WEEK 20 |
M ONDAY morning found Tom Sawyer miserable. Monday morning always found him so—because it began another week's slow suffering in school. He generally began that day with wishing he had had no intervening holiday, it made the going into captivity and fetters again so much more odious.
Tom lay thinking. Presently it occurred to him that he wished he was sick; then he could stay home from school. Here was a vague possibility. He canvassed his system. No ailment was found, and he investigated again. This time he thought he could detect colicky symptoms, and he began to encourage them with considerable hope. But they soon grew feeble, and presently died wholly away. He reflected further. Suddenly he discovered something. One of his upper front teeth was loose. This was lucky; he was about to begin to groan, as a "starter," as he called it, when it occurred to him that if he came into court with that argument, his aunt would pull it out, and that would hurt. So he thought he would hold the tooth in reserve for the present, and seek further. Nothing offered for some little time, and then he remembered hearing the doctor tell about a certain thing that laid up a patient for two or three weeks and threatened to make him lose a finger. So the boy eagerly drew his sore toe from under the sheet and held it up for inspection. But now he did not know the necessary symptoms. However, it seemed well worth while to chance it, so he fell to groaning with considerable spirit.
But Sid slept on unconscious.
Tom groaned louder, and fancied that he began to feel pain in the toe.
No result from Sid.
Tom was panting with his exertions by this time. He took a rest and then swelled himself up and fetched a succession of admirable groans.
Sid snored on.
Tom was aggravated. He said, "Sid, Sid!" and shook him. This course worked well, and Tom began to groan again. Sid yawned, stretched, then brought himself up on his elbow with a snort, and began to stare at Tom. Tom went on groaning. Sid said:
"Tom! Say, Tom!" [No response.] "Here, Tom! Tom! What is the matter, Tom?" And he shook him and looked in his face anxiously.
Tom moaned out:
"Oh, don't, Sid. Don't joggle me."
"Why, what's the matter, Tom? I must call auntie."
"No—never mind. It'll be over by and by, maybe. Don't call anybody."
"But I must! Don't groan so, Tom, it's awful. How long you been this way?"
"Hours. Ouch! Oh, don't stir so, Sid, you'll kill me."
"Tom, why didn't you wake me sooner? Oh, Tom, don't! It makes my flesh crawl to hear you. Tom, what is the matter?"
"I forgive you everything, Sid. [Groan.] Everything you've ever done
to me. When I'm
"Oh, Tom, you ain't dying, are you? Don't, Tom—oh, don't.
"I forgive everybody, Sid. [Groan.] Tell 'em so, Sid. And Sid, you
give my window-sash and my cat with one eye to that new girl that's
come to town, and tell
But Sid had snatched his clothes and gone. Tom was suffering in reality, now, so handsomely was his imagination working, and so his groans had gathered quite a genuine tone.
Sid flew down-stairs and said:
"Oh, Aunt Polly, come! Tom's dying!"
"Yes'm. Don't wait—come quick!"
"Rubbage! I don't believe it!"
But she fled up-stairs, nevertheless, with Sid and Mary at her heels. And her face grew white, too, and her lip trembled. When she reached the bedside she gasped out:
"You, Tom! Tom, what's the matter with you?"
"What's the matter with you—what is the matter with you, child?"
"Oh, auntie, my sore toe's mortified!"
The old lady sank down into a chair and laughed a little, then cried a little, then did both together. This restored her and she said:
"Tom, what a turn you did give me. Now you shut up that nonsense and climb out of this."
The groans ceased and the pain vanished from the toe. The boy felt a little foolish, and he said:
"Aunt Polly, it seemed mortified, and it hurt so I never minded my tooth at all."
"Your tooth, indeed! What's the matter with your tooth?"
"One of them's loose, and it aches perfectly awful."
"There, there, now, don't begin that groaning again. Open your mouth. Well—your tooth is loose, but you're not going to die about that. Mary, get me a silk thread, and a chunk of fire out of the kitchen."
"Oh, please auntie, don't pull it out. It don't hurt any more. I wish I may never stir if it does. Please don't, auntie. I don't want to stay home from school."
"Oh, you don't, don't you? So all this row was because you thought you'd get to stay home from school and go a-fishing? Tom, Tom, I love you so, and you seem to try every way you can to break my old heart with your outrageousness." By this time the dental instruments were ready. The old lady made one end of the silk thread fast to Tom's tooth with a loop and tied the other to the bedpost. Then she seized the chunk of fire and suddenly thrust it almost into the boy's face. The tooth hung dangling by the bedpost, now.
But all trials bring their compensations. As Tom wended to school after breakfast, he was the envy of every boy he met because the gap in his upper row of teeth enabled him to expectorate in a new and admirable way. He gathered quite a following of lads interested in the exhibition; and one that had cut his finger and had been a centre of fascination and homage up to this time, now found himself suddenly without an adherent, and shorn of his glory. His heart was heavy, and he said with a disdain which he did not feel, that it wasn't anything to spit like Tom Sawyer; but another boy said, "Sour grapes!" and he wandered away a dismantled hero.
Shortly Tom came upon the juvenile pariah of the village, Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunkard. Huckleberry was cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town, because he was idle and lawless and vulgar and bad—and because all their children admired him so, and delighted in his forbidden society, and wished they dared to be like him. Tom was like the rest of the respectable boys, in that he envied Huckleberry his gaudy outcast condition, and was under strict orders not to play with him. So he played with him every time he got a chance. Huckleberry was always dressed in the cast-off clothes of full-grown men, and they were in perennial bloom and fluttering with rags. His hat was a vast ruin with a wide crescent lopped out of its brim; his coat, when he wore one, hung nearly to his heels and had the rearward buttons far down the back; but one suspender supported his trousers; the seat of the trousers bagged low and contained nothing; the fringed legs dragged in the dirt when not rolled up.
Huckleberry came and went, at his own free will. He slept on doorsteps in fine weather and in empty hogsheads in wet; he did not have to go to school or to church, or call any being master or obey anybody; he could go fishing or swimming when and where he chose, and stay as long as it suited him; nobody forbade him to fight; he could sit up as late as he pleased; he was always the first boy that went barefoot in the spring and the last to resume leather in the fall; he never had to wash, nor put on clean clothes; he could swear wonderfully. In a word, everything that goes to make life precious that boy had. So thought every harassed, hampered, respectable boy in St. Petersburg.
Tom hailed the romantic outcast:
"Hello yourself, and see how you like it."
"What's that you got?"
"Lemme see him, Huck. My, he's pretty stiff. Where'd you get him?"
"Bought him off'n a boy."
"What did you give?"
"I give a blue ticket and a bladder that I got at the slaughter-house."
"Where'd you get the blue ticket?"
"Bought it off'n Ben Rogers two weeks ago for a hoop-stick."
"Say—what is dead cats good for, Huck?"
"Good for? Cure warts with."
"No! Is that so? I know something that's better."
"I bet you don't. What is it?"
"Spunk-water! I wouldn't give a dern for spunk-water."
"You wouldn't, wouldn't you? D'you ever try it?"
"No, I hain't. But Bob Tanner did."
"Who told you so?"
"Why, he told Jeff Thatcher, and Jeff told Johnny Baker, and Johnny told Jim Hollis, and Jim told Ben Rogers, and Ben told a nigger, and the nigger told me. There now!"
"Well, what of it? They'll all lie. Leastways all but the nigger. I don't know him. But I never see a nigger that wouldn't lie. Shucks! Now you tell me how Bob Tanner done it, Huck."
"Why, he took and dipped his hand in a rotten stump where the rain-water was."
"In the daytime?"
"With his face to the stump?"
"Yes. Least I reckon so."
"Did he say anything?"
"I don't reckon he did. I don't know."
"Aha! Talk about trying to cure warts with spunk-water such a blame-fool way as that! Why, that ain't a-going to do any good. You got to go all by yourself, to the middle of the woods, where you know there's a spunk-water stump, and just as it's midnight you back up against the stump and jam your hand in and say:
'Barley-corn, Barley-corn, injun-meal shorts,
Spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts,'
and then walk away quick, eleven steps, with your eyes shut, and then turn around three times and walk home without speaking to anybody. Because if you speak the charm's busted."
"Well, that sounds like a good way; but that ain't the way Bob Tanner done."
"No, sir, you can bet he didn't, becuz he's the wartiest boy in this town; and he wouldn't have a wart on him if he'd knowed how to work spunk-water. I've took off thousands of warts off of my hands that way, Huck. I play with frogs so much that I've always got considerable many warts. Sometimes I take 'em off with a bean."
"Yes, bean's good. I've done that."
"Have you? What's your way?"
"You take and split the bean, and cut the wart so as to get some blood, and then you put the blood on one piece of the bean and take and dig a hole and bury it 'bout midnight at the crossroads in the dark of the moon, and then you burn up the rest of the bean. You see that piece that's got the blood on it will keep drawing and drawing, trying to fetch the other piece to it, and so that helps the blood to draw the wart, and pretty soon off she comes."
"Yes, that's it, Huck—that's it; though when you're burying it if you say 'Down bean; off wart; come no more to bother me!' it's better. That's the way Joe Harper does, and he's been nearly to Coonville and most everywheres. But say—how do you cure 'em with dead cats?"
"Why, you take your cat and go and get in the graveyard 'long about midnight when somebody that was wicked has been buried; and when it's midnight a devil will come, or maybe two or three, but you can't see 'em, you can only hear something like the wind, or maybe hear 'em talk; and when they're taking that feller away, you heave your cat after 'em and say, 'Devil follow corpse, cat follow devil, warts follow cat, I' m done with ye!' That'll fetch any wart."
"Sounds right. D'you ever try it, Huck?"
"No, but old Mother Hopkins told me."
"Well, I reckon it's so, then. Becuz they say she's a witch."
"Say! Why, Tom, I know she is. She witched pap. Pap says so his own self. He come along one day, and he see she was a-witching him, so he took up a rock, and if she hadn't dodged, he'd 'a' got her. Well, that very night he rolled off'n a shed wher' he was a-layin' drunk, and broke his arm."
"Why, that's awful. How did he know she was a-witching him?"
"Lord, pap can tell, easy. Pap says when they keep looking at you right stiddy, they're a-witching you. Specially if they mumble. Becuz when they mumble they're saying the Lord's Prayer backards."
"Say, Hucky, when you going to try the cat?"
"To-night. I reckon they'll come after old Hoss Williams to-night."
"But they buried him Saturday. Didn't they get him Saturday night?"
"Why, how you talk! How could their charms work till midnight?—and then it's Sunday. Devils don't slosh around much of a Sunday, I don't reckon."
"I never thought of that. That's so. Lemme go with you?"
"Of course—if you ain't afeard."
"Afeard! 'Tain't likely. Will you meow?"
"Yes—and you meow back, if you get a chance. Last time, you kep' me a-meowing around till old Hays went to throwing rocks at me and says 'Dern that cat!' and so I hove a brick through his window—but don't you tell."
"I won't. I couldn't meow that night, becuz auntie was watching me, but I'll meow this time. Say—what's that?"
"Nothing but a tick."
"Where'd you get him?"
"Out in the woods."
"What'll you take for him?"
"I don't know. I don't want to sell him."
"All right. It's a mighty small tick, anyway."
"Oh, anybody can run a tick down that don't belong to them. I'm satisfied with it. It's a good enough tick for me."
"Sho, there's ticks a-plenty. I could have a thousand of 'em if I wanted to."
"Well, why don't you? Becuz you know mighty well you can't. This is a pretty early tick, I reckon. It's the first one I've seen this year."
"Say, Huck—I'll give you my tooth for him."
"Less see it."
Tom got out a bit of paper and carefully unrolled it. Huckleberry viewed it wistfully. The temptation was very strong. At last he said:
"Is it genuwyne?"
Tom lifted his lip and showed the vacancy.
"Well, all right," said Huckleberry, "it's a trade."
Tom inclosed the tick in the percussion-cap box that had lately been the pinch-bug's prison, and the boys separated, each feeling wealthier than before.
When Tom reached the little isolated frame school-house, he strode in briskly, with the manner of one who had come with all honest speed. He hung his hat on a peg and flung himself into his seat with businesslike alacrity. The master, throned on high in his great splint-bottom arm-chair, was dozing, lulled by the drowsy hum of study. The interruption roused him.
Tom knew that when his name was pronounced in full, it meant trouble.
"Come up here. Now, sir, why are you late again, as usual?"
Tom was about to take refuge in a lie, when he saw two long tails of yellow hair hanging down a back that he recognized by the electric sympathy of love; and by that form was the only vacant place on the girls' side of the school-house. He instantly said:
"I stopped to talk with Huckleberry Finn!"
The master's pulse stood still, and he stared helplessly. The buzz of study ceased. The pupils wondered if this foolhardy boy had lost his mind. The master said:
"You—you did what?"
"Stopped to talk with Huckleberry Finn."
There was no mistaking the words.
"Thomas Sawyer, this is the most astounding confession I have ever listened to. No mere ferule will answer for this offence. Take off your jacket."
The master's arm performed until it was tired and the stock of switches notably diminished. Then the order followed:
"Now, sir, go and sit with the girls! And let this be a warning to you."
The titter that rippled around the room appeared to abash the boy, but in reality that result was caused rather more by his worshipful awe of his unknown idol and the dread pleasure that lay in his high good fortune. He sat down upon the end of the pine bench and the girl hitched herself away from him with a toss of her head. Nudges and winks and whispers traversed the room, but Tom sat still, with his arms upon the long, low desk before him, and seemed to study his book.
By and by attention ceased from him, and the accustomed school murmur rose upon the dull air once more. Presently the boy began to steal furtive glances at the girl. She observed it, "made a mouth" at him and gave him the back of her head for the space of a minute. When she cautiously faced around again, a peach lay before her. She thrust it away. Tom gently put it back. She thrust it away again, but with less animosity. Tom patiently returned it to its place. Then she let it remain. Tom scrawled on his slate, "Please take it—I got more." The girl glanced at the words, but made no sign. Now the boy began to draw something on the slate, hiding his work with his left hand. For a time the girl refused to notice; but her human curiosity presently began to manifest itself by hardly perceptible signs. The boy worked on, apparently unconscious. The girl made a sort of non-committal attempt to see it, but the boy did not betray that he was aware of it. At last she gave in and hesitatingly whispered:
"Let me see it."
"Let me see it."
Tom partly uncovered a dismal caricature of a house with two gable ends to it and a corkscrew of smoke issuing from the chimney. Then the girl's interest began to fasten itself upon the work and she forgot everything else. When it was finished, she gazed a moment, then whispered:
"It's nice—make a man."
The artist erected a man in the front yard, that resembled a derrick. He could have stepped over the house; but the girl was not hypercritical; she was satisfied with the monster, and whispered:
"It's a beautiful man—now make me coming along."
Tom drew an hour-glass with a full moon and straw limbs to it and armed the spreading fingers with a portentous fan. The girl said:
"It's ever so nice—I wish I could draw."
"It's easy," whispered Tom, "I'll learn you."
"Oh, will you? When?"
"At noon. Do you go home to dinner?"
"I'll stay if you will."
"Good—that's a whack. What's your name?"
"Becky Thatcher. What's yours? Oh, I know. It's Thomas Sawyer."
"That's the name they lick me by. I'm Tom when I'm good. You call me Tom, will you?"
Now Tom began to scrawl something on the slate, hiding the words from the girl. But she was not backward this time. She begged to see. Tom said:
"Oh, it ain't anything."
"Yes it is."
"No it ain't. You don't want to see."
"Yes I do, indeed I do. Please let me."
"No I won't—deed and deed and double deed I won't."
"You won't tell anybody at all? Ever, as long as you live?"
"No, I won't ever tell
"Oh, you don't want to see!"
"Now that you treat me so, I will see." And she put her small hand upon his and a little scuffle ensued, Tom pretending to resist in earnest but letting his hand slip by degrees till these words were revealed: "I love you."
"Oh, you bad thing!" And she hit his hand a smart rap, but reddened and looked pleased, nevertheless.
Just at this juncture the boy felt a slow, fateful grip closing on his ear, and a steady lifting impulse. In that vise he was borne across the house and deposited in his own seat, under a peppering fire of giggles from the whole school. Then the master stood over him during a few awful moments, and finally moved away to his throne without saying a word. But although Tom's ear tingled, his heart was jubilant.
As the school quieted down Tom made an honest effort to study, but the turmoil within him was too great. In turn he took his place in the reading class and made a botch of it; then in the geography class and turned lakes into mountains, mountains into rivers, and rivers into continents, till chaos was come again; then in the spelling class, and got "turned down," by a succession of mere baby words, till he brought up at the foot and yielded up the pewter medal which he had worn with ostentation for months.
I t has already been said that Charlemagne was a German. He, of course, spoke German, but even in his day the people in the western part of his kingdom, in what is now the land of France, used a language that was beginning to approach somewhat to what is now known as French. This change had begun long before, in the days when the country fell into the hands of the Romans, who introduced their own language, the Latin.
An Ancient Castle at Clisson, France
Now if a new language were introduced into any country to-day, few people would speak it correctly, and it was so in France. The people mixed the new tongue with their own. For instance, when a Roman wished to say of or to he usually added a letter or two to the noun following. The people of France used the prepositions de or à, and did not trouble themselves to change the noun. Other words or expressions were made simpler or altered in much the same way, and before the end of the tenth century, the people of France were speaking a language that was composed of a little Celtic, a little German, and a great deal of Latin; but the Latin had become quite different from that used in Rome. This mixture was rapidly turning into French as it is spoken to-day.
The French people, then, differed in language from the Germans, and many of the nobles were feeling more and more strongly that they did not wish to be ruled by a German, but by one of themselves, who would talk French and feel and think like a Frenchman, one who would be satisfied with ruling France and would not be ever thinking of forming an empire and becoming emperor.
A Celebrated Feudal Castle in Touraine, France
In 987, there was an excellent opportunity to put a new family upon the throne, for the last of Charlemagne's direct descendants, Louis the Child, had just died. The great barons met together to choose a ruler. They decided upon Duke Hugh Capet, and he became king. He had little more power, however, than some of his counts and dukes; and it may be that he sometimes wished he was still a duke, for some of the nobles refused to accept him as their ruler. There is a story that one of his vassals, that is, one who held land from him by feudal tenure, overran the district of Touraine, and forthwith began to call himself Count of Tours and Poitiers. "Who made you count?" demanded Hugh; and the independent vassal retorted, "Who made you king?" Indeed, if the brave men of Normandy had not stood by him, Hugh would have had a hard struggle to keep his throne. He meant not only to keep it, but to hand it down in his family, and only a few months after his election he asked his nobles to elect his son Robert king also. Then, while he lived, he reasoned shrewdly, Robert would help him govern the kingdom, and at his death there would be no question as to who should rule, and no division of the kingdom. At first the nobles hesitated a little. "We cannot elect two kings in one year," they gave as an excuse; but at length they yielded, and Robert was crowned.
This was the beginning of the rule of the powerful Capetian family which was to hold the throne of France for more than three centuries. Gaul, or France, had been ruled for many years by Romans and by Germans, but Hugh Capet was a Frenchman, ruling French people, the first king of France.
WEEK 20 |
HE reign of Queen Elizabeth was great, not only because she
was a wise ruler, but because she was surrounded by so many
wise, and great, and good men. One of these wise men, Sir
William Cecil, afterwards called Lord Burleigh, was her
secretary of state and her chief adviser during nearly all
her reign, until he died in
There were so many great men in England at this time that you could not remember all their names, and to tell stories about them all would fill a whole book. In the reign of Elizabeth it is not only the men who were soldiers that we remember as great, but the men who wrote books, the men who sailed over the sea and discovered new countries, and the men who by careful thinking and wise acts kept peace at home.
Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the great men who lived at this time. He was a soldier and a sailor, a courtier, and a writer of books. But clever though he was, until the great Queen noticed him, he remained only a simple country gentleman.
One day Elizabeth was passing along the streets, and the people as usual came crowding to see her. Among them was Sir Walter Raleigh. The Queen stepped from her coach and, followed by her ladies, was about to cross the road. But in those days the streets were very badly kept, and Elizabeth stopped before a puddle of mud. She was grandly dressed, and how to cross the muddy road, without soiling her dainty shoes and skirts, she did not know. As she paused Sir Walter sprang forward. He, too, was finely dressed and he was wearing a beautiful new cloak. This he quickly pulled off and, bowing low, threw upon the ground before the Queen.
Quickly pulling off his cloak he threw it upon the ground.
Elizabeth was very pleased, and, as she passed on, she smiled at the handsome young man who had ruined his beautiful cloak to save her dainty shoes, and ordered him to attend her at court. Raleigh's fortune was made. He went to court, and soon became so great a favourite that at one time he even thought that he might marry the Queen.
"Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall," he one day wrote with a diamond upon a window. And the Queen, seeing it, wrote underneath, "If thy heart fail thee, climb then not at all." So Raleigh climbed, and although he never reached the throne, he climbed high.
Elizabeth gave him money and lands till he became very rich. He wanted to sail away over the sea in search of new countries and treasure, as Drake had done. But the Queen would not let him go.
As Raleigh could not go himself, he spent a great deal of his money in buying ships and sending other men over the sea to find new lands. These men sailed to America, which was then wild and unknown. Landing there, they claimed it for England, and Raleigh named it Virginia of Elizabeth. She liked to call herself the Virgin Queen which means "the Queen who has never married." One of the United States of America is still called Virginia.
For a long time Elizabeth was very pleased with Raleigh, but at last she became angry with him and sent him to prison in the dreadful Tower. The reason for this was that Sir Walter had dared to love and marry another lady, one of the Queen's own maids of honour. Elizabeth was always very angry if any of the gentlemen in her court married. Many of them wished to marry her, but she refused them all. Still she wished them to think that she was the cleverest and most beautiful woman in all the world; she wished them all to love and admire her so much that they would never think of marrying any other lady. And when they did marry another, she was always very angry.
Sir Walter, happily, was not kept in prison for very long, and some years later he really did have his wish, and sailed away to explore America. He did not find the golden land which he had imagined, but he brought home many strange stories, and many curious and useful things.
Two of the things which Raleigh brought home with him were tobacco and potatoes. Elizabeth had given him estates in Ireland, and there he planted the potatoes, and showed the people how to grow them. Even to this day the poor people in Ireland grow many potatoes, and live on them very largely.
People were pleased with the new vegetable, but they were very much astonished when he showed them how to use tobacco. Such a thing had never been seen before, and it took people some time to grow accustomed to it.
One day, soon after Raleigh had returned home, he was sitting smoking when a servant came into the room. The man stood still in horror. Smoke filled the room and was pouring out of his master's mouth. He must be on fire, thought the servant. Without saying a word he ran away and returned as quickly as he could with a pail of water. This he threw over his master, hoping to put out the fire and so save his life.
Raleigh, you may imagine, was not very pleased at finding himself suddenly drenched with cold water, just when he was enjoying a quiet smoke, but, when he understood the mistake his servant had made, he laughed heartily.
Raleigh had many adventures. He swept the ocean in his ships, and he fought by land and sea. But he wrote books too, and one of his friends was the poet Spenser, who tells beautiful stories in his poem called The Faerie Queen.
The greatest writer of this time (perhaps the greatest poet of any time), was Shakespeare. His name you know, and some day you will read the stories he wrote.
Another writer, and great soldier too, was Sir Philip Sidney. He was so handsome, and brave and kind that every one loved him. Queen, statesmen and people, soldiers, courtiers and poets, all loved him. He lived well, wrote well, fought well, and died well. He fell fighting for his country. Wounded and groaning with pain, he asked for a cup of water. While it was being brought, he noticed a soldier lying beside him in great agony. "Give it to him," he said, pointing to this poor soldier. The man refused to have it. "Nay, but take it," said Sir Philip, "you need it more than I do."
Sir Philip never recovered from his wound. A fortnight later he died; still young, brave, and handsome.
"Y OU have taken a handful of my wooded acres," says Nature to me, "and if you have not improved them, you at least have changed them greatly. But they are mine still. Be friendly now, go softly, and you shall have them all—and I shall have them all, too. We will share them together."
And we do. Every part of the fourteen acres is mine, yielding some kind of food or fuel or shelter. And every foot, yes, every foot, is Nature's; as entirely hers as when the thick primeval forest stood here. The apple trees are hers as much as mine, and she has ten different bird families that I know of, living in them this spring. A pair of crows and a pair of red-tailed hawks are nesting in the wood-lot; there are at least three families of chipmunks in as many of my stone-piles; a fine old tree-toad sleeps on the porch under the climbing rose; a hornet's nest hangs in a corner of the eaves; a small colony of swifts thunder in the chimney; swallows twitter in the hayloft; a chipmunk and a half-tame gray squirrel feed in the barn; and—to bring an end to this bare beginning—under the roof of the pig-pen dwell a pair of phœbes.
To make a bird-house of a pig-pen, to divide it between the pig and the bird—this is as far as Nature can go, and this is certainly enough to redeem the whole farm. For she has not sent an outcast or a scavenger to dwell in the pen, but a bird of character, however much he may lack in song or color. Phœbe does not make up well in a picture; neither does he perform well as a singer; there is little to him, in fact, but personality—personality of a kind and (may I say?) quantity, sufficient to make the pig-pen a decent and respectable neighborhood.
Phœbe is altogether more than his surroundings. Every time I go to feed the pig, he lights upon a post near by and says to me, "It's what you are! Not what you do, but how you do it!"—with a launch into the air, a whirl, an unerring snap at a cabbage butterfly, and an easy drop to the post again, by way of illustration. "Not where you live, but how you live there; not the feathers you wear, but how you wear them—it is what you are that counts!"
There is a difference between being a "character" and having one. My phœbe "lives over the pig," but I cannot feel familiar with a bird of his air and carriage, who faces the world so squarely, who settles upon a stake as if he owned it, who lives a prince in my pig-pen.
Look at him! How alert, able, free! Notice the limber drop of his tail, the ready energy it suggests. By that one sign you would know the bird had force. He is afraid of nothing, not even the cold; and he migrates only because he is a fly-catcher, and is thus compelled to. The earliest spring day, however, that you find the flies buzzing in the sun, look for phœbe. He is back, coming alone and long before it is safe. He was one of the first of my birds to return this spring.
And it was a fearful spring, this of which I am telling you. How Phœbe managed to exist those miserable March days is a mystery. He came directly to the pen as he had come the year before, and his presence in that bleakest of Marches gave the weather its only touch of spring.
The same force and promptness are manifest in the domestic affairs of the bird. One of the first to arrive this spring, he was the first to build and bring off a brood—or, perhaps, she was. And the size of the brood—of the broods, for there was a second, and a third!
Phœbe appeared without his mate, and for nearly three weeks he hunted in the vicinity of the pen, calling the day long, and, toward the end of the second week, occasionally soaring into the air, fluttering, and pouring forth a small, ecstatic song that seemed fairly forced from him.
These aerial bursts meant just one thing: she was coming, was coming soon! Was she coming or was he getting ready to go for her? Here he had been for nearly three weeks, his house-lot chosen, his mind at rest, his heart beating faster with every sunrise. It was as plain as day that he knew—was certain—just how and just when something lovely was going to happen. I wished I knew. I was half in love with her myself; and I, too, watched for her.
On the evening of April 14th, he was alone as usual. The next morning a pair of phœbes flitted in and out of the windows of the pen. Here she was. Will some one tell me all about it? Had she just come along and fallen instantly in love with him and his fine pig-pen? It is pretty evident that he nested here last year. Was she, then, his old mate? Did they keep together all through the autumn and winter? If so, then why not together all the way back from Florida to Massachusetts?
Here is a pretty story. But who will tell it to me?
For several days after she came, the weather continued raw and wet, so that nest-building was greatly delayed. The scar of an old, last year's nest still showed on a stringer, and I wondered if they had decided on this or some other site for the new nest. They had not made up their minds, for when they did start it was to make three beginnings in as many places.
Then I offered a suggestion. Out of a bit of stick, branching at right angles, I made a little bracket and tacked it up on one of the stringers. It appealed to them at once, and from that moment the building went steadily on.
Saddled upon this bracket, and well mortared to the stringer, the nest, when finished, was as safe as a castle. And how perfect a thing it was! Few nests, indeed, combine the solidity, the softness, and the exquisite inside curve of Phœbe's.
In placing the bracket, I had carelessly nailed it under one of the cracks in the loose board roof. The nest was receiving its first linings when there came a long, hard rain that beat through the crack and soaked the little cradle. This was serious, for a great deal of mud had been worked into the thick foundation, and here, in the constant shade, the dampness would be long in drying out.
The builders saw the mistake, too, and with their great good sense immediately began to remedy it. They built the bottom up thicker, carried the walls over on a slant that brought the outermost point within the line of the crack, then raised them until the cup was as round-rimmed and hollow as the mould of Mrs. Phœbe's breast could make it.
The outside of the nest, its base, is broad and rough and shapeless enough; but nothing could be softer and lovelier than the inside, the cradle, and nothing drier, for the slanting walls of the nest shed every drop from the leafy crack above.
Wet weather followed the heavy rain until long after the nest was finished. The whole structure was as damp and cold as a newly plastered house. It felt wet to my touch. Yet I noticed that the birds were already brooding. Every night and often during the day I would see one of them in the nest—so deep in, that only a head or a tail showed over the round rim.
After several days I looked to see the eggs, but to my surprise found the nest empty. It had been robbed, I thought, yet by what creature I could not imagine. Then down cuddled one of the birds again—and I understood. Instead of wet and cold, the nest to-day was warm to my hand, and dry almost to the bottom. It had changed color, too, all the upper part having turned a soft silver-gray. She (I am sure it was she) had not been brooding her eggs at all; she had been brooding her mother's thought of them; and for them had been nestling here these days and nights, drying and warming their damp cradle with the fire of her life and love.
In due time the eggs came,—five of them, white, spotless, and shapely. While the little phœbe hen was hatching them, I gave my attention further to the cock.
Our intimate friendship revealed a most pleasing nature in phœbe. Perhaps such close and continued association would show like qualities in every bird, even in the kingbird; but I fear only a woman, like Mrs. Olive Thorne Miller, could find them in him. Not much can be said of this flycatcher family, except that it is useful—a kind of virtue that gets its chief reward in heaven. I am acquainted with only four of the other nine Eastern members,—crested flycatcher, kingbird, wood pewee, and chebec, — and each of these has some redeeming attribute besides the habit of catching flies.
They are all good nest-builders, good parents, and brave, independent birds; but aside from phœbe and pewee—the latter in his small way the sweetest voice of the oak woods—the whole family is an odd lot, cross-grained, cross-looking, and about as musical as a family of ducks. A duck seems to know that he cannot sing. A flycatcher knows nothing of his shortcomings. He believes he can sing, and in time he will prove it. If desire and effort count for anything, he certainly must prove it in time. How long the family has already been training, no one knows. Everybody knows, however, the success each flycatcher of them has thus far attained. It would make a good minstrel show, doubtless, if the family would appear together. In chorus, surely, they would be far from a tuneful choir. Yet individually, in the wide universal chorus of the out-of-doors, how much we should miss the kingbird's metallic twitter and the chebec's insistent call!
Phœbe and Her Young
There was little excitement for phœbe during this period of incubation. He hunted in the neighborhood and occasionally called to his mate, contented enough perhaps, but certainly sometimes appearing tired. One rainy day he sat in the pig-pen window looking out at the gray, wet world. He was humped and silent and meditative, his whole attitude speaking the extreme length of his day, the monotony of the drip, drip, drip from the eaves, and the sitting, the ceaseless sitting, of his brooding wife. He might have hastened the time by catching a few flies for her or by taking her place on the nest; but I never saw him do it.
Things were livelier when the eggs hatched, for it required a good many flies a day to keep the five young ones growing. And how they grew! Like bread sponge in a pan, they began to rise, pushing the mother up so that she was forced to stand over them; then pushing her out until she could cling only to the side of the nest at night; then pushing her off altogether. By this time they were hanging to the outside themselves, covering the nest from sight almost, until finally they spilled off upon their wings.
Out of the nest upon the air! Out of the pen and into a sweet, wide world of green and blue and of golden light! I saw one of the broods take this first flight, and it was thrilling.
The nest was placed back from the window and below it, so that in leaving the nest the young would have to drop, then turn and fly up to get out. Below was the pig.
As they grew, I began to fear that they might try their wings before this feat could be accomplished, and so fall to the pig below. But Nature, in this case, was careful of her pearls. Day after day they clung to the nest, even after they might have flown; and when they did go, it was with a sure and long flight that carried them out and away to the tops of the neighboring trees.
They left the nest one at a time and were met in the air by their mother, who, darting to them, calling loudly, and, whirling about them, helped them as high and as far away as they could go.
I wish the simple record of these family affairs could
be closed without one tragic entry. But that can rarely
be of any family. Seven days after the first brood were
What happened? Was he killed? Caught by a cat or a hawk? It is possible; and this is an easy and kindly way to think of him. It is not impossible that he may have remained as leader and protector to the first brood; or (perish the thought!) might he have grown weary at sight of the second lot of five eggs, of the long days and the neglect that they meant for him, and out of jealousy and fickleness wickedly deserted?
I hope it was death, a stainless, even ignominious death by one of my neighbor's many cats.
Death or desertion, it involved a second tragedy. Five such young ones at this time were too many for the mother. She fought nobly; no mother could have done more. All five were brought within a few days of flight; then, one day, I saw a little wing hanging listlessly over the side of the nest. I went closer. One had died. It had starved to death. There were none of the parasites in the nest that often kill whole broods. It was a plain case of sacrifice,—by the mother, perhaps; by the other young, maybe—one for the other four.
But she did well. Nine such young birds to her credit since April. Who shall measure her actual use to the world? How does she compare in value with the pig? Weeks later I saw several of her brood along the meadow fence hawking for flies. They were not far from my cabbage-patch.
I hope a pair of them will return to me next spring and that they will come early. Any bird that deigns to dwell under roof of mine commands my friendship. But no other bird takes Phœbe's place in my affections; there is so much in him to like, and he speaks for so much of the friendship of nature.
"Humble and inoffensive bird" he has been called by one of our leading ornithologies—because he comes to my pig-pen! Inoffensive! this bird with the cabbage butterfly in his beak! The faint and damning praise! And humble? There is not a humble feather on his body. Humble to those who see the pen and not the bird. But to me—why, the bird has made a palace of my pig-pen!
The very pig seems less a pig because of this exquisite association; and the lowly work of feeding the creature has been turned for me by Phœbe into a poetic course in bird study.
WEEK 20 |
"A FTER a book is written, the author sends his work, his manuscript, to the printer, who is to reproduce it in printed letters and in as many copies as are desired.
"Picture to yourself fine and short metal sticks, on the end
of each of which is carved in relief a letter of the
alphabet. One of these sticks has an a on the end,
another a b, another a c, etc. There are others which have a
"A workman called a compositor has before him a stand of
cases, of which each compartment is occupied by a single
letter of the alphabet, or by an orthographic sign. The
"The compositor has before him a manuscript, and at his left
hand a little flanged iron ruler called a composing-stick.
As he reads, his right hand, guided by long habit, searches
in the case the desired letter and places it in the
composing-stick, upright and in a row with the others. He
separates the words by means of a metal stick like those of
the letters, but the end of which remains depressed and does
not bear any carving. The first line finished, the
compositor begins another by setting a new row of little
metal pieces next to the row already finished. Finally, when
the composing-stick is full, the workman cautiously places
the contents in an iron frame, which keeps the delicate
combination from going to pieces; and he continues thus
until the frame is quite full and we have what is called the
An Old Fashioned Hand Press
"A roller impregnated with a thick ink made of oil and lampblack is passed over the plate. The letters and orthographic signs, which alone stand out in relief, become covered with ink; the rest does not take it because its surface is lower. A sheet of paper is placed on the inked plate; it is covered with a pad to protect it, then pressed hard. The ink of the characters is deposited on the paper, and the sheet is found printed on one side. To print the other, the operation is repeated with a second plate. The metal letters are, as I said, carved wrong side before, as the letters of a book appear when you look at them in a mirror. The inky imprint left by them on the paper reproduces them in a reversed position, and consequently in the right way.
"The first sheet is followed immediately by a second. With the roller the plate is inked again, a sheet of paper is applied, pressure is exerted, and it is done. Then comes a third sheet, a hundredth, a thousandth, indefinitely. All that is needed each time is to ink the plate, cover it with paper, then press. All this is done with such rapidity that in a short time we have a great pile of printed sheets, each of which it would take a whole day to write by hand.
"Before the invention of this marvelous art, which enables
us to reproduce the works of the mind very rapidly and in as
great numbers as may be desired, we were restricted to
"That is a name I shall never forget," said Jules.
"It deserves, above all, to be remembered, for with the printed book Gutenberg rendered impossible henceforth the ignorant times through which man has miserably passed. Our intellectual treasures, resources for the future, are better than engraved on stone or metal; they are inscribed on sheets of paper, in copies too numerous to be all destroyed."
WHILE everyone in England was quarreling about the right way to worship God, a weaver's son, tending his master's sheep and reading his Bible, found what he thought was the true way. Through his study of the Bible, and through prayer, he came to believe that God had sent His Son into the world that men might learn to live at peace and to love one another.
This man was George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, as they came to be called. He went about preaching; and everywhere many people believed in what he said and joined the Society, although they were again and again thrown into prison for believing and preaching this strange new religion of peace and brotherhood.
The Quakers had many beliefs and customs that seemed strange and wrong to the people of other churches. They believed that all men were equal in the sight of God; and so they would not take off their hats to show honor to any man, not even the King.
They addressed everyone as "thee" and "thou," because the pronoun "you" was then used to express respect to a superior. They said that if "thee" and "thou" were good enough for God, they were surely good enough for men.
They thought that no man should take pay for preaching the Gospel, and so they refused to pay taxes to support the English Church.
They did not believe in witchcraft, though at that time men and women were being burned as witches in both England and America.
They believed that women should have equal rights with men.
They believed that the teachings of the Bible should be
obeyed; and as the
And since the Bible says, "Blessed are the peacemakers," they would not quarrel with anyone, or seek revenge, or bear arms, even in defense of their own country.
Yet they were a brave people. They would go anywhere and speak what they believed to be true and right, though they knew that they would be cast into prison for it.
I must tell you how they came to be called Quakers.
Once their founder,
In the year 1660 there was at the University of Oxford a strong, handsome young man by the name of William Penn. One day a Quaker preacher came to Oxford. Penn and many of the other students heard him and were convinced that he spoke the truth. From this time on, Penn refused to wear the student's gown, because, he said, it showed pride. He and some of the other students began to hold Quaker meetings. For this they were expelled from the University.
William Penn's father was an admiral in the British navy and had no use for the peaceful ways of the Quakers. When his son came home Admiral Penn was very angry. He tried to make William say that he would no longer be a Quaker. But William would not yield. His father even whipped him, but it did no good. Finally he was turned out of doors.
William's mother was a very wise and lovely woman and soon persuaded her husband to let their son come home again. Admiral Penn now decided to send the young man traveling, in order that he might forget the Quakers. So he sent him through Europe, and for several years the young man traveled, learning foreign languages and seeing the greatest cities of the world.
But he did not forget the Quakers. When he was
Fortunately Mrs. Penn helped her son with money, so that he did not suffer. The King and the Duke of York, too, were always friendly to him for his father's sake.
Once when William went to see
"Friend Charles," said Penn, "why dost thou remove thy hat?"
"Because," said the King, "where I am, it is the custom for only one to remain covered."
William Penn was put in prison many times for writing about and preaching the Quaker religion.
Penn's father soon saw that his son was determined to remain a Quaker, and a very true one. So once more he permitted him to come home and never again interfered with his religious belief.
When the old admiral was dying, he sent to his friend,
the Duke of York, and asked that he and his brother,
THE Quakers, persecuted everywhere, looked longingly
toward America as a place where they might live in
peace and do God's will as they saw it. A few had gone
to Massachusetts, where they had been treated very
badly by the Puritans. Some had gone to
Now King Charles owed William Penn's father a debt of sixteen thousand pounds. As the King knew how to make debts a great deal better than how to pay them, the debt was still unpaid when Admiral Penn died.
In 1680 William Penn went to the King and asked him for a tract of land in America. The idea pleased Charles very much. It was far easier to give away a piece of woodland which he had never seen and knew nothing about than it would have been to raise the money to pay the debt. So he gave Penn a charter, granting him a tract of land north of Maryland and bounded on the east by the Delaware River. Penn was given the right to make and execute laws, to appoint judges, receive settlers, establish a military force, make cities, and carry on foreign trade.
Penn wanted to call his province New Wales, because
Wales is a very mountainous country, and Penn had heard
that there were mountains beyond the Delaware River.
Before long Penn had sent to his province twenty ships with about three thousand people, most of them Quakers. In 1682 he came himself, leaving his wife and children in England. Late in October he landed at Newcastle, on Delaware Bay, where the Dutch and Swedish settlers welcomed him with shouts of joy.
The same day, Penn sailed on up the river until he came to Chester, where some of his settlers had already built their homes. Here he called an assembly of the people to make the laws for their colony. Everyone took part in the assembly. The people of Delaware wanted to join Penn's government and were received at once. The assembly made the following laws:
1. Everyone should be allowed to worship God according to his own conscience.
2. The first day of the week was to be kept as a day of rest.
3. All the members of the family were to be considered equal in the sight of the law.
4. No oath was to be required in any court of justice.
5. Everyone who paid his taxes was to have the right of voting.
6. Every Christian should have the right to hold office.
7. No tax could be collected except by law.
8. There were to
be no bullfights, or cockfights, or
9. Murder was to be the only crime punishable by death.
10. Every prison was to be made a workhouse, where the prisoners should be taught how to do useful things and live a better life.
After these laws were made Penn set out to select a site for the city which he had planned before sailing from England. He chose a neck of land between the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers. Here he laid out Philadelphia, the city of freedom. "Philadelphia" is a Greek word, which means "brotherly love"; and Penn meant that brotherly love should rule his city.
The city was laid out like a checkerboard, with broad streets and large lots. Each house was to be built in the center of a lot, so that there might be large and beautiful lawns and also as little danger from fire as possible.
The streets were named after different kinds of trees.
Penn called a meeting of the Indians. They came armed
and painted, but Penn and his friends were unarmed and
plainly dressed, with the exception that Penn
Then he read a treaty of peace for the Indians and the Quakers, which the Indians gladly agreed to. The white men were to buy all land of the Indians, not to take it by force. If there was a dispute between white men and Indians, it was to be settled by a council of six white men and six Indians.
After the treaty was agreed to, Penn gave the Indians some presents and then walked with them, sat on the ground with them, and ate with them of roasted acorns and hominy. The Indians were very much pleased with this and began to hop and jump to show their delight. Thereupon Penn sprang to his feet and outdanced them all.
The Indians kept the treaty for many years, living in peace and friendship with the Quakers.
The "City of Brotherly Love" grew rapidly. By the end
of 1683 there were three hundred and
But William Penn did not have much opportunity to enjoy his colony. In 1684 he received word that the Quakers in England were again being cruelly persecuted. So he sailed for England, hoping soon to be able to return to Pennsylvania. However, it was fifteen years before Penn once more sailed for America, years full of deepest sorrow for him. His enemies in England had made a great deal of trouble for him; and, saddest of all, death had robbed him of his noble wife and several of his children. When he did return to Pennsylvania in 1699, he found Philadelphia a city of seven hundred houses and four thousand people.
Penn stayed in America for two years, part of the time
living in Philadelphia, and part of the time in a
beautiful country home. Sometimes he would ride to and
from the city on horseback, and sometimes he would sail
on the Delaware in a little
"I am surprised," said the Governor, "that you venture out against such a wind and tide."
"I have been struggling against wind and tide all my life," replied Penn.
In 1701 his business called him back to England, and he never had an opportunity to return to America.
But the colony planted in brotherly love lived and
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
WEEK 20 |
A WAY from the tall narrow gateway of Rollo's Tower, with the cluster of friendly, sorrowful faces looking forth from it, away from the booth-like shops of Rouen, and the stout burghers shouting with all the power of their lungs, "Long live Duke Richard! Long live King Louis! Death to the Fleming!"—away from the broad Seine—away from home and friends, rode the young Duke of Normandy, by the side of the palfrey of the King of France.
The King took much notice of him, kept him by his side, talked to him, admired the beautiful cattle grazing in security in the green pastures, and, as he looked at the rich dark brown earth of the fields, the Castles towering above the woods, the Convents looking like great farms, the many villages round the rude Churches, and the numerous population who came out to gaze at the party, and repeat the cry of "Long live the King! Blessings on the little Duke!" he told Richard, again and again, that his was the most goodly duchy in France and Germany to boot.
When they crossed the Epte, the King would have Richard in the same boat with him, and sitting close to Louis, and talking eagerly about falcons and hounds, the little Duke passed the boundary of his own dukedom.
The country beyond was not like Normandy. First they came to a great forest, which seemed to have no path through it. The King ordered that one of the men, who had rowed them across, should be made to serve as guide, and two of the men-at-arms took him between them, and forced him to lead the way, while others, with their swords and battle-axes, cut down and cleared away the tangled branches and briars that nearly choked the path. All the time, every one was sharply on the look-out for robbers, and the weapons were all held ready for use at a moment's notice. On getting beyond the forest a Castle rose before them, and, though it was not yet late in the day, they resolved to rest there, as a marsh lay not far before them, which it would not have been safe to traverse in the evening twilight.
The Baron of the Castle received them with great respect to the King, but without paying much attention to the Duke of Normandy, and Richard did not find the second place left for him at the board. He coloured violently, and looked first at the King, and then at Osmond, but Osmond held up his finger in warning; he remembered how he had lost his temper before, and what had come of it, and resolved to try to bear it better; and just then the Baron's daughter, a gentle-looking maiden of fifteen or sixteen, came and spoke to him, and entertained him so well, that he did not think much more of his offended dignity.—When they set off on their journey again, the Baron and several of his followers came with them to show the only safe way across the morass, and a very slippery, treacherous, quaking road it was, where the horses' feet left pools of water wherever they trod. The King and the Baron rode together, and the other French Nobles closed round them; Richard was left quite in the background, and though the French men-at-arms took care not to lose sight of him, no one offered him any assistance, excepting Osmond, who, giving his own horse to Sybald, one of the two Norman grooms who accompanied him, led Richard's horse by the bridle along the whole distance of the marshy path, a business that could scarcely have been pleasant, as Osmond wore his heavy hauberk, and his pointed, iron-guarded boots sunk deep at every step into the bog. He spoke little, but seemed to be taking good heed of every stump of willow or stepping-stone that might serve as a note of remembrance of the path.
At the other end of the morass began a long tract of dreary-looking, heathy waste, without a sign of life. The Baron took leave of the King, only sending three men-at-arms, to show him the way to a monastery, which was to be the next halting-place. He sent three, because it was not safe for one, even fully armed, to ride alone, for fear of the attacks of the followers of a certain marauding Baron, who was at deadly feud with him, and made all that border a most perilous region. Richard might well observe that he did not like the Vexin half as well as Normandy, and that the people ought to learn Fru Astrida's story of the golden bracelets, which, in his grandfather's time, had hung untouched for a year, in a tree in a forest.
It was pretty much the same through the whole journey, waste lands, marshes, and forests alternated. The Castles stood on high mounds frowning on the country round, and villages were clustered round them, where the people either fled away, driving off their cattle with them at the first sight of an armed band, or else, if they remained, proved to be thin, wretched-looking creatures, with wasted limbs, aguish faces, and often iron collars round their necks. Wherever there was anything of more prosperous appearance, such as a few cornfields, vineyards on the slopes of the hills, fat cattle, and peasantry looking healthy and secure, there was sure to be seen a range of long low stone buildings, surmounted with crosses, with a short square Church tower rising in the midst, and interspersed with gnarled hoary old apple-trees, or with gardens of pot-herbs spreading before them to the meadows. If, instead of two or three men- at-arms from a Castle, or of some trembling serf pressed into the service, and beaten, threatened, and watched to prevent treachery, the King asked for a guide at a Convent, some lay brother would take his staff; or else mount an ass, and proceed in perfect confidence and security as to his return homewards, sure that his poverty and his sacred character would alike protect him from any outrage from the most lawless marauder of the neighbourhood.
Thus they travelled until they reached the royal Castle of Laon, where the Fleur-de-Lys standard on the battlements announced the presence of Gerberge, Queen of France, and her two sons. The King rode first into the court with his Nobles, and before Richard could follow him through the narrow arched gateway, he had dismounted, entered the Castle, and was out of sight. Osmond held the Duke's stirrup, and followed him up the steps which led to the Castle Hall. It was full of people, but no one made way, and Richard, holding his Squire's hand, looked up in his face, inquiring and bewildered.
"Sir Seneschal," said Osmond, seeing a broad portly old man, with grey hair and a golden chain, "this is the Duke of Normandy—I pray you conduct him to the King's presence."
Richard had no longer any cause to complain of neglect, for the Seneschal instantly made him a very low bow, and calling "Place— place for the high and mighty Prince, my Lord Duke of Normandy!" ushered him up to the dais or raised part of the floor, where the King and Queen stood together talking. The Queen looked round, as Richard was announced, and he saw her face, which was sallow, and with a sharp sour expression that did not please him, and he backed and looked reluctant, while Osmond, with a warning hand pressed on his shoulder, was trying to remind him that he ought to go forward, kneel on one knee, and kiss her hand.
"There he is," said the King.
"One thing secure!" said the Queen; "but what makes that northern giant keep close to his heels?"
Louis answered something in a low voice, and, in the meantime, Osmond tried in a whisper to induce his young Lord to go forward and perform his obeisance.
"I tell you I will not," said Richard. "She looks cross, and I do not like her."
Luckily he spoke his own language; but his look and air expressed a good deal of what he said, and Gerberge looked all the more unattractive.
"A thorough little Norwegian bear," said the King; "fierce and unruly as the rest. Come, and perform your courtesy—do you forget where you are?" he added, sternly.
Richard bowed, partly because Osmond forced down his shoulder; but he thought of old Rollo and Charles the Simple, and his proud heart resolved that he would never kiss the hand of that sour-looking Queen. It was a determination made in pride and defiance, and he suffered for it afterwards; but no more passed now, for the Queen only saw in his behaviour that of an unmannerly young Northman: and though she disliked and despised him, she did not care enough about his courtesy to insist on its being paid. She sat down, and so did the King, and they went on talking; the King probably telling her his adventures at Rouen, while Richard stood on the step of the dais, swelling with sullen pride.
Nearly a quarter of an hour had passed in this manner when the servants came to set the table for supper, and Richard, in spite of his indignant looks, was forced to stand aside. He wondered that all this time he had not seen the two Princes, thinking how strange he should have thought it, to let his own dear father be in the house so long without coming to welcome him. At last, just as the supper had been served up, a side door opened, and the Seneschal called, "Place for the high and mighty Princes, my Lord Lothaire and my Lord Carloman!" and in walked two boys, one about the same age as Richard, the other rather less than a year younger. They were both thin, pale, sharp-featured children, and Richard drew himself up to his full height, with great satisfaction at being so much taller than Lothaire.
They came up ceremoniously to their father and kissed his hand, while he kissed their foreheads, and then said to them, "There is a new play-fellow for you."
"Is that the little Northman?" said Carloman, turning to stare at Richard with a look of curiosity, while Richard in his turn felt considerably affronted that a boy so much less than himself should call him little.
"Yes," said the Queen; "your father has brought him home with him."
Carloman stepped forward, shyly holding out his hand to the stranger, but his brother pushed him rudely aside. "I am the eldest; it is my business to be first. So, young Northman, you are come here for us to play with."
Richard was too much amazed at being spoken to in this imperious way to make any answer. He was completely taken by surprise, and only opened his great blue eyes to their utmost extent.
"Ha! why don't you answer? Don't you hear? Can you speak only your own heathen tongue?" continued Lothaire.
"The Norman is no heathen tongue!" said Richard, at once breaking silence in a loud voice. "We are as good Christians as you are—ay, and better too."
"Hush! hush! my Lord!" said Osmond.
"What now, Sir Duke," again interfered the King, in an angry tone, "are you brawling already? Time, indeed, I should take you from your own savage court. Sir Squire, look to it, that you keep your charge in better rule, or I shall send him instantly to bed, supperless."
"My Lord, my Lord," whispered Osmond, "see you not that you are bringing discredit on all of us?"
"I would be courteous enough, if they would be courteous to me," returned Richard, gazing with eyes full of defiance at Lothaire, who, returning an angry look, had nevertheless shrunk back to his mother. She meanwhile was saying, "So strong, so rough, the young savage is, he will surely harm our poor boys!"
"Never fear," said Louis; "he shall be watched. And," he added in a lower tone, "for the present, at least, we must keep up appearances. Hubert of Senlis, and Hugh of Paris, have their eyes on us, and were the boy to be missed, the grim old Harcourt would have all the pirates of his land on us in the twinkling of an eye. We have him, and there we must rest content for the present. Now to supper."
At supper, Richard sat next little Carloman, who peeped at him every now and then from under his eyelashes, as if he was afraid of him; and presently, when there was a good deal of talking going on, so that his voice could not be heard, half whispered, in a very grave tone, "Do you like salt beef or fresh?"
"I like fresh," answered Richard, with equal gravity, "only we eat salt all the winter."
There was another silence, and then Carloman, with the same solemnity, asked, "How old are you?"
"I shall be nine on the eve of St. Boniface. How old are you?"
"Eight. I was eight at Martinmas, and Lothaire was nine three days since."
Another silence; then, as Osmond waited on Richard, Carloman returned to the charge, "Is that your Squire?"
"Yes, that is Osmond de Centeville."
"How tall he is!"
"We Normans are taller than you French."
"Don't say so to Lothaire, or you will make him angry."
"Why? it is true."
"Yes; but—" and Carloman sunk his voice— "there are some things which Lothaire will not hear said. Do not make him cross, or he will make my mother displeased with you. She caused Thierry de Lincourt to be scourged, because his ball hit Lothaire's face."
"She cannot scourge me—I am a free Duke," said Richard. "But why? Did he do it on purpose?"
"And was Lothaire hurt?"
"Hush! you must say Prince Lothaire. No; it was quite a soft ball."
"Why?" again asked Richard—"why was he scourged?"
"I told you, because he hit Lothaire."
"Well, but did he not laugh, and say it was nothing? Alberic quite knocked me down with a great snowball the other day, and Sir Eric laughed, and said I must stand firmer."
"Do you make snowballs?"
"To be sure I do! Do not you?"
"Oh, no! the snow is so cold."
"Ah! you are but a little boy," said Richard, in a superior manner. Carloman asked how it was done; and Richard gave an animated description of the snowballing, a fortnight ago, at Rouen, when Osmond and some of the other young men built a snow fortress, and defended it against Richard, Alberic, and the other Squires. Carloman listened with delight, and declared that next time it snowed, they would have a snow castle; and thus, by the time supper was over, the two little boys were very good friends.
Bedtime came not long after supper. Richard's was a smaller room than he had been used to at Rouen; but it amazed him exceedingly when he first went into it: he stood gazing in wonder, because, as he said, "It was as if he had been in a church."
"Yes, truly!" said Osmond. "No wonder these poor creatures of French cannot stand before a Norman lance, if they cannot sleep without glass to their windows. Well! what would my father say to this?"
"And see! see, Osmond! they have put hangings up all round the walls, just like our Lady's church on a great feast-day. They treat us just as if we were the holy saints; and here are fresh rushes strewn about the floor, too. This must be a mistake—it must be an oratory, instead of my chamber."
"No, no, my Lord; here is our gear, which I bade Sybald and Henry see bestowed in our chamber. Well, these Franks are come to a pass, indeed! My grandmother will never believe what we shall have to tell her. Glass windows and hangings to sleeping chambers! I do not like it; I am sure we shall never be able to sleep, closed up from the free air of heaven in this way: I shall be always waking, and fancying I am in the chapel at home, hearing Father Lucas chanting his matins. Besides, my father would blame me for letting you be made as tender as a Frank. I'll have out this precious window, if I can."
Luxurious as the young Norman thought the King, the glazing of Laon was not permanent. It consisted of casements, which could be put up or removed at pleasure; for, as the court possessed only one set of glass windows, they were taken down, and carried from place to place, as often as Louis removed from Rheims to Soissons, Laon, or any other of his royal castles; so that Osmond did not find much difficulty in displacing them, and letting in the sharp, cold, wintry breeze. The next thing he did was to give his young Lord a lecture on his want of courtesy, telling him that "no wonder the Franks thought he had no more culture than a Viking (or pirate), fresh caught from Norway. A fine notion he was giving them of the training he had at Centeville, if he could not even show common civility to the Queen—a lady! Was that the way Alberic had behaved when he came to Rouen?"
"Fru Astrida did not make sour faces at him, nor call him a young savage," replied Richard.
"No, and he gave her no reason to do so; he knew that the first teaching of a young Knight is to be courteous to ladies—never mind whether fair and young, or old and foul of favour. Till you learn and note that, Lord Richard, you will never be worthy of your golden spurs."
"And the King told me she would treat me as a mother," exclaimed Richard. "Do you think the King speaks the truth, Osmond?"
"That we shall see by his deeds," said Osmond.
"He was very kind while we were in Normandy. I loved him so much better than the Count de Harcourt; but now I think that the Count is best! I'll tell you, Osmond, I will never call him grim old Bernard again."
"You had best not, sir, for you will never have a more true-hearted vassal."
"Well, I wish we were back in Normandy, with Fru Astrida and Alberic. I cannot bear that Lothaire. He is proud, and unknightly, and cruel. I am sure he is, and I will never love him."
"Hush, my Lord!—beware of speaking so loud. You are not in your own Castle."
"And Carloman is a chicken-heart," continued Richard, unheeding. "He does not like to touch snow, and he cannot even slide on the ice, and he is afraid to go near that great dog—that beautiful wolf-hound."
"He is very little," said Osmond.
"I am sure I was not as cowardly at his age, now was I, Osmond? Don't you remember?"
"Come, Lord Richard, I cannot let you wait to remember everything; tell your beads and pray that we may be brought safe back to Rouen; and that you may not forget all the good that Father Lucas and holy Abbot Martin have laboured to teach you."
So Richard told the beads of his rosary—black polished wood, with amber at certain spaces—he repeated a prayer with every bead, and Osmond did the same; then the little Duke put himself into a narrow crib of richly carved walnut; while Osmond, having stuck his dagger so as to form an additional bolt to secure the door, and examined the hangings that no secret entrance might be concealed behind them, gathered a heap of rushes together, and lay down on them, wrapped in his mantle, across the doorway. The Duke was soon asleep; but the Squire lay long awake, musing on the possible dangers that surrounded his charge, and on the best way of guarding against them.
A scorpion and a Tortoise became such fast friends that they took a vow that they would never separate. So when it happened that one of them was obliged to leave his native land, the other promised to go with him. They had traveled only a short distance when they came to a wide river. The Scorpion was now greatly troubled.
"Alas," he said, "you, my friend, can easily swim, but how can a poor Scorpion like me ever get across this stream?"
"Never fear," replied the Tortoise; "only place yourself squarely on my broad back and I will carry you safely over."
No sooner was the Scorpion settled on the Tortoise's broad back, than the Tortoise crawled into the water and began to swim. Halfway across he was startled by a strange rapping on his back, which made him ask the Scorpion what he was doing.
"Doing?" answered the Scorpion, "I am whetting my sting to see if it is possible to pierce your hard shell."
"Ungrateful friend," responded the Tortoise, it is well that I have it in my power both to save myself and to punish you as you deserve." And straightway he sank his back below the surface and shook off the Scorpion into the water.
Under the greenwood tree,
Who loves to lie with me,
And tune his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat—
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
But winter and rough weather.
Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to lie i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleased with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
But winter and rough weather.
WEEK 20 |
"They have fallen
Each in his field of glory. Wolfe upon the lap
Of smiling victory, that moment won."
W OLFE left England late in February 1759, but the winds being contrary and the seas running high, May had opened before the wild coast of Nova Scotia was dimly seen through whirling mists of fog. The Louisburg harbour was still choked with ice, and it was not till June that the advanced squadron of the fleet could begin the passage of the St Lawrence. Wolfe had never seen Quebec, the city he was sent out to capture; but he knew that Montcalm, the French general, had four times as many troops as he had, and he spared no pains to make his own troops as efficient as possible.
"If valour can make amends for want of numbers, we shall succeed," he wrote to Pitt at home. Enthusiasm soon spread through the troops. "British colours on every French fort, post, and garrison in America," they cried, as they sailed cautiously along the lower reaches of the St Lawrence river towards their goal. It seemed incredible to the French in Canada that an English fleet should navigate its way through the difficult channels of the river St Lawrence; and they received the news that the English had landed on the shores of the Isle of Orleans with surprise and dismay.
"Canada will be the grave of the British army," they said confidently; "and the walls of Quebec will be decorated with British heads."
It was June 26 when the fleet anchored at the Isle of Orleans, and beheld for the first time the rock city of Quebec. The bravest British heart might well have quailed at the sight. High up against the western sky it stood, perched on its rocky throne. The rugged outline of batteries, bristling with cannon, seemed to frown defiance at the mere handful of Englishmen, now looking across the waters at it for the first time.
"I will be master of Quebec if I stay here till the end of November," Wolfe had said.
The task before him seemed wellnigh hopeless, yet his gallant heart never despaired. He would perform this last service if it were possible. He seized Point Levi, exactly opposite the city of Quebec. This gave him complete command of the river mouth. From here, too, his troops could fire across on to the city, and he might destroy it if he failed to capture it.
Meantime Montcalm kept rigidly within the walls of Quebec. He knew that a hard Canadian winter, with its frost and snow, must compel Wolfe to retreat.
So July came and went. Daring feats were performed on both sides, but Quebec remained uncaptured by the British forces. One day the French chained some seventy ships together, filled them with explosives, and set the whole on fire. Down the river, towards the English fleet, came this roaring mass of fire, until the courageous British sailors dashed down upon it and broke it into fragments.
August arrived, with storms and cold. Fever took hold of Wolfe. Always frail in body, he lay for a time between life and death, his "pale face haggard with lines of pain and anxiety." But he struggled back to life, and planned his great attack on Quebec.
In one of his many expeditions he had discovered a tiny cove, now called Wolfe's Cove, five miles beyond Quebec. Here was a zigzag goat-path up the steep face of the towering cliff, which was over 250 feet high at this point. Wolfe had made up his mind. Up this mere track, in the blackness of the night, he resolved to lead his army to the attack on Quebec. He kept his plans to himself.
The night arrived: it was September 12.
"Officers and men will remember what their country expects of them," he cried, as he gave his troops the final orders.
It was one of the most daring exploits in the world's history.
At two o'clock at night the signal to start was given. From the Isle of Orleans, from Point Levi, the English boats stole out in the silence and darkness of the summer night. Wolfe himself was leading. As the boats rowed silently through the darkness on this desperate adventure, Wolfe repeated some lines recently written by the poet Gray,—
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave."
"Gentlemen," he said to the officers with him in the boat, "I would rather have written that poem than take Quebec."
Suddenly the voice of a sentry at the top of the cliff challenged them.
"Who goes there?"
"The French," sang out a Highlander who had served in the foreign wars and picked up a little French.
"From which regiment?" asked the suspicious sentry.
"From the Queen's," answered the ready Highlander in French.
A convoy of provisions was expected, and the sentry let them pass. But it was a narrow escape for the British fleet stealing stealthily along under the enemy's lines. At last the cove was reached in safety. The soldiers began to climb in single file up the face of the steep cliff. Wolfe was among the first, weakened though he was with fever and anxiety. It was an anxious time. Like a chain of ants the men crawled up the steep cliff in the darkness, until, with the first streak of dawn piercing the darkness, Wolfe and his troops stood triumphantly at the top. When morning broke Montcalm was greeted with the news that the British commander, whom he had kept at bay for months, now stood with an army of 4500 men in line of battle on the plains of Abraham, overlooking Quebec. Never a word of dismay uttered the French general as he mustered his troops to defend their city against the English.
He had some 10,000 men. By nine o'clock all was ready. The battle began. In fifteen minutes it was all over. The French opened fire on the English lines at a distance of 200 yards. The English had been told by Wolfe to reserve their fire, and the men now stood with shouldered arms, as if on parade. Silent and motionless they stood amid the rain of French bullets and the din of French cheers. Then came the order to fire. Since the invention of gunpowder never had such a tremendous volley been delivered. The sudden explosion of 4000 muskets sounded like the blast of a single cannon-shot. As the smoke lifted, the French could be seen lying dead in heaps. Then Wolfe sprang forward, at the head of his men, sword in hand, and the whole line advanced. At that moment the sun burst forth, lighting up the gleaming bayonets and flashing swords. Another moment and Wolfe fell, hit by two bullets.
"Don't let my gallant soldiers see me fall," he gasped to the few men who rushed to help him.
They carried him in their arms to the rear, and laid him on the ground. They mentioned a surgeon.
"It is needless," he whispered; "it is all over with me."
The little sorrowing group stood silently round the dying man. Suddenly one spoke.
"They run! See how they run!"
"Who run?" murmured Wolfe, awaking as if from sleep.
"The enemy, sir," was the answer.
A flash of life returned to Wolfe. He gave his last military order. Then turning on his side, he whispered, "God be praised, I now die in peace."
That night, within the ruined city of Quebec, lay Montcalm mortally wounded.
"How long have I to live?" he asked painfully.
"Twelve hours possibly," they answered him.
"So much the better," murmured the defeated and dying man; "I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec."
So the two leaders died,—one at the moment of victory, the other in the hour of defeat. If France was grieved at Montcalm's failure, all England was intoxicated with joy at Wolfe's magnificent victory. The country flamed into illuminations, for the English colonies in America were saved. French power in the Far West was crushed as it had been in the East, and "the whole nation rose up and felt itself the stronger for Wolfe's victory."
HE Æsir were the guests of the Vanir: in Frey's palace the Dwellers in Asgard met and feasted in friendship. Odin and Tyr were there, Vidar and Vali, Niörd, Frey, Heimdall, and Bragi. The Asyniur and the Vana were there also—Frigga, Freya, Iduna, Gerda, Skadi, Sif, and Nanna. Thor and Loki were not at the feast, for they had left Asgard together.
In Frey's palace the vessels were of shining gold; they made light for the table and they moved of their own accord to serve those who were feasting. All was peace and friendship there until Loki entered the feast hall.
Frey, smiling a welcome, showed a bench to Loki. It was beside Bragi's and next to Freya's. Loki did not take the place; instead he shouted out, "Not beside Bragi will I sit; not beside Bragi, the most craven of all the Dwellers in Asgard."
Bragi sprang up at that affront, but his wife, the mild Iduna, quieted his anger. Freya turned to Loki and reproved him for speaking injurious words at a feast.
"Freya," said Loki, "why were you not so mild when Odur was with you? Would it not have been well to have been wifely with your husband instead of breaking faith with him for the sake of a necklace that you craved of the Giant women?"
Amazement fell on all at the bitterness that was in Loki's words and looks. Tyr and Niörd stood up from their seats. But then the voice of Odin was heard and all was still for the words of the All-Father.
"Take the place beside Vidar, my silent son, O Loki," said Odin, "and let thy tongue which drips bitterness be silent."
"All the Æsir and the Vanir listen to thy words, O Odin, as if thou wert always wise and just," Loki said. "But must we forget that thou didst bring war into the world when thou didst fling thy spear at the envoys of the Vanir? And didst thou not permit me to work craftily on the one who built the wall around Asgard for a price? Thou dost speak, O Odin, and all the Æsir and the Vanir listen to thee! But was it not thou who, thinking not of wisdom but of gold when a ransom had to be made, brought the witch Gulveig out of the cave where she stayed with the Dwarf's treasure? Thou wert not always wise nor always just, O Odin, and we at the table here need not listen to thee as if always thou wert."
Then Skadi, the wife of Niörd, flung words at Loki. She spoke with all the fierceness of her Giant blood. "Why should we not rise up and chase from the hall this chattering crow?" she said.
"Skadi," said Loki, "remember that the ransom for thy father's death has not yet been paid. Thou wert glad to snatch a husband instead of it. Remember who it was that killed thy Giant father. It was I, Loki. And no ransom have I paid thee for it, although thou hast come amongst us in Asgard."
Then Loki fixed his eyes on Frey, the giver of the feast, and all knew that with bitter words he was about to assail him. But Tyr, the brave swordsman, rose up and said, "Not against Frey mayst thou speak, O Loki. Frey is generous; he is the one amongst us who spares the vanquished and frees the captive."
"Cease speaking, Tyr," said Loki. "Thou mayst not always have a hand to hold that sword of thine. Remember this saying of mine in days to come.
"Frey," said he, "because thou art the giver of the feast they think I will not speak the truth about thee. But I am not to be bribed by a feast. Didst thou not send Skirnir to Gymer's dwelling to befool Gymer's flighty daughter? Didst thou not bribe him into frightening her into a marriage with thee, who, men say, wert the slayer of her brother? Yea, Frey. Thou didst part with a charge, with the magic sword that thou shouldst have kept for the battle. Thou hadst cause to grieve when thou didst meet Beli by the lake."
When he said this all who were there of the Vanir rose up, their faces threatening Loki.
"Sit still, ye Vanir," Loki railed. "If the Æsir are to bear the brunt of Jötunheim's and Muspelheim's war upon Asgard it was your part to be the first or the last on Vigard's plain. But already ye have lost the battle for Asgard, for the weapon that was put into Frey's hands he bartered for Gerda the Giantess. Ha! Surtur shall triumph over you because of Frey's bewitchment."
In horror they looked at the one who could let his hatred speak of Surtur's triumph. All would have laid hands on Loki only Odin's voice rang out. Then another appeared at the entrance of the feasting hall. It was Thor. With his hammer upon his shoulder, his gloves of iron on his hands, and his belt of prowess around him, he stood marking Loki with wrathful eyes.
"Ha, Loki, betrayer," he shouted. "Thou didst plan to leave me dead in Gerriöd's house, but now thou wilt meet death by the stroke of this hammer."
His hands were raised to hurl Miölnir. But the words that Odin spoke were heard. "Not in this hall may slaying be done, son Thor. Keep thy hands upon thy hammer."
Then shrinking from the wrath in the eyes of Thor, Loki passed out of the feast hall. He went beyond the walls of Asgard and crossed Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge. And he cursed Bifröst, and longed to see the day when the armies of Muspelheim would break it down in their rush against Asgard.
East of Midgard there was a place more evil than any region in Jötunheim. It was Jarnvid, the Iron Wood. There dwelt witches who were the most foul of all witches. And they had a queen over them, a hag, mother of many sons who took upon themselves the shapes of wolves. Two of her sons were Skoll and Hati, who pursued Sol, the Sun, and Mani, the Moon. She had a third son, who was Managarm, the wolf who was to be filled with the life-blood of men, who was to swallow up the Moon, and stain the heavens and earth with blood. To Jarnvid, the Iron Wood, Loki made his way. And he wed one of the witches there, Angerboda, and they had children that took on dread shapes. Loki's offspring were the most terrible of the foes that were to come against the Æsir and the Vanir in the time that was called the Twilight of the Gods.
Last night at black midnight I woke with a cry,
The windows were shaking, there was thunder on high,
The floor was a-tremble, the door was a-jar,
White fires, crimson fires, shone from afar.
I rushed to the door yard. The city was gone.
My home was a hut without orchard or lawn.
It was mud-smear and logs near a whispering stream,
Nothing else built by man could I see in my dream. . . .
Then . . .
Ghost-kings came headlong, row upon row,
Gods of the Indians, torches aglow.
They mounted the bear and the elk and the deer,
And eagles gigantic, aged and sere,
They rode long-horn cattle, they cried "A-la-la."
They lifted the knife, the bow, and the spear,
They lifted ghost-torches from dead fires below,
The midnight made grand with the cry "A-la-la."
The midnight made grand with a red-god charge,
A red-god show,
A red-god show,
"A-la-la, a-la-la, a-la-la, a-la-la."
With bodies like bronze, and terrible eyes
Came the rank and the file, with catamount cries,
Gibbering, yipping, with hollow-skull clacks,
Riding white bronchos with skeleton backs,
Scalp-hunters, beaded and spangled and bad,
Naked and lustful and foaming and mad,
Flashing primeval demoniac scorn,
Blood-thirst and pomp amid darkness reborn,
Power and glory that sleep in the grass
While the winds and the snows and the great rains pass.
They crossed the gray river, thousands abreast,
They rode in infinite lines to the west,
Tide upon tide of strange fury and foam,
Spirits and wraiths, the blue was their home,
The sky was their goal where the star-flags are furled,
And on past those far golden splendors they whirled.
They burned to dim meteors, lost in the deep.
And I turned in dazed wonder, thinking of sleep.
And the wind crept by
Alone, unkempt, unsatisfied,
The wind cried and cried—
Muttered of massacres long past,
Buffaloes in shambles vast . . .
An owl said: "Hark, what is a-wing?"
I heard a cricket carolling,
I heard a cricket carolling,
I heard a cricket carolling.
Then . . .
Snuffing the lightning that crashed from on high
Rose royal old buffaloes, row upon row.
The lords of the prairie came galloping by.
And I cried in my heart "A-la-la, a-la-la,
A red-god show,
A red-god show,
A-la-la, a-la-la, a-la-la, a-la-la."
Buffaloes, buffaloes, thousands abreast,
A scourge and amazement, they swept to the west.
With black bobbing noses, with red rolling tongues,
Coughing forth steam from their leather-wrapped lungs,
Cows with their calves, bulls big and vain,
Goring the laggards, shaking the mane,
Stamping flint feet, flashing moon eyes,
Pompous and owlish, shaggy and wise.
Like sea-cliffs and caves resounded their ranks
With shoulders like waves, and undulant flanks.
Tide upon tide of strange fury and foam,
Spirits and wraiths, the blue was their home,
The sky was their goal where the star-flags are furled,
And on past those far golden splendors they whirled.
They burned to dim meteors, lost in the deep,
And I turned in dazed wonder, thinking of sleep.
I heard a cricket's cymbals play,
A scarecrow lightly flapped his rags,
And a pan that hung by his shoulder rang,
Rattled and thumped in a listless way,
And now the wind in the chimney sang,
The wind in the chimney,
The wind in the chimney,
The wind in the chimney,
Seemed to say:—
"Dream, boy, dream,
If you anywise can.
To dream is the work
Of beast or man.
Life is the west-going dream-storm's breath,
Life is a dream, the sigh of the skies,
The breath of the stars, that nod on their pillows
With their golden hair mussed over their eyes."
The locust played on his musical wing,
Sang to his mate of love's delight.
I heard the whippoorwill's soft fret.
I heard a cricket carolling,
I heard a cricket carolling,
I heard a cricket say: "Good-night, good-night,
Good-night, good-night, . . . good-night."
WEEK 20 |
O NCE upon a time there stood far away in the west country a town called Stumpinghame. It contained seven windmills, a royal palace, a market place, and a prison, with every other convenience befitting the capital of a kingdom. A capital city was Stumpinghame, and its inhabitants thought it the only one in the world. It stood in the midst of a great plain, which for three leagues round its walls was covered with corn, flax, and orchards. Beyond that lay a great circle of pasture land, seven leagues in breadth, and it was bounded on all sides by a forest so thick and old that no man in Stumpinghame knew its extent; and the opinion of the learned was, that it reached to the end of the world.
There were strong reasons for this opinion. First, that forest was known to be inhabited time out of mind by the fairies, and no hunter cared to go beyond its borders—so all the west country believed it to be solidly full of old trees to the heart. Secondly, the people of Stumpinghame were no travellers—man, woman, and child had feet so large and heavy that it was by no means convenient to carry them far. Whether it was the nature of the place or the people, I cannot tell, but great feet had been the fashion there time immemorial, and the higher the family the larger were they. It was, therefore, the aim of everybody above the degree of shepherds, and such-like rustics, to swell out and enlarge their feet by way of gentility; and so successful were they in these undertakings that, on a pinch, respectable people's slippers would have served for panniers.
Stumpinghame had a king of its own, and his name was Stiffstep; his family was very ancient and large-footed. His subjects called him Lord of the World, and he made a speech to them every year concerning the grandeur of his mighty empire. His queen, Hammerheel, was the greatest beauty in Stumpinghame. Her majesty's shoe was not much less than a fishing-boat; their six children promised to be quite as handsome, and all went well with them till the birth of their seventh son.
For a long time nobody about the palace could understand what was the matter—the ladies-in-waiting looked so astonished, and the king so vexed; but at last it was whispered through the city that the queen's seventh child had been born with such miserably small feet that they resembled nothing ever seen or heard of in Stumpinghame, except the feet of the fairies.
The chronicles furnished no example of such an affliction ever before happening in the royal family. The common people thought it portended some great calamity to the city; the learned men began to write books about it; and all the relations of the king and queen assembled at the palace to mourn with them over their singular misfortune. The whole court and most of the citizens helped in this mourning, but when it had lasted seven days they all found out it was of no use. So the relations went to their homes, and the people took to their work. If the learned men's books were written, nobody ever read them; and to cheer up the queen's spirits, the young prince was sent privately out to the pasture lands, to be nursed among the shepherds.
The chief man there was called Fleecefold, and his wife's name was Rough Ruddy. They lived in a snug cottage with their son Blackthorn and their daughter Brownberry, and were thought great people, because they kept the king's sheep. Moreover, Fleecefold's family were known to be ancient; and Rough Ruddy boasted that she had the largest feet in all the pastures. The shepherds held them in high respect, and it grew still higher when the news spread that the king's seventh son had been sent to their cottage. People came from all quarters to see the young prince, and great were the lamentations over his misfortune in having such small feet.
The king and queen had given him fourteen names, beginning with Augustus—such being the fashion in that royal family; but the honest country people could not remember so many; besides, his feet were the most remarkable thing about the child, so with one accord they called him Fairyfoot. At first it was feared this might be high-treason, but when no notice was taken by the king or his ministers, the shepherds concluded it was no harm, and the boy never had another name throughout the pastures. At court it was not thought polite to speak of him at all. They did not keep his birthday, and he was never sent for at Christmas, because the queen and her ladies could not bear the sight. Once a year the undermost scullion was sent to see how he did, with a bundle of his next brother's cast-off clothes; and, as the king grew old and cross, it was said he had thoughts of disowning him.
So Fairyfoot grew in Fleecefold's cottage. Perhaps the country air made him fair and rosy—for all agreed that he would have been a handsome boy but for his small feet, with which nevertheless he learned to walk, and in time to run and to jump, thereby amazing everybody, for such doings were not known among the children of Stumpinghame. The news of court, however, travelled to the shepherds, and Fairyfoot was despised among them. The old people thought him unlucky; the children refused to play with him. Fleecefold was ashamed to have him in his cottage, but he durst not disobey the king's orders. Moreover, Blackthorn wore most of the clothes brought by the scullion. At last, Rough Ruddy found out that the sight of such horrid jumping would make her children vulgar; and, as soon as he was old enough, she sent Fairyfoot every day to watch some sickly sheep that grazed on a wild, weedy pasture, hard by the forest.
Poor Fairyfoot was often lonely and sorrowful; many a time he wished his feet would grow larger, or that people wouldn't notice them so much; and all the comfort he had was running and jumping by himself in the wild pasture, and thinking that none of the shepherds' children could do the like, for all their pride of their great feet.
Tired of this sport, he was lying in the shadow of a mossy rock one warm summer's noon, with the sheep feeding around, when a robin, pursued by a great hawk, flew into the old velvet cap which lay on the ground beside him. Fairyfoot covered it up, and the hawk, frightened by his shout, flew away.
"Now you may go, poor robin!" he said, opening the cap: but instead of the bird, out sprang a little man dressed in russet-brown, and looking as if he were an hundred years old. Fairyfoot could not speak for astonishment, but the little man said:
"Thank you for your shelter, and be sure I will do as much for you. Call on me if you are ever in trouble. My name is Robin Goodfellow"; and darting off, he was out of sight in an instant. For days the boy wondered who that little man could be, but he told nobody, for the little man's feet were as small as his own, and it was clear he would be no favourite in Stumpinghame. Fairyfoot kept the story to himself, and at last midsummer came. That evening was a feast among the shepherds. There were bonfires on the hills, and fun in the villages. But Fairyfoot sat alone beside his sheepfold, for the children of his village had refused to let him dance with them about the bonfire, and he had gone there to bewail the size of his feet, which came between him and so many good things. Fairyfoot had never felt so lonely in all his life, and remembering the little man, he plucked up spirit, and cried:
"Ho! Robin Goodfellow!"
"Here I am," said a shrill voice at his elbow; and there stood the little man himself.
"I am very lonely, and no one will play with me, because my feet are not large enough," said Fairyfoot.
"Come then and play with us," said the little man. "We lead the merriest lives in the world, and care for nobody's feet; but all companies have their own manners, and there are two things you must mind among us: first, do as you see the rest doing; and secondly, never speak of anything you may hear or see, for we and the people of this country have had no friendship ever since large feet came in fashion."
"I will do that, and anything more you like," said Fairyfoot; and the little man taking his hand, led him over the pasture into the forest, and along a mossy path among old trees wreathed with ivy (he never knew how far), till they heard the sound of music, and came upon a meadow where the moon shone as bright as day, and all the flowers of the year—snowdrops, violets, primroses, and cowslips—bloomed together in the thick grass. There was a crowd of little men and women, some clad in russet colour, but far more in green, dancing around a little well as clear as crystal. And under great rose-trees which grew here and there in the meadow, companies were sitting round low tables covered with cups of milk, dishes of honey, and carved wooden flagons filled with clear red wine. The little man led Fairyfoot up to the nearest table, handed him one of the flagons, and said:
"Drink to the good company!"
Wine was not very common among the shepherds of Stumpinghame, and the boy had never tasted such drink as that before; for scarcely had it gone down when he forgot all his troubles—how Blackthorn and Brownberry wore his clothes, how Rough Ruddy sent him to keep the sickly sheep, and the children would not dance with him; in short, he forgot the whole misfortune of his feet, and it seemed to his mind that he was a king's son, and all was well with him. All the little people about the well cried:
"Welcome! welcome!" and everyone said:—"Come and dance with me!" So Fairyfoot was as happy as a prince, and drank milk and ate honey till the moon was low in the sky, and then the little man took him by the hand, and never stopped nor stayed till he was at his own bed of straw in the cottage corner.
All the little people cried, "Welcome, welcome," and . . . "Come dance with me."
Next morning Fairyfoot was not tired for all his dancing. Nobody in the cottage had missed him, and he went out with the sheep as usual; but every night all that summer, when the shepherds were safe in bed, the little man came and took him away to dance in the forest. Now he did not care to play with the shepherds' children, nor grieve that his father and mother had forgotten him, but watched the sheep all day singing to himself or plaiting rushes; and when the sun went down, Fairyfoot's heart rejoiced at the thought of meeting that merry company.
The wonder was that he was never tired nor sleepy, as people are apt to be who dance all night; but before the summer was ended Fairyfoot found out the reason. One night, when the moon was full, and the last of the ripe corn rustling in the fields, Robin Goodfellow came for him as usual, and away they went to the flowery green. The fun there was high, and Robin was in haste. So he only pointed to the carved cup from which Fairyfoot every night drank the clear red wine.
"I am not thirsty, and there is no use losing time," thought the boy to himself, and he joined the dance; but never in all his life did Fairyfoot find such hard work as to keep pace with the company. Their feet seemed to move like lightning; the swallows did not fly so fast or turn so quickly. Fairyfoot did his best, for he never gave in easily, but at length, his breath and strength being spent, the boy was glad to steal away, and sit down behind a mossy oak, where his eyes closed for very weariness. When he awoke the dance was nearly over, but two little ladies clad in green talked close beside him.
"What a beautiful boy!" said one of them. "He is worthy to be a king's son. Only see what handsome feet he has!"
"Yes," said the other, with a laugh that sounded spiteful; "they are just like the feet Princess Maybloom had before she washed them in the Growing Well. Her father has sent far and wide throughout the whole country searching for a doctor to make them small again, but nothing in this world can do it except the water of the Fair Fountain, and none but I and the nightingales know where it is."
"One would not care to let the like be known," said the first little lady: "there would come such crowds of these great coarse creatures of mankind, nobody would have peace for leagues round. But you will surely send word to the sweet princess!—she was so kind to our birds and butterflies, and danced so like one of ourselves!"
"Not I, indeed!" said the spiteful fairy. "Her old skinflint of a father cut down the cedar which I loved best in the whole forest, and made a chest of it to hold his money in; besides, I never liked the princess—everybody praised her so. But come, we shall be too late for the last dance."
When they were gone, Fairyfoot could sleep no more with astonishment. He did not wonder at the fairies admiring his feet, because their own were much the same; but it amazed him that Princess Maybloom's father should be troubled at hers growing large. Moreover, he wished to see that same princess and her country, since there were really other places in the world than Stumpinghame.
When Robin Goodfellow came to take him home as usual he durst not let him know that he had overheard anything; but never was the boy so unwilling to get up as on that morning, and all day he was so weary that in the afternoon Fairyfoot fell asleep, with his head on a clump of rushes. It was seldom that anyone thought of looking after him and the sickly sheep; but it so happened that towards evening the old shepherd, Fleecefold, thought he would see how things went on in the pastures. The shepherd had a bad temper and a thick staff, and no sooner did he catch sight of Fairyfoot sleeping, and his flock straying away, than shouting all the ill names he could remember, in a voice which woke up the boy, he ran after him as fast as his great feet would allow; while Fairyfoot, seeing no other shelter from his fury, fled into the forest, and never stopped nor stayed till he reached the banks of a little stream.
Thinking it might lead him to the fairies' dancing-ground, he followed that stream for many an hour, but it wound away into the heart of the forest, flowing through dells, falling over mossy rocks, and at last leading Fairyfoot, when he was tired and the night had fallen, to a grove of great rose-trees, with the moon shining on it as bright as day, and thousands of nightingales singing in the branches. In the midst of that grove was a clear spring, bordered with banks of lilies, and Fairyfoot sat down by it to rest himself and listen. The singing was so sweet he could have listened for ever, but as he sat the nightingales left off their songs, and began to talk together in the silence of the night:
"What boy is that," said one on a branch above him, "who sits so lonely by the Fair Fountain? He cannot have come from Stumpinghame with such small and handsome feet."
"No, I'll warrant you," said another, "he has come from the west country. How in the world did he find the way?"
"How simple you are!" said a third nightingale. "What had he to do but follow the ground-ivy which grows over height and hollow, bank and bush, from the lowest gate of the king's kitchen-garden to the root of this rose-tree? He looks a wise boy, and I hope he will keep the secret, or we shall have all the west country here, dabbling in our fountain, and leaving us no rest to either talk or sing."
Fairyfoot sat in great astonishment at this discourse, but by and by, when the talk ceased and the songs began, he thought it might be as well for him to follow the ground-ivy, and see the Princess Maybloom, not to speak of getting rid of Rough Ruddy, the sickly sheep, and the crusty old shepherd. It was a long journey; but he went on, eating wild berries by day, sleeping in the hollows of old trees by night, and never losing sight of the ground-ivy, which led him over height and hollow, bank and brush, out of the forest, and along a noble high road, with fields and villages on every side, to a great city, and a low old-fashioned gate of the king's kitchen-garden, which was thought too mean for the scullions, and had not been opened for seven years.
There was no use knocking—the gate was overgrown with tall weeds and moss; so, being an active boy, he climbed over, and walked through the garden, till a white fawn came frisking by, and he heard a soft voice saying sorrowfully:
"Come back, come back, my fawn! I cannot run and play with you now, my feet have grown so heavy"; and looking round he saw the loveliest young princess in the world, dressed in snow-white, and wearing a wreath of roses on her golden hair; but walking slowly, as the great people did in Stumpinghame, for her feet were as large as the best of them.
After her came six young ladies, dressed in white and walking slowly, for they could not go before the princess; but Fairyfoot was amazed to see that their feet were as small as his own. At once he guessed that this must be the Princess Maybloom, and made her an humble bow, saying:
"Royal princess, I have heard of your trouble because your feet have grown large: in my country that's all the fashion. For seven years past I have been wondering what would make mine grow, to no purpose; but I know of a certain fountain that will make yours smaller and finer than ever they were, if the king, your father, gives you leave to come with me, accompanied by two of your maids that are the least given to talking, and the most prudent officer in all his household; for it would grievously offend the fairies and the nightingales to make that fountain known."
When the princess heard that, she danced for joy in spite of her large feet, and she and her six maids brought Fairyfoot before the king and queen, where they sat in their palace hall, with all the courtiers paying their morning compliments. The lords were very much astonished to see a ragged, bare-footed boy brought in among them, and the ladies thought Princess Maybloom must have gone mad; but Fairyfoot, making an humble reverence, told his message to the king and queen, and offered to set out with the princess that very day. At first the king would not believe that there could be any use in his offer, because so many great physicians had failed to give any relief. The courtiers laughed Fairyfoot to scorn, the pages wanted to turn him out for an impudent impostor, and the prime-minister said he ought to be put to death for high-treason.
Fairyfoot wished himself safe in the forest again, or even keeping the sickly sheep; but the queen, being a prudent woman, said:
"I pray your majesty to notice what fine feet this boy has. There may be some truth in his story. For the sake of our only daughter, I will choose two maids who talk the least of all our train, and my chamberlain, who is the most discreet officer in our household. Let them go with the princess: who knows but our sorrow may be lessened?"
After some persuasion the king consented, though his councillors advised the contrary. So the two silent maids, the discreet chamberlain, and her fawn, which would not stay behind, were sent with Princess Maybloom, and they all set out after dinner. Fairyfoot had hard work guiding them along the track of the ground-ivy. The maids and the chamberlain did not like the brambles and rough roots of the forest—they thought it hard to eat berries and sleep in hollow trees; but the princess went on with good courage, and at last they reached the grove of rose-trees, and the spring bordered with lilies.
The chamberlain washed—and though his hair had been grey, and his face wrinkled, the young courtiers envied his beauty for years after. The maids washed—and from that day they were esteemed the fairest in all the palace. Lastly, the princess washed also—it could make her no fairer, but the moment her feet touched the water they grew less, and when she had washed and dried them three times, they were as small and finely shaped as Fairyfoot's own. There was great joy among them, but the boy said sorrowfully:
"Oh! if there had been a well in the world to make my feet large, my father and mother would not have cast me off, nor sent me to live among the shepherds."
"Cheer up your heart," said the Princess Maybloom; "if you want large feet, there is a well in this forest that will do it. Last summer time, I came with my father and his foresters to see a great cedar cut down, of which he meant to make a money chest. While they were busy with the cedar, I saw a bramble branch covered with berries. Some were ripe and some were green, but it was the longest bramble that ever grew; for the sake of the berries, I went on and on to its root, which grew hard by a muddy-looking well, with banks of dark green moss, in the deepest part of the forest. The day was warm and dry, and my feet were sore with the rough ground, so I took off my scarlet shoes, and washed my feet in the well; but as I washed, they grew larger every minute, and nothing could ever make them less again. I have seen the bramble this day; it is not far off, and as you have shown me the Fair Fountain, I will show you the Growing Well."
Up rose Fairyfoot and Princess Maybloom, and went together till they found the bramble, and came to where its root grew, hard by the muddy-looking well, with banks of dark green moss in the deepest dell of the forest. Fairyfoot sat down to wash, but at that minute he heard a sound of music and knew it was the fairies going to their dancing ground.
"If my feet grow large," said the boy to himself, "how shall I dance with them?" So, rising quickly, he took the Princess Maybloom by the hand. The fawn followed them; the maids and the chamberlain followed it, and all followed the music through the forest. At last they came to the flowery green. Robin Goodfellow welcomed the company for Fairyfoot's sake, and gave everyone a drink of the fairies' wine. So they danced there from sunset till the grey morning, and nobody was tired; but before the lark sang, Robin Goodfellow took them all safe home, as he used to take Fairyfoot.
There was great joy that day in the palace because Princess Maybloom's feet were made small again. The king gave Fairyfoot all manner of fine clothes and rich jewels; and when they heard his wonderful story, he and the queen asked him to live with them and be their son. In process of time Fairyfoot and Princess Maybloom were married, and still live happily. When they go to visit at Stumpinghame, they always wash their feet in the Growing Well, lest the royal family might think them a disgrace, but when they come back, they make haste to the Fair Fountain; and the fairies and the nightingales are great friends to them, as well as the maids and the chamberlain, because they have told nobody about it, and there is peace and quiet yet in the grove of rose-trees.
W AX makes first-rate jars for storing honey. It is tight and firm, and prevents air and water from getting in. It is strong enough not to be injured by the weight of the bees walking over it.
You may be sure Miss Apis knows all this.
She is not surprised to find her pockets full of wax, and she knows just what to do with it.
Her hind legs are each provided with a pair of nippers for pulling the wax scales out of the pockets. You can best see them by looking at the inside of the leg. At the end of joint 4 at A are strong teeth that shut down on the hard plate at X on joint 5.
When she has pulled out the scales, she moistens them in her mouth with saliva, for they are too brittle at first to be useful. When they are thoroughly moistened and softened, she pulls them out into white bands.
Now she is all ready to make honey-cups.
First, in company with a number of her sisters, she sticks a little wax along one side of the hive near the top, then the six-sided cups or cells are begun.
This sounds easy enough, but suppose you try to make a six-sided cell of moist bees' wax and see how you succeed!
Of course you have not the best tools in the world for such work, for good as fingers may be for cutting with a scissors, or driving nails, or picking up pins, they would be poor tools for making cells of bees' wax.
Miss Apis is supplied with something better. You know about that. Those claws on her feet are admirable wax tools, and so are her jaws, and even her tongue, which she uses in the finer work of the cell.
The bees begin at the roof and build the comb downward.
It is wonderful to think of the fairy structure growing there in the dark hive under the efforts of the industrious little bees.
They make six-sided cells lying close together, so as not to waste either room or wax.
No other shape would so well fill the space.
They have found this out; and as they want to put as many cells into as small a space as possible, the wise workers pat, and pull, and press the wax into hexagonal cups or jars.
Although many bees work together, and in the dark too, they keep watch over each other's movements in some way, and build the cells in rows, one row below the other, until they have a wall or sheet of cells reaching nearly to the bottom of the hive.
This sheet of cells we call a comb.
If you expect to find all the cells in a comb of exactly the same size and shape, you will be disappointed.
Miss Apis fills the space at her disposal with wonderfully regular six-sided cells, far better ones than you or I could make; but the rows are not always perfectly straight, and the cells are not always perfectly uniform in size, as they would be if made by machinery.
Miss Apis is not a machine, and for my part I like her work better than if it were perfectly regular.
As the comb hangs in the hive, the cells of course do not stand up with their open mouths at the top as we set a cup on the table, but they lie on their sides, which seems rather odd when we come to think of it.
Suppose you were to lay your fruit jars on their sides on the table in a row, and then pile another row above them, and so on.
You would have them nicely packed away, but how could you fill them without having the contents run out as fast as put in?
Miss Apis is able to overcome even that difficulty. She builds a double row of cells placed back to back, and opening of course in opposite directions.
The cells are not quite parallel with the floor of the hive, but their mouths are tipped up just a little, and they are slightly curved, as if Miss Apis were afraid the honey might run out if she laid them down too flat.
If you look into an empty cell of honey-comb, you will see that the cells in a sheet of comb are not exactly opposite to each other, but that the bottom of a cell on the right side of the comb overlaps the edges of three or four cells on the left side. That is, the cells are placed so that the bottom of one rests where three others on the opposite side come together, and sometimes overlaps a fourth.
You can easily see the edges of the opposite cells through the wax that forms the bottom of a cell, and you can understand that placing the cells this way makes the comb much stronger.
Now the comb is made and ready to be filled with honey.
Probably young bees that have not yet gone out of the hive in search of nectar, build the cells.
The rovers bring in nectar, and standing over the cells press it up from their honey-sacs. A great many loads are necessary to fill one cell, as each bee carries less than a drop at a time.
All day long in and out fly the bees, each one leaving her little load of honey to help to fill the honey-comb cells.
But why does not the honey run out as fast as it is put in? That question has not yet been answered.
It is easier to ask than to answer, unless you know more about natural philosophy than I think you do.
To begin with, honey is sticky. You know that as well as I do. And it will stick to honey cups as well as to anything else. When the bee puts a little drop in the bottom of a cup it tends to stick fast. A cellful of honey, however, is not sticky enough to keep from running out, as we know when we take off the cover to a honey-comb cell. To help the honey to stay in, the cells, as we know, are tilted up a little. The cells are small, and the liquid honey tends to remain in a small cell, just on that account,—which is a matter for Physics to explain. Then, when Miss Apis has her cell nearly full, she begins to put a cover over it. She begins at the bottom of the cell to put on this "cap," as it is called, and by the time she has finished the cap, the cell is as full of honey as she can get it, but there is a little air left in, which acts as a cushion, and keeps the honey from running against the cap.
So there is her honey-cup, filled and sealed.
Miss Apis fills her honey cell rather slowly, and leaves it uncapped for a few days until the extra water evaporates and the honey is "ripened."
You know very well that if you have molasses in an open dish, it becomes thicker as time goes on; that is because it loses its water by evaporation, and that is exactly what happens when honey is left uncapped for a while. It gets thicker and keeps better.
Miss Apis does not fill all of her fine little wax preserve jars with honey. If she did, what would become of the bee-bread?
We do not often see bee-bread in these days, because we have given Miss Apis little wooden frames for her honey-comb, and when we take these from the hive, only those containing pure honey are sent to market. If there is bee-bread in any of the frames, they are returned to the hive.
When Miss Apis comes home with her pollen baskets full, she scrapes out her load into a wax jar, or cell, as I suppose we ought to call it.
You remember the little crowbar she has on her middle leg for prying the sticky mass out of her pollen basket.
When the pollen, or bee-bread, as it generally is called after Miss Apis has gathered it and mixed it with honey, has been pushed into the cell, it is patted down and perhaps a little more honey added to it. When the cell is full, it is capped over like the cells that contain honey.
Sometimes a whole comb will be filled with bee-bread, and sometimes a comb will contain part bee-bread and part honey.
Miss Apis is fond of bee-bread, but we are not. We gladly take away her honey, but we do not care to rob her of her bee-bread. It has a curious taste which I should like to describe to you, but I can only say it tastes like bee-bread, and like nothing else in the world that I know of.
Miss Apis has a habit of storing the honey in the top of the hive, and that is where, in our new-fashioned hives, we put the little wooden frames we want her to fill. When she has filled them, all we have to do is to open the top of the hive and lift them out; that is, unless she has glued them fast.
Miss Apis is very particular about having everything firm and tight in her hive. She does not want honey-combs tumbling about her ears, breaking and spilling what is in them, so whenever there is half an excuse to do so she glues them fast. She stops up all the holes in her hive, too, with glue; that is, if there are any holes.
No doubt this glue is very useful when she builds in hollow trees, or when her hive is old and rickety.
But people generally take care of the hives, and build them tight or else stop up the holes.
Miss Apis's glue is a perfect nuisance to the bee-keeper. She seems to think she must daub everything over with it, whether necessary or not, and she fastens the frames so tightly, if the bee-keeper is not on the watch, that it is hard work to get them out of the hive.
The only way is to watch and take out the frames before she has time to glue them fast.
You wonder where she gets her glue? Why, she just finds it. She sometimes scrapes it off from the sticky buds of the poplar or cherry tree, or from other plants. Huber watched his bees scrape bee-glue from wild poplar buds. Miss Apis brings the glue home in her pollen baskets. It is brown and shiny like resin, and spoils the looks of whatever it touches. But Miss Apis does not seem to care much for mere looks.
WEEK 20 |
It was market-day in the great city of Rome, and the people were busy buying and selling and shouting, just as they do to-day with us, when market-day comes round. But there was a great difference between this Roman market and ours, a difference which would have seemed to us strange and cruel. For instead of sheep and oxen, or green vegetables from the country, they were selling men and boys, and even little maidens. There in the great market-place, with the sun beating down on their bare heads, they stood, looking with dull, despairing eyes, or with frightened glances at the crowds of buyers and sellers who were bargaining around.
Suddenly a hush fell on the crowd, and a stately figure was seen crossing the square. People stood aside and bent their heads in reverence as Gregory passed by, for he was Abbot of a great monastery in Rome, and was much beloved even by the rough Roman soldiers. He walked swiftly as if he did not care to linger in the market-place, for it grieved his gentle heart to see the suffering of the slaves when he could do nothing to help them.
But suddenly the crowd seemed to divide in front of him, and he stopped in wonder at the sight which met his eyes. It was only a group of little fair-haired English boys who had been captured in the wars, and carried off to be sold as slaves in the Roman market. But Gregory had never seen anything like them before. All around were dark-eyed, swarthy-faced Italians, or darker-skinned slaves from Africa, and these boys with their sunny, golden hair, fair faces, and eyes blue as the sky overhead, seemed to him creatures from a different world.
"Whence come these children, and what name do they bear?" asked the bishop of a man who stood beside him.
"From a savage island far over the sea," he answered, "and men call them Angles."
Then the kind bishop looked with pitying eyes upon the beautiful children, and said to himself, as he turned to go: "They should be called not Angles, but angels."
The sight of those boys, so strong and fearless and beautiful, made Gregory think a great deal about the little island of Britain, far away across the sea, from whence they had come. He knew the people who lived there were a fierce, warlike race, having a strange religion of their own, and that very few of them were Christians. But he knew, too, that though they were hard to conquer, and difficult to teach, still they were a people worth teaching, and he longed to win them to the side of Christ and to show them how to serve the true God.
In those days people in Italy knew very little about that far-away island, and it seemed to them as difficult and dangerous to go to England as it would seem to us if we were asked to go to the wildest part of Africa. True there were no lions nor tigers in England, but the tall, fair-haired giants who lived there were as savage as they were brave, and might be even worse to deal with than the wild beasts of other lands.
So it may well be believed that when Saint Gregory, who was now Pope of Rome, chose forty monks and sent them on a mission to this distant island, they were not very anxious to go, and set out in fear and trembling.
But at their head was one who knew no fear and who was willing to face any dangers in the service of his Master. This man was Augustine, a monk of Rome, whom Gregory had chosen to lead the mission, knowing that his courage would strengthen the others, and his wisdom would guide them aright.
It took many long days and nights of travel to reach the coast where they were to find a ship to carry them across to Britain, and before they had gone very far, the forty monks were inclined to turn back in despair. From every side they heard such terrible tales of the savage islanders they were going to meet, that their hearts, never very courageous, were filled with terror, and they refused to go further. Nothing that Augustine could say would persuade them to go on, and they would only agree that he should go back to Rome and bear their prayers to Saint Gregory, imploring him not to force them to face such horrible danger. If Augustine would do this they promised to wait his return and to do then whatever the Pope ordered.
They had not to wait many days, for Augustine speedily brought back the Pope's answer to their request. His dark face glowed and his eyes shone with the light of victory, as he read to them the letter which Saint Gregory had sent. There was to be no thought of going back. Saint Gregory's words were few, but decisive. "It is better not to begin a work than to turn back as soon as danger threatens; therefore, my beloved sons, go forward by the help of our Lord."
So they obeyed, and with Augustine at their head once more set out, hardly hoping to escape the perils of the journey, and expecting, if they did arrive, to be speedily put to death by the savage islanders.
Perhaps the worst trial of all was when they set sail from France and saw the land fading away in the distance. In front there was nothing to be seen but angry waves and a cold, grey sky, and they seemed to be drifting away from the country of sunshine and safety into the dark region of uncertainty and danger. Nay, the island, whose very name was terrible to them, was nowhere to be seen, and seemed all the more horrible because it was wrapped in that mysterious grey mist.
But though they did not know it, they had really nothing to fear from the island people, for the queen of that part of England where they landed was a Christian, and had taught the King Ethelbert to show mercy and kindness. So when the company of cold, shivering monks came ashore they were met with a kind and courteous welcome, and instead of enemies they found friends.
The king himself came to meet them, and he ordered the little band of foreigners to be brought before him, that he might learn their errand. He did not receive them in any hall or palace, but out in the open air, for it seemed safer there, in case these strangers should be workers of magic or witchcraft.
It must have been a strange scene when the forty monks, with Augustine at their head, walked in procession up from the beach to the broad green meadow where the king and his soldiers waited for them. The tall, fair-haired warriors who stood around, sword in hand, ready to defend their king, must have looked with surprise at these black-robed men with shaven heads and empty hands. They carried no weapons of any sort, and they seemed to bear no banner to tell men whence they came. Only the foremost monks carried on high a silver cross and the picture of a crucified Man, and instead of shouts and war-cries there was the sound of a melodious chant sung by many voices, yet seeming as if sung by one.
Then Augustine stood out from among the company of monks and waited for the king to speak.
"Who art thou, and from whence have come these men who are with thee?" asked the king. "Me-thinks thou comest in peace, else wouldst thou have carried more deadly weapons than a silver charm and a painted sign. I fain would know the reason of thy visit to this our island."
Slowly Augustine began to tell the story of their pilgrimage and the message they had brought. So long he spoke that the sun began to sink and the twilight fell over the silent sea that lay stretched out beyond the meadow where they sat before his story was done.
The king bent forward, thoughtfully weighing the words he had heard, and looking into the faces of these strange messengers of peace. At length he spoke, and the weary monks and stalwart warriors listened eagerly to his words.
"Thou hast spoken well," he said to Augustine, "and it may be there is truth in what thou sayest. But a man does not change his religion in an hour. I will hear more of this. But meanwhile ye shall be well cared for, and all who choose may listen to your message."
Those were indeed welcome words to the company of poor tired monks, and when the kindly islanders, following their king's example, made them welcome and gave them food and shelter, they could well echo the words of Saint Gregory in the Roman market: "These are not Angles but angels."
And soon King Ethelbert gave the little company a house of their own, and allowed them to build up the ancient church at Canterbury, which had fallen into ruins. There they lived as simply and quietly as they had done in their convent in Italy, praying day and night for the souls of these heathen people, and teaching them, as much by their lives as their words, that it was good to serve the Lord Christ.
And before very long the people began to listen eagerly to their teaching, and the king himself was baptized with many others. The chant which the monks had sung that first day of their landing no longer sounded strange and mysterious in the ears of the islanders, for they too learnt to sing the "Alleluia" and to praise God beneath the sign of the silver cross.
Now Augustine was very anxious that the Ancient British Church should join his party and that they should work together under the direction of Pope Gregory. But the British Christians were not sure if they might trust these strangers, and it was arranged that they should meet first, before making any plans.
The Ancient British Church had almost been driven out of the land, and there were but few of her priests left. They did not know whether they ought to join Augustine and his foreign monks, or strive to work on alone. In their perplexity they went to a holy hermit, and asked him what they should do.
"If this man comes from God, then follow him," said the hermit.
"But how can we know if he is of God?" asked the people.
The hermit thought a while and then said: "The true servant of God is ever humble and lowly of heart. Go to meet this man. If he rises and bids you welcome, then will you know that he bears Christ's yoke, and will lead you aright. But if he be proud and haughty, and treat you with scorn, never rising to welcome you, then see to it that ye have nought to do with him."
So the priests and bishops of the British Church arranged to meet Augustine under a great oak-tree, which was called ever afterwards "Augustine's oak." They carefully planned that the foreign monks should arrive there first, in time to be seated, so that the hermit's test might be tried when they themselves should arrive.
Unhappily, Augustine did not think of rising to greet the British bishops, and they were very angry and would agree to nothing that he proposed, though he warned them solemnly that if they would not join their forces with his, they would sooner or later fall by the hand of their enemies.
Greatly disappointed Augustine returned to Canterbury and worked there for many years without help, until all who lived in that part of England learned to be Christians.
And Pope Gregory hearing of his labours was pleased with the work his missionary had done, and thought it fit that the humble monk should be rewarded with a post of honour. So he made Augustine Archbishop of Canterbury, the first archbishop that England had known. It was a simple ceremony then, with only the few faithful monks kneeling around the chair on which the archbishop was enthroned, but Augustine's keen, dark face shone with the light of victory and humble thankfulness, for it seemed a seal upon his work, a pledge that the island should never again turn back from the faith of Christ.
And could those dark eyes have looked forward and pierced the screen of many years, Augustine would have seen a goodly succession of archbishops following in his footsteps, each in his turn sitting in that same simple old chair, placed now in Westminster Abbey and guarded as one of England's treasures.
And he would have seen, too, what would have cheered his heart more than all—a Christian England venerating the spot where his monastery once stood, and building upon it a college to his memory. And there he would have seen England's sons trained to become missionaries and to go out into all the world to preach the gospel, just as that little band of monks, with Augustine at their head, came to our island in those dark, far-off days.
But though Augustine could not know all this, his heart was filled with a great hope and a great love for the islanders who now seemed like his own children, and he was more than content to spend his life amongst them.
And when his work was ended, and the faithful soul gave up his charge, they buried him in the island which had once seemed to him a land of exile but which at last had come to mean even more to him than his own sunny land of Italy.
N OTHING more happened worth telling for some time. The autumn came and went by. There were no more flowers in the garden. The winds blew strong, and howled among the rocks. The rain fell, and drenched the few yellow and red leaves that could not get off the bare branches. Again and again there would be a glorious morning followed by a pouring afternoon, and sometimes, for a week together, there would be rain, nothing but rain, all day, and then the most lovely cloudless night, with the sky all out in full-blown stars—not one missing. But the princess could not see much of them, for she went to bed early. The winter drew on, and she found things growing dreary. When it was too stormy to go out, and she had got tired of her toys, Lootie would take her about the house, sometimes to the housekeeper's room, where the housekeeper, who was a good, kind old woman, made much of her—sometimes to the servants' hall or the kitchen, where she was not princess merely, but absolute queen, and ran a great risk of being spoiled. Sometimes she would run of herself to the room where the men-at-arms whom the king had left, sat, and they showed her their arms and accoutrements, and did what they could to amuse her. Still at times she found it very dreary, and often and often wished that her huge great grandmother had not been a dream.
One morning the nurse left her with the housekeeper for a while. To amuse her, she turned out the contents of an old cabinet upon the table. The little princess found her treasures, queer ancient ornaments and many things the uses of which she could not imagine, far more interesting than her own toys, and sat playing with them for two hours or more. But at length, in handling a curious old-fashioned brooch, she ran the pin of it into her thumb, and gave a little scream with the sharpness of the pain, but would have thought little more of it, had not the pain increased and her thumb begun to swell. This alarmed the housekeeper greatly. The nurse was fetched; the doctor was sent for; her hand was poulticed, and long before her usual time she was put to bed. The pain still continued, and although she fell asleep and dreamed a good many dreams, there was the pain always in every dream. At last it woke her up.
The moon was shining brightly into the room. The poultice had fallen off her hand, and it was burning hot. She fancied if she could hold it into the moonlight, that would cool it. So she got out of bed, without waking the nurse who lay at the other end of the room, and went to the window. When she looked out, she saw one of the men-at-arms walking in the garden, with the moonlight glancing on his armor. She was just going to tap on the window and call him, for she wanted to tell him all about it, when she bethought herself that that might wake Lootie, and she would put her into bed again. So she resolved to go to the window of another room, and call him from there. It was so much nicer to have somebody to talk to than to lie awake in bed with the burning pain in her hand. She opened the door very gently and went through the nursery, which did not look into the garden, to go to the other window. But when she came to the foot of the old staircase, there was the moon shining down from some window high up, and making the worm-eaten oak look very strange and delicate and lovely. In a moment she was putting her little feet one after the other in the silvery path up the stair, looking behind as she went, to see the shadow they made in the middle of the silver. Some little girls would have been afraid to find themselves thus alone in the middle of the night, but Irene was a princess.
As she went slowly up the stairs, not quite sure that she was not dreaming, suddenly a great longing woke up in her heart to try once more whether she could not find the old, old lady with the silvery hair.
"If she is a dream," she said to herself, "then I am the likelier to find her, if I am dreaming."
So up and up she went, stair after stair, until she came to the many rooms—all just as she had seen them before. Through passage after passage she softly sped, comforting herself that if she should lose her way it would not matter much, because when she woke she would find herself in her own bed, with Lootie not far off. But, as if she had known every step of the way, she walked straight to the door at the foot of the narrow stair that led to the tower.
"What if I should realliality-really find my beautiful old grandmother up there!" she said to herself, as she crept up the steep steps.
When she reached the top, she stood a moment listening in the dark, for there was no moon there. Yes! it was! it was the hum of the spinning-wheel! What a diligent grandmother to work both day and night!
She tapped gently at the door.
"Come in, Irene," said the sweet voice.
The princess opened the door, and entered. There was the moonlight streaming in at the window, and in the middle of the moonlight sat the old lady in her black dress with the white lace, and her silvery hair mingling with the moonlight, so that you could not have distinguished one from the other.
"Come in, Irene," she said again. "Can you tell me what I am spinning?"
"She speaks," thought Irene, "just as if she had seen me five minutes ago, or yesterday at the farthest.—No," she answered; "I don't know what you are spinning. Please, I thought you were a dream. Why couldn't I find you before, great-great-grandmother?"
"That you are hardly old enough to understand. But you would have found me sooner if you hadn't come to think I was a dream. I will give you one reason, though, why you couldn't find me. I didn't want you to find me."
"Because I did not want Lootie to know I was here."
"But you told me to tell Lootie."
"Yes. But I knew Lootie would not believe you. If she were to see me sitting spinning here, she wouldn't believe me either."
"Because she couldn't. She would rub her eyes, and go away and say she felt queer, and forget half of it and more, and then say it had been all a dream."
"Just like me," said Irene, feeling very much ashamed of herself.
"Yes, a good deal like you, but not just like you; for you've come again; and Lootie wouldn't have come again. She would have said, No, no—she had had enough of such nonsense."
"Is it naughty of Lootie then?"
"It would be naughty of you. I've never done anything for Lootie."
"And you did wash my face and hands for me," said Irene, beginning to cry.
The old lady smiled a sweet smile and
"I'm not vexed with you, my child—nor with Lootie either. But I don't want you to say anything more to Lootie about me. If she should ask you, you must just be silent. But I do not think she will ask you."
All the time they talked, the old lady kept on spinning.
"You haven't told me yet what I am spinning," she said.
"Because I don't know. It's very pretty stuff."
It was indeed very pretty stuff. There was a good bunch of it on the distaff attached to the spinning-wheel, and in the moonlight it shone like—what shall I say it was like? It was not white enough for silver—yes, it was like silver, but shone gray rather than white, and glittered only a little. And the thread the old lady drew out from it was so fine that Irene could hardly see it.
"I am spinning this for you, my child."
"For me! What am I to do with it, please?"
"I will tell you by and by. But first I will tell you what it is. It is spider-webs—of a particular kind. My pigeons bring it me from over the great sea. There is only one forest where the spiders live who make this particular kind—the finest and strongest of any. I have nearly finished my present job. What is on the rock now will be quite sufficient. I have a week's work there yet, though," she added, looking at the bunch.
"Do you work all day and all night too, great-great-great-great grandmother?" said the princess, thinking to be very polite with so many greats.
"I am not quite so great as all that," she answered, smiling almost merrily. "If you call me grandmother, that will do.—No, I don't work every night—only moonlit nights, and then no longer than the moon shines upon my wheel. I shan't work much longer to-night."
"And what will you do next, grandmother?"
"Go to bed. Would you like to see my bedroom?"
"Yes, that I should."
"Then I think I won't work any longer to-night. I shall be in good time."
The old lady rose, and left her wheel standing just as it was. You see there was no good in putting it away, for where there was not any furniture, there was no danger of being untidy.
Then she took Irene by the hand, but it was her bad hand, and Irene gave a little cry of pain.
"My child!" said her grandmother, "what is the matter?"
Irene held her hand into the moonlight, that the old lady might see it, and told her all about it, at which she looked grave. But she only said—"Give me your other hand"; and, having led her out upon the little dark landing, opened the door on the opposite side of it. What was Irene's surprise to see the loveliest room she had ever seen in her life! It was large and lofty, and dome-shaped. From the centre hung a lamp as round as a ball, shining as if with the brightest moonlight, which made everything visible in the room, though not so clearly that the princess could tell what many of the things were. A large oval bed stood in the middle, with a coverlid of rose-color, and velvet curtains all round it of a lovely pale blue. The walls were also blue—spangled all over with what looked like stars of silver.
The old lady left her, and going to a strange-looking cabinet, opened it and took out a curious silver casket. Then she sat down on a low chair, and calling Irene, made her kneel before her, while she looked at her hand. Having examined it, she opened the casket, and took from it a little ointment. The sweetest odor filled the room—like that of roses and lilies—as she rubbed the ointment gently all over the hot swollen hand. Her touch was so pleasant and cool, that it seemed to drive away the pain and heat wherever it came.
She rubbed the ointment gently all over the hot, swollen hand.
"Oh, grandmother! it is so nice!" said Irene. "Thank you; thank you."
Then the old lady went to a chest of drawers, and took out a large handkerchief of gossamer-like cambric, which she tied around her hand.
"I don't think that I can let you go away to-night," she said. "Do you think you would like to sleep with me?"
"Oh, yes, yes, dear grandmother!" said Irene, and would have clapped her hands, forgetting that she could not.
"You won't be afraid then to go to bed with such an old woman?"
"No. You are so beautiful, grandmother."
"But I am very old."
"And I suppose I am very young. You won't mind sleeping with such a very young woman, grandmother?"
"You sweet little pertness!" said the old lady, and drew her toward her, and kissed her on the forehead and the cheek and the mouth.
Then she got a large silver basin, and having poured some water into it, made Irene sit on the chair, and washed her feet. This done, she was ready for bed. And oh, what a delicious bed it was into which her grandmother laid her! She hardly could have told she was lying upon anything: she felt nothing but the softness. The old lady having undressed herself, lay down beside her.
"Why don't you put out your moon?" asked the princess.
"That never goes out, night or day," she answered. "In the darkest night, if any of my pigeons are out on a message, they always see my moon and know where to fly to."
"But if somebody besides the pigeons were to see it—somebody about the house, I mean—they would come to look what it was, and find you."
"The better for them then," said the old lady. "But it does not happen above five times in a hundred years that any one does see it. The greater part of those who do, take it for a meteor, wink their eyes, and forget it again. Besides, nobody could find the room except I pleased. Besides, again—I will tell you a secret—if that light were to go out, you would fancy yourself lying in a bare garret, on a heap of old straw, and would not see one of the pleasant things round about you all the time."
"I hope it will never go out," said the princess.
"I hope not. But it is time we both went to sleep. Shall I take you in my arms?"
The little princess nestled close up to the old lady, who took her in both her arms, and held her close to her bosom.
"Oh, dear! this is so nice!" said the princess. "I didn't know anything in the whole world could be so comfortable. I should like to lie here for ever."
"You may if you will," said the old lady. "But I must put you to one trial—not a very hard one, I hope.—This night week you must come back to me. If you don't, I do not know when you may find me again, and you will soon want me very much."
"Oh! please, don't let me forget."
"You shall not forget. The only question is whether you will believe I am anywhere—whether you will believe I am anything but a dream. You may be sure I will do all I can to help you to come. But it will rest with yourself after all. On the night of next Friday, you must come to me. Mind now."
"I will try," said the princess.
"Then good night," said the old lady, and kissed the forehead which lay in her bosom.
In a moment more the little princess was dreaming in the midst of the loveliest dreams—of summer seas and moonlight and mossy springs and great murmuring trees, and beds of wild flowers with such odors as she had never smelled before. But after all, no dream could be more lovely than what she had left behind when she fell asleep.
In the morning she found herself in her own bed. There was no handkerchief or anything else on her hand, only a sweet odor lingering about it. The swelling had all gone down; the prick of the brooch had vanished:—in fact her hand was perfectly well.