WEEK 15 |
"What's gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!"
The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the room; then she put them up and looked out under them. She seldom or never looked through them for so small a thing as a boy; they were her state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for "style," not service—she could have seen through a pair of stove-lids just as well. She looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, but still loud enough for the furniture to hear:
"Well, I lay if I get hold of you
She did not finish, for by this time she was bending down and punching under the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to punctuate the punches with. She resurrected nothing but the cat.
"I never did see the beat of that boy!"
She went to the open door and stood in it and looked out among the tomato vines and "jimpson" weeds that constituted the garden. No Tom. So she lifted up her voice at an angle calculated for distance, and shouted:
There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in time to seize a small boy by the slack of his roundabout and arrest his flight.
"There! I might 'a' thought of that closet. What you been doing in there?"
"Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth. What is that truck?"
"I don't know, aunt."
"Well, I know. It's jam—that's what it is. Forty times I've said if you didn't let that jam alone I'd skin you. Hand me that switch."
The switch hovered in the air—the peril was
"My! Look behind you, aunt!"
The old lady whirled round, and snatched her skirts out of danger. The lad fled, on the instant, scrambled up the high board fence, and disappeared over it.
His aunt Polly stood surprised a moment, and then broke into a gentle laugh.
"Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricks enough like that for me to be looking out for him by this time? But old fools is the biggest fools there is. Can't learn an old dog new tricks, as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, two days, and how is a body to know what's coming? He 'pears to know just how long he can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can make out to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it's all down again and I can't hit him a lick. I ain't doing my duty by that boy, and that's the Lord's truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the child, as the Good Book says. I'm a-laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He's full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he's my own dead sister's boy, poor thing, and I ain't got the heart to lash him, somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the Scripture says, and I reckon it's so. He'll play hookey this evening, and I'll just be obleeged to make him work, to-morrow, to punish him. It's mighty hard to make him work Saturdays, when all the boys is having holiday, but he hates work more than he hates anything else, and I've got to do some of my duty by him, or I'll be the ruination of the child."
Tom did play hookey, and he had a very good time. He got back home barely in season to help Jim, the small colored boy, saw next-day's wood and split the kindlings before supper—at least he was there in time to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of the work. Tom's younger brother (or rather, half-brother), Sid, was already through with his part of the work (picking up chips), for he was a quiet boy, and had no adventurous, troublesome ways.
While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunity offered, Aunt Polly asked him questions that were full of guile, and very deep—for she wanted to trap him into damaging revealments. Like many other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet vanity to believe she was endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and she loved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of low cunning. Said she:
"Tom, it was middling warm in school, warn't it?"
"Powerful warm, warn't it?"
"Didn't you want to go in a-swimming, Tom?"
A bit of a scare shot through Tom—a touch of uncomfortable suspicion. He searched Aunt Polly's face, but it told him nothing. So he said:
"No'm—well, not very much."
The old lady reached out her hand and felt Tom's shirt, and said:
"But you ain't too warm now, though." And it flattered her to reflect that she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody knowing that that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knew where the wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move:
"Some of us pumped on our heads—mine's damp yet. See?"
Aunt Polly was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit of circumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a new inspiration:
"Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt-collar where I sewed it, to pump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!"
The trouble vanished out of Tom's face. He opened his jacket. His shirt-collar was securely sewed.
"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hookey and been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of a singed cat, as the saying is—better'n you look. This time."
She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Tom had stumbled into obedient conduct for once.
But Sidney said:
"Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collar with white thread, but it's black."
"Why, I did sew it with white! Tom!"
But Tom did not wait for the rest. As he went out at the door he said:
"Siddy, I'll lick you for that."
In a safe place Tom examined two large needles which were thrust into the lapels of his jacket, and had thread bound about them—one needle carried white thread and the other black. He said:
"She'd never noticed if it hadn't been for Sid. Confound it! sometimes she sews it with white, and sometimes she sews it with black. I wish to geeminy she'd stick to one or t'other—I can't keep the run of 'em. But I bet you I'll lam Sid for that. I'll learn him!"
He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though—and loathed him.
Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time—just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired from a negro, and he was suffering to practise it undisturbed. It consisted in a peculiar birdlike turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music—the reader probably remembers how to do it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet—no doubt, as far as strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not the astronomer.
The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before him—a boy a shade larger than himself. A new-comer of any age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well dressed, too—well dressed on a week-day. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on—and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved—but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time. Finally Tom said:
"I can lick you!"
"I'd like to see you try it."
"Well, I can do it."
"No you can't, either."
"Yes I can."
"No you can't."
An uncomfortable pause. Then Tom said:
"What's your name?"
"Tisn't any of your business, maybe."
"Well I 'low I'll make it my business."
"Well why don't you?"
"If you say much, I will."
"Much—much—much. There now."
"Oh, you think you're mighty smart, don't you? I could lick you with one hand tied behind me, if I wanted to."
"Well why don't you do it? You say you can do it."
"Well I will, if you fool with me."
"Oh yes—I've seen whole families in the same fix."
"Smarty! You think you're some, now, don't you? Oh, what a hat!"
"You can lump that hat if you don't like it. I dare you to knock it off—and anybody that'll take a dare will suck eggs."
"You're a liar!"
"You're a fighting liar and dasn't take it up."
"Aw—take a walk!"
"Say—if you give me much more of your sass I'll take and bounce a rock off'n your head."
"Oh, of course you will."
"Well I will."
"Well why don't you do it then? What do you keep saying you will for? Why don't you do it? It's because you're afraid."
"I ain't afraid."
Another pause, and more eying and sidling around each other. Presently they were shoulder to shoulder. Tom said:
"Get away from here!"
"Go away yourself!"
"I won't either."
So they stood, each with a foot placed at an angle as a brace, and both shoving with might and main, and glowering at each other with hate. But neither could get an advantage. After struggling till both were hot and flushed, each relaxed his strain with watchful caution, and Tom said:
"You're a coward and a pup. I'll tell my big brother on you, and he can thrash you with his little finger, and I'll make him do it, too."
"What do I care for your big brother? I've got a brother that's bigger than he is—and what's more, he can throw him over that fence, too." [Both brothers were imaginary.]
"That's a lie."
"Your saying so don't make it so."
Tom drew a line in the dust with his big toe, and said:
"I dare you to step over that, and I'll lick you till you can't stand up. Anybody that'll take a dare will steal sheep."
The new boy stepped over promptly, and said:
"Now you said you'd do it, now let's see you do it."
"Don't you crowd me now; you better look out."
"Well, you said you'd do it—why don't you do it?"
"By jingo! for two cents I will do it."
The new boy took two broad coppers out of his pocket and held them out with derision. Tom struck them to the ground. In an instant both boys were rolling and tumbling in the dirt, gripped together like cats; and for the space of a minute they tugged and tore at each other's hair and clothes, punched and scratched each other's noses, and covered themselves with dust and glory. Presently the confusion took form and through the fog of battle Tom appeared, seated astride the new boy, and pounding him with his fists.
"Holler 'nuff!" said he.
The boy only struggled to free himself. He was crying—mainly from rage.
"Holler 'nuff!"—and the pounding went on.
At last the stranger got out a smothered
"Now that'll learn you. Better look out who you're fooling with next time."
The new boy went off brushing the dust from his clothes, sobbing,
snuffling, and occasionally looking back and shaking his head and
threatening what he would do to Tom the "next time he caught him out."
To which Tom responded with jeers, and started off in high feather, and
as soon as his back was turned the new boy snatched up a stone, threw
it and hit him between the shoulders and then turned tail and ran like
an antelope. Tom chased the traitor home, and thus found out where he
lived. He then held a position at the gate for some time, daring the
enemy to come outside, but the enemy only made faces at him through the
window and declined. At last the enemy's mother appeared, and called
Tom a bad, vicious, vulgar child,
and ordered him away. So he went
away, but he said he
He got home pretty late, that night, and when he climbed cautiously in at the window, he uncovered an ambuscade, in the person of his aunt; and when she saw the state his clothes were in her resolution to turn his Saturday holiday into captivity at hard labor became adamantine in its firmness.
T he people who lived in the central part of Russia in the ninth century did not all belong to any one nation. Many tribes had come from Asia and passed through the land, and some members of the tribes went no farther. These people were tall and strong. They could climb cliffs which one would think only goats could scale; and they could swim across the swiftest rivers. They taught their children that every injury must be avenged, and that it was a disgrace to forgive a wrong.
They had no idea of what it meant to be afraid, and when they went to battle, it was the same to them whether they were fighting with some tribe as wild as themselves or with the well-trained Roman soldiers, and they had but one fashion of attack; when the enemy drew near, the whole body flung themselves furiously upon their foes. If they had once taken any plunder, they would die rather than give it up, no matter how useless it might be to them.
There are two good things to say about these people. The first is that they were kind to one another. The second is that they were most hospitable. They had a custom of putting some food in sight when they left their huts, so that no chance wayfarer need go away hungry. Indeed, their hospitality went so far that if a stranger came to them and they had no food for him, it was regarded as entirely proper to steal whatever was needed.
They believed in a great god, whom they called the Thunder-maker, and in a vast number of less powerful gods. They never thought of their deities as kind and gentle, but always as fierce and savage, and they carved most hideous images, into which they believed the spirits of the gods would enter that they might be worshipped.
After a while the wisest and bravest among them became chiefs. Still, they were a rude, savage folk, and some tribes were more like beasts than human beings.
Scene in North Russia
(Showing the marshes)
In northern Russia, around the Baltic Sea, lived people who were more fierce than these in Central Russia. They were always ready to leap into their boats and go as fast as wind and oars would carry them wherever they thought they could find plunder. These were the people whom the English called Danes. They were also called Northmen or Norsemen, because they came from the north, and Vikings, which meant pirates. Some of them entered the service of the emperors at Constantinople. They were most loyal bodyguards and they could be trusted freely with the keys of both palace and treasury. In battle they were valuable friends, but sometimes the officers must have been a little puzzled to know how to manage them. Once the odds were so much against them that the Greek commander, whose allies they were, sent a herald to them to ask, "Will you fight, or will you retreat?" "We will fight," the Northmen shouted; and one of them was so enraged at the suggestion of retreat that he gave the herald's horse such a blow with his fist as to strike it dead.
The Northmen usually went to Constantinople by launching their boats in the headwaters of the Dnieper River and floating down to the Black Sea. They had seen a good deal of the world, and they were bright and keen. They succeeded in making the people of Central Russia pay them tribute. According to the old story, there came a time when the people determined not to pay it any longer. They united and drove the Northmen away. But they did not stay united. They quarrelled among themselves, for each man did whatever he chose and no one cared for the rights of his neighbor. It is said that one among them, who was wiser than the rest saw that they needed some ruler to govern them. He knew how much more civilized the Northmen were, and he persuaded several of the tribes about him to send envoys to the Russ, a tribe of Northmen, to say, "Our country is large and rich, but we have no order. Do you come and rule over us." A Northman named Rurik and his two brothers said, "We will come"; and the three set out with their followers, all well armed, as were those who had come as envoys. Rurik built his stronghold at Novgorod; one brother went farther south, and the other farther north-east. After a year or two, the younger brothers died and Rurik was left to rule alone. He chose men whom he could trust, and gave them land. In return, they built fortresses and helped him to keep peace in the land, to govern the unruly tribes, and to teach them to obey. As soon as he had them well in hand, he conquered neighboring tribes; and so his little kingdom grew rapidly, until it became a large kingdom, which took the name of Russia from the Russ tribe. Rurik himself was now called grand-prince or veliki knias.
After Rurik had reigned for seventeen years, he died, leaving his throne to his little son. So it was that the first ruler of Russia was a bold and daring warrior, and the second a boy only four years old.
Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
And Phoebus 'gins arise
His steeds to water at those springs
On chaliced flowers that lies;
And winking Mary-buds begin
To ope their golden eyes;
With everything that pretty is,
My lady sweet, arise;
WEEK 15 |
Q UEEN MARY thought that her sister, the Princess Elizabeth, had a part in the plot to put her from the throne, so, as soon as it began, she sent some gentlemen with soldiers to take her prisoner.
These gentlemen arrived late in the evening at the house where the Princess was living.
"Tell the Princess," they said to her lady-in-waiting who met them, "that we must see her at once. We come from court with a message from the Queen."
The Princess was ill and in bed, but the lady took the message to her.
"Go back to the gentlemen," said the Princess, "say to them that I welcome them, but as it is so late, I trust that they will wait to speak with me until the morning."
"No, we must see the Princess at once," replied the gentlemen when they received this answer, and without waiting for more, they followed the lady into Princess Elizabeth's bedroom.
She was very much surprised, and angry too, when she saw them. "Is there so much haste that you cannot wait until morning?" she asked.
"We are sorry to see you so ill," replied the gentlemen, somewhat ashamed of themselves.
"And I am not glad to see you here at this time of night," returned the Princess.
"There is no help for it," said the gentlemen. "We are sent by the Queen, and her message is that you must come to her at once."
"Certainly, I shall be very pleased to obey," replied Elizabeth, "but you can see for yourselves that I am not well enough to come at present."
"We are very sorry," replied the gentlemen, "but you must come. Our orders are to bring you dead or alive."
This made the Princess very sad, for she now felt sure that she had reason to be afraid of her sister, the Queen. She tried very hard to make the gentlemen go away, but they would not. At last, after a great deal of talking, she agreed to go with them next morning.
When the time came Princess Elizabeth was so ill that she
fainted several times as she was being led out of the house.
All her servants, crying bitterly, gathered to say
When Elizabeth arrived at court, she was not allowed to see the Queen, but was shut up in her room, and kept a prisoner there for a fortnight. Gentlemen of the court came and talked to her, trying to make her confess that she had helped in the rebellion against the Queen. But she said always that she knew nothing of it, and had ever been true to her sister. Then one day they told her that she was to be taken to the Tower.
The Princess became very much afraid. She knew what a dreadful place the Tower was—what fearful things happened there, and how few people who once went in ever came out alive. She begged and prayed not to be taken there.
"I am true to the Queen," she said, "in thought, word and deed. It is not right that she should shut me up in that sad place."
But the lords replied, "There is no help for it. The Queen commands and you must obey."
So a boat was brought and the Princess was rowed down the Thames to the Tower. It was a dreary morning. Sky and river were grey, and the rain fell fast. As the boat went slowly on, the Princess sat silent and sorrowful, deep in thought. At last the boat stopped. The lords stepped out, and the Princess, awakened from her sad thoughts, looked up. But when she saw that the boat had stopped at the gate of the Tower called the Traitors' Gate, she sat still.
"Lady, will you land?" said one of the lords.
"No," answered Elizabeth, "I am no traitor."
"Lady, it is raining," said another of the lords, as he tried to put his cloak round her to shelter her. But the Princess dashed it back with her hand. Then rising, she stepped on shore, saying as she did so, "Here landeth, being a prisoner, as true a subject as ever stood upon these steps."
When the Princess reached the courtyard, she would go no farther, but sat there upon a stone. Not all the entreaties of the lords could move her. Through the cold and wet of the dreary morning she sat in that grim courtyard.
"Lady, you will do well to come in out of the rain," said the Governor of the Tower. "You are but uncomfortable there."
"Better to sit here than in a worse place," replied the Princess, "for I know not where you will lead me."
Then one of her own servants, kneeling beside her, burst into tears.
"Why do you weep for me?" said Elizabeth. "You should rather comfort me and not weep." But she rose and went sadly into the Tower. Then the doors were locked and barred. The Princess was a prisoner at last.
A close prisoner Elizabeth was kept. Very few of her own servants were allowed to be with her. But one of the servants of the Tower had a little son about four years old. He used to come to see the Princess and bring her flowers, and they soon became great friends. But when Elizabeth's enemies heard of this, they thought that she would try to send messages to her friends by this little boy. So, one day, they caught him and promised to give him apples and figs if he would tell them what the Princess said to him, and what messages she sent to her friends.
But although the boy was so young, he understood that these men must be the enemies of the Princess, and he would not tell them anything, if indeed he had anything to tell. They talked for a long time, but could learn nothing from him. "Please, my lord," said the little boy at last, "will you now give me the apples and figs you promised?"
"No, indeed," replied the gentleman, "but you shall have a whipping if you talk to the Princess any more."
"I shall bring my lady more flowers," replied the little boy boldly.
But his father was told that he must not allow his son to run about the Tower any longer, and next day the Princess missed her little friend. But presently she saw him peeping through a hole in the door, and when he saw that no one was near he called to her, "Lady, I can bring you no more flowers."
Then the Princess smiled sadly but said nothing. She knew that unkind people had taken even this one little friend from her.
The Princess lived in constant fear of her life. After a time she was removed from the Tower, and was sent from prison to prison. It was no wonder that one day, hearing a milkmaid singing gayly, Elizabeth said she, too, would rather be a milkmaid and free, than a great Princess and a prisoner.
At last she was allowed to go to Hatfield, a house near
T HIS title is Kipling's; the observations that follow are mine; but the real spring running is yours and mine and Kipling's and Mowgli the wolf-child's, whose running Kipling has told us about. Indeed, every child of the earth has felt it, has had the running—every living thing of the land and the sea.
Everything feels it; everything is restless, everything is moving. The renter changes houses; the city dweller goes "down to the shore" or up to the mountains to open his summer cottage; the farmer starts to break up the land for planting; the school-children begin to squirm in their seats and long to fly out of the windows; and "Where are you going this summer?" is on every one's lips.
They have all caught the spring running, the only
infection I know that you can catch from April skies.
The very sun has caught it, too, and is lengthening out
his course, as if he hated to stop and go to bed at
night. And the birds, that are supposed to go to bed
most promptly, they sleep, says the good
old poet Chaucer,
with open eye, these April nights,
so bad is their case of spring
"So priketh hem Nature in hir corages."
Their long journey northward over sea and land has not cured them yet of their unrest. Only one thing will do it (and I suppose we all should be glad), one sovereign remedy, and that is family cares. But they are yet a long way off.
Meantime watch your turkey-hen, how she saunters down the field alone, how pensive she looks, how lost for something to do and somewhere to go. She is sick with this disease of spring. Follow her, keeping out of sight yourself, and lo, a nest, hidden under a pile of brush in a corner of the pasture fence, half a mile from home!
The turkey-hen has wandered off half a mile to build her nest; but many wild birds have come on their small wings all the way from the forests of the Amazon and have gone on to Hudson Bay and the Fur Countries, just to build their nests and rear their young. A wonderful case of the spring running, you would say; and still more wonderful is the annual journey of the golden plover from Patagonia to Alaska and back, eight thousand miles each way. Yet there is another case that seems to me more mysterious, and quite as wonderful, as the sea seems more mysterious than the land.
It is the spring running of the fish. For when the great tidal waves of bird-life begin to roll northward with the sun, a corresponding movement begins among the denizens of the sea. The cold-blooded fish feel the stirring; the spring running seizes them, and in they come through the pathless wastes of the ocean, waves of them, shoals of them,—sturgeon, shad, herring,—like the waves and flocks of wild geese, warblers, and swallows overhead,—into the brackish water of the bays and rivers and on (the herring) into the fresh water of the ponds.
To watch the herring come up Weymouth Back River into Herring Run here near my home, as I do every April, is to watch one of the most interesting, most mysterious movements of all nature. It was about a century ago that men of Weymouth brought herring in barrels of water by ox-teams from Taunton River and liberated them in the pond at the head of Weymouth Back River. These fish laid their eggs in the grassy margins of the pond that spring and went out down the river to the sea. Later on, the young fry, when large enough to care for themselves, found their way down the river and out to sea.
And where did they go then? and what did they do? Who can tell? for who can read the dark book of the sea? Yet this one thing we know they did, for still they are doing it after all these hundred years,—they came back up the river, when they were full-grown,—up the river, up the run, up into the pond, to lay their eggs in the waters where they were hatched, in the waters that to them were home.
Something very much like this all the other fish are doing, as are the birds also. The spell of home is over land and sea, and has been laid upon them all. The bird companies of the fall went south at the inexorable command of Hunger; but a greater than Hunger is in command of the forces of spring. Now our vast bird army of North America, five billion strong, is moving northward at the call of Home. And the hosts of the sea, whose shining billions we cannot number,—they, too, are coming up, some of them far up through the shallow streams to the wood-walled ponds for a drink of the sweet waters of Home.
As a boy I used to go down to the meadows at night to hear the catfish coming, as now I go down to the village by day to see the herring coming. The catfish would swim in from the Cohansey, through the sluices in the bank, then up by way of the meadow ditches to the dam over which fall the waters of Lupton's Pond.
It was a seven- or eight-foot dam, and of course the fish could not climb it. Down under the splashing water they would crowd by hundreds, their moving bodies close-packed, pushing forward, all trying to break through the wooden wall that blocked their way. Slow, stupid things they looked; but was not each big cat head pointed forward? each slow, cold brain trying to follow and keep up with each swift, warm heart? For the homeward-bound heart knows no barrier; it never stops for a dam.
The herring, too, on their way up the run are stopped by a dam; but the town, in granting to certain men the sole rights to catch the fish, stipulated that a number of the live herring, as many as several barrels full, should be helped over the dam each spring that they might go on up to the pond to deposit their eggs. If this were not done annually, the fish would soon cease to come, and the Weymouth herring would be no more.
There was no such lift for the catfish under Lupton's dam. I often tossed them over into the pond, and so helped to continue the line; but perhaps there was no need, for spring after spring they returned. They were the young fish, I suppose, new each year, from parent fish that remain inside the pond the year round.
I cannot say now—I never asked myself before—whether it is Mother or Father Catfish who stays with the swarm (it is literally a swarm) of kitten catfish. It may be father, as in the case of Father Stickleback and Father Toadfish, who cares for the children. If it is—I take off my hat to him. I have four of my own; and I think if I had eighteen or twenty more I should have both hands full. But Father Catfish! Did you ever see his brood?
I should say that there might easily be five hundred young ones in the family, though I never have counted them. But you might. If you want to try it, take your small scoop-net of coarse cheesecloth, or mosquito-netting, and go down to the pond this spring. Close along the margin you will see holes in the shallow water running up under the overhanging grass and roots. The holes were made probably by the muskrats. It is in here that the old catfish is guarding the brood.
As soon as you learn to know the holes, you can cover the entrance with your net, and then by jumping or stamping hard on the ground above the hole, you will drive out the old fish with a flop, the family following in a fine, black cloud. The old fish will swim away, then come slowly back to the scattered swarm, to the little black things that look like small tadpoles, who soon cluster about the parent once more and wiggle away into the deep, dark water of the pond—the strangest family group that I know in all the spring world.
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear;
There is ever a something sings alway:
There's the song of the lark when the skies are clear,
And the song of the thrush when the skies are gray.
The sunshine showers across the grain,
And the bluebird trills in the orchard tree;
And in and out when the eaves drip rain,
The swallows are twittering ceaselessly.
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear,
In the midnight black, or the midday blue;
The robin pipes when the sun is here,
And the cricket chirrups the whole night through.
The buds may grow and the fruit may grow,
And the autumn leaves drop crisp and sear;
But whether the sun, or the rain, or the snow,
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear.
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear,
Be the skies above or dark or fair,
There is ever a song that our hearts may hear—
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear—
There is ever a song somewhere.
WEEK 15 |
S was agreed upon the day before, Jacques made ready for
the performance. To keep the patients from moving, they were
obliged to make them lie down, their feet tied, between the
two inclined planks of a rack. Steel knives shone on the
ground. As for them, innocent victims of the needs of man,
they were already bound and lying on their sides. With
gentle resignation they awaited their sad fate. Were they
going to be slain? Oh, no: they were to be shorn. Jacques
took a sheep by its feet, placed it between the two planks
of the rack, and, with large scissors, began,
"Tell me, Jacques," said Jules, "are not the sheep very cold when they have had their wool cut off? See how that one trembles that you have just shorn."
"Never mind that: I have chosen a fine day for it. The sun
is warm. By
"We warm? How?"
"You astonish me. You do not know that, you who read so many books? Well, with this wool they will make you stockings and knitted things for this winter; they will even make cloth, fine cloth for clothes."
"Peuh!" exclaimed Emile. "This wool is too dirty and ugly to make stockings, knitted things, and cloth."
"Dirty at present," Jacques agreed, "but it will be washed in the river, and when it has become very white Mother Ambroisine will work it on her spinning-wheel and make yarn of it. This yarn knitted with needles will become stockings that one is very glad to have on one's feet when obliged to run in the snow."
"I have never seen red, green, blue sheep; and yet there are red, green, blue, and other colored wools," said Emile.
"They dye the white wool that the sheep gives us; they put it into boiling water with drugs and coloring matter, and it comes out of that water with a color that stays."
"And cloth is made with threads of wool like those of stockings; but in order to weave these threads, make them cross each other regularly, and convert them into fabric, you must have complicated machines, weaving looms that cannot be had in our houses. These are only found in large factories used for manufacturing woolen goods."
"Then these trousers that I have on come from the sheep; this vest; my cravat, stockings too. I am dressed in the spoils of the sheep?" This from Jules.
"Yes, to defend ourselves from the cold, we take the sheep's wool. The poor beast furnishes its fleece for our clothes, its milk and flesh for our nourishment, its skin for our gloves. We live on the life of our domestic animals. The ox gives us his strength, flesh, hide; the cow, besides, gives us milk. The donkey, mule, horse, work for us. As soon as they are dead they leave us their skin, of which we make leather for our shoes. The hen gives us eggs, the dog puts his intelligence at our service. And yet there are people who, without any motive, maltreat these animals without which we should be so poor; who let them suffer hunger and beat them unmercifully! Never imitate those heartless ones; it would be an insult to God, who has given us the donkey, ox, sheep, and other animals. When I think that these valuable creatures give us all, even to their very life, I would share my last crust with them."
And the shears meanwhile continued their
WHEN Columbus discovered America, all the kings of
Europe belonged to the Catholic Church and looked to
the Pope at Rome as their ruler. So, when the kings of
Spain and Portugal began to quarrel about lands outside
their kingdoms, it was the Pope who settled their
disputes. He took a map and drew upon it a line from
the north pole to the south pole, three hundred and
seventy leagues west of the
Now if the Pope's decision had remained final, our
country would be very different from what it is
When the French king heard about this line he said, "I would like to see the clause in Father Adam's will which divides the world between the Portuguese and the Spaniards. I think France shall have a share, too."
So he began to look about for a bold seaman to make discoveries and claims for France. In 1523 he heard of a sailor by the name of Verrazano.
The French king sent for Verrazano and told him that he wanted him to go in search of a passage westward to China. Verrazano consented and in 1524 started out.
After a journey of forty-nine days the voyagers reached a low shore on the coast of what is now North Carolina. Here a glad sight met their eyes. Fires were blazing on the sandy beach. Behind were tall forests of pine, laurel, and cypress. Along the beach surprised Indians, befeathered, and almost naked, ran like deer. They gave cries of welcome to the white men and showed them where to land.
But Verrazano did not loiter long. He sailed up the coast as far north as Newfoundland. By this time his supply of food had become scanty, so he went back to France.
When Verrazano got back to France, his brother, who had
been one of the voyagers, drew a queer map of the coast
along which they had traveled. This map is preserved in
Rome to this day. Verrazano himself wrote a long letter
to the King of France. In this letter he describes the
appearance and habits of the Indians, and gives a very
interesting account of the trees and plants along the
coast. He tells of the
But even before Verrazano had finished writing his letter to the King, that monarch had gone to war with Italy. He was taken prisoner, and soon France was so busy fighting with her neighbors that she had no time to think about the lands across the sea.
IF you look at a map of France you will see on the
western coast a large peninsula jutting into the sea.
On a point of this peninsula is the very old and
strongly built town of
One April day, in the year 1534, just ten years after
Verrazano's voyage, the shore of
Before long, Cartier's ships reached the coast of Newfoundland. They passed through the Straits of Belle Isle and entered the great gulf on the coast of North America, opposite Newfoundland. Landing at Cape Gaspé, Cartier set up a cross thirty feet high. Upon this was carved, in French, the words, "Long live the King of France." This meant that Cartier claimed the land for France.
The chief of the neighboring Indians did not like the cross. When the Frenchmen had boarded their ships to start back to France, the chief, dressed in a bear's skin, came out to them in a canoe. With him were two of his sons. The chief began to complain to Cartier about the cross. He said that the land belonged to the Indians. Cartier and his men coaxed them to come close to the ship. Then several of the French sailors jumped into the canoe, and brought it alongside.
The French took the Indians on board the ship, thus frightening them very much. But the French pretended to be friendly. They told them that the cross was set up only as a beacon or landmark by which the French could find their way back to the port. Cartier promised that he would soon come again and bring a good supply of iron kettles and other things that the Indians prized. Then he told the chief that he must let his two sons go to France. The chief did not want to let them go, but he could not help himself. To make the Indian boys more willing to go, the French sailors dressed them in gay coats and red caps and put copper chains about their necks.
When Cartier had sailed back to France, and had given the King a fine account of what he had seen, the King decided to send him upon a second voyage.
In May, 1535, Cartier sailed with three ships and over a hundred men, besides the two Indian boys whom he had kidnaped on the first voyage. In August they reached the shores of Canada.
On the day which the Catholics call "St. Lawrence's
Day," Cartier's ships entered the great gulf where he
had been the year before. So they named this the Gulf
Sailing on up the river, the French came to an Indian
village, called Stadaconé. This village stood on the
very spot where the old rock-walled city of Quebec
To Hochelaga Cartier resolved to go, in his smallest ship, with his two young Indians as guides. On they sailed, until they neared a shore swarming with Indians. The next morning these Indians guided the French through the woods to the great village they had come to see.
The travelers entered the town through the narrow gate. Within, they saw about fifty queer dwellings. Each house was fifty yards long and twelve or fifteen yards wide, and contained many fires and many families. These houses were made of poles covered with sheets of bark.
In the middle of the town was an open square. Here Cartier and his men stopped, while from the bark houses poured out crowds of men, women, and children. They came close to the visitors and felt of their beards and faces. They were trying to find out whether these strange-colored, strangely dressed beings, with gleaming guns and swords and helmets, were men or gods.
After a while the Indian warriors made the women and children go farther away, while they themselves squatted on the ground around the French. Some of the women brought mats for Cartier and his men to sit upon.
Next, a number of warriors went into one of the houses, and came out carrying upon a deerskin a very old Indian helpless with paralysis. He wore very dirty clothes, but on his straight black hair was a sort of red crown made of porcupine quills. This was the chief of the village. The Indians put him on the ground in front of Cartier and made signs of welcome for him. The poor old chief pointed at his helpless limbs and seemed to beg the French chief to touch and heal them. Cartier laid his hands upon the old man and pretended to heal him.
Then he began to distribute presents. To the women he gave beads. To the children he threw rings and other jewelry, made of tin. Then the French trumpeters put their trumpets to their lips and blew a mighty blast. This surprised and pleased the Indians very much.
The French now set forth, guided by a band of Indians,
to explore the great mountain back of the village. When
Cartier had climbed this mountain and looked far out
the forests below, with the river winding like a blue
ribbon between them, he gave it the name of Montreal,
the French for
Going back to their ship, the French sailed down the
By spring the men were all well again. The ice which held the ships fast in the river melted away and set them free, and Cartier returned to France. He had discovered a mighty river and a great mountain.
The King of France heard Cartier's report and was much pleased. But trouble at home prevented him for several years from sending another expedition. When he did send it, he took men from prisons for colonists. These men made a great deal of trouble, and finally the hope of a colony was given up by the King.
DURING the sixteenth century the Protestant faith made many converts in European countries; and because of the difference in their religious views, the Catholics and Protestants were continually at strife with one another.
In France the Protestants were called Huguenots.
Their leader was a wise and good man named Admiral
Coligny. He was very unhappy at seeing the Huguenots
suffering torture and death for their religion, and
thought it wise to send them to America to plant a
Huguenot colony. Admiral Coligny selected a good and
brave Huguenot named
After a while they came to a fine harbor, which they
At first the colonists were very happy. They built a fort. They passed the winter in hunting and fishing and trading with the Indians. When spring came they began to look for Ribaut's return.
But the spring and summer passed by, with no
The Huguenots made up their minds to go back to France.
But how? Behind them lay the dense forest. Before them
lay three thousand miles of ocean.
A fair wind filled the sails, and for several days the strange ship floated gallantly enough toward the home land. Then a calm came, and the vessel stood "like a painted ship upon a painted ocean." Next a terrible storm gashed the sails and twisted the ungainly timbers. The voyagers had endured many hardships when finally they were picked up by an English vessel and carried prisoners to Queen Elizabeth.
But why had not Jean Ribaut come back? When he got to
France war was going on as usual. Admiral Coligny could
not get another expedition ready before
the spring of 1564. Then three ships sailed under
Captain Laudonnière. They landed at the
Laudonnière and his men soon built a little town. Here they lived by hunting and fishing and farming. One evening, when this colony had been in America a little more than a year, they saw ships approaching.
The next morning everyone was up by daylight. Seven large ships were sailing up the river. Their decks were filled with men in armor. The colonists called to them, but they made no answer. Laudonnière had only two cannon. He ordered these to be aimed at the ships. He was just about to give the command to fire, when the strangers called out, "We are Huguenots!"
It was true. The ships were full of men, women, and children under Jean Ribaut. You may guess how happy the colonists were.
"Now," they said, "we have come to stay." Ah, yes, they had come to stay.
The rest of the Huguenots' story is soon told. While
they had been preparing to make themselves a peaceful
home in the
When the French king heard about this massacre, he did
not seem to care. But there was a Frenchman by the name
See what a lovely shell,
Small and pure as a pearl,
Lying close to my foot,
Frail, but a work divine,
Made so fairily well
With delicate spire and whorl,
How exquisitely minute,
A miracle of design!
What is it? A learned man
Could give it a clumsy name.
Let him name it who can,
The beauty would be the same.
The tiny cell is forlorn,
Void of the little living will
That made it stir on the shore.
Did he stand at the diamond door
Of his house in a rainbow frill?
Did he push, when he was uncurled,
A golden foot or a fairy horn
Through his dim water-world?
Slight, to be crushed with a tap
Of my finger-nail on the sand,
Small, but a work divine,
Frail, but of force to withstand,
Year upon year, the shock
Of the cataract seas that snap
The three-decker's oaken spine
Athwart the ledges of rock,
Here on the Breton strand!
WEEK 15 |
O N a bright autumn day, as long ago as the year 943, there was a great bustle in the Castle of Bayeux in Normandy.
The hall was large and low, the roof arched, and supported on thick short columns, almost like the crypt of a Cathedral; the walls were thick, and the windows, which had no glass, were very small, set in such a depth of wall that there was a wide deep window seat, upon which the rain might beat, without reaching the interior of the room. And even if it had come in, there was nothing for it to hurt, for the walls were of rough stone, and the floor of tiles. There was a fire at each end of this great dark apartment, but there were no chimneys over the ample hearths, and the smoke curled about in thick white folds in the vaulted roof, adding to the wreaths of soot, which made the hall look still darker.
The fire at the lower end was by far the largest and hottest. Great black cauldrons hung over it, and servants, both men and women, with red faces, bare and grimed arms, and long iron hooks, or pots and pans, were busied around it. At the other end, which was raised about three steps above the floor of the hall, other servants were engaged. Two young maidens were strewing fresh rushes on the floor; some men were setting up a long table of rough boards, supported on trestles, and then ranging upon it silver cups, drinking horns, and wooden trenchers.
Benches were placed to receive most of the guests, but in the middle, at the place of honour, was a high chair with very thick crossing legs, and the arms curiously carved with lions' faces and claws; a clumsy wooden footstool was set in front, and the silver drinking-cup on the table was of far more beautiful workmanship than the others, richly chased with vine leaves and grapes, and figures of little boys with goats' legs. If that cup could have told its story, it would have been a strange one, for it had been made long since, in the old Roman times, and been carried off from Italy by some Northman pirate.
From one of these scenes of activity to the other, there moved a stately old lady: her long thick light hair, hardly touched with grey, was bound round her head, under a tall white cap, with a band passing under her chin: she wore a long sweeping dark robe, with wide hanging sleeves, and thick gold ear-rings and necklace, which had possibly come from the same quarter as the cup. She directed the servants, inspected both the cookery and arrangements of the table, held council with an old steward, now and then looked rather anxiously from the window, as if expecting some one, and began to say something about fears that these loitering youths would not bring home the venison in time for Duke William's supper.
Presently, she looked up rejoiced, for a few notes of a bugle-horn were sounded; there was a clattering of feet, and in a few moments there bounded into the hall, a boy of about eight years old, his cheeks and large blue eyes bright with air and exercise, and his long light-brown hair streaming behind him, as he ran forward flourishing a bow in his hand, and crying out, "I hit him, I hit him! Dame Astrida, do you hear? 'Tis a stag of ten branches, and I hit him in the neck."
Richard with Dame Astrida.
"You! my Lord Richard! you killed him?"
"Oh, no, I only struck him. It was Osmond's shaft that took him in the eye, and—Look you, Fru Astrida, he came thus through the wood, and I stood here, it might be, under the great elm with my bow thus"— And Richard was beginning to act over again the whole scene of the deer-hunt, but Fru, that is to say, Lady Astrida, was too busy to listen, and broke in with, "Have they brought home the haunch?"
"Yes, Walter is bringing it. I had a long arrow—"
A stout forester was at this instant seen bringing in the venison, and Dame Astrida hastened to meet it, and gave directions, little Richard following her all the way, and talking as eagerly as if she was attending to him, showing how he shot, how Osmond shot, how the deer bounded, and how it fell, and then counting the branches of its antlers, always ending with, "This is something to tell my father. Do you think he will come soon?"
In the meantime two men entered the hall, one about fifty, the other, one or two-and-twenty, both in hunting dresses of plain leather, crossed by broad embroidered belts, supporting a knife, and a bugle- horn. The elder was broad-shouldered, sun-burnt, ruddy, and rather stern-looking; the younger, who was also the taller, was slightly made, and very active, with a bright keen grey eye, and merry smile. These were Dame Astrida's son, Sir Eric de Centeville, and her grandson, Osmond; and to their care Duke William of Normandy had committed his only child, Richard, to be fostered, or brought up.
It was always the custom among the Northmen, that young princes should thus be put under the care of some trusty vassal, instead of being brought up at home, and one reason why the Centevilles had been chosen by Duke William was, that both Sir Eric and his mother spoke only the old Norwegian tongue, which he wished young Richard to understand well, whereas, in other parts of the Duchy, the Normans had forgotten their own tongue, and had taken up what was then called the Langued'oui, a language between German and Latin, which was the beginning of French.
On this day, Duke William himself was expected at Bayeux, to pay a visit to his son before setting out on a journey to settle the disputes between the Counts of Flanders and Montreuil, and this was the reason of Fru Astrida's great preparations. No sooner had she seen the haunch placed upon a spit, which a little boy was to turn before the fire, than she turned to dress something else, namely, the young Prince Richard himself, whom she led off to one of the upper rooms, and there he had full time to talk, while she, great lady though she was, herself combed smooth his long flowing curls, and fastened his short scarlet cloth tunic, which just reached to his knee, leaving his neck, arms, and legs bare. He begged hard to be allowed to wear a short, beautifully ornamented dagger at his belt, but this Fru Astrida would not allow.
"You will have enough to do with steel and dagger before your life is at an end," said she, "without seeking to begin over soon."
"To be sure I shall," answered Richard. "I will be called Richard of the Sharp Axe, or the Bold Spirit, I promise you, Fru Astrida. We are as brave in these days as the Sigurds and Ragnars you sing of! I only wish there were serpents and dragons to slay here in Normandy."
"Never fear but you will find even too many of them," said Dame Astrida; "there be dragons of wrong here and everywhere, quite as venomous as any in my Sagas."
"I fear them not," said Richard, but half understanding her, "if you would only let me have the dagger! But, hark! hark!" he darted to the window. "They come, they come! There is the banner of Normandy."
Away ran the happy child, and never rested till he stood at the bottom of the long, steep, stone stair, leading to the embattled porch. Thither came the Baron de Centeville, and his son, to receive their Prince. Richard looked up at Osmond, saying, "Let me hold his stirrup," and then sprang up and shouted for joy, as under the arched gateway there came a tall black horse, bearing the stately form of the Duke of Normandy. His purple robe was fastened round him by a rich belt, sustaining the mighty weapon, from which he was called "William of the long Sword," his legs and feet were cased in linked steel chain-work, his gilded spurs were on his heels, and his short brown hair was covered by his ducal cap of purple, turned up with fur, and a feather fastened in by a jewelled clasp. His brow was grave and thoughtful, and there was something both of dignity and sorrow in his face, at the first moment of looking at it, recalling the recollection that he had early lost his young wife, the Duchess Emma, and that he was beset by many cares and toils; but the next glance generally conveyed encouragement, so full of mildness were his eyes, and so kind the expression of his lips.
And now, how bright a smile beamed upon the little Richard, who, for the first time, paid him the duty of a pupil in chivalry, by holding the stirrup while he sprung from his horse. Next, Richard knelt to receive his blessing, which was always the custom when children met their parents. The Duke laid his hand on his head, saying, "God of His mercy bless thee, my son," and lifting him in his arms, held him to his breast, and let him cling to his neck and kiss him again and again, before setting him down, while Sir Eric came forward, bent his knee, kissed the hand of his Prince, and welcomed him to his Castle.
It would take too long to tell all the friendly and courteous words that were spoken, the greeting of the Duke and the noble old Lady Astrida, and the reception of the Barons who had come in the train of their Lord. Richard was bidden to greet them, but, though he held out his hand as desired, he shrank a little to his father's side, gazing at them in dread and shyness.
There was Count Bernard, of Harcourt, called the "Dane," with his shaggy red hair and beard, to which a touch of grey had given a strange unnatural tint, his eyes looking fierce and wild under his thick eyebrows, one of them mis-shapen in consequence of a sword cut, which had left a broad red and purple scar across both cheek and forehead. There, too, came tall Baron Rainulf, of Ferrieres, cased in a linked steel hauberk, that rang as he walked, and the men-at- arms, with helmets and shields, looking as if Sir Eric's armour that hung in the hail had come to life and was walking about.
They sat down to Fru Astrida's banquet, the old Lady at the Duke's right hand, and the Count of Harcourt on his left; Osmond carved for the Duke, and Richard handed his cup and trencher. All through the meal, the Duke and his Lords talked earnestly of the expedition on which they were bound to meet Count Arnulf of Flanders, on a little islet in the river Somme, there to come to some agreement, by which Arnulf might make restitution to Count Herluin of Montreuil, for certain wrongs which he had done him.
Some said that this would be the fittest time for requiring Arnulf to yield up some towns on his borders, to which Normandy had long laid claim, but the Duke shook his head, saying that he must seek no selfish advantage, when called to judge between others.
Richard was rather tired of their grave talk, and thought the supper very long; but at last it was over, the Grace was said, the boards which had served for tables were removed, and as it was still light, some of the guests went to see how their steeds had been bestowed, others to look at Sir Eric's horses and hounds, and others collected together in groups.
The Duke had time to attend to his little boy, and Richard sat upon
his knee and talked, told about all his pleasures, how his arrow had
hit the deer
Duke William listened, and smiled, and seemed as well pleased to hear as the boy was to tell. "And, Richard," said he at last, "have you nought to tell me of Father Lucas, and his great book? What, not a word? Look up, Richard, and tell me how it goes with the learning."
"Oh, father!" said Richard, in a low voice, playing with the clasp of his father's belt, and looking down, "I don't like those crabbed letters on the old yellow parchment."
"But you try to learn them, I hope!" said the Duke.
"Yes, father, I do, but they are very hard, and the words are so long, and Father Lucas will always come when the sun is so bright, and the wood so green, that I know not how to bear to be kept poring over those black hooks and strokes."
"Poor little fellow," said Duke William, smiling and Richard, rather encouraged, went on more boldly. "You do not know this reading, noble father?"
"To my sorrow, no," said the Duke.
"And Sir Eric cannot read, nor Osmond, nor any one, and why must I read, and cramp my fingers with writing, just as if I was a clerk, instead of a young Duke?" Richard looked up in his father's face, and then hung his head, as if half-ashamed of questioning his will, but the Duke answered him without displeasure.
"It is hard, no doubt, my boy, to you now, but it will be the better for you in the end. I would give much to be able myself to read those holy books which I must now only hear read to me by a clerk, but since I have had the wish, I have had no time to learn as you have now."
"But Knights and Nobles never learn," said Richard.
"And do you think it a reason they never should? But you are wrong, my boy, for the Kings of France and England, the Counts of Anjou, of Provence, and Paris, yes, even King Hako of Norway, can all read."
"I tell you, Richard, when the treaty was drawn up for restoring this King Louis to his throne, I was ashamed to find myself one of the few crown vassals who could not write his name thereto."
"But none is so wise or so good as you, father," said Richard, proudly. "Sir Eric often says so."
"Sir Eric loves his Duke too well to see his faults," said Duke William; "but far better and wiser might I have been, had I been taught by such masters as you may be. And hark, Richard, not only can all Princes here read, but in England, King Ethelstane would have every Noble taught; they study in his own palace, with his brothers, and read the good words that King Alfred the truth-teller put into their own tongue for them."
"I hate the English," said Richard, raising his head and looking very fierce.
"Hate them? and wherefore?"
"Because they traitorously killed the brave Sea King Ragnar! Fru Astrida sings his death-song, which he chanted when the vipers were gnawing him to death, and he gloried to think how his sons would bring the ravens to feast upon the Saxon. Oh! had I been his son, how I would have carried on the feud! How I would have laughed when I cut down the false traitors, and burnt their palaces!" Richard's eye kindled, and his words, as he spoke the old Norse language, flowed into the sort of wild verse in which the Sagas or legendary songs were composed, and which, perhaps, he was unconsciously repeating.
Duke William looked grave.
"Fru Astrida must sing you no more such Sagas," said he, "if they fill your mind with these revengeful thoughts, fit only for the worshippers of Odin and Thor. Neither Ragnar nor his sons knew better than to rejoice in this deadly vengeance, but we, who are Christians, know that it is for us to forgive."
"The English had slain their father!" said Richard, looking up with wondering dissatisfied eyes.
"Yes, Richard, and I speak not against them, for they were even as we should have been, had not King Harold the fair-haired driven your grandfather from Denmark. They had not been taught the truth, but to us it has been said, 'Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.' Listen to me, my son, Christian as is this nation of ours, this duty of forgiveness is too often neglected, but let it not be so with you. Bear in mind, whenever you see the Cross marked on our banner, or carved in stone on the Churches, that it speaks of forgiveness to us; but of that pardon we shall never taste if we forgive not our enemies. Do you mark me, boy?"
Richard hesitated a little, and then said, "Yes, father, but I could never have pardoned, had I been one of Ragnar's sons."
"It may be that you will be in their case, Richard," said the Duke, "and should I fall, as it may well be I shall, in some of the contests that tear to pieces this unhappy Kingdom of France, then, remember what I say now. I charge you, on your duty to God and to your father, that you keep up no feud, no hatred, but rather that you should deem me best revenged, when you have with heart and hand, given the fullest proof of forgiveness to your enemy. Give me your word that you will."
"Yes, father," said Richard, with rather a subdued tone, and resting his head on his father's shoulder. There was a silence for a little space, during which he began to revive into playfulness, to stroke the Duke's short curled beard, and play with his embroidered collar.
In so doing, his fingers caught hold of a silver chain, and pulling it out with a jerk, he saw a silver key attached to it. "Oh, what is that?" he asked eagerly. "What does that key unlock?"
"My greatest treasure," replied Duke William, as he replaced the chain and key within his robe.
"Your greatest treasure, father! Is that your coronet?"
"You will know one day," said his father, putting the little hand down from its too busy investigations; and some of the Barons at that moment returning into the hall, he had no more leisure to bestow on his little son.
The next day, after morning service in the Chapel, and breakfast in the hall, the Duke again set forward on his journey, giving Richard hopes he might return in a fortnight's time, and obtaining from him a promise that he would be very attentive to Father Lucas, and very obedient to Sir Eric de Centeville.
A tortoise and two Geese lived together in a pond for many years. At last there came a drought and dried up the pond. Then the Geese said to one another,—
"We must seek a new home quickly, for we cannot live without water. Let us say farewell to the Tortoise and start at once."
When the Tortoise heard that they were going, he trembled with fear, and besought them by their friendship not to desert him.
"Alas," the Geese replied, "there is no help for it. If we stay here, we shall all three die, and we cannot take you with us, for you cannot fly."
Still the Tortoise begged so hard not to be left behind that the Geese finally said,—
"Dear Friend, if you will promise not to speak a word on the journey, we will take you with us. But know beforehand, that if you open your mouth to say one single word, you will be in instant danger of losing your life."
"Have no fear," replied the Tortoise, "but that I will be silent until you give me leave to speak again. I would rather never open my mouth again than be left to die alone here in the dried-up pond."
So the Geese brought a stout stick and bade the Tortoise grasp it firmly in the middle by his mouth. Then they took hold of either end and flew off with him. They had gone several miles in safety, when their course lay over a village. As the country people saw this curious sight of a Tortoise being carried by two Geese, they began to laugh and cry out,—
"Oh, did you ever see such a funny sight in all your life!" And they laughed loud and long.
The Tortoise grew more and more indignant. At last he could stand their jeering no longer. "You stupid . . . " he snapped, but before he could say more he had fallen to the ground and was dashed to pieces.
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!
Down along the rocky shore,
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.
High on the hill top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He 's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.
They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.
By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!
WEEK 15 |
"Clive kissed me on the mouth and eyes and brow,
Wonderful kisses, so that I became
Crowned above Queens—a withered beldame now
Brooding on ancient fame."
D URING the forty years after the death of Aurangzeb a great change passed over India. The great Mogul Empire was broken up; enemies invaded the land from north and south. They preyed on the defenceless country, they marched through the gates of Delhi and bore away in triumph the Peacock Throne and all its priceless jewels.
From the time of Alexander the Great little intercourse had been held between Europe and the East. But from that May day in 1498, when Vasco da Gama and his brave Portuguese sailors stepped ashore at Calicut, there was constant communication with the ports on the western coast. For some time Portugal had claimed exclusive right to her Indian trade, but after a time Dutch ships sailed to her eastern ports. The enterprise of Holland roused commercial enthusiasm in England and France until these three nations had established trading stations in the East.
The Dutch headquarters was at Batavia; the French at Pondicherry, on the east coast of India; the English at Madras, some eighty miles to the north. The governor of Pondicherry was a Frenchman called Dupleix. He was the first European to see the possibility of founding an empire on the ruins of the Great Mogul, though it was reserved for the English to carry out his wonderful idea.
Neither the French nor the English traders knew much about the government of India at this time. They knew that they paid a yearly rent to the native ruler or Nawab, who lived in Oriental splendour at the city of Arcot, some sixty-five miles west of Madras. This Nawab of Arcot was in his turn under the Nizam of Hyderabad, and both in the old days were under the Great Mogul.
Dupleix, full of his dreams of empire, saw that his first step must be to capture the English trading station of Madras. England and France were at war, so he seized this opportunity of attacking Madras, which was but poorly defended, and carried off the English in triumph to Pondicherry. Here all was joy and gladness. Salutes were fired from the batteries, Te Deums were sung in the churches. The Nizam came to visit his new allies. Dupleix, dressed in Mohammedan garments, entered Pondicherry with him, and in the pageant that followed took precedence of the native court. He was declared Governor of India from Hyderabad to Cape Comorin, a country the same size as France itself; he was given command of seven thousand men; he ruled over thirty millions of people with absolute power, and the Nizam himself became but a tool in his hands.
It was at this moment that the genius and valour of a single young Englishman, Robert Clive, changed the whole aspect of affairs, and won the empire of India for England.
"Clive," said a Frenchman afterwards, "understood and applied the system of Dupleix."
Robert Clive was the eldest of a large English family. He was born in Shropshire in the year 1725. At a very early age he showed that he had a strong will and a fiery passion, "flying out on every trifling occasion." The story is still told in the neighbourhood of how "Bob Clive," when quite a little boy, climbed to the top of a lofty steeple, and with what terror people saw him seated on a stone spout near the top. He was sent from school to school, but made little progress with his learning. Instead, he gained the character of being a very naughty little boy. True, one far-seeing master prophesied that he would yet make "a great figure in the world," but for the most part he was held to be a dunce. Nothing was expected from such a boy, and when he was eighteen his parents sent him off to India, in the service of the East India Company, to "make his fortune or die of a fever."
His voyage was unusually long and tedious, lasting over a year. At last he arrived at the port of Madras—a barren spot beaten by a raging surf—to find himself very lonely and very poor in a strange land. He found some miserably paid work in an office, but he was shy and proud and made no friends. Moreover, the hot climate made him ill.
"I have not enjoyed one happy day since I left my native land," he cried piteously. Twice, in desperation, the poor home-sick boy tried to shoot himself, but twice he failed.
"Surely," he cried at the second failure—"surely I am reserved for something great."
So it happened that Robert Clive was at Madras when the French came and carried away the English captives to Pondicherry. Disguising themselves as natives, in turbans and flowing robes, Clive and some friends managed to escape to another English trading station. There was no more office work to be done at present, and Clive, together with hundreds of other Englishmen, entered the army to fight against the French. His bravery and courage soon raised him above his fellows, and he became a captain.
Clive was now twenty-five. He saw plainly that unless some daring blow were aimed at the French soon, Dupleix would carry all before him. He suggested a sudden attack on Arcot, the residence of the Nawab; and though the scheme seemed wild to the point of madness, he was given command of 200 Europeans and some native troops to march against the town.
Arcot was sixty-five miles away. The fort was known to be garrisoned by 1100 men, but Clive marched bravely forth. During the march a terrific storm arose. The rain swept down in a deluge on the little army, the lightning played around them, the thunder pealed over their heads; but they pushed on through it all, undaunted in their desperate undertaking. Tidings of their fearless endurance reached the town before them. A panic seized the native garrison: they abandoned the fort. Not a shot was fired, and Clive with his 500 men entered the city in triumph. The young boy-captain had already won a deathless renown.
OKI told another tale about Thor—about Thor and Thrym, a stupid Giant who had cunning streaks in him. Loki and Thor had been in this Giant's house. He had made a feast for them and Thor had been unwatchful.
Then when they were far from Jötunheim Thor missed Miölnir, missed the hammer that was the defence of Asgard and the help of the Gods. He could not remember how or where he had mislaid it. Loki's thoughts went toward Thrym, that stupid Giant who yet had cunning streaks in him. Thor, who had lost the hammer that he had sworn never to let out of his sight, did not know what to do.
But Loki thought it would be worth while to see if Thrym knew anything about it. He went first to Asgard. He hurried across the Rainbow Bridge and passed Heimdall without speaking to him. To none of the Dwellers in Asgard whom he met did he dare relate the tidings of Thor's loss. He spoke to none until he came to Frigga's palace.
To Frigga he said, "You must lend me your falcon dress until I fly to Thrym's dwelling and find out if he knows where Miölnir is."
"If every feather was silver I would give it to you to go on such an errand," Frigga said.
So Loki put on the falcon dress and flew to Jötunheim and came near Thrym's dwelling. He found the Giant upon a hillside putting golden and silver collars upon the necks of his hounds. Loki in the plumage of a falcon perched on the rock above him, watching the Giant with falcon eyes.
And while he was there he heard the Giant speak boastful words. "I put collars of silver and gold on you now," said he, "but soon we Giants will have the gold of Asgard to deck our hounds and our steeds, yea, even the necklace of Freya to put upon you, the best of my hounds. For Miölnir, the defence of Asgard, is in Thrym's holding."
Then Loki spoke to him, "Yea, we know that Miölnir is in thy possession, O Thrym," said he, "but know thou that the eyes of the watchful Gods are upon thee."
"Ha, Loki, Shape-changer," said Thrym, "you are there! But all your watching will not help you to find Miölnir. I have buried Thor's hammer eight miles deep in the earth. Find it if you can. It is below the caves of the Dwarfs."
"It is useless for us to search for Thor's hammer," said Loki; "eh, Thrym?"
"It is useless for you to search for it," said the Giant sulkily.
"But what a recompense you would gain if you restored Thor's hammer to the Dwellers in Asgard," Loki said.
"No, cunning Loki, I will never restore it, not for any recompense," said Thrym.
"Yet bethink thee, Thrym," said Loki. "Is there nought in Asgard you would like to own? No treasure, no possession? Odin's ring or Frey's ship, Skidbladnir?"
"No, no," said Thrym. "Only one thing could the Dwellers in Asgard offer me that I would take in exchange for Miölnir, Thor's hammer."
"And what would that be, Thrym?" said Loki, flying towards him.
"She whom many Giants have striven to gain—Freya, for my wife," said Thrym.
Loki watched Thrym for long with his falcon eyes. He saw the Giant would not alter his demand. "I will tell the Dwellers in Asgard of your demand," he said at last, and he flew away.
Loki knew that the Dwellers in Asgard would never let Freya be taken from them to become the wife of Thrym, the stupidest of the giants. He flew back.
By this time all the Dwellers in Asgard had heard of the loss of Miölnir, the help of the Gods. Heimdall shouted to him as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge to ask what tidings he brought back. But Loki did not stop to speak to the Warden of the Bridge but went straight to the hall where the Gods sat in Council.
To the Æsir and the Vanir he told Thrym's demand. None would agree to let the beautiful Freya go live in Jötunheim as a wife to the stupidest of the Giants. All in the Council were cast down. The Gods would never again be able to help mortal men, for now that Miölnir was in the Giants' hands all their strength would have to be used in the defence of Asgard.
So they sat in the Council with looks downcast. But cunning Loki said, "I have thought of a trick that may win back the hammer from stupid Thrym. Let us pretend to send Freya to Jötunheim as a bride for him. But let one of the Gods go in Freya's veil and dress."
"Which of the Gods would bring himself to do so shameful a thing?" said those who sat in the Council.
"Oh, he who lost the hammer, Thor, should be prepared to do as much to win it back," said Loki.
"Thor, Thor! Let Thor win back the hammer from Thrym by Loki's trick," said the Æsir and the Vanir. They left it to Loki to arrange how Thor should go to Jötunheim as a bride for Thrym.
OKI left the Council of the Gods and came to where he had left Thor. "There is but one way to win the hammer back, Thor," he said, "and the Gods in Council have decided that you shall take it."
"What is the way?" said Thor. "But no matter what it is, tell me of it and I shall do as thou dost say."
"Then," said laughing Loki, "I am to take you to Jötunheim as a bride for Thrym. Thou art to go in bridal dress and veil, in Freya's veil and bridal dress."
"What! I dress in woman's garb?" shouted Thor.
"Yea, Thor, and wear a veil over your head and a garland of flowers upon it."
"I—I wear a garland of flowers?"
"And rings upon thy fingers. And a bunch of housekeeper's keys in thy girdle."
"Cease thy mockery, Loki," said Thor roughly, "or I shall shake thee."
"It is no mockery. Thou wilt have to do this to win Miölnir back for the defence of Asgard. Thrym will take no other recompense than Freya. I would mock him by bringing thee to him in Freya's veil and dress. When thou art in his hall and he asks thee to join hands with him, say thou wilt not until he puts Miölnir into thy hands. Then when thy mighty hammer is in thy holding thou canst deal with him and with all in his hall. And I shall be with thee as thy bridesmaid! O sweet, sweet maiden Thor!"
"Loki," said Thor, "thou didst devise all this to mock me. I in a bridal dress! I with a bride's veil upon me! The Dwellers in Asgard will never cease to laugh at me."
"Yea," said Loki, "but there will never be laughter again in Asgard unless thou art able to bring back the hammer that thine unwatchfulness lost."
"True," said Thor unhappily, "and is this, thinkst thou, Loki, the only way to win back Miölnir from Thrym?"
"It is the only way, O Thor," said the cunning Loki.
O Thor and Loki set out for Jötunheim and the dwelling of Thrym. A messenger had gone before them to tell Thrym that Freya was coming with her bridesmaid; that the wedding-feast was to be prepared and the guests gathered and that Miölnir was to be at hand so that it might be given over to the Dwellers in Asgard. Thrym and his Giant mother hastened to have everything in readiness.
Thor and Loki came to the Giant's house in the dress of a bride and bridesmaid. A veil was over Thor's head hiding his beard and his fierce eyes. A red-embroidered robe he wore and at his side hung a girdle of housekeeper's keys. Loki was veiled too. The hall of Thrym's great house was swept and garnished and great tables were laid for the feast. And Thrym's mother was going from one guest to another, vaunting that her son was getting one of the beauteous Dwellers in Asgard for his bride, Freya, whom so many of the Giants had tried to win.
When Thor and Loki stepped across the threshold Thrym went to welcome them. He wanted to raise the veil of his bride and give her a kiss. Loki quickly laid his hand on the Giant's shoulder.
"Forbear," he whispered. "Do not raise her veil. We Dwellers in Asgard are reserved and bashful. Freya would be much offended to be kissed before this company."
"Aye, aye," said Thrym's old mother. "Do not raise thy bride's veil, son. These Dwellers in Asgard are more refined in their ways than we, the Giants." Then the old woman took Thor by the hand and led him to the table.
The size and girth of the bride did not surprise the huge Giants who were in the wedding company. They stared at Thor and Loki, but they could see nothing of their faces and little of their forms because of their veils.
Thor sat at the table with Thrym on one side of him and Loki on the other. Then the feast began. Thor, not noticing that what he did was unbecoming to a refined maiden, ate eight salmon right away. Loki nudged him and pressed his foot, but he did not heed Loki. After the salmon he ate a whole ox.
"These maids of Asgard," said the Giants to each other, "they may be refined, as Thrym's mother says, but their appetites are lusty enough."
"No wonder she eats, poor thing," said Loki to Thrym. "It is eight days since we left Asgard. And Freya never ate upon the way, so anxious was she to see Thrym and to come to his house."
"Poor darling, poor darling," said the Giant. "What she has eaten is little after all."
Thor nodded his head toward the mead vat. Thrym ordered his servants to bring a measure to his bride. The servants were kept coming with measures to Thor. While the Giants watched, and while Loki nudged and nodded, he drank three barrels of mead.
"Oh," said the Giants to Thrym's mother, "we are not so sorry that we failed to win a bride from Asgard."
And now a piece of the veil slipped aside and Thor's eyes were seen for an instant. "Oh, how does it come that Freya has such glaring eyes?" said Thrym.
"Poor thing, poor thing," said Loki, "no wonder her eyes are glaring and staring. She has not slept for eight nights, so anxious was she to come to you and to your house, Thrym. But now the time has come for you to join hands with your bride. First, put into her hands the hammer Miölnir that she may know the great recompense that the Giants have given for her coming.
Then Thrym, the stupidest of the Giants, rose up and brought Miölnir, the defence of Asgard, into the feasting hall. Thor could hardly restrain himself from springing up and seizing it from the Giant. But Loki was able to keep him still. Thrym brought over the hammer and put the handle into the hands of her whom he thought was his bride. Thor's hands closed on his hammer. Instantly he stood up. The veil fell off him. His countenance and his blazing eyes were seen by all. He struck one blow on the wall of the house. Down it crashed. Then Thor went striding out of the ruin with Loki beside him, while within the Giants bellowed as the roof and walls fell down on them. And so was Miölnir, the defence of Asgard, lost and won back.
Into the sunshine,
Full of the light,
Leaping and flashing
From morn till night!
Into the moonlight,
Whiter than snow,
Waving so flower-like
When the winds blow!
Into the starlight
Rushing in spray,
Happy at midnight,
Happy by day!
Ever in motion,
Blithesome and cheery,
Still climbing heavenward,
Glad of all weathers,
Still seeming best,
Upward or downward,
Motion thy rest.
Full of a nature
Nothing can tame,
Changed every moment,
Ever the same.
Darkness or sunshine,
Let my heart be
Fresh, changeful, constant,
Upward, like thee!
WEEK 15 |
N OW this is one of the stories that the cat told to the mouse when they lived together in peace and amity—and that shows you just how old it is. Once there was a King and a Queen who had three lovely daughters; the first was as pretty as a meadow daisy, and the second was as beautiful as a sunny marigold, but the third was just like fresh hawthorn buds in May—and if you can think of anything prettier than that, I had best leave off telling this story, and let you go on with it.
The two elder Princesses were brought up with all the care and all the courtly attainments possible; the first could play on the lute and the harpsichord, embroider on silk, walk out of the presence backwards, and dance to the admiration of all beholders. The second could sing to make meadow larks envious, paint the liveliest pictures, execute a court bow without wavering, and make conversation. But as for the third Princess, somehow old Lady Luck had a crick in her back when it came her turn, for she was taught nothing at all. So while the others were dancing and making conversation, she sat at one side and watched the spiders on the wall.
She sat at one side and watched the spiders on the wall.
One day as she sat there, she heard one of them say to another:
"Greet you well, my sister
and the second answered:
"What can you say I would not hear,
Twin, my twin?"
"Yonder sits a Princess fair,
With naught to do but to braid her
"What would you have the Princess
Spin as well as we spiders two,
Twin, my twin?"
"Oh she might spin the finest thread
If we wove a cap for her golden head,
"But she'll be making spider's lace
If she pulls the cap down over her face,
Spin, my twin, spinnn."
And then they scuttled away into the corner, because the first Lord of the Castle Sweepers was coming with a broom. But before he got there, the Princess stood up on a chair and reached the two spiders' webs; and they were woven into a little round cap, that fitted her head as well as her skin fitted her fingers.
After that, she was known as the finest spinner in that land, and all the housewives wanted to take lessons of her, but the Queen said No, that would not do at all, because she was a princess. Nobody in the castle thought very highly of the Princess's accomplishment, however.
Well, one day there was a great to-do in the court; the King was very ill indeed, and he wasn't expected to live, because the only thing that would cure him was a seed from the pomegranate that hung in the garden of the enchanted Prince who lived in the country across three rivers and seven mountains. The whole court sat and looked about with eyes full of blank astonishment, and then they began to get out scissors and thimbles and black stuffs, for there was no time to be lost in preparing for a decent appearance at the funeral. There is everything in getting things done beforehand, as the little pig said when he dropped a millstone on Mr. Wolf, who was coming to pay him a visit. But all the same, the Queen sent off the First Physician to see if he could get the seed. He traveled and traveled and traveled, but after he crossed one river and two mountains, he decided it wasn't worth while ploughing in the gutter, even for a diamond, and so he went home and said that the Prince was out, and wouldn't let anybody in.
So then he was beheaded, and the Second Physician was sent out; his legs went a good bit faster and farther than the First Physician's, let me tell you. But after he had crossed two rivers and five mountains, he sat down and mopped his head, and he thought to himself, "Come! There is mining enough to be done before one reaches the gold, I grant you, but I for one was not born or bred a miner!" And so he went home and said that there wasn't any pomegranate any more.
So he was beheaded, and the Third Physician was sent out. He went faster and farther than the other two, for a good heart goes better than legs or wheels. He crossed the three rivers and the seven mountains without so much as losing his breath by the way, and rapped at the garden gate of the enchanted Prince.
What did he want there? said a voice on the other side of the wall. Oh, a bit of the seed from one of the Prince's famous pomegranates, for a brother ruler who was very ill indeed.
"Yes, yes," said the voice, "that is all very well, but what is the brother ruler ready to pay me for it? Will he let me have my choice of his accomplished daughters?—for that is a fair enough bargain, when all's said."
Well, the physician hemmed and hawed, but he could find no other path out of the woods, so he finally said Yes, the Prince might have his choice of the Princesses.
"Then you must have them here before the wall by the end of the third week from to-morrow," said the voice, and a moment later the physician felt something hard strike him upon the head. It was the pomegranate seed, wrapped in a bit of the pomegranate skin to keep it fresh.
The Third Physician set off full of joy, and gave the seed to the King, who sat up immediately and asked for simnel cakes and custards, so that they knew he was fully recovered. But when the Princesses heard of the payment that must be made, they were as happy as flies in molasses,—that is, the two elder ones were. They made excuses and they made excuses, but all in vain, for a bargain was a bargain—and besides, each one had a chance to come home again. So they set out in a splendid chariot that reflected the sunbeams and dazzled every one's eyes. They completely forgot about the third sister, who sat in her bower and spun.
Finally they arrived at the wall of the Prince's garden, and each one thought privately, "Come! there are not so many flaws in this pitcher after all! And if he is enchanted, he will probably give no trouble to his spouse." And so they rapped at the garden gate, and a voice said, "So here are the accomplished daughters! And what can you do?"
The eldest Princess answered, "I can play on the lute and the harpsichord, embroider on silk, walk out of the presence backward, and dance to the admiration of all beholders." Well, she might go home again; there was no use for such as she to live and cumber the earth. And what could the second sister do?
"Oh," said the second Princess, "I can sing to make meadow larks envious, paint the liveliest pictures, execute a court bow without wavering, and make conversation." Prut! she might go home again too, for sensible people had no use for such stuff as all that.
"And is there no third sister?" asked the voice.
"Oh—yes," answered the two Princesses, somewhat huffed, "but she has no accomplishments whatever!"
"Let her be here before the garden wall at the end of the third week to-morrow," said the voice over the wall, "or it will be the worse for all of you." And not another word could they get out of him.
So back the two Princesses had to pack, and in no very happy frame of mind, I can tell you; and they told the youngest Princess to make ready to be eaten up by a ferocious ogre, for they thought that would frighten her, so that they could take out their spite on the Prince.
But the youngest Princess was not to be turned away from the middle of the path that too few people tread; she made a bundle of her clothes and a little provision, and put her gossamer cap on her head, and set off on foot. When she come to the three rivers, she tucked up her petticoats and swam; and when she came to the seven mountains, she bent her back and climbed; and on the very last day of the allotted time, she finally came to the gate in the garden wall. She rapped at the gate, and the voice answered, "What have you there?"
"Two weary feet and a heavy heart," that was what the Princess had. And had she any accomplishments? That was what the voice really wanted to know.
"Alas," said the Princess, "I have only one accomplishment, if you can call it so; I can do nothing but spin."
"Then come in," said the voice, "for I have been waiting for you these many years." So the gate was opened wide, and the youngest Princess went in to a green and fragrant garden, where she found that the voice belonged to the most beautiful young man she had ever seen.
He took her hand and led her into the castle at the end of the garden; and she and the Prince sat down to supper together. He was as gentle as charity, and as for her, she could not take her eyes from him, not only because he was as handsome as sunlight, but because she could observe none of the common signs of enchantment about him.
After supper he made her sit before the fire in the great hearth, upon a great couch that was hung with velvet and gold embroideries, and the Prince took her hands in his. Listen! he had a good bit to tell her.
During the day, he was left in his own shape, without a mark nor mar upon him; but as soon as twelve o'clock struck, he passed with fearful agonies from his own person into that of a great gray wolf without any soul, that ravaged the country and howled at the moon until the sun came over the hills to release him, and allow him to resume his own shape with the same travail in which he had left it. Now there was but one thing which could redeem him from the evil spirit; if a maid could spin a thread stronger than iron and finer than silk, and bind it about him just after he had passed from his own form into that of the werewolf, no ugly spell would have power to harm him thereafter. After he had told her all this, he suddenly became as pale as whey, and said, "Now I must leave you, for it is a quarter to twelve, and the change is beginning."
The Princess sat very still until the clock struck twelve long strokes; then there was a rush of heavy feet outside, and the scratch of claws, and a doleful howl that shook the house. Off went the Princess up the broad stairs; out of her little bundle she took some of the finest flax, and ordered a wheel to be brought to her. Then she put on her little cap more firmly, and began to spin; she worked all night and all the next day, and when she had the thread done, it was as stout as thread can be, and light as thistledown.
So that night she hid behind the door in the Prince's chamber, and at twelve o'clock, after a mortal struggle, he disappeared, and there was a great gray wolf with red jaws and dripping tongue. At the sound of the first howl, the Princess flung the thread about him, but he passed quite through it, and rushed through the door so fast that the wind had much ado to catch up with him.
The next day, the Princess took the finest down from the thistles in the garden; she worked all day, and at night she had a thread as much finer than the first one as silk is finer than hemp. But all in vain; for the werewolf escaped as he had the first night.
So then the Princess went back to her own apartment, and did not work at all. She just sat at the window with her cheek on her hand, and looked out at the good sunshine and the green growing things, and the birds that flitted by the castle walls.
That night, just before twelve o'clock, she hid herself once more behind the oaken door of the Prince's chamber, but this time she pulled the spider's little cap over her face,—and before you could blink, there she was, changed into a little gray spider running about the floor.
Presently the poor young Prince came in, and the little gray spider ran up his arm. The clock struck twelve long strokes; and after a dreadful struggle the Prince disappeared, and there stood the great gray werewolf, with red jaws and dripping tongue. The little spider ran about his paws and about his paws, and spun a thread and spun a thread; the thread was spun out of the Princess's heart, and in every inch of it was a drop of the blood of her. So it was of no use for the wolf to snap and snarl and bite and tear, for although the thread was finer than silk, it was stronger than steel, and he could no more have broken it than he could have bent my ancestor's two-handed sword. A strong heart is stronger than anything else in the world, as anybody can tell you without consulting the wise man.
By and by the spell was quite broken. The werewolf was gone forevermore, and the Prince lay on the floor, panting a little, but as happy as the river rushes in spring floods, enjoying the taste of his unencumbered soul. The first thing he did, of course, was to look for the Princess, but there wasn't a sign of her about. The only living thing in the room beside himself was a little gray spider than ran suddenly across his lips. He brushed it away with his hand so that it fell against the wall,—and behold!—there was the Princess, lying mighty pale and still, for there was but little blood left in her by this time, I can tell you.
Well, the Prince called himself all kinds of things, but he was not one to let words do all of his deeds for him. He ran hot-foot into the garden, to the pomegranate tree; and seizing a few seeds from the fruit that had been broken for the King, he hastened back and slipped them between the Princess's lips.
In less time than it takes me to tell you, she opened her eyes and looked at him; whereupon the Prince kissed her upon both cheeks. And would she marry him? Because if she would, the Prince would send for her father and mother and her two sisters and the good physician, and by the end of the third week from to-morrow, they would be married.
And so they were, with a very joyful noise of bells and cannon and other things. But the two sisters lived at home after that, playing on the lute and the harpsichord, embroidering on silk, walking out of the presence backwards, dancing to the admiration of all beholders, singing to make the meadow larks envious, painting the liveliest pictures, executing court bows without wavering, and making conversation,—until they reached a very advanced age, and everybody was quite tired of their accomplishments.
You see it is not the singers and the dancers who get everything,—as the ant once remarked to the grasshopper.
O THER things than birds sometimes catch Miss Apis, toads and frogs, for instance, and sometimes boys do it; but no boy catches her in his fingers without being punished for it. She has a dagger for such occasions, and it is not her tongue dagger either. It is as far from that as it can be, for it is at the extreme tip of her abdomen.
Be careful, Miss Apis!
Of course, belonging to Miss Apis, it is a remarkable dagger. Sharp! My! If you do not believe me, just touch it.
Sharpness, however, is not unusual in daggers; all daggers are more or less sharp, though few as sharp as Miss Apis's.
Miss Apis's dagger magnified
But the thing that distinguishes her dagger and makes it more terrible than any other, is its barbs. Generally daggers are smooth, and make a clean cut, coming out as easily as they go in. Not so Miss Apis's dagger. Although it is so tiny that we cannot see any barbs with the naked eye, still they are there. Instead of being smooth, it is fuller of barbs than a fish-hook, as you can see in the picture, which is a very much enlarged view of Miss Apis's sting. For while an ordinary fish-hook has but one or two barbs, this little stinger has ten pairs! It is not an easy matter to get a fish-hook out of your finger if it gets in beyond the barbs, as those of you who have ever had such an unpleasant experience know very well. If one pair of barbs hold so well, think how well ten pairs must hold! They hold altogether too well, as we shall see presently.
An ordinary fish-hook
Miss Apis's sting is not all in one piece, although it seems to be and it requires very careful examination to discover that it is made of three parts.
It is a sort of sheath with a groove running its whole length. Into this groove fit two lances that can move up and down in the groove. When Miss Apis decides to sting you, she first drives the sharp point of her sheath into you. This has a few barbs to keep it from slipping out again. Then one after the other the lances, each with its ten strong barbs, are thrust in. Deeper and deeper they are forced until they are as deep in as they can go. After all, the wound they make is very, very small, no worse that the prick of a fine needle, in fact. Then why does it hurt so? Ah, that is another question.
Miss Apis's barbed sting reminds us of the ugly weapons sometimes used by savages, and like the cruel savages, she too poisons her weapon.
That is why it hurts us so. A jet of poison is pumped down the hollow sting from a poison bag in her body, and is forced into the wound through an opening in the five lower barbs on each lance. So when Miss Apis stings us, we get ten jets of poison pumped into the little hole she makes in our skin.
Miss Apis's pleasant weapon is her constant companion, and she is very free to use it, excepting when the aforementioned birds snap her up so quickly, and swallow her down so fast, that she has not time to get over her surprise sufficiently to use her sting before she is a dead bee.
You may think she never stings when she is dead, but I have heard otherwise. However, that is another story. The birds that swallow her must sometimes get stung, but they do not seem to object; perhaps they enjoy it.
If you really want to know whether Miss Apis is willing to sting if she gets the chance, pick her up some day when she is getting nectar from a flower.
You will learn several things. First, that the best thing you can do under the circumstances is to let her go as soon as possible, and pursue some other path to knowledge.
But if you are a philosopher, you will not fail to observe what a very convenient position her sting occupies, as convenient for its purpose as the pollen-baskets are for theirs. She twists her jointed abdomen about so that you will have hard work to take hold of her where she cannot plunge her sting into you.
The entrance of this little sting gives rise to sensations out of all proportion to its size.
A sting so small that you can hardly see it produces a pain so large that you do not seem to have room for any other feeling. Presently the spot about the tiny hole made by the sting begins to swell until it may become several times as large as Miss Apis herself. That, you know, is because she takes good care to pump poison into the wound.
This poison of hers is a reliable, warranted-never-to-fail irritant. If a whole hive of bees were to set upon you and sting you at once you might be made very sick by it, as well as have to suffer great torture.
It is said that people have even died from such mishaps.
We see that little Miss Pepper-pot is not so innocent as she looks flying about among the flowers.
Still, as I said, you cannot blame her for using her sting, and if she ever does use it on you, do not get angry, but pull it out, then put some mud on the place and try to remember that when it stops hurting, you will feel better.
Mud is a very good remedy, and, like Miss Apis's sting, is generally at hand.
There is another consolation about getting stung; if it happens often enough, the sting in time ceases to poison you!
Your system seems to become used to the poison, so that it gradually loses its effect and its power to injure.
Still, I should not advise any one to try this remedy; it is too hard on the bees,—to say nothing of this unpleasant consequence to yourself.
For poor little Miss Apis, with her many eyes, her honey-sac, her complicated tongue and legs and all the rest, pays a terrible penalty for losing her temper and stinging people.
You remember her sting is barbed like a fish-hook; and if you have gone fishing much, you know how hard it is to pull a fish-hook out of anything into which it happens to get fastened.
Well, when Miss Apis recklessly plunges ten pairs of barbs into the tough skin of your finger, she cannot pull them out again; and in her efforts to do so, out comes sting, poison-bag and all, and off she goes, hurt much worse than you are, for she will surely die as a result of her loss.
She has left her poor savage little sting in your finger, much against her will, however; and your first care should be to extract it so as not to press out any more poison from the poison bag.
This you can do by pressing the flat edge of a penknife against your skin close to the sting, but not touching it, and then drawing out the sting, just as you might take out a tack with a tack-hammer.
The sting should be extracted at once, because if it remains in your finger its muscles continue to work, even though the sting is now entirely separated from the bee, and every bit of poison will be pumped out of the poison bag into your finger.
So you see Miss Apis's sting continues to do the best it can, and to hurt you as much as possible, even after it has been completely torn from her body.
In fact, if you touch a sting newly removed from a bee, you will get stung by it. There is no doubt that it is a very reliable weapon.
In her fright and anger, Miss Apis does not stop to consider what will happen if she stings you, but stings first and thinks afterwards.
One should never sting first and think afterwards. One should always think first and not sting at all, unless it becomes absolutely necessary.
There are cases where one might better sting and die than live and not sting, but such cases are rare.
The American Revolution is one of them, but that happened a long time ago and has nothing to do with bees, anyway.
In spite of her reliable sting, Miss Apis is often eaten.
A good many birds are fond of bees, and other creatures, particularly bears, eat them.
It is truer to say that bears like honey, but they are willing to eat it, bees and all.
Bears are great honey eaters, and there are many stories told of their efforts to get honey. They will upset hives, and do not seem to mind being stung at all.
There is one story of a tame bear that used to take honey out of a bottle. He would lick out all he could reach, then turn the bottle up and let the honey run into his mouth. Usually it ran into his eyes as well, but that did not seem to trouble him.
A good many creatures are fond of bees and honey, so you see dangers beset Miss Apis's path, and even the pleasant occupation of gathering sweets from flowers is not without its drawbacks.
They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, "You'll all be drowned!"
They called aloud, "Our Sieve ain't big,
But we don't care a button! we don't care a fig!
In a Sieve we'll go to sea!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
"O won't they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it's extremely wrong
In a Sieve to sail so fast!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, "How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our Sieve we spin!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
And all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
"O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a Sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
In the shade of the mountains brown!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
And in twenty years they all came back,
In twenty years or more,
And every one said, "How tall they've grown!
For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore!"
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, "If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,—
To the hills of the Chankly Bore!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
WEEK 15 |
Matthew xii: 1 to 14;
Mark ii: 23, to iii: 6;
Luke vi: 1, to 11;
John v: 1 to 18.
HILE Jesus was living in Capernaum the time for the Passover of the Jews drew near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem to keep the feast, as he had kept it a year before. You remember that at that time he drove out of the Temple the people that were buying and selling. We read this in Story 116. The feast which Jesus now kept was the second Passover in the three years while Jesus was preaching.
While Jesus was at Jerusalem he saw in the city, not far from the Temple, a pool called Bethesda. Beside this pool were five arches or porches; and in these porches were lying a great crowd of sick and blind, helpless and crippled people. At certain times the water rose and bubbled up in the pool; and it was believed that at these times it had power to cure diseases. We know that there are springs of water that will cure many kinds of sickness, and this may have been one of these.
On the Sabbath-day Jesus walked among these poor helpless and suffering people, who were waiting for the water to rise. Jesus looked at one man, and though no one told him, he knew that this man had been a cripple, without power to walk, for almost forty years. He said to this man, "Do you wish to be made well?"
The man did not know who Jesus was. He answered, "Sir, I cannot walk; and I have no man to carry me down to the water when it rises in the pool; but while I am trying to crawl down, others crowd in before me, and the place is full, so that I cannot reach the water and be cured."
Jesus said to the man, "Rise, take up your bed, and walk!"
The cripple had never heard words like these before; but as they were spoken he felt a new power shoot through his limbs. He rose up, took the piece of matting on which he had been lying, rolled it up, and walked away toward his home!
Jesus heals the cripple at the pool.
Some one who saw him said, "Stop; this is the Sabbath-day, and it is against the law for you to carry your bed!"
The man did not lay down his load. He only said, "The
one who made me well said to me, 'Take up your bed and
The Jews said, "Who was this man that told you to carry your bed on the Sabbath-day?"
The man who had been cured did not know who it was that had cured him; for there were many standing near, and Jesus, after healing the man, had walked away without being noticed. But after this Jesus met this man in the Temple, and said to him, "You have been made well; do not sin against God any more, or something worse than disease will come upon you."
The man went away from the Temple, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. The Jews were very angry at Jesus because he had cured this man on the Sabbath. But Jesus said to them, "My Father works on all days to do good to men, and I work also."
These words made the Jews ready to kill Jesus, not only because, as they said, he had broken the Sabbath, but because he had spoken of God as his Father, as though he were the Son of God. He was indeed the Son of God, although they would not believe it.
After the feast of the Passover Jesus went again to Capernaum in Galilee, beside the lake. One Sabbath-day he was walking with his disciples through the fields of ripe grain; and the disciples, as they walked, picked the heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, blew away the chaff, and ate the kernels of wheat. The law of the Jew allowed any one walking through the fields to eat what he could gather with his hands, though it did not allow him to take any of the grain home. But the Pharisees, whose goodness was all for show, said that it was a breaking of the Sabbath to pick the ears and to rub them in the hands on the Sabbath-day. They said to Jesus, "Do you see how your disciples are doing on the Sabbath what is against the law?"
Jesus and his disciples in the field of grain.
Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he was hungry? He went into the house of God, and took the holy bread from the table, and ate some of it, and gave some to his men, though the law said that only the priests might eat this bread. And do you not know that on the Sabbath-day the priests in the Temple do work, in killing and offering the sacrifices, yet they do no wrong? I say to you that one greater than the Temple is here; for the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath."
Jesus meant them to understand that he was the Son of God, that God lived in him even more fully than he lived in the Temple, and that he spoke as Lord of all.
We have read this, about David and the holy bread in the Tabernacle, of which Jesus spoke to the Jews, in Story 60.
On another Sabbath-day Jesus went to the synagogue. A man was there whose hand was withered. The Pharisees watched Jesus, to see whether on the Sabbath-day he would make his hand well. Not that they felt for the poor man; they only wished to find some chance to speak evil against Jesus. Jesus knew all their thoughts, and he spoke to the man, "Rise up, and stand where all can see you!"
The man rose up from the mat where he had been sitting, and stood before all the people Then Jesus looked around upon them sternly, being sad because their hearts were so hard and cruel, and he said, "Is it against the law to do good on the Sabbath-day, or to do evil? To heal a man, or to try to kill a man, as you are doing? If any one of you owns a sheep, and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath-day, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? Is not a man worth more than a sheep? I say unto you that it is right to do good to men on the Sabbath-day."
And then, turning to the man, he said, "Stretch out your hand!"
The man obeyed the word of Jesus, and held out his hand. At once it became strong and well, like his other hand. Many of the people were glad as they saw this; but the Pharisees, who hated Jesus, went out very angry; and they met together to find some plan for putting Jesus to death.
T HE next day the great cloud still hung over the mountain, and the rain poured like water from a full sponge. The princess was very fond of being out of doors, and she nearly cried when she saw that the weather was no better. But the mist was not of such a dark dingy gray; there was light in it; and as the hours went on, it grew brighter and brighter, until it was almost too brilliant to look at; and late in the afternoon, the sun broke out so gloriously that Irene clapped her hands, crying,
"See, see, Lootie! The sun has had his face washed. Look how bright he is! Do get my hat, and let us go out for a walk. Oh, dear! oh, dear! how happy I am!"
Lootie was very glad to please the princess. She got her hat and cloak, and they set out together for a walk up the mountain; for the road was so hard and steep that the water could not rest upon it, and it was always dry enough for walking a few minutes after the rain ceased. The clouds were rolling away in broken pieces, like great, overwoolly sheep, whose wool the sun had bleached till it was almost too white for the eyes to bear. Between them the sky shone with a deeper and purer blue, because of the rain. The trees on the road-side were hung all over with drops, which sparkled in the sun like jewels. The only things that were no brighter for the rain, were the brooks that ran down the mountain; they had changed from the clearness of crystal to a muddy brown; but what they lost in color they gained in sound—or at least in noise, for a brook when it is swollen is not so musical as before. But Irene was in raptures with the great brown streams tumbling down everywhere; and Lootie shared in her delight, for she too had been confined to the house for three days. At length she observed that the sun was getting low, and said it was time to be going back. She made the remark again and again, but, every time, the princess begged her to go on just a little farther and a little farther; reminding her that it was much easier to go down hill, and saying that when they did turn, they would be at home in a moment. So on and on they did go, now to look at a group of ferns over whose tops a stream was pouring in a watery arch, now to pick a shining stone from a rock by the wayside, now to watch the flight of some bird. Suddenly the shadow of a great mountain peak came up from behind, and shot in front of them. When the nurse saw it, she started and shook, and, tremulously grasping the hand of the princess, turned and began to run down the hill.
"What's all the haste, nursie?" asked Irene, running alongside of her.
"We must not be out a moment longer."
"But we can't help being out a good many moments longer."
It was too true. The nurse almost cried. They were much too far from home. It was against express orders to be out with the princess one moment after the sun was down; and they were nearly a mile up the mountain! If his Majesty, Irene's papa, were to hear of it, Lootie would certainly be dismissed; and to leave the princess would break her heart. It was no wonder she ran. But Irene was not in the least frightened, not knowing anything to be frightened at. She kept on chattering as well as she could, but it was not easy.
"Lootie! Lootie! why do you run so fast? It shakes my teeth when I talk."
"Then don't talk," said Lootie.
But the princess went on talking. She was always saying: "Look, look, Lootie," but Lootie paid no more heed to anything she said, only ran on.
"Look, look, Lootie! Don't you see that funny man peeping over the rock?"
Lootie only ran the faster. They had to pass the rock, and when they came nearer, the princess clearly saw that it was only a large fragment of the rock itself that she had mistaken for a man.
"Look, look, Lootie! There's such a curious creature at the foot of that old tree. Look at it, Lootie! It's making faces at us, I do think."
Lootie gave a stifled cry, and ran faster still—so fast that Irene's little legs could not keep up with her, and she fell with a crash. It was a hard down-hill road, and she had been running very fast—so it was no wonder she began to cry. This put the nurse nearly beside herself; but all she could do was to run on, the moment she got the princess on her feet again.
"Who's that laughing at me?" said the princess, trying to keep in her sobs, and running too fast for her grazed knees.
"Nobody, child," said the nurse, almost angrily.
But that instant there came a burst of coarse tittering from somewhere near, and a hoarse indistinct voice that seemed to say, "Lies! lies! lies!"
"Oh!" cried the nurse with a sigh that was almost a scream, and ran on faster than ever.
"Nursie! Lootie! I can't run any more. Do let us walk a bit."
"What am I to do?" said the nurse. "Here, I will carry you."
She caught her up; but found her much too
heavy to run with, and
had to set her down again. Then she looked wildly about her, gave
a great cry, and
"We've taken the wrong turning somewhere, and I don't know where we are. We are lost, lost!"
The terror she was in had quite bewildered her. It was true enough they had lost the way. They had been running down into a little valley in which there was no house to be seen.
Now Irene did not know what good reason there was for her nurse's terror, for the servants had all strict orders never to mention the goblins to her, but it was very discomposing to see her nurse in such a fright. Before, however, she had time to grow thoroughly alarmed like her, she heard the sound of whistling, and that revived her. Presently she saw a boy coming up the road from the valley to meet them. He was the whistler; but before they met, his whistling changed to singing. And this is something like what he sang:
"Ring! dod! bang!
Go the hammers' clang!
Hit and turn and bore!
Whizz and puff and roar!
Thus we rive the rocks,
Force the goblin locks.
See the shining ore!
Bright as gold can be!
Shovels, mattocks, picks!
Light your lamp at mine.
Loosely hold the helve.
We're the merry miner-boys,
Make the goblins hold their noise."
"I wish you would hold your noise," said the nurse rudely, for the very word goblin at such a time and in such a place made her tremble. It would bring the goblins upon them to a certainty, she thought, to defy them in that way. But whether the boy heard her or not, he did not stop his singing.
This is worth the siftin';
There's the match, and lay't in.
Goblins in a plenty."
"Do be quiet," cried the nurse, in a whispered shriek. But the boy, who was now close at hand, still went on.
"Hush! scush! scurry!
There you go in a hurry!
Gobble! gobble! goblin!
There you go a wobblin';
Hobble, hobble, hobblin'!
Cobble! cobble! cobblin'!
"There!" said the boy, as he stood still opposite them. "There! that'll do for them. They can't bear singing, and they can't stand that song. They can't sing themselves, for they have no more voice than a crow; and they don't like other people to sing."
Whether the boy heard her or not, he did not stop his singing.
The boy was dressed in a miner's dress, with a curious cap on his head. He was a very nice-looking boy, with eyes as dark as the mines in which he worked, and as sparkling as the crystals in their rocks. He was about twelve years old. His face was almost too pale for beauty, which came of his being so little in the open air and the sunlight—for even vegetables grown in the dark are white; but he looked happy, merry indeed—perhaps at the thought of having routed the goblins; and his bearing as he stood before them had nothing clownish or rude about it.
"I saw them," he went on, "as I came up; and I'm very glad I did. I knew they were after somebody, but I couldn't see who it was. They won't touch you so long as I'm with you."
"Why, who are you?" asked the nurse, offended at the freedom with which he spoke to them.
"I'm Peter's son."
"Peter the miner."
"I don't know him."
"I'm his son, though."
"And why should the goblins mind you, pray?"
"Because I don't mind them. I'm used to them."
"What difference does that make?"
"If you're not afraid of them, they're afraid of you. I'm not afraid of them. That's all. But it's all that's wanted—up here, that is. It's a different thing down there. They won't always mind that song even, down there. And if any one sings it, they stand grinning at him awfully; and if he gets frightened, and misses a word, or says a wrong one, they—oh! don't they give it him!"
"What do they do to him?" asked Irene, with a trembling voice.
"Don't go frightening the princess," said the nurse.
"The princess!" repeated the little miner, taking off his curious cap. "I beg your pardon; but you oughtn't to be out so late. Everybody knows that's against the law."
"Yes, indeed it is!" said the nurse, beginning to cry again. "And I shall have to suffer for it."
"What does that matter?" said the boy. "It must be your fault. It is the princess who will suffer for it. I hope they didn't hear you call her the princess. If they did, they're sure to know her again: they're awfully sharp."
"Lootie! Lootie!" cried the princess. "Take me home."
"Don't go on like that," said the nurse to the boy, almost fiercely. "How could I help it? I lost my way."
"You shouldn't have been out so late. You wouldn't have lost your way if you hadn't been frightened," said the boy. "Come along. I'll soon set you right again. Shall I carry your little Highness?"
"Impertinence!" murmured the nurse, but she did not say it aloud, for she thought if she made him angry, he might take his revenge by telling some one belonging to the house, and then it would be sure to come to the king's ears.
"No, thank you," said Irene. "I can walk very well, though I can't run so fast as nursie. If you will give me one hand, Lootie will give me another, and then I shall get on famously."
They soon had her between them, holding a hand of each.
"Now let's run," said the nurse.
"No, no," said the little miner. "That's the worst thing you can do. If you hadn't run before, you would not have lost your way. And if you run now, they will be after you in a moment."
"I don't want to run," said Irene.
"You don't think of me," said the nurse.
"Yes, I do, Lootie. The boy says they won't touch us if we don't run."
"Yes; but if they know at the house that I've kept you out so late, I shall be turned away, and that would break my heart."
"Turned away, Lootie. Who would turn you away?"
"Your papa, child."
"But I'll tell him it was all my fault. And you know it was, Lootie."
"He won't mind that. I'm sure he won't."
"Then I'll cry, and go down on my knees to him, and beg him not to take away my own dear Lootie."
The nurse was comforted at hearing this, and said no more. They went on, walking pretty fast, but taking care not to run a step.
"I want to talk to you," said Irene to the little miner; "but it's so awkward! I don't know your name."
"My name's Curdie, little princess."
"What a funny name! Curdie! What more?"
"Curdie Peterson. What's your name, please?"
"I don't know what more.—What more is my name, Lootie?"
"Princesses haven't got more than one name. They don't want it."
"Oh then, Curdie, you must call me just Irene, and no more."
"No, indeed," said the nurse indignantly. "He shall do no such thing."
"What shall he call me, then, Lootie?"
"Your royal Highness."
"My royal Highness! What's that? No, no, Lootie, I will not be called names. I don't like them. You said to me once yourself that it's only rude children that call names; and I'm sure Curdie wouldn't be rude.—Curdie, my name's Irene."
"Well, Irene," said Curdie, with a glance at the nurse which showed he enjoyed teasing her, "it's very kind of you to let me call you anything. I like your name very much."
He expected the nurse to interfere again; but he soon saw that she was too frightened to speak. She was staring at something a few yards before them, in the middle of the path, where it narrowed between rocks so that only one could pass at a time.
"It's very much kinder of you to go out of your way to take us home," said Irene.
"I'm not going out of my way yet," said Curdie. "It's on the other side those rocks the path turns off to my father's."
"You wouldn't think of leaving us till we're safe home, I'm sure," gasped the nurse.
"Of course not," said Curdie.
"You dear, good, kind Curdie! I'll give you a kiss when we get home," said the princess.
The nurse gave her a great pull by the hand she held. But at that instant the something in the middle of the way, which had looked like a great lump of earth brought down by the rain, began to move. One after another it shot out four long things, like two arms and two legs, but it was now too dark to tell what they were. The nurse began to tremble from head to foot. Irene clasped Curdie's hand yet faster, and Curdie began to sing again.
Hit and hew!
Blast and bore!
There's a fix!
Hold it straight!
There's a toad
In the road!
Up and off!
As he uttered the last words, Curdie let go his hold of his companion, and rushed at the thing in the road, as if he would trample it under his feet. It gave a great spring, and ran straight up one of the rocks like a huge spider. Curdie turned back laughing, and took Irene's hand again. She grasped his very tight, but said nothing till they had passed the rocks. A few yards more and she found herself on a part of the road she knew, and was able to speak again.
"Do you know, Curdie, I don't quite like your song; it sounds to me rather rude," she said.
"Well, perhaps it is," answered Curdie. "I never thought of that; it's a way we have. We do it because they don't like it."
"Who don't like it?"
"The cobs, as we call them."
"Don't!" said the nurse.
"Why not?" said Curdie.
"I beg you won't. Please don't."
"Oh, if you ask me that way, of course I won't; though I don't a bit know why. Look! there are the lights of your great house down below. You'll be at home in five minutes now."
Nothing more happened. They reached home in safety. Nobody had missed them, or even known they had gone out; and they arrived at the door belonging to their part of the house without anyone seeing them. The nurse was rushing in with a hurried and not over-gracious good-night to Curdie; but the princess pulled her hand from hers, and was just throwing her arms round Curdie's neck, when she caught her again and dragged her away.
"Lootie, Lootie, I promised Curdie a kiss," cried Irene.
"A princess mustn't give kisses. It's not at all proper," said Lootie.
"But I promised," said the princess.
"There's no occasion; he's only a miner-boy."
"He is a good boy, and a brave boy, and he has been very kind to us. Lootie! Lootie! I promised."
"Then you shouldn't have promised."
"Lootie, I promised him a kiss."
"Your royal Highness," said Lootie, suddenly grown very respectful, "must come in directly."
"Nurse, a princess must not break her word," said Irene, drawing herself up and standing stockstill.
Lootie did not know which the king might count the worst—to let the princess be out after sunset, or to let her kiss a miner-boy. She did not know that, being a gentleman, as many kings have been, he would have counted neither of them the worse. However much he might have disliked his daughter to kiss the miner-boy, he would not have had her break her word for all the goblins in creation. But, as I say, the nurse was not lady enough to understand this, and so she was in a great difficulty, for, if she insisted, some one might hear the princess cry and run to see, and then all would come out. But here Curdie came again to the rescue.
"Never mind, Princess Irene," he said. "You mustn't kiss me to-night. But you shan't break your word. I will come another time. You may be sure I will."
"Oh, thank you, Curdie!" said the princess, and stopped crying.
"Good night, Irene; good night, Lootie," said Curdie, and turned and was out of sight in a moment.
"I should like to see him!" muttered the nurse, as she carried the princess to the nursery.
"You will see him," said Irene. "You may be sure Curdie will keep his word. He's sure to come again."
"I should like to see him!" repeated the nurse, and said no more. She did not want to open a new cause of strife with the princess by saying more plainly what she meant. Glad enough that she had succeeded both in getting home unseen, and in keeping the princess from kissing the miner's boy, she resolved to watch her far better in future. Her carelessness had already doubled the danger she was in. Formerly the goblins were her only fear; now she had to protect her charge from Curdie as well.