had to have a change. This is called reaction. One notices it now and then in oneself. Sometimes when one has been extra good for a longer time than usual, one is suddenly attacked by a violent fit of not being good at all. "I'll tell you what they do," said Peter; "they strap the broken man down so that he can't resist or interfere with their doctorish designs, and then someone holds his head, and someone holds his leg—the broken one, and pulls it till the bones fit in—with a crunch, mind you! Then they strap it up and—let's play at bone-setting!"
"Oh, no!" said Phyllis.
But Bobbie said suddenly: "All right—let's! I'll be the doctor, and Phil can be the nurse. You can be the broken boner; we can get at your legs more easily, because you don't wear petticoats."
"I'll get the splints and bandages," said Peter; "you get the couch of suffering ready."
The ropes that had tied up the boxes that had come from home were all in a wooden packing-case in the cellar. When Peter brought in a trailing tangle of them, and two boards for splints, Phyllis was excitedly giggling.
"Now, then," he said, and lay down on the settle, groaning most grievously.
"Not so loud!" said Bobbie, beginning to wind the rope round him and the settle. "You pull, Phil."
"Not so tight," moaned Peter. "You'll break my other leg."
Bobbie worked on in silence, winding more and more rope round him.
"That's enough," said Peter. "I can't move at all. Oh, my poor leg!" He groaned again.
"Sure you can't move?" asked Bobbie, in a rather strange tone.
"Quite sure," replied Peter. "Shall we play it's bleeding freely or not?" he asked cheerfully.
"You can play what you like," said Bobbie, sternly, folding her arms and looking down at him where he lay all wound round and round with cord. "Phil and I are going away. And we shan't untie you till you promise never, never to talk to us about blood and wounds unless we say you may. Come, Phil!"
"You beast!" said Peter, writhing. "I'll never promise, never. I'll yell, and Mother will come."
"Do," said Bobbie, "and tell her why we tied you up! Come on, Phil. No,
I'm not a beast, Peter. But you wouldn't stop when we asked you
"Yah," said Peter, "it wasn't even your own idea. You got it out of Stalky!"
Bobbie and Phil, retiring in silent dignity, were met at the door by the Doctor. He came in rubbing his hands and looking pleased with himself.
"Well," he said, "that job's done. It's a nice clean fracture, and it'll go on all right, I've no doubt. Plucky young chap, too—hullo! what's all this?"
His eye had fallen on Peter who lay mousy-still in his bonds on the settle.
"Playing at prisoners, eh?" he said; but his eyebrows had gone up a little. Somehow he had not thought that Bobbie would be playing while in the room above someone was having a broken bone set.
"Oh, no!" said Bobbie, "not at prisoners. We were playing at setting bones. Peter's the broken boner, and I was the doctor."
"I was the nurse," put in Phyllis cheerfully.
The Doctor frowned.
"Then I must say," he said, and he said it rather sternly, "that's it's
a very heartless game. Haven't you enough imagination even to faintly
picture what's been going on upstairs? That poor chap, with the drops
of sweat on his forehead, and biting his lips so as not to cry out, and
every touch on his leg agony
"You ought to be tied up," said Phyllis; "you're as bad
"Hush," said Bobbie; "I'm sorry, but we weren't heartless, really."
"I was, I suppose," said Peter, crossly. "All right, Bobbie, don't you go on being noble and screening me, because I jolly well won't have it. It was only that I kept on talking about blood and wounds. I wanted to train them for Red Cross Nurses. And I wouldn't stop when they asked me."
"Well?" said Dr. Forrest, sitting down.
"Well—then I said, 'Let's play at setting bones.' It was all rot. I knew Bobbie wouldn't. I only said it to tease her. And then when she said 'yes,' of course I had to go through with it. And they tied me up. They got it out of Stalky. And I think it's a beastly shame."
He managed to writhe over and hide his face against the wooden back of the settle.
"I didn't think that anyone would know but us," said Bobbie, indignantly answering Peter's unspoken reproach. "I never thought of your coming in. And hearing about blood and wounds does really make me feel most awfully funny. It was only a joke our tying him up. Let me untie you, Pete."
"I don't care if you never untie me," said Peter; "and if that's your
idea of a
"If I were you," said the Doctor, though really he did not quite know what to say, "I should be untied before your Mother comes down. You don't want to worry her just now, do you?"
"I don't promise anything about not saying about wounds, mind," said Peter, in very surly tones, as Bobbie and Phyllis began to untie the knots.
"I'm very sorry, Pete," Bobbie whispered, leaning close to him as she fumbled with the big knot under the settle; "but if you only knew how sick you made me feel."
"You've made me feel pretty sick, I can tell you," Peter rejoined. Then he shook off the loose cords, and stood up.
"I looked in," said Dr. Forrest, "to see if one of you would come along to the surgery. There are some things that your Mother will want at once, and I've given my man a day off to go and see the circus; will you come, Peter?"
Peter went without a word or a look to his sisters.
The two walked in silence up to the gate that led from the Three Chimneys field to the road. Then Peter said:
"Let me carry your bag. I say, it is heavy—what's in it?"
"Oh, knives and lancets and different instruments for hurting people. And the ether bottle. I had to give him ether, you know—the agony was so intense."
Peter was silent.
"Tell me all about how you found that chap," said Dr. Forrest.
Peter told. And then Dr. Forrest told him stories of brave rescues; he was a most interesting man to talk to, as Peter had often remarked.
Then in the surgery Peter had a better chance than he had ever had of examining the Doctor's balance, and his microscope, and his scales and measuring glasses. When all the things were ready that Peter was to take back, the Doctor said suddenly:
"You'll excuse my shoving my oar in, won't you? But I should like to say something to you."
"Now for a rowing," thought Peter, who had been wondering how it was that he had escaped one.
"Something scientific," added the Doctor.
"Yes," said Peter, fiddling with the fossil ammonite that the Doctor used for a paper-weight.
"Well," said the Doctor, "you know men have to do the work of the world and not be afraid of anything—so they have to be hardy and brave. But women have to take care of their babies and cuddle them and nurse them and be very patient and gentle."
"Yes," said Peter, wondering what was coming next.
"Well then, you see. Boys and girls are only little men and women. And
we are much harder and hardier than they
"I should think not, indeed," muttered Peter, indignantly.
"Not even if she's your own sister. That's because girls are so much softer and weaker than we are; they have to be, you know," he added, "because if they weren't, it wouldn't be nice for the babies. And that's why all the animals are so good to the mother animals. They never fight them, you know."
"I know," said Peter, interested; "two buck rabbits will fight all day if you let them, but they won't hurt a doe."
"No; and quite wild beasts—lions and elephants—they're immensely gentle with the female beasts. And we've got to be, too."
"I see," said Peter.
"And their hearts are soft, too," the Doctor went on, "and things that we shouldn't think anything of hurt them dreadfully. So that a man has to be very careful, not only of his fists, but of his words. They're awfully brave, you know," he went on. "Think of Bobbie waiting alone in the tunnel with that poor chap. It's an odd thing—the softer and more easily hurt a woman is the better she can screw herself up to do what has to be done. I've seen some brave women—your Mother's one," he ended abruptly.
"Yes," said Peter.
"Well, that's all. Excuse my mentioning it. But nobody knows everything without being told. And you see what I mean, don't you?"
"Yes," said Peter. "I'm sorry. There!"
"Of course you are! People always are—directly they understand. Everyone ought to be taught these scientific facts. So long!"
They shook hands heartily. When Peter came home, his sisters looked at him doubtfully.
"It's Pax," said Peter, dumping down the basket on the table. "Dr. Forrest has been talking scientific to me. No, it's no use my telling you what he said; you wouldn't understand. But it all comes to you girls being poor, soft, weak, frightened things like rabbits, so us men have just got to put up with them. He said you were female beasts. Shall I take this up to Mother, or will you?"
"I know what boys are," said Phyllis, with flaming cheeks; "they're just
"They're very brave," said Bobbie, "sometimes."
"Ah, you mean the chap upstairs? I see. Go ahead, Phil—I shall put
up with you whatever you say because you're a poor, weak, frightened,
"Not if I pull your hair you won't," said Phyllis, springing at him.
"It's so goody-goody," said Phyllis, doubtfully; "he said we were female
beasts, and soft and
"Then let's show him we're not frightened of him thinking us goody-goody," said Bobbie; "and we're not any more beasts than he is."
And when Peter came back, still with his chin in the air, Bobbie said:
"We're sorry we tied you up, Pete."
"I thought you would be," said Peter, very stiff and superior.
This was hard to bear.
"Well, so we are," said Bobbie. "Now let honour be satisfied on both sides."
"I did call it Pax," said Peter, in an injured tone.
"Then let it be Pax," said Bobbie. "Come on, Phil, let's get the tea. Pete, you might lay the cloth."
"I say," said Phyllis, when peace was really restored, which was not till they were washing up the cups after tea, "Dr. Forrest didn't really say we were female beasts, did he?"
"Yes," said Peter, firmly, "but I think he meant we men were wild beasts, too."
"How funny of him!" said Phyllis, breaking a cup.
"May I come in, Mother?" Peter was at the door of Mother's writing room, where Mother sat at her table with two candles in front of her. Their flames looked orange and violet against the clear grey blue of the sky where already a few stars were twinkling.
"Yes, dear," said Mother, absently, "anything wrong?" She wrote a few more words and then laid down her pen and began to fold up what she had written. "I was just writing to Jim's grandfather. He lives near here, you know."
"Yes, you said so at tea. That's what I want to say. Must you write to him, Mother? Couldn't we keep Jim, and not say anything to his people till he's well? It would be such a surprise for them."
"Well, yes," said Mother, laughing, "I think it would."
"You see," Peter went on, "of course the girls are all right and all that—I'm not saying anything against them. But I should like it if I had another chap to talk to sometimes."
"Yes," said Mother, "I know it's dull for you, dear. But I can't help it. Next year perhaps I can send you to school—you'd like that, wouldn't you?"
"I do miss the other chaps, rather," Peter confessed; "but if Jim could stay after his leg was well, we could have awful larks."
"I've no doubt of it," said Mother. "Well—perhaps he could, but you know, dear, we're not rich. I can't afford to get him everything he'll want. And he must have a nurse."
"Can't you nurse him, Mother? You do nurse people so beautifully."
"That's a pretty compliment, Pete—but I can't do nursing and my writing as well. That's the worst of it."
"Then you must send the letter to his grandfather?"
"Of course—and to his schoolmaster, too. We telegraphed to them both, but I must write as well. They'll be most dreadfully anxious."
"I say, Mother, why can't his grandfather pay for a nurse?" Peter suggested. "That would be ripping. I expect the old boy's rolling in money. Grandfathers in books always are."
"Well, this one isn't in a book," said Mother, "so we mustn't expect him to roll much."
"I say," said Peter, musingly, "wouldn't it be jolly if we
all were in
a book, and you were writing it? Then you could make all sorts of jolly
things happen, and make Jim's legs get well at once and be all right
to-morrow, and Father come home soon
"Do you miss your Father very much?" Mother asked, rather coldly, Peter thought.
"Awfully," said Peter, briefly.
Mother was enveloping and addressing the second letter.
"You see," Peter went on slowly, "you see, it's not only him being Father, but now he's away there's no other man in the house but me—that's why I want Jim to stay so frightfully much. Wouldn't you like to be writing that book with us all in it, Mother, and make Daddy come home soon?"
Peter's Mother put her arm round him suddenly, and hugged him in silence for a minute. Then she said:
"Don't you think it's rather nice to think that we're in a book that God's writing? If I were writing the book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right—in the way that's best for us."
"Do you really believe that, Mother?" Peter asked quietly.
"Yes," she said, "I do believe it—almost always—except when I'm so sad that I can't believe anything. But even when I can't believe it, I know it's true—and I try to believe. You don't know how I try, Peter. Now take the letters to the post, and don't let's be sad any more. Courage, courage! That's the finest of all the virtues! I dare say Jim will be here for two or three weeks yet."
For what was left of the evening Peter was so angelic that Bobbie feared he was going to be ill. She was quite relieved in the morning to find him plaiting Phyllis's hair on to the back of her chair in quite his old manner.
It was soon after breakfast that a knock came at the door. The children were hard at work cleaning the brass candlesticks in honour of Jim's visit.
"That'll be the Doctor," said Mother; "I'll go. Shut the kitchen door—you're not fit to be seen."
But it wasn't the Doctor. They knew that by the voice and by the sound of the boots that went upstairs. They did not recognise the sound of the boots, but everyone was certain that they had heard the voice before.
There was a longish interval. The boots and the voice did not come down again.
"Who can it possibly be?" they kept on asking themselves and each other.
"Perhaps," said Peter at last, "Dr. Forrest has been attacked by highwaymen and left for dead, and this is the man he's telegraphed for to take his place. Mrs. Viney said he had a local tenant to do his work when he went for a holiday, didn't you, Mrs. Viney?"
"I did so, my dear," said Mrs. Viney from the back kitchen.
"He's fallen down in a fit, more likely," said Phyllis, "all human aid despaired of. And this is his man come to break the news to Mother."
"Nonsense!" said Peter, briskly; "Mother wouldn't have taken the man up into Jim's bedroom. Why should she? Listen—the door's opening. Now they'll come down. I'll open the door a crack."
"It's not listening," he replied indignantly to Bobbie's scandalised remarks; "nobody in their senses would talk secrets on the stairs. And Mother can't have secrets to talk with Dr. Forrest's stable-man—and you said it was him."
"Bobbie," called Mother's voice.
They opened the kitchen door, and Mother leaned over the stair railing.
"Jim's grandfather has come," she said; "wash your hands and faces and then you can see him. He wants to see you!" The bedroom door shut again.
"There now!" said Peter; "fancy us not even thinking of that! Let's have some hot water, Mrs. Viney. I'm as black as your hat."
The three were indeed dirty, for the stuff you clean brass candlesticks with is very far from cleaning to the cleaner.
They were still busy with soap and flannel when they heard the boots and the voice come down the stairs and go into the dining-room. And when they were clean, though still damp—because it takes such a long time to dry your hands properly, and they were very impatient to see the grandfather—they filed into the dining-room.
Mother was sitting in the window-seat, and in the leather-covered
arm-chair that Father always used to sit in at the other house
THEIR OWN OLD GENTLEMAN!
"Well, I never did," said Peter, even before he said, "How do you do?" He was, as he explained afterwards, too surprised even to remember that there was such a thing as politeness—much less to practise it.
"It's our own old gentleman!" said Phyllis.
"Oh, it's you!" said Bobbie. And then they remembered themselves and their manners and said, "How do you do?" very nicely.
"This is Jim's grandfather,
"How splendid!" said Peter; "that's just exactly like a book, isn't it, Mother?"
"It is, rather," said Mother, smiling; "things do happen in real life that are rather like books, sometimes."
"I am so awfully glad it is you," said Phyllis; "when you think of the tons of old gentlemen there are in the world—it might have been almost anyone."
"I say, though," said Peter, "you're not going to take Jim away, though, are you?"
"Not at present," said the old gentleman. "Your Mother has most kindly consented to let him stay here. I thought of sending a nurse, but your Mother is good enough to say that she will nurse him herself."
"But what about her writing?" said Peter, before anyone could stop him. "There won't be anything for him to eat if Mother doesn't write."
"That's all right," said Mother, hastily.
The old gentleman looked very kindly at Mother.
"I see," he said, "you trust your children, and confide in them."
"Of course," said Mother.
"Then I may tell them of our little arrangement," he said. "Your Mother, my dears, has consented to give up writing for a little while and to become a Matron of my Hospital."
"Oh!" said Phyllis, blankly; "and shall we have to go away from Three Chimneys and the Railway and everything?"
"No, no, darling," said Mother, hurriedly.
"The Hospital is called Three Chimneys Hospital," said the old gentleman, "and my unlucky Jim's the only patient, and I hope he'll continue to be so. Your Mother will be Matron, and there'll be a hospital staff of a housemaid and a cook—till Jim's well."
"And then will Mother go on writing again?" asked Peter.
"We shall see," said the old gentleman, with a swift, slight glance at Bobbie; "perhaps something nice may happen and she won't have to."
"I love my writing," said Mother, very quickly.
"I know," said the old gentleman; "don't be afraid that I'm going to try to interfere. But one never knows. Very wonderful and beautiful things do happen, don't they? And we live most of our lives in the hope of them. I may come again to see the boy?"
"Surely," said Mother, "and I don't know how to thank you for making it possible for me to nurse him. Dear boy!"
"He kept calling 'Mother, Mother,' in the night," said Phyllis. "I woke up twice and heard him."
"He didn't mean me," said Mother, in a low voice to the old gentleman; "that's why I wanted so much to keep him."
The old gentleman rose.
"I'm so glad," said Peter, "that you're going to keep him, Mother."
"Take care of your Mother, my dears," said the old gentleman. "She's a woman in a million."
"Yes, isn't she?" whispered Bobbie.
"God bless her," said the old gentleman, taking both Mother's hands, "God bless her! Ay, and she shall be blessed. Dear me, where's my hat? Will Bobbie come with me to the gate?"
At the gate he stopped and said:
"You're a good child, my dear—I got your letter. But it wasn't needed. When I read about your Father's case in the papers at the time, I had my doubts. And ever since I've known who you were, I've been trying to find out things. I haven't done very much yet. But I have hopes, my dear—I have hopes."
"Oh!" said Bobbie, choking a little.
"Yes—I may say great hopes. But keep your secret a little longer. Wouldn't do to upset your Mother with a false hope, would it?"
"Oh, but it isn't false!" said Bobbie; "I know you can do it. I knew you could when I wrote. It isn't a false hope, is it?"
"No," he said, "I don't think it's a false hope, or I wouldn't have told you. And I think you deserve to be told that there is a hope."
"And you don't think Father did it, do you? Oh, say you don't think he did."
"My dear," he said, "I'm perfectly certain he didn't."
If it was a false hope, it was none the less a very radiant one that lay warm at Bobbie's heart, and through the days that followed lighted her little face as a Japanese lantern is lighted by the candle within.
T he old legends say that the Teutons who invaded Britain were opposed most valiantly by Arthur, a British king. Tales of his valiant deeds were told over and over again, and new ones were often added. By and by they were put into book form by one Thomas Malory, and it is from this that Tennyson took the stories that he made into the splendid verse of his Idylls of the King.
These stories say that after the death of Arthur's father, King Uther, the little boy was brought up by one Sir Ector and was called his son. When Arthur had grown old enough to be a squire, the throne of Britain became vacant. In the churchyard there was seen a great stone, wherein was an anvil. In the anvil was a sword, and about it was written in letters of gold, "Whoso pulleth this sword from this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of all England." Many tried to lift the sword, but Arthur was the only one who succeeded. Therefore he was made king, and he swore that he would rule justly and truly all the days of his life.
Arthur and the enchanter Merlin rode one day by a broad lake, and afar out in the midst of the lake an arm clad in white samite—a rich cloth like satin—rose from out the water and held up a fair sword. Then came the Lady of the Lake moving upon the water. "Enter into yonder barge," she said, "and row to the sword and take it and the scabbard." So it was that King Arthur found his magic sword Excalibur, which so often helped him to overcome his enemies in battle.
The barons wished the king to take a wife, and Merlin asked, "Is there any fair lady that you love better than another?" "Yes," the king replied, "I love Guinevere. She is the gentlest and fairest lady that I know living." The father of Guinevere consented joyfully to the marriage, and as her dowry he sent the famous Round Table which King Uther had given him long before, with one hundred knights, brave and true. Then Arthur rejoiced. He welcomed Guinevere and he sought out twenty-eight knights of his own to sit at the Round Table, and it was found that by some magic the name of each knight had been written upon his seat, or siege, in letters of gold; but on one seat, called the Siege Perilous, there was none.
The Court of King Arthur
The bravest of these knights was Lancelot, but they were all strong and valiant. They jousted, they avenged maidens in distress, and they punished all wrongdoing that came to their ears. They were brave and true, but no one of them had dared to place himself in the Siege Perilous. At last there came to Arthur's court a fair and pure youth named Galahad, and when the silken cloth was lifted from the Siege Perilous, behold, upon it was written, "This is the seat of Galahad."
One evening, when every knight sat in his place, a cracking was heard and the sound of thunder, and a sunbeam seven times brighter than day was seen, and in the sunbeam was the Holy Grail, the cup from which the Blessed Christ drank at the Last Supper. But it was veiled with white samite, so that none might see it. Thereupon most of the knights took vows that they would search the world over till the glorious vision of the Grail should come to them. It was a long and almost hopeless search. Even the pure Sir Galahad made many journeys in vain, but at last he had a vision of the Holy Cup. Then a multitude of angels bore his soul to heaven, and never again has the Grail been seen upon the earth.
The Three Queens Mourning Over King Arthur
At length, King Arthur was sorely wounded in battle, and he knew that the time had come for him to die. "Cast my sword Excalibur into the water of the lake," he bade Sir Bedivere, his companion, "and come again and tell me what you have seen." And when Sir Bedivere had thrown the sword, there rose from the water an arm clad with white samite. The hand took the sword and both sword and arm vanished beneath the waters. Then came close to the shore a barge, and in it was King Arthur's sister with two other queens and many fair ladies in waiting. The king was laid softly into the barge, and Sir Bedivere went away into the forest to weep.
In the morning, he came upon a chapel wherein was a tomb by which a hermit was praying. The hermit told Sir Bedivere that the man who was buried in the tomb had been brought there by some ladies at midnight. Then the faithful knight knew that it was the tomb of his king, and by it he abode all the days of his life, fasting and praying for the soul of his lord, King Arthur.
WEEK 13 |
H ENRY VIII. had three children. They were called Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward.
Edward was the son of Lady Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife, and was the youngest of the three. But for several reasons he was made King.
Edward was only nine years old and his uncle, Lord Somerset, was made Regent or Protector. Lord Somerset was not a strong man and did not rule well. He wished to be powerful and tried to make himself King in all but name. His brother, Thomas Seymour, also wanted to rule, so there were plots and quarrels between them and between the other great nobles.
Although Henry VIII. had quarrelled with the Pope he never became a Protestant, nor did he wish the religion of the country to be changed. But Lady Jane Seymour had been a Protestant and so was her brother who was now Protector. Edward VI. had been brought up in the new religion and although he had very little power, he wanted the country to become Protestant.
But this was not the wish of the whole people. Many of them did not like the new English service which the King ordered to be used in the churches. It was like a Christmas game, they said, and they asked for the old Latin service called the Mass to which they were accustomed.
When Henry VIII. shut up the monasteries he brought great distress on the poor in many ways. He gave some of the monastery land to his friends, and these gentlemen, growing greedy, began now to add to their possessions by enclosing with fences the common lands, which before had been free to every one. The poor had been allowed to feed their cows and sheep on these common lands but now that they were enclosed by fences, the sheep and cows died from hunger, and the poor people were worse off than ever.
Those who had been turned out of the monasteries were all Roman Catholics. They were now homeless and went among the people telling them that all their sorrows were because of the change of religion. At last the people rose in rebellion, many of them hardly knowing why, but only feeling that they were very unhappy. But the rebellion was soon crushed and the ringleaders put to death.
It is told how the Provost Marshal wrote to one man, the Mayor of Bodmin, who was known to have been one of the leaders, saying that he was coming to dinner. The mayor was very glad, thinking that he was not to be punished for his share in the riots. He made ready a splendid dinner and received the provost and his friends with great politeness.
"Mr. Mayor," said the provost, "I have to hang a man in the town after dinner. Will you have a gallows set up?"
The mayor gave the order to the hangman and then they sat down to dinner. They were all very gay and merry and, when the meal was over, the provost took the mayor by the arm, saying cheerfully, "Come now, let me see these gallows."
The mayor led him to where they were set up.
"Do you think they are strong enough?" said the provost.
"Oh yes," replied the mayor, "I can assure your lordship they are quite strong enough."
"Very well," said the provost, "you shall go up and try, for you are the man that is to be hanged."
"You do not mean that, my lord, you are joking," said the mayor.
"Nay, but I do mean it," said the provost. "Up you get, you have been a busy rebel and now here is your reward."
And in spite of all he could say the poor mayor was hanged upon his own gallows.
But the people rose again and again. One of the chief
rebellions was under a man called Ket. He was a tanner. A
great many people gathered round him, and they camped near
Norwich on a plain, in the centre of which stood a great oak
tree. This tree they called the Oak of Reformation, and
under its branches Ket held his Parliament and Court,
deciding quarrels, making laws, and punishing
Ket encouraged his followers to pull up the hedges, throw down the fences, and fill up the ditches with which the common lands had been surrounded. Otherwise they behaved in a wonderfully orderly manner. They did indeed steal sheep and cattle from the rich gentlemen round so that they might have plenty to eat in the camp. But Ket ordered his men not to hurt any honest or poor people. He called himself the King's friend, and said he fought only against the wicked lords who gave him bad advice.
For some time the Protector did nothing and Ket's army grew larger and larger. Lord Somerset was sorry for the people. He knew that they were very poor, and felt that they were badly treated. Yet he knew, too, that he ought to do something to put down the rebellion.
At last a royal herald came. Dressed in his coat embroidered
with the arms of England, he stood under the Oak of
Reformation and blew his trumpet, and, while the people
gathered round to listen, he cried, "All ye good subjects of
Many of them would have done this but Ket said, "No. Pardon is for rebels. We are no rebels. We are the true subjects of the King and only wish to prevent him from being evilly advised." So he would not go home.
The Protector had gathered an army, intending to make war on Scotland, and this army he now sent against Ket and his men. There was a good deal of fighting. Many people on both sides were killed, the town of Norwich was taken and retaken, but in the end Ket was defeated. He and his brother were made prisoners with many of their followers. They were put to death, and nine of the chief rebels were hanged upon the branches of the Oak of Reformation.
As time went on, the quarrelling among the nobles grew worse. The office of Protector was first taken from Somerset, and he was then beheaded. Many of the common people were sorry for this, because they believed that Somerset had really been their friend, and they loved him although the nobles hated him.
Lord Somerset was succeeded by the Duke of Northumberland. The Duke of Northumberland was also a Protestant, and he was quite as fond of power as Somerset had been, and began to make plans to get the crown of England into his hands.
Edward had never been strong, and Northumberland knew that
he was not likely to live long. The next heir to the throne
was Mary, Edward's elder sister. She was the daughter of
Katherine of Arragon, the first wife of
Northumberland knew this, and he persuaded Edward to make a will leaving the throne to his cousin, Lady Jane Grey. Of course Edward had no right to do this, but he did do it.
Lady Jane Grey was the great-granddaughter of
In 1553 A.D., soon after Edward had made his will, leaving the crown to his cousin, he died. He was a good and gentle boy, fond of books and learning. During his short reign many schools were founded. They still exist and are called King Edward Schools.
Edward was very anxious to do what was right, but like his
A CCORDING to the almanac March 21st is the last day of winter. The almanac is not always to be trusted—not for hay weather, or picnic weather, or sailing weather; but you can always trust it for March 21st weather. Whatever the weather man at Washington predicts about it, whatever comes,—snow, sleet, slush, rain, wind, or frogs and sunshine,—March 21st is the last day of winter.
The sun "crosses the line" that day; spring crosses with him; and I cross over with the spring.
Let it snow! I have had winter enough. Let the wind rage! It cannot turn back the sun; it cannot blow away the "equinoctial line"; it cannot snow under my determination to have done, here and now, with winter!
The sun crosses to my side of the Equator on the 21st
of March; there is nothing in the universe that can
stop him. I cross over the line with him; and there is
nothing under the sun that can stop me. When you want
it to be spring, if you have the sun on your side of
the line you can have spring. Hitching
your wagon to a star is a very great help in getting
along; but having the big sun behind
"When descends on the Atlantic
Storm-wind of the equinox"
is a tremendous help in ridding you of a slow and, by this time, wearisome winter, storm-wind and all.
Almanacs are not much to trust in; but if ever you prize one, it is on the 21st of March,—that is, if you chance to live in New England. Yet you can get along without the almanac—even in New England. Hang it up under the corner of the kitchen mantelpiece and come out with me into the March mud. We are going to find the signs of spring, the proofs that this is the last day of winter, that the sun is somewhere in the heavens and on this side of the equatorial line.
Almanac or no, and with all other signs snowed under, there are still our bones! Spring is in our bones. I cannot tell you how it gets into them, nor describe precisely how it feels. But, then, I do not need to. For you feel it in your bones too—a light, hollow feeling, as if your bones were birds' bones, and as if you could flap your arms and fly!
Only that you feel it more in your feet; and you will start and run, like the Jungle-folk, like Mowgli—run, run, run! Oh, it is good to have bones in your body, young bones with the "spring-running," in their joints, instead of the grit of rheumatism to stiffen and cripple you!
The roads are barely thawed. The raw wind is penetrating, and we need our greatcoats to keep out the cold. But look! A flock of robins—twenty of them, dashing into the cedars, their brown breasts glowing warm and red against the dull sky and the dark green of the trees! And wait—before we go down the hill—here behind the barn—no, there he dives from the telephone wire—Phœbe! He has just gotten back, and is simply killing time now (and insects too), waiting for Mrs. Phœbe to arrive, and housekeeping to begin.
Don't move! There in the gray clouds—two soaring, circling hen-hawks! Kee-ee-you! Kee-ee-you! Round and round they go, their shrill, wild whistle piercing the four quarters of the sky and tingling down the cold spine of every forest tree and sapling, stirring their life blood until it seems to run red into their tops.
For see the maple swamp off yonder—the ashy gray of the boles, a cold steel-color two thirds of the way toward the top, but there changing into a faint garnet, a flush of warmth and life that seems almost to have come since morning!
Let us go on now, for I want to get some watercress from the brook—the first green growing thing for the table thus far!—and some pussy-willows for the same table, only not to eat. (There are many good things in this world that are not good to eat.)
If the sun were shining I should take you by way of the beehives to show you, dropping down before their open doors, a few eager bees bringing home baskets of pollen from the catkins of the hazelnut bushes.
The hazelnut bushes are in bloom! Yes, in bloom! No, the skunk-cabbages are not out yet, nor the hepaticas, nor the arbutus; but the hazelnut bushes are in bloom, and—see here, under the rye straw that covers the strawberry-bed—a small spreading weed, green, and cheerily starred with tiny white flowers!
It is the 21st of March; the sun has crossed the line; the phœbes have returned; and here under the straw in the garden the chickweed,—starwort, —first of the flowers, is in blossom!
But come on; I am not going back yet. This is the last day of winter. Cold? Yes, it is cold, raw, wretched, gloomy, with snow still in the woods, with frost still in the ground, and with not a frog or hyla anywhere to be heard. But come along. This is the last day of winter—of winter? No, no, it is the first day of spring. Robins back, phœbes back, watercress for the table, chickweed in blossom, and a bird's nest with eggs in it! Winter? Spring? Birds' eggs, did I say?
The almanac is mixed again. It always is. Who's Who in the Seasons when all of this is happening on the 21st of March? For here is the bird's nest with eggs in it, just as I said.
Watch the hole up under that stub of a limb while I tap
on the trunk. How sound asleep! But I will wake them.
Climb up and take a peek at the eggs, but don't you dare to touch them! Of course you will not. I need not have been so quick and severe in my command; for, if we of this generation do not know as much about some things as our fathers knew, we do at least know better than they that the owls are among our best friends and are to be most jealously protected.
Climb up, I say, and take a peek at those round white eggs, and tell me, Is it spring or winter? Is it the last day, or the first day, or the first and last in one? What a high mix-up is the weather—especially this New England sort!
But look at that! A snowflake! Yes, it is beginning to snow—with the sun crossing the line! It is beginning to snow, and down with the first flakes, like a bit of summer sky drops a bluebird, calling softly, sweetly, with notes that melt warm as sunshine into our hearts.
"For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and
gone." But see how it snows! Yes, but
The willows gleam with silver light;
The maples crimson
The first faint streaks on winter's east,
Far-off and low.
The northward geese, with wingèd wedge,
Have split the frozen skies,
And called the way for weaker wings,
Where midnight lies.
To-day a warm wind wakes the marsh;
I hear the hylas peep
And o'er the pebbly ford, unbound,
The waters leap.
The lambs bleat from the sheltered folds;
Low whispers spread the hills:
The rustle of the spring's soft robes
The forest fills.
The night, ah me! fierce flies the storm
Across the dark dead wold;
The swift snow swirls; and silence falls
On stream and fold.
All white and still lie stream and
The winter dread and drear!
Then from the skies a bluebird flies
And—spring is here!
WEEK 13 |
N the morning some wandering coppersmiths were passing.
Mother Ambroisine had sold them the old kettle. Besides the
sale, they were to make over the lamp whose foot had melted
on the stove, and replate two saucepans. So the smiths
lighted a fire in the open air, set up their bellows on the
ground, and in a large round iron spoon melted the old lamp,
adding a little tin to replace what had been lost. The
melted metal was run into a mold, from which it came out in
the shape of a lamp. This lamp, still pretty large, was
fixed on the lathe which a little boy set in motion; and
while it turned, the master touched it with the edge of a
steel tool. The tin thus planed off fell in thin shavings,
rolled up like
Afterward they busied themselves plating the copper saucepans. They cleaned them thoroughly inside with sand, put them on the fire, and, when they were very hot, went over the whole of their surface with a tow pad and a little melted tin. Wherever the pad rubbed, the tin stuck to the copper. In a few moments the inside of the saucepan, red before, was now shiny white.
Emile and Jules, while eating their little lunch of apples and bread, looked on at this curious work without saying a word. They promised themselves to ask their uncle the reason for whitening the inside of the copper saucepans with tin. In the evening, accordingly, they spoke of the tinning and plating.
"Highly cleaned and polished iron is very brilliant," explained their uncle. "The blade of a new knife, Claire's scissors, carefully kept in their case, are examples. But, if exposed to damp air, iron tarnishes quickly and covers itself with an earthy and red crust called—"
"Rust," interposed Claire.
"Yes, it is called rust."
"The big nails that hold the iron wires where the
"This old knife I found in the ground is covered with it too."
"Those large nails and the old knife are encrusted with rust because they have remained for a long time exposed to the air and dampness. Damp air corrodes iron; it becomes incorporated with the metal and makes it unrecognizable. When rusty, iron no longer has the properties that make it so useful to us; it is a kind of red or yellow earth, in which, without looking attentively, it would be impossible to suspect a metal."
"I can well believe it," said Jules. "For my part, I should never have taken rust for iron with which air and moisture had become incorporated."
"Many other metals rust like iron; that is to say, they are converted into earthy matter by contact with damp air. The color of rust varies according to the metal. Iron rust is yellow or red, that of copper is green, lead and zinc white."
"Then the green rust of old pennies is copper rust," said Jules.
"The white matter that covers the nozzle of the pump must be lead rust?" queried Claire.
"Exactly. The prime difficulty with rust is that it makes metals ugly: they lose their brilliance and polish; but it works still greater injury. There are harmless rusts which might get mixed with our food without danger: such is iron rust. On the contrary, copper and lead rusts are deadly poisons. If, by mischance, these rusts should get into our food, we might die, or at least we should experience cruel suffering. We will speak only of copper, for lead, on account of its quick melting, cannot go on the fire and is not used for kitchen utensils. Copper rust, I say, is a mortal poison; and yet they prepare food in copper vessels. Ask Mother Ambroisine."
"Very true," said she, "but I always have my eye on my saucepans: I keep them very clean and from time to time have them replated."
"I don't understand," put in Jules, "how the work that the tinsmith did this morning could prevent the copper rust being a poison."
"The smith's work will not make the copper rust cease to be a poison," replied Uncle Paul, "but it will prevent the rust's forming. Of the common metals tin rusts the least. Exposed to the air a long time, it scarcely tarnishes. And then the rust, which forms in small quantities, is innocuous, like iron rust. To prevent copper from covering itself with poisonous green spots, to preserve it from rust, it must be kept from contact with damp air and also with certain alimentary substances such as vinegar, oil, grease—substances that provoke the rapid formation of rust. For this reason the copper saucepan is coated over with tin inside. Under the thin bed of tin which covers it, the copper cannot rust, because it is no longer in contact with the air. The tin remains; but this metal changes with difficulty, and, besides, its rust, if it forms any, is harmless. So they plate copper, that is to say they cover it with a thin bed of tin, to prevent its rusting, and thus to prevent the formation of the dangerous poison that might, some day or other, be mixed with our food.
"They also tin iron, not to prevent the formation of poison,
for the rust of this metal is harmless, but simply to
preserve it from changing and covering itself with ugly red
spots. This tinned iron is called
THE hero of this story was an Englishman. He came of a good old English family. His home was in London, and somewhere he learned to sail the seas. This much and little more is known of the early life of Henry Hudson.
When the events happened which make him stand out in history, he was already a man. And from all he dared to do, he must surely have been a brave, persevering man at that.
For a hundred years and more explorers of the new continent had been crossing and recrossing the Atlantic. And now colonists from England, Spain, Portugal, and France were following in their path to find new homes in America.
Important as the new land was, however, it could not claim all the attention of the commercial world. There was still the wealth of India, China, and Japan to be considered. If only these countries could be quickly reached by sea! Surely there must be some route shorter than sailing around the Cape of Good Hope or through the Straits of Magellan. There must be some other possible way of sending to the East ships filled with European products—ships that would come back loaded with savory teas, coffees, and spices. Such a route must be found.
But where to find it? That was the great question. Did it lie through the new continent or did it lie around the north of Europe? This last chance offered hopes of the shorter journey and therefore must be tried.
So reasoned the Dutch, so reasoned the English, and so reasoned England's navigator, Henry Hudson. And because of this reasoning, the first years of the seventeenth century twice saw him set sail for the north.
Many were the thrilling adventures which Hudson and his
men had on these two trips. No one had been so near the
In Holland at this time there was a famous company
known as the Dutch East India Company. In spite of all
the difficulties in their way, this company had
continually sent their ships to the East by way of the
It is easy to see that, with their trade already established, the Dutch had a special reason for wanting to discover such a route. The Dutch East India Company believed with Hudson that the shortest way to reach China was to sail north. So, although Hudson had twice failed, the Dutch East India Company urged him to make another effort, and this time to sail under their colors. This he agreed to do. And in 1609, the year following his second voyage, he went to Holland.
On April 4th, he set sail on the Zuyder Zee in a little
Dutch ship named the
A month later Hudson rounded the North Cape. But now trouble began. The sea was full of great blocks of ice. The cold was intense. It was hard to make any headway. Soon the sailors grew frightened and refused to go on. What was to be done under such conditions?
Now, it happened that Captain John Smith and Henry
Hudson were great friends; and not long before,
If there were a route to India to the north of Chesapeake Bay, why should not Hudson go in search of it, as long as his sailors would not sail any farther in the direction they had started?
Fired with this new plan, Hudson turned his ship about
and headed for America. On
Slowly he sailed along, always on the lookout for some
sign of the passage he sought, and little dreaming that
the continent he skirted stretched fully three thousand
miles to the west. On went the Dutch vessel until
Hudson judged, and correctly too, that he must be off
of Virginia. There was no chance of finding what he
sought here, according to
The 3d of September was a clear, bright day. The blue
sky, the gleaming waves, the swaying green forests
along the coast, made a picture not to be forgotten.
The little Dutch ship scudded along in the sunshine,
while, from her bow,
Then out from the shore glided light canoes. Their
After this first visit, the Indians came again and brought grapes, furs, pumpkins, and tobacco, which they gave the sailors for some knives and beads.
A few days later the Half Moon was again under sail, and Henry Hudson was cautiously making his way up the great river which now bears his name. All along the shores the red faces of curious Indians peered out through the trees. Some were friendly and glad to see the strange ship. Others shot arrows at the sailors.
Near the present site of Catskill a cordial old chief asked Hudson to go ashore. In the old chief's bark home Hudson was served with a great feast of wild pigeons and a fine dog, which was killed, skinned, and roasted while the guest waited. After the feast Hudson rose to return to his ship. The Indians were disappointed. They wanted the white man to stay until morning. How could they show him that he had nothing to fear? Suddenly one of their number jumped up, gathered all the arrows, and, breaking them in pieces, threw them on the fire. Hudson was touched by the act, but nevertheless did not accept the cordial invitation to remain.
By the time Hudson had sailed as far as Albany, the hope that he had found a water way to the Pacific had gradually faded away. Bitterly disappointed at finding the water growing so shallow that he feared to run his ship aground, he turned back and put to sea again. This was Henry Hudson's only visit to the Hudson River.
Many of Hudson's sailors, as well as the commander
himself, being Englishmen, the temptation to land at an
English port was too great to resist. On
The Dutch East India Company read the report most carefully, and then they sent for Hudson to meet them and talk the matter over.
But no! The English King would not listen to Hudson's
sailing again for the Dutch. If he could find a
northwest route to the East, he should find it for
England—not for Holland. So the little
Sailing farther north than on his last voyage, Hudson
this time entered the landlocked water which has ever
since been called
By the middle of November, his ship was frozen hard and fast in the ice. It was dreadfully cold, food was growing scarce, and the sailors were wishing they had stayed at home.
All winter and until the 18th of the next June the ice held. When it finally broke, the crew were determined to return to England at once. Hudson was just as determined to push on toward the west. All held firmly to their own opinion. The crew would not sail west, and Hudson would not turn back.
There was only one commander, and there were many sailors. So, being the stronger, the crew solved the question in their own way. Three days after the ice gave way they put Hudson, his son, and several sick men into the ship's open boat and set them adrift. Then the ship was faced about for home.
What became of Henry Hudson, what hardships he suffered, and how long his little open boat lived among the great blocks of floating ice, are things that will never be known. But it is doubtless true that the brave English mariner went down sooner or later in the icy waters of Hudson Bay.
Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat
You must have walked
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell!
I got your letter, and the birds';
The maples never knew
That you were coming, I declare,
How red their faces grew!
But, March, forgive me
And all those hills
You left for me to hue;
There was no purple suitable,
You took it all with you.
Who knocks? That April!
Lock the door!
I will not be pursued!
He stayed away a year, to call
When I am occupied.
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come,
That blame is just as dear as praise
And praise as mere as blame.
WEEK 13 |
S the last of his followers swept around the curving road and was lost to sight, Baron Conrad gave himself a shake, as though to drive away the thoughts that lay upon him. Then he rode slowly forward to the middle of the bridge, where he wheeled his horse so as to face his coming enemies. He lowered the vizor of his helmet and bolted it to its place, and then saw that sword and dagger were loose in the scabbard and easy to draw when the need for drawing should arise.
Down the steep path from the hill above swept the pursuing horsemen. Down the steep path to the bridge-head and there drew rein; for in the middle of the narrow way sat the motionless, steel-clad figure upon the great war-horse, with wide, red, panting nostrils, and body streaked with sweat and flecked with patches of foam.
One side of the roadway of the bridge was guarded by a low stone wall; the other side was naked and open and bare to the deep, slow-moving water beneath. It was a dangerous place to attack a desperate man clad in armor of proof.
"Forward!" cried Baron Henry, but not a soul stirred in answer, and still the iron-clad figure sat motionless and erect upon the panting horse.
"How," cried the Baron Henry, "are ye afraid of one man? Then follow me!" and he spurred forward to the bridge-head. But still no one moved in answer, and the Lord of Trutz-Drachen reined back his horse again. He wheeled his horse and glared round upon the stolid faces of his followers, until his eyes seemed fairly to blaze with passion beneath the bars of his vizor.
Baron Conrad gave a roar of laughter. "How now!" he cried; "are ye all afraid of one man? Is there none among ye that dares come forward and meet me? I know thee, Baron Henry! thou art not afraid to cut off the hand of a little child. Hast thou not now the courage to face the father?"
In the middle of the narrow way stood the motionless, steel-clad figure.
Baron Henry gnashed his teeth with rage as he glared around upon the faces of his men-at-arms. Suddenly his eye lit upon one of them. "Ha! Carl Spigler," he cried, "thou hast thy cross-bow with thee;—shoot me down yonder dog! Nay," he said, "thou canst do him no harm under his armor; shoot the horse upon which he sits."
Baron Conrad heard the speech. "Oh! thou coward villain!" he cried, "stay; do not shoot the good horse. I will dismount and fight ye upon foot." Thereupon, armed as he was, he leaped clashing from his horse and turning the animal's head, gave it a slap upon the flank. The good horse first trotted and then walked to the further end of the bridge, where it stopped and began cropping at the grass that grew beside the road.
"Now then!" cried Baron Henry, fiercely, "now then, ye cannot fear him, villains! Down with him! forward!"
Slowly the troopers spurred their horses forward upon the bridge and toward that one figure that, grasping tightly the great two-handed sword, stood there alone guarding the passage.
Then Baron Conrad whirled the great blade above his head, until it caught the sunlight and flashed again. He did not wait for the attack, but when the first of the advancing horsemen had come within a few feet of him, he leaped with a shout upon them. The fellow thrust at him with his lance, and the Baron went staggering a few feet back, but instantly he recovered himself and again leaped forward. The great sword flashed in the air, whistling; it fell, and the nearest man dropped his lance, clattering, and with a loud, inarticulate cry, grasped the mane of his horse with both hands. Again the blade whistled in the air, and this time it was stained with red. Again it fell, and with another shrill cry the man toppled headlong beneath the horse's feet. The next instant they were upon him, each striving to strike at the one figure, to ride him down, or to thrust him down with their lances. There was no room now to swing the long blade, but holding the hilt in both hands, Baron Conrad thrust with it as though it were a lance, stabbing at horse or man, it mattered not. Crowded upon the narrow roadway of the bridge, those who attacked had not only to guard themselves against the dreadful strokes of that terrible sword, but to keep their wounded horses (rearing and mad with fright) from toppling bodily over with them into the water beneath.
Presently the cry was raised, "Back! back!" And those nearest the Baron began reining in their horses. "Forward!" roared Baron Henry, from the midst of the crowd; but in spite of his command, and even the blows that he gave, those behind were borne back by those in front, struggling and shouting, and the bridge was cleared again excepting for three figures that lay motionless upon the roadway, and that one who, with the brightness of his armor dimmed and stained, leaned panting against the wall of the bridge.
The Baron Henry raged like a madman. Gnashing his teeth together, he rode back a little way; then turning and couching his lance, he suddenly clapped spurs to his horse, and the next instant came thundering down upon his solitary enemy.
Baron Conrad whirled his sword in the air, as he saw the other coming like a thunderbolt upon him; he leaped aside, and the lance passed close to him. As it passed he struck, and the iron point flew from the shaft of the spear at the blow, and fell clattering upon the stone roadway of the bridge.
Baron Henry drew in his horse until it rested upon its haunches, then slowly reined it backward down the bridge, still facing his foe, and still holding the wooden stump of the lance in his hand. At the bridge-head he flung it from him.
"Another lance!" he cried, hoarsely. One was silently reached to him and he took it, his hand trembling with rage. Again he rode to a little distance and wheeled his horse; then, driving his steel spurs into its quivering side, he came again thundering down upon the other. Once more the terrible sword whirled in the air and fell, but this time the lance was snatched to one side and the blow fell harmlessly. The next instant, and with a twitch of the bridle-rein, the horse struck full and fair against the man. Conrad of Drachenhausen was whirled backward and downward, and the cruel iron hoofs crashed over his prostrate body, as horse and man passed with a rush beyond him and to the bridge-head beyond. A shout went up from those who stood watching. The next moment the prostrate figure rose and staggered blindly to the side of the bridge, and stood leaning against the stone wall.
At the further end of the bridge Baron Henry had wheeled his horse. Once again he couched lance, and again he drove down upon his bruised and wounded enemy. This time the lance struck full and fair, and those who watched saw the steel point pierce the iron breast-plate and then snap short, leaving the barbed point within the wound.
Baron Conrad sunk to his knees and the Roderburg, looming upon his horse above him, unsheathed his sword to finish the work he had begun.
Then those who stood looking on saw a wondrous thing happen: the wounded man rose suddenly to his feet, and before his enemy could strike he leaped, with a great and bitter cry of agony and despair, upon him as he sat in the saddle above.
Henry of Trutz-Drachen grasped at his horse's mane, but the attack was so fierce, so sudden, and so unexpected that before he could save himself he was dragged to one side and fell crashing in his armor upon the stone roadway of the bridge.
"The dragon! the dragon!" roared Baron Conrad, in a voice of thunder, and with the energy of despair he dragged his prostrate foe toward the open side of the bridge.
"Forward!" cried the chief of the Trutz-Drachen men, and down they rode upon the struggling knights to the rescue of their master in this new danger. But they were too late.
For a moment they stood swaying backward and forward.
There was a pause at the edge of the bridge, for Baron Henry had gained his feet and, stunned and bewildered as he was by the suddenness of his fall, he was now struggling fiercely, desperately. For a moment they stood swaying backward and forward, clasped in one another's arms, the blood from the wounded man's breast staining the armor of both. The moment passed and then, with a shower of stones and mortar from beneath their iron-shod heels, they toppled and fell; there was a thunderous splash in the water below, and as the men-at-arms came hurrying up and peered with awe-struck faces over the parapet of the bridge, they saw the whirling eddies sweep down with the current of the stream, a few bubbles rise to the surface of the water, and then—nothing; for the smooth river flowed onward as silently as ever.
Presently a loud voice burst through the awed hush that followed. It came from William of Roderburg, Baron Henry's kinsman. "Forward!" he cried. A murmur of voices from the others was all the answer that he received. "Forward!" cried the young man again, "the boy and those with him are not so far away but that we might yet catch up with them."
Then one of the men spoke up in answer—a man with a seamed, weather-beaten face and crisp grizzled hair. "Nay," said he, "our Lord Baron is gone, and this is no quarrel of ours; here be four of us that are wounded and three I misdoubt that are dead; why should we follow further only to suffer more blows for no gain?" A growl of assent rose from those that stood around, and William of Roderburg saw that nothing more was to be done by the Trutz-Dragons that day.
I N the Long Ago there was a summer when very little rain fell.
All the Animals suffered for want of water, but the Fishes suffered most of all.
In one pond full of Fishes, the water was very low indeed.
A Crane sat on the bank watching the Fishes.
"What are you doing?" asked a little Fish.
"I am thinking about you Fishes there in the pond. It is so nearly dry," answered the Crane.
"Yes," the Crane went on, "I was wishing I might do something for you. I know of a pond in the deep woods where there is plenty of water."
"I declare," said the little Fish, "you are the first Crane that ever offered to help a Fish."
"That may be," said the Crane, "but the water is so low in your pond. I could easily carry you one by one on my back to that other pond where there is plenty of water and food and cool shade."
"I don't believe there is any such pond," said the little Fish. "What you wish to do is to eat us, one by one."
"If you don't believe me," said the Crane, "send with me one of the Fishes whom you can believe. I'll show him the pond and bring him back to tell you all about it."
A big Fish heard the Crane and said, "I will go with you to see the pond—I may as well be eaten by the Crane as to die here."
So the Crane put the big Fish on his back and started for the deep woods.
So the Crane put the big Fish on his back and started for the deep woods.
Soon the Crane showed the big Fish the pool of water. "See how cool and shady it is here," he said, "and how much larger the pond is, and how full it is!"
"Yes!" said the big Fish, "take me back to the little pond and I'll tell the other Fishes all about it." So back they went.
The Fishes all wanted to go when they heard the big Fish talk about the fine pond which he had seen.
Then the Crane picked up another Fish and carried it away. Not to the pool, but into the woods where the other Fishes could not see them.
Then the Crane put the Fish down and ate it. The Crane went back for another Fish. He carried it to the same place in the woods and ate it, too.
This he did until he had eaten all the Fishes in the pond.
The next day the Crane went to the pond to see if he had left a Fish. There was not one left, but there was a Crab on the sand.
"Little Crab," said the Crane, "would you let me take you to the fine pond in the deep woods where I took the Fishes?"
"But how could you carry me?" asked the Crab.
"Oh, easily," answered the Crane. "I'll take you on my back as I did the Fishes."
"No, I thank you," said the Crab, "I can't go that way. I am afraid you might drop me. If I could take hold of your neck with my claws, I would go. You know we Crabs have a tight grip."
The Crane knew about the tight grip of the Crabs, and he did not like to have the Crab hold on with his claws. But he was hungry, so he said:
"Very well, hold tight."
And off went the Crane with the Crab.
And off went the Crane with the Crab.
When they reached the place where the Crane had eaten the Fishes, the Crane said:
"I think you can walk the rest of the way. Let go of my neck."
"I see no pond," said the Crab. "All I can see is a pile of Fish bones. Is that all that is left of the Fishes?"
"Yes," said the Crane, "and if you will let go of my neck, your shell will be all that will be left of you."
And the Crane put his head down near the ground so that the Crab could get off easily.
But the Crab pinched the Crane's neck so that his head fell off.
"Not my shell, but your bones are left to dry with the bones of the Fishes," said the Crab.
There stands by the wood path shaded
A meek little beggar maid;
Close under her mantle faded
She is hidden like one afraid.
Yet if you but lifted lightly
That mantle of russet brown,
She would spring up slender and sightly,
In a smoke-blue silken gown.
For she is a princess, fated
Disguised in the wood to dwell,
And all her life has awaited
The touch that should break the spell;
And the Oak, that has cast around her
His root, like a wrinkled arm,
Is the wild old wizard that bound her
Fast with his cruel charm.
Is the princess worth your knowing?
Then haste, for the spring is brief,
And find the Hepatica growing,
Hid under last year's leaf!
WEEK 13 |
"Land of the mountain and the flood."
E UROPE was busily engaged in warfare. George II. of England had but just returned from the Continent, where he had been helping Maria Theresa against her many foes, when suddenly the news rang through England that another of the hapless Stuarts was in arms in Scotland.
Let us take a glance at this Scotland, this
"Land of the mountain and the flood,"
which together with England and Wales is known as Great Britain. Unlike the sister country, Ireland, no salt waves of the sea divide her from England; only the Cheviot Hills separate the two countries, which have been united since the year 1603.
"One life, one flag, one fleet, one throne."
It is the most mountainous part of Great Britain, and this fact has had a great deal to do with the story of Scotland and the character of her people. There are the Highlands and the Lowlands, the Highlanders and the Lowlanders.
The union of England and Scotland under one king took place in 1603. In that year Elizabeth of England lay dying, leaving no child to succeed her on the English throne. In vain she had been begged to name an heir. As death approached she spoke constantly of James, King of Scotland, now a man of thirty-six. Again the courtiers pressed her to name her heir.
"My seat," she murmured, "hath been the seat of kings, and I will have no rascal to succeed me."
Once more they pressed her for a name.
"And who should it be," she whispered with her last breath, "but our cousin of Scotland?"
So James was crowned King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, assuming the title of King of Great Britain. Mutual advantage arose to both countries, former discords were soon forgotten, while the poets burst into triumphant songs over the union:—
"The flag of their union far o'er the wide earth
Is welcomed with gladness; and ne'er may it cease
To wave as the emblem of valour and worth,
Proclaiming in battle the promise of peace.
The children shall equal the deeds of the sire,
The future in glory out-glory the past;
And dearly we'll cherish, till time shall expire,
One Country, one Cause, and one Hope at the last."
From the death of James I. the Scottish people took up the cause of the Stuarts.
And so it was that in the year 1745, when the exiled grandson of James landed in the Hebrides, the clans with one accord rallied to his standard at Glenfinnan,—
"When the mighty heart of Scotland, all too big to slumber more,
Burst in wrath and exultation, like a huge volcano's roar."
His force swelled as he marched in triumph to Edinburgh to proclaim his father, the "Old Pretender," king. Two thousand English troops sent against him were cut to pieces in a single charge of furious clansmen at Prestonpans in the course of ten minutes. Victory doubled the Scottish forces, and the Young Pretender, as he was now called, was at the head of 6000 Highlanders. Matters were growing serious, when George II. of England sent his second son, the Duke of Cumberland, against the Highland troops under the Young Pretender.
The armies met at Culloden Moor, near Inverness. The English army was large, well fed, well trained—a contrast to the Highland troops under the Prince, who had eaten but a biscuit each the day before the battle. The Prince was desperate. He planned a night march as his only hope of defeating such an army. Setting the heath on fire, to convey the idea that the Highland troops were camping for the night, Prince Charlie set forth with his men in profound silence. The night was very dark and progress was slow. At two o'clock in the morning they were yet four miles from the English camp. A distant roll of guns told them that the English were not asleep. It was useless to risk a surprise. Instead, the Highlanders crowned the heights of Culloden. They were now tired, footsore, weary, having passed the night in marching. They were also without food. They lay down to snatch a few hours' sleep, when a sudden alarm announced the English army. Hurry and confusion reigned, but the clansmen soon flung themselves in a wild rush on the English. They were received with a terrible fire of musketry by the troops under the Duke of Cumberland. All that courage and despair could do was done. There was the howl of the Highland advance, the scream of the onset, the thunder of musketry, the din of trumpet and drum, the flash of firearms, the glitter of broadswords. And then came the end. The battle was over as rapidly as all other Highland conflicts. Soon, very soon, the Highland force was fleeing from the field, away from the field of Culloden, never to be banded more in the hopeless cause of the Stuarts.
Culloden was over and Prince Charlie a fugitive. Attended by a faithful few, he embarked in an open boat for the Hebrides. A violent storm arose, rain poured down in torrents, vivid lightning showed the blackness of the raging waters, while thunder crashed overhead.
Meanwhile a heavy price was set on his head. Search-parties were everywhere, and he had many a narrow escape of falling into the hands of his enemies. When he reached Stornoway at last, he was drenched to the skin and had tasted no food for eighteen hours. A faithful friend took pity on him and gave him food and shelter. For many a long day the little band sailed about among the creeks and islands of the Outer Hebrides, now chased by a man-of-war, now driven on to the desolate rocks by the fury of the sea, eating oatmeal mixed with salt water as an alternative to starvation. For every creek and ferry along those wild shores was watched by English soldiers. There was £30,000 for the man who would give up Prince Charlie. And not a man was found to betray his Prince. Many were the songs written and sung about this Scottish idol—this Prince Charlie of Scottish romance.
It is a well-known story how the Prince fell into the hands of Flora Macdonald, and how she planned his escape to the island of Skye. She dressed him as her tall Irish maid Betty Burke, in a flowered print gown and quilted petticoat, white apron, cloak, and hood. As such he accompanied her to the sea-shore, though boats of armed men were watching them at the time. Under cover of darkness they sailed across the stormy waters to Skye.
" 'Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward,' the sailors cry;
'Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.' "
But there was danger here too. The Prince was tall.
"What long strides the maid takes, and how awkwardly she manages her petticoats!" said a bystander, and the Prince had to change his dress.
So he wandered about from place to place, and the faithful Highlanders kept their secret bravely, till finally the Prince made his way to France.
Thus ended the last attempt of the unlucky Stuarts to regain the crown of Scotland and England. George II. was firmly established on the throne of Great Britain and Ireland, and his direct descendants still rule over the ever-increasing Empire.
T was not only to Giants and Men that Odin showed himself in the days when he went through Jötunheim and Midgard as Vegtam the Wanderer. He met and he spoke with the Gods also, with one who lived far away from Asgard and with others who came to Midgard and to Jötunheim.
The one who lived far away from Asgard was Vidar, Odin's silent son. Far within a wilderness, with branches and tall grass growing around him, Vidar sat. And near by him a horse grazed with a saddle upon it, a horse that was ever ready for the speedy journey.
And Odin, now Vegtam the Wanderer, came into that silent place and spoke to Vidar, the Silent God.
"O Vidar," he said, "strangest of all my sons; God who will live when all of us have passed away; God who will bring the memory of the Dwellers of Asgard into a world that will know not their power; O Vidar, well do I know why there grazes near by thee the horse ever ready for the speedy journey: it is that thou mayst spring upon it and ride unchecked, a son speeding to avenge his father.
"To you only, O Vidar the Silent One, will I speak of the secrets of my doings. Who but you can know why I, Odin, Eldest of the Gods, hung on the tree Ygdrassil nine days and nine nights, mine own spear transfixing me? I hung upon that windy tree that I might learn the wisdom that would give me power in the nine worlds. On the ninth night the Runes of Wisdom appeared before mine eyes, and slipping down from the tree I took them to myself.
"And I shall tell why my ravens fly to thee, carrying in their beaks scraps of leather. It is that thou mayst put thy foot on the lower jaw of a mighty wolf and rend him. All the shoemakers of the earth throw on the ground scraps of the leather that they use so that thou mayst be able to make the sandal for thy wolf-rending foot.
"And I have counseled the dwellers on earth to cut off the fingernails and the toenails of their dead, lest from those fingernails and toenails the Giants make for themselves the ship Naglfar in which they will sail from the North on the day of Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods.
"More, Vidar, I will tell to thee. I, living amongst men, have wed the daughter of a hero. My son shall live as a mortal amongst mortals. Sigi his name shall be. From him shall spring heroes who will fill Valhalla, my own hall in Asgard, with heroes against the day of our strife with the Giants and with Surtur of the Flaming Sword."
For long Odin stayed in that silent place communing with his silent son, with Vidar, who with his brother would live beyond the lives of the Dwellers of Asgard and who would bring into another day and another world the memory of the Æsir and the Vanir. For long Odin spoke with him, and then he went across the wilderness where the grass and the bushes grew and where that horse grazed in readiness for the sudden journey. He went toward the seashore where the Æsir and the Vanir were now gathered for the feast that old Ægir, the Giant King of the Sea, had offered them.
It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
To bear him company.
Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
That ope in the month of May.
The skipper he stood beside the helm,
His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
The smoke now west, now south.
Then up and spake an old sailor,
Had sailed the Spanish Main,
"I pray thee put into yonder port,
For I fear a hurricane.
"Last night the moon had a golden ring,
And to-night no moon we see!"
The skipper he blew a whiff from his pipe,
And a scornful laugh laughed he.
Colder and louder blew the wind,
A gale from the northeast;
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
And the billows frothed like yeast.
Down came the storm, and smote amain
The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
Then leaped her cable's length.
"Come hither! come hither! my little daughter,
And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale
That ever wind did blow."
He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat,
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
And bound her to the mast.
"O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
O say, what may it be?"
" 'Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!"—
And he steered for the open sea.
"O father! I hear the sound of guns,
O say, what may it be?"
"Some ship in distress, that cannot live
In such an angry sea!"
"O father! I see a gleaming light,
O say, what may it be?"
But the father answered never a word,
A frozen corpse was he.
Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
On his fixed and glassy eyes.
Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
That savèd she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave
On the Lake of Galilee.
And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost the vessel swept
Toward the reef of Norman's Woe.
And ever the fitful gusts between
A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf
On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.
The breakers were right beneath her bows,
She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
Like icicles from her deck.
She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks they gored her side
Like the horns of an angry bull.
Her rattling shrouds all sheathed in ice,
With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass she stove and sank,—
Ho! ho! the breakers roared!
At daybreak on the bleak sea-beach
A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair
Lashed close to a drifting mast.
The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown seaweed,
On the billows fall and rise.
Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
On the reef of Norman's Woe!
WEEK 13 |
O NCE upon a time, there lived in the west country a little girl who had neither father nor mother; they both died when she was very young, and left their daughter to the care of her uncle, who was the richest farmer in all that country. He had houses and lands, flocks and herds, many servants to work about his house and fields, a wife who had brought him a great dowry, and two fair daughters. All their neighbours, being poor, looked up to the family—insomuch that they imagined themselves great people. The father and mother were as proud as peacocks; the daughters thought themselves the greatest beauties in the world, and not one of the family would speak civilly to anybody they thought low.
Now it happened that though she was their near relation, they had this opinion of the orphan girl, partly because she had no fortune, and partly because of her humble, kindly disposition. It was said that the more needy and despised any creature was, the more ready was she to befriend it: on which account the people of the west country called her Childe Charity, and if she had any other name, I never heard it. Childe Charity was thought very mean in that proud house. Her uncle would not own her for his niece; her cousins would not keep her company; and her aunt sent her to work in the dairy, and to sleep in the back garret, where they kept all sorts of lumber and dry herbs for the winter. All the servants learned the same tune, and Childe Charity had more work than rest among them. All the day she scoured pails, scrubbed dishes, and washed crockery ware; but every night she slept in the back garret as sound as a princess could in her palace chamber.
Her uncle's house was large and white, and stood among green meadows by a river's side. In front it had a porch covered with a vine; behind, it had a farmyard and high granaries. Within, there were two parlours for the rich, and two kitchens for the poor, which the neighbours thought wonderfully grand; and one day in the harvest season, when this rich farmer's corn had been all cut down and housed, he condescended so far as to invite them to a harvest supper. The west country people came in their holiday clothes and best behaviour. Such heaps of cakes and cheese, such baskets of apples and barrels of ale, had never been at feast before; and they were making merry in kitchen and parlour, when a poor old woman came to the backdoor, begging for broken victuals and a night's lodging. Her clothes were coarse and ragged; her hair was scanty and grey; her back was bent; her teeth were gone. She had a squinting eye, a clubbed foot, and crooked fingers. In short, she was the poorest and ugliest old woman that ever came begging. The first who saw her was the kitchen-maid, and she ordered her to be gone for an ugly witch. The next was the herd-boy, and he threw her a bone over his shoulder; but Childe Charity, hearing the noise, came out from her seat at the foot of the lowest table, and asked the old woman to take her share of the supper, and sleep that night in her bed in the back garret. The old woman sat down without a word of thanks. All the company laughed at Childe Charity for giving her bed and her supper to a beggar. Her proud cousins said it was just like her mean spirit, but Childe Charity did not mind them. She scraped the pots for her supper that night and slept on a sack among the lumber, while the old woman rested in her warm bed; and next morning, before the little girl awoke, she was up and gone, without so much as saying thank you or good-morning.
That day all the servants were sick after the feast, and mostly cross too—so you may judge how civil they were; when, at supper time, who should come to the backdoor but the old woman, again asking for broken victuals and a night's lodging. No one would listen to her or give her a morsel, till Childe Charity rose from her seat at the foot of the lowest table, and kindly asked her to take her supper, and sleep in her bed in the back garret. Again the old woman sat down without a word. Childe Charity scraped the pots for her supper, and slept on the sack. In the morning the old woman was gone; but for six nights after, as sure as the supper was spread, there was she at the backdoor, and the little girl regularly asked her in.
Childe Charity's aunt said she would let her get enough of beggars. Her cousins made continual game of what they called her genteel visitor. Sometimes the old woman said, "Child, why don't you make this bed softer? and why are your blankets so thin?" but she never gave her a word of thanks nor a civil good-morning. At last, on the ninth night from her first coming, when Childe Charity was getting used to scraping the pots and sleeping on the sack, her accustomed knock came to the door, and there she stood with an ugly ashy-coloured dog, so stupid-looking and clumsy that no herd-boy would keep him.
"Good-evening, my little girl," she said when Childe Charity opened the door. "I will not have your supper and bed to-night—I am going on a long journey to see a friend; but here is a dog of mine, whom nobody in all the west country will keep for me. He is a little cross, and not very handsome; but I leave him to your care till the shortest day in all the year. Then you and I will count for his keeping."
When the old woman had said the last word, she set off with such speed that Childe Charity lost sight of her in a minute. The ugly dog began to fawn upon her, but he snarled at everybody else. The servants said he was a disgrace to the house. The proud cousins wanted him drowned, and it was with great trouble that Childe Charity got leave to keep him in an old ruined cow-house. Ugly and cross as the dog was, he fawned on her, and the old woman had left him to her care. So the little girl gave him part of all her meals, and when the hard frost came, took him privately to her own back garret, because the cow-house was damp and cold in the long nights. The dog lay quietly on some straw in a corner. Childe Charity slept soundly, but every morning the servants would say to her:
"What great light and fine talking was that in your back garret?"
"There was no light but the moon shining in through the shutterless window, and no talk that I heard," said Childe Charity, and she thought they must have been dreaming; but night after night, when any of them awoke in the dark and silent hour that comes before the morning, they saw a light brighter and clearer than the Christmas fire, and heard voices like those of lords and ladies in the back garret.
Partly from fear, and partly from laziness, none of the servants would rise to see what might be there; till at length, when the winter nights were at the longest, the little parlour-maid, who did least work and got most favour, because she gathered news for her mistress, crept out of bed when all the rest were sleeping, and set herself to watch at a crevice of the door. She saw the dog lying quietly in the corner, Childe Charity sleeping soundly in her bed, and the moon shining through the shutterless window; but an hour before daybreak there came a glare of lights, and a sound of far-off bugles. The window opened, and in marched a troop of little men clothed in crimson and gold, and bearing every man a torch, till the room looked bright as day. They marched up with great reverence to the dog, where he lay on the straw, and the most richly clothed among them said:
"Royal prince, we have prepared the banquet hall. What will your highness please that we do next?"
"Ye have done well," said the dog. "Now prepare the feast, and see that all things be in our first fashion: for the princess and I mean to bring a stranger who never feasted in our halls before."
"Your highness's command shall be obeyed," said the little man, making another reverence; and he and his company passed out of the window. By and by there was another glare of lights, and a sound like far-off flutes. The window opened, and there came in a company of little ladies clad in rose-coloured velvet, and carrying each a crystal lamp. They also walked with great reverence up to the dog, and the gayest among them said:
"Royal prince, we have prepared the tapestry. What will your highness please that we do next?"
"Ye have done well," said the dog. "Now prepare the robes, and let all things be in our first fashion: for the princess and I will bring with us a stranger who never feasted in our halls before."
"Your highness's commands shall be obeyed," said the little lady, making a low courtesy; and she and her company passed out through the window, which closed quietly behind them. The dog stretched himself out upon the straw, the little girl turned in her sleep, and the moon shone in on the back garret. The parlour-maid was so much amazed, and so eager to tell this great story to her mistress, that she could not close her eyes that night, and was up before cock-crow; but when she told it, her mistress called her a silly wench to have such foolish dreams, and scolded her so that the parlour-maid durst not mention what she had seen to the servants. Nevertheless Childe Charity's aunt thought there might be something in it worth knowing; so next night, when all the house was asleep, she crept out of bed, and set herself to watch at the back garret door. There she saw exactly what the maid told her—the little men with the torches, and the little ladies with the crystal lamps, come in making great reverence to the dog, and the same words pass, only he said to the one, "Now prepare the presents," and to the other, "Prepare the jewels"; and when they were gone the dog stretched himself on the straw, Childe Charity turned in her sleep, and the moon shone in on the back garret.
The mistress could not close her eyes any more than the maid from eagerness to tell the story. She woke up Childe Charity's rich uncle before cock-crow; but when he heard it, he laughed at her for a foolish woman, and advised her not to repeat the like before the neighbours, lest they should think she had lost her senses. The mistress could say no more, and the day passed; but that night the master thought he would like to see what went on in the back garret: so when all the house were asleep he slipped out of bed, and set himself to watch at the crevice in the door. The same thing happened again that the maid and the mistress saw: the little men in crimson with their torches, and the little ladies in rose-coloured velvet with their lamps, came in at the window, and made an humble reverence to the ugly dog, the one saying, "Royal prince, we have prepared the presents," and the other, "Royal prince, we have prepared the jewels"; and the dog said to them all, "Ye have done well. To-morrow come and meet me and the princess with horses and chariots, and let all things be in our first fashion: for we will bring a stranger from this house who has never travelled with us, nor feasted in our halls before."
The little men and the little ladies said, "Your highness's commands shall be obeyed." When they had gone out through the window the ugly dog stretched himself out on the straw, Childe Charity turned in her sleep, and the moon shone in on the back garret.
The master could not close his eyes any more than the maid or the mistress, for thinking of this strange sight. He remembered to have heard his grandfather say, that somewhere near his meadows there lay a path leading to the fairies' country, and the haymakers used to see it shining through the grey summer morning as the fairy bands went home. Nobody had heard or seen the like for many years; but the master concluded that the doings in his back garret must be a fairy business, and the ugly dog a person of great account. His chief wonder was, however, what visitor the fairies intended to take from his house; and after thinking the matter over he was sure it must be one of his daughters—they were so handsome, and had such fine clothes.
Accordingly, Childe Charity's rich uncle made it his first business that morning to get ready a breakfast of roast mutton for the ugly dog, and carry it to him in the old cow-house; but not a morsel would the dog taste. On the contrary, he snarled at the master, and would have bitten him if he had not run away with his mutton.
"The fairies have strange ways," said the master to himself; but he called his daughters privately, bidding them dress themselves in their best, for he could not say which of them might be called into great company before nightfall. Childe Charity's proud cousins, hearing this, put on the richest of their silks and laces, and strutted like peacocks from kitchen to parlour all day, waiting for the call their father spoke of, while the little girl scoured and scrubbed in the dairy.
They were in very bad humour when night fell, and nobody had come; but just as the family were sitting down to supper the ugly dog began to bark, and the old woman's knock was heard at the backdoor. Childe Charity opened it, and was going to offer her bed and supper as usual, when the old woman said:
"This is the shortest day in all the year, and I am going home to hold a feast after my travels. I see you have taken good care of my dog, and now if you will come with me to my house, he and I will do our best to entertain you. Here is our company."
As the old woman spoke there was a sound of far-off flutes and bugles, then a glare of lights; and a great company, clad so grandly that they shone with gold and jewels, came in open chariots, covered with gilding and drawn by snow-white horses. The first and finest of the chariots was empty. The old woman led Childe Charity to it by the hand, and the ugly dog jumped in before her. The proud cousins, in all their finery, had by this time come to the door, but nobody wanted them; and no sooner was the old woman and her dog within the chariot than a marvellous change passed over them, for the ugly old woman turned at once to a beautiful young princess, with long yellow curls and a robe of green and gold, while the ugly dog at her side started up a fair young prince, with nut-brown hair and a robe of purple and silver.
"We are," said they, as the chariots drove on, and the little girl sat astonished, "a prince and princess of Fairyland, and there was a wager between us whether or not there were good people still to be found in these false and greedy times. One said Yes, and the other said No; and I have lost," said the prince, "and must pay the feast and presents."
Childe Charity never heard any more of that story. Some of the farmer's household, who were looking after them through the moonlight night, said the chariots had gone one way across the meadows, some said they had gone another, and till this day they cannot agree upon the direction. But Childe Charity went with that noble company into a country such as she had never seen—for primroses covered all the ground, and the light was always like that of a summer evening. They took her to a royal palace, where there was nothing but feasting and dancing for seven days.
She had robes of pale green velvet to wear, and slept in a chamber inlaid with ivory. When the feast was done, the prince and princess gave her such heaps of gold and jewels that she could not carry them, but they gave her a chariot to go home in, drawn by six white horses; and on the seventh night, which happened to be Christmas time, when the farmer's family had settled in their own minds that she would never come back, and were sitting down to supper, they heard the sound of her coachman's bugle, and saw her alight with all the jewels and gold at the very backdoor where she had brought in the ugly old woman. The fairy chariot drove away, and never came back to that farmhouse after. But Childe Charity scrubbed and scoured no more, for she grew a great lady, even in the eyes of her proud cousins."
P OLLENLESS and honeyless Miss Apis leaves home. She returns with her sac full of honey and her baskets full of pollen.
That is, if she is fortunate she returns, for I regret to say that certain birds, being fond of honey, take it, bee and all.
They do not stop her and say, "Your honey or your life!" but swallow her whole and talk about it afterwards; that is, if they talk about it at all.
Down their throat she goes, honey-sac and long brown tongue, twelve thousand six hundred and three eyes and curious legs, all at once. Not so much as an eyes escapes, so far as I have ever heard.
Then these birds sit on a branch and "look as innercent as yer mammy's mockin' bird," as Uncle Remus would say, just as if they had never eaten a bee in their lives, nor even thought of such a thing. But if she is fortunate she gets home.
She does not walk home, nor yet run; she flies.
For, as you know, she has wings. Dainty wings they are too. They are transparent and colorless like glass, and are very thin and delicate. They shine in the light, or you would scarcely notice them.
Miss Apis seems to have only two wings, though really there are four of them.
Whatever Miss Apis has she appears always to have in abundance; and when wings are in question, she must needs have four, although birds and dragons and such economical creatures are content with two.
She can fold her four wings down very neatly over her back when she wants to walk about, but when she starts to fly, she spreads them out, a pair on each side of her body.
If the two wings on either side were to separate from each other and let the air between them her flight would be spoiled, and she would go tumbling along in an ungainly and mortifying manner.
That this may not happen, she hooks the upper large wing and the lower small one together, when she raises them for flight, so that the two are as firm as though they were but one. She is enabled to do this by a row of hooks on the lower wing which fit into a groove on the upper wings, as you can see in the picture. The wings fit so closely together when hooked that you would not discover there were two, unless you looked very carefully indeed.
With her wings safely locked together, away she goes, sure and swift.
When she closes them, the smaller ones slip under the larger ones out of the way.
You see, four wings are handy when one wants to close them and have them out of the way, but two are best to fly with.
So, being a somewhat eccentric and withal ingenious individual, as you may have observed for yourself before this, Miss Apis has two wings to fly with, but four to fold away.
WEEK 13 |
Matthew iv: 18 to 22;
Mark i: 16 to 34;
Luke iv: 33, to v: 11.
OU remember that when Jesus was by the river Jordan, a few young men came to him as followers or disciples. We have read of these men,—Andrew and John, Peter and Philip, and Nathanael, in Story 115. While Jesus was teaching near Jerusalem and in Samaria, these men stayed with Jesus; but when he came to Galilee, they went again to their homes and their work, for most of them were fishermen from the Sea of Galilee.
One morning, soon after Jesus came to Capernaum, he went out of the city, by the sea, followed by a great throng of people, who had come together to see him and to hear him. On the shore were lying two fishing boats, one of which belonged to Simon and Andrew, the other to James and John and their father Zebedee. The men themselves were not in the boats, but were washing their nets near by.
Jesus calls James and John.
Jesus stepped into the boat that belonged to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, and asked them to push it out a little into the lake, so that he could talk to the people from it without being crowded too closely. They pushed it out; and then Jesus sat in the boat, and spoke to the people as they stood upon the beach. After he had finished speaking to the people, and had sent them away, he said to Simon Peter:
"Put out into the deep water, and let down your nets to catch some fish."
"Master," said Simon, "we have been fishing all night, and have caught nothing; but if it is your will, I will let down the net again."
They did as Jesus bade them; and now the net caught so many fishes, that Simon and Andrew could not pull it up, and it was in danger of breaking. They made signs to the two brothers, James and John, who were in the other boat, for them to come and help them. They came, and lifted the net, and poured out the fish. There were so many of them that both the boats were filled, and began to sink.
The nets were filled with fishes.
When Simon Peter saw this, he was struck with wonder, and felt that it was by the power of God. He fell down at the feet of Jesus, saying, "O Lord, I am full of sin, and am not worthy of all this! Leave me, O Lord."
But Jesus said to Simon, and to the others, "Fear not; but follow me, and I will make you from this time fishers of men."
From that time these four men, Simon and Andrew, James and John, gave up their nets and their work, and walked with Jesus as his disciples.
On the Sabbath after this Jesus and his disciples went together to the synagogue, and spoke to the people. They listened to him and were surprised at his teaching; for while the scribes always repeated what the other scribes had said before, Jesus never spoke of what the men of old time had taught; but spoke in his own name, and by his own power, saying, "I say unto you," as one who had the right to speak. Men felt that Jesus was speaking to them as the voice of God.
Jesus teaching at Nazareth.
On one Sabbath, while Jesus was preaching, a man came into the synagogue, who had in him an evil spirit; for sometimes evil spirits came into men, and lived in them, and spoke out from them. The evil spirit in this man cried out, saying:
"Let us alone, thou Jesus of Nazareth! What have we to do with thee? Hast thou come to destroy us? I know thee; and I know who thou art, the Holy One of God!" Then Jesus spoke to the evil spirit in the man, "Be still; and come out of this man!"
Then the evil spirit threw the man down, and seemed as if he would tear him apart, but he came out, and left the man lying on the ground, without harm.
Then wonder fell upon all the people. They were filled with fear, and said, "What mighty word is this? This man speaks even to the evil spirits, and they obey him!"
After the meeting in the synagogue Jesus went into the house where Simon Peter lived. There he saw lying upon a bed the mother of Simon's wife, who was very ill with a burning fever. He stood over her, and touched her hand. At once the fever left her; she rose up from her bed and waited upon them.
At sunset the Sabbath-day was over; and then they brought to Jesus from all parts of the city those that were sick, and some that had evil spirits in them. Jesus laid his hands upon the sick and they became well; he drove out the evil spirits by a word, and would not allow them to speak.
W HEN she came to the top, she found herself in a little square place, with three doors, two opposite each other, and one opposite the top of the stair. She stood for a moment, without an idea in her little head what to do next. But as she stood, she began to hear a curious humming sound. Could it be the rain? No. It was much more gentle, and even monotonous than the sound of the rain, which now she scarcely heard. The low sweet humming sound went on, sometimes stopping for a little while and then beginning again. It was more like the hum of a very happy bee that had found a rich well of honey in some globular flower, than anything else I can think of at this moment. Where could it come from? She laid her ear first to one of the doors to hearken if it was there—then to another. When she laid her ear against the third door, there could be no doubt where it came from: it must be from something in that room. What could it be? She was rather afraid, but her curiosity was stronger than her fear, and she opened the door very gently and peeped in. What do you think she saw? A very old lady who sat spinning.
"Oh, Mr. Editor! I know the story you are going to tell: it's The Sleeping Beauty; only you're spinning too, and making it longer."
"No, indeed, it is not that story. Why should I tell one that every properly educated child knows already? More old ladies than one have sat spinning in a garret. Besides, the old lady in that story was only spinning with a spindle, and this one was spinning with a spinning-wheel, else how could the princess have heard the sweet noise through the door? Do you know the difference? Did you ever see a spindle or a spinning-wheel? I daresay you never did. Well, ask your mamma to explain to you the difference. Between ourselves, however, I shouldn't wonder if she didn't know much better than you. Another thing is, that this is not a fairy story; but a goblin story. And one thing more, this old lady spinning was not an old nurse—but—you shall see who. I think I have now made it quite plain that this is not that lovely story of The Sleeping Beauty. It is quite a new one, I assure you, and I will try to tell it as prettily as I can."
Perhaps you will wonder how the princess could tell that the old lady was an old lady, when I inform you that not only was she beautiful, but her skin was smooth and white. I will tell you more. Her hair was combed back from her forehead and face, and hung loose far down and all over her back. That is not much like an old lady—is it? Ah! but it was white almost as snow. And although her face was so smooth, her eyes looked so wise that you could not have helped seeing she must be old. The princess, though she could not have told you why, did think her very old indeed—quite fifty—she said to herself. But she was rather older than that, as you shall hear.
While the princess stared bewildered, with her head just inside the door, the old lady lifted hers, and said in a sweet, but old and rather shaky voice, which mingled very pleasantly with the continued hum of her wheel:
"Come in, my dear; come in. I am glad to see you."
That the princess was a real princess, you might see now quite plainly; for she didn't hang on to the handle of the door, and stare without moving, as I have known some do who ought to have been princesses, but were only rather vulgar little girls. She did as she was told, stepped inside the door at once, and shut it gently behind her.
"Come to me, my dear," said the old lady.
And again the princess did as she was told. She approached the old lady—rather slowly, I confess, but did not stop until she stood by her side, and looked up in her face with her blue eyes and the two melted stars in them.
"Why, what have you been doing with your eyes, child?" asked the old lady.
"Crying," answered the princess.
"Because I couldn't find my way down again."
"But you could find your way up."
"Not at first—not for a long time."
"But your face is streaked like the back of a zebra. Hadn't you a handkerchief to wipe your eyes with?"
"Then why didn't you come to me to wipe them for you?"
"Please, I didn't know you were here. I will next time."
"There's a good child!" said the old lady.
Then she stopped her wheel, and rose, and, going out of the room, returned with a little silver basin and a soft white towel, with which she washed and wiped the bright little face. And the princess thought her hands were so smooth and nice!
When she carried away the basin and towel, the little princess wondered to see how straight and tall she was, for, although she was so old, she didn't stoop a bit. She was dressed in black velvet with thick white heavy-looking lace about it; and on the black dress her hair shone like silver. There was hardly any more furniture in the room than there might have been in that of the poorest old woman who made her bread by her spinning. There was no carpet on the floor—no table anywhere—nothing but the spinning-wheel and the chair beside it. When she came back, she sat down again and without a word began her spinning once more, while Irene, who had never seen a spinning-wheel, stood by her side and looked on. When the old lady had succeeded in getting her thread fairly in operation again, she said to the princess, but without looking at her:
"Do you know my name, child?"
"No, I don't know it," answered the princess.
"My name is Irene."
"That's my name!" cried the princess.
"I know that. I let you have mine. I haven't got your name. You've got mine."
"How can that be?" asked the princess, bewildered. "I've always had my name."
"Your papa, the king, asked me if I had any objection to your having it; and of course I hadn't. I let you have it with pleasure."
"It was very kind of you to give me your name—and such a pretty one," said the princess.
"Oh, not so very kind!" said the old lady. "A name is one of those things one can give away and keep all the same. I have a good many such things. Wouldn't you like to know who I am, child?"
"Yes, that I should—very much."
"I'm your great-great-grandmother," said the lady.
"What's that?" asked the princess.
"I'm your father's mother's father's mother."
"Oh, dear! I can't understand that," said the princess.
"I daresay not. I didn't expect you would. But that's no reason why I shouldn't say it."
"Oh, no!" answered the princess.
"I will explain it all to you when you are older," the lady went on. "But you will be able to understand this much now: I came here to take care of you."
"Is it long since you came? Was it yesterday? Or was it to-day, because it was so wet that I couldn't get out?"
"I've been here ever since you came yourself."
"What a long time!" said the princess. "I don't remember it at all."
"No. I suppose not."
"But I never saw you before."
"No. But you shall see me again."
"Do you live in this room always?"
"I don't sleep in it. I sleep on the opposite side of the landing. I sit here most of the day."
"I shouldn't like it. My nursery is much prettier. You must be a queen too, if you are my great big grandmother."
"Yes, I am a queen."
"Where is your crown then?"
"In my bedroom."
"I should like to see it."
"You shall some day—not to-day."
"I wonder why nursie never told me."
"Nursie doesn't know. She never saw me."
"But somebody knows that you are in the house?"
"How do you get your dinner then?"
"I keep poultry—of a sort."
"Where do you keep them?"
"I will show you."
"And who makes the chicken broth for you?"
"I never kill any of my chickens."
"Then I can't understand."
"What did you have for breakfast this morning?"
"Oh! I had bread and milk, and an egg.—I daresay you eat their eggs."
"Yes, that's it. I eat their eggs."
"Is that what makes your hair so white?"
"No, my dear. It's old age. I am very old."
"I thought so. Are you fifty?"
"Yes—more than that."
"Are you a hundred?"
"Yes—more than that. I am too old for you to guess. Come and see my chickens."
Again she stopped her spinning. She rose, took the princess by the hand, led her out of the room, and opened the door opposite the stair. The princess expected to see a lot of hens and chickens, but instead of that, she saw the blue sky first, and then the roofs of the house, with a multitude of the loveliest pigeons, mostly white, but of all colors, walking about, making bows to each other, and talking a language she could not understand. She clapped her hands with delight, and up rose such a flapping of wings, that she in her turn was startled.
"You've frightened my poultry," said the old lady, smiling.
"And they've frightened me," said the princess, smiling too. "But what very nice poultry! Are the eggs nice?"
"But what very nice poultry."
"Yes, very nice."
"What a small egg-spoon you must have! Wouldn't it be better to keep hens, and get bigger eggs?"
"How should I feed them, though?"
"I see," said the princess. "The pigeons feed themselves. They've got wings."
"Just so. If they couldn't fly, I couldn't eat their eggs."
"But how do you get at the eggs? Where are their nests?"
The lady took hold of a little loop of string in the wall at the side of the door, and, lifting a shutter, showed a great many pigeon-holes with nests, some with young ones and some with eggs in them. The birds came in at the other side, and she took out the eggs on this side. She closed it again quickly, lest the young ones should be frightened.
"Oh, what a nice way!" cried the princess. "Will you give me an egg to eat? I'm rather hungry."
"I will some day, but now you must go back, or nursie will be miserable about you. I daresay she's looking for you everywhere."
"Except here," answered the princess. "Oh, how surprised she will be when I tell her about my great big grand-grandmother!"
"Yes, that she will!" said the old lady with a curious smile. "Mind you tell her all about it exactly."
"That I will. Please will you take me back to her?"
"I can't go all the way, but I will take you to the top of the stair, and then you must run down quite fast into your own room."
The little princess put her hand in the old lady's, who, looking this way and that, brought her to the top of the first stair, and thence to the bottom of the second, and did not leave her till she saw her halfway down the third. When she heard the cry of her nurse's pleasure at finding her, she turned and walked up the stairs again, very fast indeed for such a very great grandmother, and sat down to her spinning with another strange smile on her sweet old face.
About this spinning of hers I will tell you more next time.
Guess what she was spinning.