WEEK 17 |
T OM presented himself before Aunt Polly, who was sitting by an open window in a pleasant rearward apartment, which was bedroom, breakfast-room, dining-room, and library, combined. The balmy summer air, the restful quiet, the odor of the flowers, and the drowsing murmur of the bees had had their effect, and she was nodding over her knitting—for she had no company but the cat, and it was asleep in her lap. Her spectacles were propped up on her gray head for safety. She had thought that of course Tom had deserted long ago, and she wondered at seeing him place himself in her power again in this intrepid way. He said: "Mayn't I go and play now, aunt?"
"What, a'ready? How much have you done?"
"It's all done, aunt."
"Tom, don't lie to me—I can't bear it."
"I ain't, aunt; it is all done."
Aunt Polly placed small trust in such evidence. She went out to see for herself; and she would have been content to find twenty per cent. of Tom's statement true. When she found the entire fence whitewashed, and not only whitewashed but elaborately coated and recoated, and even a streak added to the ground, her astonishment was almost unspeakable. She said:
"Well, I never! There's no getting round it, you can work when you're a mind to, Tom." And then she diluted the compliment by adding, "But it's powerful seldom you're a mind to, I'm bound to say. Well, go 'long and play; but mind you get back some time in a week, or I'll tan you."
She was so overcome by the splendor of his achievement that she took him into the closet and selected a choice apple and delivered it to him, along with an improving lecture upon the added value and flavor a treat took to itself when it came without sin through virtuous effort. And while she closed with a happy Scriptural flourish, he "hooked" a doughnut.
Then he skipped out, and saw Sid just starting up the outside stairway that led to the back rooms on the second floor. Clods were handy and the air was full of them in a twinkling. They raged around Sid like a hail-storm; and before Aunt Polly could collect her surprised faculties and sally to the rescue, six or seven clods had taken personal effect, and Tom was over the fence and gone. There was a gate, but as a general thing he was too crowded for time to make use of it. His soul was at peace, now that he had settled with Sid for calling attention to his black thread and getting him into trouble.
Tom skirted the block, and came round into a muddy alley that led by the back of his aunt's cow-stable. He presently got safely beyond the reach of capture and punishment, and hastened toward the public square of the village, where two "military" companies of boys had met for conflict, according to previous appointment. Tom was General of one of these armies, Joe Harper (a bosom friend) General of the other. These two great commanders did not condescend to fight in person—that being better suited to the still smaller fry—but sat together on an eminence and conducted the field operations by orders delivered through aides-de-camp. Tom's army won a great victory, after a long and hard-fought battle. Then the dead were counted, prisoners exchanged, the terms of the next disagreement agreed upon, and the day for the necessary battle appointed; after which the armies fell into line and marched away, and Tom turned homeward alone.
As he was passing by the house where Jeff Thatcher lived, he saw a new girl in the garden—a lovely little blue-eyed creature with yellow hair plaited into two long tails, white summer frock and embroidered pantalettes. The fresh-crowned hero fell without firing a shot. A certain Amy Lawrence vanished out of his heart and left not even a memory of herself behind. He had thought he loved her to distraction, he had regarded his passion as adoration; and behold it was only a poor little evanescent partiality. He had been months winning her; she had confessed hardly a week ago; he had been the happiest and the proudest boy in the world only seven short days, and here in one instant of time she had gone out of his heart like a casual stranger whose visit is done.
He worshiped this new angel with furtive eye, till he saw that she had discovered him; then he pretended he did not know she was present, and began to "show off" in all sorts of absurd boyish ways, in order to win her admiration.
He began to "show off."
He kept up this grotesque foolishness for some time; but by and by, while he was in the midst of some dangerous gymnastic performances, he glanced aside and saw that the little girl was wending her way toward the house. Tom came up to the fence and leaned on it, grieving, and hoping she would tarry yet awhile longer. She halted a moment on the steps and then moved toward the door. Tom heaved a great sigh as she put her foot on the threshold. But his face lit up, right away, for she tossed a pansy over the fence a moment before she disappeared.
The boy ran around and stopped within a foot or two of the flower, and then shaded his eyes with his hand and began to look down street as if he had discovered something of interest going on in that direction. Presently he picked up a straw and began trying to balance it on his nose, with his head tilted far back; and as he moved from side to side, in his efforts, he edged nearer and nearer toward the pansy; finally his bare foot rested upon it, his pliant toes closed upon it, and he hopped away with the treasure and disappeared round the corner. But only for a minute—only while he could button the flower inside his jacket, next his heart—or next his stomach, possibly, for he was not much posted in anatomy, and not hypercritical, anyway.
He returned, now, and hung about the fence till nightfall, "showing off," as before; but the girl never exhibited herself again, though Tom comforted himself a little with the hope that she had been near some window, meantime, and been aware of his attentions. Finally he strode home reluctantly, with his poor head full of visions.
All through supper his spirits were so high that his aunt wondered "what had got into the child." He took a good scolding about clodding Sid, and did not seem to mind it in the least. He tried to steal sugar under his aunt's very nose, and got his knuckles rapped for it. He said:
"Aunt, you don't whack Sid when he takes it."
"Well, Sid don't torment a body the way you do. You'd be always into that sugar if I warn't watching you."
Presently she stepped into the kitchen, and Sid, happy in his immunity, reached for the sugar-bowl—a sort of glorying over Tom which was well-nigh unbearable. But Sid's fingers slipped and the bowl dropped and broke. Tom was in ecstasies. In such ecstasies that he even controlled his tongue and was silent. He said to himself that he would not speak a word, even when his aunt came in, but would sit perfectly still till she asked who did the mischief; and then he would tell, and there would be nothing so good in the world as to see that pet model "catch it." He was so brim full of exultation that he could hardly hold himself when the old lady came back and stood above the wreck discharging lightnings of wrath from over her spectacles. He said to himself, "Now it's coming!" And the next instant he was sprawling on the floor! The potent palm was uplifted to strike again when Tom cried out:
"Hold on, now, what 'er you belting me for?—Sid broke it!"
Aunt Polly paused, perplexed, and Tom looked for healing pity. But when she got her tongue again, she only said:
"Umf! Well, you didn't get a lick amiss, I reckon. You been into some other audacious mischief when I wasn't around, like enough."
Then her conscience reproached her, and she yearned to say something kind and loving; but she judged that this would be construed into a confession that she had been in the wrong, and discipline forbade that. So she kept silence, and went about her affairs with a troubled heart. Tom sulked in a corner and exalted his woes. He knew that in her heart his aunt was on her knees to him, and he was morosely gratified by the consciousness of it. He would hang out no signals, he would take notice of none. He knew that a yearning glance fell upon him, now and then, through a film of tears, but he refused recognition of it. He pictured himself lying sick unto death and his aunt bending over him beseeching one little forgiving word, but he would turn his face to the wall, and die with that word unsaid. Ah, how would she feel then? And he pictured himself brought home from the river, dead, with his curls all wet, and his sore heart at rest. How she would throw herself upon him, and how her tears would fall like rain, and her lips pray God to give her back her boy and she would never, never abuse him any more! But he would lie there cold and white and make no sign—a poor little sufferer, whose griefs were at an end. He so worked upon his feelings with the pathos of these dreams, that he had to keep swallowing, he was so like to choke; and his eyes swam in a blur of water, which overflowed when he winked, and ran down and trickled from the end of his nose. And such a luxury to him was this petting of his sorrows, that he could not bear to have any worldly cheeriness or any grating delight intrude upon it; it was too sacred for such contact; and so, presently, when his cousin Mary danced in, all alive with the joy of seeing home again after an age-long visit of one week to the country, he got up and moved in clouds and darkness out at one door as she brought song and sunshine in at the other.
He wandered far from the accustomed haunts of boys, and sought desolate places that were in harmony with his spirit. A log raft in the river invited him, and he seated himself on its outer edge and contemplated the dreary vastness of the stream, wishing, the while, that he could only be drowned, all at once and unconsciously, without undergoing the uncomfortable routine devised by nature. Then he thought of his flower. He got it out, rumpled and wilted, and it mightily increased his dismal felicity. He wondered if she would pity him if she knew? Would she cry, and wish that she had a right to put her arms around his neck and comfort him? Or would she turn coldly away like all the hollow world? This picture brought such an agony of pleasurable suffering that he worked it over and over again in his mind and set it up in new and varied lights, till he wore it threadbare. At last he rose up sighing and departed in the darkness.
About half past nine or ten o'clock he came along the deserted street to where the Adored Unknown lived; he paused a moment; no sound fell upon his listening ear; a candle was casting a dull glow upon the curtain of a second-story window. Was the sacred presence there? He climbed the fence, threaded his stealthy way through the plants, till he stood under that window; he looked up at it long, and with emotion; then he laid him down on the ground under it, disposing himself upon his back, with his hands clasped upon his breast and holding his poor wilted flower. And thus he would die—out in the cold world, with no shelter over his homeless head, no friendly hand to wipe the death-damps from his brow, no loving face to bend pityingly over him when the great agony came. And thus she would see him when she looked out upon the glad morning, and oh! would she drop one little tear upon his poor, lifeless form, would she heave one little sigh to see a bright young life so rudely blighted, so untimely cut down?
The window went up, a maid-servant's discordant voice profaned the holy calm, and a deluge of water drenched the prone martyr's remains!
The strangling hero sprang up with a relieving snort. There was a whiz as of a missile in the air, mingled with the murmur of a curse, a sound as of shivering glass followed, and a small, vague form went over the fence and shot away in the gloom.
Not long after, as Tom, all undressed for bed, was surveying his drenched garments by the light of a tallow dip, Sid woke up; but if he had any dim idea of making any "references to allusions," he thought better of it and held his peace, for there was danger in Tom's eye.
Tom turned in without the added vexation of prayers, and Sid made mental note of the omission.
T he Danes not only invaded France and settled in that land, but they won so much power in England that a little more than a century after the death of Alfred the Great, one of them drove away the weak king Ethelred and took possession of the English throne. The son of this Dane was the famous Canute. Canute was not only kind and just to his English subjects, but he seemed to love them and to wish to do his best for them. During his absence from England on one occasion, he left the government in the hands, not of a Dane, but of an Englishman. Canute was a very sensible man, and he disliked flattery more than kings are usually supposed to do. Once when his foolish courtiers assured him that even the sea would obey him, he bade them place his chair on the beach. Then he gravely ordered the ocean to retreat and not wet even the border of his robe. The courtiers stood about him in some alarm, for they were afraid of being punished for their untruthfulness. Soon the waves splashed the king, and then he turned to the flatterers and said gently, "He who is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, He is the one whom the earth and the sea and the heavens obey."
Canute Orders the Ocean to Retreat
Ethelred had fled to Normandy, and there his son Edward afterward known as the Confessor, grew up. His mother was a Norman, and his own ways of thinking were French rather than English. After Canute's two sons had died, the English sent for Edward to come and rule over them. The young Duke William of Normandy, a bold, ambitious man, was his friend and kinsman, and Edward promised to bequeath to him the English throne. After Edward had been in England a while, however, he learned that he could not give away the throne as if it were a bag of gold, but that the English people had something to say about who should rule them. When Edward died, therefore, they asked a brave Englishman named Harold to become their king.
The Wounding of Harold at the Battle of Hastings
Duke William of Normandy was indignant. He was a descendant of Rollo and was as energetic as the Viking himself. He set out with a great force of men and ships to seize the kingdom that he believed was justly his own. He sailed straight for the English coast, and not a ship came out to fight him. He landed at Pevensey near Hastings, and not a man cast a spear at him. He began to pillage the country, and no one opposed him. There were good reasons why the English were so quiet. One was that their fleet was made up of fishing vessels, which were now scattered here and there, for according to custom their owners were allowed at stated times to take them away in order to attend to their fishing. Secondly, the army was made up chiefly of farmers, and they had been permitted to go home to attend to their harvesting. Harold, meanwhile, was in the north with a few followers, repelling an invasion of the Danes, led by his brother Tostig and Harold Hardrada. These he conquered at Stamford Bridge; then, making a rapid march to the south he brought together what troops he could, and with no chance to train them, he fought a fierce battle with the Normans, and was defeated. It is possible that the invaders might not have won the day if they had not used a favorite trick of their pirate ancestors of pretending to run away. The English forgot their orders to keep in their places and dashed forward in pursuit. Then, when they were unprotected and scattered, the Normans suddenly turned upon them and overcame them, and Harold was slain. This was the famous battle of Hastings, or Senlac, one of the most important battles in all English history, because it decided that England should be ruled by the Normans. In France there are some very interesting pictures of this invasion embroidered upon a strip of linen seventy yards long called the Bayeux Tapestry. These pictures look as if a little child had drawn them, but there is a good deal of life in them, and they do tell the story. It is possible that they were worked by William's wife, Matilda, and her ladies in waiting.
Battle of Hastings
(From the Bayeux Tapestry)
After the battle of Senlac, William marched to London. No one dared to oppose him, and the chief men of the nation went to his camp and asked him to become their ruler. So on Christmas Day, 1066, William the Conqueror, as he is known in history, was crowned king in Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of York.
William Entering London
The English watched anxiously to see how their new sovereign would treat them. Those who wished to keep their land had to go to him and swear to be faithful. The land of those who would not take the oath and of those who had fought at Hastings came into his hands, and he gave it to his Norman followers. He also gave the highest offices in church and state to Normans. That was natural; but it was hard for the English to bear, especially as the Normans looked upon them as rude, ignorant folk, much their inferiors. The English rose against William again and again. Four years after the battle of Hastings, a valiant leader named Hereward, with a large number of men, encamped on the Isle of Ely and resisted him for more than a year. William built a causeway through the marsh that surrounded the island, but for a long time his efforts to break up the Camp of Refuge, as it was called, were unsuccessful. Finally, through treachery some believe, the English were overcome. Hereward escaped, but this was the last rising of the English against their conqueror.
Hereward Watches the Building of the Causeway
William was severe, and those who broke his laws rarely escaped punishment, but even the English admitted that he was just. On one occasion he threw one of his own brothers into prison for wronging his English subjects. Three of his acts, however, they never forgave. One was his driving away the tenants from many thousand acres of land near his palace in Winchester. He may have done this to prevent any sudden attack upon him; but the people believed it was in order to provide him with a convenient hunting ground, the New Forest, as it was called; and they were angry. Again, they were indignant because he ordered that a curfew, or cover fire, bell should be rung every evening, and that at its sound all fires should be covered and all lights put out. William may have felt that this was necessary to prevent people from coming together at night to plot against him. Moreover, it was an old French custom to prevent the burning of houses; but the English objected stoutly to being told when they were to go to bed. On the whole, however, nothing else made them quite so angry as William's Doomsday Book (so called because its records were supposed to be final). In order to assess the taxes fairly, he sent men throughout the kingdom to find out just how much property each person owned. The men went into every house, barnyard, and sheepfold, and wrote in their accounts not only who held the land, but even how many animals there were. Then the English were enraged. They were afraid their taxes would be made larger; but, worse than that, they felt that it was a great insolence for strange men to come into their homes and write down the value of their property. They had to yield, however, to this and whatever else William thought best to do.
The Tower of London
(In the Center is the White Tower, built by William the Conqueror)
Altogether, the English people were not very happy, but to have such a king was really what they needed. They were a little slow and grave, while William was quick and liked a jest. They were good followers and steady fighters; while William was a bold leader and could change his plans on the battlefield in a moment if those that he had made failed.
William still ruled Normandy, and he had to go back and forth between the two countries. Normandy was a fief of France, that is, it was held by feudal tenure, but it was a most independent duchy, and was not at all afraid to resist the French king. In one of their struggles the city of Mantes was burned. When riding over the ruins, William was thrown from his horse, and afterward died of his injuries. The English royal family is descended from William the Conqueror and Matilda his wife, and Matilda was descended from Alfred the Great; therefore the present king of England represents both Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror.
WEEK 17 |
Then our streets were unpaved, our houses were thatched, sir,
Our windows were latticed, our doors only latched, sir,
Yet so few were the rogues that would plunder or rob, sir,
That the hangman was starved for want of a job, sir.
Oh, the golden days of good Queen Bess!
Then our ladies with large ruffs tied under their neck fast
Would gobble up a pound of beefsteaks for their breakfast;
With a close quilled-up coif, their noddles just did fit
And were trussed up as tight as a rabbit on a spit!
Oh, the golden days of good Queen Bess!
Then jerkin and doublet, and yellow worsted hose
With a large pair of whiskers was the dress of our beaus,
Strong beer they preferred to clarets and to hocks,
No poultry they prized like the wing of an ox.
Oh, the golden days of good Queen Bess!
Good neighbourhood, too, there was plenty as beef,
And the poor from the rich never wanted relief,
While merry went the
And honest men could live by the sweat of their brow.
Oh, the golden days of good Queen Bess!
Then all great men were good and all good men were great,
And the props of the nation were the pillars of the state,
For the sovereign and the subject one interest supported,
And our powerful alliance was by all other nations courted.
Oh, the golden days of good Queen Bess!
I N the grounds of Hatfield the oak may still be seen under which Elizabeth was sitting when messengers came to tell her that Mary was dead and that she was Queen.
The Princess listened, looking up through the bare branches to the dull November sky, then falling upon her knees, she exclaimed in Latin words, "It is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes!"
Afterwards Elizabeth put these words upon the gold coins which were used during her reign. Upon the silver coins she put another Latin sentence which means, "I have chosen God for my helper."
As soon as Elizabeth knew that she was chosen to be Queen, she left Hatfield and went in state to the Tower of London, for, at that time, the Tower was used as a royal palace as well as a prison. But this time she did not go as a prisoner. This time she did not enter by the Traitors' Gate. She went as a Queen, free and happy, guarded indeed, but guarded with love and honour.
As the Queen passed through the gates, she paused. "Some," she said, "have fallen from being Princes in this land to be prisoners in this place; I am raised from being prisoner in this place to be Prince in this land. That was the work of God's justice; this a work of His mercy. So must I be myself to God thankful, and to man merciful."
There were great rejoicings when Elizabeth was crowned,
bonfires blazed and
Elizabeth began her reign at a very difficult time. The quarrels between the old and new religions and the cruelties of Mary had divided the people into two parties. Each party hoped that the new Queen would favour them. But Elizabeth did not mean to make any of her subjects suffer death because of what they felt it right to believe. During her reign people were neither tortured nor killed in the name of religion.
Elizabeth was clever, but she liked to think that she was beautiful too. She loved fine clothes and she dressed in the most splendid silks and satins and jewels. Her courtiers told her that she was the most beautiful lady on earth. This was not true. Elizabeth was not really very beautiful, but she was vain and liked to hear people say that she was lovely. And her people loved her so much that very likely they really thought that she was beautiful.
Whenever it was known that the Queen would pass through the streets, the people would gather to see her. They would stand for hours waiting until she came. When she at last appeared, they would wave their hats and shout, "God save your Majesty! God save your Majesty!"
Then the Queen would stop and, looking round on them, would say, "God bless you all, my good people." The people would again cry, "God save your Majesty!" and the Queen would smile and reply, "You may well have a greater Prince, but you will never have a more loving Prince."
Then when she had gone again the people would go to their homes talking of what a splendid Queen she was, and of how they would die for Good Queen Bess, as they loved to call her.
O UT of the multitude of sights, which twelve sights this spring shall I urge you to see? Why the twelve, of course, that I always look for most eagerly. And the first of these, I think, is the bluebird.
"Have you seen a bluebird yet?" some friend will ask me, as March comes on. Or it will be, "I have seen my first bluebird!" as if seeing a first bluebird were something very wonderful and important. And so it is; for the sight of the first March bluebird is the last sight of winter and the first sight of spring. The brown of the fertile earth is on its breast, the blue of the summer sky is on its back, and in its voice is the clearest, sweetest of all invitations to come out of doors.
Where has he spent the winter? Look it up. What has brought him back so early? Guess at it. What does he say as he calls to you? Listen. What has John Burroughs written about him? Look it up and read.
You must see the skunk-cabbage abloom in the swamp. You need not pick it and carry it home for the table—just see it. But be sure you see it. Get down and open the big purple-streaked spathe, as it spears the cold mud, and look at the "spadix" covered with its tiny but perfect flowers. Now wait a minute. The woods are still bare; ice may still be found on the northern slopes, while here before you, like a wedge splitting the frozen soil, like a spear cleaving through the earth from the other, the summer, side of the world, is this broad blade of life letting up almost the first cluster of the new spring's flowers. Wait a moment longer and you may hear your first bumblebee, as he comes humming at the door of the cabbage for a taste of new honey and pollen.
Among the other early signs of spring, you should see a flock of red-winged blackbirds! And what a sight they are upon a snow-covered field! For often after their return it will snow again, when the brilliant, shining birds in black with their red epaulets make one of the most striking sights of the season.
Another bird event that you should witness is the arrival of the migrating warblers. You will be out one of these early May days when there will be a stirring of small birds in the bushes at your side, in the tall trees over your head—everywhere! It is the warblers. You are in the tide of the tiny migrants—yellow warblers, pine warblers, myrtle warblers, black-throated green warblers—some of them on their way from South America to Labrador. You must be in the woods and see them as they come.
You should see the "spice-bush" (wild allspice or fever-bush or Benjamin-bush) in bloom in the damp March woods. And, besides that, you should see with your own eyes under some deep, dark forest trees the blue hepatica and on some bushy hillside the pink arbutus. (For fear I forget to tell you in the chapter of things to do, let me now say that you should take a day this spring and go "may-flowering.")
There are four nests that you should see this spring: a hummingbird's nest, saddled upon the horizontal limb of some fruit or forest tree, and looking more like a wart on the limb than a nest; secondly, the nest, eggs rather, of a turtle buried in the soft sand along the margin of a pond or out in some cultivated field; thirdly, the nest of a sunfish (pumpkin-seed) in the shallow water close up along the sandy shore of the pond; and fourthly, the nest of the red squirrel, made of fine stripped cedar bark, away up in the top of some tall pine tree!
I mean by this that there are many other interesting nest-builders besides the birds. Of all the difficult nests to find, the hummingbird's is the most difficult. When you find one, please write to me about it.
You should see a "spring peeper," the tiny Pickering's frog—if you can. The marsh and the meadows will be vocal with them, but one of the hardest things that you will try to do this spring will be to see the shrill little piper, as he plays his bagpipe in the rushes at your very feet. But hunt until you do see him. It will sharpen your eyes and steady your patience for finding other things.
You should see the sun come up on a May morning. The dawn is always a wonderful sight, but never at other times attended with quite the glory, with quite the music, with quite the sweet fragrance, with quite the wonder of a morning in May. Don't fail to see it. Don't fail to rise with it. You will feel as if you had wings—something better even than wings.
You should see a farmer ploughing in a large field—the long straight furrows of brown earth; the blackbirds following behind after worms; the rip of the ploughshare; the roll of the soil from the smooth mould-board—the wealth of it all. For in just such fields is the wealth of the world, and the health of it, too. Don't miss the sight of the ploughing.
Go again to the field, three weeks later, and see it all green with sprouting corn, or oats, or one of a score of crops. Then—but in The Fall of the Year I ask you to go once more and see that field all covered with shocks of ripened corn, shocks that are pitched up and down its long rows of corn-butts like a vast village of Indian tepees, each tepee full of golden corn.
You should see, hanging from a hole in some old apple tree, a long thin snake-skin! It is the latch-string of the great crested fly-catcher.
Now why does this bird always use a snake-skin in his nest? and why does he usually leave it hanging loose outside the hole? Questions, these, for you to think about. And if you will look sharp, you will see in even the commonest things questions enough to keep you thinking as long as you live.
You should see a dandelion. A dandelion? Yes, a dandelion, "fringing the dusty road with harmless gold." But that almost requires four eyes—two to see the dandelion and two more to see the gold—the two eyes in your head, and the two in your imagination. Do you really know how to see anything? Most persons have eyes, but only a few really see. This is because they cannot look hard and steadily at anything. The first great help to real seeing is to go into the woods knowing what you hope to see—seeing it in your eye, as we say, before you see it in the out-of-doors. No one would ever see a tree-toad on a mossy tree or a whip-poor-will among the fallen leaves who did not have tree-toads and whip-poor-wills in mind. Then, secondly, look at the thing hard until you see in it something peculiar, something different from anything like it that you ever saw before. Don't dream in the woods; don't expect the flowers to tell you their names or the wild things to come up and ask you to wait while they perform for you.
WEEK 17 |
"C OTTON, the most important of the materials used for our woven fabrics, is furnished by a semi-tropical plant called the cotton plant. It is an herb or even a shrub from one to two meters high, and its large yellow flowers are followed by an abundant fruitage of bolls, each as large as an egg, filled with a silky flock, sometimes brilliantly white, sometimes a pale yellowish shade, according to the kind of cotton. In the middle of this flock are the seeds."
(a) Cotton Boll
"It seems to me I have seen flock of that kind fall in flakes in the spring from the top of poplars and willows," said Claire.
"The comparison is very good. Willows and poplars have for their fruit tiny little long and pointed bolls three or four time as large as a pin's head. In the month of May these bolls are ripe. They open and set free a very fine white down, in the middle of which are the seeds. If the air is calm, this down piles up at the foot of the tree in a bed of cotton wool, as white as snow; but at the least breath of wind the flakes are borne long distances, carrying with them the seeds, which thus find unoccupied places where they can germinate and become trees. Many other seeds are provided with soft aigrettes, silky plumes, which keep them up in the air a long time and permit them distant journeys in order to disseminate the plant. For example, who is not familiar with the seeds of thistles and dandelions, those beautiful silky plumed seeds that you take pleasure in blowing into the air?"
"Can the flock of poplar bolls be put to the same use as cotton?" Jules asked.
"By no means. There is too little of it, and it would be too
difficult to gather. Besides, it is so short it might not be
possible to spin it. But if we ourselves cannot make use of
it, others find it very useful. This flock is the little
birds' cotton; many gather it to line their nests. The
goldfinch, among others, is one of the cleverest of the
clever. Its house of cotton is a masterpiece of elegance and
solidity. In the fork of several little branches, with the
cottony flock of the willow and poplar, with bits of wool
that hedge thorns pull out from sheep as they pass, with the
plumy aigrettes of thistle seeds, it makes for its young a
"To build their nests, birds find materials near at hand;
they only have to set to work. When
spring comes, the
goldfinch does not have to think of the materials for its
nest; it is sure that the
Picking Cotton by Hand
"At maturity the cotton bolls open wide, and their flock bursts out in soft flakes that are gathered by hand, boll by boll. The flock, well dried in the sun on screens, is beaten with flails or, better, submitted to the action of certain machines. It is thus freed from all seeds and husks. Without any other preparation, cotton comes to us in large bales to be converted into fabrics in our manufactories. The countries that furnish the most of it are India, Egypt, Brazil, and, above all, the United States of North America.
"In a single year the European manufactories work up nearly
eight hundred million kilograms of cotton. This enormous
weight is not too much, for the whole world clothes itself
with the precious flock, turned into print, percale, calico.
Thus human activity has no greater field than the cotton
trade. How many workmen, how many delicate operations,
long voyages, all for a simple piece of print costing a few
centimes! A handful of cotton is gathered, we will suppose,
two or three thousand leagues from here. This cotton crosses
the ocean, goes a quarter round the globe, and comes to
France or England to be manufactured. Then it is spun,
woven, ornamented with colored designs, and, converted into
print, crosses the seas again, to go perhaps to the other
end of the world to serve as
"To accomplish this wonder two industrial powers intervene: work on a large scale and the aid of machinery. You have seen how Ambroisine spins wool on the wheel. The carded wool is first divided into long locks. One of these locks is applied to a hook which turns rapidly. The hook seizes the wool and in its rotation twists the fibers into one thread, which lengthens little by little at the expense of the lock held and regulated by the fingers. When the thread attains a certain length, Mother Ambroisine rolls it on the spindle by a suitable movement of the wheel; then she continues twisting the wool again.
"Strictly speaking, cotton could be spun in the same way; but, however clever Mother Ambroisine may be, the fabrics made from the thread of her wheel would cost an enormous price on account of the time spent. What, then, is to be done? A machine is made to spin the cotton. In rooms larger than the biggest church are placed, by hundreds of thousands, the nicely adjusted machines proper for spinning, with hooks, spindles, and bobbins. And all turn at the same time with a precision and rapidity that defy watching. The work goes on with noise enough to deafen you. The flock of cotton is seized by thousands and thousands of hooks; the endless threads come and go from one bobbin to another, and roll themselves on the spindles. In a few hours a mountain of cotton is converted into thread, the length of which would go several times around the whole earth. What have they spent for work which would have exhausted the strength of an army of spinners as clever as Mother Ambroisine? Some shovelfuls of coal to heat the water, the steam of which starts the machine that sets everything going. Weaving, the printing of the colored designs,—in short, the various operations that the flock undergoes to become cloth are executed by means quite as expeditious, quite as economical. And it is thus that the planter, broker, mariner, spinner, weaver, dyer, and merchant can all have their share in the handful of cotton flock which has become a piece of calico and is sold for four sous."
WHEN Champlain died he left the power of the French firmly planted in Canada, which was fast becoming a famous trading post for the fur traders.
Besides the fur traders and those looking simply for
adventure, there was another class of Frenchmen who
came to Canada as the years went by. These were the
hardest workers and bravest adventurers of all. They
were the Jesuits, a society of French Roman Catholics
who had sworn to do all they could to convert the world
to the Catholic religion. Brave and fearless, they were
eager to go into the wilds of America and make the
Indians a great Catholic nation. Soon they pushed
their way along the borders of the
At one of these missions, on Lake Superior, was a young Jesuit priest named Jacques Marquette, or Father Marquette, as he was called. Father Marquette loved the Indians and tried very hard to make them Christians. He learned to speak six different Indian languages.
Every year the Illinois Indians used to come to the Jesuit settlement, and from them Father Marquette heard about a great river which they had to cross on their way. This river they called the "Mesipi." Father Marquette was very anxious to find this river, which he thought must flow into the Gulf of California.
At this time the Governor of Canada was Count
Frontenac. Through the Indians he, too, heard about the
great river; and he resolved to send some one to find
it and to explore it for France. For this expedition he
selected a brave young man by the name of
In May, 1673, they started. They coasted along the
shores of Lake Michigan until they came to a village of
the Menomonies, or
But the white men were not frightened. Marquette taught
the Indians a prayer and again set forth with his
companions. When they came to the head of
Joliet asked these Indians for guides to the Wisconsin River. These were readily given. The Fox became narrower and narrower as it wound through marshes of wild rice; and, but for the guides, the Frenchmen would surely have lost their way.
Finally they reached a place where the Fox and
Wisconsin rivers are only a mile and a half apart. They
carried their canoes across this distance and launched
them on the Wisconsin. They sailed down this peaceful
river, among islands covered with trees and tangled
grapevines until, on
As the canoes floated easily down the great river there was no sign of human life anywhere.
One day they found human footprints in the mud on the western bank, and a path leading off into the prairies. Joliet and Marquette left the canoes with their men and started out upon the path.
After walking six miles they saw an Indian village a
little way off. They stopped and prayed God to help
them, and then went on until they could hear the voices
of the Indians. Here they stood still and shouted. This
caused great excitement in the village, and all the
inhabitants turned out. Four of the warriors came
forward with great dignity, holding up two calumets or
You may judge how glad he was when he found that these Indians were Illinois, members of the very tribe that had first told him of the great river, and that had often invited him to come and teach them.
After the peace pipes had been smoked, they went together to the village. The chief met them at the door of a large wigwam. He held up both hands to his eyes as if to shield them from a great light. "Frenchmen, how bright the sun shines when you come to visit us," he said. "Enter our wigwam in peace."
After once more smoking the peace pipe Marquette and Joliet were invited to go to another village to visit the great chief of all the Illinois.
Here Marquette spoke to the Indians in the Algonquin language and told them that he was a messenger of God to them. He told them also of Count Frontenac, the great Governor of Canada, and asked about the Mississippi and the tribes along its banks.
Then a great feast was served. After the feast was over buffalo robes were spread on the ground; and here Joliet and Marquette slept till morning, when the chief and six hundred of his men took them back to their canoes and bade them farewell as they went on their way.
Down the great river they paddled, past the mouth of the Illinois and past the wonderful rocks which at this point line the eastern shore. On one of the rocks were painted two monsters. These were Indian gods. The voyagers were so excited over the strange picture that they scarcely noticed where they were going. Suddenly they saw before them a great torrent of yellow mud rushing out into the peaceful blue water and sweeping along on its current branches and uprooted trees. The canoes were whirled like chips upon the angry waters. They had reached the mouth of the Missouri. In spite of the danger, the travelers got safely past.
In a few days more they reached the mouth of the river which the Indians called the Ohio, or "Beautiful River." After they had passed this, the weather grew warmer very rapidly, and the mosquitoes tormented them day and night.
As Joliet and Marquette neared the mouth of the Arkansas River, they saw a group of wigwams on the western bank. The inhabitants stood waving their hatchets and yelling the war whoop. Boat loads of them came out on both sides of the white men, so that they could go neither forward nor backward, while a swarm of daring young braves waded out into the river. The white men were terribly frightened and called upon the saints to protect them, Marquette holding up his peace pipe all the while. The young warriors paid no attention to this; but when the older ones saw it, they quieted the young braves and told the Frenchmen to come on shore. This they did, and were treated kindly.
Soon after this Marquette and Joliet began to consider what they should do next. They had gone far enough to make sure that the Mississippi flowed, not into the Gulf of California, but into the Gulf of Mexico. If they went on to the mouth of the river they might be killed by savage Indians, or by Spaniards. So they decided to go back to Canada and report what they had found.
The homeward journey through the July heat was very
trying; and Father Marquette, who was never very
strong, fell sick on the way. When the travelers came
to the Illinois River they entered its mouth and made
their way up its quiet waters, between shady forests,
and grassy plains abounding in deer and buffalo. From
one of the Indian villages along the shore, a young
chief and his warriors acted as guides to Lake
Michigan. Coasting along the edge of this lake, the
party once more reached
Joliet went on to Quebec to tell Count Frontenac of all they had discovered. But Marquette was worn out by the hardships of the journey and stayed at Green Bay to rest.
The next fall he went to the home of the Illinois Indians. Here he preached to the savages until he felt that he was dying. Then he asked his companions to take him back to Green Bay.
But he did not live to reach Green Bay. His companions cared for him tenderly to the last and buried him on the shore of Lake Michigan.
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.
WEEK 17 |
D UKE WILLIAM of the Long Sword was buried the next morning in high pomp and state, with many a prayer and psalm chanted over his grave.
When this was over, little Richard, who had all the time stood or knelt nearest the corpse, in one dull heavy dream of wonder and sorrow, was led back to the palace, and there his long, heavy, black garments were taken off, and he was dressed in his short scarlet tunic, his hair was carefully arranged, and then he came down again into the hall, where there was a great assembly of Barons, some in armour, some in long furred gowns, who had all been attending his father's burial. Richard, as he was desired by Sir Eric de Centeville, took off his cap, and bowed low in reply to the reverences with which they all greeted his entrance, and he then slowly crossed the hall, and descended the steps from the door, while they formed into a procession behind him, according to their ranks— the Duke of Brittany first, and then all the rest, down to the poorest knight who held his manor immediately from the Duke of Normandy.
Thus, they proceeded, in slow and solemn order, till they came to the church of our Lady. The clergy were there already, ranged in ranks on each side of the Choir; and the Bishops, in their mitres and rich robes, each with his pastoral staff in his hand, were standing round the Altar. As the little Duke entered, there arose from all the voices in the Chancel the full, loud, clear chant of Te Deum Laudamus, echoing among the dark vaults of the roof. To that sound, Richard walked up the Choir, to a large, heavy, crossed-legged, carved chair, raised on two steps, just before the steps of the Altar began, and there he stood, Bernard de Harcourt and Eric de Centeville on each side of him, and all his other vassals in due order, in the Choir.
After the beautiful chant of the hymn was ended, the service for the Holy Communion began. When the time came for the offering, each noble gave gold or silver; and, lastly, Rainulf of Ferrieres came up to the step of the Altar with a cushion, on which was placed a circlet of gold, the ducal coronet; and another Baron, following him closely, carried a long, heavy sword, with a cross handle. The Archbishop of Rouen received both coronet and sword, and laid them on the Altar. Then the service proceeded. At that time the rite of Confirmation was administered in infancy, and Richard, who had been confirmed by his godfather, the Archbishop of Rouen, immediately after his baptism, knelt in solemn awe to receive the other Holy Sacrament from his hands, as soon as all the clergy had communicated.
When the administration was over, Richard was led forward to the step of the Altar by Count Bernard, and Sir Eric, and the Archbishop, laying one hand upon both his, as he held them clasped together, demanded of him, in the name of God, and of the people of Normandy, whether he would be their good and true ruler, guard them from their foes, maintain truth, punish iniquity, and protect the Church.
"I will!" answered Richard's young, trembling voice, "So help me God!" and he knelt, and kissed the book of the Holy Gospels, which the Archbishop offered him.
It was a great and awful oath, and he dreaded to think that he had taken it. He still knelt, put both hands over his face, and whispered, "O God, my Father, help me to keep it."
The Archbishop waited till he rose, and then, turning him with his face to the people, said, "Richard, by the grace of God, I invest thee with the ducal mantle of Normandy!"
Two of the Bishops then hung round his shoulders a crimson velvet mantle, furred with ermine, which, made as it was for a grown man, hung heavily on the poor child's shoulders, and lay in heaps on the ground. The Archbishop then set the golden coronet on his long, flowing hair, where it hung so loosely on the little head, that Sir Eric was obliged to put his hand to it to hold it safe; and, lastly, the long, straight, two-handed sword was brought and placed in his hand, with another solemn bidding to use it ever in maintaining the right. It should have been girded to his side, but the great sword was so much taller than the little Duke, that, as it stood upright by him, he was obliged to raise his arm to put it round the handle.
He then had to return to his throne, which was not done without some difficulty, encumbered as he was, but Osmond held up the train of his mantle, Sir Eric kept the coronet on his head, and he himself held fast and lovingly the sword, though the Count of Harcourt offered to carry it for him. He was lifted up to his throne, and then came the paying him homage; Alan, Duke of Brittany, was the first to kneel before him, and with his hand between those of the Duke, he swore to be his man, to obey him, and pay him feudal service for his dukedom of Brittany. In return, Richard swore to be his good Lord, and to protect him from all his foes. Then followed Bernard the Dane, and many another, each repeating the same formulary, as their large rugged hands were clasped within those little soft fingers. Many a kind and loving eye was bent in compassion on the orphan child; many a strong voice faltered with earnestness as it pronounced the vow, and many a brave, stalwart heart heaved with grief for the murdered father, and tears flowed down the war-worn cheeks which had met the fiercest storms of the northern ocean, as they bent before the young fatherless boy, whom they loved for the sake of his conquering grandfather, and his brave and pious father. Few Normans were there whose hearts did not glow at the touch of those small hands, with a love almost of a parent, for their young Duke.
The ceremony of receiving homage lasted long and Richard, though interested and touched at first, grew very weary; the crown and mantle were so heavy, the faces succeeded each other like figures in an endless dream, and the constant repetition of the same words was very tedious. He grew sleepy, he longed to jump up, to lean to the right or left, or to speak something besides that regular form. He gave one great yawn, but it brought him such a frown from the stern face of Bernard, as quite to wake him for a few minutes, and make him sit upright, and receive the next vassal with as much attention as he had shown the first, but he looked imploringly at Sir Eric, as if to ask if it ever would be over. At last, far down among the Barons, came one at whose sight Richard revived a little. It was a boy only a few years older than himself, perhaps about ten, with a pleasant brown face, black hair, and quick black eyes which glanced, with a look between friendliness and respect, up into the little Duke's gazing face. Richard listened eagerly for his name, and was refreshed at the sound of the boyish voice which pronounced, "I, Alberic de Montemar, am thy liegeman and vassal for my castle and barony of Montemar sur Epte."
When Alberic moved away, Richard followed him with his eye as far as he could to his place in the Cathedral, and was taken by surprise when he found the next Baron kneeling before him.
The ceremony of homage came to an end at last, and Richard would fain have run all the way to the palace to shake off his weariness, but he was obliged to head the procession again; and even when he reached the castle hall his toils were not over, for there was a great state banquet spread out, and he had to sit in the high chair where he remembered climbing on his father's knee last Christmas-day, all the time that the Barons feasted round, and held grave converse. Richard's best comfort all this time was in watching Osmond de Centeville and Alberic de Montemar, who, with the other youths who were not yet knighted, were waiting on those who sat at the table. At last he grew so very weary, that he fell fast asleep in the corner of his chair, and did not wake till he was startled by the rough voice of Bernard de Harcourt, calling him to rouse up, and bid the Duke of Brittany farewell.
"Poor child!" said Duke Alan, as Richard rose up, startled, "he is over-wearied with this day's work. Take care of him, Count Bernard; thou a kindly nurse, but a rough one for such a babe. Ha! my young Lord, your colour mantles at being called a babe! I crave your pardon, for you are a fine spirit. And hark you, Lord Richard of Normandy, I have little cause to love your race, and little right, I trow, had King Charles the Simple to call us free Bretons liegemen to a race of plundering Northern pirates. To Duke Rollo's might, my father never gave his homage; nay, nor did I yield it for all Duke William's long sword, but I did pay it to his generosity and forbearance, and now I grant it to thy weakness and to his noble memory. I doubt not that the recreant Frank, Louis, whom he restored to his throne, will strive to profit by thy youth and helplessness, and should that be, remember that thou hast no surer friend than Alan of Brittany. Fare thee well, my young Duke."
"Farewell, Sir," said Richard, willingly giving his hand to be shaken by his kind vassal, and watching him as Sir Eric attended him from the hall.
"Fair words, but I trust not the Breton," muttered Bernard; "hatred is deeply ingrained in them."
"He should know what the Frank King is made of," said Rainulf de Ferrieres; "he was bred up with him in the days that they were both exiles at the court of King Ethelstane of England."
"Ay, and thanks to Duke William that either Louis or Alan are not exiles still. Now we shall see whose gratitude is worth most, the Frank's or the Breton's. I suspect the Norman valour will be the best to trust to."
"Yes, and how will Norman valour prosper without treasure? Who knows what gold is in the Duke's coffers?"
There was some consultation here in a low voice, and the next thing Richard heard distinctly was, that one of the Nobles held up a silver chain and key,
saying that they had been found on the Duke's neck, and that he had kept them, thinking that they doubtless led to something of importance.
"Oh, yes!" said Richard, eagerly, "I know it. He told me it was the key to his greatest treasure."
The Normans heard this with great interest, and it was resolved that several of the most trusted persons, among whom were the Archbishop of Rouen, Abbot Martin of Jumieges, and the Count of Harcourt, should go immediately in search of this precious hoard. Richard accompanied them up the narrow rough stone stairs, to the large dark apartment, where his father had slept. Though a Prince's chamber, it had little furniture; a low uncurtained bed, a Cross on a ledge near its head, a rude table, a few chairs, and two large chests, were all it contained. Harcourt tried the lid of one of the chests: it opened, and proved to be full of wearing apparel; he went to the other, which was smaller, much more carved, and ornamented with very handsome iron-work. It was locked, and putting in the key, it fitted, the lock turned, and the chest was opened. The Normans pressed eagerly to see their Duke's greatest treasure.
It was a robe of serge, and a pair of sandals, such as were worn in the Abbey of Jumieges.
"Ha! is this all? What didst say, child?" cried Bernard the Dane, hastily.
"He told me it was his greatest treasure!" repeated Richard.
"And it was!" said Abbot Martin.
Then the good Abbot told them the history, part of which was already known to some of them. About five or six years before, Duke William had been hunting in the forest of Jumieges, when he had suddenly come on the ruins of the Abbey, which had been wasted thirty or forty years previously by the Sea-King, Hasting. Two old monks, of the original brotherhood, still survived, and came forth to greet the Duke, and offer him their hospitality.
"Ay!" said Bernard, "well do I remember their bread; we asked if it was made of fir-bark, like that of our brethren of Norway."
William, then an eager, thoughtless young man, turned with disgust from this wretched fare, and throwing the old men some gold, galloped on to enjoy his hunting. In the course of the sport, he was left alone, and encountered a wild boar, which threw him down, trampled on him, and left him stretched senseless on the ground, severely injured. His companions coming up, carried him, as the nearest place of shelter, to the ruins of Jumieges, where the two old monks gladly received him in the remaining portion of their house. As soon as he recovered his senses, he earnestly asked their pardon for his pride, and the scorn he had shown to the poverty and patient suffering which he should have reverenced.
William had always been a man who chose the good and refused the evil, but this accident, and the long illness that followed it, made him far more thoughtful and serious than he had ever been before; he made preparing for death and eternity his first object, and thought less of his worldly affairs, his wars, and his ducal state. He rebuilt the old Abbey, endowed it richly, and sent for Martin himself from France, to become the Abbot; he delighted in nothing so much as praying there, conversing with the Abbot, and hearing him read holy books; and he felt his temporal affairs, and the state and splendour of his rank, so great a temptation, that he had one day come to the Abbot, and entreated to be allowed to lay them aside, and become a brother of the order. But Martin had refused to receive his vows. He had told him that he had no right to neglect or forsake the duties of the station which God had appointed him; that it would be a sin to leave the post which had been given him to defend; and that the way marked out for him to serve God was by doing justice among his people, and using his power to defend the right. Not till he had done his allotted work, and his son was old enough to take his place as ruler of the Normans, might he cease from his active duties, quit the turmoil of the world, and seek the repose of the cloister. It was in this hope of peaceful retirement, that William had delighted to treasure up the humble garments that he hoped one day to wear in peace and holiness.
"And oh! my noble Duke!" exclaimed Abbot Martin, bursting into tears, as he finished his narration, "the Lord hath been very gracious unto thee! He has taken thee home to thy rest, long before thou didst dare to hope for it."
Slowly, and with subdued feelings, the Norman Barons left the chamber; Richard, whom they seemed to have almost forgotten, wandered to the stairs, to find his way to the room where he had slept last night. He had not made many steps before he heard Osmond's voice say, "Here, my Lord;" he looked up, saw a white cap at a doorway a little above him, he bounded up and flew into Dame Astrida's outstretched arms.
How glad he was to sit in her lap, and lay his wearied head on her bosom, while, with a worn-out voice, he exclaimed, "Oh, Fru Astrida! I am very, very tired of being Duke of Normandy!"
An ape one day sat watching a Carpenter who was splitting a piece of wood with two wedges. First the Carpenter drove the smaller wedge into the crack, so as to keep it open, and then when the crack was wide enough, he hammered in the larger wedge and pulled the first one out. At noon the Carpenter went home to dinner, and the Ape now thought that he would try his hand at splitting boards. As he took his seat on the Carpenter's bench, his long tail slipped into the crack in the board. The Ape did not notice this, but set to work. The first wedge he drove in exactly as he had seen the Carpenter do. But then he forgot, and pulled it out before he had driven in the second one. The two sides of the board instantly sprang together, and caught the Ape's tail between them. The poor prisoner had now nothing to do but sit there groaning with pain until the Carpenter's return, when he was given a sound beating and told that he had suffered justly for meddling with other people's business.
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu,
Pibroch of Donuil,
Wake thy wild voice anew,
Summon Clan Conuil.
Come away, come away,
Hark to the summons!
Come in your war-array,
Gentles and commons.
Come from deep glen, and
From mountain so rocky,
The war-pipe and pennon
Are at Inverlochy.
Come every hill-plaid, and
True heart that wears one,
Come every steel blade, and
Strong hand that bears one.
Leave untended the herd,
The flock without shelter;
Leave the corpse uninterr'd,
The bride at the altar;
Leave the deer, leave the steer,
Leave nets and barges:
Come with your fighting gear,
Broadswords and targes.
Come as the winds come, when
Forests are rended;
Come as the waves come, when
Navies are stranded:
Faster come, faster come,
Faster and faster,
Chief, vassal, page, and groom,
Tenant and master.
Fast they come, fast they come;
See how they gather!
Wide waves the eagle plume
Blended with heather,
Cast your plaids, draw your blades,
Forward each man set!
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu
Knell for the onset!
WEEK 17 |
"Few, few were they whose swords of old
Won the fair land in which we dwell,
But we are many, we who hold
The grim resolve to guard it well."
"I T was the volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America that set the world on fire."
So said the great English minister Horace Walpole. Let us see why that volley was fired.
While the English and French were fighting for the mastery of India away in the East, a great struggle was going on between the same two peoples—New England and New France—for the mastery of North America in the Far West. Clive had fought till the English flag waved over the cities of Madras and Calcutta. Now Wolfe was to fight in America till the English flag waved from the capitals of Quebec and Montreal.
At present the lilies of France floated over these towns. They had floated there since the early days when the first Frenchman—Jacques Cartier broke the solitude of this distant wilderness. Canada was the seat of French power in North America. French Canadian life centred round Quebec and Montreal, on the banks of the river St Lawrence. Here, in the castle of St Louis, upon the famous rock of Quebec, sat the all-powerful governor of Louis XV., King of France. A new governor had recently been sent out—a man who viewed his country's prospects in America with the keenest anxiety. He knew full well the rivalry that existed between France and England in that land of the Far West. The English had already viewed with distrust the long arms stretched out by France over the fur-bearing regions around Hudson's Bay.
But it was in the south that the coming storm was now brewing; it was to the south that the French governor was looking with those dreams of empire that inspired Dupleix to conquer Southern India.
From the Canadian lakes southwards stretched a dense "ocean of foliage," broken only by the white gleam of the broad rivers Ohio and Mississippi. The beautiful valleys formed by these large rivers reached to the French settlement of New Orleans, on the Gulf of Mexico. At distant intervals, faint wreaths of smoke marked an Indian village: otherwise all was solitude. The country was unclaimed, for the most part, by either French or English.
Now these two rivers, the Ohio and Mississippi, practically cut North America in two. A cork dropped into the small stream that rises near Lake Erie, not far from the Falls of Niagara, would flow out through the mouth of the Mississippi at New Orleans into the Gulf of Mexico.
On the sea side of these rivers lay the thirteen English colonies, fronting the broad Atlantic Ocean. These colonies were under no one local governor: each was independent, the only tie holding them together being their allegiance to the mother country. Each colony had started life on its own account. There were the colonies founded by the Pilgrim Fathers, by the Puritans, by the Quakers. There were colonies of English, Irish, and Scotch, and each colony had its own governor. Thus the English possessions at this time consisted of a long straggling line of little quarrelling Commonwealths, resting along the sea-coast between the Atlantic and the Ohio river and Alleghany mountains. Both France and England now claimed the Ohio valley, and there was little doubt that some day their respective claims must be settled by the sword. No treaty could touch such debatable ground; no one could adjust the undefined boundary in this far-distant land.
One day, in the summer of 1749, the French governor started a small expedition to explore the country about the river Ohio. It was the first of many such. Slowly but steadily the French pushed farther and farther down the valley of the Ohio. They built fort after fort, until suddenly the governor of the English colony of Virginia became aware of what was happening.
He selected a young Virginian, George Washington, to go and protest against such encroachment. He was to march to the last new French fort, with a note from his English governor, expressing a hope that the French would at once retire from British territory, and so maintain the harmony at present existing between the two countries.
It was late autumn; but George Washington pushed manfully through the dripping forests with his little band of men, till he reached the fort. He delivered his message, and started home with the first formal note of defiance from France to England. After a three months' absence and numerous hairbreadth escapes, young Washington rode into Virginia with his ominous message from the French.
There was danger ahead. The French were pushing their dreams of empire too far. The Governor of Virginia exerted himself more vigorously. He too would build forts on the Ohio. In the early spring of 1754, a little band of Virginians was sent to build a fort in a spot where two large streams meet to form the river Ohio, a spot to become famous later as the site of the city of Pittsburg. But the French were there already, and they soon tumbled the forty Virginians back again into their English settlements. Washington was now sent with 150 men to the French fort on the Ohio. He was marching on through the pathless wilderness, when news reached him that the French were advancing to clear the English out of the country.
Taking forty men, Washington groped his way through a pitch-dark soaking night to the quarters of a friendly Indian chief. The news he found was but too true. There was not a moment to be lost. At daybreak he stole forth and found the French lying in a ravine. He gave orders to fire. A volley was given by his men and returned by the French. Their commander was slain, and the French were all taken prisoners.
And so the war began.
"It was," as Horace Walpole had said—"It was the volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America that set the world on fire."
OW old Æsir's feast was over and all the Æsir and the Vanir made ready for their return to Asgard. Two only went on another way—Odin, the Eldest of the Gods, and Loki the Mischievous.
Loki and Odin laid aside all that they had kept of the divine power and the divine strength. They were going into the World of Men, and they would be as men merely. Together they went through Midgard, mingling with men of all sorts, kings and farmers, outlaws and true men, warriors and householders, thralls and councillors, courteous men and men who were ill-mannered. One day they came to the bank of a mighty river and there they rested, listening to the beat of iron upon iron in a place near by.
Presently, on a rock in the middle of the river, they saw an otter come. The otter went into the water and came back to the rock with a catch of salmon. He devoured it there. Then Odin saw Loki do a senseless and an evil thing. Taking up a great stone he flung it at the otter. The stone struck the beast on the skull and knocked him over dead.
"Loki, Loki, why hast thou done a thing so senseless and so evil?" Odin said. Loki only laughed. He swam across the water and came back with the creature of the river. "Why didst thou take the life of the beast?" Odin said.
"The mischief in me made me do it," said Loki. He drew out his knife and ripping the otter up he began to flay him. When the skin was off the beast he folded it up and stuck it in his belt. Then Odin and he left that place by the river.
They came to a house with two smithies beside it, and from the smithies came the sound of iron beating upon iron. They went within the house and they asked that they might eat there and rest themselves.
An old man who was cooking fish over a fire pointed out a bench to them. "Rest there," said he, "and when the fish is cooked I will give you something good to eat. My son is a fine fisher and he brings me salmon of the best."
Odin and Loki sat on the bench and the old man went on with his cooking. "My name is Hreidmar," he said, "and I have two sons who work in the smithies without. I have a third son also. It is he who does the fishing for us. And who may ye be, O wayfaring men?"
Loki and Odin gave names to Hreidmar that were not the names by which they were known in Asgard or on Midgard. Hreidmar served fish to them and they ate. "And what adventures have ye met upon your travels?" Hreidmar asked. "Few folk come this way to tell me of happenings."
"I killed an otter with a cast of a stone," Loki said with a laugh. "You killed an otter!" Hreidmar cried. "Where did you kill one?"
"Where I killed him is of no import to you, old man," said Loki. "His skin is a good one, however. I have it at my belt." Hreidmar snatched the skin out of Loki's belt. As soon as he held the skin before his eyes he shrieked out, "Fafnir, Regin, my sons, come here and bring the thralls of your smithies. Come, come, come!"
"Why dost thou make such an outcry, old man?" said Odin.
"Ye have slain my son Otter," shrieked the old man. "This in my hands is the skin of my son."
As Hreidmar said this two young men bearing the forehammers of the smithies came in followed by the thralls. "Strike these men dead with your forehammers, O Fafnir, O Regin," their father cried. "Otter, who used to stay in the river, and whom I changed by enchantment into a river beast that he might fish for me, has been slain by these men."
"Peace," said Odin. "We have slain thy son, it would seem, but it was unwittingly that we did the deed. We will give a recompense for the death of thy son."
"What recompense will ye give?" said Hreidmar, looking at Odin with eyes that were small and sharp.
Then did Odin, the Eldest of the Gods, say a word that was unworthy of his wisdom and his power. He might have said, "I will bring thee a draught of Mimir's well water as a recompense for thy son's death." But instead of thinking of wisdom, Odin All-Father thought of gold. "Set a price on the life of thy son and we will pay that price in gold," he said.
"Maybe ye are great kings travelling through the world," Hreidmar said. "If ye are ye will have to find gold that will cover every hair upon the skin of him whom ye have killed."
Then did Odin, his mind being fixed upon the gold, think upon a certain treasure, a treasure that was guarded by a Dwarf. No other treasure in the nine worlds would be great enough to make the recompense that Hreidmar claimed. He thought upon this treasure and he thought on how it might be taken and yet he was ashamed of his thought.
"Dost thou, Loki, know of Andvari's hoard?" he said.
"I know of it," said Loki sharply, "and I know where it is hidden. Wilt thou, Odin, win leave for me to fetch Andvari's hoard?"
Odin spoke to Hreidmar. "I will stay with thee as a hostage," he said, "if thou wilt let this one go to fetch a treasure that will cover the otter's skin hair by hair."
"I will let this be done," said old Hreidmar with the sharp and cunning eyes. "Go now," said he to Loki. Then Loki went from the house.
NDVARI was a Dwarf who, in the early days, had gained for himself the greatest treasure in the nine worlds. So that he might guard this treasure unceasingly he changed himself into a fish—into a pike—and he swam in the water before the cave where the hoard was hidden.
All in Asgard knew of the Dwarf and of the hoard he guarded. And there was a thought amongst all that this hoard was not to be meddled with and that some evil was joined to it. But now Odin had given the word that it was to be taken from the Dwarf. Loki set out for Andvari's cave rejoicingly. He came to the pool before the cave and he watched for a sight of Andvari. Soon he saw the pike swimming cautiously before the cave.
He would have to catch the pike and hold him till the treasure was given for ransom. As he watched the pike became aware of him. Suddenly he flung himself forward in the water and went with speed down the stream.
Not with his hands and not with any hook and line could Loki catch that pike. How, then, could he take him? Only with a net that was woven by magic. Then Loki thought of where he might get such a net.
Ran, the wife of old Ægir, the Giant King of the Sea, had a net that was woven by magic. In it she took all that was wrecked on the sea. Loki thought of Ran's net and he turned and went back to Ægir's hall to ask for the Queen. But Ran was seldom in her husband's dwelling. She was now down by the rocks of the sea.
He found Ran, the cold Queen, standing in the flow of the sea, drawing out of the depths with the net that she held in her hands every piece of treasure that was washed that way. She had made a heap of the things she had drawn out of the sea, corals and amber, and bits of gold and silver, but still she was plying her net greedily.
"Thou knowst me, Æsir's wife," said Loki to her.
"I know thee, Loki," said Queen Ran.
"Lend me thy net," said Loki.
"That I will not do," said Queen Ran.
"Lend me thy net that I may catch Andvari the Dwarf who boasts that he has a greater treasure than ever thou wilt take out of the sea," said Loki.
The cold Queen of the sea ceased plying her net. She looked at Loki steadily. Yes, if he were going to catch Andvari she would lend her net to him. She hated all the Dwarfs because this one and that one had told her they had greater treasures than ever she would be mistress of. But especially she hated Andvari, the Dwarf who had the greatest treasure in the nine worlds.
"There is nothing more to gather here," she said, "and if thou wilt swear to bring me back my net by to‑morrow I shall lend it to you."
"I swear by the sparks of Muspelheim that I will bring thy net back to thee by to‑morrow, O Queen of Ægir," Loki cried. Then Ran put into his hands the Magic Net. Back then he went to where the Dwarf, transformed, was guarding his wondrous hoard.
ARK was the pool in which Andvari floated as a pike; dark it was, but to him it was all golden with the light of his wondrous treasure. For the sake of this hoard he had given up his companionship with the Dwarfs and his delight in making and shaping the things of their workmanship. For the sake of his hoard he had taken on himself the dumbness and deafness of a fish.
Now as he swam about before the cave he was aware again of a shadow above him. He slipped towards the shadow of the bank. Then as he turned round he saw a net sweeping towards him. He sank down in the water. But the Magic Net had spread out and he sank into its meshes.
Suddenly he was out of the water and was left gasping on the bank. He would have died had he not undone his transformation.
Soon he appeared as a Dwarf. "Andvari, you are caught; it is one of the Æsir who has taken you," he heard his captor say.
"Loki," he gasped.
"Thou art caught and thou shalt be held," Loki said to him. "It is the will of the Æsir that thou give up thy hoard to me."
"My hoard, my hoard!" the Dwarf shouted. "Never will I give up my hoard."
"I hold thee till thou givest it to me," said Loki.
"Unjust, unjust," shouted Andvari. "It is only thou, Loki, who art unjust. I will go to the throne of Odin and I will have Odin punish thee for striving to rob me of my treasure."
"Odin has sent me to fetch thy hoard to him," said Loki.
"Can it be that all the Æsir are unjust? Ah, yes. In the beginning of things they cheated the Giant who built the wall round their City. The Æsir are unjust."
Loki had Andvari in his power. And after the Dwarf had raged against him and defied him, he tormented him; at last, trembling with rage and with his face covered with tears, Andvari took Loki into his cavern, and, turning a rock aside, showed him the mass of gold and gems that was his hoard.
At once Loki began to gather into the Magic Net lumps and ingots and circlets of gold with gems that were rubies and sapphires and emeralds. He saw Andvari snatch at something on the heap, but he made no sign of marking it. At last all was gathered into the net, and Loki stood there ready to bear the Dwarf's hoard away.
"There is one thing more to be given," said Loki, "the ring that you, Andvari, snatched from the heap."
"I snatched nothing," said the Dwarf. But he shook with anger and his teeth gnashed together and froth came on his lips. "I snatched nothing from the heap."
But Loki pulled up his arm and there fell to the ground the ring that Andvari had hidden under his arm-pit.
It was the most precious thing in all the hoard. Had it been left with him Andvari would have thought that he still possessed a treasure, for this ring of itself could make gold. It was made out of gold that was refined of all impurities and it was engraven with a rune of power.
Loki took up this most precious ring and put it on his finger. Then the Dwarf screamed at him, turning his thumbs towards him in a curse:
The ring with the rune
Of power upon it:
May it weigh down your fortune,
And load you with evil,
You, Loki, and all
Who lust to possess
The ring I have cherished.
As Andvari uttered this curse Loki saw a figure rise up in the cave and move towards him. As this figure came near he knew who it was: Gulveig, a Giant woman who had once been in Asgard.
Far back in the early days, when the Gods had come to their holy hill and before Asgard was built, three women of the Giants had come amongst the Æsir. After the Three had been with them for a time, the lives of the Æsir changed. Then did they begin to value and to hoard the gold that they had played with. Then did they think of war. Odin hurled his spear amongst the messengers that came from the Vanir, and war came into the world.
The Three were driven out of Asgard. Peace was made with the Vanir. The Apples of Lasting Youth were grown in Asgard. The eagerness for gold was curbed. But never again were the Æsir as happy as they were before the women came to them from the Giants.
Gulveig was one of the Three who had blighted the early happiness of the Gods. And, behold, she was in the cave where Andvari had hoarded his treasure and with a smile upon her face she was advancing towards Loki.
"So, Loki," she said, "thou seest me again. And Odin who sent thee to this cave will see me again. Lo, Loki! I go to Odin to be thy messenger and to tell him that thou comest with Andvari's hoard."
And speaking so, and smiling into his face, Gulveig went out of the cave with swift and light steps. Loki drew the ends of the Magic Net together and gathering all the treasure in its meshes he, too, went out.
DIN, the Eldest of the Gods, stood leaning on his spear and looking at the skin of the otter that was spread out before him. One came into the dwelling swiftly. Odin looked and saw that she who had come in on such swift, glad feet was Gulveig who, once with her two companions, had troubled the happiness of the Gods. Odin raised his spear to cast it at her.
"Lay thy spear down, Odin," she said. "I dwelt for long in the Dwarf's cave. But thy word unloosed me, and the curse said over Andvari's ring has sent me here. Lay thy spear down, and look on me, O Eldest of the Gods.
"Thou didst cast me out of Asgard, but thy word has brought me to come back to thee. And if ye two, Odin and Loki, have bought yourselves free with gold and may enter Asgard, surely I, Gulveig, am free to enter Asgard also."
Odin lowered his spear, sighing deeply. "Surely it is so, Gulveig," he said. "I may not forbid thee to enter Asgard. Would I had thought of giving the man Kvasir's Mead or Mimir's well water rather than this gold as a recompense."
As they spoke Loki came into Hreidmar's dwelling. He laid on the floor the Magic Net. Old Hreidmar with his sharp eyes, and huge Fafnir, and lean and hungry-looking Regin came in to gaze on the gold and gems that shone through the meshes. They began to push each other away from gazing at the gold. Then Hreidmar cried out, "No one may be here but these two kings and I while we measure out the gold and gems and see whether the recompense be sufficient. Go without, go without, sons of mine."
Then Fafnir and Regin were forced to go out of the dwelling. They went out slowly, and Gulveig went with them, whispering to both.
With shaking hands old Hreidmar spread out the skin that once covered his son. He drew out the ears and the tail and the paws so that every single hair could be shown. For long he was on his hands and knees, his sharp eyes searching, searching over every line of the skin. And still on his knees he said, "Begin now, O kings, and cover with a gem or a piece of gold every hair on the skin that was my son's."
Odin stood leaning on his spear, watching the gold and gems being paid out. Loki took the gold—the ingots, and the lumps and the circlets; he took the gems—the rubies, and the emeralds and the sapphires, and he began to place them over each hair. Soon the middle of the skin was all covered. Then he put the gems and the gold over the paws and the tail. Soon the otter-skin was so glittering that one would think it could light up the world. And still Loki went on finding a place where a gem or a piece of gold might be put.
At last he stood up. Every gem and every piece of gold had been taken out of the net. And every hair on the otter's skin had been covered with a gem or a piece of gold.
And still old Hreidmar on his hands and knees was peering over the skin, searching, searching for a hair that was not covered. At last he lifted himself up on his knees. His mouth was open, but he was speechless. He touched Odin on the knees, and when Odin bent down he showed him a hair upon the lip that was left uncovered.
"What meanest thou?" Loki cried, turning upon the crouching man.
"Your ransom is not paid yet—look, here is still a hair uncovered. You may not go until every hair is covered with gold or a gem."
"Peace, old man," said Loki roughly. "All the Dwarf's hoard has been given thee."
"Ye may not go until every hair has been covered," Hreidmar said again.
"There is no more gold or gems," Loki answered.
"Then ye may not go," cried Hreidmar, springing up.
It was true. Odin and Loki might not leave that dwelling until the recompense they had agreed to was paid in full. Where now would the Æsir go for gold?
And then Odin saw the gleam of gold on Loki's finger: it was the ring he had forced from Andvari. "Thy finger-ring," said Odin. "Put thy finger-ring over the hair on the otter's skin."
Loki took off the ring that was engraved with the rune of power, and he put it on the lip-hair of the otter's skin. Then Hreidmar clapped his hands and screamed aloud. Huge Fafnir and lean and hungry-looking Regin came within, and Gulveig came behind them. They stood around the skin of the son and the brother that was all glittering with gold and gems. But they looked at each other more than they looked on the glittering mass, and very deadly were the looks that Fafnir and Regin cast upon their father and cast upon each other.
VER Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge, went all of the Æsir and the Vanir that had been at old Ægir's feast—Frey and Freya, Frigga, Iduna, and Sif; Tyr with his sword and Thor in his chariot drawn by the goats. Loki came behind them, and behind them all came Odin, the Father of the Gods. He went slowly with his head bent, for he knew that an unwelcome one was following—Gulveig, who once had been cast out of Asgard and whose return now the Gods might not gainsay.
Come, all you brave gallants, and listen a while,
With hey down, down, an a down,
That are in the bowers within;
For of Robin Hood, that archer good,
A song I intend for to sing.
Upon a time it chancëd so
Bold Robin in forrest did spy
A jolly butcher, with a bonny fine mare,
With his flesh to the market did hye.
'Good morrow, good fellow,' said jolly Robin,
'What food hast? tell unto me;
And thy trade to me tell, and where thou dost dwell,
For I like well thy company.'
The butcher he answered jolly Robin:
'No matter where I dwell;
For a butcher I am, and to Notingham
I am going, my flesh to sell.'
'What is the price of thy flesh?' said jolly Robin,
'Come tell it soon unto me;
And the price of thy mare, be she never so dear,
For a butcher fain would I be.'
'The price of my flesh,' the butcher repli'd,
'I soon will tell unto thee;
With my bonny mare, and they are not dear,
Four mark thou must give unto me.'
'Four mark I will give thee,' saith jolly Robin,
'Four mark it shall be thy fee;
Thy mony come count, and let me mount,
For a butcher I fain would be.'
Now Robin he is to Notingham gone,
His butcher's trade for to begin;
With good intent, to the sheriff he went,
And there he took up his inn.
When other butchers they opened their meat,
Bold Robin he then begun;
But how for to sell he knew not well,
For a butcher he was but young.
When other butchers no meat could sell,
Robin got both gold and fee;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Than others could do for three.
But when he sold his meat so fast,
No butcher by him could thrive;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Than others could do for five.
Which made the butchers of Notingham
To study as they did stand,
Saying, surely he was some prodigal,
That had sold his father's land.
The butchers they stepped to jolly Robin,
Acquainted with him for to be;
'Come, brother,' one said, 'we be all of one trade,
Come, will you go dine with me?'
'Accurst of his heart,' said jolly Robin,
'That a butcher doth deny;
I will go with you my brethren true,
And as fast as I can hie.'
But when to the sheriff's house they came,
To dinner they hied apace,
And Robin he the man must be
Before them all to say grace.
'Pray God bless us all,' said jolly Robin,
'And our meat within this place;
A cup of sack so good will nourish our blood,
And so I do end my grace.
'Come fill us more wine,' said jolly Robin,
'Let us merry be while we do stay;
For wine and good cheer, be it never so dear,
I vow I the reckning will pay.
'Come, brothers, be merry,' said jolly Robin,
'Let us drink, and never give ore;
For the shot I will pay, ere I go my way,
If it cost me five pounds and more.'
'This is a mad blade,' the butchers then said;
Saies the sheriff, 'He is some prodigal,
That some land has sold, for silver and gold,
And now he doth mean to spend all.
'Nast thou any horn-beasts,' the sheriff repli'd,
'Good fellow, to sell unto me?'
'Yes, that I have, good Master Sheriff,
I have hundreds two or three.
'And a hundred aker of good free land,
If you please it to see;
And I'le make you as good assurance of it
As ever my father made me.'
The sheriff he saddled a good palfrey,
With three hundred pound in gold,
And away he went with bold Robin Hood,
His horned beasts to behold.
Away then the sheriff and Robin did ride,
To the forrest of merry Sherwood;
Then the sheriff did say, 'God bless us this day
From a man they call Robin Hood!'
But when that a little further they came,
Bold Robin he chanced to spy
A hundred head of good red deer,
Come tripping the sheriff full nigh.
'How like you my hornd beasts, good Master Sheriff?
They be fat and fair for to see:'
'I tell thee, good fellow, I would I were gone,
For I like not thy company.'
Then Robin he set his horn to his mouth,
And blew but blasts three;
Then quickly anon there came Little John,
And all his company.
'What is your will?' then said little John,
'Good master come tell it to me;'
'I have brought hither the sheriff of Notingham,
This day to dine with thee.'
'He is welcome to me,' then said Little John,
'I hope he will honestly pay;
I know he has gold, if it be but well told,
Will serve us to drink a whole day.'
Then Robin took his mantle from his back,
And laid it upon the ground,
And out of the sheriffe's portmantle
He told three hundred pound.
The Robin he brought him thorow the wood,
And set him on his dapple gray:
'O have me commended to your wife at home;'
So Robin went laughing away.
WEEK 17 |
O NCE upon a time two brothers lived in a big house with their mother. The elder brother was a shrewd business man, but the younger brother, though willing, was kind and simple, and had no talent for sharp dealing. As a goldsmith, the elder brother had continued opportunities for getting the better of his customers, and as he was a skilful workman they admired the cunning of his art and never thought to question his assurances as to the purity of his gold.
But the younger brother had neither skill in devising of ornaments nor in mixing the gold with alloy, and moreover always answered the customers truthfully; so that one day the elder brother summoned him and told him to pack up and leave the house and seek his fortune elsewhere.
"You will do better as a farmer," said he. "I recommend you to grow nuts and peaches; or perhaps you could breed white eagles, or tend buffaloes. At any rate, I am not going to share my patrimony with you any longer, for while you are with me I shall never become rich."
Thus the younger brother was turned out of his home, with his few clothes as his sole start in life, while his brother remained in possession of their home and patrimony.
But the younger brother was destined to take with him the greatest treasure of all, for their mother was so grieved at the elder brother's behaviour, she packed up too and accompanied her younger son.
She had a little money and some household tools, and they travelled comfortably enough. Presently they came to a great mountain at the foot of which stood an empty hut which belonged to no one. It was not far from a town, and the boy took their axe and chopped some wood. This they bound into neat faggots which the boy carried into the town and sold. He returned with a store of black barley, apples, and figs; and some argol, as that was cheaper than wood for fuel.
Soon he had cut down the dead trees and bushes near their hut, and had to go increasingly farther in search of more. The mountain was very desolate and grand, and in his expeditions he never encountered a soul. In the town they had many tales to tell of the perils of the mountain, but because no one cared to climb the heights they were willing to pay good prices for his wood, and the boy was able to support his mother.
One day he ventured farther than he had yet climbed, and on the hillside came upon a life-sized lion carved out of stone.
"This must be the Guardian of the Mountain," thought the simple lad. There was abundance of dry wood near, and when he went down to the town he bought two large candles, and when he next went up the mountain sought out the lion, placed the candles on each side, and, kneeling before him, thanked him for the hut in which they lived and the protection of the mountain.
When the lion opened his mouth and spoke, the boy was neither afraid nor surprised, so exceedingly lifelike was the carving.
"What are you doing so far up the mountain?" asked the lion.
"Chopping wood," said the boy. "But I do not cut down the young trees; nor do I harm the older ones. I clear the thickets of the undergrowth and lop off the dead branches of the trees. My mother tells me I must first be a good forester, and second, a trader; for all the wealth in the world is not so valuable as a well-timbered mountain. She says the trees protect from drought and keep the streams full, and their roots hold the soil together. I beg for your patronage and assistance, and will readily observe any instructions you give me."
"Come again to-morrow without an axe, but with a bucket," said the Stone Lion, "and don't bring any more candles as I don't want the mountain set on fire." Then he snapped his jaws together and looked as if he never had opened them.
The boy thanked the lion and remained until the candles were burned out; then he went down to the town, sold his wood, and bought a new bucket to do the lion honour; also, his mother had only one and needed hers. But she brought out the only thing of value she possessed. This was a ceremonial scarf; she told the boy to put it on when he knelt before the lion.
The lion opened his mouth directly the boy knelt down, and said, "Hold the bucket under my mouth, but when it is nearly full you must tell me, for on no account must anything that I am going to give you fall to the ground."
The boy obeyed, and out of the lion's jaws poured a stream of gold. He told the lion directly the bucket was three-parts full, and the jaws promptly closed. But the boy carried his treasure down the mountain to his mother, who was thus enabled to purchase a large farmhouse. She also bought a good stock of oxen and buffalo and sheep, and they were able to live in comfortable prosperity, although they kept to fair dealing and never got the better of anyone.
They became both respected and popular, and presently news of their prosperity came to the elder brother. He could scarcely believe his ears when he heard of the big house and pasture lands, of the velvets the mother went dressed in, of the turquoise brooch the younger brother wore on market days, and the good table they kept and to which they welcomed every traveller.
They were living in better style than the elder brother himself, and he was so curious that he decided to pay them a visit. He set off, therefore, accompanied by his wife and carrying a very small piece of cloth as a present.
He pretended to be very surprised at finding them in such affluence, and told them he had been worrying as to how they were getting on and had come to offer them assistance.
But his mother and younger brother assured him they had no need of anything, and instead they pressed all kinds of good things on him, and at last, as the younger brother took no notice of his hints, the elder came out with a plain question.
The younger brother was ready enough to tell him where the wealth came from; ready, too, to describe the Stone Lion and to tell exactly what the lion had commanded.
When the elder brother and his wife retired for the night, they talked everything over and decided there was no need to go up the mountain to chop wood, nor to burn candles before the lion.
"You had better take him a couple of candles," said the wife, "and if he does not wish them to burn on account of the mountain being set on fire, you can just light them and immediately blow them out and bring them down again.
"But you had better take them. It will look rather crude if you only go up with a bucket."
"I was thinking of borrowing one of my brother's oxen," said the elder brother, "then I could take up a vat in the ox-cart. It seems a pity to confine oneself to a bucket."
"But, as he is evidently a tyrant, he will expect you to do exactly what he says," replied his wife. "Besides, it looks as if you were ready to take trouble in the matter if you lug a great heavy bucket all the way up the mountain with your own hands. I will help you, of course."
So the elder brother borrowed the largest bucket his brother possessed, the one into which they milked the buffaloes. When the lion saw him stagger up and set the huge receptacle under his chin, he opened his mouth with a terrible expression and said, "What do you want?"
"To do you honour, sire," said the elder brother, feeling in his pouch for the candles. They were so small, it was not easy to find them.
He set the candles on either side of the Stone Lion, and took out his tinder-box. And then he hesitated. It had just occurred to him that if he did not light them he could take them back to the trader and exchange them for something more useful, or perhaps get the money back.
"I am thinking of all this dry grass," said the elder brother, after he had pretended great difficulty in getting a spark so that the lion had plenty of time to stop him. But the lion's jaws were closed tightly, with the grimmest expression.
"It would be such a pity if the mountain took fire," said the elder brother.
Still the lion did not answer. The elder brother waited a while, then very unwillingly lit his candles.
At this the lion opened his mouth. How terrible he looked! Great storm-clouds were hanging low upon the mountain's crest, and the lion seemed to crouch with awful majesty. Again he roared, so that the rocks echoed with dull thunder and the mountain shivered. A cold blast came from his jaws, and circled on and on amongst the jagged peaks, wafting the storm-clouds into wreaths and whirls.
"What is this under my chin?" said the lion.
"A bucket, your Highness," faltered the elder brother. "My brother told me you commanded him to bring one."
"Tell me when the bucket is nearly full, as nothing that I give you must fall to the ground," said the lion, and thereupon a stream of gold issued from its jaws.
The elder brother took no heed of the lowering clouds, the snow that was beginning to eddy in the icy air, or the growing darkness. The stream of gold usurped his vision; he pressed the gold pieces down so that they might lie well together, but though the bucket was brimming he could not bring himself to tell the lion to stop. Instead he gave the bucket a shake, hoping to shake down the gold. But the glittering pieces slid over the side and scattered on the ground.
Immediately the stream ceased. But the lion's mouth remained open.
Then in a hoarse voice it said, "The largest piece has stuck in my throat; put your hand in my mouth and pull it out."
The elder brother was only too delighted to obey; but directly his hand and arm were inside, the cavernous jaws snapped together, and there was the elder brother held fast in the insensible stone.
Then the storm broke in its full fury.
When his wife came out of the shelter of the thicket where he had left her, she found him half hanging to the lion's mouth with a bucket full of stones and earth beside him.
"Say no word to my mother and brother," he whimpered, "or they will come out and slay me, because I have been so unhappy as to annoy his Majesty the lion through a most unfortunate accident: a pure oversight on my part, I assure his Majesty."
But the lion remained stonily silent; and the man commanded his wife to return to their own home and bring him food and rugs, as the nights were bitterly cold so high up on the mountain.
She did as she was bid, and through her faithful service the man was able to remain alive, uncomfortable as his condition was. But after many months she came weeping.
"I have sold the last of our household goods," said she, "and the last of your goldsmith's stock has gone: we have no home, no shop, and no possessions. Would that you had never sought the lion in order to become rich!"
At this, the lion's jaws suddenly opened wide, and a mighty roar of laughter resounded through the mountain.
"Quick!" cried the wife; but the man's arm was already out of the lion's jaws and he was running down the mountain as fast as he could.
He went straight to his younger brother to plead for help for his wife and child, and received money to buy a small farm, at his request, a long way from the mountain. There they spent the rest of their days in humble circumstances, and never did they come near the mountain again.
T HERE are the drones, their brothers. These fine gentlemen never gather honey or pollen, nor do any work in the hive.
In fact, they are scarcely able to feed themselves, and very much like to have their sisters feed them.
They are handsome fellows, and somewhat larger than their little worker sisters.
They have large round heads, with enormous compound eyes that meet on top and crowd the other three eyes down in front, between them. They have more than twice as many facets in their eyes as the workers. Their antennæ are long and very sensitive. They have large bodies covered with a coat of soft brown down, very pretty to look at, and their wings are large.
That they are so helpless, I am glad to say, is not their fault. Mr. Apis Mellifica has no honey-sac, so he could hardly be expected to go out and try to bring home honey. He could not get it even if he had a honey-sac in which to store it, because his tongue is so short and so weak. He can eat honey from the honey-comb in the hive, or from any easily obtained supply; but that is the best he can do.
So Mr. Drone Apis Mellifica leaves the sweet occupation of gathering nectar to his sister, Miss Worker Apis Mellifica.
As for pollen, the drone has no baskets in which to carry it, so there is an end to that.
And as for working in the hive, he is no better off for tools to work with than he is for a honey-sac, a serviceable tongue, and pollen baskets.
In fact, there is nothing for him to do but to stay at home and be taken care of like a gentleman of leisure.
This he does to perfection. He stands about with his hands in his pockets, so to speak, and lets his little brown sisters feed him, which they do by allowing him to put his tongue into their mouths. On warm, sunny days, he flies out to see the world and to try his fortune.
His little brown sister feeds him
Occasionally a drone meets the young queen of another hive, also out to see the world. When this happens they mate, but she stays with him only a short time, and then goes back to her own hive and leaves him.
The poor fellow has no sting at all, so he cannot defend himself, or avenge an insult. We may pick him up, if we can catch him, with no fear of being stung, and may say anything to him or about him that we please.
Basketless, stingless, with no honey-sac, and no serviceable nectar-gathering tongue, he is almost as helpless as a Chinese lady.
Only she is purposely made helpless, and he is born so.
A Chinese girl baby has as good feet as any baby, and they would grow as large as other people's if it were not the fashion for the mothers to squeeze the poor little tootsie-wootsies into small ugly shoes that hurt the babies terribly and make them as cross as crabs. It serves their mothers right, too, when they are cross. Think of crippling them all their lives so they can neither work nor do anything useful.
In China the people consider it a disgrace to work, and the rich people cripple their girl babies to show that it is not necessary for them to work.
It is not considered a disgrace to work in the hive, however, nor in any other really civilized community.
In fact, all the bees in the hive work very hard, excepting the drones, and they generally form a very small proportion of the whole number.
The drone is an idler because he is so made that it is impossible for him to work.
But he is happy, and flies about in the sun taking whatever good comes to him without finding fault.
His sisters are glad to work for him, and he is glad to have them do so.
WEEK 17 |
Matthew viii: 5 to 13;
Luke vii: 1 to 17; 36 to 50.
HERE was at Capernaum an officer of the Roman army, a man who had under him a company of a hundred men. They called him "a centurion," a word which means "having a hundred," but we should call him "a captain." This man was not a Jew, but was what the Jews called "a Gentile," "a foreigner," a name which the Jews gave to all people outside of their own race. All the world, except the Jews themselves, were Gentiles.
This Roman centurion was a good man, and he loved the Jews, because through them he had heard of God, and had learned how to worship God. Out of his love for the Jews he had built for them, with his own money, a synagogue, which may have been the very synagogue in which Jesus taught on the Sabbath-days.
The centurion had a young servant, a boy, whom he loved greatly; and this boy was very sick with a palsy, and near to death. The centurion had heard that Jesus could cure those who were sick; and he asked the chief men of the synagogue, who were called its "elders," to go to Jesus, and ask him to come and cure his young servant.
The elders spoke to Jesus just as he came again to Capernaum, after the Sermon on the Mount. They asked Jesus to go with them to the centurion's house; and they said, "He is a worthy man, and it is fitting that you should help him, for though a Gentile, he loves our people, and he has built for us our synagogue."
A Centurion comes to Jesus.
Then Jesus said, "I will go and heal him."
But while he was on his way, and with him were the elders, and his disciples, and a great crowd of people, who hoped to see the work of healing, the centurion sent some other friends to Jesus with this message:
"Lord, do not take the trouble to come to my house; for I am not worthy that one so high as thou art should come under my roof; and I did not think that I was worthy to go and speak to thee. But speak only a word where you are, and my servant shall be made well. For I also am a man under rule, and I have soldiers under me, and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it. You, too, have power to speak and to be obeyed. Speak the word, and my servant will be cured."
When Jesus heard this he wondered at this man's faith. He turned to the people following him, and said, "In truth I say to you, I have not found such faith as this in all Israel!"
Then he spoke to the friends of the centurion who had brought word from him:
"Go and say to this man, As you have believed in me, so shall it be done to you."
Then those who had been sent went again to the centurion's house, and found that in that very hour his servant had been made perfectly well.
On the day after this, Jesus, with his disciples and many people, went out from Capernaum, and turned southward, and came to a city called Nain. Just as Jesus and his disciples came near to the gate of the city they were met by a company who were carrying out the body of a dead man to be buried. He was a young man, and the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. All the people felt sad for this woman who had lost her only son.
When the Lord Jesus saw the mother in her grief, he pitied her, and said, "Do not weep."
He drew near, and touched the frame on which they were carrying the body, wrapped round and round with long strips of linen. The bearers looked with wonder on this stranger, and set down the frame with its body, and stood still. Standing beside the body, Jesus said, "Young man, I say to you, Rise up!"
And in a moment the young man sat up and began to speak. Jesus gave him to his mother, who now saw that her son, who had been dead, was alive again.
A great fear came upon all who had looked upon this wonderful work of Jesus. They praised God, and said, "God had indeed come to his people, and has given us a great prophet!"
And the news that Jesus had raised a dead man to life again went through all the land.
While Jesus was on this journey through southern Galilee, at one place a Pharisee, whose name was Simon, asked Jesus to come and dine at his house. This man did not believe in Jesus, but he wanted to watch him, and, if possible, to find some fault in him. He did not show Jesus the respect due to a guest, did not welcome him, nor did he bring water to wash Jesus' feet, as was done to people when they came in from walking. For in that land they wore no shoes or stockings, but only sandals, covering the soles of their feet; and they often washed their feet when they came into the house.
At meals they did not sit up around the table, but leaned on couches, with their heads toward the table and their feet away from it. While Jesus was leaning in this manner upon his couch at the table, a woman came into the dining room, bringing a flask of ointment, such as was used to anoint people of high rank. She knelt down at the feet of Jesus, weeping, and began to wet his feet with her tears, and then to wipe them with her long hair. She anointed his feet with the ointment, and kissed them over and over again.
The woman washing the feet of Jesus in the house of Simon.
This woman had not been a good woman. She had led a wicked life; but by her act she showed that in her heart she was truly sorry for her sins. When Simon, the Pharisee, saw her at the Saviour's feet he thought within himself, though he did not say it, "If this man were really a prophet coming from God, he would have known how wicked this woman is, and he would not have allowed her to touch him."
Jesus knew this man's thought, and he said, "Simon, I have something to say to you."
And Simon said, "Master, say on."
Then Jesus said, "There was a certain lender of money to whom two men were owing. One man owed him five hundred shillings, and the other owed him fifty. When he found that they could not pay their debts, he freely forgave them, and let them both go free. Which of these two will love that man most?"
"Why," said Simon, "I suppose that the one to whom he forgave the most will love him the most."
"You are right," said Jesus. Then he turned toward the
woman, and added, "Do you see this woman? I came into
your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she
has wetted my feet with her tears, and has wiped them
with her hair. You gave me no kiss of welcome, but she
has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my
head even with oil, but she has anointed my feet with
ointment. You have acted as though you owed me little,
and you have loved me little; but she feels that she
owes me much, and she loves me greatly. I say to you,
'Her sins, which are many, are
Then he spoke to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."
Those who were around the table whispered to each other, "Who is this man that dares to act as God, and even to forgive sins?"
But Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace!"
And Jesus went through all that part of Galilee, preaching and teaching in all the villages, telling the people everywhere the good news of the kingdom of God.
For some time Curdie worked away briskly, throwing all the ore he had disengaged on one side behind him, to be ready for carrying out in the morning. He heard a good deal of goblin-tapping, but it all sounded far away in the hill, and he paid it little heed. Toward midnight he began to feel rather hungry; so he dropped his pickaxe, got a lump of bread which in the morning he had laid in a damp hole in the rock, sat down on a heap of ore and ate his supper. Then he leaned back for five minutes' rest before beginning his work again, and laid his head against the rock. He had not kept the position for one minute before he heard something which made him sharpen his ears. It sounded like a voice inside the rock. After a while he heard it again. It was a goblin-voice—there could be no doubt about that—and this time he could make out the words.
For some time Curdie worked away briskly.
"Hadn't we better be moving?" it said.
A rougher and deeper voice replied:
"There's no hurry. That wretched little mole won't be through to-night, if he work ever so hard. He's by no means at the thinnest place."
"But you still think the lode does come through into our house?" said the first voice.
"Yes, but a good bit farther on than he has got to yet. If he had struck a stroke more to the side just here," said the goblin, tapping the very stone, as it seemed to Curdie, against which his head lay, "he would have been through; but he's a couple of yards past it now, and if he follow the lode it will be a week before it leads him in. You see it back there—a long way. Still, perhaps, in case of accident, it would be as well to be getting out of this. Helfer, you'll take the great chest. That's your business, you know."
"Yes, dad," said a third voice. "But you must help me to get it on my back. It's awfully heavy, you know."
"Well, it isn't just a bag of smoke, I admit. But you're as strong as a mountain, Helfer."
"You say so, dad. I think myself I'm all right. But I could carry ten times as much if it wasn't for my feet."
"That is your weak point, I confess, my boy."
"Ain't it yours, too, father?"
"Well, to be honest, it's a goblin-weakness. Why they come so soft, I declare I haven't an idea."
"Specially when your head's so hard, you know, father."
"Yes, my boy. The goblin's glory is his head. To think how the fellows up above there have to put on helmets and things when they go fighting! Ha! ha!"
"But why don't we wear shoes like them, father? I should like it—specially when I've got a chest like that on my head."
"Well, you see, it's not the fashion. The king never wears shoes."
"The queen does."
"Yes; but that's for distinction. The first queen, you see—I mean the king's first wife—wore shoes of course, because she came from upstairs; and so, when she died, the next queen would not be inferior to her as she called it, and would wear shoes too. It was all pride. She is the hardest in forbidding them to the rest of the women."
"I'm sure I wouldn't wear them—no, not for—that I wouldn't!" said the first voice, which was evidently that of the mother of the family. "I can't think why either of them should."
"Didn't I tell you the first was from upstairs?" said the other. "That was the only silly thing I ever knew his Majesty guilty of. Why should he marry an outlandish woman like that—one of our natural enemies too?"
"I suppose he fell in love with her."
"Pooh! pooh! He's just as happy now with one of his own people."
"Did she die very soon? They didn't tease her to death, did they?"
"Oh dear, no! The king worshipped her very footmarks."
"What made her die, then? Didn't the air agree with her?"
"She died when the young prince was born."
"How silly of her! We never do that. It must have been because she wore shoes."
"I don't know that."
"Why do they wear shoes up there?"
"Ah! now that's a sensible question, and I will answer it. But in order to do so, I must first tell you a secret. I once saw the queen's feet."
"Without her shoes?"
"Yes—without her shoes."
"No! Did you? How was it?"
"Never you mind how it was. She didn't know I saw them. And what do you think!—they had toes!"
"Toes! What's that?"
"You may well ask! I should never have known if I had not seen the queen's feet. Just imagine! the ends of her feet were split up into five or six thin pieces!"
"Oh, horrid! How could the king have fallen in love with her?"
"You forget that she wore shoes. That is just why she wore them. That is why all the men, and women too, up-stairs wear shoes. They can't bear the sight of their own feet without them."
"Ah! now I understand. If ever you wish for shoes again, Helfer, I'll hit your feet—I will."
"No, no, mother; pray don't."
"Then don't you."
"But with such a big box on my
A horrid scream followed, which Curdie interpreted as in reply to a blow from his mother upon the feet of her eldest goblin.
"Well, I never knew so much before!" remarked a fourth voice.
"Your knowledge is not universal quite yet," said the father. "You were only fifty last month. Mind you see to the bed and bedding. As soon as we've finished our supper, we'll be up and going. Ha! ha! ha!"
"What are you laughing at, husband?"
"I'm laughing to think what a mess the miners will find themselves in—somewhere before this day ten years."
"Why, what do you mean?"
"Oh yes, you do mean something. You always do mean something."
"It's more than you do, then, wife."
"That may be; but it's not more than I find out, you know."
"Ha! ha! You're a sharp one. What a mother you've got, Helfer!"
"Well, I suppose I must tell you. They're all at the palace
consulting about it to-night; and as soon as we've got away from
this thin place, I'm going there to hear what night they fix upon.
I should like to see that young ruffian there on the other side,
struggling in the agonies
He dropped his voice so low that Curdie could hear only a growl. The growl went on in the low bass for a good while, as inarticulate as if the goblin's tongue had been a sausage; and it was not until his wife spoke again that it rose to its former pitch.
"But what shall we do when you are at the palace?" she asked.
"I will see you safe in the new house I've been digging for you for the last two months. Podge, you mind the table and chairs. I commit them to your care. The table has seven legs—each chair three. I shall require them all at your hands."
After this arose a confused conversation about the various household goods and their transport; and Curdie heard nothing more that was of any importance.
He now knew at least one of the reasons for the constant sound of the goblin hammers and pickaxes at night. They were making new houses for themselves, to which they might retreat when the miners should threaten to break into their dwellings. But he had learned two things of far greater importance. The first was, that some grievous calamity was preparing, and almost ready to fall upon the heads of the miners; the second was—the one weak point of a goblin's body: he had not known that their feet were so tender as he had now reason to suspect. He had heard it said that they had no toes: he had never had opportunity of inspecting them closely enough in the dusk in which they always appeared, to satisfy himself whether it was a correct report. Indeed, he had not been able even to satisfy himself as to whether they had no fingers, although that also was commonly said to be the fact. One of the miners, indeed, who had had more schooling than the rest, was wont to argue that such must have been the primordial condition of humanity, and that education and handicraft had developed both toes and fingers—with which proposition Curdie had once heard his father sarcastically agree, alleging in support of it the probability that babies' gloves were a traditional remnant of the old state of things; while the stockings of all ages, no regard being paid in them to the toes, pointed in the same direction. But what was of importance was the fact concerning the softness of the goblin-feet, which he foresaw might be useful to all miners. What he had to do in the mean time, however, was to discover, if possible, the special evil design the goblins had now in their heads.
Although he knew all the gangs and all the natural galleries with which they communicated in the mined part of the mountain, he had not the least idea where the palace of the king of the gnomes was; otherwise he would have set out at once on the enterprise of discovering what the said design was. He judged, and rightly, that it must lie in a farther part of the mountain, between which and the mine there was as yet no communication. There must be one nearly completed, however; for it could be but a thin partition which now separated them. If only he could get through in time to follow the goblins as they retreated! A few blows would doubtless be sufficient—just where his ear now lay; but if he attempted to strike there with his pickaxe, he would only hasten the departure of the family, put them on their guard, and perhaps lose their involuntary guidance. He therefore began to feel the wall with his hands, and soon found that some of the stones were loose enough to be drawn out with little noise.
Laying hold of a large one with both his hands, he drew it gently out, and let it down softly.
"What was that noise?" said the goblin father.
Curdie blew out his light, lest it should shine through.
"It must be that one miner that stayed behind the rest," said the mother.
"No; he's been gone a good while. I haven't heard a blow for an hour. Besides, it wasn't like that."
"Then I suppose it must have been a stone carried down the brook inside."
"Perhaps. It will have more room by and by."
Curdie kept quite still. After a little while, hearing nothing but the sounds of their preparations for departure, mingled with an occasional word of direction, and anxious to know whether the removal of the stone had made an opening into the goblins' house, he put in his hand to feel. It went in a good way, and then came in contact with something soft. He had but a moment to feel it over, it was so quickly withdrawn: it was one of the toeless goblin-feet. The owner of it gave a cry of fright.
"What's the matter, Helfer?" asked his mother.
"A beast came out of the wall, and licked my foot."
"Nonsense! There are no wild beasts in our country," said his father.
"But it was, father. I felt it."
"Nonsense, I say. Will you malign your native realms and reduce them to a level with the country up-stairs? That is swarming with wild beasts of every description."
"But I did feel it, father."
"I tell you to hold your tongue. You are no patriot."
Curdie suppressed his laughter, and lay still as a mouse—but no stiller, for every moment he kept nibbling away with his fingers at the edges of the hole. He was slowly making it bigger, for here the rock had been very much shattered with the blasting.
There seemed to be a good many in the family, to judge from the mass of confused talk which now and then came through the hole; but when all were speaking together, and just as if they had bottle-brushes—each at least one—in their throats, it was not easy to make out much that was said. At length he heard once more what the father-goblin was saying.
"Now then," he said, "get your bundles on your backs. Here, Helfer, I'll help you up with your chest."
"I wish it was my chest, father."
"Your turn will come in good time enough!
Make haste. I must go
to the meeting at the palace to-night. When that's over, we can
come back and clear out the last of the things before our enemies
return in the morning. Now light your torches, and come along.
What a distinction it is, to provide our own light, instead of
being dependent on a thing hung up in the
Curdie could hardly keep himself from calling through to know whether they made the fire to light their torches by. But a moment's reflection showed him that they would have said they did, inasmuch as they struck two stones together, and the fire came.