WEEK 14 |
IFE at the Three Chimneys was never quite the same again after the old gentleman came to see his grandson. Although they now knew his name, the children never spoke of him by it—at any rate, when they were by themselves. To them he was always the old gentleman, and I think he had better be the old gentleman to us, too. It wouldn't make him seem any more real to you, would it, if I were to tell you that his name was Snooks or Jenkins (which it wasn't)?—and, after all, I must be allowed to keep one secret. It's the only one; I have told you everything else, except what I am going to tell you in this chapter, which is the last. At least, of course, I haven't told you everything. If I were to do that, the book would never come to an end, and that would be a pity, wouldn't it?
Well, as I was saying, life at Three Chimneys was never quite the same again. The cook and the housemaid were very nice (I don't mind telling you their names—they were Clara and Ethelwyn), but they told Mother they did not seem to want Mrs. Viney, and that she was an old muddler. So Mrs. Viney came only two days a week to do washing and ironing. Then Clara and Ethelwyn said they could do the work all right if they weren't interfered with, and that meant that the children no longer got the tea and cleared it away and washed up the tea-things and dusted the rooms.
This would have left quite a blank in their lives, although they had often pretended to themselves and to each other that they hated housework. But now that Mother had no writing and no housework to do, she had time for lessons. And lessons the children had to do. However nice the person who is teaching you may be, lessons are lessons all the world over, and at their best are worse fun than peeling potatoes or lighting a fire.
On the other hand, if Mother now had time for lessons, she also had time for play, and to make up little rhymes for the children as she used to do. She had not had much time for rhymes since she came to Three Chimneys.
There was one very odd thing about these lessons. Whatever the children were doing, they always wanted to be doing something else. When Peter was doing his Latin, he thought it would be nice to be learning History like Bobbie. Bobbie would have preferred Arithmetic, which was what Phyllis happened to be doing, and Phyllis of course thought Latin much the most interesting kind of lesson. And so on.
So, one day, when they sat down to lessons, each of them found a little rhyme at its place. I put the rhymes in to show you that their Mother really did understand a little how children feel about things, and also the kind of words they use, which is the case with very few grown-up people. I suppose most grown-ups have very bad memories, and have forgotten how they felt when they were little. Of course, the verses are supposed to be spoken by the children.
I once thought Caesar easy pap—
How very soft I must have been!
When they start Caesar with a chap
He little knows what that will mean.
Oh, verbs are silly stupid things.
I'd rather learn the dates of kings!
The worst of all my lesson things
Is learning who succeeded who
In all the rows of queens and kings,
With dates to everything they do:
With dates enough to make you sick;—
I wish it was Arithmetic!
Such pounds and pounds of apples fill
My slate—what is the price you'd spend?
You scratch the figures out until
You cry upon the dividend.
I'd break the slate and scream for joy
If I did Latin like a boy!
This kind of thing, of course, made lessons much jollier. It is something to know that the person who is teaching you sees that it is not all plain sailing for you, and does not think that it is just your stupidness that makes you not know your lessons till you've learned them!
Then as Jim's leg got better it was very pleasant to go up and sit with him and hear tales about his school life and the other boys. There was one boy, named Parr, of whom Jim seemed to have formed the lowest possible opinion, and another boy named Wigsby Minor, for whose views Jim had a great respect. Also there were three brothers named Paley, and the youngest was called Paley Terts, and was much given to fighting.
Peter drank in all this with deep joy, and Mother seemed to have listened with some interest, for one day she gave Jim a sheet of paper on which she had written a rhyme about Parr, bringing in Paley and Wigsby by name in a most wonderful way, as well as all the reasons Jim had for not liking Parr, and Wigsby's wise opinion on the matter. Jim was immensely pleased. He had never had a rhyme written expressly for him before. He read it till he knew it by heart and then he sent it to Wigsby, who liked it almost as much as Jim did. Perhaps you may like it, too.
THE NEW BOY
His name is Parr; he says that he
Is given bread and milk for tea.
He says his father killed a bear.
He says his mother cuts his hair.
He wears goloshes when it's wet.
I've heard his people call him "Pet"!
He has no proper sense of shame;
He told the chaps his Christian name.
He cannot wicket-keep at all,
He's frightened of a cricket ball.
He reads indoors for hours and hours.
He knows the names of beastly flowers.
He says his French just like Mossoo—
A beastly stuck-up thing to do—
He won't keep cave, shirks his turn
And says he came to school to learn!
He won't play football, says it hurts;
He wouldn't fight with Paley Terts;
He couldn't whistle if he tried,
And when we laughed at him he cried!
Now Wigsby Minor says that Parr
Is only like all new boys are.
I know when I first came to school
I wasn't such a jolly fool!
Jim could never understand how Mother could have been clever enough to do it. To the others it seemed nice, but natural. You see they had always been used to having a mother who could write verses just like the way people talk, even to the shocking expression at the end of the rhyme, which was Jim's very own.
Jim taught Peter to play chess and draughts and dominoes, and altogether it was a nice quiet time.
Only Jim's leg got better and better, and a general feeling began to spring up among Bobbie, Peter, and Phyllis that something ought to be done to amuse him; not just games, but something really handsome. But it was extraordinarily difficult to think of anything.
"It's no good," said Peter, when all of them had thought and thought till their heads felt quite heavy and swollen; "if we can't think of anything to amuse him, we just can't, and there's an end of it. Perhaps something will just happen of its own accord that he'll like."
"Things do happen by themselves sometimes, without your making them," said Phyllis, rather as though, usually, everything that happened in the world was her doing.
"I wish something would happen," said Bobbie, dreamily, "something wonderful."
And something wonderful did happen exactly four days after she had said this. I wish I could say it was three days after, because in fairy tales it is always three days after that things happen. But this is not a fairy story, and besides, it really was four and not three, and I am nothing if not strictly truthful.
They seemed to be hardly Railway children at all in those days, and as the days went on each had an uneasy feeling about this which Phyllis expressed one day.
"I wonder if the Railway misses us," she said, plaintively. "We never go to see it now."
"It seems ungrateful," said Bobbie; "we loved it so when we hadn't anyone to play with."
"Perks is always coming up to ask after Jim," said Peter, "and the signalman's little boy is better. He told me so."
"I didn't mean the people," explained Phyllis; "I meant the dear Railway itself."
"The thing I don't like," said Bobbie, on this fourth day, which was a Tuesday, "is our having stopped waving to the 9.15 and sending our love to Father by it."
"Let's begin again," said Phyllis. And they did.
Somehow the change of everything that was made by having servants in the house and Mother not doing any writing, made the time seem extremely long since that strange morning at the beginning of things, when they had got up so early and burnt the bottom out of the kettle and had apple pie for breakfast and first seen the Railway.
It was September now, and the turf on the slope to the Railway was dry and crisp. Little long grass spikes stood up like bits of gold wire, frail blue harebells trembled on their tough, slender stalks, Gipsy roses opened wide and flat their lilac-coloured discs, and the golden stars of St. John's Wort shone at the edges of the pool that lay halfway to the Railway. Bobbie gathered a generous handful of the flowers and thought how pretty they would look lying on the green-and-pink blanket of silk waste that now covered Jim's poor broken leg.
"Hurry up," said Peter, "or we shall miss the 9.15!"
"I can't hurry more than I am doing," said Phyllis. "Oh, bother it! My bootlace has come undone again!"
"When you're married," said Peter, "your bootlace will come undone going up the church aisle, and your man that you're going to get married to will tumble over it and smash his nose in on the ornamented pavement; and then you'll say you won't marry him, and you'll have to be an old maid."
"I shan't," said Phyllis. "I'd much rather marry a man with his nose smashed in than not marry anybody."
"It would be horrid to marry a man with a smashed nose, all the same," went on Bobbie. "He wouldn't be able to smell the flowers at the wedding. Wouldn't that be awful!"
"Bother the flowers at the wedding!" cried Peter. "Look! the signal's down. We must run!"
They ran. And once more they waved their handkerchiefs, without at all minding whether the handkerchiefs were clean or not, to the 9.15.
"Take our love to Father!" cried Bobbie. And the others, too, shouted:
"Take our love to Father!"
The old gentleman waved from his first-class carriage window. Quite violently he waved. And there was nothing odd in that, for he always had waved. But what was really remarkable was that from every window handkerchiefs fluttered, newspapers signalled, hands waved wildly. The train swept by with a rustle and roar, the little pebbles jumped and danced under it as it passed, and the children were left looking at each other.
"Well!" said Peter.
"Well!" said Bobbie.
"Well!" said Phyllis.
"Whatever on earth does that mean?" asked Peter, but he did not expect any answer.
"I don't know," said Bobbie. "Perhaps the old gentleman told the people at his station to look out for us and wave. He knew we should like it!"
Now, curiously enough, this was just what had happened. The old gentleman, who was very well known and respected at his particular station, had got there early that morning, and he had waited at the door where the young man stands holding the interesting machine that clips the tickets, and he had said something to every single passenger who passed through that door. And after nodding to what the old gentleman had said—and the nods expressed every shade of surprise, interest, doubt, cheerful pleasure, and grumpy agreement—each passenger had gone on to the platform and read one certain part of his newspaper. And when the passengers got into the train, they had told the other passengers who were already there what the old gentleman had said, and then the other passengers had also looked at their newspapers and seemed very astonished and, mostly, pleased. Then, when the train passed the fence where the three children were, newspapers and hands and handkerchiefs were waved madly, till all that side of the train was fluttery with white, like the pictures of the King's Coronation in the biograph at Maskelyne and Cook's. To the children it almost seemed as though the train itself was alive, and was at last responding to the love that they had given it so freely and so long.
"It is most extraordinarily rum!" said Peter.
"Most stronery!" echoed Phyllis.
But Bobbie said, "Don't you think the old gentleman's waves seemed more significating than usual?"
"No," said the others.
"I do," said Bobbie. "I thought he was trying to explain something to us with his newspaper."
"Explain what?" asked Peter, not unnaturally.
"I don't know," Bobbie answered, "but I do feel most awfully funny. I feel just exactly as if something was going to happen."
"What is going to happen," said Peter, "is that Phyllis's stocking is going to come down."
This was but too true. The suspender had given way in the agitation of the waves to the 9.15. Bobbie's handkerchief served as first aid to the injured, and they all went home.
Lessons were more than usually difficult to Bobbie that day. Indeed, she disgraced herself so deeply over a quite simple sum about the division of 48 pounds of meat and 36 pounds of bread among 144 hungry children that Mother looked at her anxiously.
"Don't you feel quite well, dear?" she asked.
"I don't know," was Bobbie's unexpected answer. "I don't know how I feel. It isn't that I'm lazy. Mother, will you let me off lessons to-day? I feel as if I wanted to be quite alone by myself."
"Yes, of course I'll let you off," said Mother;
Bobbie dropped her slate. It cracked just across the little green mark that is so useful for drawing patterns round, and it was never the same slate again. Without waiting to pick it up she bolted. Mother caught her in the hall feeling blindly among the waterproofs and umbrellas for her garden hat.
"What is it, my sweetheart?" said Mother. "You don't feel ill, do you?"
"I don't know," Bobbie answered, a little breathlessly, "but I want to be by myself and see if my head really is all silly and my inside all squirmy-twisty."
"Hadn't you better lie down?" Mother said, stroking her hair back from her forehead.
"I'd be more alive in the garden, I think," said Bobbie.
But she could not stay in the garden. The hollyhocks and the asters and the late roses all seemed to be waiting for something to happen. It was one of those still, shiny autumn days, when everything does seem to be waiting.
Bobbie could not wait.
"I'll go down to the station," she said, "and talk to Perks and ask about the signalman's little boy."
So she went down. On the way she passed the old lady from the Post-office, who gave her a kiss and a hug, but, rather to Bobbie's surprise, no words except:
"God bless you,
The draper's boy, who had sometimes been a little less than civil and a little more than contemptuous, now touched his cap, and uttered the remarkable words:
The blacksmith, coming along with an open newspaper in his hand, was even more strange in his manner. He grinned broadly, though, as a rule, he was a man not given to smiles, and waved the newspaper long before he came up to her. And as he passed her, he said, in answer to her "Good morning":
"Good morning to you, Missie, and many of them! I wish you joy, that I do!"
"Oh!" said Bobbie to herself, and her heart quickened its beats, "something is going to happen! I know it is—everyone is so odd, like people are in dreams."
The Station Master wrung her hand warmly. In fact he worked it up and down like a pump-handle. But he gave her no reason for this unusually enthusiastic greeting. He only said:
"The 11.54's a bit late, Miss—the extra luggage this holiday time," and went away very quickly into that inner Temple of his into which even Bobbie dared not follow him.
Perks was not to be seen, and Bobbie shared the solitude of the platform with the Station Cat. This tortoiseshell lady, usually of a retiring disposition, came to-day to rub herself against the brown stockings of Bobbie with arched back, waving tail, and reverberating purrs.
"Dear me!" said Bobbie, stooping to stroke her, "how very kind everybody is to-day—even you, Pussy!"
Perks did not appear until the 11.54 was signalled, and then he, like everybody else that morning, had a newspaper in his hand.
"Hullo!" he said,
"You ain't offended, are you?" he asked anxiously. "I ain't took too
great a liberty? On a day like this, you
"No, no," said Bobbie, "of course it's not a liberty, dear Mr. Perks; we love you quite as much as if you were an uncle of ours—but—on a day like what?"
"Like this 'ere!" said Perks. "Don't I tell you I see it in the paper?"
"Saw what in the paper?" asked Bobbie, but already the 11.54 was steaming into the station and the Station Master was looking at all the places where Perks was not and ought to have been.
Bobbie was left standing alone, the Station Cat watching her from under the bench with friendly golden eyes.
Of course you know already exactly what was going to happen. Bobbie was not so clever. She had the vague, confused, expectant feeling that comes to one's heart in dreams. What her heart expected I can't tell—perhaps the very thing that you and I know was going to happen—but her mind expected nothing; it was almost blank, and felt nothing but tiredness and stupidness and an empty feeling, like your body has when you have been a long walk and it is very far indeed past your proper dinner-time.
Only three people got out of the 11.54. The first was a countryman with
two baskety boxes full of live chickens who stuck their russet heads
out anxiously through the wicker bars; the second was Miss Peckitt, the
grocer's wife's cousin, with a tin box and three brown-paper parcels;
"Oh! my Daddy, my Daddy!" That scream went like a knife into the heart of everyone in the train, and people put their heads out of the windows to see a tall pale man with lips set in a thin close line, and a little girl clinging to him with arms and legs, while his arms went tightly round her.
"I knew something wonderful was going to happen," said Bobbie, as they went up the road, "but I didn't think it was going to be this. Oh, my Daddy, my Daddy!"
"Then didn't Mother get my letter?" Father asked.
"There weren't any letters this morning. Oh! Daddy! it is really you, isn't it?"
The clasp of a hand she had not forgotten assured her that it was. "You must go in by yourself, Bobbie, and tell Mother quite quietly that it's all right. They've caught the man who did it. Everyone knows now that it wasn't your Daddy."
"I always knew it wasn't," said Bobbie. "Me and Mother and our old gentleman."
"Yes," he said, "it's all his doing. Mother wrote and told me you had found out. And she told me what you'd been to her. My own little girl!" They stopped a minute then.
And now I see them crossing the field. Bobbie goes into the house, trying to keep her eyes from speaking before her lips have found the right words to "tell Mother quite quietly" that the sorrow and the struggle and the parting are over and done, and that Father has come home.
I see Father walking in the garden, waiting—waiting. He is looking at the flowers, and each flower is a miracle to eyes that all these months of spring and summer have seen only flag-stones and gravel and a little grudging grass. But his eyes keep turning towards the house. And presently he leaves the garden and goes to stand outside the nearest door. It is the back door, and across the yard the swallows are circling. They are getting ready to fly away from cold winds and keen frost to the land where it is always summer. They are the same swallows that the children built the little clay nests for.
Now the house door opens. Bobbie's voice calls:
"Come in, Daddy; come in!"
He goes in and the door is shut. I think we will not open the door or follow him. I think that just now we are not wanted there. I think it will be best for us to go quickly and quietly away. At the end of the field, among the thin gold spikes of grass and the harebells and Gipsy roses and St. John's Wort, we may just take one last look, over our shoulders, at the white house where neither we nor anyone else is wanted now.
I t was about 449 when the Teutons landed on the island of Thanet. More and more of them came, until finally not the Britons, but the Teutons, ruled England. Each company tried to make their settlement a little kingdom by itself. Sometimes a little group of these kingdoms were allies for a while, then they were enemies. Gradually the West Saxons became more powerful than the others, and at length their king, Egbert, induced seven of these kingdoms to make a sort of union.
Hilts of Danish Iron Swords
It would have been far better if this union could have been strong and lasting, for all England was now in dreadful peril. The reason was that still more tribes were pushing on to the westward. These tribes were Teutons who lived in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark; but the English called them all Danes. The Danes thought it a disgrace to live quietly on the land, and they dashed off in the fiercest tempests and over the stormiest seas in search of treasure. They would steal up to a church or a convent or a village in the mist and darkness. Then with wild shouts to Odin and Thor they would kill, burn, and plunder. They destroyed bridges, they set fire to the growing crops, they tossed little babies to and fro on the points of their spears, they tortured the helpless dogs and horses. Then they set off for their homeland to display the treasures they had won. Their code of honour was that a Dane who fled from fewer than five disgraced himself. The warriors had no fear of death, for they believed that the Valkyries would come and carry those slain in battle to the delights of Valhalla.
The Statue of King Alfred at Winchester
These were the enemies whom the grandson of Egbert, the Saxon king Alfred, a young man of twenty-three, had to meet. At the death of his brother he had become king, but just at that time the Danes were coming in throngs and there were no rejoicings in honor of the new sovereign. There was no feasting, there was not even a meeting of the councillors of the kingdom to declare that they accepter him as their ruler. The Danes landed first on one shore, then on another. Alfred built warships and won a battle on the sea Then he was surprised by the Danes and most of his people were subdued. Their king, however, had no thought of yielding. He and some of his faithful followers withdrew to Athelney, an island in the swampy forest of Somerset, where they made themselves a fort. A few people lived in this wilderness who tended the swine of their lord. Their homes were tiny huts of brushwood plastered with mud. Two legends of his stay at Athelney have been handed down to us. One is that he once took refuge in one of these tiny huts, much to the wrath of the housewife, for her husband had not told her who was his guest. The story says that she bade the visitor sit by the fire and turn her cakes when they were done on one side. The anxious king forgot all about them, and the angry housewife scolded. According to an old ballad, she cried,—
"There, don't you see the cakes are burnt?
Then wherefore turn them not?
You're quick enough to eat them
When they are good and hot."
Alfred the Great Letting the Cakes Burn.
The second legend is that in order to find out the number of the Danes he put on the dress of a harper and went to the Danish camp. There he sang old ballads, perhaps even part of Beowulf. The Danes were delighted, and never guessed that they were applauding the king of the English. Alfred went back to his friends with a good knowledge of the Danish camp and a heart full of courage. When the spring came, he surprised his enemies and forced them to promise to be baptized as Christians. He was not strong enough to drive them from the country, but it was agreed that they should remain in their settlements in the eastern and northern parts of England, while Alfred should rule the southern and western parts. Then Alfred set to work to do what he could for his kingdom.
An Early English Church
(Church of St. Lawrence, Wiltshire, built probably in the 7th century)
The king of England was in a hard position. Much of the country had been ravaged again and again. Churches, libraries, and convents had been destroyed. Alfred built a line of forts around the south-eastern coast, for he knew that other Danes would be likely to come. He built at least one hundred warships. He made a code of laws for his people. He appointed judges, who were punished if they were not just. One judge was hanged because he condemned a man unlawfully. Alfred built churches and convents. He brought learned men to his kingdom, following the example of Charlemagne in earlier times. He established schools, and he commanded that every freeborn boy in the kingdom should learn to read English, and that if he showed ability, he should go on and learn to read Latin. Now arose a difficulty. In those times books were written in Latin as a matter of course, and there were very few in English. So the busy king set to work to translate books for his people. One of them was a sort of history and geography combined. In this is the story which Longfellow has put into his poem, The Discoverer of the North Cape—the story of
Othere the old sea-captain
Who dwelt in Helgoland.
Alfred had received a barren land, overrun by enemies. He left it a peaceful, prosperous kingdom with schools, churches, just laws, vessels, and fortifications. It is no wonder that he is called Alfred the Great.
Jack in the pulpit
Under the green trees
Just over the way.
Squirrel and song sparrow,
High on their perch,
Hear the sweet lily bells
Ringing to church.
Come hear what his reverence
Rises to say
In his low, painted pulpit
This calm Sabbath day.
Drooping and sad;
Great yellow violets,
Smiling out glad;
Beaming and bright;
Clovers with bonnets,
Some red and some white;
Daisies, their white fingers
Half clasped in prayer;
Dandelions, proud of
The gold of their hair;
Guileless and frail,
Meek little faces
Upturned and pale;
All in their best,
In purple gauze dressed:—
All are assembled
This sweet Sabbath day
To hear what the priest
In his pulpit will say.
So much for the preacher:
The sermon comes next,—
Shall we tell how he preached it
And where was his text?
Alas! like too many
Grown-up folks who play
At worship in churches
We heard not the preacher
Expound or discuss;
But we looked at the people,
And they looked at us.
We all saw their dresses—
Their colors and shapes;
The trim of their bonnets,
The cut of their capes;
We heard the wind organ,
The bee and the bird,
But of Jack in the pulpit
We heard not a word!
WEEK 14 |
S soon as King
It was a great thing to be Queen of England, but Lady Jane was not glad. She was sad and frightened. She trembled as the duke spoke to her, then covering her face with her hands, she fell fainting to the ground.
When she came to herself again she cried bitterly for sorrow at the death of her cousin, whom she had loved dearly. She was only a very little older than he and, like him, she was fond of learning; indeed they had often had the same masters.
Lady Jane was even more clever than Edward. She could speak and write Greek and Latin, and she knew some Hebrew. This was more wonderful in those days than it would be now, for then very few people had any learning at all.
As Lady Jane wept for her cousin, the nobles tried to comfort her by reminding her how great she herself now was. But that did not comfort her. It frightened her.
"I cannot be Queen," she said. "I cannot bear so great an honour. I am not fit for it."
"It is your duty," said the duke. "You cannot put away from you the duty God gives you."
With tears running down her face, Lady Jane fell upon her knees, and clasping her hands said, "Then if it must be so, God give me strength to bear this heavy burden. God give me grace to rule for His glory and the good of the people."
The next day Lady Jane was taken in state to the Tower. But no crowds gathered to greet and cheer her as their Queen. A few people came out of idle curiosity, but they were all silent. Not one voice cried, "God save the Queen!"
But while these things were happening, the Princess Mary did not sit still. She raised an army and claimed the crown. Northumberland marched against her with another army, leaving Lady Jane in the Tower. No sooner had he gone, than many of the lords, who had joined him in helping to put Lady Jane on the throne, began to regret it. They one and all declared for Queen Mary and, marching to the Tower, demanded the keys in her name.
Lady Jane's father, who had been left to guard the Tower, was afraid to resist, and he opened the gates to Mary's friends. Then running to his daughter's room he told her that her reign was at an end.
"Dear father," she said, "these are the happiest words I have ever heard since you told me that I must be Queen. May I go home now?" she added.
But alas! it was easier to enter the Tower than to leave it, and she was kept fast prisoner.
Meanwhile Mary had been proclaimed Queen in the streets of London.
Instead of the gloomy silence which had greeted Lady Jane Grey, the people shouted with joy, "God save the Queen! God save the Queen!"
The news spread fast. The church bells rang, the people sang and shouted, bonfires were lit, everywhere there was feasting and rejoicing. Mary was Queen.
The news travelled on. It reached Northumberland and his
army. The duke knew when he heard it that his cause was
lost, that his hopes and his fortunes were fallen and
broken. Only one thing was left to him. He, too, took off
his cap and shouted with the rest,
"God save the Queen!" Poor Lady Jane,
But even that could not save Northumberland, and he was taken back to London a prisoner. The people hated him, and they shouted, "Traitor, traitor, death to the traitor!" as he was led through the streets, till in fear and shame he hid his face from them as he entered the Tower, out of which he never again came.
Mary was so glad and happy to have won the crown that she was at first kind to every one. She would not put Lady Jane and her husband to death—an innocent girl was not to blame, she said. But she kept them both prisoners in the Tower. It is even thought that Mary would have spared the life of Northumberland. But many of the nobles hated him. It was decided that he must die, and his head was cut off.
The new Queen's gentleness did not last long. When once she
felt herself secure upon the throne, she proved to be as
Mary was a Roman Catholic, and she made up her mind to bring England back to that faith. At first many of the people were glad of this, for although they did not wish to come under the rule of the Pope again, they did not like the new religion. But when Mary let it be known that she meant to marry Philip of Spain, the people were very angry.
Spain was a Roman Catholic country. The English hated the Spaniards, and were afraid of them. The Spaniards they knew were cruel. They had in their country a terrible court called the Inquisition.
Inquisition means to seek out. If any one was suspected of thinking for himself in matters of religion he was brought before this court and asked searching questions, so that the truth might be sought out. Sometimes the questions were so difficult to answer that innocent people made themselves appear guilty. But whether innocent or guilty those who were brought before this court were nearly always tortured, and often condemned to be burned to death.
However much the English wished to return to the Roman Catholic religion, they did not wish this terrible Inquisition to be brought into their country. They tried to make Mary marry an Englishman. But Mary was very proud and haughty. "There is no Englishman my equal. I will not marry a subject," she said.
No one was pleased with this marriage, and the Protestants were very much afraid. Anything, they thought, would be better than to allow a Spaniard to rule in England. So a plot was formed to put Mary from the throne, and to set either her sister Elizabeth or Lady Jane Grey in her place.
But the plot failed. All the leaders were beheaded, and hundreds of their followers were hanged. Gentle Lady Jane, who had never wished to rule, was blamed for this rebellion. She was brought out of the Tower where she had been kept prisoner, and her beautiful head was cut off. Her husband, father and brother were also put to death. The Queen had begun to earn for herself her terrible name of "Bloody Mary."
HO is your spring messenger? Is it bird or flower or
beast that brings your spring? What sight or sound or
Perhaps it is the frogs. Certainly I could not have a real spring without the frogs. They have peeped "Spring!" to me every time I have had a spring. Perhaps it is the arbutus, or the hepatica, or the pussy-willow, or the bluebird, or the yellow spice-bush, or, if you chance to live in New England, perhaps it is the wood pussy that brings your spring!
Beast, bird, or flower, whatever it is, there comes a day and a messenger and—spring! You know that spring is here. It may snow again before night: no matter; your messenger has brought you the news, brought you the very spring itself, and after all your waiting through the winter months are you going to be discouraged by a flurry of snow?
"All white and still lie stream and
The winter dread and drear!
When from the skies a bluebird flies,
And—spring is here!"
To be sure, it is here, if the bluebird is your herald.
But how much faith in the weather you must have, and how you must long for the spring before the first bluebird brings it to you! Some sunny March day he drops down out of the blue sky, saying softly, sweetly, "Florida, florida!" as if calling the flowers; and then he is gone!—gone for days at a time, while it snows and blows and rains, freezes and thaws, thaws, thaws, until the March mud looks fitter for clams than for flowers.
So it is with the other first signs. If you want springtime ahead of time, then you must have it in your heart, out of reach of the weather, just as you must grow cucumbers in a hothouse if you want them ahead of time. But there comes a day when cucumbers will grow out of doors; and there comes a day when the bluebird and the song sparrow and all the other heralds stay, when spring has come whether you have a heart or not.
What day is that in your out-of-doors, and what sign have you to mark it? Mr. John Burroughs says his sign is the wake-robin, or trillium.
When I was a school-boy it used to be for me the arbutus; but nowadays it is the shadbush: I have no sure settled spring until I see the shadbush beginning to open misty white in the edge of the woods. Then I can trust the weather; I can open my beehives; I can plough and plant my garden; I can start into the woods for a day with the birds and flowers; for when the shadbush opens, the great gate to the woods and fields swings open—wide open to let everybody in.
But perhaps you do not know what the shadbush is? That does not matter. You can easily enough find that out. Some call it June-berry; others call it service-berry; and the botany calls it A-me-lan'chi-er ca-na-den'sis! But that does not matter either. For this is not a botany lesson. It is an account of how springtime comes to me, and when and what are its signs. And I would have you read it to think how springtime comes to you, and when and what are its signs. So, if the dandelion, and not the shadbush, is your sign, then you must read "dandelion" here every time I write "shadbush."
There is an old saying, "He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies out"; which is to say, those who bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry out some kind of wealth in exchange. So you who would enjoy or understand what my shadbush means to me must have a shadbush of your own, or a dandelion, or something that is a sign to you that spring is here. Then, you see, my chapter in the book will become your own.
There are so many persons who do not know one bird from another, one tree from another, one flower from another; who would not know one season from another did they not see the spring hats in the milliner's window or feel the need of a change of coat. I hope you are not one of them. I hope you are on the watch, instead, for the first phœbe or the earliest bloodroot, or are listening to catch the shrill, brave peeping of the little tree-frogs, the hylas.
As for me, I am on the watch for the shadbush. Oh, yes, spring comes before the shadbush opens, but it is likely not to stay. The wild geese trumpet spring in the gray March skies as they pass; a February rain, after a long cold season of snow, spatters your face with spring; the swelling buds on the maples, the fuzzy kittens on the pussy-willows, the opening marsh-marigolds in the meadows, the frogs, the bluebirds—all of these, while they stay, are the spring. But they are not sure to stay over night, here in New England. You may wake up and find it snowing—until the shadbush opens. After that, hang up your sled and skates, put away your overcoat and mittens; for spring is here, and the honey-bees will buzz every bright day until the October asters are in bloom.
I said if you want springtime ahead of time you must have it in your heart. Of course you must. If your heart is warm and your eye is keen, you can go forth in the dead of winter and gather buds, seeds, cocoons, and living things enough to make a little spring. For the fires of summer are never wholly out. They are only banked in the winter, smouldering always under the snow, and quick to brighten and burst into blaze. There comes a warm day in January, and across your thawing path crawls a woolly-bear caterpillar; a mourning-cloak butterfly flits through the woods, and the juncos sing. That night a howling snowstorm sweeps out of the north; the coals are covered again. So they kindle and darken, until they leap from the ashes of winter a pure, thin blaze in the shadbush, to burn higher and hotter across the summer, to flicker and die away—a line of yellow embers—in the weird witch-hazel of the autumn.
At the sign of the shadbush the doors of my springtime swing wide open. My birds are back, my turtles are out, my long sleeping woodchucks are wide awake. There is not a stretch of woodland or meadow now that shows a trace of winter. Over the pasture the bluets are beginning to drift, as if the haze on the distant hills, floating down in the night, had been caught in the dew-wet grass. They wash the field to its borders in their delicate azure hue. At the sign of the shadbush the doors of my memory, too, swing wide open, and I am a boy again in the meadows of my old home. The shadbush is in blossom, and the fish are running—the sturgeon up the Delaware; the shad up Cohansey Creek; and through the Lower Sluice, these soft, stirring nights, the catfish are slipping. Is there any real boy now in Lupton's Meadows to watch them come? Oh yes, doubtless; and doubtless there ever shall be. But I would go down for this one night, down in the May moonlight, and listen, as I used to listen years ago, for the quiet splash splash splash, as the swarming catfish pass through the shallows of the main ditch, up toward the dam at the pond.
At the sign of the shadbush how swiftly the tides of life begin to rise! How mysteriously their currents run!—the fish swimming in from the sea, the birds flying up from the South, the flowers opening fresh from the soil, the insects coming out from their sleep: life moving everywhere—across the heavens, over the earth, along the deep, dim aisles of the sea!
They say that God lives very high!
But if you look above the pines
You cannot see our God. And why?
And if you dig down in the mines
You never see Him in the gold,
Though from Him all that's glory shines.
God is so good, He wears a fold
Of heaven and earth across His face—
Like secrets kept, for love, untold.
But still I feel that His embrace
Slides down by thrills, through all things made,
Through sight and sound of every place:
As if my tender mother laid
On my shut lids, her kisses' pressure,
Half waking me at night; and said
"Who kissed you through the dark, dear guesser?"
WEEK 14 |
"S OME metals never rust; such a one is gold. Ancient gold pieces found in the earth after centuries are as bright as the day they were coined. No dross, no rust covers their effigy and inscription. Time, fire, humidity, air, cannot harm this admirable metal. Therefore gold, on account of its unchangeable luster and its rarity, is preëminently the material for ornaments and coins.
"Furthermore, gold is the first metal that man became acquainted with, long before iron, lead, tin, and the others. The reason why man's attention was called to gold, long centuries before iron, is not hard to understand. Gold never rusts; iron rusts with such grievous facility that in a short time, if we are not careful, it is converted into a red earth. I have just told you that gold objects, however old they may be, have come to us intact, even after having been in the dampest ground. As for objects of iron, not one has reached us that was not in an unrecognizable state. Corroded with rust, they have become a shapeless earthy crust. Now I will ask Jules if the iron ore that is extracted from the bowels of the earth can be real, pure iron, such as we use."
"It seems to me not, Uncle; for if iron at any given moment is pure, it must rust with time and change to earthy matter, as does the blade of a knife buried in the ground."
"My brother seems to reason correctly; I agree with him," said Claire.
"And gold?" Uncle Paul asked her.
"It is different with gold," she replied. "As that metal never rusts, is not changed by time, air, and dampness, it must be pure."
"Exactly so. In the rocks where it is disseminated in small scales, gold is as brilliant as in jewelers' boxes. Claire's earrings have not more luster than the particles set by nature in the rock. On the contrary, what a pitiful appearance iron makes when it is found! It is an earthy crust, a reddish stone, in which only after long research can one suspect the presence of a metal; it is, in fact, rust, mixed more or less with other substances. And then, it is not enough to perceive that this rusty stone contains a metal; a way must still be found to decompose the ore and bring the iron back to its metallic state. How many efforts were necessary to attain this result, one of the most difficult to achieve! How many fruitless attempts, how many painful trials! Iron, then, was the last to become of use to us, long after gold and other metals, like copper and silver, which are sometimes, but not always, found pure. That most useful of metals was the last; but with it an immense advance was made in human industry. From the moment man was in possession of iron, he found himself master of the earth.
"At the head of substances that resist shock, iron
placed; and it is precisely its enormous resistance to
rupture that makes this metal so precious to us. Never would
a gold, copper, marble, or stone anvil resist the blows of
the smith's hammer as an iron one does. The hammer itself,
of what substance other than iron could it be made? If of
copper, silver, or gold, it would flatten, crush, and become
useless in a short time; for these metals lack hardness. If
of stone, it would break at the first rather hard blow. For
these implements nothing can take the place of iron. Nor can
it for axes, saws, knives, the mason's chisel, the
"Claire and I read one day," said Jules, "that when the Spaniards discovered America, the savages of that new country had gold axes, which they very willingly exchanged for iron ones. I laughed at their innocence, which made them give such a costly price for a piece of very common metal. I think I see now that the exchange was to their advantage."
"Yes, decidedly to their advantage; for with an iron ax
they could fell trees to make their
"If iron came last, what did men do before they knew of it?" asked Jules.
"They made their weapons and tools of copper; for, like
gold, this metal is sometimes in a pure state so that it
can be utilized just as nature gives it to us. But a copper
implement, having little hardness, is of much less value
than an iron one. Thus, in those
"He was still more so before knowing copper. He cut a flint into a point, or split it, and fastened it to the end of a stick; and that was his only weapon.
Hatchet of the Stone Age
"With this stone he had to procure food, clothing, a hut, and to defend himself from wild beasts. His clothing was a skin thrown over his back, his dwelling a hut made of twisted branches and mud; his food a piece of flesh, produce of the chase. Domestic animals were unknown, the earth uncultivated, and industry lacking."
"And where was that?" asked Claire.
"Everywhere, my dear child; here, even in places where
Just as Uncle Paul finished, Jacques knocked discreetly at the door; Jules ran to open it. They whispered a few words to each other. It was about an important affair for the next day.
So, as the years went by, Dutch ships appeared at the mouth of the Hudson; and traders from Holland offered the Indians blue glass beads and strips of red cotton for beaver, otter, and mink skins. A few rough huts were built on the Indian island of Manhattan and were used both as a shelter and as a trading post. The neighboring country was explored, and to all this region the Dutchmen gave the name of New Netherland.
In 1618 these enterprising traders built a fort or strong house not far from the present site of Albany. Here they set up a few cannon and established a small garrison. Then the commander of the little company did a thing which was to prove a lasting good to many people for many years. He invited the chiefs of all the powerful Iroquois Indian tribes to hold a conference with him.
They came gladly. With great solemnity the peace pipe was passed around, and both Dutch and Indians smoked it. Next, a hard-and-fast agreement was made between them. The Indians were to bring all their furs to the Dutch traders and in return were to receive powder and muskets. Finally, as a sign of lasting peace, a tomahawk was buried, over which the Dutch were to build a church, so that it could not be dug up and the treaty ruined. This was the great treaty of Tawasentha.
A little later there was formed in Holland a company known as the Dutch West India Company, and in 1623 this Dutch West India Company sent a colonizing expedition to New Netherland. Thirty families sailed under the leadership of Cornelius May, who was elected their first governor.
A good deal seems to have been expected from these thirty families in the way of settlements. There were only one hundred and ten people in all, and a village of one hundred and ten people is a pretty small town. So you can picture how large their towns must have been when one hundred and ten were divided into several different settlements.
Some of the families stayed on Manhattan Island and built themselves cozy little Dutch homes.
In 1626 Peter Minuit was appointed Governor of New Netherland and came to the Manhattan settlement. He was one of the best and wisest governors that the Dutch West India Company ever sent to look after their interests in America.
Now, up to this time the Dutch had lived on the island
of Manhattan without questioning whether it was right
or wrong for them to do so. When
The Indian chiefs were willing to part with the land
and sold the whole island to the Dutch for
You see the Indians did not know the value of gold and silver money. The only money they knew or valued was what they called wampum. This wampum was made of shells or beads which had holes through them and were strung on strings. A string of colored beads would buy twice as much corn as a string of the same number of white beads.
Wampum was put to other uses besides that of trading. As the Indians could not write, they kept their records in beads. After a council a belt would be woven in such a way that an Indian could tell from the color and arrangement of the beads just what had been done. Treaty belts, too, were made in this way and given as a pledge that the terms of the treaty would be kept.
After Manhattan became Dutch property, Peter Minuit built a blockhouse surrounded by strong palisades for the protection of the little town which was named New Amsterdam. During the summer more settlers came, and soon there were thirty houses in the village. Besides these houses there was a large windmill, a flagstaff from which the Dutch colors floated on the breeze, and later a church. On one side of the church was the Governor's house; on the other, the prison. Fields were planted with wheat, rye, corn, barley, and oats. Meadows were laid out and stocked with cows, sheep, and goats. And the industrious Dutchmen soon felt much at home.
The Indians and the New Amsterdam settlers were on very friendly terms, and the Indians constantly came into the town to sell their furs to the white men. This trade in furs was carried on between the Indians and the fur traders of other New Netherland settlements as well as with those of New Amsterdam, and it became the great industry of the colony.
One other industry was carried on by these thrifty people. They cut down great trees from the forests and shipped the timber to Holland. When they had cut more than they could ship, they began to build vessels of their own to sail up and down the river and even to the West Indies, with which they were fast building up a trade.
And yet in spite of the shipbuilding, the profitable fur trading, and all the advantages to be had in New Netherland, the Dutch were slow in coming to America. They were too happy at home to care to leave Holland.
The Dutch West India Company saw that some new inducement must be made if their colony was to grow fast enough to suit them. So they offered a tract of land to any member of their company who would agree to have fifty colonists settled on his property within four years. Anyone accepting the offer could choose his own land along any river in the company's domain. If his estate lay on only one bank of the river, he could claim sixteen miles of shore line. Or, he could have eight miles on each bank. In either case his estate should run back from the river as far as he wished it to. The owners of these estates were to be called patroons.
The patroon must consent to pay the Indians for his land, to pay the traveling expenses of his fifty colonists, to fit them out with the necessities of farming, and to provide a schoolmaster and a minister for his estate.
In a short time five such estates were laid out, and the proprietors acted like lords. They did not need to exert themselves, for they had all the help they could desire and almost absolute power over all the settlers living on their lands.
In 1632 Peter Minuit was removed from the governorship of New Netherland and sailed away from New Amsterdam after a short but useful service.
PETER STUYVESANT was the last of the Dutch governors of New Netherland. He came to the colony in 1647 and ruled for seventeen years. And they were trying years for both the people and the Governor.
Peter Stuyvesant had many good qualities and many faults. He was loyal to the company that had appointed him and tyrannical to the people he governed. He was honest, brave, and fearless. But he was hot tempered, stern, and unrelenting. His motives were good, but his methods severe.
Above all he was stubborn. So stubborn indeed that before he had been long in the colony he was nicknamed "Headstrong Peter." "Old Silverleg" was another name given him.
These two nicknames illustrate perfectly the
Peter Stuyvesant found many trials awaiting him in New Netherland. Troublesome neighbors were on every side. Governor Kieft whom he succeeded had had no tact with the Indians. One quarrel had been settled only to be followed by another. War of course had resulted. And although the Indians had been defeated and peace again established before Peter Stuyvesant came to take Governor Kieft's place, the Indians were still restless and revengeful. They were on the lookout for trouble and had to be treated with great care.
Then south of New Netherland lay a Swedish settlement on Delaware Bay. Here trouble of another sort was waiting for the new governor. The Swedes had settled on land which the Dutch claimed was theirs; and the Swedes had been ordered to leave, but had paid no attention to the order. Instead, they had built a fort to protect themselves and had sent for more settlers. Then the Dutch had built a fort near the Swedish fort to enforce their claim. This the Swedes had torn down.
And thus it went until Peter Stuyvesant decided to settle matters once for all. So taking seven ships and seven hundred men he swooped down upon the little colony, forced it to surrender, and turned it from a Swedish to a Dutch colony.
With the English colonists to the east, Peter Stuyvesant had difficulties, too. The English had gradually occupied Connecticut; and now they were crowding the Dutch on Long Island, and even in the land between the Connecticut and Hudson rivers. Settlement of the boundary lines cost much time and many heated arguments.
And all this while Peter Stuyvesant was having other heated arguments with his own colonists. They had many grievances against their governor. They complained of the taxes; they did not want to be controlled solely by a governor, for they themselves wanted a voice in the government.
At last they won what they asked, and Peter Stuyvesant was obliged to listen to their claims. A council of nine men was elected to confer with the Governor, and this council did much toward remedying the evils of which the people complained.
Now, although Peter Stuyvesant's rule was such a stormy
one, he left the colony far better than he found it.
New Amsterdam especially improved under his care. The
town was given a charter and made into a city. And it
was a pretty city, too. Along the streets stood the
rows of quaint Dutch houses. Their gables were of
colored brick and were turned toward the street;
weathercocks decorated the roofs. Bright little gardens
many houses. And the
In the public square stood the stocks, whipping post,
and pillory for the punishment of offenders. As
Governor Stuyvesant was very fond of dealing out public
punishment, all three were often occupied at once. Then there
was the fort built by Peter Minuit and strengthened by
Peter Stuyvesant. Scattered about were Dutch
windmills with their four long sweeping arms. And all
New Amsterdam was a charming little town and one of
which the Dutch Governor might well be proud. But Peter
Stuyvesant's pride in his colony was
England and Holland were great commercial rivals; and England had long ago, owing to John Cabot's discoveries, claimed the land occupied by New Netherland. Moreover, the English king was determined to have all the English colonies along the Atlantic coast united, and this was impossible so long as the Dutch held New Netherland. So the English king gave the Dutch land to his brother James, the Duke of York, who sent a fleet to demand the surrender of the Dutch colony.
Suddenly one day this fleet appeared off New Amsterdam, and its commander sent a letter to Governor Stuyvesant. The letter invited him to give up his colony to the Duke of York. In return for the surrender, the colonists were to be allowed to keep their property and all their rights and privileges, and other privileges were to be granted them.
"Old Silverleg" was very wrathful. He tore up the letter and stamped about on his wooden leg swearing that he would rather be carried out dead than give up the fort. He called upon the Dutch to help him, but they refused to come to his aid, as they were anxious to accept the liberal terms of the English.
Poor "Headstrong Peter" could do nothing alone; and a white flag was raised in spite of him, and the colony was given over to the English. This ended Dutch rule in America.
The name New Netherland was changed to the Province of
Sailing to Holland, Peter Stuyvesant reported the
surrender to the Dutch West India Company. Then he
returned to his home in
The robin is the one
That interrupts the morn
With hurried, few, express reports
When March is scarcely on.
The robin is the one
That overflows the noon
With her cherubic quantity,
An April but begun.
The robin is the one
That speechless from her nest
Submits that home and certainty
And sanctity are best.
WEEK 14 |
HROUGH weakness and sickness and faintness, Otto had lain in a half swoon through all that long journey under the hot May sun. It was as in a dreadful nightmare that he had heard on and on and on that monotonous throbbing of galloping hoofs upon the ground; had felt that last kiss that his father had given him upon his cheek. Then the onward ride again, until all faded away into a dull mist and he knew no more. When next he woke it was with the pungent smell of burned vinegar in his nostrils and with the feeling of a cool napkin bathing his brow. He opened his eyes and then closed them again, thinking he must have been in a dream, for he lay in his old room at the peaceful monastery of the White Cross on the hill; the good Father Abbot sat near by, gazing upon his face with the old absent student look, Brother John sat in the deep window seat also gazing at him, and Brother Theodore, the leech of the monastery, sat beside him bathing his head. Beside these old familiar faces were the faces of those who had been with him in that long flight; the One-eyed Hans, old Master Nicholas his kinsman, and the others. So he closed his eyes, thinking that maybe it was all a dream. But the sharp throbbing of the poor stump at his wrist soon taught him that he was still awake.
"Am I then really home in St. Michaelsburg again?" he murmured, without unclosing his eyes.
Brother Theodore began snuffling through his nose; there was a pause. "Yes," said the old Abbot at last, and his gentle voice trembled as he spoke; "yes, my dear little child, thou art back again in thine own home; thou hast not been long out in the great world, but truly thou hast had a sharp and bitter trial of it."
"But they will not take me away again, will they?" said Otto quickly, unclosing his blue eyes.
"Nay," said the Abbot, gently; "not until thou art healed in body and art ready and willing to go."
Three months and more had passed, and Otto was well again; and now, escorted by One-eyed Hans and those faithful few who had clung to the Baron Conrad through his last few bitter days, he was riding into the quaint old town of Nurnburg; for the Emperor Rudolph was there at that time, waiting for King Ottocar of Bohemia to come thither and answer the imperial summons before the Council, and Otto was travelling to the court.
As they rode in through the gates of the town, Otto looked up at the high-peaked houses with their overhanging gables, the like of which he had never seen before, and he stared with his round blue eyes at seeing them so crowded together along the length of the street. But most of all he wondered at the number of people that passed hither and thither, jostling each other in their hurry, and at the tradesmen's booths opening upon the street with the wonderful wares hanging within; armor at the smiths, glittering ornaments at the goldsmiths, and rich fabrics of silks and satins at the mercers. He had never seen anything so rich and grand in all of his life, for little Otto had never been in a town before.
"Oh! look," he cried, "at that wonderful lady; see, holy father! sure the Emperor's wife can be no finer than that lady."
The Abbot smiled. "Nay, Otto," said he, "that is but a burgher's wife or daughter; the ladies at the Emperor's court are far grander than such as she."
"So!" said Otto, and then fell silent with wonder.
And now, at last the great moment had come when little Otto with his own eyes was to behold the mighty Emperor who ruled over all the powerful kingdoms of Germany and Austria, and Italy and Bohemia, and other kingdoms and principalities and states. His heart beat so that he could hardly speak as, for a moment, the good Abbot who held him by the hand stopped outside of the arrased doorway to whisper some last instructions into his ear. Then they entered the apartment.
It was a long, stone-paved room. The floor was covered with rich rugs and the walls were hung with woven tapestry wherein were depicted knights and ladies in leafy gardens and kings and warriors at battle. A long row of high glazed windows extended along the length of the apartment, flooding it with the mellow light of the autumn day. At the further end of the room, far away, and standing by a great carved chimney place wherein smouldered the remains of a fire, stood a group of nobles in gorgeous dress of velvet and silks, and with glittering golden chains hung about their necks.
One figure stood alone in front of the great yawning fireplace. His hands were clasped behind him, and his look bent thoughtfully upon the floor. He was dressed only in a simple gray robe without ornament or adornment, a plain leathern belt girded his waist, and from it hung a sword with a bone hilt encased in a brown leathern scabbard. A noble stag-hound lay close behind him, curled up upon the floor, basking in the grateful warmth of the fire.
It was the great Emperor Rudolph.
As the Father Abbot and Otto drew near he raised his head and looked at them. It was a plain, homely face that Otto saw, with a wrinkled forehead and a long mouth drawn down at the corners. It was the face of a good, honest burgher burdened with the cares of a prosperous trade. "Who can he be," thought Otto, "and why does the poor man stand there among all the great nobles?"
But the Abbot walked straight up to him and kneeled upon the floor, and little Otto, full of wonder, did the same. It was the great Emperor Rudolph.
"Who have we here?" said the Emperor, and he bent his brow upon the Abbot and the boy.
"Sire," said Abbot Otto, "we have humbly besought you by petition, in the name of your late vassal, Baron Conrad of Vuelph of Drachenhausen, for justice to this his son, the Baron Otto, whom, sire, as you may see, hath been cruelly mutilated at the hands of Baron Henry of Roderburg of Trutz-Drachen. He hath moreover been despoiled of his lands, his castle burnt, and his household made prisoner."
The Emperor frowned until the shaggy eyebrows nearly hid the keen gray twinkle of the eyes beneath. "Yes," said he, "I do remember me of that petition, and have given it consideration both in private and in council." He turned to the group of listening nobles. "Look," said he, "at this little child marred by the inhumanity and the cruelty of those robber villains. By heavens! I will put down their lawless rapine, if I have to give every castle from the north to the south to the flames and to the sword." Then turning to Otto again, "Poor little child," said he, "thy wrongs shall be righted, and so far as they are able, those cruel Roderburgs shall pay thee penny for penny, and grain for grain, for what thou hast lost; and until such indemnity hath been paid the family of the man who wrought this deed shall be held as surety."
Little Otto looked up in the kind, rugged face above him.
"Nay, Lord Emperor," said he, in his quaint, quiet way, "there are but two in the family—the mother and the daughter—and I have promised to marry the little girl when she and I are old enough; so, if you please, I would not have harm happen to her."
The Emperor continued to look down at the kneeling boy, and at last he gave a short, dry laugh. "So be it," said he, "thy plan is not without its wisdom. Mayhap it is all for the best that the affair should be ended thus peacefully. The estates of the Roderburgs shall be held in trust for thee until thou art come of age; otherwise it shall be as thou hast proposed, the little maiden shall be taken into ward under our own care. And as to thee—art thou willing that I should take thee under my own charge in the room of thy father, who is dead?"
"Aye," said Otto, simply, "I am willing, for it seems to me that thou art a good man."
The nobles who stood near smiled at the boy's speech.
As for the Emperor, he laughed outright. "I give thee thanks, my Lord Baron," said he; "there is no one in all my court who has paid me greater courtesy than that."
So comes the end of our tale.
But perhaps you may like to know what happened afterward, for no one cares to leave the thread of a story without tying a knot in it.
Eight years had passed, and Otto grew up to manhood in the Emperor's court, and was with him through war and peace.
But he himself never drew sword or struck a blow, for the right hand that hung at his side was of pure silver, and the hard, cold fingers never closed. Folks called him "Otto of the Silver Hand," but perhaps there was another reason than that for the name that had been given him, for the pure, simple wisdom that the old monks of the White Cross on the hill had taught him, clung to him through all the honors that the Emperor bestowed upon his favorite, and as he grew older his words were listened to and weighed by those who were high in Council, and even by the Emperor himself.
And now for the end of all.
One day Otto stood uncertainly at the doorway of a room in the imperial castle, hesitating before he entered; and yet there was nothing so very dreadful within, only one poor girl whose heart fluttered more than his. Poor little Pauline, whom he had not seen since that last day in the black cell at Trutz-Drachen.
At last he pushed aside the hangings and entered the room.
He took her hand and set it to his lips.
She was sitting upon a rude bench beside the window, looking at him out of her great, dark eyes.
He stopped short and stood for a moment confused and silent; for he had no thought in his mind but of the little girl whom he had last seen, and for a moment he stood confused before the fair maiden with her great, beautiful dark eyes.
She on her part beheld a tall, slender youth with curling, golden hair, one hand white and delicate, the other of pure and shining silver.
He came to her and took her hand and set it to his lips, and all that she could do was to gaze with her great, dark eyes upon the hero of whom she had heard so many talk; the favorite of the Emperor; the wise young Otto of the Silver Hand.
HE ruins of Drachenhausen were rebuilt, for the walls were there as sound as ever, though empty and gaping to the sky; but it was no longer the den of a robber baron for beneath the scutcheon over the great gate was carved a new motto of the Vuelphs; a motto which the Emperor Rudolph himself had given:
"Manus argentea quam manus ferrea melior est"
W HY is it that Crows torment the Owls as they sleep in the daytime? For the same reason that the Owls try to kill the Crows while they sleep at night.
Listen to a tale of long ago and then you will see why.
Once upon a time, the people who lived together when the world was young took a certain man for their king. The four-footed animals also took one of their number for their king. The fish in the ocean chose a king to rule over them. Then the birds gathered together on a great flat rock, crying:
"Among men there is a king, and among the beasts, and the fish have one, too; but we birds have none. We ought to have a king. Let us choose one now."
And so the birds talked the matter over and at last they all said, "Let us have the Owl for our king."
"See how sour he looks right now."
No, not all, for one old Crow rose up and said, "For my part, I don't want the Owl to be our king. Look at him now while you are all crying that you want him for your king. See how sour he looks right now. If that's the cross look he wears when he is happy, how will he look when he is angry? I, for one, want no such sour-looking king!"
Then the Crow flew up into the air crying, "I don't like it! I don't like it!" The Owl rose and followed him. From that time on the Crows and the Owls have been enemies. The birds chose a Turtle Dove to be their king, and then flew to their homes.
WEEK 14 |
"Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet."
HE wonderful story of England's conquest of India reads, even
It is the story of how one small island, away in the Northern seas, conquered an empire ten times its own size, at a distance of 6000 miles. In the ages of long ago, when the Egyptians were building their pyramids, when the Phœnicians were sailing to the Pillars of Hercules, when the Greeks were adorning Athens and the Romans were spreading their empire far and wide, this England was still sleeping on the waves of the boundless sea.
It was not till after the Roman Empire had fallen, not till the Portuguese had found their way across the Sea of Darkness to India, not till the Spaniards had discovered the New World, that England awoke to a sense of the great possibilities that lay before her. Slowly and surely, from this time onwards, she stretched forth her arms over the broad seas that had once been her barriers, until, by her untiring energy, she won for herself an empire "on which the sun never sets."
Her first great conquest was that of India or Hindostan—the land of the Hindoos. It is a country cut off from
Asia by a lofty range of mountains known as the Hima-laya, or snow abode. Here are some of the highest peaks in
the world, never scaled by man. Here, too, rise the largest rivers in India—the Indus and the Ganges, on which
most of the large towns are built. Most of the country lies within the tropics. Hence it is a land of wondrous
starlight and moonlight, a land of whirlwind and tempest, of pitiless sun and scorching heat. Here
At the time that Alexander the Great
entered India,—327 years before the birth of Christ,—the land was parcelled out into a number of small
kingdoms, each under the government of its own Raja. Each Raja had a council known as the Durbar. When a Raja
conquered other Rajas he
was known as a Maha-raja or Great Raja, and all these words are used in India
In the sixteenth century a race of Mongols or Moguls swept into India from Central Asia and founded an empire
in the north. Marco Polo
had heard a great deal about these Mongols when he was at the court of the Great Khan. The first of the Mogul
emperors was called Baber, or the Tiger; but he was succeeded by a yet more famous grandson called Akbar, whose
power is spoken of still in India
The Great Mogul.
But under the Great Mogul Aurangzeb, the "Conqueror of the Universe," the empire reached the height of its glory. He had usurped the throne, put his father into prison, and murdered his three brothers. His crown was uneasy, but secure. At Delhi he held his magnificent court. Here was the palace of the Great Mogul, built on the river Jumna, a tributary of the Ganges. The magnificent gateway of the palace was guarded by two huge elephants of stone, each bearing the colossal statue of a Raja warrior on his back. Here too was the grand hall of audience, where the Durbar was held. The ceiling was of white marble, supported by thirty marble columns, bearing an inscription in gold: "If there be a Paradise on earth, it is this." The throne was in a recess at the back of the hall, and over the throne was a peacock made of gold and jewels, valued at a million pounds.
One day Aurangzeb was sitting on his throne at a Durbar at Delhi, when his old tutor appeared before him. The Great Mogul had suddenly stopped his pension, and he had come to know the reason. Aurangzeb gave him the explanation in public.
"This tutor," he cried, "taught me the Koran (Mohammedan Bible) and wearied me with rules of Arabic grammar, but he told me nothing at all of foreign countries. I learnt nothing of the Ottoman Empire in Africa. I was made to believe that Holland was a great empire, and that England was bigger than France."
When his birthday came round the Great Mogul was weighed in state, and if he was found to weigh more than on the preceding year there were great public rejoicings. All the chief people in the empire came to make their offerings: precious stones, gold and silver, rich carpets, camels, horses, and elephants were presented to him. He had tents of red velvet embroidered in gold. He had seven splendid thrones,—one covered with diamonds, one with rubies, one with pearls, one with emeralds, though the Peacock Throne was the most valuable. While the Great Mogul was on his throne, fifteen horses stood ready on either side, their bridles enriched with precious stones. Elephants were trained to kneel down before the throne and do reverence with their trunks. The Emperor's favourite elephant was fed on good meat, with plenty of sugar and brandy.
Aurangzeb himself was nearly one hundred years old when he died. Suspicion lest his sons should subject him to the fate which he had inflicted on his own father left him a solitary old man. As death approached terror and remorse seized him. "Come what may," he cried desperately at the last, "I have launched my vessel on the waves. Farewell! farewell! farewell!"
So passed the last of the Great Moguls who ruled for over two hundred years in India. The empire was soon after broken up, and the way left clear for England to found her great Eastern Empire beyond the seas.
LL but a few of the Dwellers of Asgard had come to the feast offered by Ægir the Old, the Giant King of the Sea. Frigga, the queenly wife of Odin, was there, and Frey and Freya; Iduna, who guarded the Apples of Youth, and Bragi, her husband; Tyr, the great swordsman, and Niörd, the God of the Sea, Skadi, who wedded Niörd and whose hatred for Loki was fierce, and Sif, whose golden hair was once shorn off by Loki the mischievous. Thor and Loki were there. The Dwellers of Asgard, gathered together in the hall of Ægir, waited for Odin.
Before Odin came Loki made the company merry by the tales that he told in mockery of Thor. Loki long since had his lips unloosed from the thong that the Dwarf Brock had sewn them with. And Thor had forgotten the wrong that he had done to Sif. Loki had been with Thor in his wanderings through Jötunheim, and about these wanderings he now told mocking tales.
He told how he had seen Thor in his chariot of brass drawn by two goats go across Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge. None of the Æsir or the Vanir knew on what adventure Thor was bent. But Loki followed him and Thor kept him in his company.
As they traveled on in the brass chariot drawn by the two goats, Thor told Loki of the adventure on which he was bent. He would go into Jötunheim, even unto Utgard, the Giants' City, and he would try his strength against the Giants. He was not afraid of aught that might happen, for he carried Miölnir, his hammer, with him.
Their way was through Midgard, the World of Men. Once, as they were traveling on, night came upon them as they were hungry and in need of shelter. They saw a peasant's hut and they drove the chariot towards it. Unyoking the goats and leaving them standing in a hollow beside the chariot, the two, looking not like Dwellers in Asgard, but like men traveling through the country, knocked at the door of the hut and asked for food and shelter.
They could have shelter, the peasant and his wife told them, but they could not have food. There was little in that place, and what little there had been they had eaten for supper. The peasant showed them the inside of the hut: it was poor and bare, and there was nothing there to give anyone. In the morning, the peasant said, he would go down to the river and catch some fish for a meal.
"We can't wait until morning, we must eat now," said Thor, "and I think I can provide a good meal for us all." He went over to where his goats stood in the hollow beside the chariot of brass, and, striking them with his hammer, he left them lifeless on the ground. He skinned the goats then, and taking up the bones very carefully, he left them down on the skins. Skins and bones he lifted up and bringing them into the house he left them in a hole above the peasant's fireplace. "No one," said he in a commanding voice, "must touch the bones that I leave here."
Then he brought the meat into the house. Soon it was cooked and laid smoking on the table. The peasant and his wife and his son sat round the board with Thor and Loki. They had not eaten plentifully for many days, and now the man and the woman fed themselves well.
Thialfi was the name of the peasant's son. He was a growing lad and had an appetite that had not been satisfied for long. While the meat was on the table his father and mother had kept him going here and there, carrying water, putting fagots on the fire, and holding a blazing stick so that those at the table might see to eat. There was not much left for him when he was able to sit down, for Thor and Loki had great appetites, and the lad's father and mother had eaten to make up for days of want. So Thialfi got little out of that plentiful feast.
When the meal was finished they lay down on the benches. Thor, because he had made a long journey that day, slept very soundly. Thialfi lay down on a bench, too, but his thoughts were still upon the food. When all were asleep, he thought, he would take one of the bones that were in the skins above him, and break and gnaw it.
So in the dead of the night the lad stood up on the bench and took down the goatskins that Thor had left so carefully there. He took out a bone, broke it, and gnawed it for the marrow. Loki was awake and saw him do this, but he, relishing mischief as much as ever, did nothing to stay the lad.
He put the bone he had broken back in the skins and he left the skins back in the hole above the fireplace. Then he went to sleep on the bench.
In the morning, as soon as they were up, the first thing Thor did was to take the skins out of the hole. He carried them carefully out to the hollow where he had left the goats standing. He put each goatskin down with the bones in it. He struck each with his hammer, and the goats sprang up alive, horns and hoofs and all.
But one was not as he had been before. He limped badly. Thor examined the leg and found out that one bone was broken. In terrible anger he turned on the peasant, his wife, and his son. "A bone of this goat has been broken under your roof," he shouted. "For that I shall destroy your house and leave you all dead under it." Thialfi wept. Then he came forward and touched the knees of Thor. "I did not know what harm I did," he said. "I broke the bone."
Thor had his hammer lifted up to crush him into the earth. But he could not bring it down on the weeping boy. He let his hammer rest on the ground again. "You will have to do much service for me for having lamed my goat," he said. "Come with me."
And so the lad Thialfi went off with Thor and Loki. Thor took in his powerful hands the shafts of the chariot of brass and he dragged it to a lonely mountain hollow where neither men nor Giants came. And they left the goats in a great, empty forest to stay resting there until Thor called to them again.
HOR and Loki and the lad Thialfi went across from Midgard into Jötunheim. Because of Miölnir, the great hammer that he carried, Thor felt safe in the Realm of the Giants. And Loki, who trusted in his own cunning, felt safe, too. The lad Thialfi trusted in Thor so much that he had no fear. They were long in making the journey, and while they were traveling Thor and Loki trained Thialfi to be a quick and a strong lad.
One day they came out on a moor. All day they crossed it, and at night it still stretched before them. A great wind was blowing, night was falling, and they saw no shelter near. In the dusk they saw a shape that looked to be a mountain and they went toward it, hoping to find some shelter in a cave.
Then Loki saw a lower shape that looked as if it might be a shelter. They walked around it, Loki and Thor and the lad Thialfi. It was a house, but a house most oddly shaped. The entrance was a long, wide hall that had no doorway. When they entered this hall they found five long and narrow chambers running off it. "It is an odd place, but it is the best shelter we can get," Loki said. "You and I, Thor, will take the two longest rooms, and the lad Thialfi can take one of the little rooms."
They entered their chambers and they lay down to sleep. But from the mountain outside there came a noise that was like moaning forests and falling cataracts. The chamber where each one slept was shaken by the noise. Neither Thor nor Loki nor the lad Thialfi slept that night.
In the morning they left the five-chambered house and turned their faces toward the mountain. It was not a mountain at all, but a Giant. He was lying on the ground when they saw him, but just then he rolled over and sat up. "Little men, little men," he shouted to them, "have you passed by a glove of mine on your way?" He stood up and looked all around him. "Ho, I see my glove now," he said. Thor and Loki and the lad Thialfi stood still as the Giant came toward them. He leaned over and picked up the five-roomed shelter they had slept in. He put it on his hand. It was really his glove!
Thor gripped his hammer, and Loki and the lad Thialfi stood behind him. But the Giant seemed good-humored enough. "Where might ye be bound for, little men?" said he.
"To Utgard in Jötunheim," Thor replied boldly.
"Oh, to that place," said the Giant. "Come, then, I shall be with ye so far. You can call me Skyrmir."
"Can you give us breakfast?" said Thor. He spoke crossly, for he did not want it to appear that there was any reason to be afraid of the Giant.
"I can give you breakfast," said Skyrmir, "but I don't want to stop to eat now. We'll sit down as soon as I have an appetite. Come along now. Here is my wallet to carry. It has my provisions in it."
He gave Thor his wallet. Thor put it on his back and put Thialfi sitting upon it. On and on the Giant strode and Thor and Loki were barely able to keep up with him. It was midday before he showed any signs of halting to take breakfast.
They came to an enormous tree. Under it Skyrmir sat down. "I'll sleep before I eat," he said, "but you can open my wallet, my little men, and make your meal out of it." Saying this, he stretched himself out, and in a few minutes Thor and Loki and the lad Thialfi heard the same sounds as kept them awake the night before, sounds that were like forests moaning and cataracts falling. It was Skyrmir's snoring.
Thor and Loki and the lad Thialfi were too hungry now to be disturbed by these tremendous noises. Thor tried to open the wallet, but he found it was not easy to undo the knots. Then Loki tried to open it. In spite of all Loki's cunning he could not undo the knots. Then Thor took the wallet from him and tried to break the knots by main strength. Not even Thor's strength could break them. He threw the wallet down in his rage.
The snoring of Skyrmir became louder and louder. Thor stood up in his rage. He grasped Miölnir and flung it at the head of the sleeping Giant.
The hammer struck him on the head. But Skyrmir only stirred in his sleep. "Did a leaf fall on my head?" he said.
He turned round on the other side and went to sleep again. The hammer came back to Thor's hand. As soon as Skyrmir snored he flung it again, aiming at the Giant's forehead. It struck there. The Giant opened his eyes. "Has an acorn fallen on my forehead?" he said.
Again he went to sleep. But now Thor, terribly roused, stood over his head with the hammer held in his hands. He struck him on the forehead. It was the greatest blow Thor had ever dealt.
"A bird is pecking at my forehead—there is no chance to sleep here," said Skyrmir, sitting up. "And you, little men, did you have breakfast yet? Toss over my wallet to me and I shall give you some provision." The lad Thialfi brought him the wallet. Skyrmir opened it, took out his provisions, and gave a share to Thor and Loki and the lad Thialfi. Thor would not take provision from him, but Loki and the lad Thialfi took it and ate. When the meal was finished Skyrmir rose up and said, "Time for us to be going toward Utgard."
As they went on their way Skyrmir talked to Loki. "I always feel very small when I go into Utgard," he said. "You see, I'm such a small and weak fellow and the folk who live there are so big and powerful. But you and your friends will be welcomed in Utgard. They will be sure to make little pets of you."
And then he left them and they went into Utgard, the City of the Giants. Giants were going up and down in the streets. They were not so huge as Skyrmir would have them believe, Loki noticed.
TGARD was the Asgard of the Giants. But in its buildings there was not a line of the beauty that there was in the palaces of the Gods, Gladsheim and Breidablik or Fensalir. Huge but shapeless the buildings arose, like mountains or icebergs. O beautiful Asgard with the dome above it of the deepest blue! Asgard with the clouds around it heaped up like mountains of diamonds! Asgard with its Rainbow Bridge and its glittering gates! O beautiful Asgard, could it be indeed that these Giants would one day overthrow you?
Thor and Loki with the lad Thialfi went to the palace of the King. The hammer that Thor gripped would, they knew, make them safe even there. They passed between rows of Giant guards and came to the King's seat. "We know you, Thor and Loki," said the Giant King, "and we know that Thor has come to Utgard to try his strength against the Giants. We shall have a contest to‑morrow. To‑day there are sports for our boys. If your young servant should like to try his swiftness against our youths, let him enter the race to‑day.
Now Thialfi was the best runner in Midgard and all the time he had been with them Loki and Thor had trained him in quickness. And so Thialfi was not fearful of racing against the Giants' youths.
The King called on one named Hugi and placed him against Thialfi. The pair started together. Thialfi sped off. Loki and Thor watched the race anxiously, for they thought it would be well for them if they had a triumph over the dwellers in Utgard in the first contest. But they saw Hugi leave Thialfi behind. They saw the Giant youth reach the winning post, circle round it, and come back to the starting place before Thialfi had reached the end of the course.
Thialfi, who did not know how it was that he had been beaten, asked that he be let run the race with Hugi again. The pair started off once more, and this time it did not seem to Thor and Loki that Hugi had left the starting place at all—he was back there almost as soon as the race had started.
They came back from the racing ground to the palace. The Giant King and his friends with Thor and Loki sat down to the supper table. "To‑morrow," said the King, "we shall have our great contest when Asa Thor will show us his power. Have you of Asgard ever heard of one who would enter a contest in eating? We might have a contest in eating at this supper board if we could get one who would match himself with Logi here. He can eat more than anyone in Jötunheim."
"And I," said Loki, "can eat more than any two in Jötunheim. I will match myself against your Logi."
"Good!" said the Giant King. And all the Giants present said, "Good! This will be a sight worth seeing."
Then they put scores of plates along one side of the table, each plate filled with meat. Loki began at one end and Logi began at the other. They started to eat, moving toward each other as each cleared a plate. Plate after plate was emptied, and Thor standing by with the Giants was amazed to see how much Loki ate. But Logi on the other side was leaving plate after plate emptied. At last the two stood together with scores of plates on each side of them. "He has not defeated me," cried Loki. "I have cleared as many plates as your champion, O King of the Giants."
"But you have not cleared them so well," said the King.
"Loki has eaten all the meat that was upon them," said Thor.
"But Logi has eaten the bones with the meat," said the Giant King. "Look and see if it be not so."
Thor went to the plates. Where Loki had eaten, the bones were left on the plates. Where Logi had eaten, nothing was left: bones as well as meat were consumed, and all the plates were left bare.
"We are beaten," said Thor to Loki.
"To‑morrow, Thor," said Loki, "you must show all your strength or the Giants will cease to dread the might of the Dwellers in Asgard."
"Be not afraid," said Thor. "No one in Jötunheim will triumph over me."
HE next day Thor and Loki came into the great hall of Utgard. The Giant King was there with a throng of his friends. Thor marched into the hall with Miölnir, his great hammer, in his hands. "Our young men have been drinking out of this horn," said the King, "and they want to know if you, Asa Thor, would drink out of it a morning draught. But I must tell you that they think that no one of the Æsir could empty the horn at one draught."
"Give it to me," said Thor. "There is no horn you can hand me that I cannot empty at a draught."
A great horn, brimmed and flowing, was brought over to him. Handing Miölnir to Loki and bidding him stand so that he might keep the hammer in sight, Thor raised the horn to his mouth. He drank and drank. He felt sure there was not a drop left in the horn as he laid it on the ground. "There," he gasped, "your Giant horn is drained."
The Giants looked within the horn and laughed. "Drained, Asa Thor!" said the Giant King. "Look into the horn again. You have hardly drunk below the brim."
And Thor looked into it and saw that the horn was not half emptied. In a mighty rage he lifted it to his lips again. He drank and drank and drank. Then, satisfied that he had emptied it to the bottom, he left the horn on the ground and walked over to the other side of the hall.
"Thor thinks he has drained the horn," said one of the Giants, lifting it up. "But see, friends, what remains in it."
Thor strode back and looked again into the horn. It was still half filled. He turned round to see that all the Giants were laughing at him.
"Asa Thor, Asa Thor," said the Giant King, "we know not how you are going to deal with us in the next feat, but you certainly are not able to drink against the Giants."
Said Thor: "I can lift up and set down any being in your hall."
As he said this a great iron-colored cat bounded into the hall and stood before Thor, her back arched and her fur bristling.
"Then lift the cat off the ground," said the Giant King.
Thor strode to the cat, determined to lift her up and fling her amongst the mocking Giants. He put his hands to the cat, but he could not raise her. Up, up went Thor's arms, up, up, as high as they could go. The cat's arched back went up to the roof, but her feet were never taken off the ground. And as he heaved and heaved with all his might he heard the laughter of the Giants all round him.
He turned away, his eyes flaming with anger. "I am not wont to try to lift cats," he said. "Bring me one to wrestle with, and I swear you shall see me overthrow him."
"Here is one for you to wrestle, Asa Thor," said the King. Thor looked round and saw an old woman hobbling toward him. She was blear-eyed and toothless. "This is Ellie, my ancient nurse," said the Giant King. "She is the one we would have you wrestle with."
"Thor does not wrestle with old women. I will lay my hands on your tallest Giants instead."
"Ellie has come where you are," said the Giant King. "Now it is she who will lay hands upon you."
The old woman hobbled toward Thor, her eyes gleaming under her falling fringes of gray hair. Thor stood, unable to move as the hag came toward him. She laid her hands upon his arms. Her feet began to trip at his. He tried to cast her away from him. Then he found that her feet and her hands were as strong against his as bands and stakes of iron.
Then began a wrestling match in earnest between Thor and the ancient crone Ellie. Round and round the hall they wrestled, and Thor was not able to bend the old woman backward nor sideways. Instead he became less and less able under her terrible grasp. She forced him down, down, and at last he could only save himself from being left prone on the ground by throwing himself down on one knee and holding the hag by the shoulders. She tried to force him down onto the ground, but she could not do that. Then she broke from him, hobbled to the door and went out of the hall.
Thor rose up and took the hammer from Loki's hands. Without a word he went out of the hall and along the ways toward the gate of the Giants' City. He spoke no word to Loki nor to the lad Thialfi who went with him for the seven weeks that they journeyed through Jötunheim.
WEEK 14 |
I N the outer courtyard of a great Chinese temple there once lived a horse which many pilgrims came many miles to see. He was—or they believed him to be—a sacred horse, and no doubt the ordinary horses, who had to bear heavy burdens along the road that led past the temple, envied him greatly, and thought that he must be perfectly happy. But the sacred horse was not happy at all. He was lonely, and he was dull. Sometimes he was even hungry as well, for most of the bean-cakes offered to him by the pilgrims were carried away and eaten by his groom, and that same groom sometimes forgot to give him his feed of oats at the proper time.
So the sacred horse felt very doleful in his enclosed courtyard behind high bronze bars, over which pale purple trails of wistaria fell in summer-time. He was haunted by a dim, hazy idea that once, long ago, life had been very different for him, and that he himself had been very different in those days. Even when the priests covered him with gorgeous housings of embroidered silk and led him in procession through the temple, he never lost that sense of loneliness and discontent. He knew, too, that the pilgrims did not offer him bean-cakes because they wanted to make him any happier, but simply because they believed that his sacredness might bring them good luck.
One day the sacred horse was feeling even more than usually depressed. He had had no dinner, and he said to himself that he would far rather do the hardest work, or bear the heaviest loads, than remain any longer in solitary—and hungry—glory in the temple court. Presently he became aware that a little girl was looking at him through the bronze bars. She was a quaint slip of a child, and her gown was of thin and faded blue cotton.
"Oh, holy horse," said this quaint little girl, "why are you so sad this morning?"
"What is the use of being holy, when that rascal of a groom of mine has forgotten to bring me my oats?"
The child thrust her hand between the bars, and the sacred horse saw with astonishment that she was offering him a small lump of coarse dry bread.
"Will you not share my dinner, poor horse?" asked the little girl.
After a moment's hesitation the horse accepted her offering, and ate it out of her hand
"Thank you," he said, "but if you give me this bread because you think I can bring you good luck, I may as well warn you that you are mistaken. And I suppose that was why you did it."
"No," answered the little girl, earnestly, "that was not why. I thought that if you were hungry, you might think even this rough bread worth having."
"You are a good child," said the sacred horse, "a very good child. I don't remember seeing you here before. Whose child are you?"
"Whose child?" repeated his new friend, "I cannot tell. I cannot remember ever belonging to anybody. Sometimes I wonder if I dropped from the moon."
"But where do you live?"
"Wherever I can get some work to do, and a little rice or bread to eat. My last home was in a village beyond the mountains yonder. I have come here because I hoped I might be allowed to work in the rice-fields."
"Have you no one to look after you? No place in which to sleep?"
"People seem to think I am old enough to look after myself. I am nine years old now. When it is fine, I sleep out of doors. When it rains, I take shelter in some temple."
"And you can wander where you will, up and down, and to and fro? Lucky little girl!"
"I did not know before that I was lucky," said the little girl.
"Well, then, you are. Think what an unlucky fellow I am, barred in here so that a lot of foolish folk can come and gaze at me. They think I am sacred! Did you ever hear such nonsense?"
"Are you not sacred, then?" asked the little girl, surprised.
"Not a bit of it."
"But surely you are not like other horses! They can't talk."
"What is the use of being able to talk if nobody understands what you say? You are the only person who has ever understood my language—the only one."
"Poor sacred horse!" said the little girl, "but don't you like being worshipped?"
"I did at first. Then I saw that nobody cared two copper coins about me. It was only because they wanted good luck, and they thought I could give it to them, that the pilgrims came round and offered me bean-cakes. I soon saw that. And then what was their worship worth? I would rather have had one pat from a friendly hand any day."
"Don't the bean-cakes taste nice?" asked the little girl.
"Very—when I am allowed to taste them. But that rascal of a groom of mine gets seven for every one that I get. And he's fearfully careless. He forgets to bring me my oats."
"Not every day. That would be too much. Once in five days, perhaps."
"You are lucky," said the little girl, "to know what it is to be hungry only once in five days."
"And you are lucky to be able to go up and down, and to and fro. I say! I have an idea! Supposing we change places, you and I!"
"How could we?"
"Easily. You need only unbar that bronze gate. Then you could step in and I could step out."
"But the priests of the temple would beat me if they found me here, and you gone."
"Not they. They would think you really had dropped from the moon. And then you might know what it feels like to be worshipped."
"And what would you do?" asked the little girl, softly stroking the long white mane of the sacred horse.
"I? Oh, I would gallop away as far as I could, so far that no one could possibly recognize me. Perhaps I might enter the service of some mandarin—perhaps of the Emperor of China himself. Who knows? And there is something else I should like to do."
"What is that?"
"To find the place I came from, before I was brought here. I was different in those days. Maybe it is only a dream—but I sometimes think that I had two legs, not four."
"I have never seen a horse with only two legs," remarked the little girl.
"You have seen a boy with two legs, haven't you?"
"Very often," agreed the little girl, with a smile; and then she added curiously, "Do you think you were once a boy?"
"Maybe it is only a dream," returned the sacred horse, "but I have an idea that there is a spell upon me, and that it might be broken, if only I could discover the way. And how can I discover it, imprisoned here?"
"Listen," said the little girl, "I will do as you wish. When shall I come and unbar the gate for you?"
"To-night, when all the priests are asleep. Now you must leave me. Some pilgrim might draw near who would recognize you afterward. And that would be decidedly awkward for both of us. At moonrise. Don't forget."
The little girl promised not to forget, and slipped softly away just as a group of pious people, led by a priest, approached the bronze bars.
Soon after moonrise that same night she returned and tiptoed through the hushed and deserted courts of the temple, where gods and demons grinned weirdly in the brilliant moonlight and the long trails of wistaria cast filmy shadows on the ground. Her four-legged friend was waiting anxiously for her.
"You are a good child," he said, approvingly. "And now, listen to me. Whatever anybody says to you, you must always answer in the same words. 'The gods know.' Say nothing else. Say nothing more. And you will be safe."
"Thank you, dear sacred horse. I shall not forget."
"Yonder you will find my embroidered housings," the horse went on, "fold them round you, and you will look quite fine. Fear nothing. And the gods protect you! You are the first friend I have ever had—but maybe I shall find others in the great wide world beyond those bars."
The little girl now unbolted the bronze gate, and the sacred horse passed out.
"Good-bye, dear sacred horse," said his deliverer, throwing her arms round his neck, "I shall never forget you. And some day, if you grow weary of wandering up and down the world, come back to this temple and I will take care of you."
The horse dropped his head on to her shoulder for a moment.
"Good-bye, child," said he, "I hope you will be happy—I know I shall."
Then, with a soft whinny and a flick of his long white tail, he galloped off into the moonlit meadows.
"When he had disappeared the little girl slipped into the temple court, barring the great bronze gate behind her, and tiptoed into the deserted stable. There she found a carved lacquer chest full of the most beautiful embroidered silken stuffs, all wrought with corals, and tiny seed-pearls, and kingfisher-feathers. In these she wrapped herself before she lay down upon a heap of clean straw and fell fast asleep.
A couple of hours later she was aroused by two rough voices whispering just outside the bars.
"Never mind whether the beast be sacred or no," said one, "how can we get away with our plunder if we have no horse? If we had pluck enough to break into the mandarin's house and carry off his treasures, surely we have pluck enough to steal this white nag!"
"That's all very well," returned the other voice, doubtfully. "Supposing it isn't really a sacred horse at all—but if it is——"
"Don't be a fool, Wang. Who is to know?"
"The gods know!" said a clear little voice.
"The gods know!"
Terror-stricken the two robbers looked round. In the moonlight they saw what seemed to them a sacred image wakened into life—the image of a small, grave-eyed goddess draped in many-coloured embroideries. With a loud howl of dismay the rascals took to flight, leaving behind them all the treasures they had stolen from the mandarin's house that same night. When they were out of sight the little girl crept softly forth and, one by one, seized the mandarin's belongings in her arms and dragged them inside the barred enclosure. Never had she seen such wonders—candlesticks and incense-burners of gilded bronze, vases of milk-white jade, rosaries of amber and amethyst, crystal and ivory, tablets of emerald engraved with elephants and dragons.
When she had gathered all these marvels into the centre of the courtyard, she brought out a heap of straw, spread it near by, and fell asleep again. She was awakened some hours later by the sun falling on her eyelids and by a hum of many voices. Beyond the bronze bars were excited groups of people; beside her stood the mandarin, very magnificent in his yellow jacket, with a coral button on his cap and peacock's feather sprouting from it. The little girl rose to her feet and stood calmly before him.
"Whence did you come, my child?" asked the mandarin.
"The gods know," replied the little girl, in a clear and steady voice.
"And where is the sacred horse?"
"The gods know," she answered, undismayed.
At the repetition of these mysterious words a thrill ran through the beholders, and people whispered to each other, "She is a goddess!"
"Tell me," the mandarin went on, "how did these objects come here, which were stolen from my house last night?"
"The gods know," said the little girl.
"The gods know all things," cried the mandarin, dropping upon his knees before her. "They have wrought a miracle. I see, and I worship!"
And all the crowd which had gathered knelt down beyond the bars, saying, "We see, and we worship!"
Soon the tidings went abroad that a goddess had descended in the temple, in the place where the sacred white horse had formerly dwelt. Pilgrims came from far and near, incense was burned and prayers were muttered before her.
At the suggestion of the grateful mandarin whose treasures had been restored to him, a new and noble temple was built in honour of the goddess, with gardens and fountains, lakes and bridges.
At first the little girl was happy. It seemed wonderful to her, after the hardships of her childhood, to have a fine red lacquer bed to sleep in, and as much rice, and bird's-nest soup, and shark's-fin pie, and pickled fir-cone salad, as she liked to eat. But after a year or two had passed she began to feel lonely and dull, just as her friend the sacred horse had done. Everyone honoured her as a goddess, no one loved her as a sister, a daughter, or a friend. Life seemed blank and useless, one long, empty day was just like another. Her faithful worshippers gave her the name of Pao Sheng, which means "inexpressibly precious," and it grieved them to see her looking pensive and sad. Sometimes the priests of the temple would ask her the reason for her sadness, but she always answered in the same words, "The gods know!"
Ten years had passed, and Pao Sheng had grown from a child into a slender and beautiful maiden. The green bamboos and the silver willows were in full leaf in her sacred garden, and the holy goldfish flickered to and fro in the dark blue ripples of the lake. As she stood on a little bridge of carved white stone looking down with wistful eyes into the water one of the priests drew near.
"O, divine Pao Sheng," said the priest, "did you not give the commandment that if a white horse, such a horse as the sacred horse which returned to heaven on the night of your descent among us, should appear at the outer gate, it should be brought to you?"
"I did. Has such a horse appeared?"
"Not such a horse, O, Pao Sheng. But a sorry old nag, with a rough coat that may once have been white is standing there, and refuses to be driven away."
"Bring it hither," commanded Pao Sheng.
So the priest went to the outer gate, and returned leading a most dejected-looking animal, gaunt and uncared for, which stood with drooping head before her.
"Leave me alone," said Pao Sheng.
When the priest had vanished she went up to the horse and spoke gently to it.
"Oh, poor thing—can it be that you are my old friend, the sacred horse?"
"Yes, it is I," returned the horse, "I have come back to you. For you are the only person in the world to whom I can look for pity."
"And were you not happy in the wide world, poor horse? Did you find no friends there?"
"I found many masters, but not one friend. Much pain, and no joy. And you, my child? Are you happy?"
Pao Sheng shook her head. "No. I have much that would make many people happy, but something is lacking. What it is, the gods know."
"I am no god, but I know. It is companionship. You are alone—as I was."
"It may be. The gods know! But at least I shall have you to bear me company now, and we can talk to each other. And tell me, old friend. Have you found the secret you were so anxious to find?"
The horse's head drooped lower still as it answered, "No. A wizard told me that in leaving this temple I had left behind me the one person who had power to break the spell."
"Is that why you came back?"
"No, oh, no. Perhaps that person is here no longer, perhaps he would not help me if he had the power. I came back simply because I hoped I might find you here. I was sure that you would have pity upon me."
"Old friend," said Pao Sheng, throwing her arms round the neck of the white horse, "I am glad you have come! I wish the power were mine to break the spell!"
There was a brilliant flash of lightning at that moment, followed by a great crash of thunder. Pao Sheng hid her face against the horse's mane. And then she heard a voice which she had never heard before, saying, "The power was yours, Pao Sheng,—the spell is broken!"
Pao Sheng opened her eyes. The white horse had vanished. She was clinging to a tall Chinaman in the rich robes of a mandarin.
"Pao Sheng," he said, "you have delivered me a second time—never let us part again. Pao Sheng, we have found what we sought. Are you happy at last, my child?"
"The gods know!" whispered Pao Sheng.
M ISS APIS can hear and she can smell, though just how she hears, since she has no ears, and just how she smells, since she has no nose, puzzled people for a long time.
The truth is , she is able to do these things because of her antennæ, which you remember, are the two feelers that stand out from her face. These antennæ or feelers, are jointed, having one long joint next to the face, and a number of short joints forming a very movable tip. The long joint serves especially as an arm to move the many-jointed end about.
If Miss Apis's eyes seem to us wonderful, what shall we think of her antennæ? For though she has no ears, she has thousands of what we might call "hearing-spots" on the short joints of her antennæ. She also has thousands of "smell-hollows" on these remarkable antennæ joints. The hearing-spots and smell-hollows are very, very small, so that we can see them only by means of the microscope.
The antennæ are also covered with short, sensitive hairs which make them very good feelers, able to tell Miss Apis what kind of substance she is touching. They thus serve for eyes in the dark hive. You would not think Miss Apis needed any more eyes, but one cannot expect absolute perfection in this world, even in eyes, or even in Miss Apis, and the truth is that Miss Apis's many eyes are probably unable to help her in the dark.
End of Antenna showing hairs
Some creatures, like cats, can see in the dark, but Miss Apis is obliged to rely upon her antennæ for information when she goes into a dark place.
So you see these antennæ are very important and valuable. But you have not yet heard all. When bees have anything to say to each other they say it by means of their antennæ. Just how this is done I cannot say, as I do not know. But they manage it somehow.
When two bees meet they cross antennæ in a friendly way, instead of shaking hands and asking after each other's health; that is, if they are friends, they do. If they are not members of the same family, I am sorry to say they fight. Two sisters, however, never fight.
"How do you do?"
Miss Apis's very life depends upon her antennæ. By means of them she hears, smells, discovers the nature of objects about her, and communicates with her fellow-bees.
When she is awake her antennæ are almost always in motion, and she is constantly touching the flowers with them, or examining everything with which she comes in contact.
If anything happens to them, if they get broken off, or badly injured, poor little Miss Apis behaves very much like a rudderless boat at sea. She does not seem to know how to get anywhere, but moves about in an aimless sort of way. She does not eat or do her work, and in a short time she dies.
Naturally these priceless helpers need to be well taken care of. Dust and pollen must not be allowed to clog up the hearing and smelling organs, nor interfere with the sensitive hairs.
Since you have found Miss Apis provided with so many toilet articles, you will not be surprised that she has combs and brushes on purpose to keep her antennæ clean.
Yes, she has a comb and a brush on each front leg for that very purpose. You can see these curious little "antennæ cleaners," as they are called, with the naked eye on the bumble-bee, and you can see them very well indeed with an ordinary magnifying glass. They are on the inside of the leg at X and A.
There is a circular opening at A just large enough for the antennæ to fit into. It is bordered by a sort of round comb that reminds us of those combs little girls sometimes wear.
Only this comb is very small and the teeth point outward.
At the end of the joint above, at X, a stiff flap hangs down.
When the leg is bent the flap is brought down in front of the circular opening, as you see in the picture. When Miss Apis wishes to clean her antenna, which is very often, she raises her leg above her head, and draws it down over her antenna, which slips into the circular opening. Then she bends her leg, the flap holds the antenna in place and she draws that precious organ through the cleaner. The teeth in the round comb on one side and the sharp edges of the flap or brush on the other clean off every particle of dust.
You can see her almost any time drawing first one antenna, then the other, through the useful and remarkable little cleaners provided for the purpose. She will often stop in the middle of her honey-gathering to do it, for she seems to feel uncomfortable if her antennæ are not as clean as clean can be.
The brush at S is used to clean out the round comb on the opposite leg.
As you can imagine, it was a long time before people understood the uses of Miss Apis's antennæ; but about two hundred years ago Mr. Francis Huber, a Swiss gentleman who loved bees, found out a part of the secret. He discovered that the honey-bee smells and feels with her antennæ. All who love bees ought to know and love Huber, for he spent many, many years studying the bees and finding out wonderful things about them.
I think you will like to hear his story.
When only a boy he was very fond of nature, and very fond of study. He read so constantly that he ruined his eyes and when still a young man became blind. This did not stop his work, however, for he had two friends who were eyes for him. One was the young lady to whom he was engaged to be married. When he became blind, her friends tried to persuade her to leave him, but she would not.
She insisted upon marrying him and taking care of him. Huber and his wife lived in happiness for a great many years, and Huber said that he did not realize he was blind until his wife died.
Huber's other friend was a man named Francis Burnens. Huber would tell Burnens just how to perform an experiment and just what to look for, and Burnens would do exactly as he was told, and then tell Huber all about it. In this way, Burnens did the seeing and Huber the thinking. Burnens was very patient and careful, and once he spent eleven days, scarcely stopping to sleep, in examining every bee in two hives.
Think what a task that was! I believe he drenched the bees with water so they would not sting, and then examined them one by one. It was owing to the careful work of Burnens that Huber was able to make a number of important discoveries about bees.
A good many of the interesting facts we know to-day about bees we owe to blind Huber. He invented a hive which opened like the leaves of a book, so that he could at any time see what was going on inside, or—rather Burnens could see and tell him.
People to-day sometimes use narrow hives with glass sides, so that everything the bees do can be watched. Some schools have such a hive fastened in a window; this is very interesting for the children.
Bees do not willingly work in a light place, and they do not seem to enjoy being watched, so often they smear the sides of the glass hive all over with bee glue, which prevent curious eyes from looking in.
Where bees are handled a good deal, they become quite tame. They seem to recognize their keeper. Bee-keepers very often have little machines by which they can puff smoke upon the bees. This does not hurt them, but makes them quiet, so the honey can be taken out and the bees handled.
A tree toad loved a she-toad
That lived up in a tree.
He was a two-toed tree toad
But a three-toed toad was she.
The two-toed tree toad tried to win
The three-toed she-toad's heart,
For the two-toed tree toad loved the ground
That the three-toed tree toad trod.
But the two-toed tree toad tried in vain.
He couldn't please her whim.
From her tree toad bower
With her three-toed power
The she-toad vetoed him.
WEEK 14 |
Matthew viii: 2 to 4; ix: 2 to 8;
Mark i: 40 to 45; ii: 1 to 12;
Luke v: 12 to 26.
FTER the great day of teaching and healing, of which we read in the last story, Jesus lay down to rest in the house of Simon Peter. But very early the next morning, before it was light, he rose up, and went out of the house to a place where he could be alone, and there for a long time he prayed to God. Soon Simon and the other disciples missed him, and sought for him until they found him. They said, "Everybody is looking for you; come back to the city."
But Jesus said, "No, I cannot stay in Capernaum. There are other places where I must preach the kingdom of God, for this is the work to which I am sent."
And Jesus went out through all the towns in that part of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues, and healing all kinds of sickness, and casting out the evil spirits. His disciples were with him, and great crowds followed him from all the land. They came to hear his wonderful words and to see his wonderful works.
While he was on this journey of preaching in Galilee, a leper came to him. You remember, from the story of Naaman the Syrian (Story 86), what a terrible disease leprosy was, and still is, in those lands, and that no man could cure the leper.
This poor leper fell down before the feet of Jesus, and cried out, "O Lord, if you are willing, I know that you can make me well and clean!" Jesus was full of pity for this poor man. He reached out his hand and touched him, and said, "I am willing; be clean!" And in a moment all the scales of leprosy fell away, his skin became pure, and the leper stood up a well man. Jesus said to him, "Do not tell any one; but go to the priests, and offer the gift that the law commands, and let them see that you have been cured."
Jesus said this because he knew that if the man should tell every one whom he met how he had been cured, such crowds would come to him for healing that he would find no time for preaching the word of God; and preaching God's word, and not healing the sick, was the great work of Jesus.
But this leper who had been healed did not obey the command of Jesus. He could not keep still, and told everybody whom he knew that Jesus, the great prophet, had taken away his leprosy. And it came to pass as Jesus had expected; such great crowds gathered in all the towns and villages to see Jesus, and to ask him to heal their sick, that Jesus could not enter the cities to preach the gospel. He went out to the fields and the open country, and there the people followed him in great throngs.
After a time Jesus came again to Capernaum, which was now his home. As soon as the people heard that he was there they came in great crowds to see him and to hear him. They filled the house, and the courtyard inside its walls, and even the streets around it, while Jesus sat in the open court of the house and taught them. It was the spring-time and warm, and a roof had been placed over the court as a shelter from the sun.
In the crowd listening to Jesus were not only his friends, but some that were his enemies, Pharisees, men making a great show of serving God, but wicked in their hearts, and scribes who taught the law, but were jealous of this new teacher, whose words were so far above theirs. These men were watching to find some evil in Jesus, so that they might lead the people away from him.
While Jesus was teaching, and these men were listening, the roof was suddenly taken away above their heads. They looked up, and saw that a man was being let down in a bed by four men on the walls above.
The man let down through the roof.
This man had a sickness called palsy, which made his limbs shake all the time, and kept him helpless, so that he could neither walk nor stand. He was so eager to come to Jesus that these men, finding that they could not carry him through the crowd, had lifted him up to the top of the house, and had opened the roof, and were now letting him down in his bed before Jesus.
This showed that they believed in Jesus, without any doubt whether he could cure this man from his palsy. Jesus said to the man, "My son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven!"
The enemies of Jesus who were sitting near heard these
words, and they thought in their own minds, though they
did not speak it aloud, "What wicked things this man
speaks! He claims to forgive sins! Who except God
himself has power to say, 'Your sins are
Jesus knew their thoughts, for he knew all things, and he said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? Which is the easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise up and walk?' But I will show you that while I am on earth as the Son of man, I have the power to forgive sins."
Then he spoke to the palsied man on his couch before them, "Rise up, take up your bed, and go to your house!"
At once a new life and power came to the palsied man. He stood upon his feet, rolled up the bed on which he had been lying helpless, placed it on his shoulders and walked out through the crowd, which opened to make a way for him. The man went, strong and well, to his own house, praising God as he walked.
By this Jesus had shown that, as the Son of God, he had the right to forgive the sins of men.
These enemies of Jesus could say nothing, but in their
hearts they hated him more than ever, for they saw that
the people believed on Jesus. They praised the Lord
God, and felt fear toward one who could do such mighty
works, and they said, "We have seen strange things
Jesus hears the mother's prayer.
HY, where can you have been, princess?" asked the nurse, taking
her in her arms. "It's very unkind of you to hide away so long.
I began to be
Here she checked herself.
"What were you afraid of, nursie?" asked the princess.
"Never mind," she answered. "Perhaps I will tell you another day. Now tell me where you have been?"
"I've been up a long way to see my very great, huge, old grandmother," said the princess.
"What do you mean by that?" asked the nurse, who thought she was making fun.
"I mean that I've been a long way up and up to see my great grandmother. Ah, nursie, you don't know what a beautiful mother of grandmothers I've got upstairs. She is such an old lady! with such lovely white hair!—as white as my silver cup. Now, when I think of it, I think her hair must be silver."
"What nonsense you are talking, princess!" said the nurse.
"I'm not talking nonsense," returned Irene, rather offended. "I will tell you all about her. She's much taller than you, and much prettier."
"Oh, I daresay!" remarked the nurse.
"And she lives upon pigeons' eggs."
"Most likely," said the nurse.
"And she sits in an empty room, spin-spinning all day long."
"Not a doubt of it," said the nurse.
"And she keeps her crown in her bedroom."
"Of course—quite the proper place to keep her crown in. She wears it in bed, I'll be bound."
"She didn't say that. And I don't think she does. That wouldn't be comfortable—would it? I don't think my papa wears his crown for a night-cap. Does he, nursie?"
"I never asked him. I daresay he does."
"And she's been there ever since I came here—ever so many years."
"Anybody could have told you that," said the nurse, who did not believe a word Irene was saying.
"Why didn't you tell me then?"
"There was no necessity. You could make it all up for yourself."
"You don't believe me, then!" exclaimed the princess, astonished and angry, as well she might be.
"Did you expect me to believe you, princess?" asked the nurse coldly. "I know princesses are in the habit of telling make-believes, but you are the first I ever heard of who expected to have them believed," she added, seeing that the child was strangely in earnest.
The princess burst into tears.
"Well, I must say," remarked the nurse, now thoroughly vexed with her for crying, "it is not at all becoming in a princess to tell stories and expect to be believed just because she is a princess."
"But it's quite true, I tell you, nursie."
"You've dreamt it, then, child."
"No, I didn't dream it. I went up-stairs, and I lost myself, and if I hadn't found the beautiful lady, I should never have found myself."
"Oh, I daresay!"
"Well, you just come up with me, and see if I'm not telling the truth."
"Indeed I have other work to do. It's your dinner-time, and I won't have any more such nonsense."
The princess wiped her eyes, and her face grew so hot that they were soon quite dry. She sat down to her dinner, but ate next to nothing. Not to be believed does not at all agree with princesses; for a real princess cannot tell a lie. So all the afternoon she did not speak a word. Only when the nurse spoke to her, she answered her, for a real princess is never rude—even when she does well to be offended.
Of course the nurse was not comfortable in her mind—not that she suspected the least truth in Irene's story, but that she loved her dearly, and was vexed with herself for having been cross to her. She thought her crossness was the cause of the princess' unhappiness, and had no idea that she was really and deeply hurt at not being believed. But, as it became more and more plain during the evening in every motion and look, that, although she tried to amuse herself with her toys, her heart was too vexed and troubled to enjoy them, her nurse's discomfort grew and grew. When bedtime came, she undressed and laid her down, but the child, instead of holding up her little mouth to be kissed, turned away from her and lay still. Then nursie's heart gave way altogether, and she began to cry. At the sound of her first sob the princess turned again, and held her face to kiss her as usual. But the nurse had her handkerchief to her eyes, and did not see the movement.
"Nursie," said the princess, "why won't you believe me?"
"Because I can't believe you," said the nurse, getting angry again.
"Ah! then you can't help it," said Irene, "and I will not be vexed with you any more. I will give you a kiss and go to sleep."
"You little angel!" cried the nurse, and caught her out of bed, and walked about the room with her in her arms, kissing and hugging her.
"You will let me take you to see my dear old great big grandmother, won't you?" said the princess, as she laid her down again.
"And you won't say I'm ugly, any more—will you, princess?"
"Nursie! I never said you were ugly. What can you mean?"
"Well, if you didn't say it, you meant it."
"Indeed, I never did."
"You said I wasn't so pretty as
"As my beautiful grandmother—yes, I did say that; and I say it again, for it's quite true."
"Then I do think you are unkind!" said the nurse, and put her handkerchief to her eyes again.
"Nursie, dear, everybody can't be as beautiful as every other body,
you know. You are very nice-looking, but if you had been as
beautiful as my
"Bother your grandmother!" said the nurse.
"Nurse, that's very rude. You are not fit to be spoken to—till you can behave better."
The princess turned away once more, and again the nurse was ashamed of herself.
"I'm sure I beg your pardon, princess," she said, though still in an offended tone. But the princess let the tone pass, and heeded only the words.
"You won't say it again, I am sure," she answered, once more turning toward her nurse. "I was only going to say that if you had been twice as nice-looking as you are, some king or other would have married you, and then what would have become of me?"
"You are an angel!" repeated the nurse, again embracing her.
"Now," insisted Irene, "you will come and see my grandmother—won't you?"
"I will go with you anywhere you like, my cherub," she answered; and in two minutes the weary little princess was fast asleep.
W HEN she woke the next morning, the first thing she heard was the rain still falling. Indeed, this day was so like the last, that it would have been difficult to tell where was the use of it. The first thing she thought of, however, was not the rain, but the lady in the tower; and the first question that occupied her thoughts was whether she should not ask the nurse to fulfill her promise this very morning, and go with her to find her grandmother as soon as she had had her breakfast. But she came to the conclusion that perhaps the lady would not be pleased if she took anyone to see her without first asking leave; especially as it was pretty evident, seeing she lived on pigeons' eggs, and cooked them herself, that she did not want the household to know she was there. So the princess resolved to take the first opportunity of running up alone and asking whether she might bring her nurse. She believed the fact that she could not otherwise convince her she was telling the truth, would have much weight with her grandmother.
The princess and her nurse were the best of friends all dressing time, and the princess in consequence ate an enormous little breakfast.
"I wonder, Lootie"—that was her pet-name for her nurse—"what pigeons' eggs taste like?" she said, as she was eating her egg—not quite a common one, for they always picked out the pinky ones for her.
"We'll get you a pigeon's egg, and you shall judge for yourself," said the nurse.
"Oh, no, no!" returned Irene, suddenly reflecting they might disturb the old lady in getting it, and that even if they did not, she would have one less in consequence.
"What a strange creature you are," said the nurse—"first to want a thing and then to refuse it!"
But she did not say it crossly, and the princess never minded any remarks that were not unfriendly.
"Well, you see, Lootie, there are reasons," she returned, and said no more, for she did not want to bring up the subject of their former strife, lest her nurse should offer to go before she had had her grandmother's permission to bring her. Of course she could refuse to take her, but then she would believe her less than ever.
Now the nurse, as she said herself afterward, could not be every moment in the room, and as never before yesterday had the princess given her the smallest reason for anxiety, it had not yet come into her head to watch her more closely. So she soon gave her a chance, and the very first that offered, Irene was off and up the stairs again.
This day's adventure, however, did not turn out like yesterday's, although it began like it; and indeed to-day is very seldom like yesterday, if people would note the differences—even when it rains. The princess ran through passage after passage, and could not find the stair of the tower. My own suspicion is that she had not gone up high enough, and was searching on the second instead of the third floor. When she turned to go back, she failed equally in her search after the stair. She was lost once more.
Something made it even worse to bear this time, and it was no wonder that she cried again. Suddenly it occurred to her that it was after having cried before that she had found her grandmother's stair. She got up at once, wiped her eyes, and started upon a fresh quest. This time, although she did not find what she hoped, she found what was next best: she did not come on a stair that went up, but she came upon one that went down. It was evidently not the stair she had come up, yet it was a good deal better than none; so down she went, and was singing merrily before she reached the bottom. There, to her surprise, she found herself in the kitchen. Although she was not allowed to go there alone, her nurse had often taken her, and she was a great favorite with the servants. So there was a general rush at her the moment she appeared, for every one wanted to have her; and the report of where she was soon reached the nurse's ears. She came at once to fetch her; but she never suspected how she had got there, and the princess kept her own counsel.
Her failure to find the old lady not only disappointed her, but made her very thoughtful. Sometimes she came almost to the nurse's opinion that she had dreamed all about her; but that fancy never lasted very long. She wondered much whether she should ever see her again, and thought it very sad not to have been able to find her when she particularly wanted her. She resolved to say nothing more to her nurse on the subject, seeing it was so little in her power to prove her words.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gipsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.