WEEK 26 |
O NE of the reasons why Tom's mind had drifted away from its secret troubles was, that it had found a new and weighty matter to interest itself about. Becky Thatcher had stopped coming to school. Tom had struggled with his pride a few days, and tried to "whistle her down the wind," but failed. He began to find himself hanging around her father's house, nights, and feeling very miserable. She was ill. What if she should die! There was distraction in the thought. He no longer took an interest in war, nor even in piracy. The charm of life was gone; there was nothing but dreariness left. He put his hoop away, and his bat; there was no joy in them any more. His aunt was concerned. She began to try all manner of remedies on him. She was one of those people who are infatuated with patent medicines and all new-fangled methods of producing health or mending it. She was an inveterate experimenter in these things. When something fresh in this line came out she was in a fever, right away, to try it; not on herself, for she was never ailing, but on anybody else that came handy. She was a subscriber for all the "Health" periodicals and phrenological frauds; and the solemn ignorance they were inflated with was breath to her nostrils. All the "rot" they contained about ventilation, and how to go to bed, and how to get up, and what to eat, and what to drink, and how much exercise to take, and what frame of mind to keep one's self in, and what sort of clothing to wear, was all gospel to her, and she never observed that her health-journals of the current month customarily upset everything they had recommended the month before. She was as simple-hearted and honest as the day was long, and so she was an easy victim. She gathered together her quack periodicals and her quack medicines, and thus armed with death, went about on her pale horse, metaphorically speaking, with "hell following after." But she never suspected that she was not an angel of healing and the balm of Gilead in disguise, to the suffering neighbors.
The water treatment was new, now, and Tom's low condition was a windfall to her. She had him out at daylight every morning, stood him up in the woodshed and drowned him with a deluge of cold water; then she scrubbed him down with a towel like a file, and so brought him to; then she rolled him up in a wet sheet and put him away under blankets till she sweated his soul clean and "the yellow stains of it came through his pores"—as Tom said.
Yet notwithstanding all this, the boy grew more and more melancholy and pale and dejected. She added hot baths, sitz baths, shower baths, and plunges. The boy remained as dismal as a hearse. She began to assist the water with a slim oatmeal diet and blister-plasters. She calculated his capacity as she would a jug's, and filled him up every day with quack cure-alls.
Tom had become indifferent to persecution by this time. This phase filled the old lady's heart with consternation. This indifference must be broken up at any cost. Now she heard of Pain-killer for the first time. She ordered a lot at once. She tasted it and was filled with gratitude. It was simply fire in a liquid form. She dropped the water treatment and everything else, and pinned her faith to Pain-killer. She gave Tom a teaspoonful and watched with the deepest anxiety for the result. Her troubles were instantly at rest, her soul at peace again; for the "indifference" was broken up. The boy could not have shown a wilder, heartier interest, if she had built a fire under him.
Tom felt that it was time to wake up; this sort of life might be romantic enough, in his blighted condition, but it was getting to have too little sentiment and too much distracting variety about it. So he thought over various plans for relief, and finally hit upon that of professing to be fond of Pain-killer. He asked for it so often that he became a nuisance, and his aunt ended by telling him to help himself and quit bothering her. If it had been Sid, she would have had no misgivings to alloy her delight; but since it was Tom, she watched the bottle clandestinely. She found that the medicine did really diminish, but it did not occur to her that the boy was mending the health of a crack in the sitting-room floor with it.
One day Tom was in the act of dosing the crack when his aunt's yellow cat came along, purring, eying the teaspoon avariciously, and begging for a taste. Tom said:
"Don't ask for it unless you want it, Peter."
But Peter signified that he did want it.
"You better make sure."
Peter was sure.
"Now you've asked for it, and I'll give it to you, because there ain't anything mean about me; but if you find you don't like it, you mustn't blame anybody but your own self."
Peter was agreeable. So Tom pried his mouth open and poured down the Pain-killer. Peter sprang a couple of yards in the air, and then delivered a war-whoop and set off round and round the room, banging against furniture, upsetting flower-pots, and making general havoc. Next he rose on his hind feet and pranced around, in a frenzy of enjoyment, with his head over his shoulder and his voice proclaiming his unappeasable happiness. Then he went tearing around the house again spreading chaos and destruction in his path. Aunt Polly entered in time to see him throw a few double somersets, deliver a final mighty hurrah, and sail through the open window, carrying the rest of the flower-pots with him. The old lady stood petrified with astonishment, peering over her glasses; Tom lay on the floor expiring with laughter.
"Tom, what on earth ails that cat?"
"I don't know, aunt," gasped the boy.
"Why, I never see anything like it. What did make him act so?"
"They do, do they?" There was something in the tone that made Tom apprehensive.
"Yes'm. That is, I believe they do."
The old lady was bending down, Tom watching, with interest emphasized by anxiety. Too late he divined her "drift." The handle of the telltale teaspoon was visible under the bed-valance. Aunt Polly took it, held it up. Tom winced, and dropped his eyes. Aunt Polly raised him by the usual handle—his ear—and cracked his head soundly with her thimble.
"Now, sir, what did you want to treat that poor dumb beast so for?"
"I done it out of pity for him—because he hadn't any aunt."
"Hadn't any aunt!—you numskull. What has that got to do with it?"
"Heaps. Because if he'd 'a' had one she'd 'a' burnt him out herself! She'd 'a' roasted his bowels out of him 'thout any more feeling than if he was a human!"
Aunt Polly felt a sudden pang of remorse. This was putting the thing in a new light; what was cruelty to a cat might be cruelty to a boy, too. She began to soften; she felt sorry. Her eyes watered a little, and she put her hand on Tom's head and said gently:
"I was meaning for the best, Tom. And, Tom, it did do you good."
Tom looked up in her face with just a perceptible twinkle peeping through his gravity:
"I know you was meaning for the best, auntie,
and so was I with Peter.
It done him good, too. I never see him get
"Oh, go 'long with you, Tom, before you aggravate me again. And you try and see if you can't be a good boy, for once, and you needn't take any more medicine."
Tom reached school ahead of time. It was noticed that this strange thing had been occurring every day latterly. And now, as usual of late, he hung about the gate of the schoolyard instead of playing with his comrades. He was sick, he said, and he looked it. He tried to seem to be looking everywhere but whither he really was looking—down the road. Presently Jeff Thatcher hove in sight, and Tom's face lighted; he gazed a moment, and then turned sorrowfully away. When Jeff arrived, Tom accosted him, and "led up" warily to opportunities for remark about Becky, but the giddy lad never could see the bait. Tom watched and watched, hoping whenever a frisking frock came in sight, and hating the owner of it as soon as he saw she was not the right one. At last frocks ceased to appear, and he dropped hopelessly into the dumps; he entered the empty school-house and sat down to suffer. Then one more frock passed in at the gate, and Tom's heart gave a great bound. The next instant he was out, and "going on" like an Indian; yelling, laughing, chasing boys, jumping over the fence at risk of life and limb, throwing hand-springs, standing on his head—doing all the heroic things he could conceive of, and keeping a furtive eye out, all the while, to see if Becky Thatcher was noticing. But she seemed to be unconscious of it all; she never looked. Could it be possible that she was not aware that he was there? He carried his exploits to her immediate vicinity; came war-whooping around, snatched a boy's cap, hurled it to the roof of the school-house, broke through a group of boys, tumbling them in every direction, and fell sprawling, himself, under Becky's nose, almost upsetting her—and she turned, with her nose in the air, and he heard her say: "Mf! some people think they're mighty smart—always showing off!"
Tom's cheeks burned. He gathered himself up and sneaked off, crushed and crestfallen.
D uring many centuries, if a man asked, "What can I do that will be most pleasing to God?" not only the priests but nearly all his friends would answer, "Make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to the place where our Lord suffered and was buried." To go from England or any part of Western Europe was a long journey, and often dangerous, but it was not expensive, for all Christians felt it a duty to give the pilgrims food and lodging. Jerusalem was in the hands of the Saracens. They were Mohammedans, but they had no objection to allowing pilgrims to visit the city, especially as the wealthier among them spent much money during their stay. Good Harun-al-Raschid even erected a Christian church and a building in which the pilgrims might lodge.
Peter the Hermit Preaching
About the time that William the Conqueror took possession of England, the Seljukian Turks captured Jerusalem. Then it became a different matter to make a pilgrimage to the Holy City, for the pilgrims were robbed and tortured and sometimes put to death. The Emperor in the East and the popes, one after another, were most indignant. Finally Pope Urban II. determined that the church should be aroused to capture the Holy Land from the Turks. He had a powerful helper, a Frenchman known as Peter the Hermit. Peter had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and on his return he travelled about Europe in coarse woollen shirt and hermit's cloak, telling people everywhere of the cruelties of the Turks. At Clermont in France, Pope Urban went out into a wide-spreading plain and made an eloquent address to the thousands of Frenchmen who were gathered together. He told them that God had given their nation glory in arms, and that He wished them to use their power, not in fighting with one another, but in winning the city of Christ from the infidels. The multitude shouted, "God wills it! God wills it!" and it was not long before hundreds of thousands had fastened the red cross to their shoulders and had set out for Jerusalem. The Latin word for cross is crux, and from this the expedition was known as a crusade. The pope had urged that none should go unless they were able to bear arms, and that the rich should take soldiers with them; but people paid little attention to this advice.
The first company started under Peter the Hermit and a knight known as Walter the Penniless. Not all its members, however, were real pilgrims. Some went for gain, some to see the world, and some were mere robbers and thieves. Peter had no authority over them, and they did what they chose. While they were passing through Germany, the people were kind to them and gladly brought them food; but when they came to other countries, they were not treated so generously. Then they demanded food, often most insolently, and when it was refused, they stole it. They killed flocks and herds and even their owners. Of course the people avenged their wrongs with the sword. The pilgrims fought or fled as best they might. On arriving at Constantinople they were received kindly by the emperor and given food; but even there they stole from houses and gardens and churches. They pushed on toward Jerusalem, and soon were attacked and slaughtered by the Turks.
But there were hundreds of thousands of others making ready to join the crusade who were not wild, turbulent folk like the first company, but were far more earnest and serious. It is thought that at least 100,000 of these were knights. They came by different ways, but all met at Constantinople. Then they marched on into Asia Minor. They were in need of food and even of water. Thousands perished. The others were saved by some dogs that had followed them. These dogs deserted their masters, but finally came back to the camp. "See their muddy paws! They have found water!" cried the thirsty people. They followed the dogs' tracks and came to water. A pigeon, too, did them a good turn. One ruler had pretended to be friendly, but just after they had left his territory, they picked up in their camp a dead carrier pigeon, bearing a letter to the ruler of the next district, bidding him destroy "the accursed Christians."
The Arrival of the Crusaders at Jerusalem
So they went on; sometimes they captured a town; sometimes many of them died of famine or plague. At length they came in sight of the Holy City, and then all their troubles were forgotten. They cried, "Jerusalem! Jerusalem!" They fell upon their knees, they kissed one another with joy, they cast off their shoes, for had not the very soil become holy where the Lord had once walked? They threw themselves down upon it and kissed the ground. With shouts of "God wills it! God wills it!" they attacked the walls. After a savage combat, the city was captured. Then came a massacre of Saracens as brutal as any in history; for even the gallant knights had not yet learned that it is better to convert an enemy than to kill him.
The Storming of Jerusalem
The most valiant leader among the crusaders was Godfrey of Bouillon, and he was chosen king of what was called the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He was escorted to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and there he would have been crowned, but he said, "No, I cannot wear a crown of gold in the very city in which my Lord and Master wore a crown of thorns." He was willing to be called Defender of the Holy Sepulchre, but he would not take the title of king.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Godfrey and a few other knights remained in Jerusalem, and the rest of the pilgrims went to their homes. They had spent four years in this crusade; hundreds of thousands of Christians, and perhaps as many Saracens, had been slain; but the Holy City had been taken from the infidels, and there was great rejoicing.
WEEK 26 |
God gives not kings the style of gods in vain,
For on the throne His sceptre do they sway;
And as their subjects ought them to obey,
So kings should fear and serve their God again.
If, then, ye would enjoy a happy reign,
Observe the statutes of our heavenly king,
And from His law make all your laws to spring.
If His lieutenant here you would remain,
Reward the just, be steadfast, true, and plain;
Repress the proud, maintaining aye the right;
Walk always so as ever in His sight,
Who guards the godly, plaguing the profane;
And so shall you in princely virtues shine,
Resembling right your mighty King divine.
T HIS poetry was written by James to his son, and perhaps it would have been better both for James and Charles had they tried to rule as the poem says kings ought to rule.
After Charles became the prisoner of the army, letters and messages passed continually between him and Parliament, and between him and the leaders of the army. Both parties offered to replace the King upon the throne if he would only promise them certain things. But these things Charles would not promise, for all the time he was secretly plotting with his friends, and hoping to free himself.
The leaders of the army treated Charles very kindly, allowing him to see his friends, and to have a great deal of liberty. This made it easy for him to escape, which he did, and fled to Carisbrooke Castle in the Isle of Wight. But although he thought that he was going to friends, he found that he was again a prisoner, and more carefully guarded than before.
The struggle for power between Parliament and army still went on. But Cromwell was master of the army, and he meant to be master of Parliament too. So one day when Parliament was about to meet, a man called Colonel Pride surrounded the House with soldiers. As they arrived, each member who would not do exactly as Cromwell and the other army leaders wished, was seized and turned away. When this was done there were only about fifty members left. This was called Pride's Purge, because he purged or cleaned away all those who did not think exactly as he did. It was still the Long Parliament that was sitting, but people now called it the Rump Parliament, because it was not a real parliament, but only part of one.
Cromwell was master of King and Parliament, but the army was too strong even for him. Against his will he was driven to do a deed from which he shrank. He was driven to condemn the King to death.
Charles was accused of high treason against the nation, and was brought to London to be tried. This was a crime which had never been heard of before, as high treason means a crime against the ruler.
More than a hundred men were called as judges of the King, but scarcely half of them came. Many of them were angry with Charles, and wished him to be punished. But the punishment for treason they knew was death, and they did not wish the King to be killed.
The judges assembled at Westminster Hall, and King Charles was brought before them as a prisoner. They who had always stood bareheaded in his presence, now sat with their hats upon their heads. Seeing that, Charles too kept on his hat, but it was seen that his hair, which had been very beautiful, had grown grey, and that he looked old and worn.
Charles had been foolish, he had been wicked, but now, in the face of death, he behaved with the dignity of a king. The men who sat before him, he said, had no right to judge or condemn him. He would not plead for mercy. Three times he was brought before the court, three times he refused to plead. At last the judges, without further trial, sentenced him to death as a "tyrant, a traitor, a murderer, and a public enemy."
Calm and dignified as ever, Charles walked out of the hall after the sentence had been pronounced.
"God bless your Majesty," cried a soldier as he passed, and was struck by his officer for daring to say such words.
"Methinks," said the King, pausing and smiling at the man, "the punishment is greater than the fault."
Three days later Charles the King walked for the last time through the streets of London, from St. James's Palace to Whitehall. The way was lined with soldiers, soldiers marched in front of him and behind him; the air was filled with the noise of trampling feet and the sound of drums.
The scaffold was raised outside the Palace of Whitehall, and hundreds of people crowded to see the dreadful end of their King, some in joy, very many in grief and awe.
Charles knelt by the block amid deep silence. And when a man in a black mask held up the King's head, crying, "Behold the head of a traitor!" a groan burst from the shuddering crowd.
He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene,
But with his keener eye
The axe's edge did try;
Nor called the gods with vulgar spite
To vindicate his helpless right;
But bowed his comely head
Down, as upon a bed.
T HE real watcher in the woods usually goes off by himself. He hates to have anybody along; for Anybody wants to be moving all the time, and Anybody wants to be talking all the time, and Anybody wants to be finding a circus, or a zoo, or a natural history museum in the middle of the woods, else Anybody wishes he had stayed at home or gone to the ball-game.
Now I always say to Mr. Anybody when he asks me to take him into the woods, "Yes, come along, if you can stand stock-still for an hour, without budging; if you can keep stock-still for an hour, without talking; if you can get as excited watching two tumble-bugs trying to roll their ball up hill, as you do watching nine baseball men trying to bat their ball about a field."
The doctor pulled a small blank book out of his vest pocket, scribbled something in Latin and Chinese (at least it looked like Chinese), and then at the bottom wrote in English, "Take one teaspoonful every hour"; and, tearing off the leaf, handed it to the patient. It was a prescription for some sort of medicine.
Now I am going to give you a prescription,—for some
woods medicine,—a magic dose that will cure you of
blindness and deafness and clumsy-footedness, that will
cause you to see things and hear things and think
things in the woods that you have never thought or
heard or seen in the woods before. Here is the
Wood Chuck, M. D.,
Office Hours: 5.30 a.m. until Breakfast.
No moving for one hour . . .
No talking for one hour . . .
No dreaming or thumb-twiddling the while . . .
Sig: The dose to be taken from the top of a stump with a bit of sassafras bark or a nip of Indian turnip every time you go into the woods.
I know that this compound will cure if you begin taking it early enough—along, I should say, from the Fifth to the Eighth Grades. It is a very difficult dose to take at any age, but it is almost impossible for grown-ups to swallow it; for they have so many things to do, or think they have, that they can't sit still a whole hour anywhere—a terrible waste of time! And then they have been talking for so many years that to stop for a whole hour might—kill them, who knows! And they have been working nervously with their hands so long that their thumbs will twiddle, and to sleep they will go the minute they sit down, in spite of themselves. It is no use to give this medicine to grown-ups. They are what Dr. Wood Chuck calls "chronics"—hopeless hurriers who will never sit down upon a stump, who, when the Golden Chariot comes for them, will stand up and drive all the way to heaven.
However, I am not giving this medicine to grownups, but to you. Of course you will make a bad face over it, too; for, young or old, it is hard to sit still and even harder to keep still—I mean not to talk. I have closely watched four small boys these several years now, and I never knew one of them to sit still for a whole hour at home —not once in his whole life! And as for his tongue! he might tuck that into his cheek, hold it down between his teeth, crowd it back behind his fist—no matter. The tongue is an unruly member. But let these four boys get into the woods, and every small pale-face of them turns Indian instinctively, tip-toeing up and down the ridges with lips as close-sealed as if some finger of the forest were laid upon them. So it must be with you when you enter the fields and woods.
The wood-born people are all light-footed and cautious in their stirring. Only the box turtles scuff carelessly along; and that is because they can shut themselves up—head, paws, tail—inside their lidded shells, and defy their enemies.
The skunk, however, is sometimes careless in his going; for he knows that he will neither be crowded nor jostled along the street, so he naturally behaves as if all the woods were his. Yet, how often do you come upon a skunk? Seldom—because, he is quite as unwilling to meet you as you are to meet him; but as one of your little feet makes as much noise in the leaves as all four of his, he hears you coming and turns quietly down some alley or in at some burrow and allows you to pass on.
Louder than your step in the woods is the sound of your voice. Perhaps there is no other noise so far-reaching, so alarming, so silencing in the woods as the human voice. When your tongue begins, all the other tongues cease. Songs stop as by the snap of a violin string; chatterings cease; whisperings end—mute are the woods and empty as a tomb, except the wind be moving aloft in the trees.
Three things all the animals can do supremely well: they can hear well; they can see motion well; they can wait well.
If you would know how well an animal can wait, scare Dr. Wood Chuck into his office, then sit down outside and wait for him to come out. It would be a rare and interesting thing for you to do. No one has ever done it yet, I believe! Establish a world's record for keeping still! But you should scare him in at the beginning of your summer vacation so as to be sure you have all the waiting-time the state allows: for you may have to leave the hole in September and go back to school.
When the doctor wrote the prescription for this medicine, "No moving for an hour," he was giving you a very small, a homeopathic dose of patience, as you can see; for an hour at a time, every wood-watcher knows, will often be only a waste of time, unless followed immediately by another hour of the same.
On the road to the village one day, I passed a fox-hunter sitting atop an old stump. It was about seven o'clock in the morning.
"Hello, Will!" I called, "been out all night?"
"No, got here 'bout an hour ago," he replied.
I drove on and, returning near noon, found Will still atop the stump.
"Had a shot yet?" I called.
"No, the dogs brought him down 'tother side the brook, and carried him over to the Shanty field."
About four o'clock that afternoon I was hurrying down to the station, and there was Will atop that same stump.
"Got him yet?" I called.
"No, dogs are fetching him over the Quarries now"—and I was out of hearing.
It was growing dark when I returned; but there was Will Hall atop the stump. I drew up in the road.
"Grown fast to that stump, Will?" I called. "Want me to try to pull you off?"
"No, not yet," he replied, jacking himself painfully to his feet. "Chillin' up some, ain't it?" he added shaking himself. "Might's well go home, I guess"—when from the direction of Young's Meadows came the eager voice of his dogs; and, waving me on, he got quickly back atop the stump, his gun ready across his knees.
I was nearly home when, through the muffle of the darkening woods, I heard the quick bang! bang! of Will's gun.
Yes, he got him, a fine red fox. And speaking to me
about it one day, he
"There's a lot more to sittin' still than most folks thinks. The trouble is, most folks in the woods can't stand the monopoly of it."
Will's English needs touching up in spots; but he can show the professors a great many things about the ways of the woods.
And now what does the doctor mean by "No dreaming or thumb-twiddling" in the woods? Just this: that not only must you be silent and motionless for hours at a time, but you must also be alert—watchful, keen, ready to take a hint, to question, guess, and interpret. The fields and woods are not full of life, but full only of the sounds, shadows, and signs of life.
You are atop of your stump, when over the ridge you hear a slow, quiet rustle in the dead leaves—a skunk; then a slow, loud rustle—a turtle; then a quick, loud—one-two-three —rustle—a chewink; then a tiny, rapid rustle—a mouse; then a long, rasping rustle—a snake; then a measured, galloping rustle—a squirrel; then a light-heavy, hop-thump rustle—a rabbit; then—and not once have you seen the rustlers in the leaves beyond the ridge; and not once have you stirred from your stump.
Perhaps this understanding of the leaf-sounds might be called "interpretation"; but before you can interpret them, you must hear them; and no dozing, dreaming, fuddling sitter upon a stump has ears to hear.
As you sit there, you notice a blue jay perched silent and unafraid directly over you—not an ordinary, common way for a blue jay to act. "Why?" you ask. Why, a nest, of course, somewhere near! Or, suddenly round and round the trunk of a large oak tree whirls a hummingbird. "Queer," you say. Then up she goes—and throwing your eye ahead of her through the tree-tops you chance to intercept her bee-line flight—a hint! She is probably gathering lichens for a nest which she is building somewhere near, in the direction of her flight. A whirl! a flash!—as quick as light! You have a wonderful story!
Now do not get the impression that all one needs to do in order to become acquainted with the life of the woods is to sit on a stump a long time, say nothing, and listen hard. All that is necessary—rather, the ability to do it is necessary; but in the woods or out it is also necessary to exercise common sense. Guess, for instance, when guessing is all that you can do. You will learn more, however, and learn it faster, generally, by following it up, than by sitting on a stump and guessing about it.
At twilight, in the late spring and early summer, we frequently hear a gentle, tremulous call from the woods or from below in the orchard. "What is it?" I had been asked a hundred times, and as many times had guessed that it might be the hen partridge clucking to her brood; or else I had replied that it made me think of the mate-call of a coon, or that I half inclined to believe it the cry of the woodchucks, or that possibly it might be made by the owls. In fact, I didn't know the peculiar call, and year after year I kept guessing at it.
We were seated one evening on the porch listening to the whip-poor-wills, when some one said, "There's your woodchuck singing again." Sure enough, there sounded the tremulous woodchuck-partridge-owl-coon cry. I slipped down through the birches determined at last to know that cry and stop guessing about it, if I had to follow it all night.
The moon was high and full, the footing almost noiseless, and everything so quiet that I quickly located the clucking sounds as coming from the orchard. I came out of the birches into the wood-road, and was crossing the open field to the orchard, when something dropped with a swish and a vicious clacking close upon my head. I jumped from under my hat, almost,—and saw the screech owl swoop softly up into the nearest apple tree. Instantly she turned toward me and uttered the gentle purring cluck that I had been guessing at so hard for at least three years. And even while I looked at her, I saw in the tree beyond, silhouetted against the moonlit sky, two round bunches,—young owls evidently,—which were the explanation of the calls. These two, and another young one, were found in the orchard the following day.
I rejoined the guessers on the porch and gave them the satisfying fact, but only after two or three years of guessing about it. I had laughed once at some of my friends over on the other road who had bolted their front door and had gone out of the door at the side of the house for precisely twenty-one years because the key in the front-door lock wouldn't work. They were intending to have it fixed, but the children being little kept them busy; then the children grew up, and of course kept them busier; got married at last and left home—all but one daughter. Still the locksmith was not called to fix that front door. One day this unmarried daughter, in a fit of impatience, got at that door herself, and found that the key had been inserted just twenty-one years before—upside down!
There I had sat on the porch—on a stump, let us say, and guessed about it. Truly, my key to this mystery had been left long in the lock, upside down, while I had been going in and out by the side door.
No, you must go into the fields and woods, go deep and far and frequently, with eyes and ears and all your souls alert!
WEEK 26 |
H ERE Uncle Paul caught Claire looking at him thoughtfully. It was evident that some change was taking place in her mind: the spider was no longer a repulsive creature, unworthy of our regard. Uncle Paul continued:
"With its legs, armed with sharp-toothed little claws like combs, the spider draws the thread from its spinnerets as it has need. If it wishes to descend, like the one this morning that came down from the ceiling on to Mother Ambroisine's shoulder, it glues the end of the thread to the point of departure and lets itself fall perpendicularly. The thread is drawn from the spinnerets by the weight of the spider, and the latter, softly suspended, descends to any depth it wishes, and as slowly as it pleases. In order to ascend again, it climbs up the thread by folding it gradually into a skein between its legs. For a second descent, the spider has only to let its skein of silk unwind little by little.
"To weave its web, each kind of spider has its own method of
procedure, according to the kind of game it is going to
hunt, the places it frequents, and according to its
particular inclinations, tastes, and instincts. I will
merely tell you a few words about the epeiræ, large
spiders magnificently speckled with yellow, black, and
silvery white. They are
hunters of big game,—of green or
"An epeira has found a good place for hunting: the
"Build a bridge from one side to the other, without crossing the water or moving away from its place? If the spider can do that it is cleverer than I am." Thus spoke Jules.
"Than I, too," chimed in his brother.
"If I did not already know," said Claire, "since you have just told us, that the spider does accomplish it, I should say that its bridge is impossible."
Mother Ambroisine said nothing, but by the slackening of the
"Animals often have more intelligence than we," continued
Uncle Paul; "the epeira will prove it to us. With its hind
legs it draws a thread from its spinnerets. The thread
lengthens and lengthens; it floats from the top of the
branch. The spider draws out more and more; finally, it
stops. Is the thread long enough? Is it too short? That is
what must be looked after. If too long, it would be wasting
the precious silky liquid; if too short, it would not fulfil
the given conditions. A glance is thrown at the distance to
be crossed, an exact glance, you may be sure. The thread is
found too short. The spider lengthens it by drawing out a
little more. Now all goes well: the thread has the
"Oh, how simple!" cried Jules. "And yet not one of us would have thought of it."
"Yes, my friend, it is very simple, but at the same time very ingenious. It is thus with all work: simplicity in the means employed is a sign of excellence. To simplify is to have knowledge; to complicate is to be ignorant. The epeira, in its kind of construction, is science perfected."
"Where does it get that science, Uncle?" asked Claire. "Animals have not reason. Then who teaches the epeira to build its suspension bridges?"
"No one, my dear child; it is born with this knowledge. It
has it by instinct, the infallible inspiration of the Father
of all things, who creates in the least of His creatures,
for their preservation, ways of acting before which our
reason is often confounded. When the epeira, from the top of
the willow, gets ready to spin its web, what inspires it
with the audacious project of the bridge; what gives it
patience to wait for the floating end of the thread to
entwine in the branches of the other bank; what assures it
of the success of a labor that it is performing perhaps for
the first time, and has never seen done? It is the universal
Reason that watches over creation, and takes among men the
Uncle Paul had won his case: in the eyes of all, even of Mother Ambroisine, spiders were no longer frightful creatures.
Patrick won the love of a bright-eyed little lass who had bought many a ha'penny worth of his peppermints. He was poor, and so was she; but he said by putting their shoulders together they might be better able to bear their poverty.
He was only eighteen, and she was younger still; but he said that their ages together made over thirty years. That sounded very old indeed! And so without a dollar in his pocket Patrick Henry married little Sarah Shelton.
Patrick's father gave him a small patch of land, and Sarah's father gave her two or three slaves to set up house keeping with.
The tall Virginia boy went into the tobacco field with his negroes. He dressed in homespun and looked like a farmer; and when the neighbors rode past, they smilingly said, "That boy of John Henry's is finding out how to work."
Patrick worked hard on week days. When Sunday came, he always went to church.
Like his father, he was an Episcopalian, but he loved so well to hear Mr. Davies preach that he attended the Presbyterian church.
One Sunday in May, 1755, Mr. Davies talked about war.
The country north of the Ohio River belonged to the English colonies, yet the French from Canada were building forts there to keep the English away.
King George had sent General Braddock to America with an army of grenadiers, and a Virginia regiment was marching to join him.
They would go to the Ohio country and drive out the French.
Patrick wished very much that he might be a soldier and help fight for the king. But the wife and babies must be fed, and so he toiled on in the field with the negroes.
One Sunday in August Mr. Davies looked very sad when he rose to preach.
He said that news had just come from the Ohio country. General Braddock had been killed and his army defeated. Many brave Virginia boys lay dead on the field of battle.
Yet, he said, a Virginia officer named George Washington, had saved a part of the army.
"Colonel Washington," said Mr. Davies, "is only twenty-three years old. I cannot but hope that Providence has preserved the youth in so signal a manner for some important service to his country."
"Ah," thought Patrick, "George Washington has done so much for his country, and he is only twenty-three!"
He looked down at his hands. They were brown and rough with toil.
"Alas!" he said, "I do my best, and yet I cannot even make a living on my little farm!"
This was quite true.
Patrick could not make his crops grow. Then his house caught fire and burned to the ground. It was all very discouraging!
He thought, if he tried once more, he might succeed as a merchant. So he sold his slaves, and with the money which they brought he built a house and purchased a small stock of goods.
That very year the tobacco crop failed. People were not able to pay for what they bought. There was nothing to do but wait for the next crop.
Meantime Patrick's shop became the lounging place for the whole neighborhood.
The small planters and overseers dropped in to talk about crops. The trappers from beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains stopped with their packs of furs to tell of the Indians on the frontiers.
The ferrymen who paddled the boats across the river repeated the latest gossip of the Yankee peddlers from New York and Boston and Philadelphia. The sons of the rich planters stopped often to talk about horse-racing, cock-fighting, and deer-stalking. But more than all else, these young fellows talked about the French war in the North.
One day they told of the dashing British officers who were stopping at Alexandria, and declared that red coats and gold lace were turning the heads of all the pretty girls.
Another day they said young Colonel George Washington, with a Virginia regiment, had joined the British General Forbes, and they were marching together to capture the French fort on the Ohio River.
And then, a few weeks later, they hurried in to tell how the French fort was taken, and how everybody thought that the French would be defeated at Quebec.
Now, all this talking was very exciting! Nobody enjoyed it more than Patrick himself. Yet talking would not settle bills. The tobacco crop failed a second time, and he was obliged to shut up his shop.
And so, at the age of twenty-three, Patrick Henry, with a wife and little children to provide for, did not have a shilling in his pocket. But his father helped a little and Sarah's father helped a little, and they managed to keep the wolf from the door.
"There is one thing I can say about Patrick," said Sarah's father; "he does not swear nor drink, nor keep bad company."
I'll tell you how the sun rose,
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
"That must have been the sun!"
But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while
Till when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars,
And led the flock away.
WEEK 26 |
"S IR ERIC," said Richard, "you told me there was a Parlement to be held at Falaise, between Count Bernard and the King of Denmark. I mean to attend it. Will you come with me, or shall Osmond go, and you remain in charge of the Prince?"
"How now, Lord Richard, you were not wont to love a Parlement?"
"I have something to say," replied Richard. The Baron made no objection, only telling his mother that the Duke was a marvellous wise child, and that he would soon be fit to take the government himself.
Lothaire lamented the more when he found that Richard was going away; his presence seemed to him a protection, and he fancied, now Carloman was dead, that his former injuries were about to be revenged. The Duke assured him, repeatedly, that he meant him nothing but kindness, adding, "When I return, you will see, Lothaire;" then, commending him to the care and kindness of Fru Astrida, Osmond, and Alberic, Richard set forth upon his pony, attended by Sir Eric and three men-at-arms.
Richard felt sad when he looked back at Bayeux, and thought that it no longer contained his dear little friend; but it was a fresh bright frosty morning, the fields were covered with a silvery-white coating, the flakes of hoar-frost sparkled on every bush, and the hard ground rung cheerily to the tread of the horses' feet. As the yellow sun fought his way through the grey mists that dimmed his brightness, and shone out merrily in the blue heights of the sky, Richard's spirits rose, and he laughed and shouted, as hare or rabbit rushed across the heath, or as the plover rose screaming above his head, flapping her broad wings across the wintry sky.
One night they slept at a Convent, where they heard that Hugh of Paris had passed on to join the conference at Falaise. The next day they rode on, and, towards the afternoon, the Baron pointed to a sharp rocky range of hills, crowned by a tall solid tower, and told Richard, yonder was his keep of Falaise, the strongest Castle in Normandy.
The country was far more broken as they advanced—narrow valleys and sharp hills, each little vale full of wood, and interspersed with rocks. "A choice place for game," Sir Eric said and Richard, as he saw a herd of deer dash down a forest glade, exclaimed, "that they must come here to stay, for some autumn sport."
There seemed to be huntsmen abroad in the woods; for through the frosty air came the baying of dogs, the shouts and calls of men, and, now and then, the echoing, ringing notes of a bugle. Richard's eyes and cheeks glowed with excitement, and he pushed his brisk little pony on faster and faster, unheeding that the heavier men and horses of his suite were not keeping pace with him on the rough ground and through the tangled boughs.
Presently, a strange sound of growling and snarling was heard close at hand: his pony swerved aside, and could not be made to advance; so Richard, dismounting, dashed through some briars, and there, on an open space, beneath a precipice of dark ivy-covered rock, that rose like a wall, he beheld a huge grey wolf and a large dog in mortal combat. It was as if they had fallen or rolled down the precipice together, not heeding it in their fury. Both were bleeding, and the eyes of both glared like red fiery glass in the dark shadow of the rock. The dog lay undermost, almost overpowered, making but a feeble resistance; and the wolf would, in another moment, be at liberty to spring on the lonely child.
But not a thought of fear passed through his breast; to save the dog was Richard's only idea. In one moment he had drawn the dagger he wore at his girdle, ran to the two struggling animals, and with all his force, plunged it into the throat of the wolf, which, happily, was still held by the teeth of the hound.
The struggles relaxed, the wolf rolled heavily aside, dead; the dog lay panting and bleeding, and Richard feared he was cruelly torn. "Poor fellow! noble dog! what shall I do to help you?" and he gently smoothed the dark brindled head.
A voice was now heard shouting aloud, at which the dog raised and crested his head, as a figure in a hunting dress was coming down a rocky pathway, an extremely tall, well-made man, of noble features. "Ha! holla! Vige! Vige! How now, my brave hound?" he said in the Northern tongue, though not quite with the accent Richard was accustomed to hear. "Art hurt?"
"Much torn, I fear," Richard called out, as the faithful creature wagged his tail, and strove to rise and meet his master.
"Ha, lad! what art thou?" exclaimed the hunter, amazed at seeing the boy between the dead wolf and wounded dog. "You look like one of those Frenchified Norman gentilesse, with your smooth locks and gilded baldrick, yet your words are Norse. By the hammer of Thor! that is a dagger in the wolf's throat!"
"It is mine," said Richard. "I found your dog nearly spent, and I made in to the rescue."
"You did? Well done! I would not have lost Vige for all the plunder of Italy. I am beholden to you, my brave young lad," said the stranger, all the time examining and caressing the hound. "What is your name? You cannot be Southern bred?"
As he spoke, more shouts came near; and the Baron de Centeville rushed through the trees holding Richard's pony by the bridle. "My Lord, my Lord!—oh, thank Heaven, I see you safe!" At the same moment a party of hunters also approached by the path, and at the head of them Bernard the Dane.
"Ha!" exclaimed he, "what do I see? My young Lord! what brought you here?" And with a hasty obeisance, Bernard took Richard's outstretched hand.
"I came hither to attend your council," replied Richard. "I have a boon to ask of the King of Denmark."
"Any boon the King of Denmark has in his power will be yours," said the dog's master, slapping his hand on the little Duke's shoulder, with a rude, hearty familiarity, that took him by surprise; and he looked up with a shade of offence, till, on a sudden flash of perception, he took off his cap, exclaiming, "King Harald himself! Pardon me, Sir King!"
"Pardon, Jarl Richart! What would you have me pardon?—your saving the life of Vige here? No French politeness for me. Tell me your boon, and it is yours. Shall I take you a voyage, and harry the fat monks of Ireland?"
Richard recoiled a little from his new friend.
"Oh, ha! I forgot. They have made a Christian of you—more's the pity. You have the Northern spirit so strong. I had forgotten it. Come, walk by my side, and let me hear what you would ask. Holla, you Sweyn! carry Vige up to the Castle, and look to his wounds. Now for it, young Jarl."
"My boon is, that you would set free Prince Lothaire."
"What?—the young Frank? Why they kept you captive, burnt your face, and would have made an end of you but for your clever Bonder."
"That is long past, and Lothaire is so wretched. His brother is dead, and he is sick with grief, and he says he shall die, if he does not go home."
"A good thing too for the treacherous race to die out in him! What should you care for him? he is your foe."
"I am a Christian," was Richard's answer.
"Well, I promised you whatever you might ask. All my share of his ransom, or his person, bond or free, is yours. You have only to prevail with your own Jarls and Bonders."
Richard feared this would be more difficult; but Abbot Martin came to the meeting, and took his part. Moreover, the idea of their hostage dying in their hands, so as to leave them without hold upon the King, had much weight with them; and, after long deliberation, they consented that Lothaire should be restored to his father, without ransom but only on condition that Louis should guarantee to the Duke the peaceable possession of the country, as far as St. Clair sur Epte, which had been long in dispute; so that Alberic became, indisputably, a vassal of Normandy.
Perhaps it was the happiest day in Richard's life when he rode back to Bayeux, to desire Lothaire to prepare to come with him to St. Clair, there to be given back into the hands of his father.
And then they met King Louis, grave and sorrowful for the loss of his little Carloman, and, for the time, repenting of his misdeeds towards the orphan heir of Normandy.
He pressed the Duke in his arms, and his kiss was a genuine one as he said, "Duke Richard, we have not deserved this of you. I did not treat you as you have treated my children. We will be true lord and vassal from henceforth."
Lothaire's last words were, "Farewell, Richard. If I lived with you, I might be good like you. I will never forget what you have done for me."
When Richard once more entered Rouen in state, his subjects shouting round him in transports of joy, better than all his honour and glory was the being able to enter the Church of our Lady, and kneel by his father's grave, with a clear conscience, and the sense that he had tried to keep that last injunction.
"O F all birds whom I have ever known," a Falcon once said to a Hen, "you are without doubt the most ungrateful and treacherous."
"Why, what signs of ingratitude and treachery have you ever seen in me?" retorted the Hen, ruffling her feathers.
"Think how you treat your keepers," the Falcon made answer. "By day they feed you corn. For the night they build you a warm, safe coop. But if once a man tries to catch you, you fly from corner to corner and fence to fence, giving the fellow a merry chase. Now I am a wild bird, and there is no need that any one should feed or care for me; and yet, when any man is kind to me and pets me, I grow tame. I then hunt for him; I bring him all the game that I catch; and, no matter how far away I am when he whistles, I come to him as fast as my wings can fly."
"All this is very fine," replied the Hen, "but I see that you do not know the cause of my flight. You never saw a Falcon roasting on the spit, while I have seen hundreds of hens dressed up in as many different sauces. If you were to see falcons served thus, you would never come near your keeper again, and if I fly from fence to fence, you would fly from hill to hill."
WEEK 26 |
"When mercy seasons justice."
W HILE Captain Cook was discovering new lands for his country, and America was asserting her independence, events of great importance were taking place in India.
Robert Clive, the victor of Plassey and founder of the Indian Empire, was dead, but the East India Company had found an able successor in Warren Hastings, a man whose name is "writ large across a very important page of Indian history."
Warren Hastings was born in 1732, at a time when the fortunes of his family were at a very low ebb and the old home of his ancestors had passed into strangers' hands. His father was very poor, and little Warren went to the village school. But at the age of seven the boy made a plan. It was to lead him through many glories and many crimes. One bright summer day he lay on the bank of a stream that flowed through the lands of his forefathers, and as he gazed at the old dwelling of his race he swore to himself that some day he would win back his inheritance.
At the age of seventeen he sailed to India as a clerk in the employ of the East India Company. Before long he came under the notice of Clive, who noted him as promising; and he was soon appointed to posts of importance, first at Bengal, then at Calcutta, and later at Madras. In 1771, a few years after Clive's retirement, he was made Governor of Bengal. Here his work was gigantic. He brought order out of chaos; he extended the British Empire in India by his genius, by his patience, by his untiring energy. He enriched the East India Company, and in 1773 he became Governor-General of all the English possessions in India. But his rule henceforth was one of oppression, and misery followed in its train. When he marched against the great Indian warrior, Hyder Ali, who had overrun lands under British sway, he allowed whole native villages to be set on fire, slaughtered the inhabitants, or swept innocent people into captivity.
Here is a story of that injustice which afterwards brought Warren Hastings into such trouble at home. He wanted money not only for himself but for the Company. The Raja of Benares, on the Ganges, was bound to render a certain sum of money to the East India Company every year. The Governor-General now called on him to pay an additional sum, but the Raja delayed. Then Warren Hastings fined him for his delay, and went to Benares to collect the sum himself. With reckless courage he entered the city on the Ganges with a mere handful of men. The Raja still refused to pay the extra fine, and Warren Hastings had him arrested at once and shut in his palace. The palace was guarded by two companies of sepoys or native soldiers, under English officers. But the men of Benares were furious: they killed the Englishmen and slaughtered the sepoys. The Raja then lowered himself to the ground by a rope made of turbans, crossed the Ganges, and made his escape.
Warren Hastings meanwhile was in great peril. He fled for his life, under cover of darkness, from the angry city. Then he sent troops against the mutinous Raja, declared his estates forfeit, and obtained large sums of money, much of which never found its way at all into the treasury of the East India Company.
Rumours of his conduct reached England, and when he returned home in the summer of 1785 he found many of his countrymen boiling with wrathful indignation. There was a statesman named Burke who had a passion for justice. In his eyes the whole career of Warren Hastings in India was stained by a long succession of unjust acts. He had watched the growing empire in India for years with rising wonder and wrath. If England's glory in the East depended on unjust deeds, then he, for his part, would have "refused the gain and shuddered at the glory." With the return of Hastings the time was ripe to strike a severe blow at this system of oppression.
A new spirit of mercy and pity was abroad in England. A sympathy for the sufferings of mankind was moving Englishmen to improve the condition of their jails, to raise hospitals for the sick, to send missionaries to the heathen, and to make crusades against the slave trade. So when Burke made known the conduct of Warren Hastings in India, there was a general outcry throughout the land.
On February 13, 1788, the famous trial that was to last seven years opened in London at Westminster Hall. The great historic place was crowded to overflowing. Its old grey walls were hung with scarlet; the approaches were lined with soldiers; 170 peers attended in robes of scarlet and ermine. The Prince of Wales—afterwards George IV.—was there. All the rank and beauty of England seemed gathered in the great hall on this winter morning.
Warren Hastings entered. He was a small man; his face was pale and worn. He was dressed in a plain poppy-coloured suit of clothes; he bore himself with courage and dignity.
But it was not until Burke, his accuser, rose to speak that the feelings of that great audience were stirred. As England's great orator rose, a scroll of papers in his hand, there was a breathless silence. He began by giving his hearers a vivid picture of Eastern life and customs. Then he accused Warren Hastings of having defied the laws of these Indian people over whom he was ruling in the name of England, of outraging their old customs, destroying their temples, and taking their money by dishonest means. To such a pitch of passion did Burke rise, that every listener in that vast hall, including Warren Hastings himself, held his breath in an agony of horror. So great grew the excitement, that women were carried out fainting, smelling bottles were handed round, while sobs and even screams were heard on every side. The orator ended his famous speech with these words: "Therefore hath it with all confidence been ordered by the Commons of Great Britain that I impeach Warren Hastings of high crimes and misdemeanours; I impeach him in the name of the English nation, whose ancient honour he hath sullied; I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose rights he hath trodden under foot and whose country he has turned into a desert; lastly, in the name of human nature itself, in the name of both sexes, in the name of every age, in the name of every rank, I impeach the common enemy and oppressor of all."
This was the beginning of the trial: the end was very different. As year after year passed, it still continued. Public interest in it almost ceased as other great events claimed the attention of England. It was not till 1795—seven years afterwards—that the verdict was at last given. Meanwhile public feeling had changed. Pity had arisen for the little Governor-General of India,—the man who had once ruled over fifty millions of people,—as the trial dragged on. And when he was acquitted, there was almost universal applause. Burke had failed to convict the man, but he taught Englishmen that mercy and justice must play their part in the government of the British Empire beyond the seas, and that national honour must go hand in hand with national prosperity.
And Warren Hastings himself? He was a free man now, and he spent the rest of his days at the old home of his forefathers, towards which he had yearned as a little boy, and which he had now won back through much toil and tribulation.
OUNTED upon Grani, his proud horse, Sigurd rode to the Hall and showed himself to Alv, the King, and to Hiordis, his mother. Before the Hall he shouted out the Volsung name, and King Alv felt as he watched him that this youth was a match for a score of men, and Hiordis, his mother, saw the blue flame of his eyes and thought to herself that his way through the world would be as the way of the eagle through the air.
Having shown himself before the Hall, Sigurd dismounted from Grani, and stroked and caressed him with his hands and told him that now he might go back and take pasture with the herd. The proud horse breathed fondly over Sigurd and bounded away.
Then Sigurd strode on until he came to the hut in the forest where he worked with the cunning smith Regin. No one was in the hut when he entered. But over the anvil, in the smoke of the smithy fire, there was a work of Regin's hands. Sigurd looked upon it, and a hatred for the thing that was shown rose up in him.
The work of Regin's hands was a shield, a great shield of iron. Hammered out on that shield and colored with red and brown colours was the image of a Dragon, a Dragon lengthening himself out of a cave. Sigurd thought it was the image of the most hateful thing in the world, and the light of the smithy fire falling on it, and the smoke of the smithy fire rising round it, made it seem verily a Dragon living in his own element of fire and reek.
While he was still gazing on the loathly image, Regin, the cunning smith, came into the smithy. He stood by the wall and he watched Sigurd. His back was bent; his hair fell over his eyes that were all fiery, and he looked like a beast that runs behind the hedges.
"Aye, thou dost look on Fafnir the Dragon, son of the Volsungs," he said to Sigurd. "Mayhap it is thou who wilt slay him."
"I would not strive with such a beast. He is all horrible to me," Sigurd said.
"With a good sword thou mightst slay him and win for thyself more renown than ever thy fathers had," Regin whispered.
"I shall win renown as my father won renown, in battle with men and in conquest of kingdoms," Sigurd said.
"Thou art not a true Volsung or thou wouldst gladly go where most danger and dread is," said Regin. "Thou hast heard of Fafnir the Dragon, whose image I wrought here. If thou dost ride to the crest of the hills thou mayst look across to the desolate land where Fafnir has his haunt. Know that once it was fair land where men had peace and prosperity, but Fafnir came and made his den in a cave near by, and his breathings as he went to and came from the River withered up the land and made it the barren waste that men call Gnita Heath. Now, if thou art a true Volsung, thou wilt slay the Dragon, and let that land become fair again, and bring the people back to it and so add to King Alv's domain."
"I have naught to do with the slaying of Dragons," Sigurd said. "I have to make war on King Lygni, and avenge upon him the slaying of Sigmund, my father."
"What is the slaying of Lygni and the conquest of his kingdom to the slaying of Fafnir the Dragon?" Regin cried. "I will tell thee what no one else knows of Fafnir the Dragon. He guards a hoard of gold and jewels the like of which was never seen in the world. All this hoard you can make yours by slaying him."
"I do not covet riches," Sigurd said.
"No riches is like to the riches that Fafnir guards. His hoard is the hoard that the Dwarf Andvari had from the world's early days. Once the Gods themselves paid it over as a ransom. And if thou wilt win this hoard thou wilt be as one of the Gods."
"How dost thou know that of which thou speakst, Regin?" Sigurd said.
"I know, and one day I may tell thee how I know."
"And one day I may harken to thee. But speak to me no more of this Dragon. I would have thee make a sword, a sword that will be mightier and better shapen than any sword in the world. Thou canst do this, Regin, for thou art accounted the best sword-smith amongst men."
Regin looked at Sigurd out of his small and cunning eyes and he thought it was best to make himself active. So he took the weightiest pieces of iron and put them into his furnace and he brought out the secret tools that he used when a master-work was claimed from his hands.
All day Sigurd worked beside him keeping the fire at its best glow and bringing water to cool the blade as it was fashioned and re-fashioned. And as he worked he thought only about the blade and about how he would make war upon King Lygni, and avenge the man who was slain before he himself was born.
All day he thought only of war and of the beaten blade. But at night his dreams were not upon wars nor shapen blades but upon Fafnir the Dragon. He saw the heath that was left barren by his breath, and he saw the cave where he had his den, and he saw him crawling down from his cave, his scales glittering like rings of mail, and his length the length of a company of men on the march.
The next day he worked with Regin to shape the great sword. When it was shapen with all the cunning Regin knew it looked indeed a mighty sword. Then Regin sharpened it and Sigurd polished it. And at last he held the great sword by its iron hilt.
Then Sigurd took the shield that had the image of Fafnir the Dragon upon it and he put the shield over the anvil of the smithy. Raising the great sword in both his hands he struck full on the iron shield.
The stroke of the sword sheared away some of the shield, but the blade broke in Sigurd's hands. Then in anger he turned on Regin, crying out, "Thou has made a knave's sword for me. To work with thee again! Thou must make me a Volsung's sword."
Then he went out and called to Grani, his horse, and mounted him and rode to the river bank like the sweep of the wind.
Regin took more pieces of iron and began to forge a new sword, uttering as he worked runes that were about the hoard that Fafnir the Dragon guarded. And Sigurd that night dreamt of glittering treasure that he coveted not, masses of gold and heaps of glistening jewels.
He was Regin's help the next day and they both worked to make a sword that would be mightier than the first. For three days they worked upon it, and then Regin put into Sigurd's hands a sword, sharpened and polished, that was mightier and more splendid looking than the one that had been forged before. And again Sigurd took the shield that had the image of the Dragon upon it and he put it upon the anvil. Then he raised his arms and struck his full blow. The sword cut through the shield, but when it struck the anvil it shivered in his hands.
He left the smithy angrily and called to Grani, his proud horse. He mounted and rode on like the sweep of the wind.
Later he came to his mother's bower and stood before Hiordis. "A greater sword must I have," said he, "than one that is made of metal dug out of the earth. The time has come, mother, when thou must put into my hands the broken pieces of Gram, the sword of Sigmund and the Volsungs."
Hiordis measured him with the glance of her eyes, and she saw that her son was a mighty youth and one fit to use the sword of Sigmund and the Volsungs. She bade him go with her to the King's Hall. Out of the great stone chest that was in her chamber she took the beast's skin and the broken blade that was wrapped in it. She gave the pieces into the hands of her son. "Behold the halves of Gram," she said, "of Gram, the mighty sword that in the far-off days Odin left in the Branstock, in the tree of the house of Volsung. I would see Gram new-shapen in thy hands, my son."
Then she embraced him as she had never embraced him before, and standing there with her ruddy hair about her she told him of the glory of Gram and of the deeds of his fathers in whose hands the sword had shone.
Then Sigurd went to the smithy, and he wakened Regin out of his sleep, and he made him look on the shining halves of Sigmund's sword. He commanded him to make out of these halves a sword for his hand.
Regin worked for days in his smithy and Sigurd never left his side. At last the blade was forged, and when Sigurd held it in his hand fire ran along the edge of it.
Again he laid the shield that had the image of the Dragon upon it on the anvil of the smithy. Again, with his hands on its iron hilt, he raised the sword for a full stroke. He struck, and the sword cut through the shield and sheared through the anvil, cutting away its iron horn. Then did Sigurd know that he had in his hands the Volsungs' sword. He went without and called to Grani, and like the sweep of the wind rode down to the River's bank. Shreds of wool were floating down the water. Sigurd struck at them with his sword, and the fine wool was divided against the water's edge. Hardness and fineness, Gram could cut through both.
That night Gram, the Volsungs' sword, was under his head when he slept, but still his dreams were filled with images that he had not regarded in the day time; the shine of a hoard that he coveted not, and the gleam of the scales of a Dragon that was too loathly for him to battle with.
Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still,
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,
I was once a barefoot boy.
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy,
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy;
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!
Oh for boyhood's painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild-flower's time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the groundnut trails its vine,
Where the wood grape's clusters shine;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray-hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
Oh, for boyhood's time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still, as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!
Oh, for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread,—
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the doorstone, gray and rude,
O'er me like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs' orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp, and joy,
Waited on the barefoot boy!
Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh as boyhood can,
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet,
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt's for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!
WEEK 26 |
L ONG long ago there lived a King who was such a mighty monarch that whenever he sneezed everyone in the whole country had to say, "To your good health!" Everyone said it except the Shepherd with the bright blue eyes, and he would not say it.
The King heard of this and was very angry, and sent for the Shepherd to appear before him.
The Shepherd came and stood before the throne, where the King sat looking very grand and powerful. But however grand or powerful he might be, the Shepherd did not feel a bit afraid of him.
"Say at once 'To my good health'!" cried the King.
"To my good health," replied the Shepherd.
"To mine—to mine, you rascal, you vagabond!" stormed the King.
"To mine, to mine, Your Majesty," was the answer.
"But to mine—to my own!" roared the King, and beat on his breast in a rage.
"Well, yes; to mine, of course, to my own," cried the Shepherd, and gently tapped his breast.
The King was beside himself with fury and did not know what to do, when the Lord Chamberlain interfered:
"Say at once—say this very moment, 'To your health, Your Majesty,' for if you don't say it you will lose your life," he whispered.
"No, I won't say it till I get the Princess for my wife," was the Shepherd's answer.
Now the Princess was sitting on a little throne beside the King, her father, and she looked as sweet and lovely as a little golden dove. When she heard what the Shepherd said, she could not help laughing, for there is no denying the fact that this young shepherd with the blue eyes pleased her very much; indeed, he pleased her better than any king's son she had yet seen.
But the King was not as pleasant as his daughter, and gave orders to throw the Shepherd into the white bear's pit.
The guards led him away and thrust him into the pit with the white bear, who had had nothing to eat for two days and was very hungry. The door of the pit was hardly closed when the bear rushed at the shepherd; but when it saw his eyes it was so frightened that it was ready to eat itself.
It shrank away into a corner and gazed at him from there, and in spite of being so famished, did not dare to touch him, but sucked its own paws from sheer hunger. The Shepherd felt that if he once removed his eyes off the beast he was a dead man, and in order to keep himself awake he made songs and sang them, and so the night went by.
Next morning the Lord Chamberlain came to see the Shepherd's bones, and was amazed to find him alive and well. He led him to the King, who fell into a furious passion, and said:
"Well, you have learned what it is to be very near death, and now will you say, 'To my very good health'?"
But the Shepherd answered:
"I am not afraid of ten deaths! I will only say it if I may have the Princess for my wife."
"Then go to your death," cried the King, and ordered him to be thrown into the den with the wild boars.
The wild boars had not been fed for a week, and when the Shepherd was thrust into their den they rushed at him to tear him to pieces. But the Shepherd took a little flute out of the sleeve of his jacket, and began to play a merry tune, on which the wild boars first of all shrank shyly away, and then got up on their hind legs and danced gaily. The Shepherd would have given anything to be able to laugh, they looked so funny; but he dared not stop playing, for he knew well enough that the moment he stopped they would fall upon him and tear him to pieces. His eyes were of no use to him here, for he could not have stared ten wild boars in the face at once; so he kept playing, and the wild boars danced very slowly, as if in a minuet; then by degrees he played faster and faster, till they could hardly twist and turn quickly enough, and ended by all falling over each other in a heap, quite exhausted and out of breath.
Then the Shepherd ventured to laugh at last; and he laughed so long and so loud that when the Lord Chamberlain came early in the morning, expecting to find only his bones, the tears were still running down his cheeks from laughter.
As soon as the King was dressed the Shepherd was again brought before him; but he was more angry than ever to think the wild boars had not torn the man to bits, and he said:
"Well, you have learned what it feels to be near ten deaths, now say 'To my good health'!"
But the shepherd broke in with:
"I do not fear a hundred deaths; and I will only say it if I may have the Princess for my wife."
"Then go to a hundred deaths!" roared the King, and ordered the Shepherd to be thrown down the deep vault of scythes.
The guards dragged him away to a dark dungeon, in the middle of which was a deep well with sharp scythes all round it. At the bottom of the well was a little light by which one could see, if anyone was thrown in, whether he had fallen to the bottom.
When the Shepherd was dragged to the dungeon he begged the guards to leave him alone a little while that he might look down into the pit of scythes; perhaps he might after all make up his mind to say, "To your good health" to the King.
So the guards left him alone, and he stuck up his long stick near the wall, hung his cloak round the stick and put his hat on the top. He also hung his knapsack up beside the cloak, so that it might seem to have some body within it. When this was done, he called out to the guards and said that he had considered the matter, but after all he could not make up his mind to say what the King wished.
The guards came in, threw the hat and cloak, knapsack and stick all down in the well together, watched to see how they put out the light at the bottom, and came away, thinking that now there was really an end to the Shepherd. But he had hidden in a dark corner, and was now laughing to himself all the time.
Quite early next morning came the Lord Chamberlain with a lamp, and he nearly fell backwards with surprise when he saw the Shepherd alive and well. He brought him to the King, whose fury was greater than ever, but who cried:
"Well, now you have been near a hundred deaths; will you say, 'To your good health'?"
But the Shepherd only gave the answer:
"I won't say it till the Princess is my wife."
"Perhaps, after all, you may do it for less," said the King, who saw that there was no chance of making away with the shepherd; and he ordered the state coach to be got ready; then he made the Shepherd get in with him and sit beside him, and ordered the coachman to drive to the silver wood.
When they reached it, he said:
"Do you see this silver wood? Well, if you will say 'To your good health,' I will give it to you."
The shepherd turned hot and cold by turns, but he still persisted:
"I will not say it till the Princess is my wife."
The King was much vexed; he drove further on till they came to a splendid castle, all of gold, and then he said:
"Do you see this golden castle? Well, I will give you that too, the
silver wood and the gold castle, if only you will say one thing to me:
'To your good
The Shepherd gaped and wondered, and was quite dazzled but he still said:
"No, I will not say it till I have the Princess for my wife."
This time the King was overwhelmed with grief, and gave orders to drive on to the diamond pond and there he tried once more:
"You shall have the all—all, if you will but say 'To your good
The Shepherd had to shut his staring eyes tight not to be dazzled with the brilliant pond, but still he said:
"No, no; I will not say it till I have the Princess for my wife."
Then the King saw that all his efforts were useless, and that he might as well give in; so he said:
"Well, well, it is all the same to me—I will give you my daughter to
wife; but then you really must say to me, 'To your good
"Of course I'll say it; why should I not say it? It stands to reason that I shall say it then."
At this the King was more delighted than anyone could have believed. He made it known all through the country that there were going to be great rejoicings, as the Princess was going to be married. And everyone rejoiced to think that the Princess who had refused so many royal suitors, should have ended by falling in love with the staring-eyed Shepherd.
There was such a wedding as had never been seen. Everyone ate and drank and danced. Even the sick were feasted, and quite tiny new-born children had presents given them. But the greatest merrymaking was in the King's palace; there the best bands played and the best food was cooked. A crowd of people sat down to table, and all was fun and merrymaking.
And when the groomsman, according to custom, brought in the great boar's head on a big dish and placed it before the King, so that he might carve it and give everyone a share, the savoury smell was so strong that the King began to sneeze with all his might.
"To your very good health!" cried the Shepherd before anyone else, and the King was so delighted that he did not regret having given him his daughter.
In time, when the old King died, the Shepherd succeeded him. He made a very good king, and never expected his people to wish him well against their wills: but, all the same, everyone did wish him well, because they loved him.
A PIS MELLIFICA is not the only honey-bee in this country.
Indeed, she is not even a native of America, but was brought over from Europe more than two hundred years ago.
The bumble-bees, like the Indians, belong to America. They were here when Columbus discovered the New World.
There are a great many bumble-bees in different parts of the world, and more than sixty species in North America. The habits of them all are very much alike, however, so if we make the acquaintance of one, we shall know something of all.
The bumble-bees do not live in hives, and they do not store up honey in beautiful waxen combs.
Generally they have a nest in the ground, though sometimes they choose a woodpile, or other convenient place.
Bumble-bee nests are often found in haying time. When the grass is being cut the horses step on the nests, when out fly the angry bees and sting the horses and the men and boys.
Sometimes there are so many bees' nests in a meadow that it is difficult to get the hay.
Madam Bombus makes her nest in a hollow in the ground under a tuft of grass, and it is so near the surface that one could easily dig it out with the fingers, if it were not for Madam Bombus herself.
Put your fingers into her nest and see what she will do.
She will sting you on the nose for one thing. She seems fond of stinging people on the nose.
Queen Bombus does not have a whole hive full of workers to help her when she starts her nest.
On the contrary, the workers and drones die in the fall, and the queen is left all alone. She crawls into some snug corner and sleeps through the winter. When spring comes she wakes up, stretches herself, smells the early flowers, feels the warm sun, and away she flies. She first goes in search of a home.
You can see her in the springtime flying about, hunting carefully for a good place to make her nest.
When she has found a home that suits her, she goes to the flowers and gathers pollen.
From morning until night she works as hard as she can tugging large balls of pollen to her hole in the ground.
What do you think she does with it? She has no waxen cells to store it away in, so she just piles it together in her nest.
In this mass of pollen she lays her eggs. She always lays fertilized eggs early in the season; but I suppose she does not feed the young bees very generously on bee-milk, so they hatch into workers instead of queens.
Of course this is just what she wants. As soon as the workers begin to come out, she can stay at home and let them gather the pollen.
The bombus is covered all over with hair, as you know, and has bands of yellow and black hairs across her body.
The bombus that I know best has a yellow jacket, and a broad yellow band across the top of her abdomen.
The tail-end of her abdomen is black. She is a very pretty, furry bee, and like all the bombuses, her wings are dark brown in color.
The honey-bee's wings are as clear as glass, and that is one way you can tell a honey-bee from a bumble-bee.
Well, Madam Bombus lays her eggs in the mass of pollen, and they hatch into little larvæ, like those of the honey-bees, only not so small.
You see, Madam Bombus has to do all the work herself; so, I suppose it saves trouble to have the infants cradled in good pollen, so they can help themselves without troubling their mother. She feeds them on bee-milk at first; but later, I suspect, they have to eat their cradles.
They grow fast; no doubt they eat a great deal of pollen.
When it comes time for them to change into pupæ, what do you suppose happens? I do not believe you could guess if you tried a month.
You see, they have no wax cells in which they can be bottled up.
Queen Bombus does not cap them over, as the honey-bees do, and leave them to their fate. She cannot bottle up her babies, because she has no bottles.
I shall have to tell you the secret.
They bottle themselves up! You remember how the Apis baby, in its pretty waxen cell, spun a silk nightcap when it was capped over? Baby Bombus spins a whole nightgown.
She eats a hole in the pollen about her, large enough to lie in comfortably, then she begins to spin, and does not stop until she has made for herself a yellow cocoon. It looks a little like the cocoon of a silkworm, only it is much darker in color, and the lower part is embedded in pollen. The upper part is sometimes quite clean and pretty.
I looked into the nest of the bombus with a yellow jacket and a yellow band across the upper end of her abdomen, and this is what I saw. Just a pile of cocoons, you see. In each cocoon is a bee-baby.
The larva lies curled up in its cocoon with its head bent over, as you can see in this next picture.
But in a few days it changes into a pupa. The young pupa is very pretty and it deserves its name. You know pupa means doll; and if the pupa, when first formed, does not look like a bee-doll, I do not know what it does look like.
I will try to draw you some pictures of these pupæ, though no pictures can do them justice. They are as white as snow, and sometimes have pink eyes, though sometimes their eyes are blue. They look as if they had been very beautifully carved from white ivory. You can see their little buds of wings held close to their sides, and their long white tongues down in front, and their pretty snow-white legs cuddled up close to their bodies, so as not to take up too much room.
Honey-bee pupæ are as pretty as these, but they are smaller and not so easily seen.
Soon these pretty white "dolls" become darker in color, and soft hairs begin to appear. Then their wings enlarge, the down has covered their bodies, their legs are strong and black, they are no longer "dolls," but are perfect bees and are ready to come out.
All they have to do, is bite a hole in the end of their cocoons, and step out. They are damp at first, and their hairs cling to their bodies; but soon they are dry and fuzzy and as handsome as young bees ought to be.
When the bees first come out, their jackets and the upper part of their abdomens are white instead of yellow.
I suppose they are tow-headed in infancy, like some other young people you and I know. But their white, baby hairs soon turn to a bright canary yellow, and in two or three days they would probably sting you if you called them "babies."
The worker-bees are only half as large as the queens, though they vary a good deal in size. Sometimes the eggs laid in corners, or under the large cocoons, hatch into poor little larvæ, that have no chance to grow. So they make tiny little cocoons, and hatch out into funny little bits of bumble-bees. Sometimes these little dwarfs are no larger than honey-bees. But, I can tell you, they feel as big as anybody. They buzz about and gather pollen and honey like the other bees.
Late in the summer Queen Bombus lays fertilized eggs that make queens. I suppose the larvæ are fed on all the bee-milk they want, and so become queens instead of workers. Queen Bombus, also, toward the end of the summer lays unfertilized eggs, and of course these hatch into drones.
Bumble-bee queens do not kill each other, and the bumble-bees do not kill their drones.
After the queens and drones are hatched, they mate high in the air, and the queen stores away the pollen of the drone until next spring.
When the cold weather comes, the drones and workers die, and the queen hides away.
Some bumble-bees store up honey in the empty cocoons after the young bees have left them, but you can imagine it is not very good honey. Some bumble-bees make wax and use it to finish out the cocoons into better cells, or even to make a few coarse cells, or to mat together the grass over the nest to keep the rain out. But my bumble-bees had no wax at all in their nest, and at the time I saw it they had not stored away any honey.
The Bombus family is very small compared to the Apis family, for sometimes there will be only a dozen bees in a nest, again there will be several dozen.
Bumble-bees are very good play-fellows. If you want to have a good time watching the bees, catch one or two large bumble- bees in a net and let them loose on the window. They will not sting you unless you touch them. Even if they get on you, if you keep perfectly still they will leave without hurting you.
You can give your pet bombus a drop of honey, or a little sugar and water, and see its long brown tongue lick it up.
If you want to see it perform its toilet, you can breathe upon it gently.
This makes it very angry, and it will buzz with its wings for a moment, then go to work to clean itself all over.
Bumble-bees have a funny way of sticking out their legs at you, as if they meant to strike you. When you come near one, out fly its legs in quite a threatening manner.
Honey-bees do this too, but not so much as bumble-bees.
The very best place to watch bees is in the fields.
If you sit down near a nice patch of red clover, you will be very sure to meet a bombus before long.
She will not disturb you, and you can get as close to her as you please, so long as you do not touch her. You can watch her put her tongue into the little clover tubes. She is very fond of red clover, and she can get its honey, but the honey-bee cannot, because the clover tube is too long for Miss Apis's tongue. The red clover depends upon the bumble-bee for fertilization, and an interesting story is told of how clover was introduced into Australia.
There was no red clover in Australia until the white settlers took the seed there and sowed it. Then the clover grew, but bore no seed, so of course it did not amount to much. People said, what is the matter with the clover; why will it not go to seed?
I wonder if you could have told them? Finally somebody told of the relation between the bumble-bees and the clover, and said the clover needed the bees,—for there were no bumble-bees in Australia. So some nest of bumble-bees were taken to Australia, and the clover then bore seeds.
I once had a bumble-bee that did not know how to get nectar from red clover.
It was hatched in my room, and fed on sugar and water for several days.
Then it was given some clover, but it seemed to be too old to learn. It wanted the nectar, for evidently it smelled it, and tried to get it, but it could not find the openings into the flower tubes.
It was very funny to see poor Miss Bombus run her tongue along the outside of the little flowers that make up the clover head. She found the opening to one or two of them finally, but she never became an expert at gathering clover nectar. You see, she began to practise too late in life.
You will sometimes see bumble-bees asleep on the flowers toward night. Perhaps they have wandered too far from home; perhaps they think flower petals make a very dainty bedroom. Often the bees kept in a room will take a nap on a cloudy day.
You can tell when a bee is asleep, because it looks as if it were asleep.
It does not shut its eyes, of course, but it looks very droopy and sleepy.
Look at that bee on the iris bud; wouldn't you know it had gone to sleep?
You can get a great deal of pleasure from the bees by watching them out of doors. You can see them go into different kinds of flowers and find out just how they take the nectar.
Bees never sting unless you go too near their hives or else touch them. You can watch the bees out of doors and in your room as much as you please without the slightest danger.
You can keep bees in the house and feed them on different kinds of flowers. They have to learn how to get the nectar from a new kind of flower. They will try and try until they have found the right opening.
When once they have learned their way into a flower, they can usually go at once to the nectar in another flower of the same kind.
You see, they experiment until they find out what to do, and then they remember.
WEEK 26 |
Matthew xvii: 24, to xviii: 35;
Mark ix: 33 to 48;
Luke ix: 46 to 50.
ROM Caesarea-philippi, in the far north, Jesus went with his disciples through Galilee, but not, as at other times, with a great multitude following him. At this time Jesus wished no one to know of his coming, for he had already preached to this people, and now he sought to be alone with his disciples. They came to Capernaum; and while they were there the officer to whom the Jews paid the tax of half a shekel, or about thirty cents, for each man, said to Peter, "Does not your Master pay the half-shekel?"
Peter said, "Yes." But when Peter came into the house, Jesus said to Peter, "Simon, do the kings of the earth take taxes of their own children, or of strangers?"
Peter said to him, "Of strangers, not of their own children."
And Jesus said, "Then the children of the King should be free from the tax. But that we may not cause trouble, do you go to the lake, and cast in a hook, and pull up the first fish that comes; and when you have opened his mouth you shall find in it a piece of money. Take that, and pay it to them for you and for me."
While Jesus was in the house, he said to his disciples, "What was it that you were talking about among yourselves while you were on the way?"
They looked at one another, and said nothing; for on the way they had been disputing as to who of them should have the highest places in their Lord's kingdom. Then Jesus said to them, "If any one among you wishes to be first, let him be willing to be the last of all, and to be a servant of all."
And Jesus took a little child in his arms, and held him up before all his disciples, and said to them, "Unless you turn from your ways, and become like little children in spirit, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever shall be gentle and lowly and willing to be taught, like this little child, he shall be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever shall receive one such little child for my sake, he receives me. Take care not to despise one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always look upon the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost; and it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, how many times should I forgive a brother when he has sinned against me? Till seven times?"
Jesus takes a little child in his arms.
Jesus said to Peter, "I do not say that you should forgive him seven times only, but seventy times seven."
Then Jesus gave to his disciples the parable or story of the Unkind Servant:
"There was once a king who had an account made with his servants of how much money they owed him. One servant was brought before the king; and he owed the king a great sum of money, ten millions of dollars. The man had nothing with which to pay his debt, and the king commanded that the man, and his wife, and his children should be sold as slaves for the debt. Then the servant fell down before the king, and said, 'Be patient with me; give me time, and I will pay all that I owe!'
"Then the king felt a pity for his servant, set him free, and let him go without any payment, giving him all that he owed.
"But that servant went out and found another servant who owed him a small sum, only ten dollars. He came to this man, and took hold of him by the throat, and said, 'Pay what you owe me!' The man fell down before him, and said, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you!' He would not wait for the man to earn the money, but threw the man in prison, to stay there until he should pay the debt. When his fellow-servants heard of what he had done, they were sorry for the poor debtor in prison, and came and told the king all that had been done. Then the king sent for the servant, and said to him, 'You wicked servant, I forgave you all your debt when you asked me to give you time. And you should have had mercy on your fellow-servant, just as I had mercy on you!' And the king was angry against the unkind servant, and sent him to prison, and ordered that he should be made to suffer until he should pay all his debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if from your hearts you do not forgive your brothers who have sinned against you."
H E must have slept a long time, for when he awoke, he felt wonderfully restored—indeed he felt almost well, and he was also very hungry. There were voices in the outer cave.
Once more then, it was night; for the goblins slept during the day, and went about their affairs during the night.
In the universal and constant darkness of their dwelling, they had no reason to prefer the one arrangement to the other; but from aversion to the sun-people, they chose to be busy when there was least chance of their being met either by the miners below, when they were burrowing, or by the people of the mountain above, when they were feeding their sheep or catching their goats. And indeed it was only when the sun was away that the outside of the mountain was sufficiently like their own dismal regions to be endurable to their mole-eyes, so thoroughly had they become disused to any light beyond that of their own fires and torches.
Curdie listened, and soon found that they were talking of himself.
"How long will it take?" asked Harelip.
"Not many days, I should think," answered the king. "They are poor feeble creatures, those sun-people, and want to be always eating. We can go a week at a time without food, and be all the better for it; but I've been told they eat two or three times every day! Can you believe it?—They must be quite hollow inside—not at all like us, nine-tenths of whose bulk is solid flesh and bone. Yes—I judge a week of starvation will do for him."
"If I may be allowed a word," interposed the queen,
"The wretch is entirely at your disposal, my spouse," interrupted the king. "He is your property. You caught him yourself. We should never have done it."
The queen laughed. She seemed in far better humor than the night before.
"I was about to say," she resumed, "that it does seem a pity to waste so much fresh meat."
"What are you thinking of, my love?" said the king. "The very notion of starving him implies that we are not going to give him any meat, either salt or fresh."
"I'm not such a stupid as that comes to," returned her Majesty. "What I mean is, that by the time he is starved, there will hardly be a picking upon his bones."
The king gave a great laugh.
The king gave a great laugh.
"Well, my spouse, you may have him when you like," he said. "I don't fancy him for my part. I am pretty sure he is tough eating."
"That would be to honor instead of punish his insolence," returned the queen. "But why should our poor creatures be deprived of so much nourishment? Our little dogs and cats and pigs and small bears would enjoy him very much."
"You are the best of housekeepers, my lovely queen!" said her husband. "Let it be so by all means. Let us have our people in, and get him out and kill him at once. He deserves it. The mischief he might have brought upon us, now that he had penetrated so far as our most retired citadel, is incalculable. Or rather let us tie him hand and foot, and have the pleasure of seeing him torn to pieces by full torchlight in the great hall."
"Better and better!" cried the queen and prince together, both of them clapping their hands. And the prince made an ugly noise with his hare-lip, just as if he had intended to be one at the feast.
"But," added the queen, bethinking herself, "he is so troublesome. For as poor creatures as they are, there is something about those sun-people that is very troublesome. I cannot imagine how it is that with such superior strength and skill and understanding as ours, we permit them to exist at all. Why do we not destroy them entirely, and use their cattle and grazing lands at our pleasure? Of course, we don't want to live in their horrid country! It is far too glaring for our quieter and more refined tastes. But we might use it for a sort of outhouse, you know. Even our creatures' eyes might get used to it, and if they did grow blind, that would be of no consequence, provided they grew fat as well. But we might even keep their great cows and other creatures, and then we should have a few more luxuries, such as cream and cheese, which at present we only taste occasionally, when our brave men have succeeded in carrying some off from their farms."
"It is worth thinking of," said the king; "and I don't know why you should be the first to suggest it, except that you have a positive genius for conquest. But still, as you say, there is something very troublesome about them; and it would be better, as I understand you to suggest, that we should starve him for a day or two first, so that he may be a little less frisky when we take him out."
"Once there was a goblin
Living in a hole;
Busy he was cobblin'
A shoe without a sole.
"By came a birdie:
'Goblin, what do you do?'
'Cobble at a sturdie
Upper leather shoe.'
Said the little bird,
"Why it's very pat,
Plain without a word.
Never can be holes:
Why should their shoes have soles, sir,
When they've got no
"What's that horrible noise?" cried the queen, shuddering from pot-metal head to granite shoes.
"I declare," said the king with solemn indignation, "it's the sun-creature in the hole!"
"Stop that disgusting noise!" cried the crown-prince valiantly, getting up and standing in front of the heap of stones, with his face toward Curdie's prison.—"Do now, or I'll break your head."
"Break away," shouted Curdie, and began singing
"Once there was a goblin
Living in a hole,—"
"I really cannot bear it," said the queen. "If I could only get at his horrid toes with my slippers again!"
"I think we had better go to bed," said the king.
"It's not time to go to bed," said the queen.
"I would if I was you," said Curdie.
"Impertinent wretch!" said the queen, with the utmost scorn in her voice.
"An impossible if," said his Majesty with dignity.
"Quite," returned Curdie, and began singing
"Go to bed,
Help the queen
Take off her shoe.
"If you do,
It will disclose
A horrid set
Of sprouting toes."
"What a lie!" roared the queen in a rage.
"By the way, that reminds me," said the king, "that, for as long as we have been married, I have never seen your feet, queen. I think you might take off your shoes when you go to bed! They positively hurt me sometimes."
"I will do just as I like," retorted the queen sulkily.
"You ought to do as your own hubby wishes you," said the king.
"I will not," said the queen.
"Then I insist upon it," said the king.
Apparently his Majesty approached the queen for the purpose of following the advice given by Curdie, for the latter heard a scuffle, and then a great roar from the king.
"Will you be quiet then?" said the queen wickedly.
"Yes, yes, queen. I only meant to coax you."
"Hands off!" cried the queen triumphantly. "I'm going to bed. You may come when you like. But as long as I am queen, I will sleep in my shoes. It is my royal privilege. Harelip, go to bed."
"I'm going," said Harelip sleepily.
"So am I," said the king.
"Come along then," said the queen; "and mind you are good, or
"Oh, no, no, no!" screamed the king, in the most supplicating of tones.
Curdie heard only a muttered reply in the distance; and then the cave was quite still.
They had left the fire burning, and the light came through brighter than before. Curdie thought it was time to try again if anything could be done. But he found he could not get even a finger through the chink between the slab and the rock. He gave a great rush with his shoulder against the slab, but it yielded no more than if it had been part of the rock. All he could do was to sit down and think again.
By and by he came to the resolution to pretend to be dying, in the hope they might take him out before his strength was too much exhausted to let him have a chance. Then, for the creatures, if he could but find his axe again, he would have no fear of them; and if it were not for the queen's horrid shoes, he would have no fear at all.
Meantime, until they should come again at night, there was nothing for him to do but forge new rhymes, now his only weapons. He had no intention of using them at present, of course; but it was well to have a stock, for he might live to want them, and the manufacture of them would help to while away the time.
Come, follow, follow me,
You, fairy elves that be:
Which circle on the greene,
Come, follow Mab your queene.
Hand in hand let's dance around,
For this place is fairye ground.
When mortals are at rest,
And snoring in their nest:
Unheard, and unespy'd,
Through key-holes we do glide;
Over tables, stools, and shelves,
We trip it with our fairy elves.
And, if the house be foul
With platter, dish, or bowl,
Up stairs we nimbly creep,
And find the sluts asleep:
There we pinch their armes and thighes;
None escapes, nor none espies.
But if the house be swept,
And from uncleanness kept,
We praise the household maid,
And duely she is paid:
For we use before we goe
To drop a tester in her shoe.
Upon a mushroomes head
Our table-cloth we spread;
A grain of rye, or wheat,
Is manchet, which we eat;
Pearly drops of dew we drink
In acorn cups fill'd to the brink.
The brains of nightingales,
With unctuous fat of snailes,
Between two cockles stew'd,
Is meat that's easily chew'd;
Tailes of wormes, and marrow of mice,
Do make a dish, that's wonderous nice.
The grashopper, gnat, and fly,
Serve for our minstrelsie;
Grace said, we dance a while,
And so the time beguile:
And if the moon doth hide her head,
The gloe-worm lights us home to bed.
On tops of dewie grasse
So nimbly do we passe,
The young and tender stalk
Ne'er bends when we do walk:
Yet in the morning may be seen
Where we the night before have been.