WEEK 18 |
T HE sun rose upon a tranquil world, and beamed down upon the peaceful village like a benediction. Breakfast over, Aunt Polly had family worship: it began with a prayer built from the ground up of solid courses of Scriptural quotations, welded together with a thin mortar of originality; and from the summit of this she delivered a grim chapter of the Mosaic Law, as from Sinai.
Then Tom girded up his loins, so to speak, and went to work to "get his verses." Sid had learned his lesson days before. Tom bent all his energies to the memorizing of five verses, and he chose part of the Sermon on the Mount, because he could find no verses that were shorter. At the end of half an hour Tom had a vague general idea of his lesson, but no more, for his mind was traversing the whole field of human thought, and his hands were busy with distracting recreations. Mary took his book to hear him recite, and he tried to find his way through the fog:
"Blessed are the—a—
"Yes—poor; blessed are the poor—a—
"In spirit; blessed are the poor in spirit,
"For theirs. Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom
of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn,
"For they S, H—Oh, I don't know what it is!"
"Oh, shall! for they shall—for
"Oh, Tom, you poor thick-headed thing, I'm not teasing you. I wouldn't do that. You must go and learn it again. Don't you be discouraged, Tom, you'll manage it—and if you do, I'll give you something ever so nice. There, now, that's a good boy."
"All right! What is it, Mary? tell me what it is."
"Never you mind, Tom. You know if I say it's nice, it is nice."
"You bet you that's so, Mary. All right, I'll tackle it again."
And he did "tackle it again"—and under the double pressure of curiosity and prospective gain, he did it with such spirit that he accomplished a shining success. Mary gave him a brand-new "Barlow" knife worth twelve and a half cents; and the convulsion of delight that swept his system shook him to his foundations. True, the knife would not cut anything, but it was a "sure-enough" Barlow, and there was inconceivable grandeur in that—though where the Western boys ever got the idea that such a weapon could possibly be counterfeited to its injury, is an imposing mystery and will always remain so, perhaps. Tom contrived to scarify the cupboard with it, and was arranging to begin on the bureau, when he was called off to dress for Sunday-school.
Mary gave him a tin basin of water and a piece of soap, and he went outside the door and set the basin on a little bench there; then he dipped the soap in the water and laid it down; turned up his sleeves; poured out the water on the ground, gently, and then entered the kitchen and began to wipe his face diligently on the towel behind the door. But Mary removed the towel and said:
"Now ain't you ashamed, Tom! You mustn't be so bad. Water won't hurt you."
Tom was a trifle disconcerted. The basin was refilled, and this time he stood over it a little while, gathering resolution; took in a big breath and began. When he entered the kitchen presently, with both eyes shut and groping for the towel with his hands, an honorable testimony of suds and water was dripping from his face. But when he emerged from the towel, he was not yet satisfactory, for the clean territory stopped short at his chin and his jaws, like a mask; below and beyond this line there was a dark expanse of unirrigated soil that spread downward in front and backward around his neck. Mary took him in hand, and when she was done with him he was a man and a brother, without distinction of color, and his saturated hair was neatly brushed, and its short curls wrought into a dainty and symmetrical general effect. [He privately smoothed out the curls, with labor and difficulty, and plastered his hair close down to his head; for he held curls to be effeminate, and his own filled his life with bitterness.] Then Mary got out a suit of his clothing that had been used only on Sundays during two years—they were simply called his "other clothes"—and so by that we know the size of his wardrobe. The girl "put him to rights" after he had dressed himself; she buttoned his neat roundabout up to his chin, turned his vast shirt collar down over his shoulders, brushed him off and crowned him with his speckled straw hat. He now looked exceedingly improved and uncomfortable. He was fully as uncomfortable as he looked; for there was a restraint about whole clothes and cleanliness that galled him. He hoped that Mary would forget his shoes, but the hope was blighted; she coated them thoroughly with tallow, as was the custom, and brought them out. He lost his temper and said he was always being made to do everything he didn't want to do. But Mary said, persuasively:
"Please, Tom—that's a good boy."
So he got into the shoes snarling. Mary was soon ready, and the three children set out for Sunday-school—a place that Tom hated with his whole heart; but Sid and Mary were fond of it.
Sabbath-school hours were from nine to half past ten; and then church service. Two of the children always remained for the sermon voluntarily, and the other always remained too—for stronger reasons. The church's high-backed, uncushioned pews would seat about three hundred persons; the edifice was but a small, plain affair, with a sort of pine board tree-box on top of it for a steeple. At the door Tom dropped back a step and accosted a Sunday-dressed comrade:
"Say, Billy, got a yaller ticket?"
"What'll you take for her?"
"What'll you give?"
"Piece of lickrish and a fish-hook."
"Less see 'em."
Tom exhibited. They were satisfactory, and the property changed hands. Then Tom traded a couple of white alleys for three red tickets, and some small trifle or other for a couple of blue ones. He waylaid other boys as they came, and went on buying tickets of various colors ten or fifteen minutes longer. He entered the church, now, with a swarm of clean and noisy boys and girls, proceeded to his seat and started a quarrel with the first boy that came handy. The teacher, a grave, elderly man, interfered; then turned his back a moment and Tom pulled a boy's hair in the next bench, and was absorbed in his book when the boy turned around; stuck a pin in another boy, presently, in order to hear him say "Ouch!" and got a new reprimand from his teacher. Tom's whole class were of a pattern—restless, noisy, and troublesome. When they came to recite their lessons, not one of them knew his verses perfectly, but had to be prompted all along. However, they worried through, and each got his reward—in small blue tickets, each with a passage of Scripture on it; each blue ticket was pay for two verses of the recitation. Ten blue tickets equaled a red one, and could be exchanged for it; ten red tickets equaled a yellow one; for ten yellow tickets the superintendent gave a very plainly bound Bible (worth forty cents in those easy times) to the pupil. How many of my readers would have the industry and application to memorize two thousand verses, even for a Doré Bible? And yet Mary had acquired two Bibles in this way—it was the patient work of two years—and a boy of German parentage had won four or five. He once recited three thousand verses without stopping; but the strain upon his mental faculties was too great, and he was little better than an idiot from that day forth—a grievous misfortune for the school, for on great occasions, before company, the superintendent (as Tom expressed it) had always made this boy come out and "spread himself." Only the older pupils managed to keep their tickets and stick to their tedious work long enough to get a Bible, and so the delivery of one of these prizes was a rare and noteworthy circumstance; the successful pupil was so great and conspicuous for that day that on the spot every scholar's heart was fired with a fresh ambition that often lasted a couple of weeks. It is possible that Tom's mental stomach had never really hungered for one of those prizes, but unquestionably his entire being had for many a day longed for the glory and the éclat that came with it.
In due course the superintendent stood up in front of the pulpit, with a closed hymn-book in his hand and his forefinger inserted between its leaves, and commanded attention. When a Sunday-school superintendent makes his customary little speech, a hymn-book in the hand is as necessary as is the inevitable sheet of music in the hand of a singer who stands forward on the platform and sings a solo at a concert—though why, is a mystery: for neither the hymn-book nor the sheet of music is ever referred to by the sufferer. This superintendent was a slim creature of thirty-five, with a sandy goatee and short sandy hair; he wore a stiff standing-collar whose upper edge almost reached his ears and whose sharp points curved forward abreast the corners of his mouth—a fence that compelled a straight lookout ahead, and a turning of the whole body when a side view was required; his chin was propped on a spreading cravat which was as broad and as long as a bank-note, and had fringed ends; his boot-toes were turned sharply up, in the fashion of the day, like sleigh-runners—an effect patiently and laboriously produced by the young men by sitting with their toes pressed against a wall for hours together. Mr. Walters was very earnest of mien, and very sincere and honest at heart; and he held sacred things and places in such reverence, and so separated them from worldly matters, that unconsciously to himself his Sunday-school voice had acquired a peculiar intonation which was wholly absent on week-days. He began after this fashion:
"Now, children, I want you all to sit up just as straight and pretty as you can and give me all your attention for a minute or two. There—that is it. That is the way good little boys and girls should do. I see one little girl who is looking out of the window—I am afraid she thinks I am out there somewhere—perhaps up in one of the trees making a speech to the little birds. [Applausive titter.] I want to tell you how good it makes me feel to see so many bright, clean little faces assembled in a place like this, learning to do right and be good." And so forth and so on. It is not necessary to set down the rest of the oration. It was of a pattern which does not vary, and so it is familiar to us all. The latter third of the speech was marred by the resumption of fights and other recreations among certain of the bad boys, and by fidgetings and whisperings that extended far and wide, washing even to the bases of isolated and incorruptible rocks like Sid and Mary. But now every sound ceased suddenly, with the subsidence of Mr. Walters's voice, and the conclusion of the speech was received with a burst of silent gratitude.
A good part of the whispering had been occasioned by an event which was more or less rare—the entrance of visitors: lawyer Thatcher, accompanied by a very feeble and aged man; a fine, portly, middle-aged gentleman with iron-gray hair; and a dignified lady who was doubtless the latter's wife. The lady was leading a child. Tom had been restless and full of chafings and repinings; conscience-smitten, too—he could not meet Amy Lawrence's eye, he could not brook her loving gaze. But when he saw this small new-comer his soul was all ablaze with bliss in a moment. The next moment he was "showing off" with all his might—cuffing boys, pulling hair, making faces—in a word, using every art that seemed likely to fascinate a girl and win her applause. His exaltation had but one alloy—the memory of his humiliation in this angel's garden—and that record in sand was fast washing out, under the waves of happiness that were sweeping over it now.
The visitors were given the highest seat of honor, and as soon as Mr. Walters's speech was finished, he introduced them to the school. The middle-aged man turned out to be a prodigious personage—no less a one than the county judge—altogether the most august creation these children had ever looked upon—and they wondered what kind of material he was made of—and they half wanted to hear him roar, and were half afraid he might, too. He was from Constantinople, twelve miles away—so he had traveled, and seen the world—these very eyes had looked upon the county courthouse—which was said to have a tin roof. The awe which these reflections inspired was attested by the impressive silence and the ranks of staring eyes. This was the great Judge Thatcher, brother of their own lawyer. Jeff Thatcher immediately went forward, to be familiar with the great man and be envied by the school. It would have been music to his soul to hear the whisperings:
"Look at him, Jim! He's a-going up there. Say—look! he's a-going to shake hands with him—he is shaking hands with him! By jings, don't you wish you was Jeff?"
Mr. Walters fell to "showing off," with all sorts of official bustlings and activities, giving orders, delivering judgments, discharging directions here, there, everywhere that he could find a target. The librarian "showed off"—running hither and thither with his arms full of books and making a deal of the splutter and fuss that insect authority delights in. The young lady teachers "showed off"—bending sweetly over pupils that were lately being boxed, lifting pretty warning fingers at bad little boys and patting good ones lovingly. The young gentlemen teachers "showed off" with small scoldings and other little displays of authority and fine attention to discipline—and most of the teachers, of both sexes, found business up at the library, by the pulpit; and it was business that frequently had to be done over again two or three times (with much seeming vexation). The little girls "showed off" in various ways, and the little boys "showed off" with such diligence that the air was thick with paper wads and the murmur of scufflings. And above it all the great man sat and beamed a majestic judicial smile upon all the house, and warmed himself in the sun of his own grandeur—for he was "showing off," too.
There was only one thing wanting, to make Mr. Walters's ecstasy complete, and that was a chance to deliver a Bible-prize and exhibit a prodigy. Several pupils had a few yellow tickets, but none had enough—he had been around among the star pupils inquiring. He would have given worlds, now, to have that German lad back again with a sound mind.
And now at this moment, when hope was dead, Tom Sawyer came forward with nine yellow tickets, nine red tickets, and ten blue ones, and demanded a Bible. This was a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. Walters was not expecting an application from this source for the next ten years. But there was no getting around it—here were the certified checks, and they were good for their face. Tom was therefore elevated to a place with the Judge and the other elect, and the great news was announced from headquarters. It was the most stunning surprise of the decade, and so profound was the sensation that it lifted the new hero up to the judicial one's altitude, and the school had two marvels to gaze upon in place of one. The boys were all eaten up with envy—but those that suffered the bitterest pangs were those who perceived too late that they themselves had contributed to this hated splendor by trading tickets to Tom for the wealth he had amassed in selling whitewashing privileges. These despised themselves, as being the dupes of a wily fraud, a guileful snake in the grass.
The prize was delivered to Tom with as much effusion as the superintendent could pump up under the circumstances; but it lacked somewhat of the true gush, for the poor fellow's instinct taught him that there was a mystery here that could not well bear the light, perhaps; it was simply preposterous that this boy had warehoused two thousand sheaves of Scriptural wisdom on his premises—a dozen would strain his capacity, without a doubt.
Amy Lawrence was proud and glad, and she tried to make Tom see it in her face—but he wouldn't look. She wondered; then she was just a grain troubled; next a dim suspicion came and went—came again; she watched; a furtive glance told her worlds—and then her heart broke, and she was jealous, and angry, and the tears came and she hated everybody. Tom most of all (she thought).
Tom was introduced to the Judge; but his tongue was tied, his breath would hardly come, his heart quaked—partly because of the awful greatness of the man, but mainly because he was her parent. He would have liked to fall down and worship him, if it were in the dark. The Judge put his hand on Tom's head and called him a fine little man, and asked him what his name was. The boy stammered, gasped, and got it out:
"Oh, no, not Tom—it
"Ah, that's it. I thought there was more to it, maybe. That's very well. But you've another one I daresay, and you'll tell it to me, won't you?"
"Tell the gentleman your other name, Thomas," said Walters, "and say sir. You mustn't forget your manners."
"That's it! That's a good boy. Fine boy. Fine, manly little fellow. Two thousand verses is a great many—very, very great many. And you never can be sorry for the trouble you took to learn them; for knowledge is worth more than anything there is in the world; it's what makes great men and good men; you'll be a great man and a good man yourself, some day, Thomas, and then you'll look back and say, It's all owing to the precious Sunday-school privileges of my boyhood—it's all owing to my dear teachers that taught me to learn—it's all owing to the good superintendent, who encouraged me, and watched over me, and gave me a beautiful Bible—a splendid elegant Bible—to keep and have it all for my own, always—it's all owing to right bringing up! That is what you will say, Thomas—and you wouldn't take any money for those two thousand verses—no indeed you wouldn't. And now you wouldn't mind telling me and this lady some of the things you've learned—no, I know you wouldn't—for we are proud of little boys that learn. Now, no doubt you know the names of all the twelve disciples. Won't you tell us the names of the first two that were appointed?"
Tom was tugging at a button-hole and looking sheepish. He blushed, now, and his eyes fell. Mr. Walters's heart sank within him. He said to himself, it is not possible that the boy can answer the simplest question—why did the Judge ask him? Yet he felt obliged to speak up and say:
"Answer the gentleman, Thomas—don't be afraid."
Tom still hung fire.
"Now I know you'll tell me," said the lady. "The names of the first
"David and Goliath!"
Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.
T here was once a Northman called Eric the Red. For some reason he was exiled to Iceland; but in a little while he was in trouble there also. He had lent his seatposts, or wooden posts carved into images of the gods, which stood by the high seats at the feasts, and the man who held them refused to return them. A quarrel had arisen, and in the course of it Eric had slain the man. For this reason, he was now exiled from Iceland for three years. He knew there was a country lying to the westward, for a sailor caught in a storm had been thrown upon its shores, and he determined to seek it. He found the land and spent two or three years exploring it; then he returned to Iceland. He meant, however, to found a colony in the new country, and therefore he called it Greenland. "People will not like to move there if it has not a good name," declared this wise colonizer. Probably he had obtained some new seatposts by this time; for the custom was to throw them overboard when land was near and to settle wherever they floated ashore.
Norsemen Landing in Iceland
A few years after Eric founded his colony in Greenland, his son Leif, or Leif Ericsson, spent a winter in Norway. There he became a Christian and was baptized. When he was about to return to his home in Greenland, King Olaf of Norway said, "I beg of you to see that the people in Greenland are told of the Christ, for no one is better to attend to this than you."
So it came about that when Leif returned to Greenland, he carried with him a priest and several other religious teachers. A little later, he saved a ship's crew from drowning, and because of this people called him Leif the Lucky; but his father said rather grimly that Leif might have done a good thing in saving the men, but he had done a bad thing in bringing a priest to Greenland. After a while, however, Eric himself became a Christian, and so did his wife, and most of the people followed their example.
Now among those who came to Greenland was a man named Biarne. On the voyage he had been blown out of his course close to an unknown land lying to the south of Greenland, and when he finally reached the colony, he told of how he had seen this land. Then Leif and the other young men gathered around him. "What sort of country was it? Were there any people there? What grows in the place. Are there mountains or lowlands?" they questioned, and Biarne had to own that he had not gone ashore. "Humph! He was not very eager for knowledge," said the young men rather contemptuously. They talked a great deal about the unknown lands, and finally Leif bought Biarne's ship and made ready to go on a voyage of discovery. "Do you go with us as leader," he urged his father; but Eric replied, "Oh, I am growing too old for a hard voyage at sea." "But no one else of all our kin will be as lucky as you," pleaded Leif, and at length Eric mounted his horse and rode toward the ship. Suddenly the horse slipped and he fell off. That settled the question. "It is fated," he said, "that I should never discover any other land than Greenland," and so Leif and his men were obliged to sail without him.
Norse boat used as a dwelling
After a while they came to a shore where lofty mountains rose, covered with snow. This is thought to have been the coast of Labrador. Then they passed a flat and wooded shore, which is believed to have been Nova Scotia. At length they reached a coast that seemed to them most inviting. The shores were of white, shining sand; and beyond them were pleasant woods which seemed to stretch far inland. There were rivers full of salmon and meadows covered with rich grass. Leif and his followers carried their beds to land, set up their tents, and made ready to explore the country. He divided his men into two parties and made them take turns in staying by the camp and going out to explore.
One of the older men on the voyage was a German. One day he came back chattering away in his own language. "Weintrauben," he exclaimed, "ich habe Weintrauben gefunden!" The Northmen could not tell what he meant, and at first he was too much pleased and excited to talk Norwegian. At length he told them he had found grapes, such as he used to have when he was a boy, and that was what had pleased him so much. It was because of this discovery that Leif named the country Vinland, or the land of vines. This is thought to have been Rhode Island and the southern part of Massachusetts.
Then the men set to work to gather grapes and hew wood. Toward spring they took their cargo of wood and dried grapes and sailed back to Greenland. This is the story that the Icelandic sagas, or hero stories, tell. The voyage took place in the year 1000, and if we may trust the old saga, Leif Ericsson was the first white man to set foot on the continent of America.
Norse Ruins in Greenland
There is a little more of the saga story that ought to be told. After Leif went back to Greenland, a wealthy merchant named Thorfinn Karlsefne went to visit him. On this visit Thorfinn met Gudrid, one of the shipwrecked people whom Leif had rescued so long ago, and married her. She persuaded her husband to go to Vinland to found a colony. The first autumn in the new home their little son, Snorre was born, at Straumfjord, which is thought to have been what is now Buzzard's Bay. Snorre was the first white child born in Massachusetts. When he was three years old, the colony was given up, and the baby explorer with his parents returned to Greenland. It was a rough voyage, but the little American boy lived through it and became the ancestor of a long line of wise and excellent men.
The sagas tell of many later voyages to America; but at length a terrible plague came upon the northern lands. In Norway six-sevenths of the people died, and Vinland was forgotten.
WEEK 18 |
T this time in Scotland as in England there ruled a Queen.
These two Queens were cousins, for Margaret, the sister of
In spite of the fact that an English Princess had married a Scottish King, the two peoples continued to be enemies as they had always been, and Elizabeth of England did not love her cousin Mary of Scotland. She hated and feared her.
Mary had been brought up in France, which is a Roman Catholic country, and she had married the French King. So she was Queen of France and Scotland.
When Mary of England died, Mary of Scotland thought that she had a better right to the throne of England than Elizabeth, so she called herself Queen of Scotland, France, England and Ireland.
Many people agreed with Mary, among them the Pope, who was angry with Elizabeth because she would not be ruled by him and would no longer punish the Protestants as her sister had done. So it was little wonder that Elizabeth hated and feared her cousin. The Protestants of England hated Mary of Scotland too. They were afraid that if she became Queen of England, she would bring back the dreadful days of the English Mary.
When Mary was only nineteen, her husband, the French King, died, and she left France where she had been living and returned to Scotland. As she sat upon the deck of the ship which took her to Scotland she wept bitterly. "Adieu, France, adieu," she sobbed, "I shall never see you more."
Scotland seemed cold and dark to Mary after sunny France, and the people harsh and rough. Yet the Scots loved their Queen and were eager to show her that they did so, and Mary wanted to be loved. But Mary and her people did not understand each other. Although she was clever and beautiful she was perhaps the most unhappy and most unwise Queen who ever sat upon a throne.
In Scotland, as in England, many dreadful things happened because of the Reformation and change of religion. Mary was a Roman Catholic, while many of her people had turned to the new religion. There were other causes for quarrels, so there was sorrow and war, until at last the Scottish people imprisoned their beautiful Queen in a lonely castle, upon an island, in the middle of a loch.
But although many people hated Mary, many loved her too, and these helped her to escape. One evening, a boy called the Little Douglas, who lived in the castle where she was imprisoned, stole the keys while the Governor was at supper. In the middle of the night he unlocked the door of Mary's room. Fearfully and silently she crept with him through the dark passages till they reached the great gate. Douglas unlocked it, and Mary passed out, holding her little frightened maid by the hand. Douglas locked the gate behind them and led the way to the place where a boat was waiting for them.
They were soon out on the dark water, getting farther and farther away from the castle. Half way to the shore, Little Douglas leaned over the side of the boat and dropped the great castle keys into the water. Mary's gaolers were prisoners in the castle, and she was free.
On land some of Queen Mary's friends were waiting for her with horses, and she rode joyfully away. Soon more friends joined her, and a battle was fought near Glasgow. But Mary's soldiers were defeated, and she was obliged to flee.
She did not know where to go. It would have been safest to go to France, but no ship was ready to take her there. So she crossed the border into England, and went to ask her cousin Elizabeth to take pity on her.
Elizabeth had never seen her beautiful cousin, and she refused to see her now. She gave her a castle to live in, not as a royal guest, but as a prisoner.
Mary had had to run away from Scotland so quickly that she had brought no clothes except those she wore. She wrote to tell Elizabeth this, but although Elizabeth had hundreds of beautiful dresses, she only sent some old clothes quite unfit for a queen to wear. Poor Mary would have been badly off, but her enemies were kinder than her cousin, and sent her dresses and clothes from Scotland.
When Queen Mary found that Elizabeth meant to treat her as a prisoner and not as a friend, she begged to be allowed to go away to some other country. But Elizabeth would not set her free. She feared if she did, Mary would go to the Kings of France or Spain and ask them to make war on England. She felt it was safest to keep her great enemy in prison.
Mary was so beautiful that she had many friends, and they were very angry with Elizabeth. Plot after plot to free Mary was formed. But all plots failed. For nineteen years this poor Queen was kept in prison. She was moved from castle to castle, for it seemed as if no place was strong and safe enough to keep her from her friends. At last she was shut up in a castle called Fotheringay.
For nineteen years this poor queen
was kept in prison.
When Mary had been in prison about nineteen years, a plot to kill Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne was discovered. Then the English Parliament persuaded Elizabeth that Mary must be put to death.
Elizabeth either really felt, or pretended to feel, very unwilling to give her consent to this. But in the end she signed a paper ordering Mary's head to be cut off.
A few days later the beautiful Queen, who had been so unhappy and who had caused so much unhappiness, walked into the great hall at Fotheringay. In one hand she carried a Bible, in the other a crucifix. The hall was hung with black; at one end was a low scaffold, also covered with black.
Nineteen years before Mary had come to England, young and beautiful, and, although she was not yet old, the long years in prison had made her look like an old woman. She could only walk with difficulty, and when she laid her head upon the block, it was seen that her hair was white.
Mary's servants cried bitterly when she said
When Elizabeth was told that Mary was dead she was very angry. She said that although she had signed the death warrant, as the paper was called, she had not meant that Mary should be killed. It is difficult to know what Elizabeth did mean, for she was deceitful as well as clever. But whether she meant it or not, Elizabeth had no right to behead Mary.
Mary's son James, who was now the King of Scotland, was very angry with Elizabeth for the manner in which she had treated his mother, but he had neither money nor soldiers enough with which to fight against England, so he did nothing.
I F you had wings, why of course you would wear feathers instead of clothes, and you might be a crow! And then of course you would steal corn, and run the risk of getting three of your big wing feathers shot away.
All winter long, and occasionally during this spring, I have seen one of my little band of crows flying about with a big hole in his wing,—at least three of his large wing feathers gone, shot away probably last summer,—which causes him to fly with a list or limp, like an automobile with a flattened tire, or a ship with a shifted ballast.
Now for nearly a year that crow has been hobbling about on one whole and one half wing, trusting to luck to escape his enemies, until he can get three new feathers to take the places of those that are missing. "Well, why doesn't he get them?" you ask. If you were that crow, how would you get them? Can a crow, by taking thought, add three new feathers to his wing?
Certainly not. That crow must wait until wing-feather season comes again, just as an apple tree must wait until apple-growing season comes to hang its boughs with luscious fruit. The crow has nothing to do with it. His wing feathers are supplied by Nature once a year (after the nesting-time), and if a crow loses any of them, even if right after the new feathers had been supplied, that crow will have to wait until the season for wing feathers comes around once more—if indeed he can wait and does not fall a prey to hawk or owl or the heavy odds of winter.
But Nature is not going to be hurried on that account, nor caused to change one jot or tittle from her wise and methodical course. The Bible says that the hairs of our heads are numbered. So are the feathers on a crow's body. Nature knows just how many there are altogether; how many there are of each sort—primaries, secondaries, tertials, greater coverts, middle coverts, lesser coverts, and scapulars—in the wing; just how each sort is arranged; just when each sort is to be moulted and renewed. If Master Crow does not take care of his clothes, then he will have to go without until the time for a new suit comes; for Mother Nature won't patch them up as your mother patches up yours.
But now this is what I want you to notice and think about: that just as an apple falls according to a great law of Nature, so a bird's feathers fall according to a law of Nature. The moon is appointed for seasons; the sun knoweth his going down; and so light and insignificant a thing as a bird's feather not only is appointed to grow in a certain place at a certain time, but also knoweth its falling off.
Nothing could look more haphazard, certainly, than the way a hen's feathers seem to drop off at moulting time. The most forlorn, undone, abject creature about the farm is the half-moulted hen. There is one in the chicken-yard now, so nearly naked that she really is ashamed of herself, and so miserably helpless that she squats in a corner all night, unable to reach the low poles of the roost. It is a critical experience with the hen, this moulting of her feathers; and were it not for the protection of the yard it would be a fatal experience, so easily could she be captured. Nature seems to have no hand in the business at all; if she has, then what a mess she is making of it!
But pick up the hen, study the falling of the feathers carefully, and lo! here is law and order, every feather as important to Nature as a star, every quill as a planet, and the old white hen as mightily looked after by Nature as the round sphere of the universe!
Once a year, usually after the nesting-season, it seems a physical necessity for most birds to renew their plumage.
We get a new suit (some of us) because our old one wears out. That is the most apparent cause for the new annual suit of the birds. Yet with them, as with some of us, the feathers go out of fashion, and then the change of feathers is a mere matter of style, it seems.
For severe and methodical as Mother Nature must be (and what mother or teacher or ruler, who has great things to do and a multitude of little things to attend to, must not be severe and methodical?)—severe, I say, as Mother Nature must be in looking after her children's clothes, she has for all that a real motherly heart, it seems.
For see how she looks after their wedding garments—giving to most of the birds a new suit, gay and gorgeous, especially to the bridegrooms, as if fine feathers did make a fine bird! Or does she do all of this to meet the fancy of the bride, as the scientists tell us? Whether so or not, it is a fact that among the birds it is the bridegroom who is adorned for his wife, and sometimes the fine feathers come by a special moult—an extra suit for him!
Take Bobolink, for instance. He has two complete moults a year, two new suits, one of them his wedding suit. Now, as I write, I hear him singing over the meadow—a jet-black, white, and cream-buff lover, most strikingly adorned. His wife, down in the grass, looks as little like him as a sparrow looks like a blackbird. But after the breeding-season he will moult again, changing color so completely that he and his wife and children will all look alike, all like sparrows, and will even lose their names, flying south now under the name of "reed-birds."
Bobolink passes the winter in Brazil; and in the spring, just before the long northward journey begins, he lays aside his fall traveling clothes and puts on his gay wedding garments and starts north for his bride. But you would hardly know he was so dressed, to look at him; for, strangely enough, he is not black and white, but still colored like a sparrow, as he was in the fall. Apparently he is. Look at him more closely, however, and you will find that the brownish-yellow color is all caused by a veil of fine fringes hanging from the edges of the feathers. The bridegroom wearing the wedding veil? Yes! Underneath is the black and white and cream-buff suit. He starts northward; and, by the time he reaches Massachusetts, the fringe veil is worn off and the black and white bobolink appears. Specimens taken after their arrival here still show traces of the brownish-yellow veil.
Many birds do not have this early spring moult at all; and with most of those that do, the great wing feathers are not then renewed as are bobolink's, but only at the annual moult after the nesting is done. The great feathers of the wings are, as you know, the most important feathers a bird has; and the shedding of them is so serious a matter that Nature has come to make the change according to the habits and needs of the birds. With most birds the body feathers begin to go first, then the wing feathers, and last those of the tail. But the shedding of the wing feathers is a very slow and carefully regulated process.
In the wild geese and other water birds the wing feathers drop out with the feathers of the body, and go so nearly together that the birds really cannot fly. On land you could catch the birds with your hands. But they keep near or on the water and thus escape, though times have been when it was necessary to protect them at this season by special laws; for bands of men would go into their nesting-marshes and kill them with clubs by hundreds!
The shedding of the feathers brings many risks to the birds; but Nature leaves none of her children utterly helpless. The geese at this time cannot fly because their feathers are gone; but they can swim, and so get away from most of their natural enemies. On the other hand, the hawks that hunt by wing, and must have wings always in good feather, or else perish, lose their feathers so slowly that they never feel their loss. It takes a hawk nearly a year to get a complete change of wing feathers, one or two dropping out from each wing at a time, at long intervals apart.
Then here is the gosling, that goes six weeks in down, before it gets its first feathers, which it sheds within a few weeks, in the fall. Whereas the young quail is born with quills so far grown that it is able to fly almost as soon as it is hatched. These are real mature feathers; but the bird is young and soon outgrows these first flight feathers, so they are quickly lost and new ones come. This goes on till fall, several moults occurring the first summer to meet the increasing weight of the little quail's growing body.
I said that Nature was severe and methodical, and so she is, where she needs to be, so severe that you are glad, perhaps, that you are not a crow. But Nature, like every wise mother, is severe only where she needs to be. A crow's wing feathers are vastly important to him. Let him then take care of them, for they are the best feathers made and are put in to stay a year. But a crow's tail feathers are not so vastly important to him; he could get on, if, like the rabbit in the old song, he had no tail at all.
In most birds the tail is a kind of balance or steering-gear, and not of equal importance with the wings. Nature, consequently, seems to have attached less importance to the feathers of the tail. They are not so firmly set, nor are they of the same quality or kind; for, unlike the wing feathers, if a tail feather is lost through accident, it is made good, no matter when. How do you explain that? Do you think I believe that old story of the birds roosting with their tails out, so that, because of generations of lost tails, those feathers now grow expecting to be plucked by some enemy, and therefore have only a temporary hold?
The normal, natural way, of course, is to replace a lost feather with a new one as soon as possible. But, in order to give extra strength to the wing feathers, Nature has found it necessary to check their frequent change; and so complete is the check that the annual moult is required to replace a single one. The Japanese have discovered the secret of this check, and are able by it to keep certain feathers in the tails of their cocks growing until they reach the enormous length of ten to twelve feet.
My crow, it seems, lost his three feathers last summer just after his annual moult; the three broken shafts he carries still in his wing, and must continue to carry, as the stars must continue their courses, until those three feathers have rounded out their cycle to the annual moult. The universe of stars and feathers is a universe of law, of order, and of reason.
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shades for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
And she dances about the sun—
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning my pilot sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits.
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the Genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;
As on the jag of a mountain-crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine airy nest,
As still as a brooding dove.
That orbèd maiden with white fire laden
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof, of my tent's thin roof,
The Stars peep behind her, and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.
I bind the Sun's throne with a burning zone,
And the Moon's with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim and the Stars reel and swim,
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof;
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch, through which I march,
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-coloured bow;
The Sphere-fire above its soft colours wove,
While the moist Earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky:
I pass through the pores, of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain, when with never a stain
The pavilion of heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise, and unbuild it again.
WEEK 18 |
M OTHER AMBROISINE called Claire. A friend had just come to see her to learn about an embroidery stitch that troubled her. At the request of Jules and Emile, however, Uncle Paul continued. He knew Jules would take pleasure in repeating the conversation to his sister.
"Flax, linen, and cotton, especially the
"Paper!" exclaimed Emile.
"Paper, real paper, that on which we write, of which we make
books. The beautiful white sheets of your copybooks, the
leaves of a book, even the costliest,
"Despicable tatters are collected: some of them are picked
up from the filth of the street, some are unspeakably
filthy. They are sorted over, these for fine paper, those
for coarse. They are thoroughly washed, for they need it.
Now machines take them in hand. Scissors cut them, steel
claws tear them, wheels make pulp of them and reduce them to
"Before it became paper, the first material was rags, or cloth too tattered to use. How many uses has not this cloth served, and what energetic treatments has it not undergone before being cast out as rubbish! Washing with corrosive ashes, contact with acrid soup, pounding with a beetle, exposure to the sun, air, and rain. What is then this material which, in spite of its delicacy, resists the brutalities of washing, soap, sun, and air; which remains intact in the bosom of rottenness; which braves the machines and drugs of paper-making, and always comes out of these ordeals more supple and whiter, to become at last a sheet of paper, beautiful satiny paper, the confidant of our thoughts? You know now, my little friends, this admirable material, source of so much intellectual progress, comes to us from the flock of the cotton plant and the bark of hemp and flax."
"I am certainly going to surprise Claire," said Jules, "when
I tell her that her beautiful
"Claire will be interested to learn the nature of paper;
but, I am sure, the lowly origin of her
WHEN Joliet reached Montreal with the news of his great
discovery, he found there a very brave and
strong-minded man named
Frontenac gladly gave his permission, and in the year 1677 La Salle sailed for France. He told the King of the journey of Joliet and Marquette, of the fertile soil of the Mississippi valley, and the abundant game and the pleasant climate. He told him of the wool of the buffaloes, which could be used in making cloth, and of the hemp and cotton that grew wild along the banks of the great river.
"Now," said La Salle, "why should not all this rich land belong to France, instead of waiting for the English and Spanish to come and take it away from us before our very eyes?"
The King was pleased with what La Salle said, and gave him permission to make a voyage of discovery which should last not more than five years. He was to build forts wherever he thought it necessary.
In 1678 La Salle came back to Canada to prepare for his voyage through the west. He thought that, if he could start with a ship above the falls in the Niagara River, he would be able to sail up the river to the lakes, and then through the lakes to the Mississippi. He did not know that part of this distance lay overland.
So with his men he sailed up the Niagara as far as the falls. Then with their baggage on their backs the men plodded twelve miles through the forest until they reached a creek above the falls.
Here La Salle immediately set the men to work building
a ship. He drove the first nail himself. When the work
was well under way, he started back to Fort Frontenac
on foot—a distance of two hundred and fifty miles
It was summer before he returned to the Niagara. He found the ship all finished and towed out into the river. She had been named the Griffon.
In August, 1679, the voyagers left the Niagara River
and sailed out into
Here he found some men whom he had sent ahead to buy furs of the Indians. He told these men to load the furs upon the Griffon and take them back to Niagara, where they would find men to carry them to Montreal. Then they were to come back again with the ship. So on a September morning the Griffon fired a parting shot and set sail for Niagara.
La Salle, with fourteen men and four canoes, went down
the lake to the
As La Salle sailed down this river he came to an Indian encampment. He told the Indians that he had come to protect them against their enemies and to teach them about the true God. He told them also that he was going to build a great wooden canoe, with which to sail the Mississippi. This pleased the Indians, and they feasted and entertained the white men.
During the night some Indians, sent by the enemies of
When morning came it was easy to tell that a change had come over the Illinois. After breakfast they began to talk about the terrible dangers of the river.
"There are fierce monsters," they said, "which will devour white men. There are great whirlpools which will swallow your big canoe."
La Salle saw at once that his enemies had been at work. So he told the Indians that he was not afraid of monsters or whirlpools and that he was going on to the great river. But his men were of a different temper. Most of them were much alarmed by what they had heard. That night six of them ran away, and some others tried to poison their brave leader.
La Salle now went farther down the river, where he
built a strong fort, which he called Crèvecoeur. This
And yet La Salle did not lose hope. Since his ship was
gone, he resolved to build another. As the timber
sawyers were among the men who had run away,
In six weeks the ship was half done. But there were no
anchors or cables or rigging. There was nothing to be
done but to go back for these things to Fort Frontenac,
a distance of one thousand miles.
It was a fearful journey. Sometimes pushing the canoes
through the drifting ice, sometimes walking overland
shoulders, sometimes in danger from the Iroquois,
sometimes torn by brush and briers through which they
made their way, the men kept bravely on until they
reached the Niagara. By this time all but
It was May when he saw before him the walls of Fort
Frontenac. Here he heard nothing but bad news. Not only
was the Griffon lost, but a ship from France laden with
Still the brave leader did not give up. He went to Montreal for the supplies he wanted and returned with them to Fort Frontenac.
IT would be a long story to tell of the adventures
From Fort Crèvecoeur, La Salle and his companions
pushed on down to the Mississippi, the great river
which they had never before seen. Then turning his
In December, 1681, La Salle started once more on his
dangerous journey. With him were
They sailed on past the place where the mighty Missouri empties its muddy stream into the Father of Waters, and past the mouth of the Ohio. Winter gave way to spring, the air became soft and warm, and the banks were bright with the fresh green of the unfolding leaves.
Near the mouth of the Arkansas River
On the 6th of April La Salle found the river dividing into three streams. He separated his men into three parties, himself taking the western channel. As he drifted down the muddy stream, the salt smell of the sea reached him. The banks of the river disappeared. He had reached the Gulf of Mexico, his journey's end.
The three parties soon met. They landed upon a piece of
dry ground, a little way from the river's mouth. Here
La Salle made a column, bearing the arms of France and
these words, in French:
The Frenchmen were drawn up in martial array and sang
hymns. Then, amid volleys of musketry and shouts of
"Long live the King!"
IN the year 1684 La Salle was in France for the last time. His purpose was to ask the King for one ship and two hundred men, that he might build a fort on the Mississippi. He would form an army of fifteen thousand Indians, he said, with which he could easily capture the Spanish silver mines. The King granted this request most generously. Instead of one ship he gave four, and recruiting agents were sent out to enlist the soldiers asked for.
La Salle's plan was to reach the mouth of the Mississippi River by crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
It was December before the little fleet entered the
Finally he entered Matagorda Bay on the coast of Texas,
which he thought was the western mouth of the
Mississippi. He ordered the ships to be brought within
the bay, and the men to go ashore. The bay was shallow,
and one of the ships was wrecked upon a reef. After
building some houses for his little colony,
La Salle's fortunes were now in a very sad state. He
had sent two of his ships back to France; and, a few
days after his return, news came of the wreck of the
one that he had kept. Many of the colony had died of
Everyone set to work to prepare for the journey. The
sails of the wrecked vessels were cut up and pieced
with deerskins to make coats for the men. On the 7th of
Across prairies and rivers they journeyed. In March
they were still on the plains of northern Texas. One
day the men fell into a quarrel about some buffalo
meat. Three were killed, among them La Salle's nephew.
La Salle rebuked him for his manner of speaking, when a shot whizzed from the grass, and the great leader fell dead. He had escaped the fury of flood and Indians, to die at the hands of one of his own countrymen; and the helpless colony in Texas was left to the mercy of the Spaniards.
A word is dead
When it is said,
I say it just
Begins to live
WEEK 18 |
R ICHARD of Normandy was very anxious to know more of the little boy whom he had seen among his vassals.
"Ah! the young Baron de Montemar," said Sir Eric. "I knew his father well, and a brave man he was, though not of northern blood. He was warden of the marches of the Epte, and was killed by your father's side in the inroad of the Viscount du Cotentin, at the time when you were born, Lord Richard."
"But where does he live? Shall I not see him again?"
"Montemar is on the bank of the Epte, in the domain that the French wrongfully claim from us. He lives there with his mother, and if he be not yet returned, you shall see him presently. Osmond, go you and seek out the lodgings of the young Montemar, and tell him the Duke would see him."
Richard had never had a playfellow of his own age, and his eagerness to see Alberic de Montemar was great. He watched from the window, and at length beheld Osmond entering the court with a boy of ten years old by his side, and an old grey-headed Squire, with a golden chain to mark him as a Seneschal or Steward of the Castle, walking behind.
Richard ran to the door to meet them, holding out his hand eagerly. Alberic uncovered his bright dark hair, bowed low and gracefully, but stood as if he did not exactly know what to do next. Richard grew shy at the same moment, and the two boys stood looking at each other somewhat awkwardly. It was easy to see that they were of different races, so unlike were the blue eyes, flaxen hair, and fair face of the young Duke, to the black flashing eyes and olive cheek of his French vassal, who, though two years older, was scarcely above him in height; and his slight figure, well-proportioned, active and agile as it was, did not give the same promise of strength as the round limbs and large-boned frame of Richard, which even now seemed likely to rival the gigantic stature of his grandfather, Earl Rollo, the Ganger.
For some minutes the little Duke and the young Baron stood surveying each other without a word, and old Sir Eric did not improve matters by saying, "Well, Lord Duke, here he is. Have you no better greeting for him?"
"The children are shame-faced," said Fru Astrida, seeing how they both coloured. "Is your Lady mother in good health, my young sir?"
Alberic blushed more deeply, bowed to the old northern lady, and answered fast and low in French, "I cannot speak the Norman tongue."
Richard, glad to say something, interpreted Fru Astrida's speech, and Alberic readily made courteous reply that his mother was well, and he thanked the Dame de Centeville, a French title which sounded new to Fru Astrida's ears. Then came the embarrassment again, and Fru Astrida at last said, "Take him out, Lord Richard; take him to see the horses in the stables, or the hounds, or what not."
Richard was not sorry to obey, so out they went into the court of Rollo's tower, and in the open air the shyness went off. Richard showed his own pony, and Alberic asked if he could leap into the saddle without putting his foot in the stirrup. No, Richard could not; indeed, even Osmond had never seen it done, for the feats of French chivalry had scarcely yet spread into Normandy.
"Can you?" said Richard; "will you show us?"
"I know I can with my own pony," said Alberic, "for Bertrand will not let me mount in any other way; but I will try with yours, if you desire it, my Lord."
So the pony was led out. Alberic laid one hand on its mane, and vaulted on its back in a moment. Both Osmond and Richard broke out loudly into admiration. "Oh, this is nothing!" said Alberic. "Bertrand says it is nothing. Before he grew old and stiff he could spring into the saddle in this manner fully armed. I ought to do this much better."
Richard begged to be shown how to perform the exploit, and Alberic repeated it; then Richard wanted to try, but the pony's patience would not endure any longer, and Alberic said he had learnt on a block of wood, and practised on the great wolf-hound. They wandered about a little longer in the court, and then climbed up the spiral stone stairs to the battlements at the top of the tower, where they looked at the house-tops of Rouen close beneath, and the river Seine, broadening and glittering on one side in its course to the sea, and on the other narrowing to a blue ribbon, winding through the green expanse of fertile Normandy. They threw the pebbles and bits of mortar down that they might hear them fall, and tried which could stand nearest to the edge of the battlement without being giddy. Richard was pleased to find that he could go the nearest, and began to tell some of Fru Astrida's stories about the precipices of Norway, among which when she was a young girl she used to climb about and tend the cattle in the long light summer time. When the two boys came down again into the hall to dinner, they felt as if they had known each other all their lives. The dinner was laid out in full state, and Richard had, as before, to sit in the great throne-like chair with the old Count of Harcourt on one side, but, to his comfort, Fru Astrida was on the other.
After the dinner, Alberic de Montemar rose to take his leave, as he was to ride half way to his home that afternoon. Count Bernard, who all dinner time had been watching him intently from under his shaggy eye-brows, at this moment turned to Richard, whom he hardly ever addressed, and said to him, "Hark ye, my Lord, what should you say to have him yonder for a comrade?"
"To stay with me?" cried Richard, eagerly. "Oh, thanks, Sir Count; and may he stay?"
"You are Lord here."
"Oh, Alberic!" cried Richard, jumping out of his chair of state, and running up to him, "will you not stay with me, and be my brother and comrade?"
Alberic looked down hesitating.
"Oh, say that you will! I will give you horses, and hawks, and hounds, and I will love you—almost as well as Osmond. Oh, stay with me, Alberic."
"I must obey you, my Lord," said Alberic, "but—"
"Come, young Frenchman, out with it," said Bernard,—"no buts! Speak honestly, and at once, like a Norman, if you can."
This rough speech seemed to restore the little Baron's self- possession, and he looked up bright and bold at the rugged face of the old Dane, while he said, "I had rather not stay here."
"Ha! not do service to your Lord?"
"I would serve him with all my heart, but I do not want to stay here. I love the Castle of Montemar better, and my mother has no one but me."
"Brave and true, Sir Frenchman," said the old Count, laying his great hand on Alberic's head, and looking better pleased than Richard thought his grim features could have appeared. Then turning to Bertrand, Alberic's Seneschal, he said, "Bear the Count de Harcourt's greetings to the noble Dame de Montemar, and say to her that her son is of a free bold spirit, and if she would have him bred up with my Lord Duke, as his comrade and brother in arms, he will find a ready welcome."
"So, Alberic, you will come back, perhaps?" said Richard.
"That must be as my mother pleases," answered Alberic bluntly, and with all due civilities he and his Seneschal departed.
Four or five times a day did Richard ask Osmond and Fru Astrida if they thought Alberic would return, and it was a great satisfaction to him to find that every one agreed that it would be very foolish in the Dame de Montemar to refuse so good an offer, only Fru Astrida could not quite believe she would part with her son. Still no Baron de Montemar arrived, and the little Duke was beginning to think less about his hopes, when one evening, as he was returning from a ride with Sir Eric and Osmond, he saw four horsemen coming towards them, and a little boy in front.
"It is Alberic himself, I am sure of it!" he exclaimed, and so it proved; and while the Seneschal delivered his Lady's message to Sir Eric, Richard rode up and greeted the welcome guest.
"Oh, I am very glad your mother has sent you!"
"She said she was not fit to bring up a young warrior of the marches," said Alberic.
"Were you very sorry to come?"
"I dare say I shall not mind it soon; and Bertrand is to come and fetch me home to visit her every three months, if you will let me go, my Lord."
Richard was extremely delighted, and thought he could never do enough to make Rouen pleasant to Alberic, who after the first day or two cheered up, missed his mother less, managed to talk something between French and Norman to Sir Eric and Fru Astrida, and became a very animated companion and friend. In one respect Alberic was a better playfellow for the Duke than Osmond de Centeville, for Osmond, playing as a grown up man, not for his own amusement, but the child's, had left all the advantages of the game to Richard, who was growing not a little inclined to domineer. This Alberic did not like, unless, as he said, "it was to be always Lord and vassal, and then he did not care for the game," and he played with so little animation that Richard grew vexed.
"I can't help it," said Alberic; "if you take all the best chances to yourself, 'tis no sport for me. I will do your bidding, as you are the Duke, but I cannot like it."
"Never mind my being Duke, but play as we used to do."
"Then let us play as I did with Bertrand's sons at Montemar. I was their Baron, as you are my Duke, but my mother said there would be no sport unless we forgot all that at play."
"Then so we will. Come, begin again, Alberic, and you shall have the first turn."
However, Alberic was quite as courteous and respectful to the Duke when they were not at play, as the difference of their rank required; indeed, he had learnt much more of grace and courtliness of demeanour from his mother, a Provencal lady, than was yet to be found among the Normans. The Chaplain of Montemar had begun to teach him to read and write, and he liked learning much better than Richard, who would not have gone on with Father Lucas's lessons at all, if Abbot Martin of Jumièges had not put him in mind that it had been his father's especial desire.
What Richard most disliked was, however, the being obliged to sit in council. The Count of Harcourt did in truth govern the dukedom, but nothing could be done without the Duke's consent, and once a week at least, there was held in the great hall of Rollo's tower, what was called a Parlement, or "a talkation," where Count Bernard, the Archbishop, the Baron de Centeville, the Abbot of Jumièges, and such other Bishops, Nobles, or Abbots, as might chance to be at Rouen, consulted on the affairs of Normandy; and there the little Duke always was forced to be present, sitting up in his chair of state, and hearing rather than listening to, questions about the repairing and guarding of Castles, the asking of loans from the vassals, the appeals from the Barons of the Exchequer, who were then Nobles sent through the duchy to administer justice, and the discussions about the proceedings of his neighbours, King Louis of France, Count Foulques of Anjou, and Count Herluin of Montreuil, and how far the friendship of Hugh of Paris, and Alan of Brittany might be trusted.
Very tired of all this did Richard grow, especially when he found that the Normans had made up their minds not to attempt a war against the wicked Count of Flanders. He sighed most wearily, yawned again and again, and moved restlessly about in his chair; but whenever Count Bernard saw him doing so, he received so severe a look and sign that he grew perfectly to dread the eye of the fierce old Dane. Bernard never spoke to him to praise him, or to enter into any of his pursuits; he only treated him with the grave distant respect due to him as a Prince, or else now and then spoke a few stern words to him of reproof for this restlessness, or for some other childish folly.
Used as Richard was to be petted and made much of by the whole house of Centeville, he resented this considerably in secret, disliked and feared the old Count, and more than once told Alberic de Montemar, that as soon as he was fourteen, when he would be declared of age, he should send Count Bernard to take care of his own Castle of Harcourt, instead of letting him sit gloomy and grim in the Castle hall in the evening, spoiling all their sport.
Winter had set in, and Osmond used daily to take the little Duke and Alberic to the nearest sheet of ice, for the Normans still prided themselves on excelling in skating, though they had long since left the frost-bound streams and lakes of Norway.
One day, as they were returning from the ice, they were surprised, even before they entered the Castle court, by hearing the trampling of horses' feet, and a sound of voices.
"What may this mean?" said Osmond. "There must surely be a great arrival of the vassals. The Duke of Brittany, perhaps."
"Oh," said Richard, piteously, "we have had one council already this week. I hope another is not coming!"
"It must import something extraordinary," proceeded Osmond. "It is a mischance that the Count of Harcourt is not at Rouen just now."
Richard thought this no mischance at all, and just then, Alberic, who had run on a little before, came back exclaiming, "They are French. It is the Frank tongue, not the Norman, that they speak."
"So please you, my Lord," said Osmond, stopping short, "we go not rashly into the midst of them. I would I knew what were best to do."
Osmond rubbed his forehead and stood considering, while the two boys looked at him anxiously. In a few seconds, before he had come to any conclusion, there came forth from the gate a Norman Squire, accompanied by two strangers.
"My Lord Duke," said he to Richard, in French, "Sir Eric has sent me to bring you tidings that the King of France has arrived to receive your homage."
"The King!" exclaimed Osmond.
"Ay!" proceeded the Norman, in his own tongue, "Louis himself, and with a train looking bent on mischief. I wish it may portend good to my Lord here. You see I am accompanied. I believe from my heart that Louis meant to prevent you from receiving a warning, and taking the boy out of his clutches."
"Ha! what?" said Richard, anxiously. "Why is the King come? What must I do?"
"Go on now, since there is no help for it," said Osmond.
"Greet the king as becomes you, bend the knee, and pay him homage."
Richard repeated over to himself the form of homage that he might be perfect in it, and walked on into the court; Alberic, Osmond, and the rest falling back as he entered. The court was crowded with horses and men, and it was only by calling out loudly, "The Duke, the Duke," that Osmond could get space enough made for them to pass. In a few moments Richard had mounted the steps and stood in the great hall.
In the chair of state, at the upper end of the room, sat a small spare man, of about eight or nine-and-twenty, pale, and of a light complexion, with a rich dress of blue and gold. Sir Eric and several other persons stood respectfully round him, and he was conversing with the Archbishop, who, as well as Sir Eric, cast several anxious glances at the little Duke as he advanced up the hall. He came up to the King, put his knee to the ground, and was just beginning, "Louis, King of France, I—" when he found himself suddenly lifted from the ground in the King's arms, and kissed on both cheeks. Then setting him on his knee, the King exclaimed, "And is this the son of my brave and noble friend, Duke William? Ah! I should have known it from his likeness. Let me embrace you again, dear child, for your father's sake."
Richard was rather overwhelmed, but he thought the King very kind, especially when Louis began to admire his height and free-spirited bearing, and to lament that his own sons, Lothaire and Carloman, were so much smaller and more backward. He caressed Richard again and again, praised every word he said—Fru Astrida was nothing to him; and Richard began to say to himself how strange and unkind it was of Bernard de Harcourt to like to find fault with him, when, on the contrary, he deserved all this praise from the King himself.
Louis of France and the Little Duke.
There was once a Poor Man, who lived in a house next to a wealthy Merchant who sold oil and honey. As the Merchant was a kind neighbor, he one day sent a flask of oil to the Poor Man. The Poor Man was delighted, and put it carefully away on the top shelf. One evening, as he was gazing at it, he said half aloud,—
"I wonder how much oil there is in that bottle. There is a large quantity. If I should sell it, I could buy five sheep. Every year I should have lambs, and before long I should own a flock. Then I should sell some of the sheep, and be rich enough to marry a wife. Perhaps we might have a son. And what a fine boy he would be! So tall, strong, and obedient! But if he should disobey me," and he raised the staff which he held in his hand, "I should punish him thus!" and he swung the staff over his head and brought it heavily to the ground, knocking, as he did so, the flask off the shelf so that the oil ran over him from head to foot.
WEEK 18 |
"Washington—the perfect citizen."
T HE "young Virginian" spoken of by Horace Walpole was destined to do great things for England in America. The stories of his boyhood shadow forth his wonderful career.
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, in a little farmhouse on the Potomac river in Virginia. His great-grandfather had sailed over to America in the days of Oliver Cromwell, and his father was now a successful landowner. The eldest son, Lawrence, was sent to England to be educated, but George was taught by the village sexton at home. He led a free open-air life, playing in the meadows, and grew up to be a manly and truthful boy.
One day his father gave him a hatchet, and the little boy had carelessly tried its edge on the bark of a young English cherry-tree which was much valued by his father. The bark was injured, and Mr Washington was seriously displeased, and began to question the servants as to who could have done such a thing.
"I did it, father," suddenly said George, looking him straight in the face and holding out the hatchet, which he knew he must forfeit; "I did it with my new hatchet."
"Come to my arms, brave boy," said his father, drawing George to him; "I would rather every tree I possess were killed, than that you should deceive me."
When he was about eight years old the big brother Lawrence returned from England, and soon a very strong friendship had sprung up between the two brothers. Not long after his return to Virginia he volunteered for service in the West Indies, and George saw him depart, in his soldier's uniform, to the martial sound of drum and fife, with a heavy heart. But a martial spirit had been aroused in the boy, and from this time forward his favourite occupation was playing at soldiers. A stick or broom-handle served for gun or sword, the meadow by the river was the battlefield, and George Washington was always the commander-in-chief. He was a good-looking boy, tall and straight, athletic and muscular. He bore a high character at home and also at school.
"George has the best writing-book in the school," his master used to say.
After his death, among his papers was found an old copy-book—which must have been written about this time—in a quaint schoolboy handwriting. It was called "Rules for Behaviour in Company and Conversation," and there were no less than one hundred of these rules carefully copied out. Here are a few of them:—
"Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust."
"Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise."
"Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy."
"Make no show of taking delight in your victuals; feed not with greediness, lean not on the table, neither find fault with what you eat."
"Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called Conscience."
After his father's death in 1743, George went to live with his beloved brother Lawrence, who was now married and living at Mount Vernon in Virginia. Here he rode and hunted, helped to survey the surrounding country, and heard much talk of the disputed boundary between the French and English possessions in North America. War was in the air.
Virginia was now divided into military districts. At the age of nineteen George Washington found himself in command of one of these. So capable a soldier did he become, that, two years later, he was the "young Virginian" selected by the Governor of Virginia to carry his message a thousand miles across country to the French. The story of how he delivered that message, and its answer, has already been told.
From this time, George Washington was a marked man and a public character. His name was known in the Court at Paris as well as in London, and it was to him the Virginians now looked to help them in their troubles. They did not look in vain: Washington was one of the greatest men America ever produced. His greatness did not consist so much in his intellect, in his skill, or in his genius, but in his honour, his utter truthfulness, his high sense of duty. He left behind him, when he died, one of the greatest treasures of his country, the example of a stainless life—of a great, honest, pure and noble character— a model for his nation to form themselves by in all time to come.
"No nobler figure ever stood in the forefront of a nation's life." He was, as Emerson, the great American thinker, had said, a "perfect citizen." He was, as a fellow-citizen said after his death in 1799, "The man first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his fellow-citizens."
HAT happened afterwards is to the shame of the Gods, and mortals may hardly speak of it. Gulveig the Witch came into Asgard, for Heimdall might not forbid her entrance. She came within and she had her seat amongst the Æsir and the Vanir. She walked through Asgard with a smile upon her face, and where she walked and where she smiled Care and dire Foreboding came.
Those who felt the care and the foreboding most deeply were Bragi the Poet and his wife, the fair and simple Iduna, she who gathered the apples that kept age from the Dwellers in Asgard. Bragi ceased to tell his never-ending tale. Then one day, overcome by the fear and the foreboding that was creeping through Asgard, Iduna slipped down Ygdrassil, the World Tree, and no one was left to pluck the apples with which the Æsir and the Vanir stayed their youth.
Then were all the Dwellers in Asgard in sore dismay. Strength and beauty began to fade from all. Thor found it hard to lift Miölnir, his great hammer, and the flesh under Freya's necklace lost its white radiance. And still Gulveig the Witch walked smiling through Asgard, although now she was hated by all.
It was Odin and Frey who went in search of Iduna. She would have been found and brought back without delay if Frey had had with him the magic sword that he had bartered for Gerda. In his search he had to strive with one who guarded the lake wherein Iduna had hidden herself. Beli was the one he strove against. He overcame him in the end with a weapon made of stags' antlers. Ah, it was not then but later that Frey lamented the loss of his sword: it was when the Riders of Muspell came against Asgard, and the Vanir, who might have prevailed, prevailed not because of the loss of Frey's sword.
They found Iduna and they brought her back. But still Care and Foreboding crept through Asgard. And it was known, too, that the witch Gulveig was changing the thoughts of the Gods.
At last Odin had to judge Gulveig. He judged her and decreed her death. And only Gungnir, the spear of Odin, might slay Gulveig, who was not of mortal race.
Odin hurled Gungnir. The spear went through Gulveig. But still she stood smiling at the Gods. A second time Odin hurled his spear. A second time Gungnir pierced the witch. She stood livid as one dead but fell not down. A third time Odin hurled his spear. And now, pierced for the third time, the witch gave a scream that made all Asgard shudder and she fell in death on the ground.
"I have slain in these halls where slaying is forbidden," Odin said. "Take now the corpse of Gulveig and burn it on the ramparts, so that no trace of the witch who has troubled us will remain in Asgard."
They brought the corpse of Gulveig the witch out on the ramparts and they lighted fires under the pile on which they laid her and they called upon Hræsvelgur to fan up the flame:
Hræsvelgur is the Giant,
Who on heaven's edge sits
In the guise of an eagle;
And the winds, it is said,
Rush down on the earth
From his outspreading pinions.
Far away was Loki when all this was being done. Often now he went from Asgard, and his journeys were to look upon that wondrous treasure that had passed from the keeping of the dwarf Andvari. It was Gulveig who had kept the imagination of that treasure within his mind. Now, when he came back and heard the whispers of what had been done, a rage flamed up within him. For Loki was one of those whose minds were being changed by the presence and the whispers of the witch Gulveig. His mind was being changed to hatred of the Gods. Now he went to the place of Gulveig's burning. All her body was in ashes, but her heart had not been devoured by the flames. And Loki in his rage took the heart of the witch and ate it. Oh, black and direful was it in Asgard, the day that Loki ate the heart that the flames would not devour!
WEEK 18 |
O NCE on a time when pigs was swine, there was a King and a Queen, and they had one son, Billy, and the Queen gave Billy a bull that he was very fond of, and it was just as fond of him.
After some time the Queen died, and she put it as her last request on the King that he would never part Billy and the bull, and the King promised that, come what might, come what may, he would not.
After the Queen died the King married again, and the new Queen didn't take to Billy Beg, and no more did she like the bull, seeing himself and Billy so thick. But she couldn't get the King on no account to part Billy and the bull, so she consulted with a hen-wife what they could do as regards separating Billy and the bull.
"What will you give me," says the hen-wife, "and I'll very soon part them?"
"Whatever you ask," says the Queen. "Well and good then," says the hen-wife, "you are to take to your bed, making pretend that you are bad with a complaint, and I'll do the rest of it."
And, well and good, to her bed she took, and none of the doctors could do anything for her, or make out what was her complaint. So the Queen axed for the hen-wife to be sent for. And sent for she was, and when she came in and examined the Queen, she said there was one thing, and only one, could cure her.
The King asked what was that, and the hen-wife said it was three mouthfuls of the blood of Billy Beg's bull. But the King wouldn't on no account hear of this, and the next day the Queen was worse, and the third day she was worse still, and told the King she was dying, and he'd have her death on his head. So, sooner nor this, the King had to consent to Billy Beg's bull being killed.
When Billy heard this he got very down in the heart entirely, and he went doitherin' about, and the bull saw him and asked him what was wrong with him that he was so mournful, so Billy told the bull what was wrong with him, and the bull told him to never mind, but keep up his heart, the Queen would never taste a drop of his blood.
The next day then the bull was to be killed, and the Queen got up and went out to have the delight of seeing his death. When the bull was led up to be killed, says he to Billy, "Jump up on my back till we see what kind of a horseman you are." Up Billy jumped on his back, and with that the bull leapt nine mile high, nine mile deep and nine mile broad, and came down with Billy sticking between his horns.
Hundreds were looking on dazed at the sight, and through them the bull rushed, and over the top of the Queen, killing her dead, and away he galloped where you wouldn't know day by night, or night by day, over high hills, low hills, sheep-walks, and bullock-traces, the Cove of Cork, and old Tom Fox with his bugle horn.
When at last they stopped, "now then," says the bull to Billy, "you and I must undergo great scenery, Billy. Put your hand," says the bull, "in my left ear, and you'll get a napkin, that, when you spread it out, will be covered with eating and drinking of all sorts, fit for the King himself." Billy did this, and then he spread out the napkin, and ate and drank to his heart's content, and he rolled up the napkin and put it back in the bull's ear again.
"Then," says the bull, "now put your hand into my right ear and you'll find a bit of a stick; if you wind it over your head three times, it will be turned into a sword and give you the strength of a thousand men besides your own, and when you have no more need of it as a sword, it will change back into a stick again." Billy did all this.
Then says the bull, "At twelve o'clock the morrow I'll have to meet and fight a great bull."
Billy then got up again on the bull's back, and the bull started off and away where you wouldn't know day by night, or night by day, over high hills, low hills, sheep-walks and bullock-traces, the Cove of Cork, and old Tom Fox with his bugle horn. There he met the other bull, and both of them fought, and the like of their fight was never seen before or since. They knocked the soft ground into hard, and the hard into soft, the soft into spring wells, the spring wells into rocks, and the rocks into high hills. They fought long, and Billy Beg's bull killed the other, and drank his blood.
Then Billy took the napkin out of his ear again and spread it out and ate a hearty good dinner.
Then says the bull to Billy, says he, "at twelve o'clock to-morrow, I'm to meet the bull's brother that I killed the day, and we'll have a hard fight."
Billy got on the bull's back again, and the bull started off and away where you wouldn't know day by night, or night by day, over high hills, low hills, sheep-walks and bullock-traces, the Cove of Cork, and old Tom Fox with his bugle horn. There he met the bull's brother that he killed the day before, and they set to, and they fought, and the like of the fight was never seen before or since. They knocked the soft ground into hard, the hard into soft, the soft into spring wells, the spring wells into rocks, and the rocks into high hills. They fought long, and at last Billy's bull killed the other and drank his blood.
And then Billy took out the napkin out of the bull's ear again and spread it out and ate another hearty dinner.
Then says the bull to Billy, says he—"The morrow at twelve o'clock I'm to fight the brother to the two bulls I killed—he's a mighty great bull entirely, the strongest of them all; he's called the Black Bull of the Forest, and he'll be too able for me. When I'm dead," says the bull, "you, Billy, will take with you the napkin, and you'll never be hungry; and the stick, and you'll be able to overcome everything that comes in your way; and take out your knife and cut a strip of the hide off my back and another strip off my belly and make a belt of them, and as long as you wear them you cannot be killed."
Billy was very sorry to hear this, but he got up on the bull's back again, and they started off and away where you wouldn't know day by night or night by day, over high hills, low hills, sheep-walks and bullock-traces, the Cove of Cork and old Tom Fox with his bugle horn. And sure enough at twelve o'clock the next day they met the great Black Bull of the Forest, and both of the bulls to it, and commenced to fight, and the like of the fight was never seen before or since; they knocked the soft ground into hard ground, and the hard ground into soft and the soft into spring wells, the spring wells into rocks, and the rocks into high hills. And they fought long, but at length the Black Bull of the Forest killed Billy Beg's bull, and drank his blood.
Billy Beg was so vexed at this that for two days he sat over the bull neither eating or drinking, but crying salt tears all the time.
Then he got up, and he spread out the napkin, and ate a hearty dinner for he was very hungry with his long fast; and after that he cut a strip of the hide off the bull's back, and another off the belly, and made a belt for himself, and taking it and the bit of stick, and the napkin, he set out to push his fortune, and he travelled for three days and three nights, till at last he come to a great gentleman's place.
Billy asked the gentleman if he could give him employment, and the gentleman said he wanted just such a boy as him for herding cattle. Billy asked what cattle would he have to herd, and what wages would he get.
The gentleman said he had three goats, three cows, three horses and three asses that he fed in an orchard, but that no boy who went with them ever came back alive, for there were three giants, brothers, that came to milk the cows and the goats every day, and killed the boy that was herding; so if Billy liked to try, they wouldn't fix the wages till they'd see if he would come back alive.
"Agreed, then," said Billy.
So the next morning he got up and drove out the three goats, the three cows, the three horses, and the three asses to the orchard and commenced to feed them. About the middle of the day Billy heard three terrible roars that shook the apples off the bushes, shook the horns on the cows, and made the hair stand up on Billy's head, and in comes a frightful big giant with three heads, and begun to threaten Billy.
"You're too big," says the giant, "for one bite, and too small for two. What will I do with you?"
"I'll fight you," says Billy, says he stepping out to him and swinging the bit of stick three times over his head, when it changed into a sword and gave him the strength of a thousand men besides his own.
The giant laughed at the size of him, and says he, "Well, how will I kill you? Will it be by a swing by the back, a cut of the sword, or a square round of boxing?"
"With a swing by the back," says Billy, "if you can."
So they both laid holds, and Billy lifted the giant clean off the ground, and fetching him down again sunk him in the earth up to his arm-pits.
"Oh, have mercy," says the giant.
But Billy, taking his sword, killed the giant, and cut out his tongues.
It was evening by this time, so Billy drove home the three goats, three cows, three horses, and three asses, and all the vessels in the house wasn't able to hold all the milk the cows give that night.
"Well," says the gentleman, "This beats me, for I never saw anyone coming back alive out of there before, nor the cows with a drop of milk. Did you see anything in the orchard?" says he.
"Nothing worse nor myself," says Billy. "What about my wages, now," says Billy.
"Well," says the gentleman, "you'll hardly come alive out of the orchard the morrow. So we'll wait till after that."
Next morning his master told Billy that something must have happened to one of the giants, for he used to hear the cries of three every night, but last night he only heard two crying.
"I don't know," says Billy, "anything about them."
That morning after he got his breakfast Billy drove the three goats, three cows, three horses, and three asses into the orchard again, and began to feed them. About twelve o'clock he heard three terrible roars that shook the apples off the bushes, the horns on the cows, and made the hair stand up on Billy's head, and in comes a frightful big giant, with six heads, and he told Billy he had killed his brother yesterday, but he would make him pay for it the day.
"Ye're too big," says he, "for one bite, and too small for two, and what will I do with you?"
"I'll fight you," says Billy, swinging his stick three times over his head, and turning it into a sword, and giving him the strength of a thousand men besides his own.
The giant laughed at him, and says he, "How will I kill you—with a swing by the back, a cut of the sword, or a square round of boxing?"
"With a swing by the back," says Billy, "if you can."
So the both of them laid holds, and Billy lifted the giant clean off the ground, and fetching him down again, sunk him in it up to the arm-pits.
"Oh, spare my life!" says the giant.
But Billy taking up his sword, killed him and cut out his tongues.
It was evening by this time, and Billy drove home his three goats, three cows, three horses, and three asses, and what milk the cows gave that night overflowed all the vessels in the house, and, running out, turned a rusty mill that hadn't been turned before for thirty years. If the master was surprised seeing Billy coming back the night before, he was ten times more surprised now.
"Did you see anything in the orchard the day!" says the gentleman.
"Nothing worse nor myself," says Billy. "What about my wages now," says Billy.
"Well, never mind about your wages," says the gentleman till the morrow, for I think you'll hardly come back alive again," says he.
Well and good, Billy went to his bed, and the gentleman went to his bed, and when the gentleman rose in the morning says he to Billy, "I don't know what's wrong with two of the giants; I only heard one crying last night."
"I don't know," says Billy, "they must be sick or something."
Well, when Billy got his breakfast that day again, he set out to the orchard, driving before him the three goats, three cows, three horses and three asses and sure enough about the middle of the day he hears three terrible roars again, and in comes another giant, this one with twelve heads on him, and if the other two were frightful, surely this one was ten times more so.
"You villain, you," says he to Billy, "you killed my two brothers, and I'll have my revenge on you now. Prepare till I kill you," says he; "you're too big for one bite, and too small for two; what will I do with you?"
"I'll fight you," says Billy, shaping out and winding the bit of stick three times over his head.
The giant laughed heartily at the size of him, and says he, "What way do you prefer being killed? Is it with a swing by the back, a cut of the sword, or a square round of boxing?"
"A swing by the back," says Billy.
So both of them again laid holds, and my brave Billy lifts the giant clean off the ground, and fetching him down again, sunk him down to his arm-pits in it.
"Oh, have mercy; spare my life," says the giant.
But Billy took his sword, and, killing him, cut out his tongues.
That evening he drove home his three goats, three cows, three horses, and three asses, and the milk of the cows had to be turned into a valley where it made a lough three miles long, three miles broad, and three miles deep, and that lough has been filled with salmon and white trout ever since.
The gentleman wondered now more than ever to see Billy back the third day alive. "Did you see nothing in the orchard the day, Billy?" says he.
"No, nothing worse nor myself," says Billy.
"Well that beats me," says the gentleman.
"What about my wages now?" says Billy.
"Well, you're a good mindful boy, that I couldn't easy do without," says the gentleman, "and I'll give you any wages you ask for the future."
The next morning, says the gentleman to Billy, "I heard none of the giants crying last night, however it comes. I don't know what has happened to them?"
"I don't know," says Billy, "they must be sick or something."
"Now, Billy," says the gentleman, "you must look after the cattle the day again, while I go to see the fight."
"What fight?" says Billy.
"Why," says the gentleman, "it's the king's daughter is going to be devoured by a fiery dragon, if the greatest fighter in the land, that they have been feeding specially for the last three months, isn't able to kill the dragon first. And if he's able to kill the dragon the king is to give him the daughter in marriage."
"That will be fine," says Billy.
Billy drove out his three goats, three cows, three horses, and three asses to the orchard that day again, and the like of all that passed that day to see the fight with the man and the fiery dragon, Billy never witnessed before. They went in coaches and carriages, on horses and jackasses, riding and walking, crawling and creeping.
"My tight little fellow," says a man that was passing to Billy, "why don't you come to see the great fight?"
"What would take the likes of me there?" says Billy.
But when Billy found them all gone he saddled and bridled the best black horse his master had, and put on the best suit of clothes he could get in his master's house, and rode off to the fight after the rest. When Billy went there he saw the king's daughter with the whole court about her on a platform before the castle, and he thought he never saw anything half as beautiful, and the great warrior that was to fight the dragon was walking up and down on the lawn before her, with three men carrying his sword, and every one in the whole country gathered there looking at him.
But when the fiery dragon came up with twelve heads on him, and every mouth of him spitting fire, and let twelve roars out of him, the warrior ran away and hid himself up to the neck in a well of water, and all they could do they couldn't get him to come and face the dragon.
Then the king's daughter asked if there was no one there to save her from the dragon, and get her in marriage. But not one stirred. When Billy saw this, he tied the belt of the bull's hide round him, swung his stick over his head, and went in, and after a terrible fight entirely, killed the dragon.
Every one then gathered about to find who the stranger was.
Billy jumped on his horse and darted away sooner than let them know; but just as he was getting away the king's daughter pulled the shoe off his foot.
When the dragon was killed the warrior that had hid in the well of water came out, and cutting the heads off the dragon he brought them to the king, and said that it was he who killed the dragon, in disguise; and he claimed the king's daughter.
But she tried the shoe on him and found it didn't fit him; so she said it wasn't him, and that she would marry no one only the man the shoe fitted.
When Billy got home he changed the clothes again, and had the horse in the stable, and the cattle all in before his master came. When the master came, he began telling Billy about the wonderful day they had entirely, and about the warrior hiding in the well of water, and about the grand stranger that came down out of the sky in a cloud on a black horse, and killed the fiery dragon, and then vanished in a cloud again.
"And, now," says he, "Billy, wasn't that wonderful?"
"It was, indeed," says Billy, "very wonderful entirely."
After that it was given out over the country that all the people were to come to the king's castle on a certain day, till the king's daughter would try the shoe on them, and whoever it fitted she was to marry them.
When the day arrived Billy was in the orchard with the three goats, three cows, three horses, and three asses, as usual, and the like of all the crowds that passed that day going to the king's castle to get the shoe tried on, he never saw before. They went in coaches and carriages, on horses and jackasses, riding and walking, and crawling and creeping. They all asked Billy was not he going to the king's castle, but Billy said, "Arrah, what would be bringin' the likes of me there?"
At last when all the others had gone there passed an old man with a very scarecrow suit of rags on him, and Billy stopped him and asked him what boot would he take and swap clothes with him.
"Just take care of yourself, now," says the old man, "and don't be playing off your jokes on my clothes, or maybe I'd make you feel the weight of this stick."
But Billy soon let him see it was in earnest he was, and both of them swapped suits, Billy giving the old man boot.
Then off to the castle started Billy, with the suit of rags on his back and an old stick in his hand, and when he come there he found all in great commotion trying on the shoe, and some of them cutting down their foot, trying to get it to fit.
But it was all of no use, the shoe could be got to fit none of them at all, and the king's daughter was going to give up in despair when the wee ragged looking boy, which was Billy, elbowed his way through them, and says he, "Let me try it on; maybe it would fit me."
But the people when they saw him, all began to laugh at the sight of him, and "Go along out of that, you example you," says they shoving and pushing him back.
But the king's daughter saw him, and called on them by all manner of means to let him come up and try on the shoe.
So Billy went up, and all the people looked on, breaking their hearts laughing at the conceit of it. But what would you have of it, but to the dumfounding of them all, the shoe fitted Billy as nice as if it was made on his foot for a last.
So the king's daughter claimed Billy as her husband.
He then confessed that it was he that killed the fiery dragon; and when the king had him dressed up in a silk and satin suit, with plenty of gold and silver ornaments everyone gave in that his like they never saw afore. He was then married to the king's daughter, and the wedding lasted nine days, nine hours, nine minutes, nine half minutes and nine quarter minutes, and they lived happy and well from that day to this. I got brogues of brochan and breeches of glass, a bit of pie for telling a lie, and then I came slithering home.
O NE would expect to find a mother in so large and flourishing a family, and you will not be surprised to hear that there is one.
Queen Apis Mellifica is the mother of the hive, and is by far the most important member of the community, as I suppose a queen always is—or should be, if she is a true queen.
Queen Apis is a true queen, as she shows by working harder than any other bee in the hive. Of course her work is different from that of the workers, else why should she be a queen? She does not carry nectar and pollen, and make honey-comb, and care for the young bees, but she does something just as difficult and just as important.
Like the drone, she has no honey-sac and no pollen baskets, though both queen and drone have plenty of brushes on their legs to keep themselves clean. Her wings are small, and she has a very short tongue. Her head is small in proportion to her body, as are also her eyes, which have fewer facets than the workers' eyes, and she has short antennæ.
In this picture of the heads of the queen, the drone, and the worker, you can readily tell which is which.
You see the queen expects to be taken care of all her days, and so does not need to be as well provided with sense organs as the workers.
Like the workers, and unlike the drones, she has a sting, but she very seldom uses it. In fact, you can handle her with as little fear of being stung as you can handle a drone.
The queen's sting is very, very precious, and she will not run the risk of losing it by stinging you.
There is only one queen in a hive, and she very seldom flies abroad. There is too much to be done at home, for we must not forget that she is really the mother of the whole colony. The workers are her daughters, and the drones her sons. We call her a queen, but she is queen only in the sense that every true mother is a queen in her home.
If the people who named her long ago had known as much about bees as we know today, they doubtless would have called her the mother-bee instead of the queen-bee.
The chief occupation of the queen-bee is to lay eggs. She lays the eggs for the whole colony.
Sometimes she lays as many as three thousand in one day.
She does not keep this up day after day the year round; even a queen-bee could not be expected to do that. But to lay three thousand eggs a day for a short time will furnish plenty of work for those who have to take care of the eggs and the young bees, and will keep the queen busy. Sometimes a hundred thousand eggs are laid in one season, which means a great deal of work for both queen and workers.
The ancients believed that bees gathered their young off the leaves of trees, or from the flowers of honeywort, the reed, or the olive. There was another superstition, that bees came forth from the decayed bodies of animals, and Virgil, who wrote much better Latin than most people can write English, soberly gives us a recipe for producing bees from the dead bodies of cattle!
Virgil's power to write well was greater than his knowledge of Natural History, which is not surprising, since there were no microscopes in those days.
To-day we know that if there are to be young bees, eggs must first be laid.
Bees cannot be picked from trees or flowers, or any other object, and carried home.
The queen-bee has to lay an egg for every one of the many bees that fill a hive.
And now you can understand why Queen Apis is so exceedingly particular about using her sting; for her sting is her ovipositor as well.
Ovipositor means egg-placer, for ovi comes from a Latin word, meaning egg, and positor from another Latin word, meaning "to place." It is with this that she places the eggs just where she wants them to be.
The ovipositor is made very much like the sting of the worker; and as the eggs ripen they pass through the long tube of the ovipositor, which guides them to the right place in the comb.
If the queen were to lose her sting, she would no longer be able to lay the eggs, and so the colony would soon die out.
For worker-bees live only a few months at the best, and sometimes only a few weeks, so the queen, who lives four or five years, and sometimes even longer, has to keep on laying eggs in order to keep her large household supplied with new members as the old die off.
It is no wonder, therefore, that she will not sting.
The queen takes no care of the eggs, nor of the young bees. She leaves all that to her daughters, the workers. She does not even feed herself much of the time.
But the workers are glad to take care of her. They prepare a special food for her, better than the food the other grown-up bees get, which is quite proper, as such a bee could not be expected to eat ordinary food.
Queen Apis has tasters, as did the old kings of France and England. Only the king's taster ate a little of the king's dish in his Majesty's presence, that he might be sure nobody had poisoned it, for they were fond of poisoning kings in those days.
But Queen Apis is not afraid of poison. She knows her children love her too well for that, and that they taste her food out of love to her. In fact, they do more than taste it, they swallow and digest the bee-bread and honey, and in their bodies it is made into a very nutritious food with which they feed their queen.
When she is hungry she goes to a worker bee, inserts her short tongue into its mouth, and takes what she wants, though sometimes she eats honey from the combs as well.
Occasionally bees feed one another on honey in this way, and they also feed the drones.
If you put a bee just caught and with her sac full of honey on a window-pane with a bee from the same hive that has had nothing to eat for an hour or two, you will see a pretty sight. The hungry bee will go to her newly arrived companion, and as soon as they have crossed antennæ and discovered they are friends, the hungry sister will present her tongue. Then the other will open her jaws and doubtless proceed to force up the honey from the honey-sac to her mouth for the benefit of her hungry sister.
The one that takes the sweets usually raises her wings slightly as though expressing her pleasure and satisfaction at thus unexpectedly obtaining a meal.
There is good reason for feeding the queen with "royal jelly," as her food is called.
The formation of eggs uses up a good deal of food material as well as a good deal of strength.
If Queen Apis's strength were used up in digesting food, for it takes a good deal of strength to digest food properly, how do you suppose she could lay all those eggs?
She could not possibly do it. The workers seem to know this, and so they save her strength in every possible way.
They give her an abundance of the best of food, and they do all the work, not even asking her to take any care of the little bee-babies when they are hatched.
The Pobble who has no toes
Had once as many as we;
When they said, "Some day you may lose them all;"—
He replied,—"Fish fiddle de-dee!"
And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink,
Lavender water tinged with pink,
For she said, "The World in general knows
There's nothing so good for a Pobble's toes!"
The Pobble who has no toes,
Swam across the Bristol Channel;
But before he set out he wrapped his nose,
In a piece of scarlet flannel.
For his Aunt Jobiska said, "No harm
Can come to his toes if his nose is warm;
And it's perfectly known that a Pobble's toes
Are safe,—provided he minds his nose."
The Pobble swam fast and well
And when boats or ships came near him
He tinkedly-binkledy-winkled a bell
So that all the world could hear him.
And all the Sailors and Admirals cried,
When they saw him nearing the further side,—
"He has gone to fish, for his Aunt Jobiska's
Runcible Cat with crimson whiskers!"
But before he touched the shore,
The shore of the Bristol Channel,
A sea-green Porpoise carried away
His wrapper of scarlet flannel.
And when he came to observe his feet
Formerly garnished with toes so neat
His face at once became forlorn
On perceiving that all his toes were gone!
And nobody ever knew
From that dark day to the present,
Whoso had taken the Pobble's toes,
In a manner so far from pleasant.
Whether the shrimps or crawfish gray,
Or crafty Mermaids stole them away—
Nobody knew; and nobody knows
How the Pebble was robbed of his twice five toes!
The Pobble who has no toes
Was placed in a friendly Bark,
And they rowed him back, and carried him up,
To his Aunt Jobiska's Park.
And she made him a feast at his earnest wish
Of eggs and buttercups fried with fish;—
And she said,—"It's a fact the whole world knows,
That Pebbles are happier without their toes."
WEEK 18 |
Matthew xiii: 1 to 53;
Mark iv: 1 to 34;
Luke viii: 4 to 18.
FTER Jesus had journeyed through the southern parts of Galilee, teaching and healing the sick, he came again to Capernaum; and one day went out of the city to a place where the beach rose up gently from the water. There he sat in Simon Peter's boat, as he had sat before, and spoke to a great crowd of people who stood on the beach.
At this time Jesus began teaching the people by parables; that is, by stories which showed the truths of the gospel. Everybody liked to hear a story; and the story would often lead people to think, and to find out the truth for themselves. The first of these parables or stories that Jesus gave was called "The Parable of the Sower."
"Listen to me," said Jesus. "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, where the ground was hard, where some of the seed was trodden down, and other seeds were picked up by the birds. Some of the seed fell where the soil was thin, because rocks were under it. These seeds grew up quickly, but when the sun became hot, they were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough soil and moisture for their roots. Other seeds fell among briars and thorns, and the thorns kept them from growing. And some seeds fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, thirty times as many as were sown, sixty times, and even a hundred times. Whoever has ears to hear this, let him hear!" When Jesus was alone with his disciples, they said to him, "Why do you speak to the people in parables? What does this parable about the man sowing his seeds mean?"
And Jesus said to them, "To you it is given to know the deep things of the kingdom of God, because you seek to find them out. But to many these things are spoken in parables, for they hear the story, but do not try to find out what it means. They have eyes, but they do not see; and they have ears; but they do not hear. For they do not wish to understand with the heart, and turn to the Lord and have their sins forgiven them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Listen now to the meaning of the parable of the sower.
"The sower is the one who speaks the word of God; and the seed is the word which he speaks. The seed by the roadside are those who hear; but the evil one comes, and snatches away the truth, so that they forget it. The seed on the rock are those who hear the word with joy, but have no root in themselves, and their goodness lasts only for a little time. That which is sown among the thorns are they who hear, but the cares of the world, and seeking after riches and the enjoyments of this life, crowd out the gospel from their lives, so that it does them but little good. But that which is sown on the good ground are they who take the word into an honest and good heart, and keep it, and bring forth fruit in their lives."
Another parable or story given by Jesus to the people was, "The Parable of the Tares":
"The kingdom of God is as a man sowing good seed in his field; but while people were asleep, his enemy came and sowed tares, or weeds, among the wheat, and then went away. When the shoots of grain began to have heads of wheat then the tares were seen among them. The servants of the farmer came to him, and said, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How did the tares come into it?'
"He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.'
Another parable was that of "The Mustard Seed." He said:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. This is the smallest of all seeds: but it grows up to be a large bush, almost a tree, so that the birds of the air light upon its branches and rest under its shadow."
Another parable was "The Leaven, or Yeast":
"The kingdom of heaven is like a little leaven, or yeast, that a woman mixed with dough when she was making bread. It worked through all the dough and changed it into good, light bread."
These parables Jesus told to the people as he sat in the boat and the people stood on the shore. But he did not tell them what the parables meant, for he wished them to think out the meaning for themselves. After giving the parables he sent the people away, and came back to the house in the city. There his disciples said to him, "Tell us the meaning of the parable of the tares growing in the field."
Jesus said to them, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are those who belong to the kingdom of God; but the tares, the weeds, are the children of the evil one; the enemy that sowed them is Satan, the devil; and the reapers are the angels. Just as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send out his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all that do evil and cause harm, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. But the people of God in that day shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
And in the house Jesus gave to his disciples some more parables for them to think upon. He said:
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure which a man found hidden in a field. He was glad when he saw it, but hid it again; and then went home and sold all that he had and bought that field with the treasure in it.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who was seeking precious pearls. This man found one pearl of great price. He went and sold all that he had, and bought the pearl.
"Once more: the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea, and took in fish of all kinds. When it was full, they drew the net to the shore. Then they sat down and picked out the good fish from among the bad. The good fish they put away for safe keeping, but the bad fish they threw away. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall come, and shall place the wicked apart from the good, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
A SOUND of many soft feet followed, but soon ceased. Then Curdie flew at the hole like a tiger, and tore and pulled. The sides gave way, and it was soon large enough for him to crawl through. He would not betray himself by rekindling his lamp, but the torches of the retreating company, departing in a straight line up a long avenue from the door of their cave, threw back light enough to afford him a glance round the deserted home of the goblins. To his surprise, he could discover nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary cave in the rock, upon many of which he had come with the rest of the miners in the progress of their excavations. The goblins had talked of coming back for the rest of their household gear: he saw nothing that would have made him suspect a family had taken shelter there for a single night. The floor was rough and stony; the walls full of projecting corners; the roof in one place twenty feet high, in another endangering his forehead; while on one side a stream, no thicker than a needle, it is true, but still sufficient to spread a wide dampness over the wall, flowed down the face of the rock. But the troop in front of him was toiling under heavy burdens. He could distinguish Helfer now and then, in the flickering light and shade, with his heavy chest on his bending shoulders; while the second brother was almost buried in what looked like a great feather-bed. "Where do they get the feathers?" thought Curdie; but in a moment the troop disappeared at a turn of the way, and it was now both safe and necessary for Curdie to follow them, lest they should be round the next turning before he saw them again, for so he might lose them altogether. He darted after them like a grayhound. When he reached the corner and looked cautiously round, he saw them again at some distance down another long passage. None of the galleries he saw that night bore signs of the work of man—or of goblin either. Stalactites, far older than the mines, hung from their roofs; and their floors were rough with boulders and large round stones, showing that there water must have once run. He waited again at this corner till they had disappeared round the next, and so followed them a long way through one passage after another. The passages grew more and more lofty, and were more and more covered in the roof with shining stalactites.
It was a strange enough procession which he followed. But the strangest part of it was the household animals which crowded amongst the feet of the goblins. It was true they had no wild animals down there—at least they did not know of any; but they had a wonderful number of tame ones. I must, however, reserve any contributions toward the natural history of these for a later position in my story.
At length, turning a corner too abruptly, he had almost rushed into the middle of the goblin family; for there they had already set down all their burdens on the floor of a cave considerably larger than that which they had left. They were as yet too breathless to speak, else he would have had warning of their arrest. He started back, however, before anyone saw him, and retreating a good way, stood watching till the father should come out to go to the palace. Before very long, both he and his son Helfer appeared and kept on in the same direction as before, while Curdie followed them again with renewed precaution. For a long time he heard no sound except something like the rush of a river inside the rock; but at length what seemed the far-off noise of a great shouting reached his ears, which, however, presently ceased. After advancing a good way farther, he thought he heard a single voice. It sounded clearer and clearer as he went on, until at last he could almost distinguish the words. In a moment or two, keeping after the goblins round another corner, he once more started back—this time in amazement.
He was at the entrance of a magnificent cavern, of an oval shape, once probably a huge natural reservoir of water, now the great palace hall of the goblins. It rose to a tremendous height, but the roof was composed of such shining materials, and the multitude of torches carried by the goblins who crowded the floor lighted up the place so brilliantly, that Curdie could see to the top quite well. But he had no idea how immense the place was, until his eyes had got accustomed to it, which was not for a good many minutes. The rough projections on the walls, and the shadows thrown upward from them by the torches, made the sides of the chamber look as if they were crowded with statues upon brackets and pedestals, reaching in irregular tiers from floor to roof. The walls themselves were, in many parts, of gloriously shining substances, some of them gorgeously coloured besides, which powerfully contrasted with the shadows. Curdie could not help wondering whether his rhymes would be of any use against such a multitude of goblins as filled the floor of the hall, and indeed felt considerably tempted to begin his shout of One, two, three! but as there was no reason for routing them, and much for endeavouring to discover their designs, he kept himself perfectly quiet, and peeping round the edge of the doorway, listened with both his sharp ears.
He was at the entrance of a magnificent cavern.
At the other end of the hall, high above the heads of the multitude, was a terrace-like ledge of considerable height, caused by the receding of the upper part of the cavern-wall. Upon this sat the king and his court, the king on a throne hollowed out of a huge block of green copper ore, and his court upon lower seats around it. The king had been making them a speech, and the applause which followed it was what Curdie had heard. One of the court was now addressing the multitude. What he heard him say was to the following effect:
"Hence it appears that two plans have been for some time together working in the strong head of his Majesty for the deliverance of his people. Regardless of the fact that we were the first possessors of the regions they now inhabit, regardless equally of the fact that we abandoned that region from the loftiest motives, regardless also of the self-evident fact that we excel them as far in mental ability as they excel us in stature, they look upon us as a degraded race, and make a mockery of all our finer feelings. But the time has almost arrived when—thanks to his Majesty's inventive genius—it will be in our power to take a thorough revenge upon them once for all, in respect of their unfriendly behavior."
"May it please Your
"Who is he that interrupts the Chancellor?" cried another from near the throne.
"Glump," answered several voices.
"He is our trusty subject," said the king himself, in a slow and stately voice: "let him come forward and speak."
A lane was parted through the crowd, and Glump, having ascended the platform and bowed to the king, spoke as follows:
"Sire, I would have held my peace, had I not known that I only knew how near was the moment to which the Chancellor had just referred. In all probability, before another day is past, the enemy will have broken through into my house—the partition between being even now not more than a foot in thickness."
"Not quite so much," thought Curdie to himself.
"This very evening I have had to remove my household effects; therefore the sooner we are ready to carry out the plan, for the execution of which his Majesty has been making such magnificent preparations, the better. I may just add, that within the last few days I have perceived a small outbreak in my dining-room, which, combined with observations upon the course of the river escaping where the evil men enter, has convinced me that close to the spot must lie a deep gulf in its channel. This discovery will, I trust, add considerably to the otherwise immense forces at his Majesty's disposal."
He ceased, and the king graciously acknowledged his speech with a bend of his head; whereupon Glump, after a bow to his Majesty, slid down amongst the rest of the undistinguished multitude. Then the Chancellor rose and resumed.
"The information which the worthy Glump has given us," he said, "might have been of considerable import at the present moment, but for that other design already referred to, which naturally takes precedence. His Majesty, unwilling to proceed to extremities, and well aware that such measures sooner or later result in violent reactions, has excogitated a more fundamental and comprehensive measure, of which I need say no more. Should his Majesty be successful—as who dares to doubt?—then a peace, all to the advantage of the goblin kingdom, will be established for a generation at least, rendered absolutely secure by the pledge which his royal Highness the prince will have and hold for the good behavior of his relatives. Should his Majesty fail—which who shall dare even to imagine in his most secret thoughts?—then will be the time for carrying out with rigor the design to which Glump referred, and for which our preparations are even now all but completed. The failure of the former will render the latter imperative."
Curdie, perceiving that the assembly was drawing to a close, and that there was little chance of either plan being more fully discovered, now thought it prudent to make his escape before the goblins began to disperse, and slipped quietly away.
There was not much danger of meeting any goblins, for all the men at least were left behind him in the palace; but there was considerable danger of his taking a wrong turning, for he had now no light, and had therefore to depend upon his memory and his hands. After he had left behind him the glow that issued from the door of Glump's new abode, he was utterly without guide, so far as his eyes were concerned.
He was most anxious to get back through the hole before the goblins should return to fetch the remains of their furniture. It was not that he was in the least afraid of them, but, as it was of the utmost importance that he should thoroughly discover what the plans they were cherishing were, he must not occasion the slightest suspicion that they were watched by a miner.
He hurried on, feeling his way along the walls of rock. Had he not been very courageous, he must have been very anxious, for he could not but know that if he lost his way it would be the most difficult thing in the world to find it again. Morning would bring no light into these regions; and toward him least of all, who was known as a special rhymster and persecutor, could goblins be expected to exercise courtesy. Well might he wish that he had brought his lamp and tinder-box with him, of which he had not thought when he crept so eagerly after the goblins! He wished it all the more when, after a while, he found his way blocked up, and could get no farther. It was of no use to turn back, for he had not the least idea where he had begun to go wrong. Mechanically, however, he kept feeling about the walls that hemmed him in. His hand came upon a place where a tiny stream of water was running down the face of the rock. "What a stupid I am!" he said to himself. "I am actually at the end of my journey!—and there are the goblins coming back to fetch their things!" he added, as the red glimmer of their torches appeared at the end of the long avenue that led up to the cave. In a moment he had thrown himself on the floor, and wriggled backward through the hole. The floor on the other side was several feet lower, which made it easier to get back. It was all he could do to lift the largest stone he had taken out of the hole, but he did manage to shove it in again. He sat down on the ore-heap and thought.
He was pretty sure that the latter plan of the goblins was to inundate the mine by breaking outlets for the water accumulated in the natural reservoirs of the mountain, as well as running through portions of it. While the part hollowed by the miners remained shut off from that inhabited by the goblins, they had had no opportunity of injuring them thus; but now that a passage was broken through, and the goblins' part proved the higher in the mountain, it was clear to Curdie that the mine could be destroyed in an hour. Water was always the chief danger to which the miners were exposed. They met with a little choke-damp sometimes, but never with the explosive fire-damp so common in coal mines. Hence they were careful as soon as they saw any appearance of water.
As the result of his reflections while the goblins were busy in their old home, it seemed to Curdie that it would be best to build up the whole of this gang, filling it with stone, and clay or lime, so that there should be no smallest channel for the water to get into. There was not, however, any immediate danger, for the execution of the goblins' plan was contingent upon the failure of that unknown design which was to take precedence of it; and he was most anxious to keep the door of communication open, that he might if possible discover what that former plan was. At the same time they could not then resume their intermitted labors for the inundation without his finding it out; when by putting all hands to the work, the one existing outlet might in a single night be rendered impenetrable to any weight of water; for by filling the gang entirely up, their embankment would be buttressed by the sides of the mountain itself.
As soon as he found that the goblins had again retired, he lighted his lamp, and proceeded to fill the hole he had made with such stones as he could withdraw when he pleased. He then thought it better, as he might have occasion to be up a good many nights after this, to go home and have some sleep.
How pleasant the night-air felt upon the outside of the mountain after what he had gone through in the inside of it! He hurried up the hill, without meeting a single goblin on the way, and called and tapped at the window until he woke his father, who soon rose and let him in. He told him the whole story, and, just as he had expected, his father thought it best to work that lode no farther, but at the same time to pretend occasionally to be at work there still, in order that the goblins might have no suspicions. Both father and son then went then to bed and slept soundly until the morning.
Sister, awake! close not your eyes!
The day her light discloses,
And the bright morning doth arise
Out of her bed of roses.
See the clear sun, the world's bright eye,
In at our window peeping:
Lo, how he blusheth to espy
Us idle wenches sleeping!
Therefore awake! make haste, I say,
And let us, without staying,
All in our gowns of green so gay
Into the Park a-maying!