WEEK 22 |
T OM dodged hither and thither through lanes until he was well out of the track of returning scholars, and then fell into a moody jog. He crossed a small "branch" two or three times, because of a prevailing juvenile superstition that to cross water baffled pursuit. Half an hour later he was disappearing behind the Douglas mansion on the summit of Cardiff Hill, and the school-house was hardly distinguishable away off in the valley behind him. He entered a dense wood, picked his pathless way to the center of it, and sat down on a mossy spot under a spreading oak. There was not even a zephyr stirring; the dead noonday heat had even stilled the songs of the birds; nature lay in a trance that was broken by no sound but the occasional far-off hammering of a woodpecker, and this seemed to render the pervading silence and sense of loneliness the more profound. The boy's soul was steeped in melancholy; his feelings were in happy accord with his surroundings. He sat long with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands, meditating. It seemed to him that life was but a trouble, at best, and he more than half envied Jimmy Hodges, so lately released; it must be very peaceful, he thought, to lie and slumber and dream forever and ever, with the wind whispering through the trees and caressing the grass and the flowers over the grave, and nothing to bother and grieve about, ever any more. If he only had a clean Sunday-school record he could be willing to go, and be done with it all. Now as to this girl. What had he done? Nothing. He had meant the best in the world, and been treated like a dog—like a very dog. She would be sorry some day—maybe when it was too late. Ah, if he could only die temporarily!
But the elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one constrained shape long at a time. Tom presently began to drift insensibly back into the concerns of this life again. What if he turned his back, now, and disappeared mysteriously? What if he went away—ever so far away, into unknown countries beyond the seas—and never came back any more! How would she feel then! The idea of being a clown recurred to him now, only to fill him with disgust. For frivolity and jokes and spotted tights were an offense, when they intruded themselves upon a spirit that was exalted into the vague august realm of the romantic. No, he would be a soldier, and return after long years, all war-worn and illustrious. No—better still, he would join the Indians, and hunt buffaloes and go on the warpath in the mountain ranges and the trackless great plains of the Far West, and away in the future come back a great chief, bristling with feathers, hideous with paint, and prance into Sunday-school, some drowsy summer morning, with a blood-curdling war-whoop, and sear the eyeballs of all his companions with unappeasable envy. But no, there was something gaudier even than this. He would be a pirate! That was it! Now his future lay plain before him, and glowing with unimaginable splendor. How his name would fill the world, and make people shudder! How gloriously he would go plowing the dancing seas, in his long, low, black-hulled racer, the Spirit of the Storm, with his grisly flag flying at the fore! And at the zenith of his fame, how he would suddenly appear at the old village and stalk into church, brown and weather-beaten, in his black velvet doublet and trunks, his great jack-boots, his crimson sash, his belt bristling with horse-pistols, his crime-rusted cutlass at his side, his slouch hat with waving plumes, his black flag unfurled, with the skull and cross-bones on it, and hear with swelling ecstasy the whisperings, "It's Tom Sawyer the Pirate!—the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!"
Yes, it was settled; his career was determined. He would run away from home and enter upon it. He would start the very next morning. Therefore he must now begin to get ready. He would collect his resources together. He went to a rotten log near at hand and began to dig under one end of it with his Barlow knife. He soon struck wood that sounded hollow. He put his hand there and uttered this incantation impressively:
"What hasn't come here, come! What's here, stay here!"
Then he scraped away the dirt, and exposed a pine shingle. He took it up and disclosed a shapely little treasure-house whose bottom and sides were of shingles. In it lay a marble. Tom's astonishment was boundless! He scratched his head with a perplexed air, and said:
"Well, that beats anything!"
Then he tossed the marble away pettishly, and stood cogitating. The
truth was, that a superstition of his had failed, here, which he and
all his comrades had always looked upon as infallible. If you buried a
marble with certain necessary incantations, and left it alone a
fortnight, and then opened the place with the incantation he had just
used, you would find that all the marbles you had ever lost had
gathered themselves together there, meantime, no matter how widely they
had been separated. But, now this thing had actually and unquestionably
failed. Tom's whole structure of faith was shaken to its foundations.
He had many a time heard of this thing succeeding, but never of its
failing before. It did not occur to him that he had tried it several
times before, himself, but could never find the hiding-places
afterward. He puzzled over the matter some time, and finally decided
that some witch had interfered and broken the charm. He thought he
would satisfy himself on that point; so he searched around till he
found a small sandy spot with a little funnel-shaped depression in it.
He laid himself down and put his mouth close to this depression and
"Doodle-bug, doodle-bug, tell me what I want to know! Doodle-bug, doodle-bug, tell me what I want to know!"
The sand began to work, and presently a small black bug appeared for a second and then darted under again in a fright.
"He dasn't tell! So it was a witch that done it. I just knowed it."
He well knew the futility of trying to contend against witches, so he gave up discouraged. But it occurred to him that he might as well have the marble he had just thrown away, and therefore he went and made a patient search for it. But he could not find it. Now he went back to his treasure-house and carefully placed himself just as he had been standing when he tossed the marble away; then he took another marble from his pocket and tossed it in the same way, saying:
"Brother, go find your brother!"
He watched where it stopped, and went there and looked. But it must have fallen short or gone too far; so he tried twice more. The last repetition was successful. The two marbles lay within a foot of each other.
Just here the blast of a toy tin trumpet came faintly down the green aisles of the forest. Tom flung off his jacket and trousers, turned a suspender into a belt, raked away some brush behind the rotten log, disclosing a rude bow and arrow, a lath sword and a tin trumpet, and in a moment had seized these things and bounded away, barelegged, with fluttering shirt. He presently halted under a great elm, blew an answering blast, and then began to tiptoe and look warily out, this way and that. He said cautiously—to an imaginary company:
"Hold, my merry men! Keep hid till I blow."
Now appeared Joe Harper, as airily clad and elaborately armed as Tom. Tom called:
"Hold! Who comes here into Sherwood Forest without my pass?"
"Guy of Guisborne wants no man's pass. Who art thou that—
"Dares to hold such language," said Tom, prompting—for they talked "by the book," from memory.
"Who art thou that dares to hold such language?"
"I, indeed! I am Robin Hood, as thy caitiff carcass soon shall know."
"Then art thou indeed that famous outlaw? Right gladly will I dispute with thee the passes of the merry wood. Have at thee!"
They took their lath swords, dumped their other traps on the ground, struck a fencing attitude, foot to foot, and began a grave, careful combat, "two up and two down." Presently Tom said:
"Now, if you've got the hang, go it lively!"
So they "went it lively," panting and perspiring with the work. By and by Tom shouted:
"Fall! fall! Why don't you fall?"
"I sha'n't! Why don't you fall yourself? You're getting the worst of it."
"Why, that ain't anything. I can't fall; that ain't the way it is in the book. The book says, 'Then with one back-handed stroke he slew poor Guy of Guisborne.' You're to turn around and let me hit you in the back."
There was no getting around the authorities, so Joe turned, received the whack and fell.
"Now," said Joe, getting up, "you got to let me kill you. That's fair."
"Why, I can't do that, it ain't in the book."
"Well, it's blamed mean—that's all."
"Well, say, Joe, you can be Friar Tuck or Much the miller's son, and lam me with a quarter-staff; or I'll be the Sheriff of Nottingham and you be Robin Hood a little while and kill me."
This was satisfactory, and so these adventures were carried out. Then Tom became Robin Hood again, and was allowed by the treacherous nun to bleed his strength away through his neglected wound. And at last Joe, representing a whole tribe of weeping outlaws, dragged him sadly forth, gave his bow into his feeble hands, and Tom said, "Where this arrow falls, there bury poor Robin Hood under the greenwood tree." Then he shot the arrow and fell back and would have died, but he lit on a nettle and sprang up too gaily for a corpse.
The boys dressed themselves, hid their accoutrements, and went off grieving that there were no outlaws any more, and wondering what modern civilization could claim to have done to compensate for their loss. They said they would rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United States forever.
L ess than two hundred years after the reign of William the Conqueror one of his descendants, King John, sat upon the throne of England. He was an exceedingly bad ruler. He stole, he told lies, and he put innocent people in prison. If he wanted money, he simply demanded it of any persons who had it, and if they refused to give it, he did not hesitate to torture them till they yielded. Men who had committed crime and deserved to be punished he would set free if they could raise money enough to make him a present. If two men disagreed and brought their difficulty before him for trial, he would decide in favor of the one who had made him the larger gift. Sometimes, for some very small offence, he would demand money of a poor man who had only a horse and cart with which to earn his living; and if the man had no friends to bribe the king, his horse and cart were sold to help fill the royal treasury. King John was even believed to have murdered a nephew, the young Prince Arthur, who had claim to the throne.
John ruled not only England, but also the duchy of Normandy, which had descended to him from William the Conqueror. As Normandy was a fief of France, Philip, King of France, called upon his vassal John to account for the death of the prince. John refused to appear. Then Philip took away nearly all his French possessions. That loss made his income much smaller. Moreover, the cost of carrying on the government had increased. There was, then, some reason for his constant need of money, even though there was so little excuse for his manner of obtaining it.
When the Archbishop of Canterbury died, there was a dispute about who should succeed him. The Pope was appealed to, and he bade the monks of Canterbury name a good, upright man named Stephen Langton to take his place. This choice did not please the king, therefore he seized the monastery and its revenues and banished the monks. For six years John resisted the Pope and refused to allow Langton to become archbishop. Finally he became afraid that he was going to die, and then he yielded most meekly. He even went to Langton to beg for absolution, or the pardon of the church. "When you promise to obey the laws of the land and to treat your people justly, I will absolve you," replied the archbishop.
Archbishop Langton Reading the Law of the Land to the Barons
John was always ready to make a promise, but he never kept it unless it was convenient. He promised what the archbishop asked; but, as might have been expected, he soon broke his word.
Now, next to the king, the barons were the most powerful men of the kingdom; but even they did not know what to do. Fortunately, the archbishop knew. He called the barons together, and read them what had been the law of the land since a short time after the death of William the Conqueror. Then the barons understood what their rights were, and they took a solemn oath to defend them. "But we will wait for one year," they said. "The king may do better." They waited a year; then they waited till Christmas. The king had not improved, and the barons went to him and asked him to repeat the promises that he had made to the archbishop. John was insolent at first, but when he saw that the barons were in earnest, he became very meek, and said that what they asked was important, to be sure, but also difficult, and he should need a little time before making the agreement. By Easter he should be able to satisfy them. The barons did not believe him, and so, when Easter came, they brought to the appointed place a large body of armed followers. After a while John sent to ask what it was that the barons insisted upon having. Then bold, dignified Stephen Langton read aloud to him from a parchment such articles as these: "A free man shall not be fined for a small offence, except in proportion to the gravity of the offence." "No free man shall be imprisoned or banished except by the lawful judgment of his equals, or by the law of the land."
John grew more and more angry as these were read; and when the archbishop went on to read other articles declaring that the king must not take bribes, or impose taxes without the consent of his council, or body of advisers, and finally one giving the barons the right to elect twenty-five of their number to keep watch over him and seize his castles if he did not keep his promise, then he went into a furious passion. "I will never grant liberties that would make me a slave," he declared.
Nevertheless, he had to yield. There was a famous green meadow with low hills on one side and the River Thames on the other. Its name of Runnymede, or Meadow of Council, was given it long before William the Conqueror landed in England, because there the Saxons used to hold their councils. To this meadow the barons and their army marched from London. Then out of a strong fortress that rose near at hand, and across the drawbridge that swung over the moat, rode an angry and sulky ruler of England. He promised that his seal should be fixed to the parchment, and then he went back to his palace. He was well-nigh mad with rage; but the barons cared little for this, and they caused many copies of this parchment to be made and sent over the land to be read aloud in the churches.
This parchment was the famous Magna Charta, or Great Charter, sealed in 1215. The barons were then the most powerful men of the kingdom, and they saw to it that as long as he lived the king kept his word. About fifty years later, not only the barons but representatives of the towns were admitted to the council. This was the beginning of the English Parliament; and now, if a king ruled unjustly, he must account, not only to the barons, but to the whole people. From that day to this, no monarch has been able to remain on the throne of England who has not kept the promises that King John was obliged to make that June day at Runnymede.
Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold cloth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
The Palm and May make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye, birds tune this merry lay,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street, these tunes our ears do greet,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
Spring! the sweet Spring!
WEEK 22 |
F OR hundreds of years the kings of England had tried to conquer Scotland, and make Scotland and England one kingdom under one king. Many dreadful battles had been fought, many brave people had been killed. The Scots had lost many battles, but they had never been conquered, and at last the kings of England had almost given up hope of ever being able to conquer them. But now, what they had longed for, and fought for in vain, happened quite quietly and naturally, although not at all in the way that they had expected. Instead of an English King conquering and ruling over Scotland, a Scottish King came to rule over England.
Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England, being dead, James Stuart, King of Scotland, was the rightful heir to the throne.
James VI. of Scotland was the son of the beautiful and
unhappy Mary, Queen of Scots; was descended from Margaret
Tudor, the sister of Henry
He came, and since 1603 A.D., England and Scotland have formed one kingdom with Wales and Ireland.
So now we will talk no longer of England but of Britain, for long ago the old hatred has been forgotten, and we are all Britons.
James had been King of Scotland for many years before he became King of England too. He was a very little boy when he was first made King, and Scotland had been ruled by a Regent. James had been carefully taught, but unfortunately his teachers had thought more of making him clever, than of teaching him things which would have made him a great ruler. Some people called him the "British Solomon," but because he was such a mixture of wisdom and foolishness he has also been called the "Wisest fool in Christendom."
Although his mother, Queen Mary, was a Roman Catholic, James had been brought up a Protestant. The English Roman Catholics thought however that, in memory of his mother, James would be kinder to them than Elizabeth had been. Elizabeth had not burned and tortured the Roman Catholics as her sister Mary had burned and tortured the Protestants, still they were not quite kindly treated. They had not equal rights with the Protestants, and were sometimes looked down upon.
The Roman Catholics soon found out that James had no intention of being kind to them, and they became very angry. So angry did they become that they formed a plot to kill the King and all the chief Protestants in the country. Having done this, they intended to place James's little daughter, Elizabeth, upon the throne, and make Britain a Roman Catholic country once more.
Princess Elizabeth was, of course, being brought up
Protestant, but she was such a little girl that the
Catholics knew she would only be a
The first thing to be done was to kill the King and all the chief Protestant gentlemen. To do this the conspirators, as the people who form a plot are called, thought of a very dreadful plan. They decided to wait until Parliament was sitting, until the King and all his wise men were gathered together in one place, and then they would blow them up with gunpowder.
Underneath the Houses of Parliament there were cellars.
These cellars were let to merchants and other people who
wished to store goods. It was quite easy for the
conspirators to rent one of these cellars, and into it they
Besides the gunpowder, sticks and firewood were piled into the cellars by the conspirators. This was done partly to hide the barrels, and partly, no doubt, to help to burn the Houses of Parliament when they were set on fire. Nobody paid much attention to the barrels as they were being taken in, and nobody thought of asking with what they were filled.
For a year and a half the plot went on. Very few people knew of it, and those who did were bound by an oath never to talk of it. They met secretly at night, speaking only in mysterious whispers.
At last everything was ready. Guy Fawkes, one of the most fearless of the band, was chosen for the most difficult and dangerous part. He was to set fire to the gunpowder. Having done so, he meant to try to escape, but if he could not, he was quite ready to die in what he thought was a good cause. The day was fixed for the 5th of November, when Parliament would be opened.
A gentleman, called Francis Tresham, had joined the plot. He had a friend, a Roman Catholic nobleman, who was sure to be among the lords who would attend this Parliament.
Tresham could not bear to think of his friend being killed, so he wrote a letter to him in a disguised hand, warning him not to go to this Parliament. "My lord," said the letter, "out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a care for your life. Therefore, I advise you, if you love your life, to make some excuse so that you need not go to this Parliament. God and man are agreed to punish the wickedness of this time. Do not think lightly of this warning, but go away into the country where you may be safe. For, although there is no sign of any stir, yet, I say, they shall receive a terrible blow this Parliament, and yet they shall not see who hurts them."
Tresham's friend was very much disturbed by this letter. He took it to Lord Salisbury, who took it to the King.
The King, who was afterwards very proud of his cleverness, said that the terrible blow which was to be given, without the person being seen, must mean "gunpowder." It was clever of the King to think of this, but some people say that Salisbury had already found out about the plot, and perhaps he put the idea of gunpowder into the King's head.
About midnight, on the 4th of November, the day before Parliament was to meet, the cellars under the Houses were searched. With hushed voices, drawn swords, and dim lanterns, the searchers moved from cellar to cellar. All seemed empty, silent and dark, till in a far corner, a faint light was seen, and near it the dark figure and pale face of Guy Fawkes.
In a moment they were upon him. He tried to defend himself, but it was useless. Stern men with drawn swords closed in upon him, and he was soon a prisoner.
Stern men with drawn swords closed in upon him.
He could not deny his guilt. Round him were the barrels; in his pockets were those things which he needed to set fire to the gunpowder. He knew he must die. "Oh, would I had been quicker," he said, "would I had set fire to the powder. Death would have been sweet had some of my enemies gone with me."
Guy Fawkes was taken to the Tower. In the cruel manner of those days he was tortured to make him tell the names of the others who were with him in the plot. But Guy Fawkes was very brave, although he was wrong, and he would not tell.
The others, seeing that part of their plot had failed, hoped still to succeed in gaining possession of the Princess Elizabeth. So they hastily rode to the country house where she was living.
But part of the gunpowder which they took with them was set on fire and exploded by accident. It hurt some, and frightened all of them, for they thought that it was a punishment sent upon them because of what they had intended to do to others.
The Roman Catholics in the country did not rise to help the conspirators as they had expected, and soon all hope of success was lost. The chief of the conspirators were seized, and were put to death, along with Guy Fawkes.
After this the Protestants hated the Roman Catholics more than ever, and their lives were made very hard.
There was great rejoicing at the discovery of the plot. Bells rang, and bonfires blazed, and even now, after three hundred years, the day is not forgotten. On the 5th of November people still have fireworks, and bonfires on which they burn a figure made of straw and old clothes, which is meant to represent Guy Fawkes.
N O, I do not believe that any one of you ever went into a swamp to find a turkey buzzard's nest. Still, if you had been born on the edge of a great swamp, as I was, and if the great-winged buzzards had been soaring, soaring up in your sky, as all through my boyhood they were soaring up in mine, then why should you not have gone some time into the swamp to see where they make their nests—these strange cloud-winged creatures?
Boys are boys, and girls are girls, the world over; and I am pretty sure that little Jack Horner and myself were not the only two boys in all the world to do great and wonderful deeds. Any boy with a love for birds and a longing for the deep woods, living close to the edge of the Bear Swamp, would have searched out that buzzard's nest.
Although I was born within the shadows of the Bear Swamp, close enough to smell the magnolias along its margin, and lived my first ten years only a little farther off, yet it was not until after twice ten years of absence that I stood again within sight of it, ready for the first time to cross its dark borders and find the buzzard's nest.
Now here at last I found myself, looking down over the largest, least trod, deepest-tangled swamp in southern New Jersey—wide, gloomy, silent, and to me,—for I still thought of it as I used to when a child,—to me, a mysterious realm of black streams, hollow trees, animal trails, and haunting shapes, presided over by this great bird, the turkey buzzard.
For he was never mere bird to me, but some kind of spirit. He stood to me for what was far off, mysterious, secret, and unapproachable in the deep, dark swamp; and, in the sky, so wide were his wings, so majestic the sweep of his flight, he had always stirred me, caused me to hold my breath and wish myself to fly.
No other bird did I so much miss from my New England skies when I came here to live. Only the other day, standing in the heart of Boston, I glanced up and saw, sailing at a far height against the billowy clouds, an aeroplane; and what should I think of but the flight of the vulture, so like the steady wings of the great bird seemed the steady wings of this great monoplane far off against the sky.
And so you begin to understand why I had come back after so many years to the swamp, and why I wanted to see the nest of this strange bird that had been flying, flying forever in my imagination and in my sky. But my good uncle, whom I was visiting, when I mentioned my quest, merely exclaimed, "What in thunderation!"
You will find a good many uncles and other folk who won't understand a good many things that you want to do. Never mind. If you want to see a buzzard's nest, let all your relations exclaim while you go quietly off alone and see it.
I wanted to find a buzzard's nest—the nest of the Bear Swamp buzzard; and here at last I stood; and yonder on the clouds, a mere mote in the distance, floated the bird. It was coming toward me over the wide reach of the swamp.
Silent, inscrutable, and alien lay the swamp, and untouched by human hands. Over it spread a quiet and reserve as real as twilight. Like a mask it was worn, and was slipped on, I know, at my approach. I could feel the silent spirit of the place drawing back away from me. But I should have at least a guide to lead me through the shadow land, for out of the lower living green towered a line of limbless stubs, like a line of telegraph-poles, their bleached bones gleaming white, or showing dark and gaunt against the horizon, and marking for me a path far out across the swamp. Besides, here came the buzzard winding slowly down the clouds. Soon its spiral changed to a long pendulum-swing, till just above the skeleton trees the great bird wheeled and, bracing itself with its flapping wings, dropped heavily upon one of the headless tree-trunks.
It had come leisurely, yet I could see that it had come with a directness and purpose that was unmistakable and also meaningful. It had discovered me in the distance, and, while still invisible to my eyes, had started down to perch upon that giant stub in order to watch me. It was suspicious, and had come to watch me, because somewhere beneath its perch, I felt sure, lay a hollow log, the creature's den, holding its two eggs or its young. A buzzard has something like a soul.
Marking the direction of the stub, and its probable distance, I waded into the deep underbrush, the buzzard perched against the sky for my guide, and, for my quest, the stump or hollow log that held the creature's nest.
The rank ferns and ropy vines swallowed me up, and shut out at times even the sight of the sky and the buzzard. It was not until half an hour's struggle that, climbing a pine-crested swell in the low bottom, I sighted the bird again. It had not moved.
I was now in the real swamp, the old uncut forest. It was a land of tree giants: huge tulip poplar and swamp white oak, so old that they had become solitary, their comrades having fallen one by one; while some of them, unable to loose their grip upon the soil, which had widened and tightened through centuries, were still standing, though long since dead. It was upon one of these that the buzzard sat humped.
Directly in my path stood an ancient swamp white oak, the greatest tree, I think, that I have ever seen. It was not the highest, nor the largest round, perhaps, but in years and looks the greatest. Hoary, hollow, and broken-limbed, his huge bole seemed encircled with the centuries.
"For it had bene an auncient tree,
Sacred with many a mysteree."
Above him to twice his height loomed a tulip poplar, clean-boled for thirty feet and in the top all green and gold with blossoms. It was a resplendent thing beside the oak, yet how unmistakably the gnarled old monarch wore the crown! His girth more than balanced the poplar's greater height; and, as for blossoms, he had his tiny-flowered catkins; but nature knows the beauty of strength and inward majesty, and has pinned no boutonnière upon the oak.
My buzzard now was hardly more than half a mile away, and plainly seen through the rifts in the lofty timbered roof above me. As I was nearing the top of a large fallen pine that lay in my course, I was startled by the burrh! burrh! burrh! of three partridges taking wing just beyond, near the foot of the tree. Their exploding flight seemed all the more like a real explosion when three little clouds of dust-smoke rose out of the low, wet bottom of the swamp and drifted up against the green.
Then I saw an interesting sight. The pine, in its fall, had snatched with its wide-reaching, multitudinous roots at the shallow bottom and torn out a giant fistful of earth, leaving a hole about two feet deep and more than a dozen feet wide. The sand thus lifted into the air had gradually washed down into a mound on each side of the butt, where it lay high and dry above the level of the wet swamp. This the swamp birds had turned into a great dust-bath. It was in constant use, evidently. Not a spear of grass had sprouted in it, and all over it were pits and craters of various sizes, showing that not only the partridges but also the quail and such small things as the warblers bathed here,—though I can't recall ever having seen a warbler bathe in the dust. A dry bath in the swamp was something of a luxury, evidently. I wonder if the buzzards used it?
I went forward cautiously now, and expectantly, for I was close enough to see the white beak and red wattled neck of my buzzard guide. The buzzard saw me, too, and began to twist its head and to twitch its wing-tips nervously. Then the long, black wings began to open, as you would open a two-foot rule, and, with a heavy lurch that left the dead stub rocking, the bird dropped and was soon soaring high up in the blue.
This was the locality of the nest; now where should I find it? Evidently I was to have no further help from the old bird. The underbrush was so thick that I could hardly see farther than my nose. A half-rotten tree-trunk lay near, the top end resting across the backs of several saplings that it had borne down in its fall. I crept up on this for a look around, and almost tumbled off at finding myself staring directly into the dark, cavernous hollow of an immense log lying on a slight rise of ground a few feet ahead of me.
It was a yawning hole, which at a glance I knew belonged to the buzzard. The log, a mere shell of a mighty white oak, had been girdled and felled with an axe, by coon-hunters probably, and still lay with one side resting upon the rim of the stump. As I stood looking, something white stirred vaguely in the hole and disappeared.
Leaping from my perch, I scrambled forward to the mouth of the hollow log and was greeted with hisses from far back in the dark. Then came a thumping of bare feet, more hisses, and a sound of snapping beaks. I had found my buzzard's nest!
Young Turkey Buzzard
Hardly that, either, for there was not a feather, stick, or chip as evidence of a nest. The eggs had been laid upon the sloping cavern floor, and in the course of their incubation must have rolled clear down to the opposite end, where the opening was so narrow that the buzzard could not have brooded them until she had rolled them back. The wonder is that they had ever hatched.
But they had, and what they hatched was another wonder. Nature never intended a young buzzard for any eye but his mother's, and she hates the sight of him. Elsewhere I have told of a buzzard that devoured her eggs at the approach of an enemy, so delicately balanced are her unnamable appetites and her maternal affections!
The two strange nestlings in the log must have been three weeks old, I should say, the larger weighing about four pounds. They were covered, as young owls are, with deep snow-white down, out of which protruded their black scaly, snaky legs. They stood braced on these long black legs, their receding heads drawn back, shoulders thrust forward, and bodies humped between the featherless wings like challenging tom-cats.
In order to examine them, I crawled into the den—not a difficult act, for the opening measured four feet and a half across at the mouth. The air was musty inside, yet surprisingly free from odor. The floor was absolutely clean, but on the top and sides of the cavity was a thick coating of live mosquitoes, most of them gorged, hanging like a red-beaded tapestry over the walls.
I had taken pains that the flying buzzard should not see me enter, for I hoped she would descend to look after her young. But she would take no chances with herself. I sat near the mouth of the hollow, where I could catch the fresh breeze that pulled across the end, and where I had a view of a far-away bit of sky. Suddenly, across this field of blue, there swept a meteor of black—the buzzard! and evidently in that instant of passage, at a distance certainly of half a mile, she spied me in the log.
I waited more than an hour longer, and when I tumbled out with a dozen kinds of cramps, the unworried mother was soaring serenely far up in the clear, cool sky.
Over the hill the farm-boy goes,
His shadow lengthens along the land,
A giant staff in a giant hand;
In the poplar-tree, above the spring,
The katydid begins to sing;
The early dews are falling;—
Into the stone-heap darts the mink;
The swallows skim the river's brink;
And home to the woodland fly the crows,
When over the hill the farm-boy goes,
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
Farther, farther over the hill,
Faintly calling, calling still,—
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'!"
Into the yard the farmer goes,
With grateful heart, at the close of day;
Harness and chain are hung away;
In the wagon-shed stand yoke and plow;
The straw's in the stack, the hay in the mow;
The cooling dews are falling;—
The friendly sheep his welcome bleat,
The pigs come grunting to his feet,
The whinnying mare her master knows,
When into the yard the farmer goes,
His cattle calling,—
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
While still the cow-boy, far away,
Goes seeking those that have gone astray,—
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'!"
Now to her task the milkmaid goes.
The cattle come crowding through the gate,
Lowing, pushing, little and great;
About the trough, by the farm-yard pump,
The frolicsome yearlings frisk and jump,
While the pleasant dews are falling;—
The new-milch heifer is quick and shy,
But the old cow waits with tranquil eye;
And the white stream into the bright pail flows,
When to her task the milkmaid goes,
"So, boss! so, boss! so! so! so!"
The cheerful milkmaid takes her stool,
And sits and milks in the twilight cool,
Saying, "So! so, boss! so! so!"
To supper at last the farmer goes.
The apples are pared, the paper read,
The stories are told, then all to bed.
Without, the crickets' ceaseless song
Makes shrill the silence all night long;
The heavy dews are falling.
The housewife's hand has turned the lock;
Drowsily ticks the kitchen clock;
The household sinks to deep repose;
But still in sleep the farm-boy goes.
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
And oft the milkmaid, in her dreams,
Drums in the pail with the flashing streams,
Murmuring, "So, boss! so!"
WEEK 22 |
"I NSECTS propagate themselves by eggs, which they lay, with admirable foresight, where the young will be sure to find nourishment. The little creature that comes from the egg is a larva, a feeble grub, which, most often, has to shift for itself, procure at its own risk food and shelter—the most difficult thing in this world. In these painful beginnings it cannot expect any help from its mother, dead some time before; for in insect life the parents generally die before the hatching of the eggs that produce the young. Without delay the little larva sets to work. It eats. It is its sole business, and a serious one, on which its future depends. It eats, not only to keep up its strength from day to day, but above all to acquire the plumpness necessary for its future metamorphosis. I must tell you—and this perhaps will surprise you—that an insect ceases to grow after attaining its final perfect form. It is known, too, that there are insects—among others, the butterfly of the silkworm—that do not take any nourishment at all.
"A cat is at first a tiny little
"It is otherwise with insects. The
"But I have seen small June bugs flying round the willows in the evening," objected Jules.
"Those little June bugs are of a different kind. They will always remain the same. Never will they grow and become common June bugs, any more than a cat would grow into a tiger, which it resembles so much.
"The grub alone grows. At first very small on coming out of
the egg, little by little it acquires a size in conformity
with the future insect. It gathers the materials that the
metamorphosis will use,—materials for the wings,
antennæ, legs, and all those things that the larva
does not have, but that the insect must have. Out of what
will the big green worm that lives in dead wood, and must
"If the little
"The larva is in precisely this case: it has nothing, or next to nothing, that the perfect insects must have. It must therefore amass, in view of future changes, materials for the change; it must eat for two: for itself first, and then for the insect that will come from its substance, transformed and, in a sense, recast. So the larvæ are endowed with an incomparable appetite. As I have said, to eat is their sole business. They eat night and day, often without stopping, without taking breath. To lose a mouthful, what imprudence! The future butterfly would perhaps have one scale less to its wings. So they eat gluttonously, take on a stomach, become big, fat, plump. It is the duty of larvæ.
"Some attack plants; they browse on the leaves, chew the
flowers, bite the flesh of fruit. Others have a stomach
strong enough to digest wood; they hollow out galleries in
"But these larvæ devoted to the work of general sanitation cannot make us forget other eaters, of whom we are victims. The grubs of the June bug alone sometimes multiply so rapidly in the ground that immense tracts are denuded of vegetation, which is gnawed at the roots.
The forester's shrubs, the farmer's harvests, the gardener's plants, just when everything seems prosperous, some fine morning, hang withered, smitten to death. The worm has passed that way, and all is lost. Fire could not have committed more frightful ravages. A miserable yellow louse, hardly visible, lives under ground, where it attacks the roots of the grape vine. It is called phylloxera. Its calamitous breed threatens to destroy all our vineyards. Some grubs, small enough to lodge in a grain of wheat, ravage the wheat in our granaries and leave only the bran. Others browse the lucerne so that the mower finds nothing left. Others, for years, gnaw at the heart of the wood of the oak, poplar, pine, and divers other large trees. Others, which turn into those little white butterflies flying around the lamp in the evening and called moths, eat our cloth stuffs bit by bit, and finish by reducing them to rags. Others attack wainscoting, old furniture, and reduce them to powder. Others—But I should never get through if I were to tell you all. This little people to which we often disdain to pay the slightest attention, this little race of insects, is so powerful on account of the robust appetite of its larvæ, that man ought seriously to reckon with it. If a certain grub succeeds in multiplying beyond measure, whole provinces are threatened with the tragic fate of starvation. And we are left in perfect ignorance on the subject of these devourers! How can you defend yourself if the enemy is unknown to you? Ah, if I only had the management of these things! As for you, my dear children, while waiting for our talks to be resumed with more detail concerning these ravagers, remember this: the larvæ of insects are the great eaters of this world, the providential demolishers that finish the work of death and thus prepare for the work of life, since everything or nearly everything passes through their stomach."
IN the year 1660 Sir William Berkeley was proclaimed
Governor of Virginia under King
The settlers must have had mixed feelings about
During his first term, William Berkeley had proved himself a man of very decided ideas. His mind once made up, was made up for good and all. Moreover, he had been extremely loyal to the English king. What the King had wanted the colonists to do, Governor Berkeley had wanted them to do. And it made no difference whether the settlers themselves liked it or not. He placed little value on the colonists' own ideas of how their colony should be run. He did not believe in free schools, where all the children could be educated. He thought that education should be only for people with money and power. And yet, in spite of all this, the colony had done well under Governor Berkeley, and in many ways the settlers had approved of him.
The years that Sir William had been out of office do not seem to have improved him. On becoming governor again, he still had all his old faults; and now he added some new ones. He was selfish and put his own good ahead of that of the colony: he liked to take his comfort undisturbed, and he was more set in his ways than ever. This was hard for the colonists to stand.
But worse was to come. The English king,
It is no wonder that between the tax collectors and their unsympathetic governor, the poor settlers began to grow bitter. No one seemed to be looking out for their interests.
Then still another grievance was added to the long list. Governor Berkeley refused to give the settlers protection against the Indians.
The raising of tobacco had had its effect on the
colonial way of living. Large fields and many of them
were needed, if large crops of tobacco were to be
raised. The bigger the crops, the bigger the owner's
returns. So instead of living in cozy little villages,
the Virginia colonists laid out large farms or
plantations, one beyond another, and thus spread their
colony over a great territory. One's
From time to time the Indians had caused the Virginians more or less trouble. At last they saw that the English were quarreling among themselves over taxes and such matters. Here was a fine opportunity for the savages.
First, three settlers were killed on the Potomac. Then,
growing bolder, the Indians crept down the James River
Still Governor Berkeley took no steps to punish the murderers. He was afraid that, if he attacked the warriors, it might put an end to his profitable fur trade with their tribes. So the Indians went on plundering and killing the settlers and laying waste their homes. Before many months, they had killed large numbers of the colonists.
The people begged Governor Berkeley to help them, but he refused. "Very well, then, we will help ourselves," said Nathaniel Bacon.
This Nathaniel Bacon was a wealthy young planter who
had lately brought his young wife to live in Virginia.
He was tall, energetic, and commanding. He owned a
plantation near where now the city of Richmond stands.
One day in
Bacon promptly called upon his neighbors to meet him. When they came, he reminded them that the Governor had failed to take any steps to avenge the lives of the slain colonists; that he was acting not for their good but for his own; and that something must be done at once to protect the Virginians from their deadly foes. He, Nathaniel Bacon, was ready to take matters into his own hands, he said. Were his neighbors not ready to do the same? If so, he begged them to choose a leader and to prepare to march against the warriors.
With a shout the colonists declared that Bacon was right. They would certainly have revenge for the death of their friends, and Bacon should lead them.
As a final effort at keeping terms with Governor Berkeley, Bacon sent to ask him for a commission. The Governor refused.
Then he would march without a commission. So the little
army set out with Nathaniel Bacon at its head and
marched up the
While Bacon and his followers were fighting the
Indians, Governor Berkeley was raging in Jamestown.
Nathaniel Bacon was a rebel, he declared, and so were
all the men in his party. Had they not marched contrary
to his orders? Such men should be punished. For this
purpose the Governor called out a body of troops and
made ready to attack the rebels. He found, however,
that Bacon had the sympathy of the colony back of him.
So, fearing a general uprising,
Now a new assembly was chosen, and Nathaniel Bacon was elected one of its members. When he arrived in Jamestown, he was seized and taken before the Governor, who was still very angry with him. A stormy interview followed. At last Bacon said that if the Governor would now give him a commission to fight the Indians, he would publicly admit that he had acted illegally in marching without one in the first place. It was agreed. Bacon admitted his faults. But the Governor still failed to give him the coveted commission.
It was now Bacon's turn to be angry. He determined that he would have that commission. He left Jamestown, went home and collected another army of planters. With this army he marched back to Jamestown, drew up his forces in the public square, and sent word to Governor Berkeley that he was waiting for his commission.
Trembling with fury the Governor rushed out of the Statehouse and into the square, where he faced the men. There he threw back the ruffles of his shirt, bared his breast, and shouted, "Here I am! Shoot me! 'Fore God a fair mark, a fair mark—shoot!"
"No," Bacon calmly answered. "May it please your Honor, we have not come to hurt a hair of your head or of any man's. We have come for a commission to save our lives from the Indians, which you have so often promised; and now we will have it before we go." And Nathaniel Bacon was given his commission.
Once more he advanced on the warring tribes. By fall, these tribes were completely crushed, and the dreaded attacks on the plantations came to an end.
But Bacon did not have smooth sailing all this time. The Governor had again proclaimed Bacon and his followers rebels and had raised an army to defeat them. Bacon was not to be put down. He was doing his duty, and he would fight the Governor before he would give in. So he led his men against Governor Berkeley and his army.
On the march to Jamestown, Bacon stopped at the homes of those planters who had sided with the Governor, and, taking their wives prisoners, carried them along as hostages.
At Jamestown he found the Governor's troops ready for him. Placing the women in front of his own men he ordered an entrenchment dug and breastworks thrown up. While this was being done the Governor's guns did not fire a single shot for fear of killing the women.
The next day, however, there was a battle in Jamestown; and Bacon came off victor. The Governor fled from the town, boarded a ship, and sailed down the river.
With Jamestown once in his hands and the Governor gone, it would seem as if Bacon should have been satisfied; but he was not. He realized that even though he remained conqueror in Virginia, the King might send war ships and soldiers from England, and a great many unpleasant things might happen. So he decided first of all to burn the city of Jamestown.
It was on the 19th of September, 1676, that they set fire to the city; and in a few hours the whole town was reduced to ashes. Undoubtedly many a man and woman wept when they saw their homes eaten up by the flames. But they made no effort to prevent Bacon from doing as he thought right.
However, the "Bacon Rebellion," as it was called, was not to last much longer. The very next month after the burning of Jamestown, came the death from fever of the daring young Nathaniel Bacon. And with no leader, his army disbanded and went home. Then Governor Berkeley came back to Virginia ready for revenge, and he had it. More than twenty of the rebels were executed, and many more would have died had not the council decided that blood enough had been shed.
When King Charles II in England heard of Governor Berkeley's deeds of revenge, he said, "The old fool has taken away more lives in that naked country than I did for the murder of my father."
Pink, small, and punctual,
Covert in April,
Candid in May,
Dear to the moss,
Known by the knoll,
Next to the robin
In every human soul.
Bold little beauty,
Bedecked with thee,
WEEK 22 |
I T was a fine summer evening, and Richard and Carloman were playing at ball on the steps of the Castle-gate, when a voice was heard from beneath, begging for alms from the noble Princes in the name of the blessed Virgin, and the two boys saw a pilgrim standing at the gate, wrapt in a long robe of serge, with a staff in his hand, surmounted by a Cross, a scrip at his girdle, and a broad shady hat, which he had taken off, as he stood, making low obeisances, and asking charity.
"Come in, holy pilgrim," said Carloman. "It is late, and you shall
sup and rest here
"Blessings from Heaven light on you, noble Prince," replied the pilgrim, and at that moment Richard shouted joyfully, "A Norman, a Norman! 'tis my own dear speech! Oh, are you not from Normandy? Osmond, Osmond! he comes from home!"
"My Lord! my own Lord!" exclaimed the pilgrim, and, kneeling on one knee at the foot of the steps, he kissed the hand which his young Duke held out to him—"This is joy unlooked for!"
"Walter!—Walter, the huntsman!" cried Richard. "Is it you? Oh, how is Fru Astrida, and all at home?"
"Well, my Lord, and wearying to know how it is with you—" began Walter—but a very different tone exclaimed from behind the pilgrim, "What is all this? Who is stopping my way? What! Richard would be King, and more, would he? More insolence!" It was Lothaire, returning with his attendants from the chase, in by no means an amiable mood, for he had been disappointed of his game.
"He is a Norman—a vassal of Richard's own," said Carloman.
"A Norman, is he? I thought we had got rid of the robbers! We want no robbers here! Scourge him soundly, Perron, and teach him how to stop my way!"
"He is a pilgrim, my Lord," suggested one of the followers.
"I care not; I'll have no Normans here, coming spying in disguise. Scourge him, I say, dog that he is! Away with him! A spy, a spy!"
"No Norman is scourged in my sight!" said Richard, darting forwards, and throwing himself between Walter and the woodsman, who was preparing to obey Lothaire, just in time to receive on his own bare neck the sharp, cutting leathern thong, which raised a long red streak along its course. Lothaire laughed.
"My Lord Duke! What have you done? Oh, leave me—this befits you not!" cried Walter, extremely distressed; but Richard had caught hold of the whip, and called out, "Away, away! run! haste, haste!" and the words were repeated at once by Osmond, Carloman, and many of the French, who, though afraid to disobey the Prince, were unwilling to violate the sanctity of a pilgrim's person; and the Norman, seeing there was no help for it, obeyed: the French made way for him and he effected his escape; while Lothaire, after a great deal of storming and raging, went up to his mother to triumph in the cleverness with which he had detected a Norman spy in disguise.
Lothaire was not far wrong; Walter had really come to satisfy himself as to the safety of the little Duke, and try to gain an interview with Osmond. In the latter purpose he failed, though he lingered in the neighbourhood of Laon for several days; for Osmond never left the Duke for an instant, and he was, as has been shown, a close prisoner, in all but the name, within the walls of the Castle. The pilgrim had, however, the opportunity of picking up tidings which made him perceive the true state of things: he learnt the deaths of Sybald and Henry, the alliance between the King and Arnulf, and the restraint and harshness with which the Duke was treated; and with this intelligence he went in haste to Normandy.
Soon after his arrival, a three days' fast was observed throughout the dukedom, and in every church, from the Cathedral of Bayeux to the smallest and rudest village shrine, crowds of worshippers were kneeling, imploring, many of them with tears, that God would look on them in His mercy, restore to them their Prince, and deliver the child out of the hands of his enemies. How earnest and sorrowful were the prayers offered at Centeville may well be imagined; and at Montemar sur Epte the anxiety was scarcely less. Indeed, from the time the evil tidings arrived, Alberic grew so restless and unhappy, and so anxious to do something, that at last his mother set out with him on a pilgrimage to the Abbey of Jumièges, to pray for the rescue of his dear little Duke.
In the meantime, Louis had sent notice to Laon that he should return home in a week's time; and Richard rejoiced at the prospect, for the King had always been less unkind to him than the Queen, and he hoped to be released from his captivity within the Castle. Just at this time he became very unwell; it might have been only the effect of the life of unwonted confinement which he had lately led that was beginning to tell on his health; but, after being heavy and uncomfortable for a day or two, without knowing what was the matter with him, he was one night attacked with high fever.
Osmond was dreadfully alarmed, knowing nothing at all of the treatment of illness, and, what was worse, fully persuaded that the poor child had been poisoned, and therefore resolved not to call any assistance; he hung over him all night, expecting each moment to see him expire—ready to tear his hair with despair and fury, and yet obliged to restrain himself to the utmost quietness and gentleness, to soothe the suffering of the sick child.
Through that night, Richard either tossed about on his narrow bed, or, when his restlessness desired the change, sat, leaning his aching head on Osmond's breast, too oppressed and miserable to speak or think. When the day dawned on them, and he was still too ill to leave the room, messengers were sent for him, and Osmond could no longer conceal the fact of his sickness, but parleyed at the door, keeping out every one he could, and refusing all offers of attendance. He would not even admit Carloman, though Richard, hearing his voice, begged to see him; and when a proposal was sent from the Queen, that a skilful old nurse should visit and prescribe for the patient, he refused with all his might, and when he had shut the door, walked up and down, muttering, "Ay, ay, the witch! coming to finish what she has begun!"
All that day and the next, Richard continued very ill, and Osmond waited on him very assiduously, never closing his eyes for a moment, but constantly telling his beads whenever the boy did not require his attendance. At last Richard fell asleep, slept long and soundly for some hours, and waked much better. Osmond was in a transport of joy: "Thanks to Heaven, they shall fail for this time and they shall never have another chance! May Heaven be with us still!" Richard was too weak and weary to ask what he meant, and for the next few days Osmond watched him with the utmost care. As for food, now that Richard could eat again, Osmond would not hear of his touching what was sent for him from the royal table, but always went down himself to procure food in the kitchen, where he said he had a friend among the cooks, who would, he thought, scarcely poison him intentionally. When Richard was able to cross the room, he insisted on his always fastening the door with his dagger, and never opening to any summons but his own, not even Prince Carloman's. Richard wondered, but he was obliged to obey; and he knew enough of the perils around him to perceive the reasonableness of Osmond's caution.
Thus several days had passed, the King had returned, and Richard was so much recovered, that he had become very anxious to be allowed to go down stairs again, instead of remaining shut up there; but still Osmond would not consent, though Richard had done nothing all day but walk round the room, to show how strong he was.
"Now, my Lord, guard the door—take care," said Osmond; "you have no
Osmond was absent nearly half an hour, and, when he returned, brought on his shoulders a huge bundle of straw. "What is this for?" exclaimed Richard. "I wanted my supper, and you have brought straw!"
"Here is your supper," said Osmond, throwing down the straw, and
producing a bag with some bread and meat. "What should you say, my
Lord, if we should sup in Normandy
"In Normandy!" cried Richard, springing up and clapping his hands. "In Normandy! Oh, Osmond, did you say in Normandy? Shall we, shall we really? Oh, joy! joy! Is Count Bernard come? Will the King let us go?"
"Hush! hush, sir! It must be our own doing; it will all fail if you are not silent and prudent, and we shall be undone."
"I will do anything to get home again!"
"Eat first," said Osmond.
"But what are you going to do? I will not be as foolish as I was when you tried to get me safe out of Rollo's tower. But I should like to wish Carloman farewell."
"That must not be," said Osmond; "we should not have time to escape, if they did not still believe you very ill in bed."
"I am sorry not to wish Carloman good-bye," repeated Richard; "but we shall see Fru Astrida again, and Sir Eric; and Alberic must come back! Oh, do let us go! O Normandy, dear Normandy!"
Richard could hardly eat for excitement, while Osmond hastily made his arrangements, girding on his sword, and giving Richard his dagger to put into his belt. He placed the remainder of the provisions in his wallet, threw a thick purple cloth mantle over the Duke, and then desired him to lie down on the straw which he had brought in. "I shall hide you in it," he said, "and carry you through the hall, as if I was going to feed my horse."
"Oh, they will never guess!" cried Richard, laughing. "I will be quite still—I will make no noise—I will hold my breath."
"Yes, mind you do not move hand or foot, or rustle the straw. It is no play—it is life or death," said Osmond, as he disposed the straw round the little boy. "There, can you breathe?"
"Yes," said Richard's voice from the midst. "Am I quite hidden?"
"Entirely. Now, remember, whatever happens, do not move. May Heaven protect us! Now, the Saints be with us!"
Richard, from the interior of the bundle heard Osmond set open the door; then he felt himself raised from the ground; Osmond was carrying him along down the stairs, the ends of the straw crushing and sweeping against the wall. The only way to the outer door was through the hall, and here was the danger. Richard heard voices, steps, loud singing and laughter, as if feasting was going on; then some one said, "Tending your horse, Sieur de Centeville?"
"Yes," Osmond made answer. "You know, since we lost our grooms, the poor black would come off badly, did I not attend to him."
Presently came Carloman's voice: "O Osmond de Centeville! is Richard better?"
"He is better, my Lord, I thank you, but hardly yet out of danger."
"Oh, I wish he was well! And when will you let me come to him, Osmond? Indeed, I would sit quiet, and not disturb him."
"It may not be yet, my Lord, though the Duke loves you well—he told me so but now."
"Did he? Oh, tell him I love him very much—better than any one here—and it is very dull without him. Tell him so, Osmond."
Richard could hardly help calling out to his dear little Carloman; but he remembered the peril of Osmond's eyes and the Queen's threat, and held his peace, with some vague notion that some day he would make Carloman King of France. In the meantime, half stifled with the straw, he felt himself carried on, down the steps, across the court; and then he knew, from the darkness and the changed sound of Osmond's tread, that they were in the stable. Osmond laid him carefully down, and whispered—"All right so far. You can breathe?"
"Not well. Can't you let me out?"
"Not yet—not for worlds. Now tell me if I put you face downwards, for I cannot see."
He laid the living heap of straw across the saddle, bound it on, then led out the horse, gazing round cautiously as he did so; but the whole of the people of the Castle were feasting, and there was no one to watch the gates. Richard heard the hollow sound of the hoofs, as the drawbridge was crossed, and knew that he was free; but still Osmond held his arm over him, and would not let him move, for some distance. Then, just as Richard felt as if he could endure the stifling of the straw, and his uncomfortable position, not a moment longer, Osmond stopped the horse, took him down, laid him on the grass, and released him. He gazed around; they were in a little wood; evening twilight was just coming on, and the birds sang sweetly.
"Free! free!—this is freedom!" cried Richard, leaping up in the delicious cool evening breeze; "the Queen and Lothaire, and that grim room, all far behind."
"Not so far yet," said Osmond; "you must not call yourself safe till the Epte is between us and them. Into the saddle, my Lord; we must ride for our lives."
Escape from Captivity.
Osmond helped the Duke to mount, and sprang to the saddle behind him, set spurs to the horse, and rode on at a quick rate, though not at full speed, as he wished to spare the horse. The twilight faded, the stars came out, and still he rode, his arm round the child, who, as night advanced, grew weary, and often sunk into a sort of half doze, conscious all the time of the trot of the horse. But each step was taking him further from Queen Gerberge, and nearer to Normandy; and what recked he of weariness? On—on; the stars grew pale again, and the first pink light of dawn showed in the eastern sky; the sun rose, mounted higher and higher, and the day grew hotter; the horse went more slowly, stumbled, and though Osmond halted and loosed the girth, he only mended his pace for a little while.
Osmond looked grievously perplexed; but they had not gone much further before a party of merchants came in sight, winding their way with a long train of loaded mules, and stout men to guard them, across the plains, like an eastern caravan in the desert. They gazed in surprise at the tall young Norman holding the child upon the worn- out war-horse.
"Sir merchant," said Osmond to the first, "see you this steed? Better horse never was ridden; but he is sorely spent, and we must make speed. Let me barter him with you for yonder stout palfrey. He is worth twice as much, but I cannot stop to chaffer—ay or no at once."
The merchant, seeing the value of Osmond's gallant black, accepted the offer; and Osmond removing his saddle, and placing Richard on his new steed, again mounted, and on they went through the country which Osmond's eye had marked with the sagacity men acquire by living in wild, unsettled places. The great marshes were now far less dangerous than in the winter, and they safely crossed them. There had, as yet, been no pursuit, and Osmond's only fear was for his little charge, who, not having recovered his full strength since his illness, began to suffer greatly from fatigue in the heat of that broiling summer day, and leant against Osmond patiently, but very wearily, without moving or looking up. He scarcely revived when the sun went down, and a cool breeze sprang up, which much refreshed Osmond himself; and still more did it refresh the Squire to see, at length, winding through the green pastures, a blue river, on the opposite bank of which rose a high rocky mound, bearing a castle with many a turret and battlement.
"The Epte! the Epte! There is Normandy, sir! Look up, and see your own dukedom." "Normandy!" cried Richard, sitting upright. "Oh, my own home!" Still the Epte was wide and deep, and the peril was not yet ended. Osmond looked anxiously, and rejoiced to see marks of cattle, as if it had been forded. "We must try it," he said, and dismounting, he waded in, leading the horse, and firmly holding Richard in the saddle. Deep they went; the water rose to Richard's feet, then to the horse's neck; then the horse was swimming, and Osmond too, still keeping his firm hold; then there was ground again, the force of the current was less, and they were gaining the bank. At that instant, however, they perceived two men aiming at them with cross-bows from the castle, and another standing on the bank above them, who called out, "Hold! None pass the ford of Montemar without permission of the noble Dame Yolande." "Ha! Bertrand, the Seneschal, is that you?" returned Osmond. "Who calls me by my name?" replied the Seneschal. "It is I, Osmond de Centeville. Open your gates quickly, Sir Seneschal; for here is the Duke, sorely in need of rest and refreshment."
"The Duke!" exclaimed Bertrand, hurrying down to the landing-place, and throwing off his cap. "The Duke! the Duke!" rang out the shout from the men-at-arms on the battlements above and in an instant more Osmond had led the horse up from the water, and was exclaiming, "Look up, my Lord, look up! You are in your own dukedom again, and this is Alberic's castle."
"Welcome, indeed, most noble Lord Duke! Blessings on the day!" cried the Seneschal. "What joy for my Lady and my young Lord!"
"He is sorely weary," said Osmond, looking anxiously at Richard, who, even at the welcome cries that showed so plainly that he was in his own Normandy, scarcely raised himself or spoke. "He had been very sick ere I brought him away. I doubt me they sought to poison him, and I vowed not to tarry at Laon another hour after he was fit to move. But cheer up, my Lord; you are safe and free now, and here is the good Dame de Montemar to tend you, far better than a rude Squire like me."
"Alas, no!" said the Seneschal; "our Dame is gone with young Alberic on a pilgrimage to Jumièges to pray for the Duke's safety. What joy for them to know that their prayers have been granted!"
Osmond, however, could scarcely rejoice, so alarmed was he at the extreme weariness and exhaustion of his charge, who, when they brought him into the Castle hall, hardly spoke or looked, and could not eat. They carried him up to Alberic's bed, where he tossed about restlessly, too tired to sleep.
"Alas! alas!" said Osmond, "I have been too hasty. I have but saved him from the Franks to be his death by my own imprudence."
"Hush! Sieur de Centeville," said the Seneschal's wife, coming into the room. "To talk in that manner is the way to be his death, indeed. Leave the child to me—he is only over-weary."
Osmond was sure his Duke was among friends, and would have been glad to trust him to a woman; but Richard had but one instinct left in all his weakness and exhaustion—to cling close to Osmond, as if he felt him his only friend and protector; for he was, as yet, too much worn out to understand that he was in Normandy and safe. For two or three hours, therefore, Osmond and the Seneschal's wife watched on each side of his bed, soothing his restlessness, until at length he became quiet, and at last dropped sound asleep.
The sun was high in the heavens when Richard awoke. He turned on his straw-filled crib, and looked up. It was not the tapestried walls of his chamber at Laon that met his opening eyes, but the rugged stone and tall loop-hole window of a turret chamber. Osmond de Centeville lay on the floor by his side, in the sound sleep of one overcome by long watching and weariness. And what more did Richard see?
It was the bright face and sparkling eyes of Alberic de Montemar, who was leaning against the foot of his bed, gazing earnestly, as he watched for his waking. There was a cry—"Alberic! Alberic!" "My Lord! my Lord!" Richard sat up and held out both arms, and Alberic flung himself into them. They hugged each other, and uttered broken exclamations and screams of joy, enough to have awakened any sleeper but one so wearied out as Osmond.
"And is it true? Oh, am I really in Normandy again?" cried Richard.
"Yes, yes!—oh, yes, my Lord! You are at Montemar. Everything here is yours. The bar-tailed hawk is quite well, and my mother will be here this evening; she let me ride on the instant we heard the news."
"We rode long and late, and I was very weary," said Richard, "but I don't care, now we are at home. But I can hardly believe it! Oh, Alberic, it has been very dreary!"
"See here, my Lord!" said Alberic, standing by the window. "Look here, and you will know you are at home again!"
Richard bounded to the window, and what a sight met his eyes! The Castle court was thronged with men-at-arms and horses, the morning sun sparkling on many a burnished hauberk and tall conical helmet, and above them waved many a banner and pennon that Richard knew full well. "There! there!" he shouted aloud with glee. "Oh, there is the horse-shoe of Ferrieres! and there the chequers of Warenne! Oh, and best of all, there is—there is our own red pennon of Centeville! O Alberic! Alberic! is Sir Eric here? I must go down to him!"
"Bertrand sent out notice to them all, as soon as you came, to come and guard our Castle," said Alberic, "lest the Franks should pursue you; but you are safe now—safe as Norman spears can make you—thanks be to God!"
"Yes, thanks to God!" said Richard, crossing himself and kneeling reverently for some minutes, while he repeated his Latin prayer; then, rising and looking at Alberic, he said, "I must thank Him, indeed, for he has saved Osmond and me from the cruel King and Queen, and I must try to be a less hasty and overbearing boy than I was when I went away; for I vowed that so I would be, if ever I came back. Poor Osmond, how soundly he sleeps! Come, Alberic, show me the way to Sir Eric!"
And, holding Alberic's hand, Richard left the room, and descended the stairs to the Castle hall. Many of the Norman knights and barons, in full armour, were gathered there; but Richard looked only for one. He knew Sir Eric's grizzled hair, and blue inlaid armour, though his back was towards him, and in a moment, before his entrance had been perceived, he sprang towards him, and, with outstretched arms, exclaimed: "Sir Eric—dear Sir Eric, here I am! Osmond is safe! And is Fru Astrida well?"
The old Baron turned. "My child!" he exclaimed, and clasped him in his mailed arms, while the tears flowed down his rugged cheeks. "Blessed be God that you are safe, and that my son has done his duty!"
"And is Fru Astrida well?"
"Yes, right well, since she heard of your safety. But look round, my Lord; it befits not a Duke to be clinging thus round an old man's neck. See how many of your true vassals be here, to guard you from the villain Franks."
Richard stood up, and held out his hand, bowing courteously and acknowledging the greetings of each bold baron, with a grace and readiness he certainly had not when he left Normandy. He was taller too; and though still pale, and not dressed with much care (since he had hurried on his clothes with no help but Alberic's)—though his hair was rough and disordered, and the scar of the burn had not yet faded from his check—yet still, with his bright blue eyes, glad face, and upright form, he was a princely, promising boy, and the Norman knights looked at him with pride and joy, more especially when, unprompted, he said: "I thank you, gallant knights, for coming to guard me. I do not fear the whole French host now I am among my own true Normans."
Sir Eric led him to the door of the hall to the top of the steps, that the men-at-arms might see him; and then such a shout rang out of "Long live Duke Richard!"—"Blessings on the little Duke!"—that it echoed and came back again from the hills around—it pealed from the old tower—it roused Osmond from his sleep—and, if anything more had been wanting to do so, it made Richard feel that he was indeed in a land where every heart glowed with loyal love for him.
Before the shout had died away, a bugle-horn was heard winding before the gate; and Sir Eric, saying, "It is the Count of Harcourt's note," sent Bertrand to open the gates in haste, while Alberic followed, as Lord of the Castle, to receive the Count.
The old Count rode into the court, and to the foot of the steps, where he dismounted, Alberic holding his stirrup. He had not taken many steps upwards before Richard came voluntarily to meet him (which he had never done before), held out his hand, and said, "Welcome, Count Bernard, welcome. Thank you for coming to guard me. I am very glad to see you once more."
"Ah, my young Lord," said Bernard, "I am right glad to see you out of the clutches of the Franks! You know friend from foe now, methinks!"
"Yes, indeed I do, Count Bernard. I know you meant kindly by me, and that I ought to have thanked you, and not been angry, when you reproved me. Wait one moment, Sir Count; there is one thing that I promised myself to say if ever I came safe to my own dear home. Walter—Maurice—Jeannot—all you of my household, and of Sir Eric's- -I know, before I went away, I was often no good Lord to you; I was passionate, and proud, and overbearing; but God has punished me for it, when I was far away among my enemies, and sick and lonely. I am very sorry for it, and I hope you will pardon me; for I will strive, and I hope God will help me, never to be proud and passionate again."
"There, Sir Eric," said Bernard, "you hear what the boy says. If he speaks it out so bold and free, without bidding, and if he holds to what he says, I doubt it not that he shall not grieve for his journey to France, and that we shall see him, in all things, such a Prince as his father of blessed memory."
"You must thank Osmond for me," said Richard, as Osmond came down, awakened at length. "It is Osmond who has helped me to bear my troubles; and as to saving me, why he flew away with me even like an old eagle with its eaglet. I say, Osmond, you must ever after this wear a pair of wings on shield and pennon, to show how well we managed our flight."
"As you will, my Lord," said Osmond, half asleep; "but 'twas a good long flight at a stretch, and I trust never to have to fly before your foes or mine again."
What a glad summer's day was that! Even the three hours spent in council did but renew the relish with which Richard visited Alberic's treasures, told his adventures, and showed the accomplishments he had learnt at Laon. The evening was more joyous still; for the Castle gates were opened, first to receive Dame Yolande Montemar, and not above a quarter of an hour afterwards, the drawbridge was lowered to admit the followers of Centeville; and in front of them appeared Fru Astrida's own high cap. Richard made but one bound into her arms, and was clasped to her breast; then held off at arm's-length, that she might see how much he was grown, and pity his scar; then hugged closer than ever: but, taking another look, she declared that Osmond left his hair like King Harald Horrid-locks; and, drawing an ivory comb from her pouch, began to pull out the thick tangles, hurting him to a degree that would once have made him rebel, but now he only fondled her the more.
As to Osmond, when he knelt before her, she blessed him, and sobbed over him, and blamed him for over-tiring her darling, all in one; and assuredly, when night closed in and Richard had, as of old, told his beads beside her knee, the happiest boy in Normandy was its little Duke.
A hunter once came upon a Fox which had such a beautiful skin that the Hunter was eager to capture him. With this intent, he sought out the Fox's hole and dug a deep pit before the entrance. He covered the pit over carefully with twigs and straw and placed a tempting piece of meat on top. He then withdrew into the woods to await the return of the Fox.
It was not many hours before the Fox stole home. He scented the meat from afar, but when he saw that it was lying on a pile of loose twigs, he feared some snare. So he gave it only one sniff, and then trotted off to seek new lodgings for himself A moment later, a Leopard came down the mountain-side, and he too smelled the meat. He was not as wary as the Fox, but sprang upon the meat without once looking to see where it was lying. The Hunter, in the woods, heard the crash as the Leopard tumbled headlong into the pit. Feeling sure that he had captured the Fox, he ran quickly and jumped in after him. In an instant the Leopard sprang upon him and killed him, exactly as he had planned to kill the Fox.
The sun descending in the west,
The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest,
And I must seek for mine.
The moon, like a flower
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight,
Sits and smiles on the night.
Farewell, green fields and happy grove,
Where flocks have took delight,
Where lambs have nibbled, silent move
The feet of angels bright;
Unseen, they pour blessing,
And joy without ceasing,
On each bud and blossom,
And each sleeping bosom.
WEEK 22 |
"Oh thou, that sendest out the man
To rule by land or sea,
Strong mother of a Lion-line,
Be proud of these strong sons of thine
Who wrench'd their rights from thee."
T HE year 1759 was a year of victory for England. By the triumph at Plassey Clive had founded the Indian Empire. "With the victory of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham began the history of the United States;" while Hawke's defeat of the French ships at Quiberon showed the growing strength of the English on the seas.
"We are forced to ask every morning what victory there is," laughed an English statesman, "for fear of missing one."
The year 1762 found peace between England and France, but an unsatisfactory state of things arising beyond the seas in America.
It had cost England very large sums of money to save her colonies from the French. She now demanded those colonies, growing yearly in wealth and prosperity, to help to pay for the war. The colonies were quite willing to do this: they would pay a voluntary sum, but not a sum extracted by means of taxation. England did not understand the spirit of her colonies at this time, and she passed the famous Stamp Act, charging certain stamp-duties in the colonies.
The news that the Stamp Act had actually been passed in England was received in America by a storm of indignation. The colonists denied that the mother country had any right to tax them. Bells were tolled, ships in the harbour flew their flags half-mast high, shops were shut, for it seemed as though the liberty of the American colonies were dead.
Men denounced it openly. "Caesar," cried one in a voice of thunder, "had his Brutus, Charles the First had his Cromwell, and George the Third——"
"Treason! treason!" shouted his hearers.
The young colonist paused.
"George the Third," he finished, "may profit by their example."
A distinguished American, Benjamin Franklin, went to England to protest against the Stamp Act.
"What will be the consequences of this Act?" the English asked him.
"A total loss of the respect and affection the people of America bear to this country, and of all the commerce that depends on that respect and affection," he answered firmly.
"Do you think the people of America would submit to a moderated Stamp Act?" they asked him again.
"No, never!" he cried with emphasis; "never, unless compelled by force of arms."
For the first time in their history the colonies united in the face of a common danger. The colonists held a great Congress. Each colony was represented, and they resolved to resist the Stamp Act.
England was startled by the news: it called Pitt to the front again. He understood the American colonies; he knew the value of their friendship, the danger of their separation. He had been ill when the Stamp Act was passed. Now his old eloquence burst forth again.
"This kingdom has no right to lay a tax on the colonies," he cried. "America is obstinate; America is almost in open rebellion. Sir, I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest."
His words carried conviction: the Stamp Act was repealed.
In America the news was received with enthusiasm. Bells were rung, bonfires blazed forth, loyal addresses to the King of England were sent across the seas. The quarrel seemed to be at an end.
And the colonies had learnt something of the strength of their union.
The Stamp Act had been repealed, but England reserved the right of regulating American trade by imposing duties upon merchandise imported into the colonies. Discontent again arose; and when, in 1773, a duty on tea was levied, the colonies were ablaze with indignation. They declared that England had no right to enforce a tea-duty, and they refused to receive the tea.
It was the morning of Thursday, December 16, 1773—one of the most momentous days in the history of the world. Seven thousand persons were gathered in the streets of Boston. One of the English tea-ships rode at anchor off Boston harbour and the citizens of the town refused to land the tea unless the duty were repealed. A watch of twenty-five colonists guarded the wharf by day and night, sentinels were placed at the top of the church belfries, post-riders were ready with horses saddled and bridled, beacon fires were prepared on every hill-top, should the English use force to land their tea. There was a law that every ship must land its cargo within twenty days of its arrival. At sunrise on December 17 the twenty days would have expired. The English ship still lay at anchor with her cargo on board. Would she sail home again, or would her sailors fight?
It was late in the afternoon of the 16th. The crowds waited on into the dusky evening to see what would happen. The old meeting-house was dimly lit with candles, where an important conclave was being held.
"This meeting can do no more to save the country," said a voice amid profound silence.
It was the watchword appointed by the men of Boston to use force. Suddenly a war-whoop was heard through the silent air, and fifty men, disguised as Indians, ran quickly towards the wharf. They were men of standing, wealth, and good repute in the Commonwealth, but in gaudy feathers and paint, with tomahawks, scalping-knives, and pistols. They alarmed the English captains not a little. They quickly cut open the chests of tea on board and emptied the contents of each into the sea. By nine o'clock that evening no less than 342 chests of tea had thus been treated, while the vast crowds of colonists looked down on the strange scene in the clear frosty moonlight.
Next morning the salted tea, driven by wind and wave, lay in long rows along the coast of Massachusetts, while citizens, booted and spurred, were riding post-haste to Philadelphia with the news of Boston's action.
America had at last thrown down the gauntlet for the mother country to pick up.
The great Revolution had begun.
HE children of Loki and the witch Angerboda were not as the children of men: they were formless as water, or air, or fire is formless, but it was given to each of them to take on the form that was most like to their own greed.
Now the Dwellers in Asgard knew that these powers of evil had been born into the world and they thought it well that they should take on forms and appear before them in Asgard. So they sent one to Jarnvid, the Iron Wood, bidding Loki bring before the Gods the powers born of him and the witch Angerboda. So Loki came into Asgard once more. And his offspring took on forms and showed themselves to the Gods. The first, whose greed was destruction, showed himself as a fearful Wolf. Fenrir he was named. And the second, whose greed was slow destruction, showed itself as a Serpent. Jörmungand it was called. The third whose greed was for withering of all life, took on a form also. When the Gods saw it they were affrighted. For this had the form of a woman, and one side of her was that of a living woman and the other side of her was that of a corpse. Fear ran through Asgard as this form was revealed and as the name that went with it, Hela, was uttered.
Far out of sight of the Gods Hela was thrust. Odin took her and hurled her down to the deeps that are below the world. He cast her down to Niflheim, where she took to herself power over the nine regions. There, in the place that is lowest of all, Hela reigns. Her hall is Elvidnir; it is set round with high walls and it has barred gates; Precipice is the threshold of that hall; Hunger is the table within it; Care is the bed, and Burning Anguish is the hanging of the chamber.
Thor laid hold upon Jörmungand. He flung the serpent into the ocean that engirdles the world. But in the depths of the ocean Jörmungand flourished. It grew and grew until it encircled the whole world. And men knew it as the Midgard Serpent.
Fenrir the Wolf might not be seized upon by any of the Æsir. Fearfully he ranged through Asgard and they were only able to bring him to the outer courts by promising to give him all the food he was able to eat.
The Æsir shrank from feeding Fenrir. But Tyr, the brave swordsman, was willing to bring food to the Wolf's lair. Every day he brought him huge provision and fed him with the point of his sword. The Wolf grew and grew until he became monstrous and a terror in the minds of the Dwellers in Asgard.
T last the Gods in council considered it and decided that Fenrir must be bound. The chain that they would bind him with was called Laeding. In their own smithy the Gods made it and its weight was greater than Thor's hammer.
Not by force could the Gods get the fetter upon Fenrir, so they sent Skirnir, the servant of Frey, to beguile the Wolf into letting it go upon him. Skirnir came to his lair and stood near him, and he was dwarfed by the Wolf's monstrous size.
"How great may thy strength be, Mighty One?" Skirnir asked. "Couldst thou break this chain easily? The Gods would try thee."
In scorn Fenrir looked down on the fetter Skirnir dragged. In scorn he stood still allowing Laeding to be placed upon him. Then, with an effort that was the least part of his strength, he stretched himself and broke the chain in two.
The Gods were dismayed. But they took more iron, and with greater fires and mightier hammer blows they forged another fetter. Dromi, this one was called, and it was half again as strong as Laeding was. Skirnir the Venturesome brought it to the Wolf's lair, and in scorn Fenrir let the mightier chain be placed upon him.
He shook himself and the chain held. Then his eyes became fiery and he stretched himself with a growl and a snarl. Dromi broke across, and Fenrir stood looking balefully at Skirnir.
The Gods saw that no chain they could forge would bind Fenrir and they fell more and more into fear of him. They took council again and they bethought them of the wonder-work the Dwarfs had made for them, the spear Gungnir, the ship Skidbladnir, the hammer Miölnir. Could the Dwarfs be got to make the fetter to bind Fenrir? If they would do it the Gods would add to their domain.
Skirnir went down to Svartheim with the message from Asgard. The Dwarf Chief swelled with pride to think that it was left to them to make the fetter that would bind Fenrir.
"We Dwarfs can make a fetter that will bind the Wolf," he said. "Out of six things we will make it."
"What are these six things?" Skirnir asked.
"The roots of stones, the breath of a fish, the beards of women, the noise made by the footfalls of cats, the sinews of bears, the spittle of a bird."
"I have never heard the noise made by a cat's footfall, nor have I seen the roots of stones nor the beards of women. But use what things you will, O Helper of the Gods."
The Chief brought his six things together and the Dwarfs in their smithy worked for days and nights. They forged a fetter that was named Gleipnir. Smooth and soft as a silken string it was. Skirnir brought it to Asgard and put it into the hands of the Gods.
Then a day came when the Gods said that once again they should try to put a fetter upon Fenrir. But if he was to be bound they would bind him far from Asgard. Lyngvi was an island that they often went to to make sport, and they spoke of going there. Fenrir growled that he would go with them. He came and he sported in his own terrible way. And then as if it were to make more sport, one of the Æsir shook out the smooth cord and showed it to Fenrir.
"It is stronger than you might think, Mighty One," they said. "Will you not let it go upon you that we may see you break it?" Fenrir out of his fiery eyes looked scorn upon them. "What fame would there be for me," he said, "in breaking such a binding?"
They showed him that none in their company could break it, slender as it was. "Thou only art able to break it, Mighty One," they said.
"The cord is slender but there may be an enchantment in it," Fenrir said.
"Thou canst not break it, Fenrir, and we need not dread thee any more," the Gods said.
Then was the Wolf ravenous wroth, for he lived on the fear that he made in the minds of the Gods. "I am loth to have this binding upon me," he said, "but if one of the Æsir will put his hand in my mouth as a pledge that I shall be freed of it, I will let ye put it on me."
The Gods looked wistfully on one another. It would be health to them all to have Fenrir bound, but who would lose his hand to have it done? One and then another of the Æsir stepped backward. But not Tyr, the brave swordsman. He stepped to Fenrir and laid his left hand before those tremendous jaws.
"Not thy left hand—thy sword-hand, O Tyr," growled Fenrir, and Tyr put his sword-hand into that terrible mouth.
Then the cord Gleipnir was put upon Fenrir. With fiery eyes he watched the Gods bind him. When the binding was on him he stretched himself as before. He stretched himself to a monstrous size but the binding did not break off him. Then with fury he snapped his jaws upon the hand, and Tyr's hand, the swords-man's hand, was torn off.
But Fenrir was bound. They fixed a mighty chain to the fetter, and they passed the chain through a hole they bored through a great rock. The monstrous Wolf made terrible efforts to break loose, but the rock and the chain and the fetter held. Then seeing him secured, and to avenge the loss of Tyr's hand, the Gods took Tyr's sword and drove it to the hilt through his under-jaw. Horribly the Wolf howled. Mightily the foam flowed down from his jaws. That foam flowing made a river that is called Von—a river of fury that flowed on until Ragnarök came, the Twilight of the Gods.
Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
And liv'd upon the Moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors.
Her apples were swart blackberries,
Her currants pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
Her book a churchyard tomb.
Her Brothers were the craggy hills,
Her Sisters larchen trees—
Alone with her great family
She liv'd as she did please.
No breakfast had she many a morn,
No dinner many a noon,
And 'stead of supper she would stare
Full hard against the Moon.
But every morn of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen Yew
She wove, and she would sing.
And with her fingers old and brown
She plaited Mats o' Rushes,
And gave them to the Cottagers
She met among the Bushes.
Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen
And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore;
A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere—
She died full long agone!
WEEK 22 |
O NCE upon a time there lived in the village of Montignies-sur-Roc a little cow-boy, without either father or mother. His real name was Michael, but he was always called the Star Gazer, because when he drove his cows over the commons to seek for pasture, he went along with his head in the air, gaping at nothing.
As he had a white skin, blue eyes, and hair that curled all over his head, the village girls used to cry after him, "Well, Star Gazer, what are you doing?" and Michael would answer, "Oh, nothing," and go on his way without even turning to look at them.
The fact was he thought them very ugly, with their sun-burnt necks, their great red hands, their coarse petticoats and their wooden shoes. He had heard that somewhere in the world there were girls whose necks were white and whose hands were small, who were always dressed in the finest silks and laces, and were called princesses, and while his companions round the fire saw nothing in the flames but common everyday fancies, he dreamed that he had the happiness to marry a princess.
One morning about the middle of August, just at mid-day when the sun was hottest, Michael ate his dinner of a piece of dry bread, and went to sleep under an oak. And while he slept he dreamt that there appeared before him a beautiful lady, dressed in a robe of cloth of gold, who said to him: "Go to the castle of Belœil, and there you shall marry a princess."
That evening the little cow-boy, who had been thinking a great deal about the advice of the lady in the golden dress, told his dream to the farm people. But, as was natural, they only laughed at the Star Gazer.
The next day at the same hour he went to sleep again under the same tree. The lady appeared to him a second time, and said: "Go to the castle of Belœil, and you shall marry a princess."
In the evening Michael told his friends that he had dreamed the same dream again, but they only laughed at him more than before. "Never mind," he thought to himself; "if the lady appears to me a third time, I will do as she tells me."
The following day, to the great astonishment of all the village, about two o'clock in the afternoon a voice was heard singing:
How the cattle go!"
It was the little cow-boy driving his herd back to the byre.
The farmer began to scold him furiously, but he answered quietly, "I am going away," made his clothes into a bundle, said good-bye to all his friends, and boldly set out to seek his fortunes.
There was great excitement through all the village, and on the top of the hill the people stood holding their sides with laughing, as they watched the Star Gazer trudging bravely along the valley with his bundle at the end of his stick.
It was enough to make anyone laugh, certainly.
It was well known for full twenty miles round that there lived in the castle of Belœil twelve princesses of wonderful beauty, and as proud as they were beautiful, and who were besides so very sensitive and of such truly royal blood, that they would have felt at once the presence of a pea in their beds, even if the mattresses had been laid over it.
It was whispered about that they led exactly the lives that princesses ought to lead, sleeping far into the morning, and never getting up till mid-day. They had twelve beds all in the same room, but what was very extraordinary was the fact that though they were locked in by triple bolts, every morning their satin shoes were found worn into holes.
When they were asked what they had been doing all night, they always answered that they had been asleep; and, indeed, no noise was ever heard in the room, yet the shoes could not wear themselves out alone!
At last the Duke of Belœil ordered the trumpet to be sounded, and a proclamation to be made that whoever could discover how his daughters wore out their shoes should choose one of them for his wife.
On hearing the proclamation a number of princes arrived at the castle to try their luck. They watched all night behind the open door of the princesses, but when the morning came they had all disappeared, and no one could tell what had become of them.
When he reached the castle, Michael went straight to the gardener and offered his services. Now it happened that the garden boy had just been sent away, and though the Star Gazer did not look very sturdy, the gardener agreed to take him, as he thought that his pretty face and golden curls would please the princesses.
The first thing he was told was that when the princesses got up he was to present each one with a bouquet, and Michael thought that if he had nothing more unpleasant to do than that he should get on very well.
Accordingly he placed himself behind the door of the princesses' room, with the twelve bouquets in a basket. He gave one to each of the sisters, and they took them without even deigning to look at the lad, except Lina the youngest, who fixed her large black eyes as soft as velvet on him, and exclaimed, "Oh, how pretty he is—our new flower boy!" The rest all burst out laughing, and the eldest pointed out that a princess ought never to lower herself by looking at a garden boy.
Now Michael knew quite well what had happened to all the princes, but notwithstanding, the beautiful eyes of the Princess Lina inspired him with a violent longing to try his fate. Unhappily he did not dare to come forward, being afraid that he should only be jeered at, or even turned away from the castle on account of his impudence.
Nevertheless, the Star Gazer had another dream. The lady in the golden dress appeared to him once more, holding in one hand two young laurel trees, a cherry laurel and a rose laurel, and in the other hand a little golden rake, a little golden bucket, and a silken towel. She thus addressed him:
"Plant these two laurels in two large pots, rake them over with the rake, water them with the bucket, and wipe them with the towel. When they have grown as tall as a girl of fifteen, say to each of them, 'My beautiful laurel, with the golden rake I have raked you, with the golden bucket I have watered you, with the silken towel I have wiped you.' Then after that ask anything you choose, and the laurels will give it to you."
Michael thanked the lady in the golden dress, and when he woke he found the two laurel bushes beside him. So he carefully obeyed the orders he had been given by the lady.
The trees grew very fast, and when they were as tall as a girl of fifteen he said to the cherry laurel, "My lovely cherry laurel, with the golden rake I have raked thee, with the golden bucket I have watered thee, with the silken towel I have wiped thee. Teach me how to become invisible." Then there instantly appeared on the laurel a pretty white flower, which Michael gathered and stuck into his button-hole.
That evening, when the princesses went upstairs to bed, he followed them barefoot, so that he might make no noise, and hid himself under one of the twelve beds, so as not to take up much room.
The princesses began at once to open their wardrobes and boxes. They took out of them the most magnificent dresses, which they put on before their mirrors, and when they had finished, turned themselves all round to admire their appearances.
Michael could see nothing from his hiding-place, but he could hear everything, and he listened to the princesses laughing and jumping with pleasure. At last the eldest said, "Be quick, my sisters, our partners will be impatient." At the end of an hour, when the Star Gazer heard no more noise, he peeped out and saw the twelve sisters in splendid garments, with their satin shoes on their feet, and in their hands the bouquets he had brought them.
"Are you ready?" asked the eldest.
"Yes," replied the other eleven in chorus, and they took their places one by one behind her.
Then the eldest Princess clapped her hands three times and a trap door opened. All the princesses disappeared down a secret staircase, and Michael hastily followed them.
As he was following on the steps of the Princess Lina, he carelessly trod on her dress.
"There is somebody behind me," cried the Princess; "they are holding my dress."
"You foolish thing," said her eldest sister, "you are always afraid of something. It is only a nail which caught you."
They went down, down, down, till at last they came to a passage with a door at one end, which was only fastened with a latch. The eldest Princess opened it, and they found themselves immediately in a lovely little wood, where the leaves were spangled with drops of silver which shone in the brilliant light of the moon.
They next crossed another wood where the leaves were sprinkled with gold, and after that another still, where the leaves glittered with diamonds.
At last the Star Gazer perceived a large lake, and on the shores of the lake twelve little boats with awnings, in which were seated twelve princes, who, grasping their oars, awaited the princesses.
Each princess entered one of the boats, and Michael slipped into that which held the youngest. The boats glided along rapidly, but Lina's, from being heavier, was always behind the rest. "We never went so slowly before," said the Princess; "what can be the reason?"
"I don't know," answered the Prince. "I assure you I am rowing as hard as I can."
On the other side of the lake the garden boy saw a beautiful castle splendidly illuminated, whence came the lively music of fiddles, kettle-drums, and trumpets.
In a moment they touched land, and the company jumped out of the boats; and the princes, after having securely fastened their barques, gave their arms to the princesses and conducted them to the castle.
Michael followed, and entered the ball-room in their train. Everywhere were mirrors, lights, flowers, and damask hangings.
The Star Gazer was quite bewildered at the magnificence of the sight.
He placed himself out of the way in a corner, admiring the grace and beauty of the princesses. Their loveliness was of every kind. Some were fair and some were dark; some had chestnut hair, or curls darker still, and some had golden locks. Never were so many beautiful princesses seen together at one time, but the one whom the cow-boy thought the most beautiful and the most fascinating was the little Princess with the velvet eyes.
With what eagerness she danced! leaning on her partner's shoulder she swept by like a whirlwind. Her cheeks flushed, her eyes sparkled, and it was plain that she loved dancing better than anything else.
The poor boy envied those handsome young men with whom she danced so gracefully, but he did not know how little reason he had to be jealous of them.
The young men were really the princes who, to the number of fifty at least, had tried to steal the princesses' secret. The princesses had made them drink something of a philtre, which froze the heart and left nothing but the love of dancing.
They danced on till the shoes of the princesses were worn into holes. When the cock crowed the third time the fiddles stopped, and a delicious supper was served by negro boys, consisting of sugared orange flowers, crystallised rose leaves, powdered violets, cracknels, wafers, and other dishes, which are, as everyone knows, the favourite food of princesses.
After supper, the dancers all went back to their boats, and this time the Star Gazer entered that of the eldest Princess. They crossed again the wood with the diamond-spangled leaves, the wood with gold-sprinkled leaves, and the wood whose leaves glittered with drops of silver, and as a proof of what he had seen, the boy broke a small branch from a tree in the last wood. Lina turned as she heard the noise made by the breaking of the branch.
"What was that noise?" she said.
"It was nothing," replied her eldest sister; "it was only the screech of the barn-owl that roosts in one of the turrets of the castle."
While she was speaking Michael managed to slip in front, and running up the staircase, he reached the princesses' room first. He flung open the window, and sliding down the vine which climbed up the wall, found himself in the garden just as the sun was beginning to rise, and it was time for him to set to his work.
That day, when he made up the bouquets, Michael hid the branch with the silver drops in the nosegay intended for the youngest Princess.
When Lina discovered it she was much surprised. However, she said nothing to her sisters, but as she met the boy by accident while she was walking under the shade of the elms, she suddenly stopped as if to speak to him; then, altering her mind, went on her way.
The same evening the twelve sisters went again to the ball, and the Star Gazer again followed them and crossed the lake in Lina's boat. This time it was the Prince who complained that the boat seemed very heavy.
"It is the heat," replied the Princess. "I, too, have been feeling very warm."
During the ball she looked everywhere for the gardener's boy, but she never saw him.
As they came back, Michael gathered a branch from the wood with the gold-spangled leaves, and now it was the eldest Princess who heard the noise that it made in breaking.
"It is nothing," said Lina; "only the cry of the owl which roosts in the turrets of the castle."
As soon as she got up she found the branch in her bouquet. When the sisters went down she stayed a little behind and said to the cow-boy: "Where does this branch come from?"
"Your Royal Highness knows well enough," answered Michael.
"So you have followed us?"
"How did you manage it? we never saw you."
"I hid myself," replied the Star Gazer quietly.
The Princess was silent a moment, and then said:
"You know our secret!—keep it. Here is the reward of your discretion." And she flung the boy a purse of gold.
"I do not sell my silence," answered Michael, and he went away without picking up the purse.
For three nights Lina neither saw nor heard anything extraordinary; on the fourth she heard a rustling among the diamond-spangled leaves of the wood. That day there was a branch of the trees in her bouquet.
She took the Star Gazer aside, and said to him in a harsh voice:
"You know what price my father has promised to pay for our secret?"
"I know, Princess," answered Michael.
"Don't you mean to tell him?"
"That is not my intention."
"Are you afraid?"
"What makes you so discreet, then?"
But Michael was silent.
Lina's sisters had seen her talking to the little garden boy, and jeered at her for it.
"What prevents your marrying him?" asked the eldest, "you would become a gardener too; it is a charming profession. You could live in a cottage at the end of the park, and help your husband to draw up water from the well, and when we get up you could bring us our bouquets."
The Princess Lina was very angry, and when the Star Gazer presented her bouquet, she received it in a disdainful manner.
Michael behaved most respectfully. He never raised his eyes to her, but nearly all day she felt him at her side without ever seeing him.
One day she made up her mind to tell everything to her eldest sister.
"What!" said she, "this rogue knows our secret, and you never told me! I must lose no time in getting rid of him."
"Why, by having him taken to the tower with the dungeons, of course."
For this was the way that in old times beautiful princesses got rid of people who knew too much.
But the astonishing part of it was that the youngest sister did not seem at all to relish this method of stopping the mouth of the gardener's boy, who, after all, had said nothing to their father.
It was agreed that the question should be submitted to the other ten sisters. All were on the side of the eldest. Then the youngest sister declared that if they laid a finger on the little garden boy, she would herself go and tell their father the secret of the holes in their shoes.
At last it was decided that Michael should be put to the test; that they would take him to the ball, and at the end of supper would give him the philtre which was to enchant him like the rest.
They sent for the Star Gazer, and asked him how he had contrived to learn their secret; but still he remained silent.
Then, in commanding tones, the eldest sister gave him the order they had agreed upon.
He only answered:
"I will obey."
He had really been present, invisible, at the council of princesses, and had heard all; but he had made up his mind to drink of the philtre, and sacrifice himself to the happiness of her he loved.
Not wishing, however, to cut a poor figure at the ball by the side of the other dancers, he went at once to the laurels, and said:
"My lovely rose laurel, with the golden rake I have raked thee, with the golden bucket I have watered thee, with a silken towel I have dried thee. Dress me like a prince."
A beautiful pink flower appeared. Michael gathered it, and found himself in a moment clothed in velvet, which was as black as the eyes of the little Princess, with a cap to match, a diamond aigrette, and a blossom of the rose laurel in his button-hole.
Thus dressed, he presented himself that evening before the Duke of Belœil, and obtained leave to try and discover his daughters' secret. He looked so distinguished that hardly anyone would have known who he was.
The twelve princesses went upstairs to bed. Michael followed them, and waited behind the open door till they gave the signal for departure.
This time he did not cross in Lina's boat. He gave his arm to the eldest sister, danced with each in turn, and was so graceful that everyone was delighted with him. At last the time came for him to dance with the little Princess. She found him the best partner in the world, but he did not dare to speak a single word to her.
When he was taking her back to her place she said to him in a mocking voice:
"Here you are at the summit of your wishes: you are being treated like a prince."
"Don't be afraid," replied the Star Gazer gently. "You shall never be a gardener's wife."
The little Princess stared at him with a frightened face, and he left her without waiting for an answer.
When the satin slippers were worn through the fiddles stopped, and the negro boys set the table. Michael was placed next to the eldest sister, and opposite to the youngest.
They gave him the most exquisite dishes to eat, and the most delicate wines to drink; and in order to turn his head more completely, compliments and flattery were heaped on him from every side.
But he took care not to be intoxicated, either by the wine or the compliments.
At last the eldest sister made a sign, and one of the black pages brought in a large golden cup.
"The enchanted castle has no more secrets for you," she said to the Star Gazer. "Let us drink to your triumph."
He cast a lingering glance at the little Princess, and without hesitation lifted the cup.
"Don't drink!" suddenly cried out the little Princess; "I would rather marry a gardener."
And she burst into tears.
Michael flung the contents of the cup behind him, sprang over the table, and fell at Lina's feet. The rest of the princes fell likewise at the knees of the princesses, each of whom chose a husband and raised him to her side. The charm was broken.
The twelve couples embarked in the boats, which crossed back many times in order to carry over the other princes. Then they all went through the three woods, and when they had passed the door of the underground passage a great noise was heard, as if the enchanted castle was crumbling to the earth.
They went straight to the room of the Duke of Belœil, who had just awoke. Michael held in his hand the golden cup, and he revealed the secret of the holes in the shoes.
"Choose, then," said the Duke, "whichever you prefer."
"My choice is already made," replied the garden boy, and he offered his hand to the youngest Princess, who blushed and lowered her eyes.
The Princess Lina did not become a gardener's wife; on the contrary, it was the Star Gazer who became a Prince: but before the marriage ceremony the Princess insisted that her lover should tell her how he came to discover the secret.
So he showed her the two laurels which had helped him, and she, like a prudent girl, thinking they gave him too much advantage over his wife, cut them off at the root and threw them in the fire. And this is why the country girls go about singing:
Nous n'irons plus au bois,
Les lauriers sont coupés,
and dancing in summer by the light of the moon.
S OME of Miss Apis's wax cells serve the purpose of preserve-jars, as we have seen. Indeed, they all do, when we come to think of it.
They do not all preserve honey and bee-bread, however.
You have not forgotten that the queen-bee sometimes lays as many as three thousand eggs a day. Well, each little egg must have a cell of comb all to itself.
You can imagine that the wax-makers and cell-builders do not have a chance to grow lazy in the busy season of egg-laying; for if the queen does not lay three thousand eggs every day, she may upon some days, and she always lays at least enough to satisfy any reasonable lover of hard work.
The cradle-cells of the drones are the same as the honey-cells, but the worker cells are about one-fifth smaller.
You see, the workers are smaller than the drones, and so can lie in smaller cradles.
The cradle-cell of the queen is not shaped like the other cells, but somewhat like a thimble. It opens at the bottom, and is a great deal larger.
The queen goes about and lays an egg in each cell. She first puts in her head and examines the cell with her antennæ, as if to make sure it is all right.
This done, she deposits an egg in the bottom of the cell. She lays two kinds of eggs, one kind being what we call fertilized, the other kind unfertilized. The fertilized eggs always hatch into workers or queens, the unfertilized always hatch into drones. The queen is able to fertilize the eggs, or not, as she pleases.
As soon as an egg is laid, the queen pays no further attention to it. It is now the turn of the nurse-bees. The nurse-bees are the younger ones that have not yet gone out of the hive.
For about three days after the egg is laid, you could see no change in it.
Perhaps you think it needs no attention, but a hen would not think so. She knows that eggs have to be kept warm in order to hatch, and so she sits on her own eggs with her feathers tucked down warm all about them. Miss Apis, too, understands that eggs need to be kept warm. She has no feathers, but she has a warm little fuzzy body, and when the eggs are laid, she and her sisters cluster over the comb to keep them warm.
The ancients held a good many wrong ideas, and a good many right ones, about bees, and our Latin friend Pliny was not altogether wrong when he said bees sat upon their eggs like hens.
In about three days the eggs hatch, but not into pretty downy bees with gauzy wings. No, indeed! If you were to see what hatches out of a bee's egg you would not imagine that queer thing could ever make a bee. It is a little white atom, with no legs and no wings, and looks like a maggot. Here is a picture of one very much enlarged. It may not look like a bee, but still it is a baby bee.
If you do not like to call it a bee, you may call it a larva. For larva is the name we give to the first form of an insect after it leaves the egg.
This little larva is born hungry, and the kind nurse-bees, knowing that, feed it with plenty of—what shall I call it? Bee-milk, perhaps. This bee-milk is manufactured by the nurses in glands in their heads; it is very nutritious, and is the same as the royal jelly with which the queen is fed. They place the food in the cell with the larva, and watch to see that it always has enough. They feed it with honey and pollen as it grows older; and how it does eat!
In a few days it has grown so large that it almost fills its cradle-cell.
It would not do to let this ravenous infant grow entirely out of bounds, but I doubt if you could guess what the nurse-bees do to prevent it. They simply stop feeding it.
That is certainly a sure way to check its growth; only most babies, if treated so, would make up their minds that life without dinner was not worth living, and would die right off.
But bee-babies do not die; they wait to see what will happen next. It would take a long time for anybody but a bee to guess what happens next.
It is rather a peculiar performance, but Miss Apis's performances are usually peculiar.
She caps over the cell of the baby-bee.
It would be difficult to imagine an easier way of disposing of a baby,—bottle it up like a jar of pickles or a cell of honey.
It is not much trouble to take care of such babies.
They only need to be kept warm. Meantime, the infant thus disposed of spins for itself a soft little silken night-cap.
You see, it has nothing else to do. It cannot get anything to eat, and they do not give it so much as a rubber ring to bite on, as far as I know; so it amuses itself spinning a night-cap, or a soft little cocoon, about the upper part of its fat little bottled-up body.
Some babies might cry under the circumstances; but I doubt if this baby could do that even if it wanted to, for how could it cry with its mouth full of silk?
The silk for its cocoon comes out of its mouth, strange to say,—or rather out of a little hole in its lip,—and I have no doubt it is great fun for it to draw out the fine thread and spin.
Then it changes shape. You see, it is really an infant Miss Apis, so we cannot be surprised that it should perform in queer ways, even at that tender age.
It changes from a larva into a pupa.
If you do not know what a pupa is, it is time you did.
It is the same as a chrysalis. If you do not know what a chrysalis is, look at the picture and you will see one in the cell.
You see, it is not a larva, nor yet a perfect insect, but something halfway between the two.
When Baby Apis becomes a pupa, she does nothing more wonderful than butterflies and many other insects do,—for they too become pupæ on the way to being grown up, just as we become boys or girls on the way to being men or women.
You may like to know that larva is a Latin word, and means ghost, or mask, for the larva is, in one sense, the ghost or mask of the perfect insect.
But what do you think pupa means?
It, too, is a Latin word, and means doll.
The pupa of insects is generally inactive, and does not seem to be alive, though, of course, it is alive, and so it is called a doll, or image of the insect.
Baby Apis remains a pupa for several days, then she makes up her mind that if they want to keep other babies in bottles, they may, but as for her, she has had enough of it, so she puts up her mouth and gnaws a hole the shape of a crescent in the cap they put over her, and probably peeps out to see the world,—rather a dark world in the hive, one would think.
Then she puts out her head.
Then out she comes, a lovely young bee, light-colored and downy, and with beautiful gauzy wings.
The cap that is put over the young bee is very porous, so the air can get in. Baby Apis may be bottled up with safety, but she must not be deprived of air, for if she is she will die.
The queen-bee is hatched from an egg exactly like that of the worker-bees. But this egg, as we know, lies in a large cell, and when it hatches, the nurse-bees fairly stuff the queen larva with food.
The worker infants get very little bee-milk; they have to eat honey and bee-bread, but the queen infant is fed almost entirely upon this precious food, this "royal jelly."
It is because she eats so much of this that she develops into a queen. Sometimes the queen in a hive dies or gets lost. Then what do you suppose the workers do? Why, go to work and make a new queen, of course.
It is a terrible thing for a hive to be without a queen, and the bees are very unhappy when it happens. But if they have eggs or very young larvæ they need not despair.
They enlarge a worker cell in which lies an egg or a very young larva, by tearing down the cells next to it. Then they feed the infant thus promoted to royalty upon queen's food, and, lo! the little creature becomes a queen.
Drones get much more royal jelly than workers, but no amount of feeding or starving will make them anything but drones.
It takes all the eggs three days to hatch, but the queen larva attains its growth in five and a half days, while it takes the worker six, and the drone, six and a half.
The queen spins her cocoon, changes into a pupa, and comes forth a perfect bee all in seven and a half days, while it takes the worker twelve days and the drone fourteen and a half to complete these changes.
If you do a little sum in addition, you will find that it takes sixteen days for an egg to become a queen-bee, twenty-one days for it to become a worker, and twenty-four days for a drone egg to become a drone.
As soon as the worker-bees hatch out, they go to work.
You already know what they do. They take care of the queen, following her about and feeding her with royal jelly whenever she is hungry, which is very often.
They seem to be very fond of their hive-mother; and you will always see a little cluster of bees about her, caressing her with their antennæ, and paying her the greatest respect.
The workers also take care of the eggs and the young bees, but do not generally lay any eggs themselves; only the queen does that.
They make wax, build comb, and keep the hive clean, carrying out dead bees, or anything that does not belong in it.
No doubt they watch at the door, too. For bees keep sentinels always on guard to see that thieves and robbers do not come in and steal their honey.
If you knock on a hive, the sentinels will fly out to see what is the matter.
In a few days the young bees leave the home work to the newly hatched, and go forth to gather honey, and pollen, and bee-glue.
You ought to know that bee-glue is called propolis,—a word that means "before the city,"—and it is so named, because the bees use it to build fortifications in time of war.
Certain moths attack bee-hives by crawling in and laying their eggs in the corners. When the eggs hatch, the little caterpillar-like larvæ that come out of them eat the comb and spoil the honey. To keep them out, the bees sometimes build walls of propolis just inside the hive door, making the entrance so narrow that only one bee can pass at a time. In this way the sentinels are better able to keep out the intruders.
Bees have been known to use propolis in strange ways. You know they chink up all the holes with it and glue the frames fast. Once, so the story goes, they glued a snail to the bottom of the hive. His snailship had crawled into the hive and the bees fastened his shell tightly to the floor. So, for going where he was not wanted, he found his house converted into a sepulchre.
Another story is of a mouse that went into a bee-hive. The bees stung him to death, but he was so large they could not remove him, so what did they do but cover him all over with propolis. Safe under the resinous bee-glue, his body could do no harm.
Bees breathe as well as other creatures; they take in pure air and give out impure. They do not do this by means of lungs, as we do, but through little holes in their sides. They cannot live without fresh air, and you can well imagine that a house as crowded as theirs needs careful ventilation.
They cannot lower the windows, because they have none, and they would not dare open any if they had them, for all sorts of creatures would come flying, and creeping, and running, and stealing in to get their precious honey.
The only openings to the hives, as we know, are the little holes at the bottom where the bees go in and out. How, then, do they get fresh air?
You will not be surprised to learn that Miss Apis has solved this problem in a very ingenious manner.
The only possible way of ventilating a hive through the little holes at the bottom is by fanning or pumping the air in and out.
The bees fan a current of air through the hive, by standing near the entrance holes and buzzing with their wings.
The buzzing sound is made by the rapid motion of the wings, and even one bee can cause quite a little breeze. When a number of them stand together just inside, and sometimes also just outside the hive, and fan, they produce currents of air strong enough to keep the crowded hive perfectly ventilated.
Bees are more careful to have plenty of fresh air than are people. Huber discovered that the air in the hive is nearly as pure as the air out of doors, and we should have reason to feel proud if our public buildings were as well ventilated as are the bee-hives.
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
WEEK 22 |
Matthew xi: 2 to 19; xiv: 1 to 12;
Mark vi: 14 to 29;
Luke vii: 18 to 35.
OU remember that just before Jesus went from Jerusalem to Galilee, as we read in Story 117, John the Baptist was put in prison by the king, Herod Antipas. Jesus stayed in Galilee for a year, and nearly all that time John the Baptist was alone in his prison near the Dead Sea. His followers, who were now very few, came to see him, and told him of the works that Jesus was doing. These were wonderful, but they were not what John had expected Jesus to do; and in his prison, with no one to explain what Jesus was saying and doing, John began to doubt a little whether Jesus were the Saviour who had been promised so long. Then, too, John's followers were inclined to feel jealous, because their master was now left alone, and all the people were seeking Jesus. John sent two of his followers to Jesus, to ask him this question, "Are you really the Saviour who is to come, or are we to look for some other as the promised Christ?"
When these men came with this message from John the Baptist they found Jesus in the midst of a great company of suffering people. They saw him making the sick well by his touch, giving sight to the blind, and casting out the evil spirits; and they listened to the words of Jesus as he taught the people.
When his work for the time was done, Jesus turned to the men who had come from John, and said to them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard, how the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is that man who believes in me without doubting."
After these men had gone to bear the words of Jesus to John, Jesus spoke to the people about John the Baptist. He said:
"What was it that you went out into the wilderness to see? Was it a reed shaken by the wind? Was it a man dressed in rich robes? Those who are clad in splendid garments, and sit at feasts, are in the houses of kings. Who was the man whom you went out to see? Was he a prophet of God? I tell you that he was a prophet, and more than a prophet; for he was the one who came to make men ready for the coming of the king. And I say to you, that among those who are born on the earth, there has never arisen a greater man than John the Baptist. Yet he who is the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John; for he can see with his own eyes, what John can only hear of from others, the works of the gospel."
All the common people who heard this were glad, for they believed that John was a prophet, and they had been baptized by him. But the Pharisees and the rulers were not pleased, because they had refused to listen to John the Baptist or to be baptized by him.
Not long after this the end came to the noble life of John the Baptist. A great feast was held on King Herod's birthday, and all the princes and nobles of his kingdom were in the palace, eating and drinking together. While they were making merry, the young daughter of the woman Herodias, who lived with Herod as his wife, came into the supper-room and danced before the guests. Herod was so greatly pleased with her dancing that he said to her, "Ask whatever you please, and I will give it to you."
He swore a solemn oath that he would give her whatever she might ask, even to the half of his kingdom. The girl went to her mother, and said to her, "Tell me, what shall I ask?"
Her mother told her what to ask, and she came back with haste to the king, and said, "I will ask that you give me here upon a plate the head of John the Baptist!"
The king was very sorry that he had made the promise, but he was ashamed to break his word in the presence of his princes. He sent a man to the prison, with orders that the head of John the Baptist should be cut off and brought. It was done; and the young girl took it upon a plate, and gave it to her mother Herodias.
So, as Herod's father, thirty years before, had caused all the little children of Bethlehem to be killed, as we read in Story 112, this King Herod, the son, caused John the Baptist, one of the best of men and a great prophet, to be put to death.
The followers of John the Baptist went to the prison, and took away his body and buried it; and then they went and told Jesus of all that had been done. After this they were among the followers of Jesus.
Herod the king heard of what Jesus was doing, the sick healed, the blind made to see, and the dead raised to life. Everybody by this time was talking of Jesus and wondering who he was. Some said, "This is the prophet Elijah come again to earth."
Others said, "If he is not Elijah, he is surely one of the prophets of the old time who has come to life."
But Herod said, "I know who this is. It is John the Baptist, whom I killed! He has come back to life, and by him all these great works are wrought!"
And Herod was in great alarm, for he was afraid of the man whom he had slain.
Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee, where Herod lived.
D URING the whole of the week, Irene had been thinking every other moment of her promise to the old lady, although even now she could not feel quite sure that she had not been dreaming. Could it really be that an old lady lived up in the top of the house with pigeons and a spinning-wheel, and a lamp that never went out? She was, however, none the less determined, on the coming Friday, to ascend the three stairs, walk through the passages with the many doors, and try to find the tower in which she had either seen or dreamed her grandmother.
Her nurse could not help wondering what had come to the child—she would sit so thoughtfully silent, and even in the midst of a game with her, would so suddenly fall into a dreamy mood. But Irene took care to betray nothing, whatever efforts Lootie might make to get at her thoughts. And Lootie had to say to herself, "What an odd child she is!" and give it up.
At length the long looked-for Friday arrived, and lest Lootie should be moved to watch her, Irene endeavoured to keep herself as quiet as possible. In the afternoon she asked for her doll's house, and went on arranging and rearranging the various rooms and their inhabitants for a whole hour. Then she gave a sigh and threw herself back in her chair. One of the dolls would not sit, and another would not stand, and they were all very tiresome. Indeed, there was one that would not even lie down, which was too bad. But it was now getting dark, and the darker it got the more excited Irene became, and the more she felt it necessary to be composed.
"I see you want your tea, princess," said the nurse: "I will go and get it. The room feels close: I will open the window a little. The evening is mild: it won't hurt you."
"There's no fear of that, Lootie," said Irene, wishing she had put off going for the tea till it was darker, when she might have made her attempt with every advantage.
I fancy Lootie was longer in returning than she had intended; for when Irene, who had been lost in thought, looked up, she saw it was nearly dark, and at the same moment caught sight of a pair of eyes, bright with a green light, glowering at her through the open window. The next instant something leaped into the room. It was like a cat, with legs as long as a horse's, Irene said, but its body no bigger and its legs no thicker than those of a cat. She was too frightened to cry out, but not too frightened to jump from her chair and run from the room.
It is plain enough to every one of my readers what she ought to have done—and indeed Irene thought of it herself; but when she came to the foot of the old stair, just outside the nursery door, she imagined the creature running up those long ascents after her, and pursuing her through the dark passages—which, after all, might lead to no tower! That thought was too much. Her heart failed her, and, turning from the stair, she rushed along to the hall, whence, finding the front-door open, she darted into the court, pursued—at least she thought so—by the creature. No one happening to see her, on she ran, unable to think for fear, and ready to run anywhere to elude the awful creature with the stilt-legs. Not daring to look behind her, she rushed straight out of the gate, and up the mountain. It was foolish indeed—thus to run farther and farther from all who could help her, as if she had been seeking a fit spot for the goblin-creature to eat her in at his leisure; but that is the way fear serves us: it always takes the side of the thing that we are afraid of.
The princess was soon out of breath with running up hill; but she ran on, for she fancied the horrible creature just behind her, forgetting that, had it been after her, such long legs as those must have overtaken her long ago. At last she could run no longer, and fell, unable even to scream, by the roadside, where she lay for some time, half dead with terror. But finding nothing lay hold of her, and her breath beginning to come back, she ventured at length to get half up, and peer anxiously about her. It was now so dark that she could see nothing. Not a single star was out. She could not even tell in what direction the house lay, and between her and home she fancied the dreadful creature lying ready to pounce upon her. She saw now that she ought to have run up the stairs at once. It was well she did not scream; for, although very few of the goblins had come out for weeks, a stray idler or two might have heard her. She sat down upon a stone, and nobody but one who had done something wrong could have been more miserable. She had quite forgotten her promise to visit her grandmother. A rain-drop fell on her face. She looked up, and for a moment her terror was lost in astonishment. At first she thought the rising moon had left her place, and drawn nigh to see what could be the matter with the little girl, sitting alone, without hat or cloak, on the dark bare mountain; but she soon saw she was mistaken, for there was no light on the ground at her feet, and no shadow anywhere. But a great silvery globe was hanging in the air; and as she gazed at the lovely thing, her courage revived. If she were but indoors again, she would fear nothing, not even the terrible creature with the long legs! But how was she to find her way back? What could that light be? Could it be—? No, it couldn't. But what if it should be—yes—it must be—her great-great-grandmother's lamp, which guided her pigeons home through the darkest night! She jumped up: she had but to keep that light in view, and she must find the house.
Her heart grew strong. Speedily, yet softly, she walked down the hill, hoping to pass the watching creature unseen. Dark as it was, there was little danger now of choosing the wrong road. And—which was most strange—the light that filled her eyes from the lamp, instead of blinding them for a moment to the object upon which they next fell, enabled her for a moment to see it, despite the darkness. By looking at the lamp and then dropping her eyes, she could see the road for a yard or two in front of her, and this saved her from several falls, for the road was very rough. But all at once, to her dismay, it vanished, and the terror of the beast, which had left her the moment she began to return, again laid hold of her heart. The same instant, however, she caught the light of the windows, and knew exactly where she was. It was too dark to run, but she made what haste she could, and reached the gate in safety. She found the house-door still open, ran through the hall, and, without even looking into the nursery, bounded straight up the stair, and the next, and the next; then turning to the right, ran through the long avenue of silent rooms, and found her way at once to the door at the foot of the tower stair.
When first the nurse missed her, she fancied she was playing her a trick, and for some time took no trouble about her; but at last, getting frightened, she had begun to search; and when the princess entered, the whole household was hither and thither, over the house, hunting for her. A few seconds after she reached the stair of the tower, they had even begun to search the neglected rooms, in which they would never have thought of looking had they not already searched every other place they could think of in vain. But by this time she was knocking at the old lady's door.