WEEK 25 |
C LOSE upon the hour of noon the whole village was suddenly electrified with the ghastly news. No need of the as yet undreamed-of telegraph; the tale flew from man to man, from group to group, from house to house, with little less than telegraphic speed. Of course the schoolmaster gave holiday for that afternoon; the town would have thought strangely of him if he had not.
A gory knife had been found close to the murdered man, and it had been recognized by somebody as belonging to Muff Potter—so the story ran. And it was said that a belated citizen had come upon Potter washing himself in the "branch" about one or two o'clock in the morning, and that Potter had at once sneaked off—suspicious circumstances, especially the washing, which was not a habit with Potter. It was also said that the town had been ransacked for this "murderer" (the public are not slow in the matter of sifting evidence and arriving at a verdict), but that he could not be found. Horsemen had departed down all the roads in every direction, and the Sheriff "was confident" that he would be captured before night.
All the town was drifting toward the graveyard. Tom's heartbreak vanished and he joined the procession, not because he would not a thousand times rather go anywhere else, but because an awful, unaccountable fascination drew him on. Arrived at the dreadful place, he wormed his small body through the crowd and saw the dismal spectacle. It seemed to him an age since he was there before. Somebody pinched his arm. He turned, and his eyes met Huckleberry's. Then both looked elsewhere at once, and wondered if anybody had noticed anything in their mutual glance. But everybody was talking, and intent upon the grisly spectacle before them.
"Poor fellow!" "Poor young fellow!" "This ought to be a lesson to grave-robbers!" "Muff Potter'll hang for this if they catch him!" This was the drift of remark; and the minister said, "It was a judgment; His hand is here."
Now Tom shivered from head to heel; for his eye fell upon the stolid face of Injun Joe. At this moment the crowd began to sway and struggle, and voices shouted, "It's him! it's him! he's coming himself!"
"Who? Who?" from twenty voices.
"Hallo, he's stopped!—Look out, he's turning! Don't let him get away!"
People in the branches of the trees over Tom's head said he wasn't trying to get away—he only looked doubtful and perplexed.
"Infernal impudence!" said a bystander; "wanted to come and take a quiet look at his work, I reckon—didn't expect any company."
The crowd fell apart, now, and the Sheriff came through, ostentatiously leading Potter by the arm. The poor fellow's face was haggard, and his eyes showed the fear that was upon him. When he stood before the murdered man, he shook as with a palsy, and he put his face in his hands and burst into tears.
"I didn't do it, friends," he sobbed;
"Who's accused you?" shouted a voice.
This shot seemed to carry home. Potter lifted his face and looked around him with a pathetic hopelessness in his eyes. He saw Injun Joe, and exclaimed:
"Oh, Injun Joe, you promised me you'd
"Is that your knife?" and it was thrust before him by the Sheriff.
Potter would have fallen if they had not caught him and eased him to the ground. Then he said:
"Something told me 't if I didn't come back and
Then Huckleberry and Tom stood dumb and staring, and heard the stony-hearted liar reel off his serene statement, they expecting every moment that the clear sky would deliver God's lightnings upon his head, and wondering to see how long the stroke was delayed. And when he had finished and still stood alive and whole, their wavering impulse to break their oath and save the poor betrayed prisoner's life faded and vanished away, for plainly this miscreant had sold himself to Satan and it would be fatal to meddle with the property of such a power as that.
"Why didn't you leave? What did you want to come here for?" somebody said.
"I couldn't help it—I couldn't help it," Potter moaned. "I wanted to run away, but I couldn't seem to come anywhere but here." And he fell to sobbing again.
Injun Joe repeated his statement, just as calmly, a few minutes afterward on the inquest, under oath; and the boys, seeing that the lightnings were still withheld, were confirmed in their belief that Joe had sold himself to the devil. He was now become, to them, the most balefully interesting object they had ever looked upon, and they could not take their fascinated eyes from his face.
They inwardly resolved to watch him, nights, when opportunity should offer, in the hope of getting a glimpse of his dread master.
Injun Joe helped to raise the body of the murdered man and put it in a wagon for removal; and it was whispered through the shuddering crowd that the wound bled a little! The boys thought that this happy circumstance would turn suspicion in the right direction; but they were disappointed, for more than one villager remarked:
"It was within three feet of Muff Potter when it done it."
Tom's fearful secret and gnawing conscience disturbed his sleep for as much as a week after this; and at breakfast one morning Sid said:
"Tom, you pitch around and talk in your sleep so much that you keep me awake half the time."
Tom blanched and dropped his eyes.
"It's a bad sign," said Aunt Polly, gravely. "What you got on your mind, Tom?"
"Nothing. Nothing 't I know of." But the boy's hand shook so that he spilled his coffee.
"And you do talk such stuff," Sid said. "Last night you said, 'It's blood, it's blood, that's what it is!' You said that over and over. And you said, 'Don't torment me so—I'll tell!' Tell what? What is it you'll tell?"
Everything was swimming before Tom. There is no telling what might have happened, now, but luckily the concern passed out of Aunt Polly's face and she came to Tom's relief without knowing it. She said:
"Sho! It's that dreadful murder. I dream about it most every night myself. Sometimes I dream it's me that done it."
Mary said she had been affected much the same way. Sid seemed satisfied. Tom got out of the presence as quick as he plausibly could, and after that he complained of toothache for a week, and tied up his jaws every night. He never knew that Sid lay nightly watching, and frequently slipped the bandage free and then leaned on his elbow listening a good while at a time, and afterward slipped the bandage back to its place again. Tom's distress of mind wore off gradually and the toothache grew irksome and was discarded. If Sid really managed to make anything out of Tom's disjointed mutterings, he kept it to himself.
It seemed to Tom that his schoolmates never would get done holding inquests on dead cats, and thus keeping his trouble present to his mind. Sid noticed that Tom never was coroner at one of these inquiries, though it had been his habit to take the lead in all new enterprises; he noticed, too, that Tom never acted as a witness—and that was strange; and Sid did not overlook the fact that Tom even showed a marked aversion to these inquests, and always avoided them when he could. Sid marveled, but said nothing. However, even inquests went out of vogue at last, and ceased to torture Tom's conscience.
Every day or two, during this time of sorrow, Tom watched his opportunity and went to the little grated jail-window and smuggled such small comforts through to the "murderer" as he could get hold of. The jail was a trifling little brick den that stood in a marsh at the edge of the village, and no guards were afforded for it; indeed it was seldom occupied. These offerings greatly helped to ease Tom's conscience.
The villagers had a strong desire to tar-and-feather Injun Joe and ride him on a rail, for body-snatching, but so formidable was his character that nobody could be found who was willing to take the lead in the matter, so it was dropped. He had been careful to begin both of his inquest statements with the fight, without confessing the grave-robbery that preceded it; therefore it was deemed wisest not to try the case in the courts at present.
People living in a town in the Middle Ages had to make sure that it could not be easily captured by an enemy. For this reason they often built a heavy wall around it with watch-towers where men were always on guard. Battering-rams and other machines for knocking down a wall could not be used unless they were brought close up to it, and therefore just outside the fortifications of the city a deep ditch was often dug and kept full of water. There were only a few gates, and those were carefully protected. Outside the walls were forests and fields, and every morning the public herdsman drove the oxen of the townspeople to pasture, bringing them back again at night. There were gardens and cultivated fields around the town; and indeed there were many gardens and orchards within the walls. If everything had been kept clean, a town might have been a pleasant, sweet-smelling place; but rubbish was heaped up in front of the doors, and pigs roamed about the streets at their own will. These streets were usually narrow and crooked. There were no pavements, and the upper stories of the houses sometimes projected so far that people living on opposite sides of a street could shake hands from their windows.
An Old Street
(In the Town of Dijon, France)
The nearer one came to the centre of the town, the closer together were the houses. Merchants usually had shop and home in the same building. The lower part of the front was the shop, and the rear of the house was the home. This was by far the pleasanter part, for it often looked out upon gardens filled with bright flowers.
Besides the merchants, there were the humbler folk, the craftsmen, that is, the carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, and others. Every trade had its apprentices, boys who were bound to remain with some craftsman a certain number of years to learn his business. The master fed and clothed the boy, gave him a home, and taught him. When he had finished his apprenticeship, he became a journeyman, or workman. Of course he was eager to become a master, but before he could do this, he must make a "masterpiece," that is, a piece of work excellent enough to be accepted by the guild or society composed of the men of his trade.
Old Town in Loches, France
There were guilds of bakers, weavers, coopers, brewers, goldsmiths, carpenters; indeed, every trade had its guild. The guild did a great deal for its members. If one of them became poor or was ill, his guild gave him assistance. If he died in poverty, the guild paid his funeral expenses and aided his family. If a journeyman, a cooper, for instance, came to a strange town, the guild of coopers in that town would find work for him; or, if there was none, they would give him money to pay his way to the next town.
The guild not only helped its members, but saw to it that they did not impose upon the public. If a baker made his loaves too small or a dyer gave short measure of cloth or a maker of spurs gilded old ones and sold them for new, his guild punished him by a fine or by expulsion. The master himself was punished, and not the workman who had, perhaps, done the actual work. In many places men were forbidden by their guilds to carry on their trades after the curfew bell, lest they should not do good work, or should disturb their neighbours, or perhaps set their houses ablaze.
The craft guilds were also religious societies, and each one had its patron saint. They gave altars and painted windows and generous presents of money to the cathedrals. The whole guild often went to church in solemn procession. They also presented what were known as mystery plays, that is, plays showing forth scenes in the Bible. One guild presented the creation of the world, another the flood, another the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, and so on.
A Mystery Play of the Middle Ages
The presenting of these plays was often very expensive, but it was looked upon as a religious duty. When the morning for the plays had come, the members of the guild met together, and after prayers those who were to act clambered into a clumsy two-story wagon called a pageant, and went to the corner or open square where the play was to be shown. When it was enacted, they moved on to present the same play elsewhere, while another guild acted the second play of the series in the place that they had just left. When the play had been repeated in all the places chosen, the members of the guilds went to their homes, feeling that they had performed a religious duty that would be good for them and for the crowds that had been listening to them.
Another later kind was known as a morality play, in which characters representing the virtues and vices took part. The incidents in these plays were not drawn directly from the Bible, as was the case with the mystery plays. Ultimately this rude acting developed into the great Elizabethan drama.
The merchants, too, had their guilds, and these were very powerful associations. They won a great deal of liberty for the towns; for when a king or noble was in need of money, the rich merchant guilds would say, "We will provide it if you will agree no longer to lay taxes upon our town at your own will." Sometimes the guilds made rather hard bargains. If a king or a nobleman wished to go on a crusade, or if he had been taken prisoner and needed a large sum of money for his ransom, he was ready to give many privileges to the town that would supply him with gold, or even to grant it the right to govern itself in all things. Many a city literally bought its charter with its gold.
These merchant guilds were afterwards called corporations, and from them was gradually developed the Town Council of the present day.
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie.
Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lower;
See approach proud Edward's power—
Chains and slaverie!
Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's King and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa'?
Let him follow me!
By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do, or die!
WEEK 25 |
A S Parliament would not do exactly as King Charles wished, he ruled without one for nearly twelve years. During these years he was often in need of money and raised it in many wrong ways. But at last he could get no more money by right or by wrong ways, and he was obliged to call a Parliament.
In 1640 A.D., what is known as the Long Parliament began to sit. It was called the Long Parliament because it lasted so long. The people chose the members for this Parliament very carefully, and they were not slow to show the King how strong they were. They beheaded one of the King's advisers because they said he had been guilty of treason. To commit treason means to do anything that is hurtful to the state or government. To commit high treason is to do anything hurtful to the King. The Parliament also imprisoned Archbishop Laud, and three years later he was beheaded.
King Charles had quarrelled with every Parliament he had had during his reign. Now the quarrels grew worse and worse. At last, one day, Charles marched to the House, followed by his soldiers, meaning to seize five members, who, he thought, were his worst enemies.
Leaving his soldiers at the door of the House, Charles went in and marched up to the Speaker's chair.
"Mr. Speaker," he said, "I must borrow your seat for a time."
The Speaker rose and fell upon his knee before the King, the members standing bare-headed, while the King sat down in the Speaker's chair.
Charles looked keenly round the House, but none of the five members were to be seen. They had been warned and were not there. He called them each by name. Only silence answered.
"Mr. Speaker," said Charles at last, "where are those five members whom I have called? Are any of them in the House? Do you see them?"
"Your Majesty," said the Speaker, again falling upon his knees, "I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House may be pleased to direct me."
"Ah!" said Charles, "I see the birds are flown." Then, after making a very angry and bitter speech, he left the House. As he passed out the silence was broken by cries of rage, for the people felt that the King was trampling on all their rights.
The quarrels grew worse and worse, and at last war broke out, war between Briton and Briton. English, Scots, and Irish, all joined in this war and it was called the Great Rebellion.
The King and the lords were on one side, and the Parliament and the people on the other. Those who followed the King were called Cavaliers or Royalists, those who followed the Parliament were called Parliamentarians or Roundheads. Cavalier comes from a word which means "horse," and the Cavaliers were so called because most of them rode upon horses. The Roundheads were so called because they wore their hair short instead of long and curling like the Cavaliers. The Roundheads were for the most part Puritans, while the Cavaliers belonged to the Church of England.
At this time there was no regular army in Britain, such as we have now, and a great many of those who fought were quite untrained. The King's army was in some ways better than the army of the Parliament, for it contained many gentlemen who were accustomed to danger and who were able to ride.
The Parliamentarians were chiefly working men who knew very little about fighting. But among them there was a brave, strong man called Oliver Cromwell. He knew how hard it would be for these working men to conquer, if they were not taught how to fight, so he drilled them and taught them quickness and obedience. So thoroughly did they learn that they became most splendid soldiers, and were called Oliver Cromwell's Ironsides.
Never were such strange soldiers seen. In those days a camp was a wild, rough place, but from the camp of Cromwell's soldiers, instead of the sound of drunkenness and laughter, came the sound of psalm singing and prayer. To many of them the war was a holy war, a battle for the freedom of religion.
"Trust in God and keep your powder dry," was Cromwell's advice to his soldiers, as one day they were crossing a river to attack the enemy.
For four years the war went on. The Royalist leaders were Lord Lindsey and the King's nephew, Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert was so fiery and eager in battle that he was called "Dashing Prince Rupert." But although he was very brave, he was not a good general and often did rash things.
The chief of the Roundhead leaders were Oliver Cromwell, Ireton and Fairfax.
Many battles were fought, sometimes one side winning, sometimes the other. But at last, at a battle called Naseby, the Cavaliers were utterly defeated. Then Charles lost all hope. He had no money left and very few friends. He felt that his cause was ruined, and thinking that the Scots would be kinder to him than the English, he gave himself up to them.
The Scots and the English were still friends and they agreed that if Charles would grant to England the same kind of religion as Scotland, they would set him on the throne again. But Charles would not promise this, so the Scots gave him up to the Parliamentarians.
But when the war was over, it was found that neither King nor Parliament ruled the land, but the army. The King being now a prisoner, the Parliament said there was no longer any need for the army, and told the soldiers to go back to their homes. But the soldiers refused to go. They knew how powerful they had become, and they resolved to become yet more powerful and get possession of the King.
One evening a man called Cornet Joyce, with about eight hundred soldiers behind him, rode to the house in which King Charles was kept prisoner. Going into the King's room he told him politely and kindly that he had come to take him away. After some talk Charles said he was willing to go, but as it was now late, Cornet Joyce must come again in the morning.
Accordingly at six o'clock next morning the King rose and, going out to the courtyard, found Joyce and all his soldiers waiting there, mounted and ready.
"I pray you, Mr. Joyce," said the King, as he looked at the company of stern men in steel armour, "deal honestly with me and show me your commission."
By a commission, the King meant a letter to say that Joyce really had orders to take him away.
"Here is my commission," said Joyce.
"Where?" said the King.
"Here," said Joyce.
"Where?" again asked the King.
"Behind me," said Joyce, pointing to the mounted soldiers. "I hope it will satisfy your Majesty."
Then Charles smiled and said, "It is as fair a commission and as well written as ever I have seen a commission in my life. It may be read without spelling. But what if I refuse to go with you? I hope you would not force me. I am your King, and you ought not to lay violent hands upon your King. I acknowledge none to be above me here but God."
"We will not hurt you, your Majesty," replied Joyce. "Nay, we will not even force you to come with us against your will."
So Charles consented to go with them, and asked, "How far do
you intend to ride
"As far as your Majesty can conveniently ride," replied Joyce.
"I can ride as far as you or as any man here," said Charles, smiling, and so they set out.
In this way the King became the prisoner of the army instead of the prisoner of the Parliament.
T HERE were chipmunks everywhere. The stone walls squeaked with them. At every turn, from early spring to early autumn, a chipmunk was scurrying away from me. Chipmunks were common. They did no particular harm, no particular good; they did nothing in particular, being only chipmunks and common, or so I thought, until one morning (it was June-bug time) when I stopped and watched a chipmunk that sat atop the stone wall down in the orchard. He was eating, and the shells of his meal lay in a little pile upon the big flat stone which served as his table.
They were acorn-shells, I thought; yet June seemed rather late in the season for acorns, and, looking closer, I discovered that the pile was entirely composed of June-bug shells—wings and hollow bodies of the pestiferous beetles!
Chipmunk Eating June-bugs
Well, well! I had never seen this before, never even heard of it. Chipmunk, a useful member of society! actually eating bugs in this bug-ridden world of mine! This was interesting and important. Why, I had really never known Chipmunk, after all!
So I hadn't. He had always been too common. Flying squirrels were more worth while, because there were none on the farm. Now, however, I determined to cultivate the acquaintance of Chipmunk, for there might be other discoveries awaiting me. And there were.
A narrow strip of grass separated the orchard and my garden-patch. It was on my way to the garden that I most often stopped to watch this chipmunk, or rather the pair of them, in the orchard wall. June advanced, the beetles disappeared, and the two chipmunks in the wall were now seven, the young ones almost as large as their parents, and both young and old on the best of terms with me.
For the first time in four years there were prospects of good strawberries. Most of my small patch was given over to a new variety, one that I had originated; and I was waiting with an eagerness which was almost anxiety for the earliest berries.
I had put a little stick beside each of the three big berries that were reddening first (though I could have walked from the house blindfolded and picked them). I might have had the biggest of the three on June 7th, but for the sake of the flavor I thought it best to wait another day. On the 8th I went down to get it. The big berry was gone, and so was one of the others, while only half of the third was left on the vine!
Gardening has its disappointments, its seasons of despair—and wrath, too. Had a toad showed himself at that moment, he might have fared badly, for more than likely, I thought, it was he who had stolen my berries. On the garden wall sat a friendly chipmunk eying me sympathetically.
A few days later several fine berries were ripe, and I was again on my way to the garden when I passed the chipmunks in the orchard. A shining red spot among the vine-covered stones of their wall brought me to a stop. For an instant I thought that it was my rose-breasted grosbeak, and that I was about to get a clew to its nest. Then up to the slab where he ate the June-bugs scrambled the chipmunk, and the rose-red spot on the breast of the supposed grosbeak dissolved into a big scarlet-red strawberry. And by its long wedge shape I knew it was one of my new variety.
I hurried across to the patch and found every berry gone, while a line of bloody fragments led me back to the orchard wall, where a half-dozen fresh calyx crowns completed my second discovery.
No, it did not complete it. It took a little watching to find out that the whole family—all seven!—were after those berries. They were picking them half ripe, even, and actually storing them away, canning them, down in the cavernous depths of the stone-pile!
Alarmed? Yes, and I was wrathful, too. The taste for strawberries is innate, original; you can't be human without it. But joy in chipmunks is a cultivated liking. What chance in such a circumstance has the nature-lover with the human man? What shadow of doubt as to his choice between the chipmunks and the strawberries?
I had no gun and no time to go over to my neighbor's to borrow his. So I stationed myself near by with a fistful of stones, and waited for the thieves to show themselves. I came so near to hitting one of them with a stone that the sweat started all over me. After that there was no danger. I had lost my nerve. The little scamps knew that war had been declared, and they hid and dodged and sighted me so far off that even with a gun I should have been all summer killing the seven of them.
Meantime, a good rain and the warm June days were turning the berries red by the quart. They had more than caught up to the chipmunks. I dropped my stones and picked. The chipmunks picked, too; so did the toads and the robins. Everybody picked. It was free for all. We picked them and ate them, jammed them, and canned them. I almost carried some over to my neighbor, but took peas instead.
The strawberry season closed on the Fourth of July; and our taste was not dimmed, nor our natural love for strawberries abated; but all four of the small boys had hives from over-indulgence, so bountifully did Nature provide, so many did the seven chipmunks leave us!
Peace between me and the chipmunks had been signed before the strawberry season closed, and the pact still holds. Other things have occurred since to threaten it, however. Among them, an article in a recent number of an out-of-door magazine, of wide circulation. Herein the chipmunk family was most roundly rated, in fact condemned to annihilation because of its wicked taste for birds' eggs and for the young birds. Numerous photographs accompanied the article, showing the red squirrel with eggs in his mouth, but no such proof (even the red squirrel photographs, I strongly believe, were done from a stuffed squirrel) of Chipmunk's guilt, though he was counted equally bad and, doubtless, will suffer with Chickaree at the hands of those who have taken the article seriously.
I believe that would be a great mistake. Indeed, I believe the article a deliberate falsehood, concocted in order to sell the made-up photographs. Chipmunk is not an egg-sucker, else I should have found it out. But of course that does not mean that no one else has found it out. It does mean, however, that if Chipmunk robs at all he does it so seldom as to call for no alarm or retribution.
There is scarcely a day in the nesting-season when I fail to see half a dozen chipmunks about the walls, yet I have never noticed one even suspiciously near a bird's nest. In an apple tree, scarcely six jumps from the home of the family in the orchard wall, a brood of tree swallows came to wing this spring; while robins, chippies, and red-eyed vireos — not to mention a cowbird, which I wish they had devoured—have also hatched and flown away from nests that these squirrels might easily have rifled.
It is not often that one comes upon even the red
squirrel in the very act of robbing a nest. But the
black snake, the glittering fiend! and the dear house
cats! If I run across a dozen black snakes in the
early summer, it is safe to say that six of them are
discovered to me by the cries of the birds that they
are robbing. So is it with the cats. No creature larger
than a June-bug, however, is often distressed by a
chipmunk. In a recent letter to me Mr. Burroughs
"No, I never knew the chipmunk to suck or destroy eggs of any kind, and I have never heard of any well-authenticated instance of his doing so. The red squirrel is the sinner in this respect, and probably the gray squirrel also."
It will be difficult to find a true bill against him. Were the evidence all in, I believe that instead of a culprit we should find Chipmunk a useful citizen. Does not that pile of June-bug bodies on the flat stone leave me still in debt to him? He may err occasionally, and may, on occasion, make a nuisance of himself—but so do my four small boys, bless them! And, well,—who doesn't? When a family of chipmunks, which you have fed all summer on the veranda, take up their winter quarters inside the closed cabin, and chew up your quilts, hammocks, table-cloths, and whatever else there is of chewable properties, then they are anathema.
The havoc certain chipmunks in the mountains once made among our possessions was dreadful. But instead of exterminating them root and branch, a big box was prepared the next summer and lined with tin, in which the linen was successfully wintered.
But how real was the loss, after all? Here was a rough log cabin on the side of Thorn Mountain. What sort of table-cloth ought to be found in such a cabin, if not one that has been artistically chewed by chipmunks? Is it for fine linen that we take to the woods in summer? The chipmunks are well worth a table-cloth now and then—well worth, besides these, all the strawberries and all the oats they can steal from my small patch.
Only it isn't stealing. Since I ceased throwing stones and began to watch the chipmunks carefully, I do not find that their manner is in the least the manner of thieves. They do not act as if they were taking what they have no right to. For who has told Chipmunk to earn his oats in the sweat of his brow? No one. Instead, he seems to understand that he is one of the innumerable factors ordained to make me sweat—a good and wholesome experience for me so long as I get the necessary oats.
And I get them, in spite of the chipmunks, though I don't like to guess at the quantity of oats they have carried off—anywhere, I should say, from a peck to a bushel, which they have stored as they tried to store the berries, somewhere in the big recesses of the stone wall.
All this, however, is beside the point. It isn't a case of oats and berries against June-bugs. You don't haggle with Nature after that fashion. The farm is not a market-place where you get exactly what you pay for. You must spend on the farm all you have of time and strength and brains; but you must not expect in return merely your money's worth. Infinitely more than that, and oftentimes less. Farming is like virtue,—its own reward. It pays the man who loves it, no matter how short the crop of oats and corn.
So it is with Chipmunk. Perhaps his books don't balance—a few June-bugs short on the credit side. What then? It isn't mere bugs and berries, as I have just suggested, but stone-piles. What is the difference in value to me between a stone-pile with a chipmunk in it and one without. Just the difference, relatively speaking, between the house with my four boys in it, and the house without.
Chipmunk, with his sleek, round form, his rich color and his stripes, is the daintiest, most beautiful of all our squirrels. He is one of the friendliest of my tenants, too, friendlier even than the friendliest of my birds—Chickadee. The two are very much alike in spirit; but however tame and confiding Chickadee may become, he is still a bird and belongs to a different and, despite his wings, lower order of beings. Chickadee is often curious about me; he can be coaxed to eat from my hand. Chipmunk is more than curious; he is interested; and it is not crumbs that he wants, but friendship. He can be coaxed to eat from my lips, sleep in my pocket, and even come to be stroked.
I have sometimes seen Chickadee in winter when he seemed to come to me out of very need for living companionship. But in the flood-tide of summer life Chipmunk will watch me from his stone-pile and tag me along with every show of friendship.
The family in the orchard wall have grown very familiar. They flatter me. One or another of them, sitting upon the high flat slab, sees me coming. He sits on the very edge of the crack, to be truthful; and if I take a single step aside toward him, he flips, and all there is left of him is a little angry squeak from the depths of the stones. If, however, I pass properly along, do not stop or make any sudden motion, he sees me past, then usually follows me, especially if I get well off and pause.
During a shower one day I halted under a large hickory just beyond his den. He came running after me, so interested that he forgot to look to his footing, and just opposite me slipped and bumped his nose hard against a stone—so hard that he sat up immediately and vigorously rubbed it. Another time he followed me across to the garden and on until he came to the barbed-wire fence along the meadow. Here he climbed a post and continued after me by way of the middle strand of the wire, wriggling, twisting, even grabbing the barbs, in his efforts to maintain his balance. He got midway between the posts, when the sagging strand tripped him and he fell with a splash into a shallow pool below. No, he did not drown, but his curiosity did get a ducking.
Did the family in the orchard wall stay together as a family for the first summer? I should like to know. As late as August they all seemed to be in the wall; for in August I cut my oats, and during this harvest we all worked together.
I mowed the oats as soon as they began to yellow, cocking them to cure for hay. It was necessary to let them "make" for six or seven days, and all this time the chipmunks raced back and forth between the cocks and the stone wall. They might have hidden their gleanings in a dozen crannies nearer at hand; but evidently they had a particular storehouse, near the home nest, where the family could get at their provisions in bad weather without coming forth.
Had I removed the stones and dug out the nest, I should have found a tunnel leading into the ground for a few feet and opening into a chamber filled with a bulky grass nest—a bed capable of holding half a dozen chipmunks—and, adjoining this, by a short passageway, the storehouse of the oats.
How many trips they made between this crib and the oat-patch, how many kernels they carried in their pouches at a trip, and how big a pile they had when all the grains were in,—these are more of the things I should like to know.
When the first frosts come, the family—if they are still a family—seek the nest in the ground beneath the stone wall. But they do not go to sleep immediately. Their outer entrances have not yet been closed. There is still plenty of fresh air and, of course, plenty of food—acorns, chestnuts, hickory-nuts, and oats. They doze quietly for a time and then they eat, pushing the empty shells and hulls into some side passage prepared beforehand to receive the débris.
But soon the frost is creeping down through the stones and earth overhead, the rains are filling the outer doorways and shutting off the supply of fresh air; and one day, though not sound sleepers, the family cuddle down and forget to wake entirely until the frost has begun to creep back toward the surface, and in through the softened soil is felt the thrill of the waking spring.
Little cowboy, what have you heard
Up on the lonely rath's green mound!
Only the plaintive yellow bird
Sighing in sultry fields around,
Chary, chary, chary, chee-ee!—
Only the grasshopper, and the bee!—
Scarlet leather sewn together,
This will make a shoe,
Left, right, pull it tight;
Summer days are warm;
Underground in winter,
Laughing at the storm!"
Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamor,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?
He's a span
And a quarter in height.
Get him in sight, hold him tight,
And you're a made
You watch your cattle the summer day,
Sup on potatoes, sleep in the hay;
How would you like to roll in your carriage,
Look for a duchess's daughter in marriage?
Seize the Shoemaker—then you may!
"Big boots a-hunting,
Sandals in the hall,
White for a wedding feast,
Pink for a ball.
This way, that way,
So we make a shoe;
Getting rich every stitch,
Nine and ninety treasure crocks
This keen miser-fairy hath,
Hid in mountains, woods and rocks,
Ruin and round tower, cave and rath,
And where the cormorants build
From times of old
Guarded by him
Each of them filled
Full to the brim
I caught him at work one day, myself,
In the castle ditch, where foxglove grows,—
A wrinkled, wizened, and bearded elf,
Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
Silver buckles to his hose,
Leather apron—shoe in his lap—
(A grasshopper on my cap!
Away the moth flew!)
Buskins for a fairy prince,
Brogues for his son;
Pay me well, pay me well,
When the job is done!"
The rogue was mine, beyond a doubt.
I stared at him, he stared at me;
"Servant, sir!" "Humph!" says he,
And pulled a snuff-box out.
He took a long pinch, looked better pleased,
The queer little Lepracaun;
Offered the box with a whimsical grace—
Pouf! he flung the dust in my face!
And while I sneezed,
WEEK 25 |
O NE morning, Mother Ambroisine was chopping herbs and cooked apples for a brood of little chickens hatched not long before. A large gray spider, letting itself slide the length of its thread, descended from the ceiling to the good woman's shoulders. At sight of the creature with long velvety legs, Mother Ambroisine could not suppress a cry of fear, and, shaking her shoulder, made the insect fall, and crushed it under her foot. "Spider in the morning stands for mourning," said she to herself. At this instant Uncle Paul and Claire entered.
"No, sir, it is not right," said Mother Ambroisine, "that we poor mortals should have so much useless trouble. Twelve little chickens are hatched out for us, bright as gold; and just as I am preparing them something to eat, a villainous spider falls on my shoulder."
And Mother Ambroisine pointed with her finger at the crushed insect with its legs still trembling.
"I do not see that those little chickens have anything to fear from the spider," remarked Uncle Paul.
"Oh! nothing, sir: the horrid creature is dead. But you know the proverb: 'Spider in the morning, mourning; spider at night, delight.' Everybody knows that a spider seen in the morning is a sign of bad luck. Our little chickens are in danger; the cats will claw them. You'll see, sir, you'll see."
Tears of emotion came to Mother Ambroisine's eyes.
"Put the little chickens in a safe place, watch the cats, and I will answer for the rest. The proverb of the spider is only a foolish prejudice," said Uncle Paul.
Mother Ambroisine did not utter another word. She knew that Maître Paul found a reason for everything, and on occasion was capable of pronouncing a eulogy on the spider. Claire, who saw this eulogy coming, ventured a question.
"I know: in your eyes all animals, however hideous they may be, have excellent excuses to plead: all merit consideration; all play a part ordained by Providence; all are interesting to observe and to study. You are the advocate of the good God's creatures; you would plead for the toad. But permit your niece to see there only an impulse of your kind heart, and not the real truth. What could you say in praise of the spider, horrid beast, which is poisonous and disfigures the ceiling with its webs?"
"What could I say? Much, my dear child, much. In the meantime, feed your little chickens and beware of cats if you want to prove the spider proverb false."
In the evening Mother Ambroisine, her large
on her nose, was knitting stockings. On her knees the cat
slept and mingled its purring with the
"Which of you three can tell me what spiders do with their webs, those fine webs stretched in the corners of the granary or between two shrubs in the garden?"
Emile spoke first. "It is their nest, Uncle, their house,
"Hiding place!" exclaimed Jules; "yes, I think it is more
than that. One day I heard, between the lilac branches, a
little shrill noise—
"That is even so," said his uncle. "All spiders live on live prey; they make continual war on flies, gnats, and other insects. If you fear mosquitoes, those insufferable little insects that sting us at night until they bring blood, you must bless the spider, for it does its best to rid us of them. To catch game, a net is necessary. Now, the net to catch flies in their flight is a cloth woven with silk, which the spider itself produces.
"In the body of the insect the silky matter is, as with
caterpillars, a sticky liquid resembling glue or gum. As
soon as it comes in contact with the air,
congeals, hardens, and becomes a thread on which water has
no effect. When the spider wants to spin, the silk liquid
flows from four nipples, called spinnerets, placed at the
end of the stomach. These nipples are pierced at their
extremity by a number of holes, like the sprinkler of a
Patrick Henry was born on the 29th of May, 1736, in Hanover County, Virginia. George Washington was born on the 22d of February, 1732, in Westmoreland County.
While one was a baby rocking in his cradle, the other was still so small that he played about in dresses like a girl.
Many years later these Virginia boys were great friends, and, as we shall see, they became two of the most famous men in the history of our country.
The blue-eyed Patrick grew very fast. When he was old enough to go about alone, he found playmates in the woods.
The birds sang to him, the fishes dared him to dive into the clear water after them, and the bees often droned about him until he fell asleep on the grass.
Patrick's father was a Scotchman from Aberdeen, and some of his father's people were scholars of such renown that they were known throughout Europe.
He told the boy all about these noted ancestors, and started a private school to encourage him to study to make a great man of himself.
But Patrick did not care very much for books. He liked to guide a canoe down the South Anna River, which ran past the little farm where he lived. He spent many hours on the green bank watching the cork of his fishing rod. He often wandered far into the forest to set traps for the game. And you can easily guess that his lessons were never very well prepared.
His mother always took him to the Presbyterian church to hear Mr. Davies preach.
Mr. Davies was a wonderful man. He was tall and erect. His face was beautiful, and his manners were so polished that some one said he seemed like the embassador of a great king.
At church Patrick kept his eyes wide open and listened to every word the preacher said. When he returned home, his mother would ask him to give the text and repeat all of the sermon he could.
Patrick loved to imitate the clear, sweet voice and graceful gestures of Mr. Davies. His mother said she hoped he would make a preacher.
But his father said he did not like books well enough for that. At last he said he believed the boy would never be a scholar, and that he was only fit for some kind of trade. So he sent him to live with a merchant, that he might learn how to buy and sell goods.
After Patrick had clerked for a year, his father bought some tea and coffee and spices, some woolen and cotton cloths, and some tin and iron ware from a British trader. Then he gave all that he had bought to Patrick and his elder brother, William, to set up business for themselves.
The boys were very proud of their new shop. They swept it out and dusted it every morning, and put samples of their goods in the window where the light streamed through many small panes of glass.
Now, the shop was not in a city nor even in a village. It was on the edge of their father's small farm.
For miles around there were large farms or plantations, each with a fine house where a planter lived. About the houses clustered the log cabins of the negro slaves. Farther off in the skirts of the forest stood the huts of the poor whites.
The place was rather lonesome for business. Sometimes a fine coach stopped at the little shop and a pompous planter made a purchase. But the rich did not buy much there. They traded at their own wharves with the British merchants who came in shallops up the river.
They exchanged bales of tobacco for boxes and barrels of goods which they kept in the store-rooms of their houses. The slaves did not buy anything, for their masters clothed and fed them. It was only the small farmers and the poor whites who lived from hand to mouth that traded with the Henry boys.
This class of people did not have much money. They often paid their bills by making friendly visits. They lounged about the shop telling stories, cracking jokes, and quarreling with one another.
Patrick lay on the counter watching them. He did not talk much himself, but when he returned home he amused the rest of the family by screwing his face around and changing his voice until he looked and spoke like each one of his customers.
As the days went by, the boys found it very tiresome waiting for trade. William went sometimes behind the shelves to drink from a bottle of rum. Patrick never drank rum. When he heard the birds calling, he skipped away for a tramp through the woods.
If he chanced to see the tracks of deer, he followed them far into the underbrush. Perhaps he returned after several hours to find his brother asleep and somebody waiting to buy a penny's worth of something.
Of course, business could not be a success when carried on in that way. Before the year was out the brothers found their goods all gone and their shop closed up.
William went more and more to a grog shop, and became a very worthless fellow indeed. But Patrick was kind and gentle in his manners; he played well on the violin and was a great favorite with the young people in the neighborhood.
And so the years passed by, and he grew up to be a tall young man, without having learned any useful business whereby he might earn a living through honest labor.
I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling.
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I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeams dance
Against my sandy shallows.
I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses.
And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
WEEK 25 |
A S the Baron had said, there was more peace now that Lothaire had learnt to know that he must submit, and that no one cared for his threats of his father's or his mother's vengeance. He was very sulky and disagreeable, and severely tried Richard's forbearance; but there were no fresh outbursts, and, on the whole, from one week to another, there might be said to be an improvement. He could not always hold aloof from one so good-natured and good-humoured as the little Duke; and the fact of being kept in order could not but have some beneficial effect on him, after such spoiling as his had been at home.
Indeed, Osmond was once heard to say, it was a pity the boy was not to be a hostage for life; to which Sir Eric replied, "So long as we have not the training of him."
Little Carloman, meanwhile, recovered from his fears of all the inmates of the Castle excepting Hardigras, at whose approach he always shrank and trembled.
He renewed his friendship with Osmond, no longer started at the entrance of Sir Eric, laughed at Alberic's merry ways, and liked to sit on Fru Astrida's lap, and hear her sing, though he understood not one word; but his especial love was still for his first friend, Duke Richard. Hand-in-hand they went about together, Richard sometimes lifting him up the steep steps, and, out of consideration for him, refraining from rough play; and Richard led him to join with him in those lessons that Father Lucas gave the children of the Castle, every Friday and Sunday evening in the Chapel. The good Priest stood on the Altar steps, with the children in a half circle round him—the son and daughter of the armourer, the huntsman's little son, the young Baron de Montemar, the Duke of Normandy, and the Prince of France, all were equal there—and together they learnt, as he explained to them the things most needful to believe; and thus Carloman left off wondering why Richard thought it right to be good to his enemies; and though at first he had known less than even the little leather-coated huntsman, he seemed to take the holy lessons in faster than any of them—yes, and act on them, too. His feeble health seemed to make him enter into their comfort and meaning more than even Richard; and Alberic and Father Lucas soon told Fru Astrida that it was a saintly-minded child.
Indeed, Carloman was more disposed to thoughtfulness, because he was incapable of joining in the sports of the other boys. A race round the court was beyond his strength, the fresh wind on the battlements made him shiver and cower, and loud shouting play was dreadful to him. In old times, he used to cry when Lothaire told him he must have his hair cut, and be a priest; now, he only said quietly, he should like it very much, if he could be good enough.
Fru Astrida sighed and shook her head, and feared the poor child would never grow up to be anything on this earth. Great as had been the difference at first between him and Richard, it was now far greater. Richard was an unusually strong boy for ten years old, upright and broad-chested, and growing very fast; while Carloman seemed to dwindle, stooped forward from weakness, had thin pinched features, and sallow cheeks, looking like a plant kept in the dark.
The old Baron said that hardy, healthy habits would restore the puny children; and Lothaire improved in health, and therewith in temper; but his little brother had not strength enough to bear the seasoning. He pined and drooped more each day; and as the autumn came on, and the wind was chilly, he grew worse, and was scarcely ever off the lap of the kind Lady Astrida. It was not a settled sickness, but he grew weaker, and wasted away. They made up a little couch for him by the fire, with the high settle between it and the door, to keep off the draughts; and there he used patiently to lie, hour after hour, speaking feebly, or smiling and seeming pleased, when any one of those he loved approached. He liked Father Lucas to come and say prayers with him; and he never failed to have a glad look, when his dear little Duke came to talk to him, in his cheerful voice, about his rides and his hunting and hawking adventures. Richard's sick guest took up much of his thoughts, and he never willingly spent many hours at a distance from him, softening his step and lowering his voice, as he entered the hall, lest Carloman should be asleep.
"Richard, is it you?" said the little boy, as the young figure came round the settle in the darkening twilight.
"Yes. How do you feel now, Carloman; are you better?"
"No better, thanks, dear Richard;" and the little wasted fingers were put into his.
"Has the pain come again?"
"No; I have been lying still, musing; Richard, I shall never be better."
"Oh, do not say so! You will, indeed you will, when spring comes."
"I feel as if I should die," said the little boy; "I think I shall. But do not grieve, Richard. I do not feel much afraid. You said it was happier there than here, and I know it now."
"Where my blessed father is," said Richard, thoughtfully. "But oh, Carloman, you are so young to die!"
"I do not want to live. This is a fighting, hard world, full of cruel people; and it is peace there. You are strong and brave, and will make them better; but I am weak and fearful—I could only sigh and grieve."
"Oh, Carloman! Carloman! I cannot spare you. I love you like my own brother. You must not die—you must live to see your father and mother again!"
"Commend me to them," said Carloman. "I am going to my Father in heaven. I am glad I am here, Richard; I never was so happy before. I should have been afraid indeed to die, if Father Lucas had not taught me how my sins are pardoned. Now, I think the Saints and Angels are waiting for me."
He spoke feebly, and his last words faltered into sleep. He slept on; and when supper was brought, and the lamps were lighted, Fru Astrida thought the little face looked unusually pale and waxen; but he did not awake. At night, they carried him to his bed, and he was roused into a half conscious state, moaning at being disturbed. Fru Astrida would not leave him, and Father Lucas shared her watch.
At midnight, all were wakened by the slow notes, falling one by one on the ear, of the solemn passing-bell, calling them to waken, that their prayers might speed a soul on its way. Richard and Lothaire were soon at the bedside. Carloman lay still asleep, his hands folded on his breast, but his breath came in long gasps. Father Lucas was praying over him, and candles were placed on each side of the bed. All was still, the boys not daring to speak or move. There came a longer breath—then they heard no more. He was, indeed, gone to a happier home—a truer royalty than ever had been his on earth.
Then the boys' grief burst out. Lothaire screamed for his mother, and sobbed out that he should die too—he must go home. Richard stood by the bed, large silent tears rolling down his cheeks, and his chest heaving with suppressed sobs.
Fru Astrida led them from the room, back to their beds. Lothaire soon cried himself to sleep. Richard lay awake, sorrowful, and in deep thought; while that scene in St. Mary's, at Rouen, returned before his eyes, and though it had passed nearly two years ago, its meaning and its teaching had sunk deep into his mind, and now stood before him more completely.
"Where shall I go, when I come to die, if I have not returned good for evil?" And a resolution was taken in the mind of the little Duke.
Morning came, and brought back the sense that his gentle little companion was gone from him; and Richard wept again, as if he could not be consoled, as he beheld the screened couch where the patient smile would never again greet him. He now knew that he had loved Carloman all the more for his weakness and helplessness; but his grief was not like Lothaire's, for with the Prince's was still joined a selfish fear: his cry was still, that he should die too, if not set free, and violent weeping really made him heavy and ill.
The little corpse, embalmed and lapped in lead, was to be sent back to France, that it might rest with its forefathers in the city of Rheims; and Lothaire seemed to feel this as an additional stroke of desertion. He was almost beside himself with despair, imploring every one, in turn, to send him home, though he well knew they were unable to do so.
In the eastern part of Persia there lived at one time a Gardener whose one joy in life was his flowers and fruit trees. He had neither wife, nor children, nor friends; nothing except his garden. At length, however, the good man wearied of having no one to talk to. He decided to go out into the world and find a friend, Scarcely was he outside the garden before he came face to face with a Bear, who, like the Gardener, was looking for a companion. Immediately a great friendship sprang up between these two.
The Gardener invited the Bear to come into his garden, and fed him on quinces and melons. In return for this kindness, when the Gardener lay down to take his afternoon nap, the Bear stood by and drove off the flies.
One afternoon it happened that an unusually large fly alighted on the Gardener's nose. The Bear drove it off, but it only flew to the Gardener's chin. Again the Bear drove it away, but in a few moments it was back once more on the Gardener's nose. The Bear now was filled with rage. With no thought beyond that of punishing the fly, he seized a huge stone, and hurled it with such force at the Gardener's nose that he killed not only the fly, but the sleeping Gardener.
It is better to have a wise enemy than a foolish friend.
WEEK 25 |
"In sunset's light, o'er Afric thrown,
A wanderer proudly stood
Beside the well-spring, deep and lone,
Of Egypt's awful flood;
The cradle of that mighty birth,
So long a hidden thing to earth."
W HILE Captain Cook was exploring the unknown, another man—James Bruce—was opening up the geography of the world in another quarter. There were still many blank spots on the map of the world even in this eighteenth century. For 3000 years the source of the Nile had been a mystery which no man had as yet solved, until it had passed into a proverb that to discover the source of the Nile was to perform the impossible.
This man determined to perform the impossible, and succeeded.
A strong young Scotsman,—athletic, daring, a very giant in height,—James Bruce married the orphan daughter of a wine-merchant in Portugal at the age of twenty-three. She died nine months later, and he travelled off to Spain and Portugal to inspect the vines from which the wine was made. Here he was fascinated by the many Moorish remains, and studied Arabic. He came under the notice of Pitt, and was made consul of Algiers. Before he went, however, Pitt's successor had a talk with the young consul. He alluded casually to the undiscovered sources of the Nile. The idea took hold of Bruce's strong imagination.
"It was at that moment," he says, "that I resolved that this great discovery should either be achieved by me or remain—as it has done for 3000 years—a defiance to all travellers."
For two years he did his duty as consul at Algiers. But the spirit of adventure was strong upon him. He resigned his post and crossed the desert to Tripoli. Here he embarked on board a Greek ship for Crete. A violent storm overtook him, the ship foundered, and Bruce had to swim for his life in the raging sea, to be cast up helpless on the coast of Africa. Lying in an exhausted state on the sands, he was beaten and plundered by Arabs, and after a time sailed once more for Crete and so on to Egypt, where he arrived in the summer of 1768. Having gained the confidence of Ali Bey, the chief of the Mameluke rulers, he obtained leave for his journey to Abyssinia. The country was unruly and wild, cruelty and oppression reigned under the Mameluke rule of those days. It was very different to the Egypt of to-day, where British protection has brought freedom, peace, and prosperity.
Bruce sailed up the Nile, past Thebes, to the first cataract at Assuan. He visited the ruins of Karnak and Luxor, and, crossing the desert on a camel, embarked at a little mud-walled village on the shores of the Red Sea.
After a time he reached Massowah, the port of Abyssinia. The place was little more than a den of thieves and murderers, and had it not been for the kindness of Achmet, the governor's nephew, Bruce would have assuredly been slain. Achmet would fain have detained him altogether. He thought it madness for Bruce to proceed; but the sturdy young Scotsman was true to his trust, and, dressed in the long white Moorish dress of the country, he started for Gondar, the capital.
His way lay across mountainous country, indeed he had to cross the highest mountain in Abyssinia. Food was scarce, hyenas reduced the slender stock of donkeys, storms of rain soaked them to the skin, and often enough the little party were in a sorry plight. Bruce's light clothes were soon in rags, his feet bled from the long tramps over rocky ground, but he pushed bravely on toward Gondar, and at last—ninety-five days after leaving Massowah—he arrived at the capital.
The throne of Abyssinia was still occupied by a supposed descendant of King Solomon; but the country was unsettled and lawless, and many governors strove for the mastery. Smallpox was raging at the palace when Bruce arrived, and he soon showed his skill as a doctor in dealing with the cases. As a reward, the king made him Master of his Horse.
"I told him that this was no kindness. My only wish was to see the country and to find the source of the Nile." But the king would not let him go.
The delay worried the explorer not a little, and at last he persuaded the king to take him on an expedition to the banks of the great river, where there was fighting to be done. For his services the king gave him the district in which the Nile was supposed to rise, and Bruce at last was free to start on this last great quest. Through days of burning heat he pushed on with his local guide. They scrambled over mountains and across scorching plains, until at last Bruce stood on the top of the Abyssinian table-land, and looked down on to the very spot where the springs of the Nile arose. Trampling down the flowers that grew on the mountain-side, and falling down twice in his haste and excitement, Bruce stood at the source of the Nile, gazing at the "hillock of green sod" which has made his name famous.
"It is easier to guess than describe the state of my mind at that moment," he said afterwards, "standing in that spot which had baffled the genius, industry, and inquiry of both ancients and moderns for the course of near 3000 years!"
So far he was right; but after all he had only discovered the source of the Blue Nile in the Abyssinian heights. The White Nile, which joins it at Khartum, was not traced to its source for another hundred years.
It was some time before he could tear himself from the scene of all his hopes and fears to face the hardships of his return journey. Difficult as the outward journey had been, it was as nothing compared to the sufferings and troubles that tried him on the return. It was the autumn of 1772 before he reached Assuan, and eighteen months later before he reached England, after an absence of twelve years. Disappointment awaited him. Not satisfied with the reward of his own success, he expected honours and riches from the country for whom he had risked so much. But people would not believe his wonderful stories. They laughed at the wild tales he told of the Abyssinians, their customs and habits, and Bruce went back to Scotland heart-broken.
Sixteen years later he wrote an account of his travels in five fat volumes, which are among the most interesting in the world of adventure. Long years after his death it was proved that his sayings were true. Anyhow, James Bruce "will always remain the poet, and his work the epic, of African travel."
N Midgard, in a northern Kingdom, a King reigned whose name was Alv; he was wise and good, and he had in his house a foster-son whose name was Sigurd.
Sigurd was fearless and strong; so fearless and so strong was he that he once captured a bear of the forest and drove him to the King's Hall. His mother's name was Hiordis. Once, before Sigurd was born, Alv and his father who was King before him went on an expedition across the sea and came into another country. While they were yet afar off they heard the din of a great battle. They came to the battle-field, but they found no living warriors on it, only heaps of slain. One warrior they marked: he was white-bearded and old and yet seemed the noblest-looking man Alv or his father had ever looked on. His arms showed that he was a King amongst one of the bands of warriors.
They went through the forest searching for survivors of the battle. And, hidden in a dell in the forest, they came upon two women. One was tall with blue, unflinching eyes and ruddy hair, but wearing the garb of a serving-maid. The other wore the rich dress of a Queen, but she was of low stature and her manner was covert and shrinking.
When Alv and his father drew near, the one who had on her the raiment of a Queen said, "Help us, lords, and protect us, and we will show you where a treasure is hidden. A great battle has been fought between the men of King Lygni and the men of King Sigmund, and the men of King Lygni have won the victory and have gone from the field. But King Sigmund is slain, and we who are of his household hid his treasure and we can show it to you."
"The noble warrior, white-haired and white-bearded, who lies yonder—is he King Sigmund?"
The woman answered, "Yes, lord, and I am his Queen."
"We have heard of King Sigmund," said Alv's father. "His fame and the fame of his race, the Volsungs, is over the wide world."
Alv said no word to either of the women, but his eyes stayed on the one who had on the garb of a serving-maid. She was on her knees, wrapping in a beast's skin two pieces of a broken sword.
"You will surely protect us, good lords," said she who had on the queenly dress.
"Yea, wife of King Sigmund, we will protect you and your serving-maid," said Alv's father, the old King.
Then the women took the warriors to a wild place on the seashore and they showed them where King Sigmund's treasure was hidden amongst the rocks: cups of gold and mighty arm rings and jeweled collars. Prince Alv and his father put the treasure on the ship and brought the two women aboard. Then they sailed from that land.
That was before Sigurd, the foster-son of King Alv, was born.
Now the mother of Alv was wise and little of what she saw escaped her noting. She saw that of the two women that her son and her husband had brought into their kingdom, the one who wore the dress of the serving-maid had unflinching eyes and a high beauty, while the one who wore the queenly dress was shrinking and unstately. One night when all the women of the household were sitting round her, spinning wool by the light of torches in the hall, the Queen-mother said to the one who wore the queenly garb:
"Thou art good at rising in the morning. How dost thou know in the dark hours when it wears to dawn?"
The one clad in the queenly garb said, "When I was young I used to rise to milk the cows, and I waken ever since at the same hour."
The Queen-mother said to herself, "It is a strange country in which the royal maids rise to milk the cows."
Then she said to the one who wore the clothes of the serving-maid:
"How dost thou know in the dark hours when the dawn is coming?"
"My father," she said, "gave me the ring of gold that I wear, and always before it is time to rise I feel it grow cold on my finger."
"It is a strange country, truly," said the Queen-mother to herself, "in which the serving-maids wear rings of gold."
When all the others had left she spoke to the two women who had been brought into her country. To the one who wore the clothes of a serving-maid she said:
"Thou art the Queen."
Then the one who wore the queenly clothes said, "Thou art right, lady. She is the queen, and I cannot any longer pretend to be other than I am."
Then the other woman spoke. Said she: "I am the Queen as thou hast said—the Queen of King Sigmund who was slain. Because a King sought for me I changed clothes with my serving-maid, my wish being to baffle those who might be sent to carry me away.
"Know that I am Hiordis, a King's daughter. Many men came to my father to ask for me in marriage, and of those that came there were two whom I heard much of: one was King Lygni and the other was King Sigmund of the race of the Volsungs. The King, my father, told me it was for me to choose between these two. Now King Sigmund was old, but he was the most famous warrior in the whole world, and I chose him rather than King Lygni.
"We were wed. But King Lygni did not lose desire of me, and in a while he came against King Sigmund's kingdom with a great army of men. We hid our treasure by the sea-shore, and I and my maid watched the battle from the borders of the forest. With the help of Gram, his wondrous sword, and his own great warrior strength, Sigmund was able to harry the great force that came against him. But suddenly he was stricken down. Then was the battle lost. Only King Lygni's men survived it, and they scattered to search for me and the treasure of the King.
"I came to where my lord lay on the field of battle, and he raised himself on his shield when I came, and he told me that death was very near him. A stranger had entered the battle at the time when it seemed that the men of King Lygni must draw away. With the spear that he held in his hand he struck at Sigmund's sword, and Gram, the wondrous sword, was broken in two pieces. Then did King Sigmund get his death wound. 'It must be I shall die,' he said, 'for the spear against which my sword broke was Gungnir, Odin's spear. Only that spear could have shattered the sword that Odin gave my fathers. Now must I go to Valhalla, Odin's Hall of Heroes.'
" 'For that you need not weep,' said Sigmund, 'a son will be born to you, my son and yours, and you shall name him Sigurd. Take now the broken pieces of my wondrous sword and give them to my son when he shall be of warrior age.'
"Then did Sigmund turn his face to the ground and the death struggle came on him. Odin's Valkyrie took his spirit from the battle-field. And I lifted up the broken pieces of the sword, and with my serving-maid I went and hid in a deep dell in the forest. Then your husband and your son found us and they brought us to your kingdom where we have been kindly entreated, O Queen."
Such was the history that Hiordis, the wife of King Sigmund, told to the mother of Prince Alv.
Soon afterwards the child was born to her that was Sigmund's son. Sigurd she named him. And after Sigurd was born the old King died and Prince Alv became King in his stead. He married Hiordis, she of the ruddy hair, the unflinching ways, and the high beauty, and he brought up her son Sigurd in his house as his foster-son.
Sigurd, the son of Sigmund, before he came to warrior's age, was known for his strength and his swiftness and for the fearlessness that shone round him like a glow. "Mighty was the race he sprang from, the Volsung race," men said, "but Sigurd will be as mighty as any that have gone before him." He built himself a hut in the forest that he might hunt wild beasts and live near to one who was to train him in many crafts.
This one was Regin, a maker of swords and a cunning man besides. It was said of Regin that he was an Enchanter and that he had been in the world for longer than the generations of men. No one remembered, no one's father remembered, when Regin had come into that country. He taught Sigurd that art of working metals and he taught him, too, the lore of other days. But ever as he taught him he looked at Sigurd strangely, not as a man looks at his fellow, but as a lynx looks at a stronger beast.
One day Regin said to young Sigurd, "King Alv has thy father's treasure, men say, and yet he treats thee as if thou wert thrall-born."
Now Sigurd knew that Regin said this that he might anger him and thereafter use him to his own ends. He said, "King Alv is a wise and a good King, and he would let me have riches if I had need of them."
"Thou dost go about as a foot-boy, and not as a King's son."
"Any day that it likes me I might have a horse to ride," Sigurd said.
"So thou dost say," said Regin, and he turned from Sigurd and went to blow the fire of his smithy.
Sigurd was made angry and he threw down the irons on which he was working and he ran to the horse-pastures by the great River. A herd of horses was there, grey and black and roan and chestnut, the best of the horses that King Alv possessed. As he came near to where the herd grazed he saw a stranger near, an ancient but robust man, wearing a strange cloak of blue and leaning on a staff to watch the horses. Sigurd, though young, had seen Kings in their halls, but this man had a bearing that was more lofty than any King's he had ever looked on.
"Thou art going to choose a horse for thyself," said the stranger to Sigurd.
"Yea, father," Sigurd said.
"Drive the herd first into the River," the stranger said.
Sigurd drove the horses into the wide River. Some were swept down by the current, others struggled back and clambered up the bank of the pastures. But one swam across the river, and throwing up his head neighed as for a victory. Sigurd marked him; a grey horse he was, young and proud, with a great flowing mane. He went through the water and caught this horse, mounted him, and brought him back across the River.
"Thou hast done well," said the stranger. "Grani, whom thou hast got, is of the breed of Sleipner, the horse of Odin."
"And I am of the race of the sons of Odin," cried Sigurd, his eyes wide and shining with the very light of the sun. "I am of the race of the sons of Odin, for my father was Sigmund, and his father was Volsung, and his father was Rerir, and his father was Sigi, who was the son of Odin."
The stranger, leaning on his staff, looked on the youth steadily. Only one of his eyes was to be seen, but that eye, Sigurd thought, might see through a stone. "All thou hast named," the stranger said, "were as swords of Odin to send men to Valhalla, Odin's Hall of Heroes. And of all that thou hast named there were none but were chosen by Odin's Valkyries for battles in Asgard."
Cried Sigurd, "Too much of what is brave and noble in the world is taken by Odin for his battles in Asgard."
The stranger leaned on his staff and his head was bowed. "What wouldst thou?" he said, and it did not seem to Sigurd that he spoke to him. "What wouldst thou? The leaves wither and fall off Ygdrassil, and the day of Ragnarök comes." Then he raised his head and spoke to Sigurd, "The time is near," he said, "when thou mayst posses thyself of the pieces of thy father's sword."
Then the man in the strange cloak of blue went climbing up the hill and Sigurd watched him pass away from his sight. He had held back Grani, his proud horse, but now he turned him and let him gallop along the River in a race that was as swift as the wind.
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road runs by
To many-towered Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle embowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow-veiled,
Slide the heavy barges trailed
By slow horses; and unhailed
The shallop flitteth silken-sailed
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to towered Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colors gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly, village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market-girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-haired page in crimson clad,
Goes by to towered Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling through the leaves
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneeled
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.
The gemmy bridle glittered free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot;
And from his blazoned baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armor rung,
Beside remote Shalott.
All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jeweled shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burned like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot;
As often through the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glowed;
On burnished hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flowed
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me!" cried
The Lady of Shalott.
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over towered Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse—
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right—
The leaves upon her falling light—
Through the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turned to towered Camelot;
For ere she reached upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.
Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in His mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."
WEEK 25 |
ONG years ago there lived a poor labouring man who never knew what it was to sleep in peace. Whether the times were good or bad, he was haunted by fears for the morrow, and this constant worrying caused him to look so thin and worn that the neighbouring farmers hesitated to give him work. He was steady and frugal, and had never been known to waste his time in the village inn, or indulge in foolish pleasure—in fact, a worthier man could not be found, and his friends agreed in saying that he certainly deserved success, though this never came his way.
NE day, as he sat by the roadside with his head on his hands, a kindly and charitable doctor from the town close by stopped his carriage to ask him what was the matter.
"You seem in trouble, my good man," he said. "Tell me what I can do to help you."
Encouraged by the sympathy in his voice, "Weeping John," as he was called, poured out his woes, to which the doctor listened with much attention.
"If I should fall sick," the poor man finished by saying, "what would happen to my little children, and the wife whom I love more dearly than life itself? They would surely starve, for even as it is they often go hungry to bed. Surely a more unfortunate man has never been born—I toil early and late, and this is my reward." And once more he buried his face in his hands, while bitter sobs shook his ill-clad shoulders.
"Come, come!" said the doctor briskly. "Get up at once, man, and I will do my best for you. I can see that if you do not kill worry, worry will kill you."
Helping the poor fellow into his carriage, he told the coachman to drive straight home, and when they arrived at his comfortable mansion, he led him into his surgery.
EE here!" he cried, pointing to a shining bar in a glass case, "that bar of gold was bequeathed to me by my father, who was once as poor as you are now. By means of the strictest economy, and hard work, he managed to save sufficient money to purchase this safeguard against want. When it came to me, I too was poor, but by following his example, and keeping a brave heart, in cloud and storm as well as sunshine, I have now amassed a fortune that is more than sufficient for my needs. Therefore, I will now hand over to you the bar of gold, since I no longer require it. Its possession will give you confidence for the future. Do not break into it if you can avoid it, and remember that sighing and weeping should be left to weak women and girls."
The labourer thanked him with much fervour, and, hiding the bar of gold beneath his coat, sped joyfully homeward.
As he and his wife sat over the fire, which they were now no longer afraid to replenish, he told her all that the good doctor had said, and they agreed that unless the worst came to the worst, they would never touch that bar of gold.
"The knowledge that we have it safely hidden in the cellar," said his wife, "will keep from us all anxiety. And now, John, you must do your best to make a fortune, so that we may be able to hand it on to our dear children."
From that day John was a changed man. He sang and whistled merrily as he went about his work, and bore himself like a prosperous citizen. His cheeks filled out, and his eye grew bright; no longer did he waste his leisure in lamentations, but dug and planted his little garden until it yielded him richly of the fruits of the earth, and the proceeds helped to swell the silver coins in his good wife's stocking.
The farmer who had before employed him when short of hands, was so impressed with his altered looks that he took him permanently into his service, and with regular food and sufficient clothing John's delicate children grew strong and hardy.
HAT bar of gold has brought us luck," he would sometimes say blithely to his wife, who held her tongue like a wise woman, although she was tempted to remind him that the "luck" had come since he had given up weeping and lamentations concerning the future.
One summer's evening, long afterwards, as they sat in the wide porch, while their grandchildren played in the meadow beyond, and the lowing of the cows on their peaceful farm mingled with the little people's merry shouts, a stranger came up the pathway and begged for alms. Though torn and tattered, and gaunt with hunger, he had an air of gentleness and refinement, and, full of compassion, the worthy couple invited him in to rest. They set before him the best they had, and, when he tried to express his gratitude, John laid his hand on his shoulder.
"My friend," he said, "Providence has been good to us, and blessed the labour of our hands. In times gone by, however, I was as wretched as you appeared to be when you crossed the road, and it is owing to a stranger's kindness that I am in my present position." He went on to tell him of the bar of gold, and, after a long look at his wife, who nodded her head as if well pleased, he went and fetched it from the cellar, where it had lain hidden all these years.
"There!" he exclaimed. "I am going to give it to you. I shall not want it now, and my children are all well settled. It is fitting that you should have it, since your need is very great."
Now the stranger understood the science of metals, for he was a learned man who had fallen on evil times. As he took the gleaming bar in his hands, while murmuring his astonished thanks, he knew by its weight that it was not gold.
"You have made a mistake, my friends," he cried. "This bar is not what you think it, though I own that most men would be deceived."
Greatly surprised, the old woman took it from him, and polished it with her apron in order to show him how brightly it gleamed. As she did so, an inscription appeared, which neither she nor her husband had noticed before. Both listened with great interest as the stranger read it out for them.
"It is less a matter of actual want," it ran, "than the fear of what the morrow will bring, which causes the unhappiness of the poor. Then tread the path of life with courage, for it is clear that at last you will reach the end of your journey."
When the stranger paused there was a dead silence, for the old man and woman were thinking many things, and words do not come quickly when one is deeply moved. At last John offered the stranger a tremulous apology for the disappointment he must be suffering through their innocent mistake.
"On the contrary," he replied warmly, "the lesson that bar has taught me is worth far more than any money that you could give me. I shall make a new start in life, and, remembering that we fail through fear, will henceforth bear myself as a brave man should."
So saying, he bade them adieu, and passed out into the fragrant twilight.
P EOPLE used to think the queen-bee was a king, and ruled over all the bees in the hive.
They thought a hive of bees was a little kingdom, with an army, and officers, and all sorts of workers.
When you get old enough to read Shakespeare's "Henry V.," you will find in it a pretty story about the bees. He says, "They have a king, and officers of sorts;" and tells how some of the bees act as magistrates at home, while other go abroad to trade like merchants, and still others are armed soldiers. Some, he tells us, are masons, and do the building, others make the bread and honey, yet others are porters and carry heavy burdens, while the judge hands the drones over to be executed.
We know the truth about bees now, and yet we like to read these old stories.
It used to be thought that bees carried little stones in their feet on windy days, so as not to be blown away. Probably the people saw their pollen balls and mistook them for ballast.
They used to think, too, that when the bees were belated and had to stay out all night, they would lie on their backs to keep their wings dry.
A good many people, even yet, will not sell bees, because they think it is unlucky; and when bees swarm, they sometimes use charms to keep them from going away. An old German bee-keeper, who lived in the United States, had such a charm.
He told it to a little girl, but said it would bring bad luck if she were to repeat it to another girl. She might tell it to a man, or a boy, and he to another girl, and so on, but a girl must never tell it to a girl, nor a boy to a boy. I will give you the charm in German, for those of you who understand German.
When you see the bees swarming, you must say to them,—
Liebe Bienen, und liebe Bienen Mutter,
Setzt euch auf Rasen und grünes Gras.
Im Namen des Vaters, des Sohnes, und des Heiligen Geistes.
You see, it is really a little prayer to the bees, and this is the English translation:—
Dear bees, and dear mother of the bees,
Place yourselves upon the meadow and the green grass,
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
A good many still think the bees must be told when there is a death in the family, or else they will go away.
A member of the family goes at night and knocks on the hives, and says, "So-and-so is dead," and sometimes adds a little prayer to the bees not to leave. Sometime a piece of black ribbon or crape is tied on the hives.
Whittier has written a beautiful poem called, "Telling the Bees," which I hope you will read.
The ancients used to believe that the bee was given its marvellous habits by Jupiter, the king of the gods, because the bees fed him with honey when he was a baby and lay concealed in a cave, while his angry father searched for him.
It seems that the gods had their troubles as well as human beings in those days, and Jupiter's father, Saturn, who was king, was very much afraid of his own children.
An oracle had told him that they would displace him; so he settled the matter, as he thought, by swallowing them as soon as they were born.
This unfortunate habit greatly distressed Saturn's wife, Rhea, and when Jupiter was born she gave him to the care of the Curetes,—a Cretan tribe who were very true to their charge.
They used to dance about the young god and drown his cries by rattling bronze weapons, so that Saturn might not hear and so find the royal infant. Jupiter was fed upon milk and honey by the goat Amalthea and the bees. This is the end of the story, so far as bees are concerned, but perhaps you will be glad to know that when Jupiter grew up he marries Metis, whom we would call Prudence, and she administered a draught to Father Saturn, which caused him to disgorge all his children. Then Jupiter and his disgorged brothers, Neptune and Pluto, made true the words of the oracle by dethroning their very unfatherly father, and dividing his kingdom among them. Jupiter took the heavens for his portion, as you know, while Neptune took the sea, and Pluto the underground world, or the realms of the dead.
A great many people think that when bees are about to swarm, a loud noise will prevent them from leaving, and they clash on tin pans, or ring bells, or blow whistles, or do anything they can think of to make a hullabaloo. No doubt they sometimes equal the uproar made by the Curetes about the infant Jupiter.
Honey was very highly valued in ancient Greece and Italy, and that which came from Mount Hymettus was specially prized. Hymettus is a mountain in Greece, near Athens, and used to contain famous bee-pastures.
A bee-pasture, you know, is a place grown over with flowers; and Mount Hymettus was said to be rosy-purple, it was so covered with heather blossoms.
Hybla, an ancient city on the sea-coast in Sicily, was also very celebrated for its honey.
Probably the best bee-pastures in the world, to-day, are in California. A great deal of the honey is made there.
Honey is not valued as highly as it used to be, because we now have sugar. But you can imagine that before the sugar-cane was cultivated, and when people had no sweet but honey, it was a most important and valuable article of food.
Honey is very good for children and for old people. It is more digestible than sugar, and most children like it better.
You remember how "The queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey," and I think it was a very good occupation for a queen or for anybody else.
A great deal of poetry has been written about bees, and there is one little verse that everybody knows. It was written by Dr. Watts.
"How doth the little honey bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower."
The most interesting thing we have learned in modern times about bees is their relation to the flowers. Some plants cannot set seeds at all without the help of the bees, and they are very great helpers in gardens and orchards.
If you want your trees loaded with apples and pears, be sure to put a bee-hive near the orchard.
Near Boston, where a great many cucumbers are raised for market in the winter in glass houses, hives of bees are kept in the houses to fertilize the cucumbers. If the little bees did not go from flower to flower carrying the pollen from one to another, a large force of men would have to be employed to brush the pistil of each cucumber blossom with pollen.
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"
Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
WEEK 25 |
Matthew xvi: 13, to xvii: 23;
Mark viii: 27, to ix: 32;
Luke ix: 18 to 45.
ROM Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus led his disciples still further north to Casearea-philippi, at the foot of the great Mount Hermon. The name of this place means "Philip's Caesarea;" and it was so called because it was under the rule of King Herod Philip, a brother of King Herod Antipas, who ruled in Galilee; and there was another Caesarea on the shore of the Great Sea, south of Mount Carmel. At Caesarea-philippi, Jesus asked his disciples this question, "Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" "The Son of man" was the name by which Jesus often spoke of himself.
They answered him:
"Some men say that you are John the Baptist risen from the dead; some say that you are the prophet Elijah, or the prophet Jeremiah, come again to earth."
Then said Jesus, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter answered for them all, saying:
"Thou art the Anointed One, the Christ, the Son of the living God!"
Jesus said to Peter:
"Simon, this has come to you not from men, but from my Father who is in heaven. You are Peter, the Rock; and on this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of earth shall not overcome it."
For the church of Christ is made of those who believe what Peter said, that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of the world: and who obey Jesus as their Lord and King.
After this Jesus began to tell his disciples what things were to come upon him before many months. He said:
"We are going up to Jerusalem; and there the people will refuse to own the Son of man; and he shall suffer many wrongs from the rulers, and chief priests; and shall be killed; and on the third day he shall be raised to life."
But the disciples could not believe that such sad things would come to pass with Jesus. They thought that he would reign as a king and that high places in his kingdom would be given to themselves. Peter took Jesus apart from the rest, and said to him:
"Master, do not speak of such things. You will not suffer and die. You shall be a king!"
But Jesus saw that under Peter's words was the evil one, tempting him, and he said to Peter:
"Go from me, Satan, evil one! You would be a stumbling block to me, to make me fall! You are seeking not that which is of God, but that which is of men!"
For Jesus knew that while all men wished him to be a king, ruling over a kingdom on the earth, it was God's will for him to die upon the cross to save the world from sin. Then Jesus called the people to come near with his disciples, and he said to them all:
"If any man will come after me, let him give up his own will, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever has a will to save his life here, shall lose it hereafter. And whoever is willing to give up his life for my sake, shall find it again in the life everlasting. What gain will it be to a man to have the whole world, and to lose his own soul? For the Son of man will come in his glory, with all the holy angels, and then he will give to every man according to his acts. And if any man is ashamed to own the Lord now, the Lord will not own him in that day!"
One night, about a week after saying those words, Jesus called three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, and with them climbed up the side of Mount Hermon. At a high place on the mountain, the three disciples lay down to sleep, but Jesus sought his Father in prayer. While Jesus was praying, a great change came over him. His face began to shine as bright as the sun, and his garments became whiter than snow. The three disciples awoke, and saw their Lord with all this glory beaming from him.
Jesus and his disciples on Mount Hermon.
And they saw two men talking with Jesus. These were Moses and Elijah, who had come down from heaven to meet Jesus; and they spoke with him of the death that he was to die in Jerusalem. As these men were passing from the sight of the disciples, Peter spoke, scarcely knowing what he was saying, "Master, it is good for us to be here! Let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah!"
While Peter was speaking a bright and glorious cloud came over them all; and the three disciples felt a great fear as they found themselves in the cloud, and no longer able to see their Master. Out of the cloud came the voice of God, saying these words:
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him!"
As the disciples heard this voice they fell upon their faces on the ground in great fear. And Jesus came and touched them saying, "Rise up, and do not be afraid."
Then they looked up, and lo, the bright cloud had passed away, the two men were no more in sight, and Jesus was standing alone. They walked together down the mountain; and Jesus said to them very earnestly:
"Do not tell to any man what you have seen, until the Son of man is risen from the dead."
They wondered what this "rising from the dead" could mean; for even yet they could not believe that Jesus would die. But they said nothing to any one, not even to the other disciples, of what they had seen upon the mountain.
When Jesus and the three disciples came down the mountain, they found many people around the other nine disciples. As the people saw Jesus they were filled with wonder, for some of the glory still remained upon his face; and they bowed before him. One man came to Jesus, and said:
"Master, look upon my son, my only child, and have mercy upon him; for he is terribly troubled by an evil spirit. At times he cannot speak, and then he will cry out suddenly. The spirit almost tears him in pieces; and makes him fall into the fire, and into the water. He foams at the mouth; and grinds his teeth, and pines away. And I spoke to your disciples, but they could not cast out the evil spirit."
And Jesus said:
"O ye people without faith, and wandering from God, how long must I be with you? how long must I bear with you? Bring your child to me."
While they were bringing the boy to Jesus, the evil spirit in him threw him down; and seemed to tear him apart; and he lay suffering and rolling on the ground. Jesus said to the boy's father:
"How long is it since this came to him?"
The father said, "Ever since he was a little child; but if you can do anything, have mercy on us and help us!"
"If I can!" said Jesus. "Do you not know that all things are possible to the one that believes in me?"
At once the father of the child cried out, "Lord, I believe! Help my lack of faith!"
Then Jesus spoke to the evil spirit in the boy:
"Dumb and deaf spirit, come out of this child, and never again enter into him!"
Then the spirit gave a cry, and came out, and left the child as one dead on the ground. Indeed, many who looked at him said, "He is dead!"
But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up; and the boy stood up well, set free from the evil spirit; and Jesus gave him to his father. And all who saw it wondered at the mighty power of the Lord.
When Jesus was in the house, his disciples asked him, "Why could not we cast out the evil spirit?"
And Jesus said to them, "Because you were wanting in faith. But this kind of evil spirits can be sent out only through prayer and fasting."
While all were wondering at the great things which Jesus did, he said again to his disciples:
"Let what I say to you sink down into your hearts. The time is coming when the Son of man shall be given into the hands of men; and they shall kill him; and after he is killed, on the third day he shall rise again."
But they could not understand what he meant by these words; and they were afraid to ask him.
C URDIE was as watchful as ever, but was almost getting tired of his ill-success. Every other night or so he followed the goblins about, as they went on digging and boring, and getting as near them as he could, watched them from behind stones and rocks; but as yet he seemed no nearer finding out what they had in view. As at first, he always kept hold of the end of his string, while his pickaxe, left just outside the hole by which he entered the goblins' country from the mine, continued to serve as an anchor and hold fast the other end. The goblins, hearing no more noise in that quarter, had ceased to apprehend an immediate invasion, and kept no watch.
One night, after dodging about and listening till he was nearly falling asleep with weariness, he began to roll up his ball, for he had resolved to go home to bed. It was not long, however, before he began to feel bewildered. One after another he passed goblin-houses, caves that is, occupied by goblin families, and at length was sure they were many more than he had passed as he came. He had to use great caution to pass unseen—they lay so close together. Could his string have led him wrong? He still followed winding it, and still it led him into more thickly populated quarters, until he became quite uneasy, and indeed apprehensive; for although he was not afraid of the cobs, he was afraid of not finding his way out. But what could he do? It was of no use to sit down and wait for the morning—the morning made no difference here. It was all dark, and always dark; and if his string failed him he was helpless. He might even arrive within a yard of the mine, and never know it. Seeing he could do nothing better, he would at least find where the end of his string was, and, if possible, how it had come to play him such a trick. He knew by the size of the ball that he was getting pretty near the last of it, when he began to feel a tugging and pulling at it. What could it mean? Turning a sharp corner, he thought he heard strange sounds. These grew, as he went on, to a scuffling and growling and squeaking; and the noise increased, until, turning a second sharp corner, he found himself in the midst of it, and the same moment tumbled over a wallowing mass, which he knew must be a knot of the cobs' creatures. Before he could recover his feet, he had caught some great scratches on his face, and several severe bites on his legs and arms. But as he scrambled to get up, his hand fell upon his pickaxe, and before the horrid beasts could do him any serious harm, he was laying about with it right and left in the dark. The hideous cries which followed gave him the satisfaction of knowing that he had punished some of them pretty smartly for their rudeness, and by their scampering and their retreating howls, he perceived that he had routed them.
He stood a little, weighing his battle-axe in his hand as if it had been the most precious lump of metal—but indeed no lump of gold itself could have been so precious at that time as that common tool—then untied the end of the string from it, put the ball in his pocket, and still stood thinking. It was clear that the cobs' creatures had found his axe, had between them carried it off, and had so led him he knew not where. But for all his thinking he could not tell what he ought to do, until suddenly he became aware of a glimmer of light in the distance. Without a moment's hesitation he set out for it, as fast as the unknown and rugged way would permit. Yet again turning a corner, led by the dim light, he spied something quite new in his experience of the underground regions—a small irregular shape of something shining. Going up to it, he found it was a piece of mica, or Muscovy glass, called sheep-silver in Scotland, and the light flickering as if from a fire behind it. After trying in vain for some time to discover an entrance to the place where it was burning, he came at length to a small chamber in which an opening high in the wall revealed a glow beyond. To this opening he managed to scramble up, and then he saw a strange sight.
Below sat a little group of goblins around a fire, the smoke of which vanished in the darkness far aloft. The sides of the cave were full of shining minerals like those of the palace-hall; and the company was evidently of a superior order, for every one wore stones about head, or arms, or waist, shining dull, gorgeous colors in the light of the fire. Nor had Curdie looked long before he recognized the king himself, and found that he had made his way into the inner apartment of the royal family. He had never had such a good chance of hearing something! He crept through the hole as softly as he could, scrambled a good way down the wall toward them without attracting attention, and then sat down and listened. The king, evidently the queen, and probably the crown-prince and the prime minister were talking together. He was sure of the queen by her shoes, for as she warmed her feet at the fire, he saw them quite plainly.
"That will be fun!" said the one he took for the crown prince.
It was the first whole sentence he heard.
"I don't see why you should think it such a grand affair!" said his stepmother, tossing her head backward.
"You must remember, my spouse," interposed his Majesty, as if
making excuse for his son, "he has got the same blood in him. His
"Don't talk to me of his mother! You positively encourage his unnatural fancies. Whatever belongs to that mother, ought to be cut out of him."
"You forget yourself, my dear!" said the king.
"I don't," said the queen, "nor you either. If you expect me to approve of such coarse tastes, you will find yourself mistaken. I don't wear shoes for nothing."
"You must acknowledge, however," the king said, with a little groan, "that this at least is no whim of Harelip's, but a matter of state-policy. You are well aware that his gratification comes purely from the pleasure of sacrificing himself to the public good. Does it not, Harelip?"
"Yes, father; of course it does. Only it will be nice to make her cry. I'll have the skin taken off between her toes, and tie them up till they grow together. Then her feet will be like other people's, and there will be no occasion for her to wear shoes."
"Do you mean to insinuate
"Your royal Highness," he said, "possibly requires to be reminded that you have got three toes yourself—one on one foot, two on the other."
"Ha! ha! ha!" shouted the queen triumphantly.
The councilor, encouraged by this mark of favor, went on.
"It seems to me, your royal Highness, it would greatly endear you to your future people, proving to them that you are not the less one of themselves that you had the misfortune to be born of a sun-mother, if you were to command upon yourself the comparatively slight operation which, in a more extended form, you so wisely meditate with regard to your future princess."
"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the queen, louder than before, and the king and the minister joined in the laugh. It was anything but a laughing matter to Harelip. He growled, and for a few moments the others continued to express their enjoyment of his discomfiture.
The queen was the only one Curdie could see with any distinctness. She sat sideways to him, and the light of the fire shone full upon her face. He could not consider her handsome. Her nose was certainly broader at the end than its extreme length, and her eyes, instead of being horizontal, were set up like two perpendicular eggs, one on the broad, the other on the small, end. Her mouth was no bigger than a small button-hole until she laughed, when it stretched from ear to ear—only, to be sure, her ears were very nearly in the middle of her cheeks.
Anxious to hear everything they might say, Curdie ventured to slide down a smooth part of the rock just under him, to a projection below, upon which he thought to rest. But whether he was not careful enough, or the projection gave way, down he came with a rush on the floor of the cavern, bringing with him a great rumbling shower of stones.
The goblins jumped from their seats in more anger than
consternation, for they had never yet seen anything to be afraid of
in the palace. But
when they saw Curdie with his pick in his hand,
their rage was mingled with fear, for they took him for the first
of an invasion of miners. The king notwithstanding drew himself up
to his full height of four feet, spread himself to his full breadth
of three and a half, for he was the handsomest and squarest of all
the goblins, and strutting up to Curdie, planted himself with
outspread feet before him, and said with
"Pray what right have you in my palace?"
"The right of necessity, your majesty," answered Curdie. "I lost my way, and did not know where I was wandering to."
"How did you get in?"
"By a hole in the mountain."
"But you are a miner! Look at your pickaxe!"
Curdie did look at it, answering,
"I came upon it, lying on the ground, a little way from here. I tumbled over some wild beasts who were playing with it. Look, your majesty." And Curdie showed him how he was scratched and bitten.
The king was pleased to find him behave more politely than he had expected from what his people had told him concerning the miners, for he attributed it to the power of his own presence; but he did not therefore feel friendly to the intruder.
"You will oblige me by walking out of my dominions at once," he said, well knowing what a mockery lay in the words.
"With pleasure, if your majesty will give me a guide," said Curdie.
"I will give you a thousand," said the king, with a scoffing air of magnificent liberality.
"One will be quite sufficient," said Curdie.
But the king uttered a strange shout, half halloo, half roar, and in rushed goblins till the cave was swarming. He said something to the first of them which Curdie could not hear, and it was passed from one to another till in a moment the farthest in the crowd had evidently heard and understood it. They began to gather about him in a way he did not relish, and he retreated toward the wall. They pressed upon him.
"Stand back," said Curdie, grasping his pickaxe tighter by his knee.
They only grinned and pressed closer. Curdie bethought himself, and began to rhyme.
You're all so very dirty!
You're all so thick and snorty!
You're all so puff-and-snifty!
Beast and man so mixty!
All your cheeks so slaty!
"Seventy, eighty, ninety,
All your hands so flinty!
Eighty, ninety, hundred,
The goblins fell back a little when he began, and made horrible grimaces all through the rhyme, as if eating something so disagreeable that it set their teeth on edge and gave them the creeps; but whether it was that the rhyming words were most of them no words at all, for, a new rhyme being considered more efficacious, Curdie had made it on the spur of the moment, or whether it was that the presence of the king and queen gave them courage, I cannot tell; but the moment the rhyme was over, they crowded on him again, and out shot a hundred long arms, with a multitude of thick nailless fingers at the end of them, to lay hold upon him. Then Curdie heaved up his axe. But being as gentle as courageous and not wishing to kill any of them, he turned the end which was square and blunt like a hammer, and with that came down a great blow on the head of the goblin nearest him. Hard as the heads of all goblins are, he thought he must feel that. And so he did, no doubt; but he only gave a horrible cry, and sprung at Curdie's throat. Curdie, however, drew back in time, and just at that critical moment, remembered the vulnerable part of the goblin-body. He made a sudden rush at the king, and stamped with all his might on his Majesty's feet. The king gave a most unkingly howl, and almost fell into the fire. Curdie then rushed into the crowd, stamping right and left. The goblins drew back, howling on every side as he approached, but they were so crowded that few of those he attacked could escape his tread; and the shrieking and roaring that filled the cave would have appalled Curdie, but for the good hope it gave him. They were tumbling over each other in heaps in their eagerness to rush from the cave, when a new assailant suddenly faced him:—the queen, with flaming eyes and expanded nostrils, her hair standing half up from her head, rushed at him. She trusted in her shoes; they were of granite—hollowed like French sabots. Curdie would have endured much rather than hurt a woman, even if she was a goblin; but here was an affair of life and death: forgetting her shoes, he made a great stamp on one of her feet. But she instantly returned it with very different effect, causing him frightful pain and almost disabling him. His only chance with her would have been to attack the granite shoes with his pickaxe, but before he could think of that, she had caught him up in her arms, and was rushing with him across the cave. She dashed him into a hole in the wall, with a force that almost stunned him. But although he could not move, he was not too far gone to hear her great cry, and the rush of multitudes of soft feet, followed by the sounds of something heaved up against the rock; after which came a multitudinous patter of stones falling near him. The last had not ceased when he grew very faint, for his head had been badly cut, and at last insensible.
When he came to himself, there was perfect silence about him, and utter darkness, but for the merest glimmer in one tiny spot. He crawled to it, and found that they had heaved a slab against the mouth of the hole, past the edge of which a poor little gleam found its way from the fire. He could not move it a hair's breadth, for they had piled a great heap of stones against it. He crawled back to where he had been lying, in the faint hope of finding his pickaxe. But after a vain search, he was at last compelled to acknowledge himself in an evil plight. He sat down and tried to think, but soon fell fast asleep.