WEEK 24 |
T HE two boys flew on and on, toward the village, speechless with horror. They glanced backward over their shoulders from time to time, apprehensively, as if they feared they might be followed. Every stump that started up in their path seemed a man and an enemy, and made them catch their breath; and as they sped by some outlying cottages that lay near the village, the barking of the aroused watch-dogs seemed to give wings to their feet.
"If we can only get to the old tannery before we break down!" whispered Tom, in short catches between breaths, "I can't stand it much longer."
Huckleberry's hard pantings were his only reply, and the boys fixed their eyes on the goal of their hopes and bent to their work to win it. They gained steadily on it, and at last, breast to breast, they burst through the open door and fell grateful and exhausted in the sheltering shadows beyond. By and by their pulses slowed down, and Tom whispered:
"Huckleberry, what do you reckon'll come of this?"
"If Dr. Robinson dies, I reckon hanging'll come of it."
"Do you though?"
"Why, I know it, Tom."
Tom thought a while, then he said:
"Who'll tell? We?"
"What are you talking about? S'pose something happened and Injun Joe didn't hang? Why he'd kill us some time or other, just as dead sure as we're a-laying here."
"That's just what I was thinking to myself, Huck."
"If anybody tells, let Muff Potter do it, if he's fool enough. He's generally drunk enough."
Tom said nothing—went on thinking. Presently he whispered:
"Huck, Muff Potter don't know it. How can he tell?"
"What's the reason he don't know it?"
"Because he'd just got that whack when Injun Joe done it. D'you reckon he could see anything? D'you reckon he knowed anything?"
"By hokey, that's so, Tom!"
"And besides, look-a-here—maybe that whack done for him!"
"No, 'taint likely, Tom. He had liquor in him; I could see that; and besides, he always has. Well, when pap's full, you might take and belt him over the head with a church and you couldn't phase him. He says so, his own self. So it's the same with Muff Potter, of course. But if a man was dead sober, I reckon maybe that whack might fetch him; I dono."
After another reflective silence, Tom said:
"Hucky, you sure you can keep mum?"
"Tom, we got to keep mum. You know that. That Injun devil wouldn't make any more of drownding us than a couple of cats, if we was to squeak 'bout this and they didn't hang him. Now, look-a-here, Tom, less take and swear to one another—that's what we got to do—swear to keep mum."
"I'm agreed. It's the best thing. Would you just hold hands and swear
"Oh no, that wouldn't do for this. That's good enough for little rubbishy common things—specially with gals, cuz they go back on you anyway, and blab if they get in a huff—but there orter be writing 'bout a big thing like this. And blood."
Tom's whole being applauded this idea. It was deep, and dark, and awful; the hour, the circumstances, the surroundings, were in keeping with it. He picked up a clean pine shingle that lay in the moonlight, took a little fragment of "red keel" out of his pocket, got the moon on his work, and painfully scrawled these lines, emphasizing each slow down-stroke by clamping his tongue between his teeth, and letting up the pressure on the up-strokes.
Huckleberry was filled with admiration of Tom's facility in writing, and the sublimity of his language. He at once took a pin from his lapel and was going to prick his flesh, but Tom said:
"Hold on! Don't do that. A pin's brass. It might have verdigrease on it."
"It's p'ison. That's what it is. You just swaller some of it once—you'll see."
So Tom unwound the thread from one of his needles, and each boy pricked the ball of his thumb and squeezed out a drop of blood. In time, after many squeezes, Tom managed to sign his initials, using the ball of his little finger for a pen. Then he showed Huckleberry how to make an H and an F, and the oath was complete. They buried the shingle close to the wall, with some dismal ceremonies and incantations, and the fetters that bound their tongues were considered to be locked and the key thrown away.
A figure crept stealthily through a break in the other end of the ruined building, now, but they did not notice it.
"Tom," whispered Huckleberry, "does this keep us from ever telling—always?"
"Of course it does. It don't make any difference what happens, we got to keep mum. We'd drop down dead—don't you know that?"
"Yes, I reckon that's so."
They continued to whisper for some little time. Presently a dog set up a long, lugubrious howl just outside—within ten feet of them. The boys clasped each other suddenly, in an agony of fright.
"Which of us does he mean?" gasped Huckleberry.
"I dono—peep through the crack. Quick!"
"No, you, Tom!"
"I can't—I can't do it, Huck!"
"Please, Tom. There 'tis again!"
"Oh, lordy, I'm thankful!" whispered Tom. "I know his voice. It's Bull Harbison."
"Oh, that's good—I tell you, Tom, I was most scared to death; I'd 'a' bet anything it was a stray dog."
The dog howled again. The boys' hearts sank once more.
"Oh, my! that ain't no Bull Harbison!" whispered Huckleberry. "Do, Tom!"
Tom, quaking with fear, yielded, and put his eye to the crack. His whisper was hardly audible when he said:
"Oh, Huck, it's a stray dog!"
"Quick, Tom, quick! Who does he mean?"
"Huck, he must mean us both—we're right together."
"Oh, Tom, I reckon we're goners. I reckon there ain't no mistake 'bout where I'll go to. I been so wicked."
"Dad fetch it! This comes of playing hookey and doing everything a feller's told not to do. I might 'a' been good, like Sid, if I'd 'a' tried—but no, I wouldn't, of course. But if ever I get off this time, I lay I'll just waller in Sunday-schools!" And Tom began to snuffle a little.
"You bad!" and Huckleberry began to snuffle too. "Consound it, Tom Sawyer, you're just old pie, 'longside o' what I am. Oh, lordy, lordy, lordy, I wisht I only had half your chance."
Tom choked off and whispered:
"Look, Hucky, look! He's got his back to us!"
Hucky looked, with joy in his heart.
"Well, he has, by jingoes! Did he before?"
"Yes, he did. But I, like a fool, never thought. Oh, this is bully, you know. Now who can he mean?"
The howling stopped. Tom pricked up his ears.
"Sounds like—like hogs grunting. No—it's somebody snoring, Tom."
"That is it! Where 'bouts is it, Huck?"
"I bleeve it's down at 'tother end. Sounds so, anyway. Pap used to sleep there, sometimes, 'long with the hogs, but laws bless you, he just lifts things when he snores. Besides, I reckon he ain't ever coming back to this town any more."
The spirit of adventure rose in the boys' souls once more.
"Hucky, do you das't to go if I lead?"
"I don't like to, much. Tom, s'pose it's Injun Joe!"
Tom quailed. But presently the temptation rose up strong again and the boys agreed to try, with the understanding that they would take to their heels if the snoring stopped. So they went tiptoeing stealthily down, the one behind the other. When they had got to within five steps of the snorer, Tom stepped on a stick, and it broke with a sharp snap. The man moaned, writhed a little, and his face came into the moonlight. It was Muff Potter. The boys' hearts had stood still, and their hopes too, when the man moved, but their fears passed away now. They tiptoed out, through the broken weather-boarding, and stopped at a little distance to exchange a parting word. That long, lugubrious howl rose on the night air again! They turned and saw the strange dog standing within a few feet of where Potter was lying, and facing Potter, with his nose pointing heavenward.
"Oh, geeminy, it's him!" exclaimed both boys, in a breath.
"Say, Tom—they say a stray dog come howling around Johnny Miller's house, 'bout midnight, as much as two weeks ago; and a whippoorwill come in and lit on the banisters and sung, the very same evening; and there ain't anybody dead there yet."
"Well, I know that. And suppose there ain't. Didn't Gracie Miller fall in the kitchen fire and burn herself terrible the very next Saturday?"
"Yes, but she ain't dead. And what's more, she's getting better, too."
"All right, you wait and see. She's a goner, just as dead sure as Muff Potter's a goner. That's what the niggers say, and they know all about these kind of things, Huck."
Then they separated, cogitating. When Tom crept in at his bedroom window the night was almost spent. He undressed with excessive caution, and fell asleep congratulating himself that nobody knew of his escapade. He was not aware that the gently-snoring Sid was awake, and had been so for an hour.
When Tom awoke, Sid was dressed and gone. There was a late look in the light, a late sense in the atmosphere. He was startled. Why had he not been called—persecuted till he was up, as usual? The thought filled him with bodings. Within five minutes he was dressed and down-stairs, feeling sore and drowsy. The family were still at table, but they had finished breakfast. There was no voice of rebuke; but there were averted eyes; there was a silence and an air of solemnity that struck a chill to the culprit's heart. He sat down and tried to seem gay, but it was up-hill work; it roused no smile, no response, and he lapsed into silence and let his heart sink down to the depths.
After breakfast his aunt took him aside, and Tom almost brightened in the hope that he was going to be flogged; but it was not so. His aunt wept over him and asked him how he could go and break her old heart so; and finally told him to go on, and ruin himself and bring her gray hairs with sorrow to the grave, for it was no use for her to try any more. This was worse than a thousand whippings, and Tom's heart was sorer now than his body. He cried, he pleaded for forgiveness, promised to reform over and over again, and then received his dismissal, feeling that he had won but an imperfect forgiveness and established but a feeble confidence.
He left the presence too miserable to even feel revengeful toward Sid; and so the latter's prompt retreat through the back gate was unnecessary. He moped to school gloomy and sad, and took his flogging, along with Joe Harper, for playing hookey the day before, with the air of one whose heart was busy with heavier woes and wholly dead to trifles. Then he betook himself to his seat, rested his elbows on his desk and his jaws in his hands, and stared at the wall with the stony stare of suffering that has reached the limit and can no further go. His elbow was pressing against some hard substance. After a long time he slowly and sadly changed his position, and took up this object with a sigh. It was in a paper. He unrolled it. A long, lingering, colossal sigh followed, and his heart broke. It was his brass andiron knob!
This final feather broke the camel's back.
T he people of the Middle Ages would have thought it exceedingly strange for one man to ask another the price of a piece of land, pay for it, and then call it his own. As a general thing, they obtained land in quite a different fashion. The theory was that the king owned the whole country. But he could not cultivate it all, or even defend it with his single sword. Therefore he gave the use of large districts to his chief men. Each man, when he received a share, knelt before the king with uncovered head, laid his hands in those of his sovereign, and vowed to be his man and to serve him faithfully. Then the king kissed his vassal, or liegeman, and gave him a bit of turf and a twig to indicate that he was to hold the land and what grew upon it. Often when land was granted to a man, he was required to make a small payment of money or produce. This was not rent, but merely an acknowledgment that the property was not his, but his lord's. It was sometimes nothing more than a measure of grain, or a fish or two from some river flowing through the land. In 1492, a piece of land in Newcastle-on-Tyne, was granted on condition that a red rose be paid every midsummer day, if it should be called for.
The service that the king wanted for his grants was almost always service in war. When there was need of fighting, he had a right to call out his vassal to fight for him. But every vassal divided his land into portions and gave it to people who were his vassals and had vowed to be faithful to him. Therefore when the king needed men he called out his vassals, the great nobles. They called out their vassals, and these vassals called out those who were under them; and all had to go forth to do battle. This was the feudal system. It was a sort of endless chain, except that it did finally come to an end in the manor, or village. Exactly how it arose is still a subject of great dispute.
English Manor House
The early manor usually consisted of one house of fair size, perhaps even a castle, and, gathered around it, a number of little cottages. These were thatched with straw and had generally only one room. The large house was the abode of the lord of the manor, and the little houses were the homes of his tenants. Some of these were called "free" tenants, and they generally paid in money for the use of the land and the protection of their lord. The others were called serfs, or villeins, from the word vill, meaning village. They paid some rent in money or in fowls or produce, and they also had to spend a goodly share of their time, sometimes as much as half of it, working on the land which the lord reserved for himself. The lord of a manor always had a list of the tenants, called an "extent," which stated what each one was bound to pay and what work he must do. For instance, on one manor a man who had a cottage and an acre of land had to pay at the feast of Saint Michael threepence, and at Christmas a cock and a hen worth threepence. Another, who had only a little piece of land, had to bring to his lord one goose, worth twopence, every year. The labour varied greatly in kind and in amount. One man, among other sorts of work, had to provide "a cart and three animals of his own," and carry wood from the forest to the manor house two days every summer. This was worth ninepence, but his lord was to give him three meals worth twopence, halfpenny each. Twice every summer he was to carry half a load of grain; but his meals in this case were not to be so extravagant, for they were to be worth only twopence each.
Old Country House
(Said to be the oldest house on the Rhine)
The arable land of the manor was divided into three or more great fields. One field was planted with wheat or rye, another with oats or peas or barley, and the third field lay fallow for a season. The next year the arrangement was changed about, and thus every field had its rotation of crops and its year of rest. These lands were divided among the tenants in what seems now a strange fashion. They were marked off into strips, usually forty rods long and four rods wide, and instead of a tenant's having a field to himself, he had a certain number of strips. Moreover, these were not together, but were scattered, one or two in a place. Even the lord's land was generally scattered in the same way.
The villeins were not allowed to leave the manor; and if it passed into the hands of another owner, they went with it as the oxen or the houses did. And even if a man wished to run away, where could he go? The whole country was divided into manors. Each one had its own tenants, and there was seldom room for any new ones. There was no work by which one could earn his bread. For a long while there was only one way by which a boy could escape from the manor life, and that was by becoming a priest. If he wished to be a priest, and showed that he had the ability, his lord had to let him go free.
A Scene in a Norman Hall
Farm work was exceedingly hard in those days, for the implements were rude and clumsy. The ploughs, for instance, were made of wood and were so heavy that eight oxen were needed to draw them. The manor life could not have been very agreeable, but it had one great advantage, it was safe, for the lord was bound to protect his tenants, and in those days of strife and disorder it was a great thing to have protection. Indeed, it often happened that, for the sake of being protected a free man would go of his own accord to some powerful noble and offer to become his vassal.
Between the eleventh and the thirteenth centuries, many knights went on crusades, or warlike expeditions to try to rescue the Holy Land from the Mohammedans. These knights required large sums of money, and they allowed many of their tenants to pay their rent in money instead of work. Sometimes they would even let them have a piece of land. This made the villeins feel a little more independent; but until after the battles of Crécy and Poitiers it did not occur to them that they were well able to protect themselves with their own weapons. They had supposed that to be an efficient soldier it was necessary to have a horse and armour, and to be trained as a knight; but these two battles were won by men who had no armour and no swords, but only their bows and arrows.
Two or three years after the battle of Crécy, a terrible disease known as the Black Death swept over the land. So many villeins died that now a man could find plenty of work at good wages wherever he chose to go. Moreover, if he did not wish to work on a manor, he could live in a city if he chose, for fine wool weaving had been introduced from Flanders and he could easily earn his living as a weaver.
Thus, little by little the old way of living on manors was given up, and the feudal system gradually disappeared. In a few places in Europe, however, the ground is still cultivated in great fields wherein each person holds one or more strips; and in the little town of Manheim, in Pennsylvania, there is some land that is held by a sort of feudal tenure. It was given by a wealthy baron a century and a half ago as a site for a church, and the rental was to be, as in the case of the land in Newcastle, "one red rose, payable in June, when the same shall be lawfully demanded." Twice the baron asked for the rose, and then the old custom was forgotten until it was revived a few years ago. Now one day in every June is set apart for the payment of the rose to some descendant of the baron. There is always a pleasant little celebration. Then, after the music and the addresses in the church, the people present all walk past the chancel, each one laying down a red rose as he passes. The roses are afterward gathered up and carried to the sick folk in some hospital.
First came the primrose,
On the bank high,
Like a maiden looking forth
From the window of a tower
When the battle rolls below,
So looked she,
And saw the storms go by.
Then came the wind-flower
In the valley left behind,
As a wounded maiden, pale
With purple streaks of woe,
When the battle has rolled by
Wanders to and fro
So tottered she,
Dishevelled in the wind.
Then came the daisies,
On the first of May
Like a bannered show's advance
While the crowd runs by the way,
With ten thousand flowers about them they came trooping through the fields.
As a happy people come,
So came they,
As a happy people come
When the war has rolled away,
With dance and tabor, pipe and drum,
And all make holiday.
Then came the cowslip,
Like a dancer in the fair,
She spread her little mat of green,
And on it danced she.
With a fillet bound about her brow,
A fillet round her happy brow,
A golden fillet round her brow,
And rubies in her hair.
WEEK 24 |
L IKE Queen Elizabeth, King James had favourites. But unfortunately the favourites he chose were not good and wise men who helped him to govern well, but men who although clever were bad, and who thought only of themselves. Some of these men liked money and fine clothes, and James spent so much on them that he was always poor and in debt, and this led him into quarrels with the people and Parliament.
The Tudors had been a very autocratic race of kings.
Autocratic is a word made from Greek words and means that
the Tudors wanted to rule quite by themselves without help
or advice from any one. During the time of the Tudors,
especially in the reigns of
James knew how autocratic Elizabeth had been, and he meant to be the same. But Elizabeth, although she had her own way in many things, knew when to yield and let the people have their way. James did not know how to yield. He wanted to be a despot which is another word taken from Greek and really means "master," but has come to mean "cruel master." "The King can do no wrong," said James. "What he does must be right and the people must obey and ask no questions."
King James wrote several books, and in one of them he set down his ideas about the power of a king. But the people did not agree with these ideas. They thought many of the things which the King did were wrong. As they would not do everything he wished them to do, James dismissed Parliament and ruled for many years without calling another.
When James died, in
James was succeeded by his son Charles. He had been taught by his father to believe that the King could do no wrong, and like his father, Charles wanted to be autocratic.
Charles, too, dismissed Parliament, because he could not have entirely his own way. He tried to make the people pay taxes and give him money without the consent of Parliament, and this made them very angry.
Like King James, King Charles had bad advisers, and one of the worst, perhaps, was his own wife, of whom he was very fond. She was a French princess called Henrietta Maria and was a Roman Catholic. She hated the Puritans, who were growing more and more important in England. Charles hated them too, and, with the advice of Archbishop Laud, who was one of his chief advisers, he treated the Puritans very hardly.
Many of the people in Scotland had become Protestant. They
were called Presbyterians, and like the Puritans, they chose
to have a very simple form of worship, and very simple
churches. This did not please Charles. He said that the
Scottish Church must use the same service as the English
Church. He ordered a new Prayer Book to be made which was
almost the same as the English Prayer Book. This he sent to
all the Scottish ministers commanding them to begin to use
it on Sunday,
There was great excitement among the Scottish people when this order became known. On the Sunday morning many crowded to the Cathedral of St. Giles in Edinburgh, wondering what would happen.
When the Dean entered, it was seen that he was wearing a white robe instead of the black one in which the Scottish clergy usually preached.
The Dean little knew of the anger which was rising in the hearts of the stern-faced men and women round him as the words of the new prayers rang strangely through the silent church.
He began the service, using the new Prayer Book. But he had not gone far when an old woman called Jenny Geddes sprang up. "Thou false thief," she cried, "wilt thou say Mass at my ear?" and with that she threw the stool upon which she had been sitting at the Dean's head.
In a moment the whole church was in confusion. "The Mass! the Mass! popery! popery!" shouted the people. "Down with the Pope! down with him!" The women rushed at the Dean and tore his white surplice from his shoulders, and he was so hardly used that he ran the risk of being killed. The Bishop of Edinburgh went into the pulpit and tried to calm the people. But they would not listen to him. "A Pope! a Pope!" they cried, "down with him! down with him!"
At last soldiers were sent for, the church was cleared, the doors were locked and the new service was read to the few who were in favour of it. Outside the crowd yelled and hooted, breaking the windows with stones and hammering on the doors, which were locked and barred against them.
The Bishop barely escaped with his life. He was carried through the crowd surrounded by soldiers with drawn swords in their hands.
All Scotland was in arms. High and low banded together to resist the King. They drew up a paper which was signed by thousands, binding themselves to fight for the freedom of religion. This paper was called the National Covenant, and the people who signed it the Covenanters. Scotland was ready for war, and Charles was forced to recall the Prayer Book and allow the Scottish Church to be free.
Charles promised the Scottish Church freedom, but he could never keep his word. Soon he raised an army intending to force them to do as he wished. But the Scots were ready to fight and they marched into England to meet Charles. The English Puritans were on the side of the Scots and for the first time in all history a Scottish army coming into England was welcomed by the English. The fighting ended in a victory for the Scots, and once more Charles promised them freedom in religion.
If you should ever go to
I TOOK down, recently, from the shelves of a great public library, the four volumes of Agassiz's Contributions to the Natural History of the United States. I doubt if anybody but the charwoman, with her duster, had touched those volumes for twenty-five years. They are a monumental work, the fruit of vast and heroic labors, with colored plates on stone, showing the turtles of the United States, and their life-history. The work was published more than half a century ago, but it looked old beyond its years—massive, heavy, weathered, as if dug from the rocks; and I soon turned with a sigh from the weary learning of its plates and diagrams to look at the preface.
Then, reading down through the catalogue of human names
and of thanks for help received, I came to a sentence
"In New England I have myself collected largely; but
I have also received valuable contributions from the
late Rev. Zadoc Thompson
. . . . from
Mr. D. Henry Thoreau
of Concord; . . . and from
Turtles are important—interesting; so is the late Rev. Zadoc Thompson of Burlington. Indeed any reverend gentleman who would catch turtles for Agassiz must have been interesting. If Agassiz had only put a chapter into his turtle book about him! and as for the Mr. Jenks of Middleboro (at the end of the quotation) I know that he was interesting; for years later, he was an old college professor of mine. He told me some of the particulars of his turtle contributions, particulars which Agassiz should have found a place for in his big book. The preface says merely that this gentleman sent turtles to Cambridge by the thousands—brief and scanty recognition. For that is not the only thing this gentleman did. On one occasion he sent, not turtles, but turtle eggs to Cambridge—brought them, I should say; and all there is to show for it, so far as I could discover, is a small drawing of a bit of one of the eggs!
Of course, Agassiz wanted to make that drawing, and had to have a fresh turtle egg to draw it from. He had to have it, and he got it. A great man, when he wants a certain turtle egg, at a certain time, always gets it, for he gets some one else to get it for him. I am glad he got it. But what makes me sad and impatient is that he did not think it worth while to tell us about the getting of it.
It would seem, naturally, that there could be nothing unusual or interesting about the getting of turtle eggs when you want them. Nothing at all, if you should chance to want the eggs as you chance to find them. So with anything else. But if you want turtle eggs when you want them, and are bound to have them, then you must—get Mr. Jenks, or somebody else to get them for you.
Agassiz wanted those turtle eggs when he wanted them—not a minute over three hours from the minute they were laid. Yet even that does not seem exacting, hardly more difficult than the getting of hens' eggs only three hours old. Just so, provided the professor could have had his private turtle-coop in Harvard College Yard; and provided he could have made his turtles lay. But turtles will not respond, like hens, to meat-scraps and the warm mash. The professor's problem was not to get from a mud turtle's nest in the back yard to his work-table in the laboratory; but to get from the laboratory in Cambridge to some pond when the turtles were laying, and back to the laboratory within the limited time. And this might have called for nice and discriminating work—as it did.
Agassiz had been engaged for a long time upon his "Contributions." He had brought the great work nearly to a finish. It was, indeed, finished but for one small yet very important bit of observation: he had carried the turtle egg through every stage of its development with the single exception of one—the very earliest. That beginning stage had brought the "Contributions" to a halt. To get eggs that were fresh enough to show the incubation at this period had been impossible.
There were several ways that Agassiz might have proceeded: he might have got a leave of absence for the spring term, taken his laboratory to some pond inhabited by turtles, and there camped until he should catch the reptile digging out her nest. But there were difficulties in all of that—as those who are college professors and naturalists know. As this was quite out of the question, he did the easiest thing—asked Mr. Jenks of Middleboro to get him the eggs. Mr. Jenks got them. Agassiz knew all about his getting of them; and I say the strange and irritating thing is, that Agassiz did not think it worth while to tell us about it, at least in the preface to his monumental work.
It was many years later that Mr. Jenks, then a gray-haired college professor, told me how he got those eggs to Agassiz.
"I was principal of an academy, during my younger years," he began, "and was busy one day with my classes, when a large man suddenly filled the doorway of the room, smiled to the four corners of the room, and called out with a big, quick voice that he was Professor Agassiz.
"Of course he was. I knew it, even before he had had time to shout it to me across the room.
"Would I get him some turtle eggs? he called. Yes, I would. And would I get them to Cambridge within three hours from the time they were laid? Yes, I would. And I did. And it was worth the doing. But I did it only once.
"When I promised Agassiz those eggs, I knew where I was going to get them. I had got turtle eggs there before—at a particular patch of sandy shore along a pond, a few miles distant from the academy.
"Three hours was the limit. From the railroad station to Boston was thirty-five miles; from the pond to the station was perhaps three or four miles; from Boston to Cambridge we called about three miles. Forty miles in round numbers! We figured it all out before he returned, and got the trip down to two hours,—record time:—driving from the pond to the station; from the station by express train to Boston; from Boston by cab to Cambridge. This left an easy hour for accidents and delays.
"Cab and car and carriage we reckoned into our time-table; but what we didn't figure on was the turtle." And he paused abruptly.
"Young man," he went on, his shaggy brows and spectacles hardly hiding the twinkle in the eyes that were bent severely upon me, "young man, when you go after turtle eggs, take into account the turtle. No! No! that's bad advice. Youth never reckons on the turtle—and youth seldom ought to. Only old age does that; and old age would never have got those turtle eggs to Agassiz.
"It was in the early spring that Agassiz came to the academy, long before there was any likelihood of the turtles' laying. But I was eager for the quest, and so fearful of failure that I started out to watch at the pond, fully two weeks ahead of the time that the turtles might be expected to lay. I remember the date clearly: it was May 14th.
"A little before dawn—along near three o'clock—I would drive over to the pond, hitch my horse near by, settle myself quietly among some thick cedars close to the sandy shore, and there I would wait, my kettle of sand ready, my eye covering the whole sleeping pond. Here among the cedars I would eat my breakfast, and then get back in good season to open the academy for the morning session.
"And so the watch began.
"I soon came to know individually the dozen or more turtles that kept to my side of the pond. Shortly after the cold mist would lift and melt away, they would stick up their heads through the quiet water; and as the sun slanted down over the ragged rim of tree-tops, the slow things would float into the warm lighted spots, or crawl out and doze comfortably on the hummocks and snags.
"What fragrant mornings those were! How fresh and new and unbreathed! The pond odors, the woods odors, the odors of the ploughed fields—of water-lily, and wild grape, and the dew-laid soil! I can taste them yet, and hear them yet—the still, large sounds of the waking day—the pickerel breaking the quiet with his swirl; the kingfisher dropping anchor; the stir of feet and wings among the trees. And then the thought of the great book being held up for me! Those were rare mornings!
"But there began to be a good many of them, for the turtles showed no desire to lay. They sprawled in the sun, and never one came out upon the sand as if she intended to help on the great professor's book. The story of her eggs was of small concern to her; her contribution to the Natural History of the United States could wait.
"And it did wait. I began my watch on the 14th of May; June 1st found me still among the cedars, still waiting, as I had waited every morning, Sundays and rainy days alike. June 1st was a perfect morning, but every turtle slid out upon her log, as if egg-laying might be a matter strictly of next year.
"I began to grow uneasy,—not impatient yet, for a naturalist learns his lesson of patience early, and for all his years; but I began to fear lest, by some subtile sense, my presence might somehow be known to the creatures; that they might have gone to some other place to lay, while I was away at the schoolroom.
"I watched on to the end of the first week, on to the end of the second week in June, seeing the mists rise and vanish every morning, and along with them vanish, more and more, the poetry of my early morning vigil. Poetry and rheumatism cannot long dwell together in the same clump of cedars, and I had begun to feel the rheumatism. A month of morning mists wrapping me around had at last soaked through to my bones. But Agassiz was waiting, and the world was waiting, for those turtle eggs, and I would wait. It was all I could do, for there is no use bringing a china nest-egg to a turtle; she is not open to any such delicate suggestion.
"Then came a mid-June Sunday morning, with dawn breaking a little after three: a warm, wide-awake dawn, with the level mist lifted from the level surface of the pond a full hour higher than I had seen it any morning before.
"This was the day. I knew it. I have heard persons say that they can hear the grass grow; that they know by some extra sense when danger is nigh. For a month I had been watching, had been brooding over this pond, and now I knew. I felt a stirring of the pulse of things that the cold-hearted turtles could no more escape than could the clods and I.
"Leaving my horse unhitched, as if he, too, understood, I slipped eagerly into my covert for a look at the pond. As I did so, a large pickerel ploughed a furrow out through the spatter-docks, and in his wake rose the head of a large painted turtle. Swinging slowly round, the creature headed straight for the shore, and, without a pause, scrambled out on the sand.
"She was nothing unusual for a turtle, but her manner was unusual and the gait at which she moved; for there was method in it and fixed purpose. On she came, shuffling over the sand toward the higher open fields, with a hurried, determined see-saw that was taking her somewhere in particular, and that was bound to get her there on time.
"I held my breath. Had she been a dinosaurian making Mesozoic footprints, I could not have been more fearful. For footprints in the Mesozoic mud, or in the sands of time, were as nothing to me when compared with fresh turtle eggs in the sands of this pond.
"But over the strip of sand, without a stop, she paddled, and up a narrow cow-path into the high grass along a fence. Then up the narrow cow-path, on all fours, just like another turtle, I paddled, and into the high wet grass along the fence.
"I kept well within sound of her, for she moved recklessly, leaving a wide trail of flattened grass behind. I wanted to stand up,—and I don't believe I could have turned her back with a rail,—but I was afraid if she saw me that she might return indefinitely to the pond; so on I went, flat to the ground, squeezing through the lower rails of the fence, as if the field beyond were a melon-patch. It was nothing of the kind, only a wild, uncomfortable pasture, full of dewberry vines, and very discouraging. They were excessively wet vines and briery. I pulled my coat-sleeves as far over my fists as I could get them, and with the tin pail of sand swinging from between my teeth to avoid noise, I stumped fiercely, but silently, on after the turtle.
"She was laying her course, I thought, straight down the length of this dreadful pasture, when, not far from the fence, she suddenly hove to, warped herself short about, and came back, barely clearing me. I warped about, too, and in her wake bore down across the corner of the pasture, across the powdery public road, and on to a fence along a field of young corn.
"I was somewhat wet by this time, but not so wet as I had been before wallowing through the deep, dry dust of the road. Hurrying up behind a large tree by the fence, I peered down the corn-rows and saw the turtle stop, and begin to paw about in the loose, soft soil. She was going to lay!
"I held on to the tree and watched, as she tried this place, and that place, and the other place. But the place, evidently, was hard to find. What could a female turtle do with a whole field of possible nests to choose from? Then at last she found it, and, whirling about, she backed quickly at it and, tail first, began to bury herself before my staring eyes.
"Tail first, began to bury herself."
"Those were not the supreme moments of my life; perhaps those moments came later that day; but those certainly were among the slowest, most dreadfully mixed of moments that I ever experienced. They were hours long. There she was, her shell just showing, like some old hulk in the sand alongshore. And how long would she stay there? and how should I know if she had laid an egg?
"I could still wait. And so I waited, when, over the freshly awakened fields, floated four mellow strokes from the distant town clock.
"Four o'clock! Why there was no train until seven! No train for three hours! The eggs would spoil! Then with a rush it came over me that this was Sunday morning, and there was no regular seven o'clock train,—none till after nine.
"I think I should have fainted had not the turtle just then begun crawling off. I was weak and dizzy; but there, there in the sand, were the eggs! and Agassiz! and the great book! Why, I cleared the fence—and the forty miles that lay between me and Cambridge—at a single jump! He should have them, trains or no. Those eggs should go to Agassiz by seven o'clock, if I had to gallop every mile of the way. Forty miles! Any horse could cover it in three hours, if he had to; and, upsetting the astonished turtle, I scooped out her long white eggs.
"On a bed of sand in the bottom of the pail I laid them, with what care my trembling fingers allowed; filled in between them with more sand; so with layer after layer to the rim; and covering all smoothly with more sand, I ran back for my horse.
"That horse knew, as well as I, that the turtles had laid, and that he was to get those eggs to Agassiz. He turned out of that field into the road on two wheels, a thing he had not done for twenty years, doubling me up before the dashboard, the pail of eggs miraculously lodged between my knees.
"I let him out. If only he could keep this pace all the way to Cambridge!—or even halfway there, I would have time to finish the trip on foot. I shouted him on, holding to the dasher with one hand, holding the pail of eggs with the other, not daring to get off my knees, though the bang on them, as we pounded down the wood-road, was terrific. But nothing must happen to the eggs; they must not be jarred, or even turned over in the sand before they came to Agassiz.
"In order to get out on the pike it was necessary to drive back away from Boston toward the town. We had nearly covered the distance, and were rounding a turn from the woods into the open fields, when, ahead of me, at the station it seemed, I heard the quick, sharp whistle of a locomotive.
"What did it mean? Then followed the puff, puff, puff, of a starting train. But what train? Which way going? And jumping to my feet for a longer view, I pulled into a side road that paralleled the track, and headed hard for the station.
"We reeled along. The station was still out of sight, but from behind the bushes that shut it from view, rose the smoke of a moving engine. It was perhaps a mile away, but we were approaching, head on, and, topping a little hill, I swept down upon a freight train, the black smoke pouring from the stack, as the mighty creature pulled itself together for its swift run down the rails.
"My horse was on the gallop, following the track, and going straight toward the coming train. The sight of it almost maddened me—the bare thought of it, on the road to Boston! On I went; on it came, a half—a quarter of a mile between us, when suddenly my road shot out along an unfenced field with only a level stretch of sod between me and the engine.
"With a pull that lifted the horse from his feet, I swung him into the field and sent him straight as an arrow for the track. That train should carry me and my eggs to Boston!
"The engineer pulled the whistle. He saw me stand up in the rig, saw my hat blow off, saw me wave my arms, saw the tin pail swing in my teeth, and he jerked out a succession of sharp Halts! But it was he who should halt, not I; and on we went, the horse with a flounder landing the carriage on top of the track.
"The train was already grinding to a stop; but before it was near a standstill, I had backed off the track, jumped out, and, running down the rails with the astonished engineers gaping at me, had swung aboard the cab.
"They offered no resistance; they hadn't had time. Nor did they have the disposition, for I looked strange, not to say dangerous. Hatless, dew-soaked, smeared with yellow mud, and holding, as if it were a baby or a bomb, a little tin pail of sand!
"I had been crazy, perhaps, but I was not crazy now.
"Then they knew I was crazy, and, evidently thinking it best to humor me, threw the throttle wide open, and away we went.
"I kissed my hand to the horse, grazing unconcernedly in the open field, and gave a smile to my crew. That was all I could give them, and hold myself and the eggs together. But the smile was enough. And they smiled through their smut at me, though one of them held fast to his shovel, while the other kept his hand upon a big ugly wrench. Neither of them spoke to me, but above the roar of the swaying engine I caught enough of their broken talk to understand that they were driving under a full head of steam, with the intention of handing me over to the Boston police, as perhaps the safest way of disposing of me.
"I was only afraid that they would try it at the next station. But that station whizzed past without a bit of slack, and the next, and the next; when it came over me that this was the through freight, which should have passed in the night, and was making up lost time.
"Only the fear of the shovel and the wrench kept me from shaking hands with both men at this discovery. But I beamed at them; and they at me. I was enjoying it. The unwonted jar beneath my feet was wrinkling my diaphragm with spasms of delight. And the fireman beamed at the engineer, with a look that said, 'See the lunatic grin; he likes it!'
"He did like it. How the iron wheels sang to me as they took the rails! How the rushing wind in my ears sang to me! From my stand on the fireman's side of the cab I could catch a glimpse of the track just ahead of the engine, where the ties seemed to leap into the throat of the mile-devouring monster. The joy of it! of seeing space swallowed by the mile!
"I shifted the eggs from hand to hand and thought of my horse, of Agassiz, of the great book, of my great luck,—luck,—luck,—until the multitudinous tongues of the thundering train were all chiming 'luck! luck! luck!' They knew! they understood! This beast of fire and tireless wheels was doing its best to get the eggs to Agassiz!
"We swung out past the Blue Hills, and yonder flashed the morning sun from the towering dome of the State House. I might have leaped from the cab and run the rest of the way on foot, had I not caught the eye of the engineer watching me narrowly. I was not in Boston yet, nor in Cambridge either. I was an escaped lunatic, who had held up a train, and forced it to carry me from Middleboro to Boston.
"Perhaps I had overdone the lunacy business. Suppose these two men should take it into their heads to turn me over to the police, whether I would or no? I could never explain the case in time to get the eggs to Agassiz. I looked at my watch. There were still a few minutes left in which I might explain to these men, who, all at once, had become my captors. But how explain? Nothing could avail against my actions, my appearance, and my little pail of sand.
"I had not thought of my appearance before. Here I was, face and clothes caked with yellow mud, my hair wild and matted, my hat gone, and in my full-grown hands a tiny tin pail of sand, as if I had been digging all night with a tiny tin shovel on the shore! And thus to appear in the decent streets of Boston of a Sunday morning!
"I began to feel like a lunatic. The situation was serious, or might be, and rather desperately funny at its best. I must in some way have shown my new fears, for both men watched me more sharply.
"Suddenly, as we were nearing the outer freight-yard, the train slowed down and came to a stop. I was ready to jump, but still I had no chance. They had nothing to do, apparently, but to guard me. I looked at my watch again. What time we had made! It was only six o' clock,—a whole hour left in which to get to Cambridge!
"But I didn't like this delay. Five minutes—ten—went by.
"I never touched the step, but landed in the soft sand at the side of the track, and made a line for the freight-yard fence.
"There was no hue or cry. I glanced over my shoulder to see if they were after me. Evidently their hands were full, or they didn't know I had gone.
"But I had gone; and was ready to drop over the high board-fence, when it occurred to me that I might drop into a policeman's arms. Hanging my pail in a splint on top of a post, I peered cautiously over—a very wise thing to do before you jump a high board-fence. There, crossing the open square toward the station, was a big, burly fellow with a club—looking for me!
"I flattened for a moment, when some one in the freight-yard yelled at me. I preferred the policeman, and, grabbing my pail, I slid softly over to the street. The policeman moved on past the corner of the station out of sight. The square was free, and yonder stood a cab.
"Time was flying now. Here was the last lap. The cabman saw me coming, and squared away. I waved a dollar-bill at him, but he only stared the more. A dollar can cover a good deal, but I was too much for one dollar. I pulled out another, thrust them both at him, and dodged into the cab, calling, 'Cambridge!'
"He would have taken me straight to the police-station, had I not said, 'Harvard College. Professor Agassiz's house! I've got eggs for Agassiz,' pushing another dollar up at him through the hole.
"It was nearly half past six.
"He evidently knew the police, or there were none around at that time on a Sunday morning. We went down the sleeping streets, as I had gone down the wood-roads from the pond two hours before, but with the rattle and crash now of a fire brigade. Whirling a corner into Cambridge Street, we took the bridge at a gallop, the driver shouting out something in Hibernian to a pair of waving arms and a belt and brass buttons.
"Across the bridge with a rattle and jolt that put the eggs in jeopardy, and on over the cobble-stones, we went. Half standing, to lessen the jar, I held the pail in one hand and held myself in the other, not daring to let go even to look at my watch.
"But I was afraid to look at the watch. I was afraid to see how near to seven o'clock it might be. The sweat was dropping down my nose, so close was I running to the limit of my time.
"Suddenly there was a lurch, and I dived forward, ramming my head into the front of the cab, coming up with a rebound that landed me across the small of my back on the seat, and sent half of my pail of eggs helter-skelter over the floor.
"We had stopped. Here was Agassiz's house; and without taking time to pick up the eggs that were scattered, I jumped out with my pail and pounded at the door.
"No one was astir in the house. But I would stir some one. And I did. Right in the midst of the racket the door opened. It was the maid.
"But I didn't; for just then a door overhead was
flung open, a great white-robed figure appeared on the
dim landing above, and a quick loud voice called
"And the apparition, slipperless, and clad in anything but an academic gown, came sailing down the stairs.
"The maid fled. The great man, his arms extended, laid hold of me with both hands, and dragging me and my precious pail into his study, with a swift, clean stroke laid open one of the eggs, as the watch in my trembling hands ticked its way to seven—as if nothing unusual were happening to the history of the world."
WEEK 24 |
NCE enclosed in its cocoon, the caterpillar withers and
shrivels up, as if dying. First, the skin splits on the
back; then, by repeated convulsions that pull it this way
and that, the worm with much difficulty tears off its skin.
With the skin comes everything: the case of the skull, jaws,
eyes, legs, stomach and the rest. It is a general
"What do they find then in the cells of silk? Another caterpillar, a butterfly? Neither. They find an almond shaped body, rounded at one end, pointed at the other, of a leathery appearance, and called a chrysalis. It is an intermediate state between the caterpillar and the butterfly. There can be seen certain projections which already indicate the shape of the future insect: at the large end can be distinguished the antennæ and the wings tightly folded crosswise on the chrysalis.
"The larvæ of the June bug, capricorn,
"In a couple of weeks, if the temperature is favorable, the chrysalis of the silkworm opens like a ripe fruit, and from its burst shell the butterfly escapes, all ragged, moist, scarcely able to stand on its trembling legs. Open air is necessary for it to gain strength, to spread and dry its wings. It must get out of the cocoon. But how? The caterpillar has made the cocoon so solid and the butterfly is so weak! Will it perish in its prison, the poor little thing! It would not be worth the trouble of going through so much to stifle miserably in the close cell, just as the end is attained!"
"Could it not tear the cocoon open with its teeth?" asked Emile.
"But, my innocent child, it has none, nor anything like them. It has only a proboscis, incapable of the slightest effort."
"With its claws then?" suggested Jules.
"Yes, if it had any strong enough. The trouble is, it is not provided with any."
"But it must be able to get out," persisted Jules.
"Doubtless it will get out. Has not every creature resources in the difficult moments of life! To break the hen's egg that imprisons it, the tiny little chicken has at the end of its beak a little hard point made on purpose; and the butterfly is to have nothing to open its cocoon? Oh, yes! But you would never guess the singular tool that it will use. It will use its eyes—"
"Its eyes!" interrupted Claire in amazement.
"Yes. Insects' eyes are covered with a cap of transparent horn, hard and cut in facets. A magnifying glass is needed in order to distinguish these facets, they are so fine; but, fine as they are, they have sharp bones which all together can, in time of need, be used as a grater. The butterfly begins then by moistening with a drop of saliva the point of the cocoon it wishes to attack, and then applying an eye to the spot thus softened, it writhes, knocks, scratches, files. One by one the threads of silk succumb to the rasping. The hole is made, the butterfly comes out. What do you think about it? Do not animals sometimes have intelligence enough for four? Which of us would have thought of forcing the prison walls by striking them with the eye?"
"The butterfly must have studied a long time to think of that ingenious way?" queried Emile.
"The butterfly does not study, does not reflect; it knows at once what to do and how to do well whatever concerns it. Another has reflected for it."
"God himself! God, the great wise one. The silkworm
butterfly is not pretty. It is whitish,
"All insects that are metamorphosed pass through the four states that I have just told you about: egg, larva, chrysalis or nymph, perfect insect. The perfect insect lays its eggs, and the series of transformations begins again."
BY the middle of the eighteenth century the colonies of
England and France were firmly planted in North
America. Along the courses of two great rivers—the
To offset this mighty empire, England had a narrow strip of Atlantic seacoast, settled by thirteen colonies. Doesn't it seem that England's claim was small beside that of France? But remember that although it was only the coast region that was settled, England claimed that her colonies extended straight across North America to the Pacific Ocean.
If you will look at your map, you will see that a great deal of the land claimed by France and England was the very same land. The French claimed the entire Mississippi valley; the English claimed the greater part of it. The French claimed all the region of the Great Lakes, including a good part of the present State of New York, while the English claimed a great deal of the lake region for themselves, including all of New York.
As France and England were usually fighting with each other at home, one could hardly expect that their colonies could live at peace in America, especially when both claimed the same territory. War had to come, and war came.
There were four wars between the French and the English in America, lasting off and on from 1689 to 1763. The last one was the most important; it settled matters for all time.
There were about fourteen times as many English in America as there were French. But the French balanced this disadvantage by the help of many tribes of bloodthirsty Indians. The English, on the other hand, had only the Iroquois to help them.
It was in the year 1749 that the very beginnings of the last war between the French and the English in America were made. The French Governor of Canada saw that the daring English settlers were pushing their way westward into the Ohio valley. If once a colony of English should get firmly planted in the valley of the Ohio, it would be an easy thing for them to get between the French of Canada and the French of Louisiana. Thus the English could creep north and south and attack the French from the very heart of the country they called their own.
This invading of the French claims along the Ohio continued and was greatly troubling the French when the Marquis Duquesne was sent as the new governor of Canada.
"We will go straight down to the Ohio country," said Governor Duquesne, "and build strong forts."
So a French expedition set out. First, they stopped on
the shore of
Here they were much surprised to see a tall young man on horseback coming out of the woods with a dozen white men and Indians. The young man's name was George Washington, and he brought a letter from Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia. "Will you please tell me," said the letter, "what right you have on land which belongs to the King of England? I must ask you to leave at once."
The French treated young Major Washington very well during his three days' stay at the fort. But they refused to leave.
When Washington returned to Governor Dinwiddie he told him that he had found a splendid place for a fort. This was at the forks of the Ohio, where Pittsburg now stands.
Governor Dinwiddie had a hard time to get the English colonies interested in the encroachments of the French. "The French are not troubling us," they said. "Let them have the Ohio country. We have our own affairs to look after." The colonies had not yet learned to hang together.
While he was trying to stir up the
Working on their fort, these men saw a great swarm of boats floating down the Monongahela. The boats were full of Frenchmen. "We will save you the trouble of building your fort," said the Frenchmen. The backwoodsmen fled over the mountains to meet Washington, while the French tore down their fort and built a bigger and better one. This they named Fort Duquesne, after the Governor of Canada.
When Washington heard that the French were building Fort Duquesne, he knew that a battle must soon be expected. So he selected a level piece of land covered with grass and bushes, with a ravine on one side. He called the place "Great Meadows" and set his men to prepare it for a battlefield. For several days Indians and backwoodsmen came in, reporting that Frenchmen were skulking about. Finally Washington found a small body of the enemy hiding in a rocky hollow. Washington attacked these, and all but one of them were killed or taken prisoners. This was the beginning of the last and greatest war between the French and the English.
Realizing that as soon as the news reached Fort Duquesne a large body of French would be sent against him, Washington built a rude fort, which he named Fort Necessity, and there waited for the enemy.
The French had several times as many men as Washington had. And besides, Washington's men were half starved, and their powder was wet. They fought bravely, but finally Washington saw that it would be useless to keep on. He surrendered, sick at heart. The French permitted him and his men to leave the fort with the honors of war, taking all their property with them. So many of the men were sick or wounded that every man who was able had to carry a comrade on his back.
The French marched triumphantly back to Fort Duquesne, burning all the buildings they found on their way. Not an English flag was left to wave west of the Alleghanies.
Then the English colonies began to wake up, and now it was that they sent men to Albany to talk things over and to make a treaty with the Iroquois. Here Hendrick, the chief of the Iroquois, made a stirring speech to the colonists: "Look about your country and see," he said. "You have no fortifications, no, not even in this city. It is but a step from here to Canada, and the French may come and turn you out of doors. Look at the French; they are men; they are fortifying everywhere. But you are all like women."
The Indians spoke only too truly. A line of strong
French forts extended from the mouth of the
In the meantime England herself saw that something must
be done. It was decided that all of the strongest forts
of the French must be attacked. This was the
plan: General Braddock was to take soldiers from
England and capture Fort Duquesne; Governor Shirley of
Massachusetts was to take a body of colonists and
attack Fort Niagara; Colonel William Johnson, who lived
on the Mohawk, and had great influence with the
Indians, was to attack Crown Point; and another army of
colonists was to attack Acadia, or
In February, 1755, General Braddock with his
But Benjamin Franklin, who always knew how to do the right thing at the right time, went to the farmers of Pennsylvania and persuaded them to furnish wagons and horses, and the army finally started for Fort Duquesne.
When Braddock reached Wills Creek he found that the army of Virginia soldiers had been doing good work. A solid log fort stood here, armed with ten small cannon. When Braddock drew up his army in the clearing in front of the fort, it was an impressive sight. There were fourteen hundred English soldiers in their bright red uniforms, and about five hundred awkward Virginians, among whom was that bravest Virginian of all, George Washington.
Braddock was a brave man, but he did not like to listen to other people's advice. When Washington told him of the Indian ways of fighting, he laughed and said that trained British soldiers could not learn warfare from ignorant savages. When some of the Indians came and offered to join Braddock's army he treated them coldly. "He looked upon us as dogs," said one of their chiefs, "and would never hear anything that we said to him."
Once more the army was started on the march. Three
hundred axmen went ahead to clear the way. Suddenly the
English army came upon the French near Fort Duquesne.
The battle was on in an instant, and when it was ended
Braddock had been terribly defeated. His
Braddock showed himself a brave general, if not a wise one. Four horses were shot under him, and he fell from the fifth with a deadly wound through his lungs. "Leave me where I am," he cried; but the officers bore him away to safety. He died several days later. "We shall know better the next time," were his last words.
There was another courageous fighter on that battlefield, and that was young George Washington. He was everywhere, cheering the men, making the best of a bad matter. Two horses were killed under him, and four bullets passed through his coat, but he was unharmed.
BRADDOCK'S defeat at Fort Duquesne was a crushing blow to England and her colonies. The attack upon Niagara was scarcely more successful, and that upon Crown Point amounted to little.
Although the English did not seem to be making much
headway, the French decided that the best of soldiers
should be sent to America. The French king looked about
for a good general to command the French forces in
America, and he chose Louis
When Montcalm was a boy at school he wrote to his
father and told him what his ambitions were. "First,"
he said, "I want to be an honorable man, of good
morals, brave, and a Christian." This ambition Louis
Besides the French soldiers who came with Montcalm, all the men of Canada, between the ages of fifteen and sixty, were enrolled in the militia, to be ready to fight whenever they were wanted, and to these were added many Indians.
The only important victory of 1756 was won by Montcalm. This was the capture of the English fort at Oswego. Oswego was one of the strongest and most important of the English forts, as it was located on Lake Ontario; and its loss was a great blow to the English.
The next year Montcalm struck another important blow.
News came that the best of the English troops had gone
to attack Louisburg. Louisburg was the strongest of the
French forts, and, besides Quebec, the most important,
for it stood at the entrance of the
This was just what Montcalm wanted. He sent messengers to the north and west to gather the Indians into Montreal. More than a thousand came and encamped around the city. Many of them had never before seen a French settlement. All were eager to see Montcalm, for they had heard of his capture of Oswego. One of the chiefs said to him, "We wanted to see the famous man who tramples the English under his feet. We thought we would find him so tall that his head would be lost in the clouds. But you are a little man, my father. It is when we look into your eyes that we see the greatness of the pine tree and the fire of the eagle."
With a body of eight thousand men Montcalm marched to Ticonderoga. Among his troops were some of the finest gentlemen of Europe, as well as some of the cruelest savages of America. All were bound upon the same errand. "Let us trample the English under our feet," was the war song which the Indians made the Frenchmen sing with them before they would agree to start upon the expedition.
From Ticonderoga Montcalm proceeded south and placed
his army between Fort William Henry and
The Indians gave the French much trouble. They always complained that not enough notice was taken of them, and that, instead of being consulted about the siege, they were expected to obey orders, like slaves. "We know more about fighting in the woods than you," they said. Finally, the siege began. The Indians forgot their discontent in the sound of cannon roaring through the forest. Sometimes the Indians would be allowed to point the cannon, much to their delight.
After a siege of three days, the men defending Fort William Henry saw that there was no hope of receiving aid from any direction. A white flag was raised, a drum was beaten, and one of the English officers left the fort and approached Montcalm's tent. Montcalm agreed that the English should march out with the honors of war, and that they should be taken to Fort Edward the next day under the protection of French soldiers.
Montcalm called a council of the Indian chiefs and made them promise not to allow the English to be hurt. The chiefs promised, but the promise was kept in a savage fashion. The next morning, before the French were stirring, they fell upon the English, and commenced a terrible massacre. Montcalm rushed out at the first news of disturbance and threw himself among the Indians, crying, "Kill me, but spare the English who are under my protection." But even their general's bravery was useless among these savages. Montcalm found that it was easier to lead Indians to battle than to lead them away from it. He was glad indeed when his army once more turned toward Montreal.
In the meantime, the English expedition against Louisburg had failed. At the end of the year 1757 the fortunes of the English looked very dark indeed.
That year a new prime minister was put at the head of affairs in England. This was William Pitt, a very wise man, who understood America better than most English people did. "Something has to be done," said he.
In 1758 he planned three campaigns. "First," he said, "we must take Louisburg, as the first step toward taking Quebec. Then we must capture Ticonderoga, which is right in the heart of the northern colonies. Next we must take Fort Duquesne, the key to the great West."
General Amherst was sent to attack Louisburg, and with
him came a young brigadier, named James Wolfe. James
Wolfe was the son of an officer in the English army.
Although very delicate in health, he had longed from
earliest childhood to be a soldier. At fifteen he had
entered the army, and at sixteen had served as adjutant
of his regiment in Flanders. He passed through several
military campaigns in Scotland, and at
Like Montcalm, Wolfe loved his mother very dearly and confided to her all his hopes and ambitions. "The greatest happiness that I wish for is to see you happy," he wrote in one of his letters to her. And again, "If you stay much at home I will come and shut myself up with you for three weeks or a month, and you shall laugh at my short red hair as much as you please." Once he said to her, "All I wish for myself is that I may at all times be ready to die, and may die properly when the hour comes." How that wish came true you may judge for yourself.
Louisburg was indeed the strongest fort in America, but this time the men who had come to attack it were very determined. They meant to win. Of these the bravest and most eager for danger was young Brigadier Wolfe, and there were none who won greater honors there. After a long and stubborn siege, the fort was taken by the English, with almost six thousand French prisoners.
The English capture of Louisburg meant a great loss to the French. It gave the English the key to the St. Lawrence. They could now sail straight up to Quebec. This, Wolfe wanted to do at once. He had no patience with the slow movements of the older English generals.
The English attack upon Ticonderoga did not succeed.
The English leader,
This, however, was the last triumph which the French were to have. Before the end of 1758, Fort Duquesne and Fort Frontenac had both fallen into the hands of the English.
There remained yet the one great stronghold of the
By May, Wolfe had his fleet collected in the harbor of Louisburg. In June they sailed out, the troops cheering and crying, "British colors on every French fort, post, and garrison in America!"
In Quebec, Montcalm was making great preparations to
receive his unwelcome guests. Sixteen thousand men,
including French soldiers, Canadians, and Indians,
poured into the city. All along the borders of the
Wolfe entered the St. Lawrence and landed, leaving his fleet anchored in the river. Montcalm saw this, and had the fire ships, filled with tar, pitch, old iron, and gunpowder, lighted and set afloat down the river. For a time the English on the ships were frightened. But the fire ships did the English no harm; some drifted ashore before they reached the English fleet, and the rest were pushed away by the grappling hooks of the bold English sailors.
Wolfe had landed, but could find no way to get at the enemy. From lofty Quebec, Montcalm could watch the movements of the British; and he decided that it was safer to watch them than offer battle. Wolfe finally took up his position on a height opposite Quebec. Here he waited and watched for an opportunity to attack Montcalm. Besides, he hoped for reënforcements.
But the reënforcements did not come, and, on the other hand, there seemed to be no way to provoke Montcalm to battle. Wolfe's old sickness came upon him, and his officers feared that he would never live to see more fighting. But he got better again, and even tried to be cheerful.
One day in September Wolfe set out with his
That night the boats of the English floated silently
down the river. Landing, Wolfe, at the head of the
English troops, scrambled up the narrow ravine which
he had seen during the day. Drawing themselves up by
the roots and branches of trees, they reached the top.
In the gray of the morning the young commander lined up
"They come! They come!" cried a swift runner to Montcalm. "Who come?" asked Montcalm, in surprise.
"The English!" was the excited reply, and "The English!" was echoed in terror throughout the city.
It seemed impossible, but it was true. The French general drew up his troops to meet the English, in front of the walls of Quebec. "I remember well how he looked," said one of the Canadians many years after. "He rode a black horse along the front of our lines, brandishing his sword, as if to excite us to do our duty."
Wolfe too was everywhere, encouraging the men, kind and thoughtful to the wounded, praising the brave. As he was leading a charge at the head of his grenadiers, a shot shattered his wrist. He wrapped his handkerchief about it and went on. Another shot struck him, but he still kept on. A third lodged in his breast. He staggered and, as he fell, was caught in the arms of his soldiers. They carried him to the rear.
"Will you have a surgeon?" they asked.
"There's no need," he said. "It's all over with me." A moment later one of the men cried, "They run! See how they run!"
Wolfe raised himself for the last time. "Who run?" he asked.
"The enemy, sir; they give way everywhere."
"Now, God be praised, I die in peace," said the dying man.
A few moments later Montcalm, on his gallant black horse, was shot through the body. A soldier caught him on each side and led his horse through the city gates.
"It is nothing, nothing," said Montcalm. "Don't be troubled for me, my good friends."
"How long have I to live?" he asked the surgeon a little later.
"Twelve hours," was the answer. "So much the better," he said. "I am happy that I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec."
The capture of Quebec by the English was the last blow
to French power in America. One nation was wild with
joy, and one bitter with grief. In
The final settlement of the war between France and England came with the Treaty of Paris, made in 1763. By its terms France ceded to England all her American possessions east of the Mississippi River, with the exception of two small islands near the Newfoundland coast. Thus ended French rule on the American continent.
A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.
And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.
He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad,
They looked like frightened beads, I thought;
He stirred his velvet head
Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home
Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, plashless, as they swim.
WEEK 24 |
A FTER nearly a year's captivity, the King engaged to pay a ransom, and, until the terms could be arranged, his two sons were to be placed as hostages in the hands of the Normans, whilst he returned to his own domains. The Princes were to be sent to Bayeux; whither Richard had returned, under the charge of the Centevilles, and was now allowed to ride and walk abroad freely, provided he was accompanied by a guard.
"I shall rejoice to have Carloman, and make him happy," said Richard; "but I wish Lothaire were not coming."
"Perhaps," said good Father Lucas, "he comes that you may have a first trial in your father's last lesson, and Abbot Martin's, and return good for evil."
The Duke's cheek flushed, and he made no answer.
He and Alberic betook themselves to the watch-tower, and, by and by, saw a cavalcade approaching, with a curtained vehicle in the midst, slung between two horses. "That cannot be the Princes," said Alberic; "that must surely be some sick lady."
"I only hope it is not the Queen," exclaimed Richard, in dismay. "But no; Lothaire is such a coward, no doubt he was afraid to ride, and she would not trust her darling without shutting him up like a demoiselle. But come down, Alberic; I will say nothing unkind of Lothaire, if I can help it."
Richard met the Princes in the court, his sunny hair uncovered, and bowing with such becoming courtesy, that Fru Astrida pressed her son's arm, and bade him say if their little Duke was not the fairest and noblest child in Christendom.
With black looks, Lothaire stepped from the litter, took no heed of the little Duke, but, roughly calling his attendant, Charlot, to follow him, he marched into the hall, vouchsafing neither word nor look to any as he passed, threw himself into the highest seat, and ordered Charlot to bring him some wine.
Meanwhile, Richard, looking into the litter, saw Carloman crouching in a corner, sobbing with fright.
"Carloman!—dear Carloman!—do not cry. Come out! It is I—your own Richard! Will you not let me welcome you?"
Carloman looked, caught at the outstretched hand, and clung to his neck.
"Oh, Richard, send us back! Do not let the savage Danes kill us!"
"No one will hurt you. There are no Danes here. You are my guest, my friend, my brother. Look up! here is my own Fru Astrida."
"But my mother said the Northmen would kill us for keeping you captive. She wept and raved, and the cruel men dragged us away by force. Oh, let us go back!"
"I cannot do that," said Richard; "for you are the King of Denmark's captives, not mine; but I will love you, and you shall have all that is mine, if you will only not cry, dear Carloman. Oh, Fru Astrida, what shall I do? You comfort him—" as the poor boy clung sobbing to him.
Fru Astrida advanced to take his hand, speaking in a soothing voice, but he shrank and started with a fresh cry of terror—her tall figure, high cap, and wrinkled face, were to him witch-like, and as she knew no French, he understood not her kind words. However, he let Richard lead him into the hall, where Lothaire sat moodily in the chair, with one leg tucked under him, and his finger in his mouth.
"I say, Sir Duke," said he, "is there nothing to be had in this old den of yours? Not a drop of Bordeaux?"
Richard tried to repress his anger at this very uncivil way of speaking, and answered, that he thought there was none, but there was plenty of Norman cider.
"As if I would taste your mean peasant drinks! I bade them bring my supper—why does it not come?"
"Because you are not master here," trembled on Richard's lips, but he forced it back, and answered that it would soon be ready, and Carloman looked imploringly at his brother, and said, "Do not make them angry, Lothaire."
"What, crying still, foolish child?" said Lothaire. "Do you not know that if they dare to cross us, my father will treat them as they deserve? Bring supper, I say, and let me have a pasty of ortolans."
"There are none—they are not in season," said Richard.
"Do you mean to give me nothing I like? I tell you it shall be the worse for you."
"There is a pullet roasting," began Richard.
"I tell you, I do not care for pullets—I will have ortolans."
"If I do not take order with that boy, my name is not Eric," muttered the Baron.
"What must he not have made our poor child suffer!" returned Fru Astrida, "but the little one moves my heart. How small and weakly he is, but it is worth anything to see our little Duke so tender to him."
"He is too brave not to be gentle," said Osmond; and, indeed, the high-spirited, impetuous boy was as soft and kind as a maiden, with that feeble, timid child. He coaxed him to eat, consoled him, and, instead of laughing at his fears, kept between him and the great bloodhound Hardigras, and drove it off when it came too near.
"Take that dog away," said Lothaire, imperiously. No one moved to obey him, and the dog, in seeking for scraps, again came towards him.
"Take it away," he repeated, and struck it with his foot. The dog growled, and Richard started up in indignation.
"Prince Lothaire," he said, "I care not what else you do, but my dogs and my people you shall not maltreat."
"I tell you I am Prince! I do what I will! Ha! who laughs there?" cried the passionate boy, stamping on the floor.
"It is not so easy for French Princes to scourge free-born Normans here," said the rough voice of Walter the huntsman: "there is a reckoning for the stripe my Lord Duke bore for me."
"Hush, hush, Walter," began Richard; but Lothaire had caught up a footstool, and was aiming it at the huntsman, when his arm was caught. Osmond, who knew him well enough to be prepared for such outbreaks, held him fast by both hands, in spite of his passionate screams and struggles, which were like those of one frantic.
Sir Eric, meanwhile, thundered forth in his Norman patois, "I would have you to know, young Sir, Prince though you be, you are our prisoner, and shall taste of a dungeon, and bread and water, unless you behave yourself."
Either Lothaire did not hear, or did not believe, and fought more furiously in Osmond's arms, but he had little chance with the stalwart young warrior, and, in spite of Richard's remonstrances, he was carried from the hall, roaring and kicking, and locked up alone in an empty room.
"Let him alone for the present," said Sir Eric, putting the Duke aside, "when he knows his master, we shall have peace."
Here Richard had to turn, to reassure Carloman, who had taken refuge in a dark corner, and there shook like an aspen leaf, crying bitterly, and starting with fright, when Richard touched him.
"Oh, do not put me in the dungeon. I cannot bear the dark."
Richard again tried to comfort him, but he did not seem to hear or heed. "Oh! they said you would beat and hurt us for what we did to you! but, indeed, it was not I that burnt your cheek!"
"We would not hurt you for worlds, dear Carloman; Lothaire is not in the dungeon—he is only shut up till he is good."
"It was Lothaire that did it," repeated Carloman, "and, indeed, you must not be angry with me, for my mother was so cross with me for not having stopped Osmond when I met him with the bundle of straw, that she gave me a blow, that knocked me down. And were you really there, Richard?"
Richard told his story, and was glad to find Carloman could smile at it; and then Fru Astrida advised him to take his little friend to bed. Carloman would not lie down without still holding Richard's hand, and the little Duke spared no pains to set him at rest, knowing what it was to be a desolate captive far from home.
"I thought you would be good to me," said Carloman. "As to Lothaire, it serves him right, that you should use him as he used you."
"Oh, no, Carloman; if I had a brother I would never speak so of him."
"But Lothaire is so unkind."
"Ah! but we must be kind to those who are unkind to us."
The child rose on his elbow, and looked into Richard's face. "No one ever told me so before."
"Oh, Carloman, not Brother Hilary?"
"I never heed Brother Hilary—he is so lengthy, and wearisome; besides, no one is ever kind to those that hate them."
"My father was," said Richard.
"And they killed him!" said Carloman.
"Yes," said Richard, crossing himself, "but he is gone to be in peace."
"I wonder if it is happier there, than here," said Carloman. "I am not happy. But tell me why should we be good to those that hate us?"
"Because the holy Saints were—and look at the Crucifix, Carloman. That was for them that hated Him. And, don't you know what our Pater Noster says?"
Poor little Carloman could only repeat the Lord's Prayer in Latin—he had not the least notion of its meaning—in which Richard had been carefully instructed by Father Lucas. He began to explain it, but before many words had passed his lips, little Carloman was asleep.
The Duke crept softly away to beg to be allowed to go to Lothaire; he entered the room, already dark, with a pine torch in his hand, that so flickered in the wind, that he could at first see nothing, but presently beheld a dark lump on the floor.
"Prince Lothaire," he said, "here is—"
Lothaire cut him short. "Get away," he said. "If it is your turn now, it will be mine by and by. I wish my mother had kept her word, and put your eyes out."
Richard's temper did not serve for such a reply. "It is a foul shame of you to speak so, when I only came out of kindness to you—so I shall leave you here all night, and not ask Sir Eric to let you out."
And he swung back the heavy door with a resounding clang. But his heart smote him when he told his beads, and remembered what he had said to Carloman. He knew he could not sleep in his warm bed when Lothaire was in that cold gusty room. To be sure, Sir Eric said it would do him good, but Sir Eric little knew how tender the French Princes were.
So Richard crept down in the dark, slid back the bolt, and called, "Prince, Prince, I am sorry I was angry. Come out, and let us try to be friends."
"What do you mean?" said Lothaire.
"Come out of the cold and dark. Here am I. I will show you the way. Where is your hand? Oh, how cold it is. Let me lead you down to the hall fire."
Lothaire was subdued by fright, cold, and darkness, and quietly allowed Richard to lead him down. Round the fire, at the lower end of the hall, snored half-a-dozen men-at-arms; at the upper hearth there was only Hardigras, who raised his head as the boys came in. Richard's whisper and soft pat quieted him instantly, and the two little Princes sat on the hearth together, Lothaire surprised, but sullen. Richard stirred the embers, so as to bring out more heat, then spoke: "Prince, will you let us be friends?"
"I must, if I am in your power."
"I wish you would be my guest and comrade."
"Well, I will; I can't help it."
Richard thought his advances might have been more graciously met, and, having little encouragement to say more, took Lothaire to bed, as soon as he was warm.
A bleacher, who was wont to go to the river each morning to wash his clothes, saw there one day a Crane. The Crane was standing on the bank of the stream catching small fish to eat. Just at that moment a swift-flying Hawk appeared, in pursuit of a fat Quail. The Hawk, after he had caught the Quail and eaten a part of it, left the rest on the ground, and the Crane at once devoured it. He had never before tasted such delicious meat, and decided that hereafter he would eat nothing but quails.
The next day, as he stood on one leg by the river, a Pigeon flew past. The Crane at once took wing and started after it. The Pigeon chose her path along the banks of the stream, and kept well in advance. The Crane, in the rear, soon fell into the mud. The more he fluttered his wings, the faster his feet stuck in the mire.
The Pigeon was hardly out of sight before the Bleacher came by and easily caught the Crane. On his way home a friend met him, who inquired,—
"What have you there?"
The Bleacher laughed. "This is a simple-minded Crane," he said, "who was not content to be what God made him, but must try to imitate a swift-flying Hawk. Naturally he has come to a bad end."
The lily has an air,
And the snowdrop a grace,
And the sweet pea a way,
And the heart's-ease a face —
Yet there's nothing like the rose
When she blows.
WEEK 24 |
"We know the merry world is round,
And we may sail for evermore."
W HILE England was struggling with her colonies across the Atlantic, an Englishman, Captain Cook, was sailing away across the Pacific to claim fresh lands for the British crown in New Zealand and Australia. Captain Cook, one of the greatest navigators of his age, had played his part in the American war. To him had been intrusted the difficult task of surveying the intricate channels of the river St Lawrence when Wolfe was making his arrangements to take Quebec from the French.
Born in the year 1728, James Cook had been apprenticed, at the age of thirteen, to a shopkeeper near Whitby, in the north of England. But the life was very distasteful to the boy. Though he knew well enough the roughness of a sailor's life in those days,—of the salt junk they had to eat, of the foul water to drink, of the brutality of the old sea-captain, of disease and death,—yet he longed to go to sea. And one day he tied up his few belongings in his only handkerchief, stole out of the shop at daybreak, passed quietly down the village street, and walked the nine miles to Whitby, where he was taken on board a collier as ship's boy. It was not long before he entered the king's service and went through the Quebec campaign, from which he returned a marked man. He found a keen interest awakening in England with regard to the Pacific Ocean, about which so little was known. Men full of courage had started forth, but limited water, contrary winds, difficulties of getting fresh food, and outbreaks of scurvy, had put an end to each expedition in turn.
Now a new expedition was planned and the command given to Captain Cook. With a crew of ninety-four men, and food for ten months, he sailed from England in a stoutly-built collier, the Endeavour, to explore the Pacific Ocean.
It seems strange to think that at this time Australia and New Zealand were practically unknown in Europe. Not a single white man lived there.
Cook now sailed round Cape Horn, and crossed the Pacific Ocean till he fell in with the east coast of New Zealand, which he found to consist of two islands as large as his own Great Britain. For six months he examined their shores, discovered by Tasman 130 years before. Then leaving the coast at a point he named Cape Farewell, he sailed to the north-west, over a thousand miles of sea, till he touched at last the coast of the great "southern land"—Australia. The country so resembled that which he had left at home that he gave it the name of New South Wales, while to the bay in which they first anchored he gave the name of Botany Bay. The discovery of Botany Bay solved a great problem for England: she was no longer able to send her convicts to Virginia as she had done hitherto, so she sent them to New South Wales instead, and the first settlement of English people in Australia was made at Botany Bay, five miles south of Sydney.
Cook followed the coast of Australia northward for 2000 miles, and after an absence of three years he reached home. But disease and death had overtaken his crew, and the Endeavour was little better than a hospital when she staggered into port at last. Cook had mastered the art of navigation in unknown seas, but he had not solved the problem of how to prevent scurvy killing off his crew after some time at sea.
So, when he was appointed to command the Resolution the following year, with orders to complete the discovery of the southern hemisphere, he gave his whole attention to the subject. This second voyage of Captain Cook marks an epoch in the history of navigation.
He left England with a hundred men on board, and sailed to the Cape of Good Hope, where the Dutch settlement was still prospering. Here he stopped awhile to give his sailors fresh food. "Fresh beef and mutton, new-baked bread, and as much greens as they could eat," he ordered. While at the Cape a Dutch ship came in reporting the death of 150 sailors from scurvy in four months, and Cook took the lesson to heart.
Leaving the Cape he sailed southwards, but a great gale sprang up and blew the ship out of her course, right among some ice-islands of enormous height.
"When we reflected on the danger," said Cook, "our minds were filled with horror. For if our ship ran against the side of one of these islands when the sea was running high, she must have been dashed to pieces in a moment."
Nevertheless he sailed among the ice-islands for many weeks, till he had assured himself there was no land to be found there. The ropes and rigging of the ship were frozen, the decks were sheathed in ice. One bitter morning nine little pigs were born on board the Resolution, but despite every care bestowed on them, they were all frozen to death in a few hours.
At last Cook sailed for New Zealand, for he had now been one hundred days at sea without ever seeing land, while he had sailed 11,000 miles. After so long at sea, under such trying circumstances, it would have been natural to suppose that there must be illness among the sailors. But, thanks to the Captain's precautions, they were all in excellent health.
He now discovered some new islands in the Pacific Ocean, taking possession of them for England—the Friendly Islands, Society Islands, and the Sandwich Islands.
Having completely circumnavigated the globe near the Antarctic circle, Cook returned home with the Resolution. Not only had he left the British flag flying over distant islands in the Pacific Ocean, but he had done what no navigator before him had done,—he had returned, after cruising for three years amid untold dangers, with a clean bill of health. He had lost only one sailor from illness all that time. He had made their health his first care. He had set them an example of eating what was wholesome, however distasteful it might be, and so he had avoided that sailor's scourge—the scurvy.
The account he published of his voyages awoke the interest of Europe in these far-off lands. Englishmen read of coral reefs and palm-trees, of the bread-fruit of Tahiti, the tattooed warriors of New Zealand, of gum-trees and kangaroos, till they felt that this new world of wonders was really their own, and that "a new earth was open in the Pacific for the expansion of the English race."
One last word of Cook himself, by whose steady perseverance and resolution these objects were attained. He was killed in one of the Pacific islands he had discovered; but we like best to think of the stern old sailor, his face set southwards, steering on through the ice-bound seas, thinking not of hunger and cold and monotony, but of how "soon he can break through that wall of ice and learn what is beyond."
HE crow went flying towards the North, croaking as she flew, "Let Hela keep what she holds. Let Hela keep what she holds." That crow was the hag Thaukt transformed, and the hag Thaukt was Loki.
He flew to the North and came into the wastes of Jötunheim. As a crow he lived there, hiding himself from the wrath of the Gods. He told the Giants that the time had come for them to build the ship Naglfar, the ship that was to be built out of the nails of dead men, and that was to sail to Asgard on the day of Ragnarök with the Giant Hrymer steering it. And harkening to what he said the Giants then and there began to build Naglfar, the ship that Gods and men wished to remain unbuilt for long.
Then Loki, tiring of the wastes of Jötunheim, flew to the burning South. As a lizard he lived amongst the rocks of Muspelheim, and he made the Fire Giants rejoice when he told them of the loss of Frey's sword and of Tyr's right hand
But still in Asgard there was one who wept for Loki—Siguna, his wife. Although he had left her and had shown his hatred for her, Siguna wept for her evil husband.
He left Muspelheim as he had left Jötunheim and he came to live in the world of men. He knew that he had now come into a place where the wrath of the Gods might find him, and so he made plans to be ever ready for escape. He had come to the River where, ages before, he had slain the otter that was the son of the Enchanter, and on the very rock where the otter had eaten the salmon on the day of his killing, Loki built his house. He made four doors to it so that he might see in every direction. And the power that he kept for himself was the power of transforming himself into a salmon.
Often as a salmon he swam in the River. But even for the fishes that swam beside him Loki had hatred. Out of flax and yarn he wove a net that men might have the means of taking them out of the water.
The wrath that the Gods had against Loki did not pass away. It was he who, as Thaukt, the Hag, had given Hela the power to keep Baldur unransomed. It was he who had put into Hödur's hand the spring of Mistletoe that had bereft Baldur of life. Empty was Asgard now that Baldur lived no more in the Peace Stead, and stern and gloomy grew the minds of the Æsir and the Vanir with thinking on the direful things that were arrayed against them. Odin in his hall of Valhalla thought only of the ways by which he could bring heroes to him to be his help in defending Asgard.
The Gods searched through the world and they found at last the place where Loki had made his dwelling. He was weaving the net to take fishes when he saw them coming from four directions. He threw the net into the fire so that it was burnt, and he sprang into the River and transformed himself into a salmon. When the Gods entered his dwelling they found only the burnt out fire.
But there was one amongst them who could understand all that he saw. In the ashes were the marks of the burnt net and he knew that these were the tracing of something to catch fishes. And from the marks left in the ashes he made a net that was the same as the one Loki had burnt.
With it in their hands the Gods went down the River, dragging the net through the water. Loki was affrighted to find the thing of his own weaving brought against him. He lay between two stones at the bottom of the River, and the net passed over him.
But the Gods knew that the net had touched something at the bottom. They fastened weights to it and they dragged the net through the River again. Loki knew that he might not escape it this time and he rose in the water and swam towards the sea. The Gods caught sight of him as he leaped over a waterfall. They followed him, dragging the net. Thor waded behind, ready to seize him should he turn back.
Loki came out at the mouth of the River and behold! There was a great eagle hovering over the waves of the sea and ready to swoop down on fishes. He turned back in the River. He made a leap that took him over the net that the Gods were dragging. But Thor was behind the net and he caught the salmon in his powerful hands and he held him for all the struggle that Loki made. No fish had ever struggled so before. Loki got himself free all but his tail, but Thor held to the tail and brought him amongst the rocks and forced him to take on his proper form.
He was in the hands of those whose wrath was strong against him. They brought him to a cavern and they bound him to three sharp-pointed rocks. With cords that were made of the sinews of wolves they bound him, and they transformed the cords into iron bands. There they would have left Loki bound and helpless. But Skadi, with her fierce Giant blood, was not content that he should be left untormented. She found a serpent that had deadly venom and she hung this serpent above Loki's head. The drop of venom fell upon him, bringing him anguish drop by drop, minute by minute. So Loki's torture went on.
But Siguna with the pitying heart came to his relief. She exiled herself from Asgard, and endured the darkness and the cold of the cavern, that she might take some of the torment away from him who was her husband. Over Loki Siguna stood, holding in her hands a cup into which fell the serpent's venom, thus sparing him from the full measure of anguish. Now and then Siguna had to turn aside to spill out the flowing cup, and then the drops of venom fell upon Loki and he screamed in agony, twisting in his bonds. It was then that men felt the earth quake. There in his bonds Loki stayed until the coming of Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods.
Welcome, maids of honor,
You do bring
In the Spring,
And wait upon her.
She has virgins many,
Fresh and fair;
Yet you are
More sweet than any.
You're the maiden posies,
And, so graced,
To be placed
'Fore damask roses.
Yet, though thus respected,
By and by
Ye do lie,
Poor girls, neglected.
WEEK 24 |
T HERE was a woman once, and she had three daughters. The first daughter squinted with both eyes, yet the woman loved her as she loved salt, for she herself squinted with both eyes. The second daughter had one shoulder higher than the other, and eyebrows as black as soot in the chimney, yet the woman loved her as well as she loved the other, for she herself had black eyebrows and one shoulder higher than the other. The youngest daughter was as pretty as a ripe apple, and had hair as fine as silk and the color of pure gold, but the woman loved her not at all, for, as I have said, she herself was neither pretty, nor had she hair of the color of pure gold. Why all this was so, even Hans Pfifendrummel cannot tell, though he has read many books and one over.
The first sister and the second sister dressed in their Sunday clothes every day, and sat in the sun doing nothing, just as though they had been born ladies, both of them.
As for Christine—that was the name of the youngest girl—as for Christine, she dressed in nothing but rags, and had to drive the geese to the hills in the morning and home again in the evening, so that they might feed on the young grass all day and grow fat.
The first sister and the second sister had white bread (and butter beside) and as much fresh milk as they could drink; but Christine had to eat cheese-parings and bread-crusts, and had hardly enough of them to keep Goodman Hunger from whispering in her ear.
This was how the churn clacked in that house!
Well, one morning Christine started off to the hills with her flock of geese, and in her hands she carried her knitting, at which she worked to save time. So she went along the dusty road until, by-and-by, she came to a place where a bridge crossed the brook, and what should she see there but a little red cap, with a silver bell at the point of it, hanging from the alder branch. It was such a nice, pretty little red cap that Christine thought that she would take it home with her, for she had never seen the like of it in all of her life before.
So she put it in her pocket, and then off she went with her geese again. But she had hardly gone two-score of paces when she heard a voice calling her, "Christine! Christine!"
She looked, and who should she see but a queer little gray man, with a great head as big as a cabbage and little legs as thin as young radishes.
"What do you want?" said Christine, when the little man had come to where she was.
Oh, the little man only wanted his cap again, for without it he could not go back home into the hill—that was where he belonged.
But how did the cap come to be hanging from the bush? Yes, Christine would like to know that before she gave it back again.
Well, the little hill-man was fishing by the brook over yonder when a puff of wind blew his cap into the water, and he just hung it up to dry. That was all that there was about it; and now would Christine please give it to him?
Christine did not know how about that; perhaps she would and perhaps she would not. It was a nice, pretty little cap; what would the little underground man give her for it? that was the question.
Oh, the little man would give her five thalers for it, and gladly.
No; five thalers was not enough for such a pretty little cap—see, there was a silver bell hanging to it too.
Well, the little man did not want to be hard at a bargain; he would give her a hundred thalers for it.
No; Christine did not care for money. What else would he give for this nice, dear little cap?
"See, Christine," said the little man, "I will give you this for the cap"; and he showed her something in his hand that looked just like a bean, only it was as black as a lump of coal.
"Yes, good; but what is that?" said Christine.
"That," said the little man, "is a seed from the apple of contentment. Plant it, and from it will grow a tree, and from the tree an apple. Everybody in the world that sees the apple will long for it, but nobody in the world can pluck it but you. It will always be meat and drink to you when you are hungry, and warm clothes to your back when you are cold. Moreover, as soon as you pluck it from the tree, another as good will grow in its place. Now, will you give me my hat?"
Oh yes; Christine would give the little man his cap for such a seed as that, and gladly enough. So the little man gave Christine the seed, and Christine gave the little man his cap again. He put the cap on his head, and—puff!—away he was gone, as suddenly as the light of a candle when you blow it out.
So Christine took the seed home with her, and planted it before the window of her room. The next morning when she looked out of the window she beheld a beautiful tree, and on the tree hung an apple that shone in the sun as though it were pure gold.
Then she went to the tree and plucked the apple as easily as though it were a gooseberry, and as soon as she had plucked it another as good grew in its place. Being hungry she ate it, and thought that she had never eaten anything as good, for it tasted like pancake with honey and milk.
By-and-by the oldest sister came out of the house and looked around, but when she saw the beautiful tree with the golden apple hanging from it you can guess how she stared.
Presently she began to long and long for the apple as she had never longed for anything in her life. "I will just pluck it," said she, "and no one will be the wiser for it." But that was easier said than done. She reached and reached, but she might as well have reached for the moon; she climbed and climbed, but she might as well have climbed for the sun—for either one would have been as easy to get as that which she wanted. At last she had to give up trying for it, and her temper was none the sweeter for that, you may be sure.
After a while came the second sister, and when she saw the golden apple she wanted it just as much as the first had done. But to want and to get are very different things, as she soon found, for she was no more able to get it than the other had been.
Last of all came the mother, and she also strove to pluck the apple. But it was no use. She had no more luck of her trying than her daughters; all that the three could do was to stand under the tree and look at the apple, and wish for it and wish for it.
They are not the only ones who have done the like, with the apple of contentment hanging just above them.
As for Christine, she had nothing to do but to pluck an apple whenever she wanted it. Was she hungry? there was the apple hanging in the tree for her. Was she thirsty? there was the apple. Cold? there was the apple. So you see, she was the happiest girl betwixt all the seven hills that stand at the ends of the earth; for nobody in the world can have more than contentment, and that was what the apple brought her.
One day a king came riding along the road, and all of his people with him. He looked up and saw the apple hanging in the tree, and a great desire came upon him to have a taste of it. So he called one of the servants to him, and told him to go and ask whether it could be bought for a potful of gold.
So the servant went to the house, and knocked on the door—rap! tap! tap!
"What do you want?" said the mother of the three sisters, coming to the door.
Oh, nothing much; only a king was out there in the road, and wanted to know if she would sell the apple yonder for a potful of gold.
Yes, the woman would do that. Just pay her the pot of gold and he might go and pluck it and welcome.
So the servant gave her the pot of gold, and then he tried to pluck the apple. First he reached for it, and then he climbed for it, and then he shook the limb.
But it was no use for him to try; he could no more get it—well—than I could if I had been in his place.
At last the servant had to go back to the King. The apple was there, he said, and the woman had sold it, but try and try as he would he could no more get it than he could get the little stars in the sky.
Then the King told the steward to go and get it for him; but the steward, though he was a tall man and a strong man, could no more pluck the apple than the servant.
So he had to go back to the King with an empty fist. No; he could not gather it, either.
Then the King himself went.
He knew that he could pluck it—of course he could! Well, he tried and tried; but nothing came of his trying, and he had to ride away at last without having had so much as a smell of the apple.
After the King came home, he talked and dreamed and thought of nothing but the apple; for the more he could not get it the more he wanted it—that is the way we are made in this world. At last he grew melancholy and sick for want of that which he could not get. Then he sent for one who was so wise that he had more in his head than ten men together. This wise man told him that the only one who could pluck the fruit of contentment for him was the one to whom the tree belonged. This was one of the daughters of the woman who had sold the apple to him for the pot of gold.
When the King heard this he was very glad; he had his horse saddled, and he and his court rode away, and so came at last to the cottage where Christine lived. There they found the mother and the elder sisters, for Christine was away on the hills with her geese.
The King took off his hat and made a fine bow.
The wise man at home had told him this and that; now to which one of her daughters did the apple-tree belong? so said the King.
"Oh, it is my oldest daughter who owns the tree," said the woman.
So, good! Then if the oldest daughter would pluck the apple for him he would take her home and marry her and make a queen of her. Only let her get it for him without delay.
Prut! that would never do. What! was the girl to climb the apple-tree before the King and all of the court? No! no! Let the King go home, and she would bring the apple to him all in good time; that was what the woman said.
Well, the King would do that, only let her make haste, for he wanted it very much indeed.
As soon as the King had gone, the woman and her daughters sent for the goose-girl to the hills. Then they told her that the King wanted the apple yonder, and that she must pluck it for her sister to take to him; if she did not do as they said they would throw her into the well. So Christine had to pluck the fruit; and as soon as she had done so the oldest sister wrapped it up in a napkin and set off with it to the King's house, as pleased as pleased could be. Rap! tap! tap! she knocked at the door. Had she brought the apple for the King?
Oh yes, she had brought it. Here it was, all wrapped up in a fine napkin.
After that they did not let her stand outside the door till her toes were cold, I can tell you. As soon as she had come to the King she opened her napkin. Believe me or not as you please, all the same, I tell you that there was nothing in the napkin but a hard round stone. When the King saw only a stone he was so angry that he stamped like a rabbit and told them to put the girl out of the house. So they did, and she went home with a flea in her ear, I can tell you.
Then the King sent his steward to the house where Christine and her sisters lived.
He told the woman that he had come to find whether she had any other daughters.
Yes; the woman had another daughter, and, to tell the truth, it was she who owned the tree. Just let the steward go home again and the girl would fetch the apple in a little while.
As soon as the steward had gone, they sent to the hills for Christine again. Look! she must pluck the apple for the second sister to take to the King; if she did not do that they would throw her into the well.
So Christine had to pluck it, and gave it to the second sister, who wrapped it up in a napkin and set off for the King's house. But she fared no better than the other, for, when she opened the napkin, there was nothing in it but a lump of mud. So they packed her home again with her apron to her eyes.
After a while the King's steward came to the house again. Had the woman no other daughter than these two?
Well, yes, there was one, but she was a poor ragged thing, of no account, and fit for nothing in the world but to tend the geese.
Where was she?
Oh, she was up on the hills now tending her flock.
But could the steward see her?
Yes, he might see her, but she was nothing but a poor simpleton.
That was all very good, but the steward would like to see her, for that was what the King had sent him there for.
So there was nothing to do but to send to the hills for Christine.
After a while she came, and the steward asked her if she could pluck the apple yonder for the King.
Yes; Christine could do that easily enough. So she reached and picked it as though it had been nothing but a gooseberry on the bush. Then the steward took off his hat and made her a low bow in spite of her ragged dress, for he saw that she was the one for whom they had been looking all this time.
So Christine slipped the golden apple into her pocket, and then she and the steward set off to the King's house together.
When they had come there everybody began to titter and laugh behind the palms of their hands to see what a poor ragged goose-girl the steward had brought home with him. But for that the steward cared not a rap.
"Have you brought the apple?" said the King, as soon as Christine had come before him.
Yes; here it was; and Christine thrust her hand into her pocket and brought it forth. Then the King took a great bite of it, and as soon as he had done so he looked at Christine and thought that he had never seen such a pretty girl. As for her rags, he minded them no more than one minds the spots on a cherry; that was because he had eaten of the apple of contentment.
And were they married? Of course they were! and a grand wedding it was, I can tell you. It is a pity that you were not there; but though you were not, Christine's mother and sisters were, and, what is more, they danced with the others, though I believe they would rather have danced upon pins and needles.
"Never mind," said they; "we still have the apple of contentment at home, though we cannot taste of it." But no; they had nothing of the kind. The next morning it stood before the young Queen Christine's window, just as it had at her old home, for it belonged to her and to no one else in all of the world. That was lucky for the King, for he needed a taste of it now and then as much as anybody else, and no one could pluck it for him but Christine.
Now, that is all of this story.
What does it mean?
Can you not see? Prut!
Rub our spectacles and look again!
M EANTIME all is not fair weather in the old hive.
The new queen, although just out of her cell, understands her business perfectly, and is quite capable of going about it, but there are complications. Hers was not the only queen cell in that hive.
There were others. And now, just as she has ascended the throne with the old queen peaceably out of the way, the succession being accomplished without opposition, lo and behold! she hears a sound,—a sound that probably sends the blood to her heart, and causes her very toes to tingle.
The sound she hears is not that of cannon afar, nor of drum-beats in the distance, but it might as well be, for it is the piping of another young queen just about to come forth from its cell.
The throne is not secure, after all, for there is another queen to dispute it.
Of course there are ways of disposing of rivals to the throne, or there used to be, as any one who has read the early history of England knows.
You may smother them in a tower, or poison them, or do something of that sort.
Bees know how to smother bees that they hate, and they know how to poison them, but queen bees prefer to fight like queens for their thrones, and not get them by stealth or by striking in the dark: that is, if the rival is already out of her cradle.
If a second queen hatches out of her cell before the first young queen finds her, there is a fight.
The workers stand around and watch the conflict, but they never interfere, nor have I ever heard that they take sides and cheer their own candidate.
What do I see? I must go over and fight her!
The combatants seize each other with their jaws, and clasp each other with their feet, trying in every way to thrust the fatal poisoned dagger into a vital part,—that is, into the soft parts between the rings of the abdomen, or where the neck joins the thorax, or the thorax the abdomen,—all these places being soft and allowing a dagger that is thrust into them to reach the inner vital parts.
Come on, I am ready for you!
At length the fatal thrust is given: one of the queens is victor; the other lies dead upon the field of battle. The workers carry out the dead body, but whether they mourn I cannot say. Certainly they do not have a grand funeral. I suppose it would not be exactly polite to the victorious queen to show too much sorrow for the vanquished one.
Evidently our queen considers one such display of courage quite enough to establish her royal character, for she does not waste time fighting any more queens, but goes to the remaining queen cells, pulls off the caps where the bottled-up queen babies lie, and sticks her dagger right into their poor, soft, helpless little bodies.
After she has stung all the baby queens she puts up her dagger, very likely determined never to put anything so valuable to such a use again, for you remember her sting is also her ovipositor.
She does not lose it when she stings a bee, because the parts where the sting enters are so soft that she can pull it out again; but you can imagine what a sad wound the barbs make when pulled out.
Workers never sting a queen. If a strange queen is put into the hive, or flies in by mistake, and they do not want her, they gather about her so closely as to smother her to death, but they will not sting her.
Only queens sting queens.
If there should happen to be a good many bees still in the hive after a swarm leaves, the workers will not allow the queens to fight, but surround them and keep them apart until the older queen can be sent off with another swarm.
If the hive is very much crowded, the bees may swarm out of it several times in one season.
When all is serene within the hive, if the day is fair, the young queen takes an airing.
She does not have an escort, but goes alone to view the beautiful world outside the hive.
Huber was the first to discover that she flies up into the blue sky, where she meets a drone, who is her mate. He fills her pocket, which she carries on purpose, with pollen, not flower-pollen, but bee-pollen. This pollen lasts as long as she lives, and she uses it to fertilize the queen and worker eggs.
So you see the drone is not so useless as he seems. Indeed, if it were not for him, there could be no workers and no queens.
When she has taken her airing, Queen Apis goes home, and she never leaves the hive alone again. In fact, she never leaves it at all, except at the end, when she goes off with a swarm.
As the season wears on, the workers take counsel together. Winter is coming, and what will become of them all if the supplies give out?
There must be no more mouths to feed than necessary. The queen, of course, must be taken care of, and so must the workers; but there are the drones, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of them. They are no longer of any use: they bring in no honey; they do no work; they only endanger the lives of the whole family by eating up the winter food, so these little brown workers, on the plea of necessity, send the drones to the happy hunting grounds.
Whether they are sorry about it or not I do not know; but, in any event, they fall upon their poor brothers and sting them to death, or else drive them from the hive, where they soon die from cold, exposure, and hunger.
In late summer you sill sometimes see a disconsolate drone sitting on a flower, very likely grieving at the bitterness of his lot.
A disconsolate drone
Miss Apis, it seems to us very cruel of you to treat your brothers so.
But we must remember that bees are not people, and that what would be very wicked in us may be perfectly right in them.
The worker-bees labor very hard through the summer, so that sometimes they wear themselves out in a few weeks, and die.
Those hatched later in the season live through the winter, and are all ready to begin work as soon as the flowers come in the spring.
Bees spend the winter clustered together in the hive, and are then so inactive that they seem to be scarcely alive.
When bees go out from the hive for the first time to gather nectar, they are very smooth and fine-looking.
But they, too, grow old. Their pretty velvety down wears off, and their wings become broken and ragged. I do not think they turn grey or get wrinkles in their faces, but they certainly do get to wear very shabby looking wings.
Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As "Slimy skin," or "Polly-wog,"
Or likewise "Uncle James,"
Or "Gape-a-grin," or "Toad-gone-wrong,"
Or "Billy Bandy-knees":
The Frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.
No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair;
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a frog (and, by the way,
They are extremely rare).
WEEK 24 |
Matthew xv: 21 to 39;
Mark vii: 24, to viii: 26.
FTER the feeding of the five thousand, and the talk which followed it in the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus no longer sought to preach to the people in crowds, as he had preached before. He had spoken his last words to the people of Galilee, and now he sought to be alone with his disciples, that he might teach them many things which they needed. Jesus knew that in a few months, less than a year, he would leave his disciples to carry on the work of preaching his gospel to the world. Before that time should come Jesus wished to teach and train his disciples; so he tried to be apart from the people and alone with these twelve men.
With this purpose in his mind, Jesus led his disciples away from Capernaum, across Galilee westward, to the land of Tyre and Sidon, near the Great Sea. On the border of this land he came to a village, and in it went with his disciples into a house. Jesus did not wish the people of the place to know that he was there; but he could not be hid.
A woman of that place, who was not of the Jewish race, but belonged to the old Canaanite people, heard of Jesus' coming. She sought out Jesus, and fell down before him, and begged him to come to her house and cure her daughter, in whom was an evil spirit. At first Jesus would not answer her, for he had not come to that place to do works of healing. But she kept on crying and calling upon Jesus to help her daughter, until the disciples said, "Master, send this woman away, for she is a trouble to us, crying out after us!"
The Gentile woman seeks Jesus for help.
They thought that a Gentile woman, one who did not belong to the race of Israel, was not worthy of the Lord's care. But Jesus wished to teach his disciples that he did care for this woman, though she was a Gentile and a stranger. To show them how strong was her faith, he said to her, "I am not sent to the Gentiles, but only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman would not be discouraged; she kept on saying, "Lord, help me!"
Jesus said to her again, "It is not fitting to take the children's bread, and throw it to the dogs!"
Then the woman said, "It is true, Lord; yet the little dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs!"
And Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great! It shall be done even as you ask. Go your way; the evil spirit is sent out of your daughter."
The woman believed the words that Jesus spoke. She went to her home, and there found her daughter resting upon the bed, freed from the evil spirit.
So many people sought to see Jesus in that place, that he left that land with his disciples, and went around Galilee, and came again to the country called Decapolis, on the east of the Sea of Galilee. You remember that Jesus had visited this country before, when he cast the army of evil spirits out of a man into the hogs, as we read in Story 125. At that time the people almost drove Jesus away from their land; but now they were glad to see him, and brought their sick to him to be healed. Perhaps they had heard from the man out of whom the evil spirits had gone; how kind and good and helpful Jesus was.
They led to Jesus a man who was deaf, and could not speak plainly. He was what we would call "tongue-tied." They asked Jesus to cure him; but Jesus would not do his work as a sight for men to look upon. He took the man away from the crowd, and when he was alone with him he put his fingers into the man's ears and touched his tongue. Then he looked up to heaven, and gave a sigh, and said to the man, "Be opened!"
Then the man's ears were opened, and his tongue was set free, so that he heard and spoke plainly. Jesus told the man, and those with him, not to let others know what he had done; but they could not keep from telling the good news to everybody. They were full of wonder, for they had not before seen the works of Jesus; and they said, "He has done all things well; he makes even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak!"
And in the land of Decapolis, as before in Galilee, great crowds of people came to see and hear Jesus. They followed him, without thinking that they would need any food to eat; and Jesus said to his disciples, "I feel a pity for this people, for they have now been with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint by the way, for many of them came from far."
The disciples answered him, "How can we find bread for such a great crowd of people, here in a desert place, so far from the villages?"
"How many loaves of bread have you?" asked Jesus. They said, "We have seven loaves and a few small fishes."
Then he told all the people to sit down on the ground. When they were seated, Jesus took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks to God, and broke them, and gave them to his disciples, and they gave them to the people. Then, as before, he caused them to gather up the food that was left, and they filled seven large baskets with the pieces. At this time four thousand men were fed, besides women and children. And at once after the meal, he sent the people to their homes, and with his disciples went on board a boat, and sailed across the lake to a place on the western shore. There he stayed only a short time, and then sailed northward to Bethsaida, at the head of the lake.
At Bethsaida they brought to him a blind man, and asked him to touch his eyes. But Jesus would not heal the man while a crowd was looking on. He led the man by his hand out of the village alone. Then he spat on the man's eyes, and touched them with his hands, and said to him, "Can you see anything?"
The man looked up, and said, "I see men; but they look like trees walking."
Then again Jesus laid his hands upon the man's eyes. He looked once more, and now could see all things clearly. Jesus sent him to his home, and said to him, "Do not even go into the village, nor tell it to any one in the village."
For Jesus wished not to have crowds of people coming to him, but to be alone with his disciples, for he had many things to teach them.
T HE same moment her nurse came into the room, sobbing. When she saw her sitting there, she started back with a loud cry of amazement and joy. Then running to her, she caught her in her arms and covered her dear little face with kisses.
"My precious darling princess! where have you been? What has happened to you! We've all been crying our eyes out, and searching the house from top to bottom for you."
"Not quite from the top," thought Irene to herself; and she might have added—"not quite to the bottom," perhaps, if she had known all. But the one she would not, and the other she could not say.
"Oh, Lootie! I've had such a dreadful adventure!" she replied, and told her all about the cat with the long legs, and how she ran out upon the mountain, and came back again. But she said nothing of her grandmother or her lamp.
"And there we've been searching for you all over the house for more than an hour and a half!" exclaimed the nurse. "But that's no matter, now we've got you! Only, princess, I must say," she added, her mood changing, "what you ought to have done was to call for your own Lootie to come and help you, instead of running out of the house, and up the mountain, in that wild—I must say, foolish fashion."
"Well, Lootie," said Irene quietly, "perhaps if you had a big cat, all legs, running at you, you mightn't exactly know which was the wisest thing to do at the moment."
"I wouldn't run up the mountain, anyhow," returned Lootie.
"Not if you had time to think about it. But when those creatures came at you that night on the mountain, you were so frightened yourself that you lost your way home."
This put a stop to Lootie's reproaches. She had been on the point of saying that the long-legged cat must have been a twilight fancy of the princess's, but the memory of the horrors of that night, and of the talking-to which the king had given her in consequence, prevented her from saying what after all she did not half believe—having a strong suspicion that the cat was a goblin; for the fact was that she knew nothing of the difference between the goblins and their creatures: she counted them all just goblins.
Without another word she went and got some fresh tea and bread and butter for the princess. Before she returned, the whole household, headed by the housekeeper, burst into the nursery to exult over their darling. The gentlemen-at-arms followed, and were ready enough to believe all she told them about the long-legged cat. Indeed, though wise enough to say nothing about it, they remembered, with no little horror, just such a creature amongst those they had surprised at their gambols upon the princess's lawn. In their own hearts they blamed themselves for not having kept better watch. And their captain gave order that from this night the front door and all the windows on the ground floor should be locked immediately the sun set, and opened after upon no pretence whatever. The men-at-arms redoubled their vigilance, and for some time there was no further cause of alarm.
When the princess woke the next morning, her nurse was bending over her.
"How your ring does glow this morning, princess!—just like a fiery rose!" she said.
"Does it, Lootie?" returned Irene. "Who gave me the ring, Lootie? I know I've had it a long time, but where did I get it? I don't remember."
"Who gave me the ring, Lootie?"
"I think it must have been your mother gave it you, princess; but really, for as long as you have worn it, I don't remember that ever I heard," answered her nurse.
"I will ask my king-papa the next time he comes," said Irene.
T HE spring so dear to all creatures, young and old, came at last, and before the first few days of it had gone, the king rode through its budding valleys to see his little daughter. He had been in a distant part of his dominions all the winter, for he was not in the habit of stopping in one great city, or of visiting only his favourite country houses, but he moved from place to place, that all his people might know him. Wherever he journeyed, he kept a constant lookout for the ablest and best men to put into office, and wherever he found himself mistaken, and those he had appointed incapable or unjust, he removed them at once. Hence you see it was his care of the people that kept him from seeing his princess so often as he would have liked. You may wonder why he did not take her about with him; but there were several reasons against his doing so, and I suspect her great-great-grandmother had had a principal hand in preventing it. Once more Irene heard the bugle-blast, and once more she was at the gate to meet her father as he rode up on his great white horse.
After they had been alone for a little while, she thought of what she had resolved to ask him.
"Please, king-papa," she said, "Will you tell me where I got this pretty ring? I can't remember."
The king looked at it. A strange beautiful smile spread like sunshine over his face, and an answering smile, but at the same time a questioning one, spread like moonlight over Irene's.
"It was your queen-mamma's once," he said.
"And why isn't it hers now?" asked Irene.
"She does not want it now," said the king, looking grave.
"Why doesn't she want it now?"
"Because she's gone where all those rings are made."
"And when shall I see her?" asked the princess.
"Not for some time yet," answered the king, and the tears came in his eyes.
Irene did not remember her mother, and did not know why her father looked so, and why the tears came in his eyes; but she put her arms round his neck and kissed him, and asked no more questions.
The king was much disturbed on hearing the report of the gentlemen-at-arms concerning the creatures they had seen; and I presume would have taken Irene with him that very day, but for what the presence of the ring on her finger assured him of. About an hour before he left, Irene saw him go up the old stair; and he did not come down again till they were just ready to start; and she thought with herself that he had been up to see the old lady. When he went away, he left the other six gentlemen behind him, that there might be six of them always on guard.
And now, in the lovely spring-weather, Irene was out on the mountain the greater part of the day. In the warmer hollows there were lovely primroses, and not so many that she ever got tired of them. As often as she saw a new one opening an eye of light in the blind earth, she would clap her hands with gladness, and unlike some children I know, instead of pulling it, would touch it as tenderly as if it had been a new baby, and, having made its acquaintance, would leave it as happy as she found it. She treated the plants on which they grew like birds' nests; every fresh flower was like a new little bird to her. She would pay a visit to all the flower-nests she knew, remembering each by itself. She would go down on her hands and knees beside one and say: "Good morning! Are you all smelling very sweet this morning? Good-bye!" And then she would go to another nest, and say the same. It was a favorite amusement with her. There were many flowers up and down, and she loved them all, but the primroses were her favorites.
"They're not too shy, and they're not a bit forward," she would say to Lootie.
There were goats too about, over the mountain, and when the little kids came, she was as pleased with them as with the flowers. The goats belonged to the miners mostly—a few of them to Curdie's mother; but there were a good many wild ones that seemed to belong to nobody. These the goblins counted theirs, and it was upon them partly that they lived. They set snares and dug pits for them; and did not scruple to take what tame ones happened to be caught; but they did not try to steal them in any other manner, because they were afraid of the dogs the hill-people kept to watch them, for the knowing dogs always tried to bite their feet. But the goblins had a kind of sheep of their own—very queer creatures, which they drove out to feed at night, and the other goblin-creatures were wise enough to keep good watch over them, for they knew they should have their bones by and by.
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!
Down along the rocky shore,
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.
High on the hill top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He 's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.
They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.
By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!