WEEK 16 |
S ATURDAY morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it, was green with vegetation, and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.
Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing "Buffalo Gals." Bringing water from the town pump had always been hateful work in Tom's eyes, before, but now it did not strike him so. He remembered that there was company at the pump. White, mulatto, and negro boys and girls were always there waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings, quarreling, fighting, skylarking. And he remembered that although the pump was only a hundred and fifty yards off, Jim never got back with a bucket of water under an hour—and even then somebody generally had to go after him. Tom said:
"Say, Jim, I'll fetch the water if you'll whitewash some."
Jim shook his head and said:
"Can't, Mars Tom. Ole missis, she tole me I got to go an' git dis water an' not stop foolin' roun' wid anybody. She say she spec' Mars Tom gwine to ax me to whitewash, an' so she tole me go 'long an' 'tend to my own business—she 'lowed she'd 'tend to de whitewashin'."
"Oh, never you mind what she said, Jim. That's the way she always talks. Gimme the bucket—I won't be gone only a minute. She won't ever know."
"Oh, I dasn't, Mars Tom. Ole missis she'd take an' tar de head off'n me. 'Deed she would."
"She! She never licks anybody—whacks 'em over the head with her thimble—and who cares for that, I'd like to know. She talks awful, but talk don't hurt—anyways it don't if she don't cry. Jim, I'll give you a marvel. I'll give you a white alley!"
Jim began to waver.
"White alley, Jim! And it's a bully taw."
"My! Dat's a mighty gay marvel, I tell you! But Mars Tom I's powerful
"And besides, if you will I'll show you my sore toe."
Jim was only human—this attraction was too much for him. He put down his pail, took the white alley, and bent over the toe with absorbing interest while the bandage was being unwound. In another moment he was flying down the street with his pail and a tingling rear, Tom was whitewashing with vigor, and Aunt Polly was retiring from the field with a slipper in her hand and triumph in her eye.
But Tom's energy did not last. He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the free boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work—the very thought of it burnt him like fire. He got out his worldly wealth and examined it—bits of toys, marbles, and trash; enough to buy an exchange of work, maybe, but not half enough to buy so much as half an hour of pure freedom. So he returned his straitened means to his pocket, and gave up the idea of trying to buy the boys. At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration burst upon him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.
He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in sight presently—the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben's gait was the hop-skip-and-jump—proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to starboard and rounded to ponderously and with laborious pomp and circumstance—for he was personating the Big Missouri, and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:
"Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!" The headway ran almost out and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.
"Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!" His arms straightened and stiffened down his sides.
"Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow! Chow!" His right hand, meantime, describing stately circles—for it was representing a forty-foot wheel.
"Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ch-chow-chow!" The left hand began to describe circles.
"Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard! Come ahead on the stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head-line! Lively now! Come—out with your spring-line—what're you about there! Take a turn round that stump with the bight of it! Stand by that stage, now—let her go! Done with the engines, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling! Sh't! s'h't! sh't!" (trying the gauge-cocks).
Tom went on whitewashing—paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: "Hi-yi! You're up a stump, ain't you!"
No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom's mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:
"Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?"
Tom wheeled suddenly and said:
"Why, it's you, Ben! I warn't noticing."
Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:
"What do you call work?"
"Why, ain't that work?"
Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:
"Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer."
"Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you like it?"
The brush continued to move.
"Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"
"Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"
That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and there—criticized the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:
"Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little."
Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:
"No—no—I reckon it wouldn't hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly's awful particular about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn't mind and she wouldn't. Yes, she's awful particular about this fence; it's got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain't one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it's got to be done."
"No—is that so? Oh come, now—lemme just try. Only just a little—I'd let you, if you was me, Tom."
"Ben, I'd like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly—well, Jim wanted to
do it, but she wouldn't let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn't
let Sid. Now don't you see how I'm fixed? If you was to tackle this
fence and anything was to happen to
"Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say—I'll give you the core of my apple."
"I'll give you all of it!"
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had beside the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews'-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six firecrackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window-sash.
He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while—plenty of company—and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn't run out of whitewash, he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.
Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it—namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a treadmill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.
The boy mused awhile over the substantial change which had taken place in his worldly circumstances, and then wended toward headquarters to report.
T he story is told that while Charlemagne was sitting one day at dinner, a fleet of long, narrow boats came swiftly toward the land. "Those must have come from Brittany," some one declared; and another said, "No, they are surely Jewish merchantmen." But Charlemagne had noted the vessels, that they had only one sail, that bow and stern were shaped alike and were gilded and carved to represent the head or tail of a dragon, and that a row of shields was ranged along the gunwale. "Those bring nothing to sell," he said. "They are most cruel foes, they are Northmen." Then there was a hurrying and scurrying to put on armour, snatch up swords and spears, and hasten to the shore to drive away the pirates. But the Northmen had heard of the prowess of Charlemagne, and as soon as they knew he was there they rowed away as fast as their boats could be made to carry them. The Franks had much to say about these enemies, but Charlemagne stood silent, gazing at the sea. At length he turned toward his friends. His eyes were full of tears, and he said, "I am not afraid that the Northmen will harm me, but I weep to see that they have ventured so near our shore, and to think of the evils that they will bring upon my children and their people."
Charlemagne was right, for it was not many years after his death before one hundred and twenty pirate vessels were rowed swiftly up the River Seine, and a horde of Northmen, or Vikings, poured into the little city of Paris, ready to kill, burn, and steal, as usual. But suddenly a heavy fog hid them from one another. There was some enchantment about it, they thought, and they made their way back to their ships as best they might. They came again and again, however. Sometimes they were met with arms, sometimes with tribute. Still they came. "Did not we promise you twelve thousand pounds of silver if you would leave us in peace?" demanded the Franks in despair. "The king promised it," replied the Northmen insolently, "and we left him in peace. He is dead now, and what we do will not disturb him."
The following year the famous leader Rollo led the Vikings in an attack upon Paris. They hammered at the walls of the city with battering-rams. With great slings they hurled stones and leaden balls. They dug a mine under one of the walls, leaving wooden props. Then they set fire to these and scrambled out of the narrow passage as fast as they could. The beams burned and the earth fell in, but the walls did not crumble as the Vikings had hoped. Then they built a fire close to the wooden walls, but a sudden rain put it out. There were thirty or forty thousand of the Vikings, and only two hundred of the Franks in the besieged city; but the Franks had wise leaders, and all this time they were boiling oil and pitch and pouring them down upon the besiegers. The blazing Northmen leaped into the river to extinguish the flames, but they never thought of giving up. They collected food and encamped near the city. Month after month the siege went on, and still the king did not come to help his brave people.
Routes of the Viking Expeditions
At last the valiant Eudes, or Odo, one of the chief leaders of the Parisians, determined to go in search of aid, and one stormy night he managed to slip through the gate of the city and the lines of the Northmen, and gallop off to the king. Soon the king came with his army—and went into camp! After he had dawdled a month away, news came that more Vikings were at hand. The king was so frightened that he offered the Northmen seven hundred pounds of silver if they would depart, and told them they might go farther up the river and plunder Burgundy as much as they chose. The brave defenders of Paris were indignant. They rushed out of the city and struck one fierce blow at their departing foes. The following year the cowardly king was deposed, and at his death they chose the valiant Eudes for their ruler.
The Northmen were bright, shrewd people; and, wild as they were, they could not help seeing that the Frankish way of living was better than theirs, and that the worship of the Christian God was better than that of Odin and Thor. Rollo led them again to France some years later, and this time the Vikings ranged themselves on one side of a little river, and the king with his Franks stood on the other side, to talk about peace. Rollo was willing to give up his pirate life, be baptized, and live in the Frankish country if the king would give him land. "I will give you Flanders," said the king; but Rollo replied, "No, that is too swampy." "Then you may have the parts of Neustria nearest to the shore." "No," declared Rollo, "that is nothing but forest land." At length it was agreed that he and his followers should have the land which afterward took its name from them and to this day is called Normandy. They were to hold it by what is known as a feudal tenure, that is, it was to be theirs so long as they were faithful to the king and gave him loyal military service.
Ruins of an Ancient Castle in Normandy
(At Dieppe, France. This view shows typical Normandy scenery)
There is a story that the bishops told Rollo he must kiss the king's foot in token of his having received this great gift and having become the king's vassal. The haughty Northman had no idea of doing any such thing; but when the bishops insisted, he motioned to one of his warriors to do it for him. The warrior was as proud as his lord. The old account says that he would not kneel, but lifted the royal foot so high that the king fell backward. The Franks were angry, but the Northmen roared with laughter.
The Northmen, or Normans, as they were afterwards called, went into their new domain. Rollo ruled them strictly, for he was as anxious to be a successful ruler as he had been to be a successful pirate. The same story is told of him that is related of Alfred the Great and several other kings, that one might leave a golden bracelet hanging on a tree in perfect safety anywhere in his possessions. Whether that is true or not, it is true that any robber who fell into the hands of Rollo was promptly hanged. It is also true that it was exceedingly difficult for a criminal to escape, because Rollo made the whole land responsible for him. Whenever anyone committed a trespass, the first man who found it out must cry "Haro!" and the cry must go through the whole kingdom until the man was captured.
So it was that the Vikings who had come to France to plunder, gave up their wild, savage life and became permanent dwellers in that country.
Ring ting! I wish I were a Primrose,
A bright yellow Primrose, blowing in the spring!
The stooping bough above me,
The wandering bee to love me,
The fern and moss to creep across,
And the Elm-tree for our king!
Nay,—stay! I wish I were an Elm-tree,
A great lofty Elm-tree, with green leaves gay!
The winds would set them dancing,
The sun and moonshine glance in,
And birds would house among the boughs,
And sweetly sing.
Oh—no! I wish I were a Robin,—
A Robin, or a little Wren, everywhere to go,
Through forest, field, or garden,
And ask no leave or pardon,
Till winter comes with icy thumbs
To ruffle up our wing!
Well,—tell! where should I fly to,
Where go to sleep in the dark wood or dell?
Before the day was over,
Home must come the rover,
For mother's kiss,—sweeter this
Than any other thing.
WEEK 16 |
W HEN Mary had put down the rebellion which her desire to marry Philip had raised, she had her own way and married him.
He came from Spain with much pomp and splendour, and as he rode through the streets of London there was a show of rejoicing, but the people did not really like him. He brought a great deal of money with him, and gave presents to the people, but still they did not like him. Parliament took good care that he should have no share in the government, and that made him angry. No one loved him except Mary.
With Philip's help the Queen began to do what she dearly wished. That was to bring England again under the power of the Pope.
The Pope sent a messenger to England, and Philip and Mary,
holding a solemn service, knelt at his feet. They confessed
Then the Pope's messenger granted them forgiveness in his master's name, and England was once more said to be Roman Catholic.
Now began the most terrible time of Mary's reign, for it required more than a few words from King, Queen, and Pope to make England again truly Roman Catholic. The Protestants would not give up their religion. Mary was determined that they should. Those who refused were imprisoned and put to death in the most cruel way. They were burned alive.
It would make you too sad to tell stories of this terrible time. In three years nearly three hundred people were put to death by Mary's cruel orders. Yet she did no good but rather harm to her cause. For many who were at first on her side turned away with horror from her dreadful cruelties.
These men and women who suffered death so cheerfully for their religion fought for British freedom as much as Caractacus, or Harold or any of the brave men of whom you have heard. And it was much harder to die as they did, than to fall in battle fighting for their country with sword and spear. So when you hear such names as Rogers, Hooper, Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer, honour them as heroes, and think gratefully of the many, many others, whose names we shall never know, but who suffered as bravely.
"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man," said Latimer, as they were being led to be burned together, "We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." By this he meant that others, hearing of the brave manner in which they died, would take heart too, and fight as bravely for their faith and freedom. So instead of crushing out God's light and truth, Mary was making it shine as a light which every one might see.
Mary was not happy. She could not help knowing that her cruel behaviour did harm rather than good to the religion which she loved, yet she went on killing and torturing more fiercely than ever.
Philip grew tired of England, where he was not allowed to
rule, so he went back to his own country. This was a great
sorrow to Mary, for she loved her husband. Philip returned
indeed once, but it was only to get money for a war with
France. Very unwillingly the Parliament granted the money
and help he asked, but the war ended sadly for Mary. Calais,
which had belonged to the English for more than two hundred
years, was lost. Mary grieved very much over this. "When I
am dead," she said, "you will find 'Calais' graven on my
heart." In the same year,
She was succeeded by her sister, the Princess Elizabeth, who
was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of
B EYOND the meadow, perhaps half a mile from my window, stands an old apple tree, the last of an ancient line that once marked the boundary between the "upper" and the "lower" pastures. It is a bent, broken, hoary old tree, grizzled with suckers from feet to crown. No one has pruned it for half a century; no one ever gathers its gnarly apples—no one but the cattle who love to lie in its shadow and munch its fruit.
The cows know the tree. One of their winding paths runs under its low-hung branches; and as I frequently travel the cow-paths, I also find my way thither. Yet I do not go for apples, nor just because the cow-path takes me. That old apple tree is hollow, hollow all over, trunk and branches, as hollow as a lodging-house; and I have never known it when it was not "putting up" some wayfaring visitor or some permanent lodger. So I go over, whenever I have a chance, to call upon my friends or pay my respects to the distinguished guests.
This old tree is on the neighboring farm. It does not belong to me, and I am glad; for if it did, then I should have to trim it, and scrape it, and plaster up its holes, and put a burlap petticoat on it, all because of the gruesome gypsy moths that infest my trees. Oh, yes, that would make it bear better apples, but what then would become of its birds and beasts? Everybody ought to have one apple tree that bears birds and beasts—and Baldwin apples, too, of course, if the three sorts of fruit can be made to grow on the same tree. But only the birds and beasts grow well on the untrimmed, unscraped, unplastered, unpetticoated old tree yonder between the pastures. His heart is wide open to every small traveler passing by.
Whenever I look over toward the old tree, I think of the old vine-covered, weather-beaten house in which my grandfather lived, where many a traveler put up over night—to get a plate of grandmother's buckwheat cakes, I think, and a taste of her keen wit. The old house sat in under a grove of pin oak and pine,—"Underwood" we called it,—a sheltered, sheltering spot; with a peddler's stall in the barn, a peddler's place at the table, a peddler's bed in the herby garret, a boundless, fathomless featherbed, of a piece with the house and the hospitality. There were larger houses and newer, in the neighborhood; but no other house in all the region, not even the tavern, two miles farther down the pike, was half so central, or so homelike, or so full of sweet and juicy gossip. The old apple tree yonder between the woods and the meadow is as central, as hospitable, and, if animals talk with one another, just as full of neighborhood news as was grandfather's roof-tree.
Of course you would never suspect it, passing by. But then, no lover of wild things passes by—never without first stopping, and especially before an old tree all full of holes. Whenever you see a hole in a tree, in a sand-bank, in a hillside, under a rail-pile—anywhere out of doors, stop!
Stop here beside this decrepit apple tree. No, you will find no sign swinging from the front, no door-plate, no letter-box bearing the name of the family residing here. The birds and beasts do not advertise their houses so. They would hide their houses, they would have you pass by; for most persons are rude in the woods and fields, breaking into the homes of the wood-folk as they never would dream of doing in the case of their human neighbors.
There is no need of being rude anywhere, no need of being an unwelcome visitor even to the shyest and most timid of the little people of the fields. Come over with me—they know me in the old apple tree. It is nearly sundown. The evening is near, with night at its heels, for it is an early March day.
We shall not wait long. The doors will open that we may enter—enter into a home of the fields, and, a little way at least, into a life of the fields, for, as I have said, this old tree has a small dweller of some sort the year round.
On this March day we shall be admitted by my owls. They take possession late in winter and occupy the tree, with some curious fellow tenants, until early summer. I can count upon these small screech owls by February,—the forlorn month, the seasonless, hopeless, lifeless month of the year, but for its owls, its thaws, its lengthening days, its cackling pullets, its possible bluebirds, and its being the year's end! At least the ancients called February, not December, the year's end, maintaining, with some sense, that the making of the world was begun in March, that is, with the spring. The owls do not, like the swallows, bring the spring, but they nevertheless help winter with most seemly haste into an early grave.
If, as the dusk comes down, I cannot go over to the tree, I will go to my window and watch. I cannot see him, the grim-beaked baron with his hooked talons, his ghostly wings, his night-seeing eyes, but I know that he has come to his window in the apple-tree turret yonder against the darkening sky, and that he watches with me. I cannot see him swoop downward over the ditches, nor see him quarter the meadow, beating, dangling, dropping between the flattened tussocks; nor can I hear him, as, back on the silent shadows, he slants upward again to his tower. Mine are human eyes, human ears. Even the quick-eared meadow mouse did not hear until the long talons closed and it was too late.
But there have been times when, like some belated traveler, I have been forced to cross this wild night-land of his; and I have felt him pass—so near at times that he has stirred my hair, by the wind—dare I say?—of his mysterious wings. At other times I have heard him. Often on the edge of night I have listened to his quavering, querulous cry from the elm-tops below me by the meadow. But oftener I have watched at the casement here in my castle wall.
Away yonder on the borders of night, dim and gloomy, looms his ancient keep. I wait. Soon on the deepened dusk spread his soft wings, out over the meadow he sails, up over my wooded height, over my moat, to my turret tall, as silent and unseen as the soul of a shadow, except he drift across the face of the full round moon, or with his weird cry cause the dreaming quiet to stir in its sleep and moan.
"Out over the meadow he sails."
Now let us go over again to the old tree, this time in May. It will be curious enough, as the soft dusk comes on, to see the round face of the owl in one hole and, out of another hole in the broken limb above, the flat, weazened face of a little tree-toad.
Both creatures love the dusk; both have come forth to their open doors to watch the darkening; both will make off under the cover of the night—one for mice and frogs over the meadow, the other for slugs and insects over the crooked, tangled limbs of the apple tree.
It is strange enough to see them together, but it is stranger still to think of them together; for it is just such prey as this little toad that the owl has gone over the meadow to catch.
Why does he not take the supper ready here on the shelf? There may be reasons that we, who do not eat tree-toad, know nothing of; but I am inclined to believe that the owl has never seen his fellow lodger in the doorway above, though he must often have heard him trilling gently and lonesomely in the gloaming, when his skin cries for rain!
Small wonder if they have never met! for this gray, squat, disk-toed little monster in the hole, or flattened on the bark of the tree like a patch of lichen, may well be one of the things that are hidden from even the sharp-eyed owl. It is always a source of fresh amazement, the way that this largest of the hylas, on the moss-marked rind of an old tree, can utterly blot himself out before your staring eyes.
The common toads and all the frogs have enemies enough, and it would seem from the comparative scarcity of the tree-toads that they must have enemies, too; but I do not know who they are. This scarcity of the tree-toads is something of a puzzle, and all the more to me, that, to my certain knowledge, this toad has lived in the old Baldwin tree, now, for five years. Perhaps he has been several toads, you say, not one; for who can tell one tree-toad from another? Nobody; and for that reason I made, some time ago, a simple experiment, in order to see how long a tree-toad might live, unprotected, in his own natural environment.
Upon moving into this house, about nine years ago, we found a tree-toad living in the big hickory by the porch. For the next three springs he reappeared, and all summer long we would find him, now on the tree, now on the porch, often on the railing and backed tight up against a post. Was he one or many? we asked. Then we marked him; and for the next four years we knew that he was himself alone. How many more years he might have lived in the hickory for us all to pet, I should like to know; but last summer, to our great sorrow, the gypsy moth killers, poking in the hole, hit our little friend and left him dead.
It was very wonderful to me, the instinct for home—the love for home, I should like to call it—that this humble little creature showed. Now, a toad is an amphibian to the zoölogist; an ugly gnome with a jeweled eye, to the poet; but to the naturalist, the lover of life for its own sake, who lives next door to his toad, who feeds him a fly or a fat grub now and then, who tickles him to sleep with a rose leaf, who waits as thirstily as the hilltop for him to call the summer rain, who knows his going to sleep for the winter, his waking up for the spring—to such a one, I say, a tree-toad means more than the jeweled eye and the strange amphibious habits.
This small tree-toad had a home, had it in a tree, too,—in a hickory tree,—this toad that dwelt by my house.
croaked our tree-toad in a tremulous, plaintive song that wakened memories in the vague twilight of more old, unhappy, far-off things than any other voice I ever knew.
These two tree-toads could not have been induced to trade houses, the hickory for the apple, because a house to a toad means home, and a home is never in the market. There are many more houses in the land than homes. Most of us are only real-estate dealers. Many of us have never had a home; and none of us has ever had, perhaps, more than one, or could have—that home of our childhood.
This toad seemed to feel it all. Here in the hickory for four years (more nearly seven, I am sure) he lived, single and alone. He would go down to the meadow when the toads gathered there to lay their eggs; but back he would come, without mate or companion, to his tree. Stronger than love of kind, than love of mate, constant and dominant in his slow cold heart was his instinct for home.
If I go down to the orchard and bring up from an apple tree some other toad to dwell in the hole of the hickory, I shall fail. He might remain for the day, but not throughout the night, for with the gathering twilight there steals upon him an irresistible longing; and guided by it, as bee and pigeon and dog and man are guided, he makes his sure way back to his orchard home.
Would my toad of the Baldwin tree go back beyond the orchard, over the road, over the wide meadow, over to the old tree, half a mile away, if I brought him from there? We shall see. During the coming summer I shall mark him in some manner, and bringing him here to the hickory, I shall then watch the old apple tree yonder to see if he returns. It will be a hard, perilous journey. But his longing will not let him rest; and, guided by his mysterious sense of direction,—for that one place,—he will arrive, I am sure, or he will die on the way.
Suppose he never gets back? Only one toad less? A great deal more than that. There in the old Baldwin he has made his home for I don't know how long, hunting over its world of branches in the summer, sleeping down in its deep holes during the winter—down under the chips and punk and castings, beneath the nest of the owls, it may be; for my toad in the hickory always buried himself so, down in the debris at the bottom of the hole, where, in a kind of cold storage, he preserved himself until thawed out by the spring.
I never pass the old apple in the summer but that I stop to pay my respects to the toad; nor in the winter that I do not pause and think of him asleep in there. He is no longer mere toad. He has passed into the Guardian Spirit of the tree, warring in the green leaf against worm and grub and slug, and in the dry leaf hiding himself, a heart of life, within the thin ribs, as if to save the old shell of a tree to another summer.
Often in the dusk, especially the summer dusk, I have gone over to sit at his feet and learn some of the things that my school-teachers and college professors did not teach me.
Seating myself comfortably at the foot of the tree, I wait. The toad comes forth to the edge of his hole above me, settles himself comfortably, and waits.
And the lesson begins. The quiet of the summer evening steals out with the wood-shadows and softly covers the fields. We do not stir. An hour passes. We do not stir. Not to stir is the lesson—one of the primary lessons in this course with the toad.
The dusk thickens. The grasshoppers begin to strum; the owl slips out and drifts away; a whip-poor-will drops on the bare knoll near me, clucks and shouts and shouts again, his rapid repetition a thousand times repeated by the voices that call to one another down the long empty aisles of the swamp; a big moth whirs about my head and is gone; a bat flits squeaking past; a firefly blazes, is blotted out by the darkness, blazes again, and so passes, his tiny lantern flashing into a night that seems the darker for his quick, unsteady glow.
We do not stir. It is a hard lesson. By all my other teachers I had been taught every manner of stirring, and this strange exercise of being still takes me where my body is weakest, and puts me almost out of breath.
What! out of breath by keeping still? Yes, because I had been hurrying hither and thither, doing this and that—doing them so fast for so many years that I no longer understood how to sit down and keep still and do nothing inside of me as well as outside. Of course you know how to keep still, for you are children. And so perhaps you do not need to take lessons of teacher Toad. But I do, for I am grown up, and a man, with a world of things to do, a great many of which I do not need to do at all—if only I would let the toad teach me all he knows.
So, when I am tired, I will go over to the toad. I will sit at his feet, where time is nothing, and the worry of work even less. He has all time and no task. He sits out the hour silent, thinking—I know not what, nor need to know. So we will sit in silence, the toad and I, watching Altair burn along the shore of the horizon, and overhead Arcturus, and the rival fireflies flickering through the leaves of the apple tree. And as we watch, I shall have time to rest and to think. Perhaps I shall have a thought, a thought all my own, a rare thing for any one to have, and worth many an hour of waiting.
The wind one morning sprung up from sleep,
Saying, "Now for a frolic! Now for a leap!
Now for a madcap galloping chase!
I'll make a commotion in every place!"
So it swept with a bustle right through a great town,
Creaking the signs and scattering down
Shutters, and whisking with merciless squalls,
Old women's bonnets and gingerbread stalls.
There never was heard a much lustier shout,
As the apples and oranges tumbled about;
And the urchins that stand with their thievish eyes
Forever on watch, ran off with each prize.
Then away to the fields it went blustering and humming,
And the cattle all wondered whatever was coming.
It pulled by their tails the grave, matronly cows,
And tossed the colts' manes all about their brows,
Till, offended at such a familiar salute,
They all turned their backs and stood silently mute.
So on it went, capering and playing its pranks;
Whistling with reeds on the broad river banks;
Puffing the birds, as they sat on the spray,
Or the traveler grave on the king's highway.
It was not too nice to hustle the bags
Of the beggar, and flutter his dirty rags.
'Twas so bold that it feared not to play its joke
With the doctor's wig, and the gentleman's cloak.
Through the forest it roared, and cried gayly, "Now
You sturdy old oaks, I'll make you bow!"
And it made them bow without more ado,
Or it cracked their great branches through and through.
Then it rushed like a monster o'er cottage and farm,
Striking their inmates with sudden alarm;
And they ran out like bees in a midsummer swarm.
There were dames with their kerchiefs tied over their caps,
To see if their poultry were free from mishaps;
The turkeys they gobbled, the geese screamed aloud,
And the hens crept to roost in a terrified crowd;
There was raising of ladders, and logs laying on,
Where the thatch from the roof threatened soon to be gone.
But the wind had passed on, and had met in a lane
With a schoolboy, who panted and struggled in vain;
For it tossed him, and whirled him, then passed, and he stood
With his hat in a pool, and his shoe in the mud.
Then away went the wind in its holiday glee,
And now it was far on the billowy sea;
And the lordly ships felt its powerful blow,
And the little boats darted to and fro.
But, lo! it was night, and it sunk to rest
On the sea birds' rock in the gleaming west,
Laughing to think, in its frolicsome fun,
How little of mischief it really had done.
WEEK 16 |
W HILE listening to what Jacques was saying about wool, Emile examined his handkerchief attentively. He turned it over and over, felt it, then looked through it. Jacques foresaw the question Emile was getting ready to ask him, and he said:
"Handkerchiefs and linens are not woolen. Certain plants, cotton, hemp, flax, and not sheep, furnish them; for, you see, I don't know much about those things myself. I have heard tell of the cotton plant, but have never seen it. And, besides, I am afraid talking to you will make me cut the sheep's skin."
In the evening, at Jules's request, they took up the history of the materials with which we clothe ourselves, and Uncle Paul explained their nature.
"The outside of hemp and flax is composed of long threads,
very fine, supple, and tenacious, from which we manufacture
our fabrics. We clothe ourselves with the spoils of the
sheep, we make ourselves fine with the bark of the plant.
The fabrics of luxury, cambric, tulle, gauze,
"Flax is a slender plant with little delicate blue flowers, and is sown and harvested every year. It is much cultivated in Northern France, Belgium, and Holland. It is the first plant used by man for woven fabrics. Mummies of Egypt, the old land of Moses and the patriarchs, mummies which have lain buried four thousand years and more, are swathed in bands of linen."
"Mummies, did you say?" interposed Jules. "I don't know what they are."
"I will tell you, my dear child. Respect for the dead is found among all people and in all ages. Man regards as sacred what was the seat of a soul made in the image of God; he honors the dead, but the honors rendered differ according to time, place, customs. We inter the dead and put over the burial place a tombstone with an inscription, or at least a humble cross, divine emblem of life eternal. The ancients burned them on a funeral pile; they piously gathered the bones bleached by the fire and inclosed them in priceless vases. In Egypt, to preserve the cherished remains for the family, they embalmed the dead; that is to say, they impregnated them with aromatics and swathed them in linen to prevent decomposition. These pious duties were so delicately performed that, after centuries and centuries, we find intact in their chests of sweet-smelling wood, but dried and blackened by years, contemporaries of the ancient kings of Egypt or the Pharaohs. These are what are called mummies.
"Hemp has been cultivated all over Europe for many
centuries. It is an annual, of a strong, nauseous odor, with
"That is the grain, I think," said Emile, "we give the goldfinch, which it cracks with its beak when it breaks the shell to get out the little kernel."
"Yes, hemp-seed is the feast of little birds.
"The bark of the hemp has not the fineness of flax. The
fibers of this latter plant are so fine that
"When hemp and flax reach maturity, they are harvested, and
the seeds are separated by thrashing. The next operation,
retting, then takes place, its purpose being to render the
filaments of the bark, or the fibers, as they are called,
easily separable from the wood. These fibers, in fact, are
pasted to the stem and stuck together by a gummy substance
that is very resistant and prevents separation until it is
destroyed by rot. They sometimes do this retting by
spreading the plants in the fields for a couple of weeks
and turning them over now and then, until the tow detaches
itself from the woody part or
But the quickest way is to tie the flax and hemp in bundles and keep them submerged in a pond. There soon follows a rot which gives out intolerable smells; the bark decays, and the fiber, endowed with exceptional resistance, is freed.
"Then the bundles are dried; after that they crush them between the jaws of an instrument called a brake, to crush the stems into small pieces and separate the tow. Finally, to purge the tow of all woody refuse and to divide it into the finest threads, they pass it between the iron teeth of a sort of big comb called a heckle. In this state, the fiber is spun either by hand or by machine. The thread obtained is ready for weaving.
"On a loom they place in order, side by side, numerous threads composing what they call the warp. By turns, impelled by a pedal on which the operator's foot presses, one half of these threads descends while the other half ascends. At the same time the operator passes a transverse thread in a shuttle through the two halves of the warp, from left to right, then from right to left. From this inter-crossing comes the woven fabric. And it is finished; the garb of the plant has changed masters; the bark of the hemp has become cloth, that of flax a princely lace worth some hundreds of francs by the piece."
IN the year 1603, two little French ships sailed up the
Past the high rock where Quebec now stands, past the
broad lake of
The French explorers spent the summer in looking over
the country near the
The next year the two ships came again. This time the
voyagers were determined to make a settlement upon the
shores of the
With heavy hearts the colonists prepared to go home. Their Indian friends followed them to the water's edge and cried bitterly.
For a year after this, Champlain stayed in France. He
grew homesick for the foggy coasts of Canada, for the
sound of the sea and the smell of the pine woods. When
By the summer of 1608 a gang of choppers was at work
where the city of Quebec is
One morning, while Champlain was overseeing the work in the garden, one of the pilots came to him and told him that he had heard of a plot against his life. Near the French colony were some Spaniards. Some men in Champlain's colony were planning to kill him and give the colony up to the Spaniards. Champlain considered for a little while. Then he said, "I have a plan." He had a small vessel anchored in front of the town. On this boat he put a young man whom he could trust. To this man he gave two bottles of wine. "Tell the four ringleaders of the plot," he said, "that their friends have sent you some wine."
The young man told the ringleaders and invited them on board to spend the evening. As soon as they were once on the ship they were arrested. The worst one was hanged. The other three were sent to France for punishment.
When autumn came, one ship sailed for France. Champlain
stayed behind with
With the cold weather, a band of roving Indians came and built their birch huts beside Champlain's colony. All winter long they did nothing but eat, and sleep on piles of branches in their smoky huts. This would have been a very happy life for them, had it not been for one thing. When they slept they dreamed fearful dreams of war with their dreaded enemies, the Iroquois. Night after night these dreams were repeated. The Indians believed that dreams were a sign of what was going to happen. They were afraid that the Iroquois were coming, and they begged the French to let them come inside the wooden walls at night. The French let the women and children come in, but they made the warriors stay outside.
The French had their difficulties as well as the Indians. Disease swept through the colony. When spring came there were only eight men left. Never was ship more welcome than the one that now arrived bearing friends and supplies from France.
CHAMPLAIN now decided that, while part of the men stayed at Quebec, he and the others would go to look for a water passage to China. The Europeans could not give up hope of finding such a passage. But what could this handful of men do among the thousands of warlike Indians scattered through the forests they must cross? Champlain thought over this for a long while. Finally he hit upon a scheme.
You remember how the Indians were frightened by their
dreams about the Iroquois. The Iroquois were the
fiercest and most powerful Indians in America. They
were a league of five nations, living in what is now
the State of
Champlain's plan was to join one of the Algonquin-Huron war parties. By doing this he would make the Algonquins and the Hurons firm friends of the French. Besides, the Algonquins had told Champlain of a great lake in the land of the Iroquois, and he was eager to see this lake.
Champlain sent for some of the Algonquins he knew, and told them that he would help them against their enemies. They soon spread the news.
A great band of warriors assembled at Quebec. Most of them had never before seen white men. They wondered at the Frenchmen's white faces, at their beards, and at their suits of steel. They stuffed themselves with the white men's food and yelled with terror at the roar of guns and cannon. They pitched their camps and got ready for the war dance.
At night, when all was still, a bright fire was built. The Indians formed a circle around this fire. Their faces were streaked with paint, and in their hands they swung stone war clubs and hatchets. Then a drum began to beat, and away they whirled in the wildest dance. After this was over they held the war feast.
It was almost July when the party started. Champlain and eleven other white men were in a small boat, each with gun and sword and armor. Around them were one hundred birch canoes full of Indians.
Swish, swish went the water, as hundreds of paddles
rushed up the river. Through a lake and between islands
they went, till they came to the mouth of the Richelieu
River which flows into the
Again the allies got under way—this time up the river at whose mouth they had encamped. Soon they came to a place where the river was full of rocks. No boat could cross such rapids. So nine of the white men went back to Quebec with Champlain's boat, while he and the other two went on with the Indians in their canoes.
After a time the river grew wider again, and at last
they came to the great lake that the Indians had told
Champlain about. He named it
The travelers now had to proceed more carefully, for they were near the home of the Iroquois. All day they would hide quietly in the woods. At night they would launch their canoes and skim over the lake.
On the night of July 29th, they started full of hope. At about ten o'clock they saw dark objects on the lake in front of them. They were the canoes of the Iroquois. Each party saw the other, and the lake rang with war cries.
The Iroquois did not like to fight on the water, so they landed and began to hack down trees for a barricade. Champlain and his party stayed on the lake and fastened their canoes together with poles.
Before daylight Champlain and the other white men put on their armor. Over their shoulders they hung their ammunition boxes; they fastened their swords to their belts and took their guns in hand. The three Frenchmen were in separate canoes. When it grew light they kept hidden under Indian robes. The canoes were pulled up close to the shore, and the Algonquin-Huron party landed, the Frenchmen hiding behind the Indians.
When two hundred of the straightest and fiercest of the Iroquois braves came marching toward them from their barricade, the Hurons and Algonquins began to feel anxious. So Champlain stepped out in front of them. The Iroquois stood thunderstruck. They had never seen a white man. He aimed his gun. Bang! A chief fell dead, and another rolled wounded into the bushes. Champlain's Indians gave a terrible yell, and the woods were full of whizzing arrows. For a moment the Iroquois shot back. But from among their enemies came another gunshot, and another.
They could stand it no longer. They broke rank and fled in terror through the bushes, like deer. Like hounds went the Hurons and Algonquins in hot pursuit. Some of the Iroquois were killed, many were taken prisoners. The rest ran away. Camp, canoes, provisions—all were left behind. The white man's gun had done its work.
In after years the Iroquois were always the enemies of the French, and this was only the first of many wars between them.
As the years went by, Champlain pushed farther west
from Quebec. He discovered
On Christmas Day, 1635, one hundred years after Cartier had discovered the site of Montreal, there was great sadness at Quebec. The French had lost their greatest explorer, and the Indians had lost their best friend. Champlain was dead.
A slash of Blue—
A sweep of Gray—
Some scarlet patches on the way,
Compose an Evening Sky—
A little purple—slipped between—
Some Ruby Trousers hurried on—
A Wave of Gold—
A Bank of Day—
This just makes out the Morning Sky.
WEEK 16 |
O NE evening Fru Astrida sat in her tall chair in the chimney corner, her distaff, with its load of flax in her hand, while she twisted and drew out the thread, and her spindle danced on the floor. Opposite to her sat, sleeping in his chair, Sir Eric de Centeville; Osmond was on a low bench within the chimney corner, trimming and shaping with his knife some feathers of the wild goose, which were to fly in a different fashion from their former one, and serve, not to wing the flight of a harmless goose, but of a sharp arrow.
The men of the household sat ranged on benches on one side of the hall, the women on the other; a great red fire, together with an immense flickering lamp which hung from the ceiling, supplied the light; the windows were closed with wooden shutters, and the whole apartment had a cheerful appearance. Two or three large hounds were reposing in front of the hearth, and among them sat little Richard of Normandy, now smoothing down their broad silken ears; now tickling the large cushions of their feet with the end of one of Osmond's feathers; now fairly pulling open the eyes of one of the good-natured sleepy creatures, which only stretched its legs, and remonstrated with a sort of low groan, rather than a growl. The boy's eyes were, all the time, intently fixed on Dame Astrida, as if he would not lose one word of the story she was telling him; how Earl Rollo, his grandfather, had sailed into the mouth of the Seine, and how Archbishop Franco, of Rouen, had come to meet him and brought him the keys of the town, and how not one Neustrian of Rouen had met with harm from the brave Northmen. Then she told him of his grandfather's baptism, and how during the seven days that he wore his white baptismal robes, he had made large gifts to all the chief churches in his dukedom of Normandy.
"Oh, but tell of the paying homage!" said Richard; "and how Sigurd Bloodaxe threw down simple King Charles! Ah! how would I have laughed to see it!"
"Nay, nay, Lord Richard," said the old lady, "I love not that tale. That was ere the Norman learnt courtesy, and rudeness ought rather to be forgotten than remembered, save for the sake of amending it. No, I will rather tell you of our coming to Centeville, and how dreary I thought these smooth meads, and broad soft gliding streams, compared with mine own father's fiord in Norway, shut in with the tall black rocks, and dark pines above them, and far away the snowy mountains rising into the sky. Ah! how blue the waters were in the long summer days when I sat in my father's boat in the little fiord, and—"
Dame Astrida was interrupted. A bugle note rang out at the castle gate; the dogs started to their feet, and uttered a sudden deafening bark; Osmond sprung up, exclaiming, "Hark!" and trying to silence the hounds; and Richard running to Sir Eric, cried, "Wake, wake, Sir Eric, my father is come! Oh, haste to open the gate, and admit him."
"Peace, dogs!" said Sir Eric, slowly rising, as the blast of the horn was repeated. "Go, Osmond, with the porter, and see whether he who comes at such an hour be friend or foe. Stay you here, my Lord," he added, as Richard was running after Osmond; and the little boy obeyed, and stood still, though quivering all over with impatience.
"Tidings from the Duke, I should guess," said Fru Astrida. "It can scarce be himself at such an hour."
"Oh, it must be, dear Fru Astrida!" said Richard. "He said he would come again. Hark, there are horses' feet in the court! I am sure that is his black charger's tread! And I shall not be there to hold his stirrup! Oh! Sir Eric, let me go."
Sir Eric, always a man of few words, only shook his head, and at that moment steps were heard on the stone stairs. Again Richard was about to spring forward, when Osmond returned, his face showing, at a glance, that something was amiss; but all that he said was, "Count Bernard of Harcourt, and Sir Rainulf de Ferrieres," and he stood aside to let them pass.
Richard stood still in the midst of the hall, disappointed. Without greeting to Sir Eric, or to any within the hall, the Count of Harcourt came forward to Richard, bent his knee before him, took his hand, and said with a broken voice and heaving breast, "Richard, Duke of Normandy, I am thy liegeman and true vassal;" then rising from his knees while Rainulf de Ferrieres went through the same form, the old man covered his face with his hands and wept aloud.
The Oath of the Vassals.
"Is it even so?" said the Baron de Centeville; and being answered by a mournful look and sigh from Ferrieres, he too bent before the boy, and repeated the words, "I am thy liegeman and true vassal, and swear fealty to thee for my castle and barony of Centeville."
"Oh, no, no!" cried Richard, drawing back his hand in a sort of agony, feeling as if he was in a frightful dream from which he could not awake. "What means it? Oh! Fru Astrida, tell me what means it? Where is my father?"
"Alas, my child!" said the old lady, putting her arm round him, and drawing him close to her, whilst her tears flowed fast, and Richard stood, reassured by her embrace, listening with eyes open wide, and deep oppressed breathing, to what was passing between the four nobles, who spoke earnestly among themselves, without much heed of him.
"The Duke dead!" repeated Sir Eric de Centeville, like one stunned and stupefied.
"Even so," said Rainulf, slowly and sadly, and the silence was only broken by the long-drawn sobs of old Count Bernard.
"But how? when? where?" broke forth Sir Eric, presently. "There was no note of battle when you went forth. Oh, why was not I at his side?"
"He fell not in battle," gloomily replied Sir Rainulf.
"Ha! could sickness cut him down so quickly?"
"It was not sickness," answered Ferrieres. "It was treachery. He fell in the Isle of Pecquigny, by the hand of the false Fleming!"
"Lives the traitor yet?" cried the Baron de Centeville, grasping his good sword.
"He lives and rejoices in his crime," said Ferrieres, "safe in his own merchant towns."
"I can scarce credit you, my Lords!" said Sir Eric. "Our Duke slain, and his enemy safe, and you here to tell the tale!"
"I would I were stark and stiff by my Lord's side!" said Count Bernard, "but for the sake of Normandy, and of that poor child, who is like to need all that ever were friends to his house. I would that mine eyes had been blinded for ever, ere they had seen that sight! And not a sword lifted in his defence! Tell you how it passed, Rainulf! My tongue will not speak it!"
He threw himself on a bench and covered his face with his mantle, while Rainulf de Ferrieres proceeded: "You know how in an evil hour our good Duke appointed to meet this caitiff, Count of Flanders, in the Isle of Pecquigny, the Duke and Count each bringing twelve men with them, all unarmed. Duke Alan of Brittany was one on our side, Count Bernard here another, old Count Bothon and myself; we bore no weapon—would that we had—but not so the false Flemings. Ah me! I shall never forget Duke William's lordly presence when he stepped ashore, and doffed his bonnet to the knave Arnulf."
"Yes," interposed Bernard. "And marked you not the words of the traitor, as they met? 'My Lord,' quoth he, 'you are my shield and defence.' Would that I could cleave his treason-hatching skull with my battle-axe."
"So," continued Rainulf, "they conferred together, and as words cost nothing to Arnulf, he not only promised all restitution to the paltry Montreuil, but even was for offering to pay homage to our Duke for Flanders itself; but this our William refused, saying it were foul wrong to both King Louis of France, and Kaiser Otho of Germany, to take from them their vassal. They took leave of each other in all courtesy, and we embarked again. It was Duke William's pleasure to go alone in a small boat, while we twelve were together in another. Just as we had nearly reached our own bank, there was a shout from the Flemings that their Count had somewhat further to say to the Duke, and forbidding us to follow him, the Duke turned his boat and went back again. No sooner had he set foot on the isle," proceeded the Norman, clenching his hands, and speaking between his teeth, "than we saw one Fleming strike him on the head with an oar; he fell senseless, the rest threw themselves upon him, and the next moment held up their bloody daggers in scorn at us! You may well think how we shouted and yelled at them, and plied our oars like men distracted, but all in vain, they were already in their boats, and ere we could even reach the isle, they were on the other side of the river, mounted their horses, fled with coward speed, and were out of reach of a Norman's vengeance."
"But they shall not be so long!" cried Richard, starting forward; for to his childish fancy this dreadful history was more like one of Dame Astrida's legends than a reality, and at the moment his thought was only of the blackness of the treason. "Oh, that I were a man to chastise them! One day they shall feel—"
He broke off short, for he remembered how his father had forbidden his denunciations of vengeance, but his words were eagerly caught up by the Barons, who, as Duke William had said, were far from possessing any temper of forgiveness, thought revenge a duty, and were only glad to see a warlike spirit in their new Prince.
"Ha! say you so, my young Lord?" exclaimed old Count Bernard, rising. "Yes, and I see a sparkle in your eye that tells me you will one day avenge him nobly!"
Richard drew up his head, and his heart throbbed high as Sir Eric made answer, "Ay, truly, that will he! You might search Normandy through, yea, and Norway likewise, ere you would find a temper more bold and free. Trust my word, Count Bernard, our young Duke will be famed as widely as ever were his forefathers!"
"I believe it well!" said Bernard. "He hath the port of his grandfather, Duke Rollo, and much, too, of his noble father! How say you, Lord Richard, will you be a valiant leader of the Norman race against our foes?"
"That I will!" said Richard, carried away by the applause excited by those few words of his. "I will ride at your head this very night if you will but go to chastise the false Flemings."
"You shall ride with us
Richard drooped his head without replying, for this seemed to bring to him the perception that his father was really gone, and that he should never see him again. He thought of all his projects for the day of his return, how he had almost counted the hours, and had looked forward to telling him that Father Lucas was well pleased with him! And now he should never nestle into his breast again, never hear his voice, never see those kind eyes beam upon him. Large tears gathered in his eyes, and ashamed that they should be seen, he sat down on a footstool at Fru Astrida's feet, leant his forehead on his hands, and thought over all that his father had done and said the last time they were together. He fancied the return that had been promised, going over the meeting and the greeting, till he had almost persuaded himself that this dreadful story was but a dream. But when he looked up, there were the Barons, with their grave mournful faces, speaking of the corpse, which Duke Alan of Brittany was escorting to Rouen, there to be buried beside the old Duke Rollo, and the Duchess Emma, Richard's mother. Then he lost himself in wonder how that stiff bleeding body could be the same as the father whose arm was so lately around him, and whether his father's spirit knew how he was thinking of him; and in these dreamy thoughts, the young orphan Duke of Normandy, forgotten by his vassals in their grave councils, fell asleep, and scarce wakened enough to attend to his prayers, when Fru Astrida at length remembered him, and led him away to bed.
When Richard awoke the next morning, he could hardly believe that all that had passed in the evening was true, but soon he found that it was but too real, and all was prepared for him to go to Rouen with the vassals; indeed, it was for no other purpose than to fetch him that the Count of Harcourt had come to Bayeux. Fru Astrida was quite unhappy that "the child," as she called him, should go alone with the warriors; but Sir Eric laughed at her, and said that it would never do for the Duke of Normandy to bring his nurse with him in his first entry into Rouen, and she must be content to follow at some space behind under the escort of Walter the huntsman.
So she took leave of Richard, charging both Sir Eric and Osmond to have the utmost care of him, and shedding tears as if the parting was to be for a much longer space; then he bade farewell to the servants of the castle, received the blessing of Father Lucas, and mounting his pony, rode off between Sir Eric and Count Bernard. Richard was but a little boy, and he did not think so much of his loss, as he rode along in the free morning air, feeling himself a Prince at the head of his vassals, his banner displayed before him, and the people coming out wherever he passed to gaze on him, and call for blessings on his name. Rainulf de Ferrieres carried a large heavy purse filled with silver and gold, and whenever they came to these gazing crowds, Richard was well pleased to thrust his hands deep into it, and scatter handfuls of coins among the gazers, especially where he saw little children.
They stopped to dine and rest in the middle of the day, at the castle of a Baron, who, as soon as the meal was over, mounted his horse, and joined them in their ride to Rouen. So far it had not been very different from Richard's last journey, when he went to keep Christmas there with his father; but now they were beginning to come nearer the town, he knew the broad river Seine again, and saw the square tower of the Cathedral, and he remembered how at that very place his father had met him, and how he had ridden by his side into the town, and had been led by his hand up to the hall.
His heart was very heavy, as he recollected there was no one now to meet and welcome him; scarcely any one to whom he could even tell his thoughts, for those tall grave Barons had nothing to say to such a little boy, and the very respect and formality with which they treated him, made him shrink from them still more, especially from the grim-faced Bernard; and Osmond, his own friend and playfellow, was obliged to ride far behind, as inferior in rank.
They entered the town just as it was growing dark. Count Bernard looked back and arrayed the procession; Eric de Centeville bade Richard sit upright and not look weary, and then all the Knights held back while the little Duke rode alone a little in advance of them through the gateway. There was a loud shout of "Long live the little Duke!" and crowds of people were standing round to gaze upon his entry, so many that the bag of coins was soon emptied by his largesses. The whole city was like one great castle, shut in by a wall and moat, and with Rollo's Tower rising at one end like the keep of a castle, and it was thither that Richard was turning his horse, when the Count of Harcourt said, "Nay, my Lord, to the Church of our Lady."
It was then considered a duty to be paid to the deceased, that their relatives and friends should visit them as they lay in state, and sprinkle them with drops of holy water, and Richard was now to pay this token of respect. He trembled a little, and yet it did not seem quite so dreary, since he should once more look on his father's face, and he accordingly rode towards the Cathedral. It was then very unlike what it is now; the walls were very thick, the windows small and almost buried in heavy carved arches, the columns within were low, clumsy, and circular, and it was usually so dark that the vaulting of the roof could scarcely be seen.
Now, however, a whole flood of light poured forth from every window, and when Richard came to the door, he saw not only the two tall thick candles that always burnt on each side of the Altar, but in the Chancel stood a double row ranged in a square, shedding a pure, quiet brilliancy throughout the building, and chiefly on the silver and gold ornaments of the Altar. Outside these lights knelt a row of priests in dark garments, their heads bowed over their clasped hands, and their chanted psalms sounding sweet, and full of soothing music. Within that guarded space was a bier, and a form lay on it.
Richard trembled still more with awe, and would have paused, but he was obliged to proceed. He dipped his hand in the water of the font, crossed his brow, and came slowly on, sprinkled the remaining drops on the lifeless figure, and then stood still. There was an oppression on his breast as if he could neither breathe nor move.
There lay William of the Long Sword, like a good and true Christian warrior, arrayed in his shining armour, his sword by his side, his shield on his arm, and a cross between his hands, clasped upon his breast. His ducal mantle of crimson velvet, lined with ermine, was round his shoulders, and, instead of a helmet, his coronet was on his head; but, in contrast with this rich array, over the collar of the hauberk, was folded the edge of a rough hair shirt, which the Duke had worn beneath his robes, unknown to all, until his corpse was disrobed of his blood-stained garments. His face looked full of calm, solemn peace, as if he had gently fallen asleep, and was only awaiting the great call to awaken. There was not a single token of violence visible about him, save that one side of his forehead bore a deep purple mark, where he had first been struck by the blow of the oar which had deprived him of sense.
"See you that, my Lord?" said Count Bernard, first breaking the silence, in a low, deep, stern voice.
Richard had heard little for many hours past save counsels against the Flemings, and plans of bitter enmity against them; and the sight of his murdered father, with that look and tone of the old Dane, fired his spirit, and breaking from his trance of silent awe and grief, he exclaimed, "I see it, and dearly shall the traitor Fleming abye it!" Then, encouraged by the applauding looks of the nobles, he proceeded, feeling like one of the young champions of Fru Astrida's songs. His cheek was coloured, his eye lighted up, and he lifted his head, so that the hair fell back from his forehead; he laid his hand on the hilt of his father's sword, and spoke on in words, perhaps, suggested by some sage. "Yes, Arnulf of Flanders, know that Duke William of Normandy shall not rest unavenged! On this good sword I vow, that, as soon as my arm shall have strength—"
The rest was left unspoken, for a hand was laid on his arm. A priest, who had hitherto been kneeling near the head of the corpse, had risen, and stood tall and dark over him, and, looking up, he recognized the pale, grave countenance of Martin, Abbot of Jumieges, his father's chief friend and councillor.
"Richard of Normandy, what sayest thou?" said he, sternly. "Yes, hang thy head, and reply not, rather than repeat those words. Dost thou come here to disturb the peace of the dead with clamours for vengeance? Dost thou vow strife and anger on that sword which was never drawn, save in the cause of the poor and distressed? Wouldst thou rob Him, to whose service thy life has been pledged, and devote thyself to that of His foe? Is this what thou hast learnt from thy blessed father?"
Richard made no answer, but he covered his face with his hands, to hide the tears which were fast streaming.
"Lord Abbot, Lord Abbot, this passes!" exclaimed Bernard the Dane. "Our young Lord is no monk, and we will not see each spark of noble and knightly spirit quenched as soon as it shows itself."
"Count of Harcourt," said Abbot Martin, "are these the words of a savage Pagan, or of one who has been washed in yonder blessed font? Never, while I have power, shalt thou darken the child's soul with thy foul thirst of revenge, insult the presence of thy master with the crime he so abhorred, nor the temple of Him who came to pardon, with thy hatred. Well do I know, ye Barons of Normandy, that each drop of your blood would willingly be given, could it bring back our departed Duke, or guard his orphan child; but, if ye have loved the father, do his bidding—lay aside that accursed spirit of hatred and vengeance; if ye love the child, seek not to injure his soul more deeply than even his bitterest foe, were it Arnulf himself, hath power to hurt him."
The Barons were silenced, whatever their thoughts might be, and Abbot Martin turned to Richard, whose tears were still dropping fast through his fingers, as the thought of those last words of his father returned more clearly upon him. The Abbot laid his hand on his head, and spoke gently to him. "These are tears of a softened heart, I trust," said he. "I well believe that thou didst scarce know what thou wert saying."
"Forgive me!" said Richard, as well as he could speak.
"See there," said the priest, pointing to the large Cross over the Altar, "thou knowest the meaning of that sacred sign?"
Richard bowed his head in assent and reverence.
"It speaks of forgiveness," continued the Abbot. "And knowest thou who gave that pardon? The Son forgave His murderers; the Father them who slew His Son. And shalt thou call for vengeance?"
"But oh!" said Richard, looking up, "must that cruel, murderous traitor glory unpunished in his crime, while there lies—" and again his voice was cut off by tears.
"Vengeance shall surely overtake the sinner," said Martin, "the vengeance of the Lord, and in His own good time, but it must not be of thy seeking. Nay, Richard, thou art of all men the most bound to show love and mercy to Arnulf of Flanders. Yes, when the hand of the Lord hath touched him, and bowed him down in punishment for his crime, it is then, that thou, whom he hath most deeply injured, shouldst stretch out thine hand to aid him, and receive him with pardon and peace. If thou dost vow aught on the sword of thy blessed father, in the sanctuary of thy Redeemer, let it be a Christian vow."
Richard wept too bitterly to speak, and Bernard de Harcourt, taking his hand, led him away from the Church.
A fox, who was out in search of food, discovered a Hen scratching for worms at the foot of a tree. He hid himself in a bush near by, and was about to spring out and seize her, when a strange tapping sound fell upon his ears; for in that same tree there was a Drum, and when the wind blew, the branches beat against it.
Now the Fox was exceedingly hungry, and reasoned thus:—
"A noise as loud as that must be made by a fowl much larger than this Hen. I will, therefore, let her go, and will bring down that larger bird for my supper."
Without further thought he rushed out of the bush with a noise that put the Hen to flight, and, after many vain efforts, scrambled up the tree. High among the leaves he found the Drum, and fell upon it tooth and claw. He soon had it open, only to see that it was filled with nothing more or less than empty air. The Fox hung his tail.
"What a stupid wretch I am!" he groaned. "Because of my own greediness, I must now go supperless to bed."
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
WEEK 16 |
"Clive it was gave England India."
I T was not likely that the spirited little army should be left in undisputed possession of Arcot, and Clive now prepared for an inevitable siege. Soon 10,000 men had swarmed into the place, hemming in the garrison on every side. Days grew to weeks, and the ready resource of Clive alone saved the situation. The handful of men—European and native—caught the spirit of their leader, and each became a hero. History contains no more touching instance of native fidelity than that related of the men who came to Clive, not to complain of their own scanty fare, but to propose "that all the grain should be given to Europeans, who required more nourishment than the natives of Asia. The thin gruel, strained away from the rice, would do for them," they said. With such as these Clive held the fort for fifty days.
At last the French resolved to storm the town. Clive busied himself with preparations. In the evening he threw himself down to sleep, utterly tired out; but he was soon awakened, and at his post in a moment. The French attacked in strong force. They had brought with them huge elephants, with great pieces of iron fixed on their foreheads, to try and break down the gates. The English fired on them; and the unhappy creatures, unused to firearms, turned round and fled in their fright into the midst of the French, trampling many under foot. Night fell, and Clive, with his little band of weary men, passed an anxious time. Morning dawned to find the enemy had melted away. The siege of Arcot was ended. The growing power of the French in India was arrested. Robert Clive was the hero of the hour.
Indeed, not long after this Dupleix was recalled from the East by Louis XV., his dream of empire ended, to die in France heart-broken.
But India's troubles were by no means at an end. English trade in the East was growing, and the English had long ago established a trading station at Calcutta on the river Hoogly, one of the mouths of the Ganges. They had had no water-way at Madras; but here, at Calcutta, they had been able to penetrate inland and annex some of the surrounding country, known as Bengal.
Now the Nawab of Bengal hated the English. His imagination was fired with fabulous stories of the vast wealth
stored up in the treasury at Calcutta. So he collected a huge army, and in the year 1756 he appeared on the
outskirts of the town. The English were taken by surprise,—they had no Clive to lead them to victory,—and the
Nawab took Calcutta with ease, making 146 prisoners. But the treasury did not yield the vast riches he had been
led to expect, and he wreaked his revenge on the luckless prisoners. It was a hot night in June when the 146
English captives were driven by clubs and swords into a little room some twenty feet square, with only two
small gratings at the entrance to let in air. The "Black Hole" had been built to shut up troublesome soldiers:
it was intended to hold four or five at a time. To cram in 146 human beings was to court slow but certain
death. The day had been fiercely hot, the night was sultry and stifling. Not a breath of air could enter to
relieve the sufferings of the Europeans, too tightly packed into the small space to move. In vain they cried
for mercy; in vain they appealed to the guards in their agony. The guards only replied from outside that the
Nawab was asleep, and none dared wake him or remove a single prisoner without his leave. Then
followed cries for water. A few water-skins were brought to the gratings, but in the mad struggle to reach it
many were trampled to death. The heartless guards only held burning torches to the gratings and mocked at their
frantic struggles. As the long night passed away the struggles ceased, the screams died away, and a few low
moans were the only sounds audible. Morning dawned at last. The Nawab awoke and ordered the doors to be opened.
Twenty-three fainting people alone staggered forth: the rest lay dead in heaps upon the floor. And even
The tale of horror thrilled through the British Empire. All eyes turned to the young hero of Arcot to avenge the wrongs done to his countrymen, and Robert Clive was soon hurrying to the scene of action.
Early in January he arrived at Calcutta, and soon the British flag was waving above the town. Meanwhile the Nawab was waiting for him at Plassey, some ninety-six miles to the north of Calcutta, with a tremendous army, at least twenty times the size of Clive's. Clive was marching north, hoping for help to be sent, but he reached the banks of the Hoogly with a force wholly inadequate for the work before him. He was in a painfully anxious dilemma. Before him lay a wide river, across which, if things went ill, not one would ever return. For the first time in his life he shrank from the fearful responsibility of making up his mind. He was but thirty-two at the time. He called a council of war. Should they attack the mighty force before them with their little band of men, or wait for help?
"Wait for help," said the officers; and Clive himself agreed with them.
But still he was not satisfied. He retired alone under the shade of a tree near by, and spent an hour in the
deepest thought. Then he returned to the camp. He knew his mind now: he was determined to risk everything. "Be
in readiness to attack
The river was soon crossed, and Clive with his army took up his quarters in a grove of mango-trees, within a mile of the enemy. He could not sleep. All night long he heard the sound of drums and cymbals from the vast camp of the Nawab. He knew but too well the fearful odds against which he would fight on the morrow.
The day broke—"the day which was to decide the fate of India."
An hour after the battle began, all was over. The Nawab had mounted a camel and was in full flight, and the great native army was retreating in wild disorder. Clive stood triumphant on the battlefield of Plassey. With a loss of twenty-two men he had scattered an army of nearly 60,000, and subdued an empire larger than Great Britain. The "heaven-born general" was conqueror not only of the battlefield of Plassey, but of the British Empire in India.
HE time between mid-day and evening wore on while the Æsir and the Vanir gathered for the feast in old Æsir's hall listened to the stories that Loki told in mockery of Thor. The night came, but no banquet was made ready for the Dwellers in Asgard. They called to Æsir's two under-servants, Fimaffenger and Elder, and they bade them bring them a supper. Slight was what they got, but they went to bed saying, "Great must be the preparations that old Æsir is making to feast us to‑morrow."
The morrow came and the mid-day of the morrow, and still the Dwellers in Asgard saw no preparations being made for the banquet. Then Frey rose up and went to seek old Æsir, the Giant King of the Sea. He found him sitting with bowed head in his inner hall. "Ho, Æsir," he said, "what of the banquet that you have offered to the Dwellers in Asgard?"
Old Æsir mumbled and pulled at his beard. At last he looked his guest in the face and told why the banquet was not being made ready. The mead for the feast was not yet brewed. And there was little chance of being able to brew mead that would do for all, for Æsir's hall was lacking a mead kettle that would contain enough.
When the Æsir and the Vanir heard this they were sorely disappointed. Who now, outside of Asgard, would give them a feast? Æsir was the only one of the Giants who was friendly to them, and Æsir could not give them full entertainment.
Then a Giant youth who was there spoke up and said, "My kinsman, the Giant Hrymer, has a mead kettle that is a mile wide. If we could bring Hrymer's kettle here, what a feast we might have!"
"One of us can go for that kettle," Frey said.
"Ah, but Hrymer's dwelling is beyond the deepest forest and behind the highest mountain," the Giant youth said, "and Hrymer himself is a rough and a churlish one to call on."
"Still, one of us should go," Frey said.
"I will go to Hrymer's dwelling," said Thor, standing up. "I will go to Hrymer's dwelling and get the mile-wide kettle from him by force or cunning." He had been sitting subdued under the mocking tales that Loki told of him and he was pleased with this chance to make his prowess plain to the Æsir and the Vanir. He buckled on the belt that doubled his strength. He drew on the iron gloves that enabled him to grasp Miölnir. He took his hammer in his hands, and he signed to the Giant youth to come with him and be his guide.
The Æsir and the Vanir applauded Thor as he stepped out of old Æsir's hall. But Loki, mischievous Loki, threw a gibe after him. "Do not let the hammer out of your hands this time, bride of Thrym," he shouted.
Thor, with the Giant youth to guide him, went through the deepest forest and over the highest mountain. He came at last to the Giant's dwelling. On a hillock before Hrymer's house was a dreadful warden; a Giant crone she was, with heads a-many growing out of her shoulders. She was squatting down on her ankles, and her heads, growing in bunches, were looking in different directions. As Thor and the Giant youth came near screams and yelps came from all her heads. Thor grasped his hammer and would have flung it at her if a Giant woman, making a sign of peace, had not come to the door of the dwelling. The youthful Giant who was with Thor greeted her as his mother.
"Son, come within," said she, "and you may bring your fellow farer with you."
The Giant crone—she was Hrymer's grandmother—kept up her screaming and yelping. But Thor went past her and into the Giant's dwelling.
When she saw that it was one of the Dwellers in Asgard who had come with her son the Giant woman grew fearful for them both. "Hrymer," she said, "will be in a rage to find one of the Æsir under his roof. He will strive to slay you."
"It is not likely he will succeed," Thor said, grasping Miölnir, the hammer that all the Giant race knew of and dreaded. "Hide from him," said the Giant woman. "He may injure my son in his rage to find you here."
"I am not wont to hide from the Giants," Thor said.
"Hide only for a little while! Hide until Hrymer has eaten," the Giant woman pleaded. "He comes back from the chase in a stormy temper. After he has eaten he is easier to deal with. Hide until he has finished supper."
Thor at last agreed to do this. He and the Giant youth hid behind a pillar in the hall. They were barely hidden when they heard the clatter of the Giant's steps as he came through the court-yard. He came to the door. His beard was like a frozen forest around his mouth. And he dragged along with him a wild bull that he had captured in the chase. So proud was he of his capture that he dragged it into the hall.
"I have taken alive," he shouted, "the bull with the mightiest head and horns. 'Heaven-breaking' this bull is called. No Giant but me could capture it." He tied the bull to the post of the door and then his eyes went towards the pillar behind which Thor and the Giant youth were hiding. The pillar split up its whole length at that look from Hrymer's eyes. He came nearer. The pillar of stone broke across. It fell with the cross-beam it supported and all the kettles and cauldrons that were hanging on the beam came down with a terrible rattle.
Then Thor stepped out and faced the wrathful Giant. "It is I who am here, friend Hrymer," he said, his hands resting on his hammer.
Then Hrymer, who knew Thor and knew the force of Thor's hammer, drew back. "Now that you are in my house, Asa Thor," he said, "I will not quarrel with you. Make supper ready for Asa Thor and your son and myself," said he to the Giant woman.
A plentiful supper was spread and Hrymer and Thor and the Giant youth sat down to three whole roast oxen. Thor ate the whole of one ox. Hrymer, who had eaten nearly two himself, leaving only small cuts for his wife and his youthful kinsman, grumbled at Thor's appetite. "You'll clear my fields, Asa Thor," he said, "if you stay long with me."
"Do not grumble, Hrymer," Thor said. "To‑morrow I'll go fishing and I'll bring you back the weight of what I ate."
"Then instead of hunting I'll go fishing with you to‑morrow, Asa Thor," said Hrymer. "And don't be frightened if I take you out on a rough sea."
Hrymer was first out of bed the next morning. He came with the pole and the ropes in his hand to where Thor was sleeping. "Time to start earning your meal, Asa Thor," said he.
Thor got out of bed, and when they were both in the court-yard the Giant said, "You'll have to provide a bait for yourself. Mind that you take a bait large enough. It is not where the little fishes are, the place where I'm going to take you. If you never saw monsters before you'll see them now. I'm glad, Asa Thor, that you spoke of going fishing."
"Will this bait be big enough?" said Thor, laying his hands on the horns of the bull that Hrymer had captured and brought home, the bull with the mighty head of horns that was called "Heaven-breaking." "Will this bait be big enough, do you think?"
"Yes, if you're big enough to handle it," said the Giant. Thor said nothing, but he struck the bull full in the middle of the forehead with his fist. The great creature fell down dead. Thor then twisted the bull's head off. "I have my bait and I'm ready to go with you, Hrymer," he said.
Hrymer had turned away to hide the rage he was in at seeing Thor do such a feat. He walked down to the boat without speaking. "You may row for the first few strokes," said Hrymer, when they were in the boat, "but when we come to where the ocean is rough, why I'll take the oars from you."
Without saying a word Thor made a few strokes that took the boat out into the middle of the ocean. Hrymer was in a rage to think that he could not show himself greater than Thor. He let out his line and began to fish. Soon he felt something huge on his hook. The boat rocked and rocked till Thor steadied it. Then Hrymer drew into the boat the largest whale that was in these seas.
"Good fishing," said Thor, as he put his own bait on the line. "It's something for you to tell the Æsir," said Hrymer. "I thought as you were here I'd show you something bigger than salmon-fishing."
"I'll try my luck now," said Thor.
He threw out a line that had at the end of it the mighty-horned head of the great bull. Down, down the head went. It passed where the whales swim, and the whales were afraid to gulp at the mighty horns. Down, down it went till it came near where the monster serpent that coils itself round the world abides. It reared its head up from its serpent coils as Thor's bait came down through the depths of the ocean. It gulped at the head and drew it into its gullet. There the great hook stuck. Terribly surprised was the serpent monster. It lashed the ocean into a fury. But still the hook stayed. Then it strove to draw down to the depths of the ocean the boat of those who had hooked it. Thor put his legs across the boat and stretched them till they touched the bottom bed of the ocean. On the bottom bed of the ocean Thor stood and he pulled and he pulled on his line. The serpent monster lashed the ocean into fiercer and fiercer storms and all the world's ships were hurled against each other and wrecked and tossed. But it had to loosen coil after coil of the coils it makes around the world. Thor pulled and pulled. Then the terrible head of the serpent monster appeared above the waters. It reared over the boat that Hrymer sat in and that Thor straddled across. Thor dropped the line and took up Miölnir, his mighty hammer. He raised it to strike the head of the serpent monster whose coils go round the world. But Hrymer would not have that happen. Rather than have Thor pass him by such a feat he cut the line, and the head of the serpent monster sank back into the sea. Thor's hammer was raised. He hurled it, hurled that hammer that always came back to his hand. It followed the sinking head through fathom after fathom of the ocean depth. It struck the serpent monster a blow, but not such a deadly blow as would have been struck if the water had not come between. A bellow of pain came up from the depths of the ocean, such a bellow of pain that all in Jötunheim were affrighted.
"This surely is something to tell the Æsir of," said Thor, "something to make them forget Loki's mockeries."
Without speaking Hrymer turned the boat and rowed towards the shore, dragging the whale in the wake. He was in such a rage to think that one of the Æsir had done a feat surpassing his that he would not speak. At supper, too, he remained silent, but Thor talked for two, boasting loudly of his triumph over the monster serpent.
"No doubt you think yourself very powerful, Asa Thor," Hrymer said at last. "Well, do you think you are powerful enough to break the cup that is before you?"
Thor took up the cup and with a laugh he hurled it against the stone pillar of the house. The cup fell down on the floor without a crack or a dint in it. But the pillar was shattered with the blow.
The Giant laughed. "So feeble are the folk of Asgard!" he said.
Thor took up the cup again and flung it with greater force against the stone pillar. And again the cup fell to the ground without a crack or a dint.
Then he heard the woman who was the mother of the Giant youth sing softly, as she plied her wheel behind him:
Not at the pillar of the stead,
But at Hrymer's massy head
When you next the goblet throw,
Let his head receive the blow.
Thor took the cup up again. He flung it, not at the pillar this time, but at Hrymer's head. It struck the Giant full on the forehead and fell down on the floor in pieces. And Hrymer's head was left without a dint or a crack.
"Ha, so you can break a cup, but can you lift up my mile-wide kettle?" cried the Giant.
"Show me where your mile-wide kettle is and I shall try to lift it," cried Thor.
The Giant took up the flooring and showed him the mile-wide kettle down in the cellar. Thor stooped down and took the kettle by the brim. He lifted it slowly as if with a mighty effort.
"You can lift, but can you carry it?" said the Giant.
"I will try to do that," said Thor. He lifted the kettle up and placed it on his head. He strode to the door and out of the house before the Giant could lay hands on him. Then when he was outside he started to run. He was across the mountain before he looked behind him. He heard a yelping and a screaming and he saw the Giant crone with the bunch of heads running, running after him. Up hill and down dale Thor raced, the mile-wide kettle on his head and the Giant crone in chase of him. Through the deep forest he ran and over the high mountain, but still Bunch-of-Heads kept him in chase. But at last, jumping over a lake, she fell in and Thor was free of his pursuer.
And so back to the Æsir and the Vanir Thor came in triumph, carrying on his head the mile-wide kettle. And those of the Æsir and the Vanir who had laughed most at Loki's mockeries rose up and cheered for him as he came in. The mead was brewed, the feast was spread, and the greatest banquet that ever the Kings of the Giants gave to the Dwellers in Asgard was eaten in gladness.
A strange and silent figure sat at the banquet. It was the figure of a Giant and no one knew who he was nor where he had come from. But when the banquet was ended Odin, the Eldest of the Gods, turned towards this figure and said, "O Skyrmir, Giant King of Utgard, rise up now and tell Thor of all you practised upon him when he and Loki came to your City."
Then the stranger at the banquet stood up, and Thor and Loki saw he was the Giant King in whose halls they had had the contests. Skyrmir turned towards them and said:
"O Thor and O Loki, I will reveal to you now the deceits I practised on you both. It was I whom ye met on the moorland on the day before ye came into Utgard. I gave you my name as Skyrmir and I did all I might do to prevent your entering our City, for the Giants dreaded a contest of strength with Asa Thor. Now hear me, O Thor. The wallet I gave for you to take provisions out of was tied with magic knots. No one could undo them by strength or cleverness. And while you were striving to undo them I placed a mountain of rock between myself and you. The hammer blows, which as you thought struck me, struck the mountain and made great clefts and gaps in it. When I knew the strength of your tremendous blows I was more and more in dread of your coming into our City.
"I saw you would have to be deceived by magic. Your lad Thialfi was the one whom I first deceived. For it was not a Giant youth who raced against him, but Thought itself. And even you, O Loki, I deceived. For when you tried to make yourself out the greatest of eaters I pitted against you, not a Giant, but Fire that devours everything.
"You, Thor, were deceived in all the contests. After you had taken the drinking horn in your hands we were all affrighted to see how much you were able to gulp down. For the end of that horn was in the sea, and Æsir, who is here, can tell you that after you had drunk from it, the level of the sea went down.
"The cat whom you strove to lift was Nidhögg, the dragon that gnaws at the roots of Ygdrassil, the Tree of Trees. Truly we were terrified when we saw that you made Nidhögg budge. When you made the back of the cat reach the roof of our palace we said to ourselves, 'Thor is the mightiest of all the beings we have known.'
"Lastly you strove with the hag Ellie. Her strength seemed marvellous to you, and you thought yourself disgraced because you could not throw her. But know, Thor, that Ellie whom you wrestled with was Old Age herself. We were terrified again to see that she who can overthrow all was not able to force you prone upon the ground."
So Skyrmir spoke and then left the hall. And once more the Æsir and the Vanir stood up and cheered for Thor, the strongest of all who guarded Asgard.
When beechen buds begin to swell,
And woods the bluebird's warble know
The yellow violet's modest bell
Peeps from the last year's leaves below.
Ere russet fields their green resume,
Sweet flower, I love, in forest bare,
To meet thee, when thy faint perfume
Alone is in the virgin air.
Of all her train, the hands of Spring
First plant thee in the watery mold,
And I have seen thee blossoming
Beside the snow bank's edges cold.
Thy parent sun, who bade thee view
Pale skies, and chilling moisture sip,
Has bathed thee in his own bright hue,
And streaked with jet thy glowing lip.
Yet slight thy form, and low thy seat,
And earthward bent thy gentle eye,
Unapt the passing view to meet,
When loftier flowers are flaunting nigh.
Oft, in the sunless April day,
Thy early smile has stayed my walk;
But midst the gorgeous blooms of May,
I passed thee on thy humble stalk.
So they who climb to wealth forget
The friends in darker fortunes tried.
I copied them—but I regret
That I should ape the ways of pride.
And when again the genial hour
Awakes the painted tribes of light,
I'll not o'erlook the modest flower
That made the woods of April bright.
WEEK 16 |
H EAR and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was, O my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild. The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild—as wild as wild could be—and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.
Of course the Man was wild too. He was dreadfully wild. He didn't even begin to be tame till he met the Woman, and she told him that she did not like living in his wild ways. She picked out a nice dry Cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back of the Cave; and she hung a dried wild-horse skin, tail-down, across the opening of the Cave; and she said, "Wipe your feet, dear, when you come in, and now we'll keep house."
That night, Best Beloved, they ate wild sheep roasted on the hot stones, and flavoured with wild garlic and wild pepper; and wild duck stuffed with wild rice and wild fenugreek and wild coriander; and marrow-bones of wild oxen; and wild cherries, and wild grenadillas. Then the Man went to sleep in front of the fire ever so happy; but the Woman sat up, combing her hair. She took the bone of the shoulder of mutton—the big fat blade-bone—and she looked at the wonderful marks on it, and she threw more wood on the fire, and she made a Magic. She made the First Singing Magic in the world.
Out in the Wet Wild Woods all the wild animals gathered together where they could see the light of the fire a long way off, and they wondered what it meant.
Then Wild Horse stamped with his wild foot and said, "O my Friends and O my Enemies, why have the Man and the Woman made that great light in that great Cave, and what harm will it do us?"
Wild Dog lifted up his wild nose and smelled the smell of roast mutton, and said, "I will go up and see and look, and say; for I think it is good. Cat, come with me."
"Nenni!" said the Cat. "I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me. I will not come."
"Then we can never be friends again," said Wild Dog, and he trotted off to the Cave. But when he had gone a little way the Cat said to himself, "All places are alike to me. Why should I not go too and see and look and come away at my own liking." So he slipped after Wild Dog softly, very softly, and hid himself where he could hear everything.
When Wild Dog reached the mouth of the Cave he lifted up the dried horse-skin with his nose and sniffed the beautiful smell of the roast mutton, and the Woman, looking at the blade-bone, heard him, and laughed, and said, "Here comes the first. Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, what do you want?"
Wild Dog said, "O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy, what is this that smells so good in the Wild Woods?"
Then the Woman picked up a roasted mutton-bone and threw it to Wild Dog, and said, "Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, taste and try." Wild Dog gnawed the bone, and it was more delicious than anything he had ever tasted, and he said, "O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy, give me another."
The Woman said, "Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, help my Man to hunt through the day and guard this Cave at night, and I will give you as many roast bones as you need."
"Ah!" said the Cat, listening. "This is a very wise Woman, but she is not so wise as I am."
Wild Dog crawled into the Cave and laid his head on the Woman's lap, and said, "O my Friend and Wife of my Friend, I will help Your Man to hunt through the day, and at night I will guard your Cave."
"Ah!" said the Cat, listening. "That is a very foolish Dog." And he went back through the Wet Wild Woods waving his wild tail, and walking by his wild lone. But he never told anybody.
When the Man waked up he said, "What is Wild Dog doing here?" And the Woman said, "His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always. Take him with you when you go hunting."
Next night the Woman cut great green armfuls of fresh grass from the water-meadows, and dried it before the fire, so that it smelt like new-mown hay, and she sat at the mouth of the Cave and plaited a halter out of horse-hide, and she looked at the shoulder of mutton-bone—at the big broad blade-bone—and she made a Magic. She made the Second Singing Magic in the world.
Out in the Wild Woods all the wild animals wondered what had happened to Wild Dog, and at last Wild Horse stamped with his foot and said, "I will go and see and say why Wild Dog has not returned. Cat, come with me."
"Nenni!" said the Cat. "I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me. I will not come." But all the same he followed Wild Horse softly, very softly, and hid himself where he could hear everything.
When the Woman heard Wild Horse tripping and stumbling on his long mane, she laughed and said, "Here comes the second. Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods what do you want?"
Wild Horse said, "O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy, where is Wild Dog?"
The Woman laughed, and picked up the blade-bone and looked at it, and said, "Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, you did not come here for Wild Dog, but for the sake of this good grass."
And Wild Horse, tripping and stumbling on his long mane, said, "That is true; give it me to eat."
The Woman said, "Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, bend your wild head and wear what I give you, and you shall eat the wonderful grass three times a day."
"Ah," said the Cat, listening, "this is a clever Woman, but she is not so clever as I am."
Wild Horse bent his wild head, and the Woman slipped the plaited hide halter over it, and Wild Horse breathed on the Woman's feet and said, "O my Mistress, and Wife of my Master, I will be your servant for the sake of the wonderful grass."
"Ah," said the Cat, listening, "that is a very foolish Horse." And he went back through the Wet Wild Woods, waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone. But he never told anybody.
When the Man and the Dog came back from hunting, the Man said, "What is Wild Horse doing here?" And the Woman said, "His name is not Wild Horse any more, but the First Servant, because he will carry us from place to place for always and always and always. Ride on his back when you go hunting.
Next day, holding her wild head high that her wild horns should not catch in the wild trees, Wild Cow came up to the Cave, and the Cat followed, and hid himself just the same as before; and everything happened just the same as before; and the Cat said the same things as before, and when Wild Cow had promised to give her milk to the Woman every day in exchange for the wonderful grass, the Cat went back through the Wet Wild Woods waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone, just the same as before. But he never told anybody. And when the Man and the Horse and the Dog came home from hunting and asked the same questions same as before, the Woman said, "Her name is not Wild Cow any more, but the Giver of Good Food. She will give us the warm white milk for always and always and always, and I will take care of her while you and the First Friend and the First Servant go hunting.
Next day the Cat waited to see if any other Wild thing would go up to the Cave, but no one moved in the Wet Wild Woods, so the Cat walked there by himself; and he saw the Woman milking the Cow, and he saw the light of the fire in the Cave, and he smelt the smell of the warm white milk.
Cat said, "O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy, where did Wild Cow go?"
The Woman laughed and said, "Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, go back to the Woods again, for I have braided up my hair, and I have put away the magic blade-bone, and we have no more need of either friends or servants in our Cave.
Cat said, "I am not a friend, and I am not a servant. I am the Cat who walks by himself, and I wish to come into your cave."
Woman said, "Then why did you not come with First Friend on the first night?"
Cat grew very angry and said, "Has Wild Dog told tales of me?"
Then the Woman laughed and said, "You are the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to you. You are neither a friend nor a servant. You have said it yourself. Go away and walk by yourself in all places alike."
Then Cat pretended to be sorry and said, "Must I never come into the Cave? Must I never sit by the warm fire? Must I never drink the warm white milk? You are very wise and very beautiful. You should not be cruel even to a Cat."
Woman said, "I knew I was wise, but I did not know I was beautiful. So I will make a bargain with you. If ever I say one word in your praise you may come into the Cave."
"And if you say two words in my praise?" said the Cat.
"I never shall," said the Woman, "but if I say two words in your praise, you may sit by the fire in the Cave."
"And if you say three words?" said the Cat.
"I never shall," said the Woman, "but if I say three words in your praise, you may drink the warm white milk three times a day for always and always and always."
Then the Cat arched his back and said, "Now let the Curtain at the mouth of the Cave, and the Fire at the back of the Cave, and the Milk-pots that stand beside the Fire, remember what my Enemy and the Wife of my Enemy has said." And he went away through the Wet Wild Woods waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone.
That night when the Man and the Horse and the Dog came home from hunting, the Woman did not tell them of the bargain that she had made with the Cat, because she was afraid that they might not like it.
Cat went far and far away and hid himself in the Wet Wild Woods by his wild lone for a long time till the Woman forgot all about him. Only the Bat—the little upside-down Bat—that hung inside the Cave, knew where Cat hid; and every evening Bat would fly to Cat with news of what was happening.
One evening Bat said, "There is a Baby in the Cave. He is new and pink and fat and small, and the Woman is very fond of him."
"Ah," said the Cat, listening, "but what is the Baby fond of?"
"He is fond of things that are soft and tickle," said the Bat. "He is fond of warm things to hold in his arms when he goes to sleep. He is fond of being played with. He is fond of all those things."
"Ah," said the Cat, listening, "then my time has come."
Next night Cat walked through the Wet Wild Woods and hid very near the Cave till morning-time, and Man and Dog and Horse went hunting. The Woman was busy cooking that morning, and the Baby cried and interrupted. So she carried him outside the Cave and gave him a handful of pebbles to play with. But still the Baby cried.
Then the Cat put out his paddy paw and patted the Baby on the cheek, and it cooed; and the Cat rubbed against its fat knees and tickled it under its fat chin with his tail. And the Baby laughed; and the Woman heard him and smiled.
Then the Bat—the little upside-down bat—that hung in the mouth of the Cave said, "O my Hostess and Wife of my Host and Mother of my Host's Son, a Wild Thing from the Wild Woods is most beautifully playing with your Baby."
"A blessing on that Wild Thing whoever he may be," said the Woman, straightening her back, "for I was a busy woman this morning and he has done me a service."
That very minute and second, Best Beloved, the dried horse-skin Curtain that was stretched tail-down at the mouth of the Cave fell down—whoosh!—because it remembered the bargain she had made with the Cat, and when the Woman went to pick it up—lo and behold!—the Cat was sitting quite comfy inside the Cave.
"O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of my Enemy," said the Cat, "it is I: for you have spoken a word in my praise, and now I can sit within the Cave for always and always and always. But still I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me."
The Woman was very angry, and shut her lips tight and took up her spinning-wheel and began to spin.
But the Baby cried because the Cat had gone away, and the Woman could not hush it, for it struggled and kicked and grew black in the face.
"O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of my Enemy," said the Cat, "take a strand of the wire that you are spinning and tie it to your spinning-whorl and drag it along the floor, and I will show you a magic that shall make your Baby laugh as loudly as he is now crying."
"I will do so," said the Woman, "because I am at my wits' end; but I will not thank you for it."
She tied the thread to the little clay spindle whorl and drew it across the floor, and the Cat ran after it and patted it with his paws and rolled head over heels, and tossed it backward over his shoulder and chased it between his hind-legs and pretended to lose it, and pounced down upon it again, till the Baby laughed as loudly as it had been crying, and scrambled after the Cat and frolicked all over the Cave till it grew tired and settled down to sleep with the Cat in its arms.
"Now," said the Cat, "I will sing the Baby a song that shall keep him asleep for an hour. And he began to purr, loud and low, low and loud, till the Baby fell fast asleep. The Woman smiled as she looked down upon the two of them and said, "That was wonderfully done. No question but you are very clever, O Cat."
That very minute and second, Best Beloved, the smoke of the fire at the back of the Cave came down in clouds from the roof—puff!—because it remembered the bargain she had made with the Cat, and when it had cleared away—lo and behold!—the Cat was sitting quite comfy close to the fire.
"O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of My Enemy," said the Cat, "it is I, for you have spoken a second word in my praise, and now I can sit by the warm fire at the back of the Cave for always and always and always. But still I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me."
Then the Woman was very very angry, and let down her hair and put more wood on the fire and brought out the broad blade-bone of the shoulder of mutton and began to make a Magic that should prevent her from saying a third word in praise of the Cat. It was not a Singing Magic, Best Beloved, it was a Still Magic; and by and by the Cave grew so still that a little wee-wee mouse crept out of a corner and ran across the floor.
"O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of my Enemy," said the Cat, "is that little mouse part of your magic?"
"Ouh! Chee! No indeed!" said the Woman, and she dropped the blade-bone and jumped upon the footstool in front of the fire and braided up her hair very quick for fear that the mouse should run up it.
"Ah," said the Cat, watching, "then the mouse will do me no harm if I eat it?"
"No," said the Woman, braiding up her hair, "eat it quickly and I will ever be grateful to you."
Cat made one jump and caught the little mouse, and the Woman said, "A hundred thanks. Even the First Friend is not quick enough to catch little mice as you have done. You must be very wise."
That very moment and second, O Best Beloved, the Milk-pot that stood by the fire cracked in two pieces—ffft—because it remembered the bargain she had made with the Cat, and when the Woman jumped down from the footstool—lo and behold!—the Cat was lapping up the warm white milk that lay in one of the broken pieces.
"O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of my Enemy," said the Cat, "it is I; for you have spoken three words in my praise, and now I can drink the warm white milk three times a day for always and always and always. But still I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me."
Then the Woman laughed and set the Cat a bowl of the warm white milk and said, "O Cat, you are as clever as a man, but remember that your bargain was not made with the Man or the Dog, and I do not know what they will do when they come home."
"What is that to me?" said the Cat. "If I have my place in the Cave by the fire and my warm white milk three times a day I do not care what the Man or the Dog can do."
That evening when the Man and the Dog came into the Cave, the Woman told them all the story of the bargain while the Cat sat by the fire and smiled. Then the Man said, "Yes, but he has not made a bargain with me or with all proper Men after me." Then he took off his two leather boots and he took up his little stone axe (that makes three) and he fetched a piece of wood and a hatchet (that is five altogether), and he set them out in a row and he said, "Now we will make our bargain. If you do not catch mice when you are in the Cave for always and always and always, I will throw these five things at you whenever I see you, and so shall all proper Men do after me."
"Ah," said the Woman, listening, "this is a very clever Cat, but he is not so clever as my Man."
The Cat counted the five things (and they looked very knobby) and he said, "I will catch mice when I am in the Cave for always and always and always; but still I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me."
"Not when I am near," said the Man. "If you had not said that last I would have put all these things away for always and always and always; but I am now going to throw my two boots and my little stone axe (that makes three) at you whenever I meet you. And so shall all proper Men do after me!"
Then the Dog said, "Wait a minute. He has not made a bargain with me or with all proper Dogs after me." And he showed his teeth and said, "If you are not kind to the Baby while I am in the Cave for always and always and always, I will hunt you till I catch you, and when I catch you I will bite you. And so shall all proper Dogs do after me."
"Ah," said the Woman, listening, "this is a very clever Cat, but he is not so clever as the Dog."
Cat counted the Dog's teeth (and they looked very pointed) and he said, "I will be kind to the Baby while I am in the Cave, as long as he does not pull my tail too hard, for always and always and always. But still I am the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to me."
"Not when I am near," said the Dog. "If you had not said that last I would have shut my mouth for always and always and always; but now I am going to hunt you up a tree whenever I meet you. And so shall all proper Dogs do after me."
Then the Man threw his two boots and his little stone axe (that makes three) at the Cat, and the Cat ran out of the Cave and the Dog chased him up a tree; and from that day to this, Best Beloved, three proper Men out of five will always throw things at a Cat whenever they meet him, and all proper Dogs will chase him up a tree. But the Cat keeps his side of the bargain too. He will kill mice and he will be kind to Babies when he is in the house, just as long as they do not pull his tail too hard. But when he has done that, and between times, and when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him. Then he goes out to the Wet Wild Woods or up the Wet Wild Trees or on the Wet Wild Roofs, waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone.
PUSSY can sit by the fire and sing,
Pussy can climb a tree,
Or play with a silly old cork and string
To 'muse herself, not me.
But I like Binkie my dog, because
He knows how to behave;
So, Binkie's the same as the First Friend was,
And I am the Man in the Cave.
Pussy will play man-Friday till
It's time to wet her paw
And make her walk on the window-sill
(For the footprint Crusoe saw);
Then she fluffles her tail and mews,
And scratches and won't attend.
But Binkie will play whatever I choose,
And he is my true First Friend.
Pussy will rub my knees with her head
Pretending she loves me hard;
But the very minute I go to my bed
Pussy runs out in the yard,
And there she stays till the morning-light;
So I know it is only pretend;
But Binkie, he snores at my feet all night,
And he is my Firstest Friend!
L ADEN with pollen and nectar, Miss Apis starts homeward.
People used to think she flew in a straight line to the hive, and so they called the shortest distance from one place to another a "bee line."
But she does not fly in a straight line,—far from it.
Whoever has "made a bee line for home"—that is a true bee line—must have followed a very indirect course indeed.
When Miss Apis has filled her honey-sac, and is ready to go home, she first mounts up into the air, not straight up, but round and round in a spiral, and when high enough she starts toward home—but not in a straight line. She makes a long curve to the right, and then to the left, to the right again, then to the left, and so on.
I do not know why she does this, but no doubt there is a good reason for it. Perhaps it makes it harder for bee-eating birds to catch her. It certainly is not easy to follow her flight with the eyes, until one has practiced enough to become accustomed to it.
When Miss Apis reaches home, she finds a large family.
There are her sisters, to begin with. She generally has many thousands of sisters just like herself, and they are all named Apis Mellifica.
This might be confusing if they called each other by name, that is, by the name we have given them. But of course, they do not do that.
I do not know what they call each other, but I do know that they are as much alike as one pea is like another. They all have twelve thousand six hundred small eyes and three large ones, a folding tongue, a honey-sac, wings that lock together, extraordinary legs, and several other useful and curious things.
Having watched Miss Apis going from flower to flower in the sunshine, you may think that this pleasant duty is all there is in her life. But oh, how mistaken you are!
Wait until you see her at home! There is as much work to be done in her house as in anybody's and she does it too. She works very hard, and , in fact, with her sisters, does all the work. Nobody else in the family does any, and so she is called the worker bee.
For you must know that she and her thousands of sisters, who are as like her as one pea is like another, are not the only members of the family.
When people call this beast to mind,
They marvel more and more
At such a little tail behind,
So large a trunk before.
WEEK 16 |
Matthew ix: 9 to 13; v to viii;
Mark ii: 13 to 17;
Luke v: 27 to 32; vi: 12 to 49.
MONG the Jews there was one class of men hated and despised by the people more than any other. That was "the publicans." These were the men who took from the people the tax which the Roman rulers had laid upon the land. Many of these publicans were selfish, grasping, and cruel. They robbed the people, taking more than was right. Some of them were honest men, dealing fairly, and taking no more for the tax than was needful; but because so many were wicked, all the publicans were hated alike; and they were called "sinners" by the people.
One day, when Jesus was going out of Capernaum to the sea-side, followed by a great crowd of people, he passed a publican or tax-gatherer, who was seated at his table taking money from the people who came to pay their taxes. This man was named Matthew or Levi, for many Jews had two names. Jesus could look into the hearts of men, and he saw that Matthew was one who might help him as one of his disciples. He looked upon Matthew, and said, "Follow me!"
Jesus calls Matthew.
At once the publican rose up from his table, and left it to go with Jesus. All the people wondered as they saw one of the hated publicans among the disciples, with Peter, and John, and the rest. But Jesus knew that Matthew would long afterward do a work that would bless the world forever. It was this same Matthew the publican, who many years after this wrote "The Gospel according to Matthew," the book which tells us so much about Jesus, and more than any other book gives us the words that Jesus spoke to the people. Jesus chose Matthew, knowing that he would write this book. A little while after Jesus called him Matthew made a great feast for Jesus at his house; and to the feast he invited many publicans, and others whom the Jews called sinners. The Pharisees saw Jesus sitting among these people, and they said with scorn to his disciples, "Why does your Master sit at the table with publicans and sinners?"
Jesus heard of what these men had said, and he said, "Those that are well do not need a doctor to cure them, but those that are sick do need one. I go to these people because they know that they are sinners and need to be saved. I came not to call those who think themselves to be good, but those who wish to be made better."
One evening Jesus went alone to a mountain not far from Capernaum. A crowd of people and his disciples followed him; but Jesus left them all, and went up to the top of the mountain, where he could be alone. There he stayed all night, praying to God, his Father and our Father. In the morning, out of all his followers, he chose twelve men who should walk with him, and listen to his words, so that they might be able to teach others in turn. Some of these men he had called before; but now he called them again, and others with them. They were called "The Twelve," or "the disciples;" and after Jesus went to heaven they were called "The Apostles," a word which means "those who were sent out," because Jesus sent them out to preach the gospel to the world.
The names of the twelve disciples, or apostles were these: Simon Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John, the two sons of Zebedee; Philip of Bethsaida, and Nathanael, who was also called Bartholomew, a name which means "the son of Tholmai;" Thomas, who was also called Didymus, a name which means "a twin," and Matthew, the publican or tax-gatherer; another James, the son of Alphaeus, who was called "James the Less," to keep his name apart from the first James, the brother of John, and Lebbeus, who was also called Thaddeus. Lebbeus was called also Judas, but he was a different man from another Judas, whose name is always given last. The eleventh name was another Simon, who was called "the Cananaen" or "Simon Zelotes;" and the last name was Judas Iscariot, who was afterward the traitor. We know very little about most of these men, but some of them in later days did a great work. Simon Peter was a leader among them, and John, long after those times, when he was a very old man, wrote one of the most wonderful books in all the world, "The Gospel according to John," the fourth among the gospels.
In the sight of all the people who had come to hear Jesus, Jesus called these twelve men to stand by his side. Then, on the mountain, he preached to these disciples and to the great company of people. Jesus sat down, the disciples stood beside him, and the great crowd of people stood in front, while Jesus spoke. What he said on that day is called "The Sermon on the Mount." Matthew wrote it down, and you can read it in his gospel, in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters. Jesus began with these words to his disciples:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Here are some more of the words of Jesus in this sermon:
I say unto you, Do not be anxious for your life what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on you. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the birds of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet our heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field,
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no anxious thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
This is what Jesus said about prayer to our heavenly Father:
Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth: and he that seeketh findeth: and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him!
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets.
And this was the end of the sermon:
Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house: and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
C URDIE went home whistling. He resolved to say nothing about the princess for fear of getting the nurse into trouble, for while he enjoyed teasing her because of her absurdity, he was careful not to do her any harm. He saw no more of the goblins, and was soon fast asleep in his bed.
He woke in the middle of the night, and thought he heard curious noises outside. He sat up and listened; then got up, and, opening the door very quietly, went out. When he peeped round the corner, he saw, under his own window, a group of stumpy creatures, whom he at once recognized by their shape. Hardly, however, had he begun his "One, two, three!" when they broke asunder, scurried away, and were out of sight. He returned laughing, got into bed again, and was fast asleep in a moment.
Reflecting a little over the matter in the morning, he came to the conclusion that, as nothing of the kind had ever happened before, they must be annoyed with him for interfering to protect the princess. By the time he was dressed, however, he was thinking of something quite different, for he did not value the enmity of the goblins in the least.
As soon as they had had breakfast, he set off with his father for the mine.
They entered the hill by a natural opening under a huge rock, where a little stream rushed out. They followed its course for a few yards, when the passage took a turn, and sloped steeply into the heart of the hill. With many angles and windings and branchings off, and sometimes with steps where it came upon a natural gulf, it led them deep into the hill before they arrived at the place where they were at present digging out the precious ore. This was of various kinds, for the mountain was very rich in the better sorts of metals. With flint and steel, and tinder box, they lighted their lamps, then fixed them on their heads, and were soon hard at work with their pickaxes and shovels and hammers. Father and son were at work near each other, but not in the same gang—the passages out of which the ore was dug, they called gangs—for when the lode, or vein of ore, was small, one miner would have to dig away alone in a passage no bigger than gave him just room to work—sometimes in uncomfortable cramped positions. If they stopped for a moment they could hear everywhere around them, some nearer, some farther off, the sounds of their companions burrowing away in all directions in the inside of the great mountain—some boring holes in the rock in order to blow it up with gunpowder, others shoveling the broken ore into baskets to be carried to the mouth of the mine, others hitting away with their pickaxes. Sometimes, if the miner was in a very lonely part, he would hear only a tap-tapping, no louder than that of a woodpecker, for the sound would come from a great distance off through the solid mountain rock.
The work was hard at best, for it is very warm underground; but it was not particularly unpleasant, and some of the miners, when they wanted to earn a little more money for a particular purpose, would stop behind the rest, and work all night. But you could not tell night from day down there, except from feeling tired and sleepy; for no light of the sun ever came into those gloomy regions. Some who had thus remained behind during the night, although certain there were none of their companions at work, would declare the next morning that they heard, every time they halted for a moment to take breath, a tap-tapping all about them, as if the mountain were then more full of miners than ever it was during the day; and some in consequence would never stay over night, for all knew those were the sounds of the goblins. They worked only at night, for the miners' night was the goblins' day. Indeed, the greater number of the miners were afraid of the goblins: for there were strange stories well known amongst them of the treatment some had received whom the goblins had surprised at their work during the night. The more courageous of them, however, amongst them Peter Peterson and Curdie, who in this took after his father, had stayed in the mine all night again and again, and although they had several times encountered a few stray goblins, had never yet failed in driving them away. As I have indicated already, the chief defence against them was verse, for they hated verse of every kind, and some kinds they could not endure at all. I suspect they could not make any themselves, and that was why they disliked it so much. At all events, those who were most afraid of them were those who could neither make verses themselves, nor remember the verses that other people made for them; while those who were never afraid were those who could make verses for themselves; for although there were certain old rhymes which were very effectual, yet it was well known that a new rhyme, if of the right sort, was even more distasteful to them, and therefore more effectual in putting them to flight.
Perhaps my readers may be wondering what the goblins could be about, working all night long, seeing they never carried up the ore and sold it; but when I have informed them concerning what Curdie learned the very next night, they will be able to understand.
For Curdie had determined, if his father would permit him, to remain there alone this night—and that for two reasons: first, he wanted to get extra wages in order that he might buy a very warm red petticoat for his mother, who had begun to complain of the cold of the mountain air sooner than usual this autumn; and second, he had just a faint glimmering of hope of finding out what the goblins were about under his window the night before.
When he told his father, he made no objection, for he had great confidence in his boy's courage and resources.
"I'm sorry I can't stay with you," said Peter; "but I want to go and pay the parson a visit this evening, and besides I've had a bit of a headache all day."
"I'm sorry for that, father," said Curdie.
"Oh! it's not much. You'll be sure to take care of yourself, won't you?"
"Yes, father; I will. I'll keep a sharp lookout, I promise you."
Curdie was the only one that remained in the mine. About six o'clock the rest went away, every one bidding him good night, and telling him to take care of himself; for he was a great favorite with them all.
"Don't forget your rhymes," said one.
"No, no," answered Curdie.
"It's no matter if he does," said another, "for he'll only have to make a new one."
"Yes, but he mightn't be able to make it fast enough," said another; "and while it was cooking in his head, they might take a mean advantage and set upon him."
"I'll do my best," said Curdie. "I'm not afraid."
"We all know that," they returned, and left him.
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will.
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.