WEEK 29 |
A FEW minutes later Tom was in the shoal water of the bar, wading toward the Illinois shore. Before the depth reached his middle he was half-way over; the current would permit no more wading, now, so he struck out confidently to swim the remaining hundred yards. He swam quartering upstream, but still was swept downward rather faster than he had expected. However, he reached the shore finally, and drifted along till he found a low place and drew himself out. He put his hand on his jacket pocket, found his piece of bark safe, and then struck through the woods, following the shore, with streaming garments. Shortly before ten o'clock he came out into an open place opposite the village, and saw the ferryboat lying in the shadow of the trees and the high bank. Everything was quiet under the blinking stars. He crept down the bank, watching with all his eyes, slipped into the water, swam three or four strokes, and climbed into the skiff that did "yawl" duty at the boat's stern. He laid himself down under the thwarts and waited, panting.
Presently the cracked bell tapped and a voice gave the order to "cast off." A minute or two later the skiff's head was standing high up, against the boat's swell, and the voyage was begun. Tom felt happy in his success, for he knew it was the boat's last trip for the night. At the end of a long twelve or fifteen minutes the wheels stopped, and Tom slipped overboard and swam ashore in the dusk, landing fifty yards down-stream, out of danger of possible stragglers.
He flew along unfrequented alleys, and shortly found himself at his aunt's back fence. He climbed over, approached the "ell," and looked in at the sitting-room window, for a light was burning there. There sat Aunt Polly, Sid, Mary, and Joe Harper's mother, grouped together, talking. They were by the bed, and the bed was between them and the door. Tom went to the door and began to softly lift the latch; then he pressed gently, and the door yielded a crack; he continued pushing cautiously, and quaking every time it creaked, till he judged he might squeeze through on his knees; so he put his head through and began, warily.
"What makes the candle blow so?" said Aunt Polly. Tom hurried up. "Why that door's open, I believe. Why of course it is. No end of strange things now. Go 'long and shut it, Sid."
Tom disappeared under the bed just in time. He lay and "breathed" himself for a time, and then crept to where he could almost touch his aunt's foot.
"But as I was saying," said Aunt Polly, "he warn't bad,
so to say—only
"It was just so with my Joe—always full of his devilment, and up to every kind of mischief, but he was just as unselfish and kind as he could be—and laws bless me, to think I went and whipped him for taking that cream, never once recollecting that I throwed it out myself because it was sour, and I never to see him again in this world, never, never, never, poor abused boy!" And Mrs. Harper sobbed as if her heart would break.
"I hope Tom's better off where he is," said Sid, "but if he'd been
better in some
"Sid!" Tom felt the glare of the old lady's eye, though he could not
see it. "Not a word against my Tom, now that he's gone! God'll take
care of him—never you trouble
"The Lord giveth and the Lord hath taken away—blessed be the name of the Lord! But it's so hard—oh, it's so hard! Only last Saturday my Joe busted a firecracker right under my nose and I knocked him sprawling. Little did I know then how soon—Oh, if it was to do over again I'd hug him and bless him for it."
"Yes, yes, yes, I know just how you feel, Mrs. Harper, I know just
exactly how you feel. No longer ago than yesterday noon, my Tom took
and filled the cat full of Pain-killer, and I did think the
would tear the house down. And God forgive me, I cracked Tom's head
with my thimble, poor boy, poor dead boy. But he's out of all his
troubles now. And the last words I ever heard him say
But this memory was too much for the old lady, and she broke entirely down. Tom was snuffling, now, himself—and more in pity of himself than anybody else. He could hear Mary crying, and putting in a kindly word for him from time to time. He began to have a nobler opinion of himself than ever before. Still, he was sufficiently touched by his aunt's grief to long to rush out from under the bed and overwhelm her with joy—and the theatrical gorgeousness of the thing appealed strongly to his nature, too, but he resisted and lay still.
He went on listening, and gathered by odds and ends that it was conjectured at first that the boys had got drowned while taking a swim; then the small raft had been missed; next, certain boys said the missing lads had promised that the village should "hear something" soon; the wise-heads had "put this and that together" and decided that the lads had gone off on that raft and would turn up at the next town below, presently; but toward noon the raft had been found, lodged against the Missouri shore some five or six miles below the village—and then hope perished; they must be drowned, else hunger would have driven them home by nightfall if not sooner. It was believed that the search for the bodies had been a fruitless effort merely because the drowning must have occurred in mid-channel, since the boys, being good swimmers, would otherwise have escaped to shore. This was Wednesday night. If the bodies continued missing until Sunday, all hope would be given over, and the funerals would be preached on that morning. Tom shuddered.
Mrs. Harper gave a sobbing good night and turned to go. Then with a mutual impulse the two bereaved women flung themselves into each other's arms and had a good, consoling cry, and then parted. Aunt Polly was tender far beyond her wont, in her good night to Sid and Mary. Sid snuffled a bit and Mary went off crying with all her heart.
Aunt Polly knelt down and prayed for Tom so touchingly, so appealingly, and with such measureless love in her words and her old trembling voice, that he was weltering in tears again long before she was through.
He had to keep still long after she went to bed, for she kept making broken-hearted ejaculations from time to time, tossing unrestfully, and turning over. But at last she was still, only moaning a little in her sleep. Now the boy stole out, rose gradually by the bedside, shaded the candlelight with his hand, and stood regarding her. His heart was full of pity for her. He took out his sycamore scroll and placed it by the candle. But something occurred to him, and he lingered considering. His face lighted with a happy solution of his thought; he put the bark hastily in his pocket. Then he bent over and kissed the faded lips, and straightway made his stealthy exit, latching the door behind him.
He threaded his way back to the ferry landing, found nobody at large there, and walked boldly on board the boat, for he knew she was tenantless except that there was a watchman, who always turned in and slept like a graven image. He untied the skiff at the stern, slipped into it, and was soon rowing cautiously up-stream. When he had pulled a mile above the village, he started quartering across and bent himself stoutly to his work. He hit the landing on the other side neatly, for this was a familiar bit of work to him. He was moved to capture the skiff, arguing that it might be considered a ship and therefore legitimate prey for a pirate, but he knew a thorough search would be made for it and that might end in revelations. So he stepped ashore and entered the wood.
He sat down and took a long rest, torturing himself meanwhile to keep awake, and then started warily down the home-stretch. The night was far spent. It was broad daylight before he found himself fairly abreast the island bar. He rested again until the sun was well up and gilding the great river with its splendor, and then he plunged into the stream. A little later he paused, dripping, upon the threshold of the camp, and heard Joe say:
"No, Tom's true-blue, Huck, and he'll come back. He won't desert. He knows that would be a disgrace to a pirate, and Tom's too proud for that sort of thing. He's up to something or other. Now I wonder what?"
"Well, the things is ours, anyway, ain't they?"
"Pretty near, but not yet, Huck. The writing says they are if he ain't back here to breakfast."
"Which he is!" exclaimed Tom, with fine dramatic effect, stepping grandly into camp.
A sumptuous breakfast of bacon and fish was shortly provided, and as the boys set to work upon it, Tom recounted (and adorned) his adventures. They were a vain and boastful company of heroes when the tale was done. Then Tom hid himself away in a shady nook to sleep till noon, and the other pirates got ready to fish and explore.
W HILST the thirteenth century was by no means free from wars, the Western nations of Europe were beginning to feel the results of ordered government, and a great impetus was given to intellectual pursuits. To a very great extent this took the direction of theological disputes, but secular knowledge also shared the inspiration.
The scientists of that day were concerned almost solely with astrology and alchemy, and owing to the superstition then so prevalent, all who studied these so-called sciences were liable to be suspected of practising the magic arts.
Roger Bacon was not the man to be turned from the pursuit of knowledge, by any fear of evil consequences that might spring from the ignorance of his fellow-men. Born of a good Somerset family, he was sent to Oxford, where he studied the works of Aristotle, which had been forgotten for centuries, and thus became acquainted with the greatest of the classical scientists. He also took a great interest in mathematics, and was the first to apply this knowledge to the science of astronomy. After some years at Oxford, he went to the University of Paris, returning to Oxford again in 1250. He then entered the Francisan Order, and hence is often called Friar Bacon. Having acquired all the learning of the age, he spent all that he had, and much that he borrowed from friends, in his scientific researches into the secrets of nature. He was especially interested in the science of optics, as being useful to the study of astronomy, and this resulted in the invention of the magnifying glass, but he was greatly hindered by the need of proper apparatus.
Such a man would naturally gather many students around him, and we learn that he was a kindly teacher, and never hesitated to impart his knowledge freely, when his scholars were too poor to make him any payment.
"From my youth up," he writes, "I have laboured at the sciences and tongues. I have sought the friendship of all men among the Latins who had any reputation for knowledge. I have caused youths to be instructed in languages, geometry, arithmetic, the construction of tables and instruments, and many needful things besides."
Returning to Paris, his great gifts brought him many enemies, and he was at last accused of the practice of magic and imprisoned in 1257. He was forbidden all intercourse with the world, and even the privilege of writing was denied him. Then Pope Clement IV. became interested in his work, and it was at the Pope's request that Bacon wrote his Opus Magus, and the manuscript was sent to Rome by the hand of his favourite pupil, John of London. We do not know how it was received, for Clement died shortly afterward.
This wonderful book sums up the state of knowledge, both in philosophy and science, of the time. Many other books were written by Friar Bacon, some of which have never been translated from the Latin in which all learned books were written in his day, for Latin was still the common language of European scholars.
In his later years Bacon drew up a rectified calendar, invented gunpowder, and was, as Mr. Lecky says, "the greatest natural philosopher of the Middle Ages." It seems strange to us that such a man could believe in astrology and in the philosopher's stone, but Bacon was sufficiently a child of his time to feel the fascination which these idle pursuits had for nearly all the learned men of that day.
Bacon's greatest achievement was his application of new principles to the study of science. He believed that experiment was necessary, and not merely the acceptance of beliefs handed down from ancient philosophers. To his optical and astronomical researches he brought to bear his knowledge of mathematics, in which he had learnt much from the Arabs, who in that day were especially renowned in that science.
Although his work had no great immediate effect, owing to the decay of learning during the next two centuries, when all the energies of the Church were devoted to preventing schism, his influence during the Renaissance in the sixteenth century was marked, for many of his books were amongst the earliest printed.
Bacon was released from prison in Paris about the year 1267, and for ten years enjoyed his freedom in spite of the attacks of his enemies. In 1278 the chief of the Franciscan Order declared his books to be unorthodox, and kept him in confinement until 1292. Two years later he died at Oxford.
Now glory to the Lord of Hosts, from whom all glories are!
And glory to our Sovereign Liege, King Henry of Navarre!
Now let there be the merry sound of music and of dance,
Through thy corn-fields green, and sunny vines, O pleasant land of France!
And thou, Rochelle, our own Rochelle, proud city of the waters,
Again let rapture light the eyes of all thy mourning daughters.
As thou wert constant in our ills, be joyous in our joy,
For cold, and stiff, and still are they who wrought thy walls annoy.
Hurrah! Hurrah! a single field hath turned the chance of war,
Hurrah! Hurrah! for Ivry, and Henry of Navarre.
Oh! how our hearts were beating, when, at the dawn of day,
We saw the army of the League drawn out in long array;
With all its priest-led citizens, and all its rebel peers,
And Appenzel's stout infantry, and Egmont's Flemish spears.
There rode the brood of false Lorraine, the curses of our land;
And dark Mayenne was in the midst, a truncheon in his hand;
And, as we looked on them, we thought of Seine's empurpled flood,
And good Coligni's hoary hair all dabbled with his blood;
And we cried unto the living God, who rules the fate of war,
To fight for His own holy name, and Henry of Navarre.
The King is come to marshal us, in all his armour drest,
And he has bound a snow-white plume upon his gallant crest.
He looked upon his people, and a tear was in his eye;
He looked upon the traitors, and his glance was stern and high.
Right graciously he smiled on us, as rolled from wing to wing,
Down all our line, a deafening shout, "God save our Lord the King!"
"And if my standard-bearer fall, as fall full well he may,
For never saw I promise yet of such a bloody fray,
Press where ye see my white plume shine, amid the ranks of war,
And be your oriflamme to-day the helmet of Navarre."
Hurrah! the foes are moving. Hark to the mingled din
Of fife, and steed, and trump, and drum, and roaring culverin.
The fiery Duke is pricking fast across St. André's plain,
With all the hireling chivalry of Guelders and Almayne.
Now by the lips of those ye love, fair gentlemen of France,
Charge for the golden lilies,—upon them with the lance.
A thousand spurs are striking deep, a thousand spears in rest,
A thousand knights are pressing close behind the snow-white crest;
And in they burst, and on they rushed, while like a guiding star,
Amid the thickest carnage blazed the helmet of Navarre.
Now, God be praised, the day is ours. Mayenne hath turned his rein.
D'Aumale hath cried for quarter. The Flemish count is slain.
Their ranks are breaking like thin clouds before a Biscay gale;
The field is heaped with bleeding steeds, and flags, and cloven mail.
And then we thought on vengeance, and, all along our van,
"Remember St. Bartholomew!" was passed from man to man.
But out spake gentle Henry, "No Frenchman is my foe:
Down, down with every foreigner, but let your brethren go."
Oh! was there ever such a knight, in friendship or in war,
As our Sovereign Lord, King Henry, the soldier of Navarre?
Right well fought all the Frenchmen who fought for France to-day;
And many a lordly banner God gave them for a prey.
But we of the Religion have borne us best in fight;
And the good lord of Rosny has ta'en the cornet white.
Our own true Maximilian the cornet white hath ta'en,
The cornet white with crosses black, the flag of false Lorraine.
Up with it high; unfurl it wide; that all the host may know
How God hath humbled the proud house which wrought His church such woe.
Then on the ground, while trumpets sound their loudest points of war,
Fling the red shreds, a footcloth meet for Henry of Navarre.
Ho! maidens of Vienna; Ho! matrons of Lucerne;
Weep, weep, and rend your hair for those who never shall return.
Ho! Philip, send, for charity, thy Mexican pistoles,
That Antwerp monks may sing a mass for thy poor spearman's souls.
Ho! gallant nobles of the League, look that your arms be bright;
Ho! burghers of Saint Genevieve, keep watch and ward to-night.
For our God hath crushed the tyrant, our God hath raised the slave,
And mocked the counsel of the wise, the valour of the brave.
Then glory to His holy name, from whom all glories are;
And glory to our Sovereign Lord, King Henry of Navarre.
WEEK 29 |
O LIVER CROMWELL had been so strong and powerful that it seemed quite natural to the people to choose his son, Richard, as the next Protector. But Richard was a very different man from his father. He had not that in him which makes a great soldier or a great ruler. The army, the Parliament, and the people soon found this out, and troubles began. In a few months, Richard gave up his office of Protector, and went away to live quietly in his house in the country.
The people were tired of being ruled by the army. They were
tired of the gloom and the sternness of the Puritans. They
remembered with regret the days of
General Monk, who had ruled Scotland under Cromwell, saw that many of the Scots had never forgotten their King. So thinking great things, but saying little, he began to march to London.
The Parliament and the army were already quarrelling and as Monk passed through England, people flocked to him from all sides begging him to try to bring peace and order into the country again. This was what Monk meant to do, how he had not settled, but letters and messages were secretly passing between him and Charles, who was at this time living in Holland.
At last Monk reached London, and one day, when Parliament was sitting, he entered the House and told the members that there was a messenger at the door with a letter from Charles.
Amid great excitement the messenger was brought in and the
letter read. It promised pardon to all those who had
A few days later Charles landed at Dover, where he was met
by Monk, and, 'mid the cheers and rejoicing of the people,
rode to London. Charles landed upon his birthday,
The soldiers alone did not rejoice. They had always hated
the name of king, they hated it still, and when
For more than ten years the army had been the greatest power in the country. But Charles saw that, because the soldiers disliked him, for him it was a danger rather than a safeguard. So he disbanded the army, and sent the soldiers back to their homes.
Charles was very glad to return to his own country. From being poor and homeless he had become the ruler over one of the greatest kingdoms of the world. But, in spite of all he had suffered, he had not learned to be kind or good.
As soon as Charles was safely on the throne he forgot all
the promises which he had made. Many of the people who had
helped to put
Scotland suffered much from these laws, and Charles sent a cruel man, called Lauderdale, to govern for him there. He, helped by another man called Claverhouse, tortured and put to death all those who would not worship God as the King commanded.
During the reign of
While this war was going on a terrible sickness called the plague broke out in London. It began in winter time. At first no one thought much about it, for such sickness was common in those days when people were careless about keeping their houses and towns clean. But as the days became warmer, the plague became worse, and soon it was so terrible that all who could fled from the town.
It was a dreadful time. No business was done, the shops were shut, the churches were empty. The streets, which used to be so full of people hurrying to and fro, were silent, deserted, and grass-grown.
As soon as it became known that any one in a house had the plague, all who lived in that house were forbidden to leave it lest they should carry the dreadful sickness to others. Then the door was marked with a great red cross, and the words, "The Lord have mercy on us."
At night, the awful silence of the streets was broken by the sounds of heavy, rumbling carts, and the mournful cry of the men in charge of them, "Bring out your dead! bring out your dead!" For those who died of this sickness could not be buried in a peaceful green churchyard where their friends could come to put flowers upon their graves. There were far too many of them for that. Those who died during the day were carried away in a cart at night, and buried all together in a great grave which was dug for them outside the town.
The story is told of a boatman who, when his wife became ill of the plague, could no longer go near his house, but slept in his boat. He worked hard all day, and in the evening used to bring what he had earned and lay it upon a stone not far from his house. Then he would go a little distance off and call to his wife. When she heard his call, she sent one of their children out to take the money and the food which he had brought. They would speak to each other for a short time at a distance, and then the boatman would go away again, sad at heart, wondering if his wife and children would be still alive when he came again next evening. But at least he knew that his dear ones would not die of hunger, as so many of the poor people did whose friends had run away and deserted them.
This dreadful sickness was greatly caused, and made much worse, by the dirt of the streets and the houses. In those days no one thought of keeping the streets clean. People threw all the rubbish from their houses into them, and there it lay rotting and poisoning the air. The streets, too, were very narrow, and windows small, so that little air or light could come into the houses. In fact, people never thought about fresh air and light.
The doctors did not know how to cure this sickness. Make-believe doctors offered the people all kinds of medicines which could do no good, but which were eagerly bought. Many went mad with terror and horror, and at one time a thousand people died every day. But at last the dreadful summer passed, and, with the coming of the winter and the frost, the terrible sickness gradually disappeared.
T HE dawn, the breaking dawn! I know nothing lovelier, nothing fresher, nothing newer, purer, sweeter than a summer dawn. I am just back from one—from the woods and cornfields wet with dew, the meadows and streams white with mist, and all the world of paths and fences running off into luring spaces of wavering, lifting, beckoning horizons where shrouded forms were moving and hidden voices calling. By noontime the buzz-saw of the cicada will be ripping the dried old stick of this August day into splinters and sawdust. No one could imagine that this midsummer noon, at 90° in the shade could have had so Maylike a beginning.
I said in "The Spring of the Year" that you should see a farmer ploughing, then a few weeks later the field of sprouting corn. Now in July or August you must see that field in silk and tassel, blade and stalk standing high over your head.
You might catch the same sight of wealth in a cotton-field, if cotton is "king" in your section; or in a vast wheat-field, if wheat is your king; or in a potato-field if you live in Maine—but no, not in a potato-field. It is all underground in a potato-field. Nor can cotton in the South, or wheat in the Northwest, give you quite the depth and the ranked and ordered wealth of long, straight lines of tall corn.
Then to hear a summer rain sweep down upon it and the summer wind run swiftly through it! You must see a great field of standing corn.
Keep out from under all trees, stand away from all tall poles, but get somewhere in the open and watch a blue-black thunderstorm come up. It is one of the wonders of summer, one of the shows of the sky, a thing of terrible beauty that I must confess I cannot look at without dread and a feeling of awe that rests like a load upon me.
"All heaven and earth are still—though not in sleep,
But breathless, as we grow when feeling most;
And silent, as we stand in thoughts too
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The sky is changed!—and such a change! Oh night,
And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
Yet lovely in your strength. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Far along,
From peak to peak the rattling crags among,
Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue,
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
Back to the joyous Alps who call to her aloud."
But there are many smaller, individual things to be seen this summer, and among them, notable for many reasons, is a hummingbird's nest. "When completed it is scarcely larger than an English walnut and is usually saddled on a small horizontal limb of a tree or shrub frequently many feet from the ground. It is composed almost entirely of soft plant fibers, fragments of spiders' webs sometimes being used to hold them in shape. The sides are thickly studded with bits of lichen, and practiced, indeed, is the eye of the man who can distinguish it from a knot on the limb."
This is the smallest of birds' nests and quite as rare and difficult to find as any single thing that you can go out to look for. You will stumble upon one now and then; but not many in a whole lifetime. Let it be a test of your keen eye—this finding of a little hummer's nest with its two white eggs the size of small pea-beans or its two tiny young that are up and off on their marvelous wings within three weeks from the time the eggs are laid!
Have you read Mr. William L. Finley's story of the California condor's nest? The hummingbird young is out and gone within three weeks; but the condor young is still in the care of its watchful parents three months after it is hatched. You ought to watch the slow, guarded youth of one of the larger hawks or owls during the summer. Such birds build very early,—before the snow is gone sometimes,—but they are to be seen feeding their young far into the summer. The wide variety in bird-life, both in size and habits, will be made very plain to you if you will watch the nests of two such birds as the hummer and the vulture or the eagle.
This is the season of flowers. But what among them should you especially see? Some time ago one of the school-teachers near me brought in a list of a dozen species of wild orchids, gathered out of the meadows, bogs, and woods about the neighborhood. Can you do as well?
Suppose, then, that you try to find as many. They were the pink lady's-slipper; the yellow lady's-slipper; the yellow fringed-orchis (Habenaria ciliaris); the ladies'-tresses, two species; the rattlesnake-plantain; arethusa, or Indian pink; calopogon, or grass pink; pogonia, or snake-mouth (ophioglossoides and verticillata); the ragged fringed-orchis; and the showy or spring orchis. Arethusa and the showy orchis really belong to the spring but the others will be task enough for you, and one that will give point and purpose to your wanderings afield this summer.
1. Arethusa bulbosa 2. Pogonia glossoides 3. Pink Lady's‑Slipper 4. Yellow Lady's‑Slipper 5. Showy Orchis
There are a certain number of moths and butterflies that you should see and know also. If one could come to know, say, one hundred and fifty flowers and the moths and butterflies that visit them (for the flower and its insect pollen-carrier are to be thought of and studied together), one would have an excellent speaking acquaintance with the blossoming out-of-doors.
Now, among the butterflies you ought to know the mourning-cloak, or vanessa; the big red-brown milkweed butterfly; the big yellow tiger swallowtail; the small yellow cabbage butterfly; the painted beauty; the red admiral; the common fritillary; the common wood-nymph—but I have named enough for this summer, in spite of the fact that I have not named the green-clouded or Troilus butterfly, and Asterias, the black swallowtail, and the red-spotted purple, and the viceroy.
Among the moths to see are the splendid Promethea,
Cecropia, bullseye, Polyphemus, and Luna, to say
nothing of the hummingbird moth, and the sphinx, or
hawk, moths, especially the large one that feeds as a
caterpillar upon the tomato-vines,
There is a like list of interesting beetles and other insects, that play a large part in even your affairs, which you ought to watch during the summer: the honeybee, the big droning golden bumblebee, the large white-faced hornet that builds the paper nests in the bushes and trees, the gall-flies, the ichneumon-flies, the burying beetle, the tumble-bug beetle, the dragon-fly, the caddis-fly—these are only a few of a whole world of insect folk about you, whose habits and life-histories are of utmost importance and of tremendous interest. You will certainly believe it if you will read the Peckhams' book called "Wasps, Social and Solitary," or the beautiful and fascinating insect stories by the great French entomologist Fabre. Get also "Every-day Butterflies," by Scudder; and "Moths and Butterflies," by Miss Dickerson, and "Insect Life," by Kellogg.
You see I cannot stop with this list of the things. That is the trouble with summer—there is too much of it while it lasts, too much variety and abundance of life. One is simply compelled to limit one's self to some particular study, and to pick up mere scraps from other fields.
But, to come back to the larger things of the out-of-doors, you should see the mist some summer morning very early or some summer evening, sheeted and still over a winding stream or pond, especially in the evening when the sun has gone down behind the hill, the flame has faded from the sky, and over the rim of the circling slopes pours the soft, cool twilight, with a breeze as soft and cool, and a spirit that is prayer. For then from out the deep shadows of the wooded shore, out over the pond, a thin white veil will come creeping—the mist, the breath of the sleeping water, the soul of the pond!
You should see it rain down little toads this summer—if you can! There are persons who claim to have seen it. But I never have. I have stood on Maurice River Bridge, however, and apparently had them pelting down upon my feet as the big drops of the July shower struck the planks—myriads of tiny toads covering the bridge across the river! Did they rain down? No, they had been hiding in the dirt between the planks and hopped out to meet the sweet rain and to soak their little thirsty skins full.
You should see a cowbird's young in a vireo's nest and the efforts of the poor deceived parents to satisfy its insatiable appetite at the expense of their own young ones' lives! Such a sight will set you to thinking.
I shall not tell you what else you should see, for the whole book could be filled with this one chapter, and then you might lose your forest in your trees. The individual tree is good to look at—the mighty wide-limbed hemlock or pine; but so is a whole dark, solemn forest of hemlocks and pines good to look at. Let us come to the out-of-doors with our study of the separate, individual plant or thing; but let us go on to Nature, and not stop with the individual thing.
Tiger! tiger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb, make thee?
Tiger! tiger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
WEEK 29 |
OU have heard that certain creatures emit poison, that is
to say, shoot from a distance into the face and on to the
hands of those who approach a liquid capable of causing
death, or at least of blinding or otherwise injuring them.
Last week Jules found on the leaves of the
"I know, I know," put in Jules. "It is the caterpillar, you
told me, that turns into a magnificent butterfly called the
sphinx Atropos. This butterfly, large as my hand, has on its
back a white spot that frightens many people, for it has a
vague resemblance to a
"Jacques, who was weeding the potatoes," continued Uncle Paul, "knocked the sphinx caterpillar out of Jules's hands, and hastened to crush it with his big wooden shoe. 'What you are doing is very dangerous,' said the good Jacques. 'Handling poisonous creatures—of all things! Do you see that green venom? Don't get too close; the silly thing is not quite dead; it might yet throw some poison on you.' The worthy man took the green entrails of the crushed caterpillar for poison. Those entrails did not contain anything dangerous; they were green because they were swollen with the juice of the leaves that the poor thing had just eaten.
"Many persons are of the same opinion as Jacques: they are afraid of a caterpillar and the green of its entrails. They think that certain creatures poison everything they touch and throw out venom. Well, my dear children, you must bear this in mind, for it is a very important thing and frees us from foolish fears, while it puts us on guard against real danger: no animal of any kind, absolutely none, shoots venom and can harm us from a distance. To be convinced of this it suffices to know what venom really is. Divers creatures, large or small, are endowed with a poisoned weapon that serves them either as defense or to attack their prey. The bee is our best known venomous creature."
"What!" exclaimed Emile, "a bee is poisonous, the bee that makes honey for us?"
"Yes, the bee; the bee without which we could not have those honey cakes that Mother Ambroisine hands round when you are good. You don't think then of the stings that made you cry so?"
Emile blushed: his uncle had just revived unpleasant memories. From pure heedlessness he tried one day to see what the bees were doing. They say he even thrust a stick through the little door of the hive. The bees became incensed at this indiscretion. Three or four stung the poor boy on the cheeks and hands. He cried out most piteously, and thought himself done for. His uncle had much difficulty in consoling him. Compresses of cold water finally soothed his smarting pains.
"The bee is venomous," repeated Uncle Paul; "Emile could tell you that."
"The wasp too, then?" asked Jules. "One stung me once when I tried to drive it from a bunch of grapes. I did not say anything, but all the same I was not very comfortable. To think that such a tiny thing can hurt one so! It seemed as if my hands were on fire."
Solitary Wasp and Nest
"Certainly, the wasp is venomous; more so than the bee, in
the sense that its sting causes greater pain.
"All these insects have, for their defense, a poisoned weapon constructed in the same way. It is called the sting. It is a small, hard, and very pointed blade, a kind of dagger finer than the finest needle. The sting is placed at the end of the creature's stomach. When in repose, it is not seen; it is hidden in a scabbard that goes into its stomach. To defend itself, the insect draws it out of its sheath and plunges the point into the imprudent finger found within reach.
"Now it is not exactly the wound made by the sting that
causes the smarting pain that you are familiar with. This
wound is so slight, so minute, we cannot see it. We should
hardly feel it were it made with a needle or a thorn as fine
as the sting. But the sting communicates with a pocket of
venom lodged in the creature's body, and, by means of a
At this second attack from Uncle Paul, who dwelt on this misadventure in order to blame him for his heedless treatment of the bees, Emile blew his nose, although he did not need to. It was a way of hiding his confusion. His uncle did not appear to notice it, and continued:
"Scholars who have made a study of this curious question tell us of the following experiment, to make clear that it is really the venomous liquid introduced into the wound, and not the wound itself, that causes the pain. When one pricks oneself with a very fine needle, the hurt is very slight and soon passes off. I am sure Claire is not much frightened when she pricks her finger in sewing."
"Oh! no," said she. "That is so soon over, even if blood comes."
"Well, the prick of a needle, insignificant in itself can cause sharp pains if the little wound is poisoned with the venom of the bee or wasp. The scholars I am telling you of dip the point of the needle into the bee's pocket of venom, and with this point thus wet with the venomous liquid give themselves a slight sting. The pain is now sharp and of long duration, more so than if the insect itself had stung the experimenter. This increase of pain is due to the fact that the comparatively large needle introduces into the wound more venom than could the bee's slender sting. You understand it now, I hope: it is the introduction of the venom into the wound that causes all the trouble."
"That is plain," said Jules. "But tell me, Uncle, why these scholars amuse themselves by pricking themselves with needles dipped in the bee's venom? It is a queer amusement, to hurt oneself for nothing."
"For nothing, Mr. Harum-scarum? Do you count as nothing what I have just told you? If I know it, must not others have taught me? Who are these others? They are the valiant investigators who learn about everything, observe and study everything, in order to alleviate our suffering. When they voluntarily prick themselves with poison, they propose to study in themselves, at their own risk and peril, the action of the venom, to teach us to combat its effects, which are sometimes so formidable. Let a viper or a scorpion sting us, and our life is in peril. Ah, then it is important to know exactly how the venom acts and what must be done to arrest its ravages; it is then that the scholars' researches are appreciated, researches that Jules looks upon as merely a queer amusement. Science, my little friend, has sacred enthusiasms that do not shrink from any test that may enlarge the sphere of our knowledge and diminish human suffering."
Jules, confused by his unfortunate remark, lowered his head and said not a word. Uncle Paul was on the point of getting vexed, but peace was soon restored and he continued the account of venomous creatures.
When it was noised about that the "parsons" were having a trial in the little brick court-house, people hurried in on horse, on foot, and in carriages. There were rich planters in velvet and lace, farmers in homespun, and poor whites in rags.
As Patrick watched them from the door of the tavern, he was glad that so many of his neighbors would hear his speech. He knew that if he won this case he would have many others.
But when he saw his uncle, the clergyman, step from his carriage, his courage failed him. He hastened to him, and said respectfully:
"Uncle, I am to try my first important case today. I shall not be able to speak before you. I would be too much embarrassed in your presence. Besides, I shall be obliged to say some hard things about the clergy."
"Well, Patrick, my boy," said his uncle kindly, "it is not I who shall stand in the way of your success. I will go back home. But you would best let the clergy alone. You will get the worst of it."
And the good old man returned to the carriage, and was driven away.
Then Patrick saw his father making his way through the crowd. He had quite forgotten that his father would be the judge at the trial. His heart seemed to come into his throat. Yet there was no help for him. The people were filling the court-room, and the doorway, and all the windows.
He squeezed through the packed room. There, in front, in a black robe, sat his father on a high bench, and before him sat twenty clergymen in one long row. And there were the twelve jurymen, who should bring in a verdict. It was a great moment for the young lawyer.
When he arose to speak, he looked shabby and awkward. His words came slowly. He hesitated and almost stopped speaking. The planters hung their heads. One whispered, "We should have known better than to put the case in the hands of that shiftless fellow!"
The clergymen on the bench lifted their eyebrows, and winked and nodded to one another, as much as to say, "Our case is already won."
Judge Henry nearly sank from the bench in confusion at his son's poor speaking. "Ah, Patrick, Patrick," he thought, "you have failed on the farm and in the shop, and now you are going to fail at the law, and the wife and wee bairns at home will be wanting for food!"
But soon Patrick's voice became clear. The long, awkward body straightened up. The blue eyes flashed. He looked grand and majestic.
The crowds outside the windows, who had begun to laugh and talk, were silent. Those at the door leaned eagerly forward to see the speaker.
He told about the poverty of the people, and the taxes they had paid for the war with the French.
He dwelt on the failure of the tobacco crop, and on the struggles of the poor farmers to keep their families from starving.
Then he pictured how Christ had fed the poor, and walked among the weak and the lowly of the earth.
And then, in scorn and anger, he pictured the many clergymen of Virginia who lived in fine houses, and feasted and drank while they were trying to take the last bit of bread from the tables of the poor.
His words were awful to the twenty clergymen. They shrank back in dismay.
Then the young lawyer stood like a lion at bay as he talked of the rights of the people.
He said the king of England had given the province of Virginia the right to make its own laws about the taxes. The House of Burgesses had passed a law providing for the use of paper instead of tobacco in payment of the clergy. This law, he said, was made to protect the poor from the oppressions of the rich.
His voice rang out clear and strong, and his eyes flashed strangely as he said that even a king had not the right to declare void a law made by the people.
"When a king becomes a tyrant," he cried, "he forfeits all right to obedience!"
Some who heard him looked frightened at such bold words. But as the speech went on, Patrick became more and more eloquent. He won the hearts of all. His father, the judge, forgot where he was, and tears streamed down his cheeks.
When the last words were uttered, the twelve jurymen went out. They soon brought back the verdict of one penny damages!
The clergymen had hoped to obtain several hundred dollars. They had lost their case, and they fled in anger and disappointment from the courtroom. But the planters shouted the name of their young lawyer. They bore him out on their shoulders and set him down in the yard where all might shake his hand.
And, for many years in Hanover County, if any one chanced to make a fine speech, the highest praise he could receive was that he was "almost equal to Patrick when he pleaded against the parsons."
An everywhere of silver,
With ropes of sand
To keep it from effacing
The track called land.
WEEK 29 |
The boys were just starting off together when a sudden shouting arose.
"O, look over there!" cried Ferdiad, "I believe they are beginning to course the hounds!"
Both lads ran across a space of green grass to where a low wattled fence enclosed a large oval race-course. People were gathered about it talking excitedly as they watched the lively capers of a dozen or more large wolf hounds that several men held in leash by long leather thongs. The dogs were straining impatiently at their collars, and the moment the signal was given and they were unleashed, "Br-rh-rh-rh-rh-rh!!" off they darted, their noses pointing straight ahead and their long legs and powerful bodies bounding past so swiftly that neither Ferdiad nor Conn could make out one from another.
But in a few moments the fastest began to sweep ahead, and Conn cried out excitedly, "Look! Look! That big light brown one I picked out is leading!"
"Not now!" called back Ferdiad, as they hurried along the fence following the racing dogs with their eyes. "No! now it's the one with the white tip to his tail!"
"Whew!" shouted Conn , as " Br-rh-rh-rh-rh-rh! "with a deep roar the baying pack swept past again, "If there isn't that bright blue one that was 'way behind leading them all now!"
And, sure enough, when the panting hounds came around the last quarter of the track it was the bright blue that leaped first across the streak of white lime that marked the goal. There was a great shouting and clapping of hands by the bystanders as the tired dogs were led off.
"Whose hound was it that won? Do you know?" asked Conn of Ferdiad.
"I heard a man say he belonged to Prince Cormac of Cromarty," answered Ferdiad. "They say the prize is an enameled dog-collar and a leather leash trimmed with silver. I wonder when the high king will give it to him?"
"Not till the end of the fair, boy," said a tall man standing near. "The high king isn't here yet but is coming to-morrow, and there will be games and chariot races yet, and, last of all, the poets' and story-tellers' contest."
"Well," said Conn as the boys turned away, "that hound race was good,—but I never thought the blue one would win! He was such a handsome color I suppose Prince Cormac must have had him specially dyed for the fair."
"I dare say," said Ferdiad, "but I have a green hound at home that is just as handsome, and my foster-mother says when she colors the next wool she spins maybe she will have enough red left to dye another one."
For the Celts thought oddly colored animals very pretty, and women when they dyed the yarn which they all spun for themselves often emptied what was left in their dye-pots over the family pets. So a purple cat or blue or red dog was no uncommon sight.
But the boys had wandered off from the race track and had come to an open space where were a number of booths covered with green boughs. Here merchants were selling all sorts of things; there were bows and arrows, swords, shields and spears, bronze horns and trumpets and harps, homespun woolen and linen cloth, and fine silks from beyond the sea, and there were wonderful bracelets and necklaces and torques, a kind of twisted collar, and brooches, all of finely wrought gold and silver; for the Celts, both men and women, loved to wear quantities of golden ornaments and nowhere in all the world were there more skilful goldsmiths than theirs.
In one of the better built booths covered with a thatched roof several scribes were busy. Each held in his lap a thin board with a sheet of vellum on which he wrote, dipping his swan-feather pen into ink held in the tip of a cow's horn fastened to the arm of his chair. Some were writing letters for people who had no ink or vellum of their own or perhaps could not write themselves; while others were copying from books beside them, all of which were for sale. No one had dreamed yet of printing books on presses, so copying them by hand was the only way to make them. Some of the books had initial letters painted in gold and colors, and as the boys passed they looked critically at these.
"They are not so well done as some at the Kinkora monastery where I go to school, " said Conn. For the most beautiful books were made by the patient hands of the Celtic monks.
"No," said Ferdiad, "I dare say not. And they can't compare with the books at the monastery of Kells near where we live."
"Oh," he went on eagerly, "you just ought to see the Great Gospel of Saint Columkille that is kept at Kells! The monks there say there's nothing like it in the whole world!"
"I've heard something of that book," said Conn, "but I don't know much about it. What is it?"
"Well," answered Ferdiad, "it's hundreds of years old and painted with the most wonderful borders and initials and pictures that anybody ever made! The patterns are so fine and the lines lace in and out so perfectly that they say if your eyes are sharp enough you can count hundreds of loops and ornaments on a spot no wider than your finger!"
"I don't see how anybody ever painted patterns like that!" said Conn. "Who made it?"
"Nobody knows for sure," answered Ferdiad. "Some say Saint Columkille had it made and some say he did it himself. But everybody declares that whoever painted it, an angel must have guided his hand, for nobody could have done it without help from Heaven. And then the book has the most wonderful gold case you ever saw!" For most handsome books then each had its own box-like case of gold or silver or carved wood or ivory.
Just then a horse's whinney caught the boys' attention and they went over to the pens where horses and sheep and cows were for sale, and enormous wolf-hounds some of them as large as calves. Around these hounds especially was always a crowd of interested buyers, for the Celts delighted in racing them; also these powerful dogs were useful in protecting their homes at night and in chasing off the packs of wolves that roamed through the great wide forests that covered so much of the land. Presently both boys began to sniff hungrily as they came to that part of the fair where the food was being sold.
"Let's get something to eat!" said Conn, "Aren't you hungry?"
"Yes," said Ferdiad, looking up at the sun, "it's past midday!" And they made their way toward the nearest booth. Beside it was an open fire and over this hung a great bronze kettle in which pieces of meat were boiling. A man in cook's cap and apron stood by with a long hook of bronze.
"We would like some of your meat, sir," said Ferdiad, and at once the man hooked out some pieces which he placed on an earthen platter; this he set on a low wooden table on the grass beside him, and the boys sitting down on the ground began eating with their fingers as people did then. They finished with some milk served in cups hollowed out of yew wood and some wheaten cakes which the cook's wife had kneaded up with honey and baked on a flat hot stone in front of the fire.
When the boys had eaten, "You be my guest, Conn," said Ferdiad as he paid the man with one of the small silver rings he took from his girdle.
By this time the crowd seemed to be moving toward the grassy space within the race track, so of course Ferdiad and Conn went along. When they reached the place a wrestling match had already begun and after that was running and jumping and quoit throwing and fencing contests, and all the while there was a blaring of trumpets and blowing of great horns or else somebody was twanging on a harp or shaking castanets of bone, keeping up a noise and excitement for all the world like fairs of to-day.
When the sports were over the afternoon was almost spent and Ferdiad and Conn fairly tired of sight seeing. "Come on," said Ferdiad, "let's go find our curragh and take a row on the river before you go back to your foster-father."
"All right!" said Conn, and off they went toward the river. Near its bank was another grassy space and scattered through it a number of houses, all of them round; for that was the shape most Celtic people preferred. Each was built of poles placed upright in the ground forming a circle; long rods of hazel from which the bark had been peeled were woven between the poles, making a wattled wall, and the cone-shaped roof was thatched with rushes. These houses, which belonged to the fair and had been built long before for the use of the high-born people attending it, had been freshened up with coats of lime, some glistening, dazzling white in the sunlight, and others decorated with bright stripes in different colors.
Several gayly dressed ladies were walking about and there was a sound of harpstrings in the air. "Are those queens?" asked Conn of Ferdiad, for it was his first visit to the fair and he had found Ferdiad had been there before.
"Yes," said Ferdiad, "and my foster-mother is one of the ladies attending the Queen of Meath, so she and my foster sister, Eileen, stay in that striped house under the big quicken tree. These houses are for the queens and their ladies and those yonder are for the kings."
For you must know that Ireland was a land not only of many kinds of parents but also of quantities of kings and queens. The country was divided into ever so many little kingdoms belonging to different tribes or clans, and, as I have told you, in these tribes were many chiefs or flaiths of different degrees of rank, but over them all in each kingdom was the king. Some of the kingdoms were larger and stronger than others, so the kings varied in power; but none of them was so important as the high king who ruled them all just as each of them ruled the chiefs under him. But though the high king was called the King of Ireland, the smaller kings fought and quarreled so much among themselves, and so many bold chiefs from countries near by were always trying to gain a foothold in Ireland that the high king seldom really governed the whole land. However, the one who came nearest to doing it was the great Brian Boru, who hadn't come to the fair yet but was expected the next day. Ferdiad pointed out to Conn a long wooden house built on top of a grassy mound in the middle of the fair where the high king would stay, and close beside it another large building where he would give another great feast in the evening.
Meantime all the other fifteen or twenty kings with their queens and followers were having the best kind of a time and behaving in the politest way to each other; for no matter how much they fought at other times, no one dared to start a quarrel at any of the Celtic fairs, for everybody knew perfectly well that the punishment was death.
But Ferdiad and Conn had come to the water's edge and were just looking for the right boat when a little girl with flying yellow curls came racing toward them, her blue mantle fluttering and her little sandaled feet twinkling as she ran. "O, Ferdiad," she called out, "I was just wishing you would come! Mother says I may go for a little ride on the river if you will take me!"
Then seeing Conn, whom she had not noticed in her eagerness, she drew back with a touch of bashfulness.
"This is my new friend Conn, from Munster," explained Ferdiad, "and he is going with us. Conn," he added turning to the boy who was staring shyly at the little girl, "this is my foster-sister, Eileen."
At this Eileen, with a friendly smile for the new friend, took Ferdiad's hand as he helped her clamber down the bank and they picked out the boat in which they had come to the fair. It was the kind the Celts called a "curragh" and was made of wickerwork covered with tanned cow-hides which had been stained a dark red. When Eileen had stepped daintily in and seated herself and the boys followed, "Let's go across the river and see how the fair looks from the other side," she said, "and then let's go around the bend and back!"
And Ferdiad and Conn taking up the long oars of hickory did exactly as Eileen commanded.
they picked out the boat in which they had come.
In olden times there lived a King, who was so cruel and unjust towards his subjects that he was always called The Tyrant. So heartless was he that his people used to pray night and day that they might have a new king. One day, much to their surprise, he called his people together and said to them,—
"My dear subjects, the days of my tyranny are over. Henceforth you shall live in peace and happiness, for I have decided to try to rule henceforth justly and well."
The King kept his word so well that soon he was known throughout the land as The Just King. By and by one of his favorites came to him and said,—
"Your Majesty, I beg of you to tell me how it was that you had this change of heart towards your people?"
And the King replied,—
"As I was galloping through my forests one afternoon, I caught sight of a hound chasing a fox. The fox escaped into his hole, but not until he had been bitten by the dog so badly that he would be lame for life. The hound, returning home, met a man who threw a stone at him, which broke his leg. The man had not gone far when a horse kicked him and broke his leg. And the horse, starting to run, fell into a hole and broke his leg. Here I came to my senses, and resolved to change my rule. 'For surely,' I said to myself, 'he who doeth evil will sooner or later be overtaken by evil.' "
I love to hear thine earnest voice,
Wherever thou art hid,
Thou testy little dogmatist,
Thou pretty Katydid!
Thou mindest me of gentle folks,—
Old gentle folks are they,—
Thou say'st an undisputed thing
In such a solemn way.
Thou art a female, Katydid!
I know it by the thrill
That quivers through the piercing notes,
So petulant and shrill.
I think there is a knot of you
Beneath the hollow tree,—
A knot of spinster Katydids,—
Do Katydids drink tea?
Oh, tell me where did Katy live,
And what did Katy do?
And was she very fair and young,
And yet so wicked, too?
Did Katy love a naughty man
Or kiss more cheeks than one?
I warrant Katy did no more
Than many a Kate has done.
WEEK 29 |
"Before man made us citizens, great Nature made us men."
T HERE was now growing a feeling among the people of Paris that the king and the National Assembly should be in their midst, and no longer away at Versailles. So on October 1789, a great mob of citizens, mostly women, set out from Paris to walk to Versailles and bring the king back to his capital.
Lafayette was commander-in-chief of the troops, but it was with a heavy heart that he led the soldiers to Versailles. He felt the Revolution was getting out of all control.
It was a day of rain, and when the mob reached their destination they were weary, hungry, and wet. All through that day and during the night fresh bands of men and women from Paris kept arriving, until early next morning they broke into the palace.
"The king to Paris," shouted the dense throng outside.
Louis stepped on to the balcony and assented to their will.
Then arose a yet more furious cry—
"The queen! the queen!"
Marie Antoinette, with her children clinging to her, now stepped out on to the balcony and looked down on to the sea of furious faces below.
"No children!" was the rough cry.
Pushing them back, the poor queen advanced alone. It was a moment of great peril. Lafayette, afraid for her safety, stepped forward and sought to make her peace with the people. He stooped before them and kissed her hand.
Marie Antoinette on the balcony at Versailles.
The royal family was then forced to leave Versailles, the palace of Louis XIV. They were never to return. They were taken to a palace in Paris known as the Tuileries,—a cold, deserted dwelling,—where for the next two years they lived the life of captives. The queen spent most of her time with her two children, fearing to venture often beyond the gardens. The king, deprived of his hunting, grew gloomy and ill.
He was powerless in his own kingdom, a mere tool in the hands of the Revolutionists. At last he and the queen resolved to escape from the misery of it all, from a life that had grown almost unbearable. Very quietly they made their plans. The night of Monday, June 20, was fixed for the attempt. Everything was arranged for them by Count Fersen, an intimate friend. In the afternoon the Count paid his last visit to the Tuileries. He had smuggled the last of the clothes for the disguise into the palace. There was a frockcoat and round hat for the king, who was to be a valet; a travelling dress and bonnet for the queen, who was to be governess to her two children; a frock for the little six-year-old dauphin, Marie Antoinette's second son, who was to be dressed as a girl.
Fersen left the queen weeping bitterly, for there was a rumour that the plan had been discovered. The children were put to bed as usual. At nine o'clock supper was served; the queen dismissed her servants and retired to rest. At half-past ten she crept to the little dauphin's room. The child was fast asleep, all unconscious of coming danger. The queen woke him. His sister was already disguised in a cheap muslin dress.
"They dressed my brother as a little girl," she said afterwards, when telling the story of this terrible night. "He looked beautiful, but was so sleepy that he could not stand, and did not know what we were all about."
The queen was dressed as a governess. All was ready. She looked out into the night: everything was quiet. Stealthily the royal fugitives crept through dark unknown passages that warm June night, till they reached the appointed door, which stood unlocked. Then they crossed the courtyard and stepped into the coach, which awaited them with Count Fersen, disguised as a coachman, on the box. Here the king joined them as their valet, and the carriage drove hastily off, through the sleeping streets of Paris.
Outside the city they changed into a new yellow coach, which was to convey them towards the frontier of France. It had been waiting for two hours owing to delays, and the dawn was already breaking in the east.
"Drive—drive as fast as possible," muttered Count Fersen, jumping on to the box beside the German coachman and cracking the whip. "Go faster—faster!"
On they went through the ever-brightening morning, away from the pomps and shams of Paris to the free life beyond the frontier. The king's spirits rose.
"I have escaped from that town of Paris, where I have drunk so much bitterness," he cried joyously.
But he rejoiced too soon: a chapter of accidents now befell the royal family. The horses fell down and broke the harness, which took an hour to mend. They missed a carriage sent to meet them beyond Chalons. But, most fatal of all accidents, the king was recognised by a postmaster named Drouet, who belonged to the Revolution party. The royal party reached Varennes at eleven o'clock that summer night to find they had been discovered.
"If you go a step farther we fire!" cried threatening voices, while guns were levelled at the carriage window. The poor disguised royal family got out. They were led to a grocer's shop hard by and taken up a narrow corkscrew staircase to two small bedrooms. The unhappy queen put her tired children to bed, while the king sat in an arm-chair in the middle of the room in the deepest despair.
In the course of the night a friend of the king arrived and made his way up the narrow staircase to ask for orders.
"I am a prisoner: I have no orders to give," answered Louis in despair.
Even now a little firmness might have saved the situation, and "French history had never come under this Varennes archway to decide itself." But the moment passed. By dawn thousands of peasants had assembled in Varennes. As the sun broke over the lovely valley of the Aire, the grocer begged the king to show himself to the growing crowds in the streets below. Louis obeyed.
"Long live the King! Long live the nation!" cried the people.
"There is no longer a king in France," muttered Louis to his queen, as he read the message from the National Assembly ordering him to return at once.
Slowly and sadly the royal family descended the narrow stairs and entered the carriage once more. Escorted by six thousand guards, they drove back through the glare of a midsummer sun, exposed to the insults of the mob, with blinds up and windows open. The little dauphin slept at intervals, only to awake screaming that he was in a forest where wolves were attacking his mother, the queen.
On Saturday the 25th of June they entered the gloomy palace of the Tuileries again, which they had left so full of life and hope but five days since.
S Sigurd rode the ways of the forest he thought upon Sigmund, his father, on his life and his death, according to what Hiordis, his mother, had told him. Sigmund lived for long the life of the hunter and the outlaw, but he never strayed far from the forest that was in King Siggeir's dominion. Often did he get a token from Signy. They two, the last of the Volsungs, knew that King Siggeir and his house would have to perish for the treason he had wrought on their father and their brothers.
Sigmund knew that his sister would send her son to help him. One morning there came to his hut a boy of ten years. He knew that this was one of Signy's sons, and that she would have him train him into being a warrior worthy of the Volsung breed.
Sigmund hardly looked and hardly spoke to the lad. He was going hunting, and as he took down his spear from the wall he said: "There is the meal-bag, boy. Mix the meal and make the bread, and we will eat when I come back."
When he returned the bread was unmade, and the boy was standing watching the meal-bag with widened eyes. "Thou didst not make the bread?" Sigmund said.
"Nay," said the boy, "I was afeard to go near the bag. Something stirred within in."
"Thou hast the heart of a mouse so to be frighted. Go back to thy mother and tell her that not in thee is the stuff for a Volsung warrior."
So Sigmund spoke, and the boy went away weeping.
A year later another son of Signy's came. As before Sigmund hardly looked at and hardly spoke to the boy. He said: "There is the meal-bag. Mix the meal and make ready the bread against the time I return."
When Sigmund came back the bread was unmade. The boy had shrunk away from where the bag was.
"Thou hast not made the bread?" Sigmund said.
"Nay," said the boy, "something stirred in the bag, and I was afeard."
"Thou hast the heart of a mouse. Get thee back to thy mother and tell her that there is not in thee the stuff for the making of a Volsung warrior."
And this boy, like his brother, went back weeping.
At that time Signy had no other sons. But at last one was born to her, the child of a desperate thought. Him, too, when he was grown, she sent to Sigmund.
"What did thy mother say to thee?" Sigmund said to this boy when he showed himself at the hut.
"Nothing. She sewed my gloves to my hands and then bade me pull them off."
"And didst thou?"
"Aye, and the skin came with them."
"And didst thou weep?"
"A Volsung does not weep for such a thing."
Long did Sigmund look on the lad. He was tall and fair and great-limbed, and his eyes had no fear in them.
"What wouldst thou have me do for thee?" said the lad.
"There is the meal-bag," Sigmund said. "Mix the meal and make the bread for me against the time I return."
When Sigmund came back the bread was baking on the coals. "What didst thou with the meal?" Sigmund asked.
"I mixed it. Something was in the meal—a serpent, I think—but I kneaded it with the meal, and now the serpent is baking on the coals."
Sigmund laughed and threw his arms around the boy. "Thou wilt not eat of that bread," he said. "Thou didst knead into it a venomous serpent."
The boy's name was Sinfiotli. Sigmund trained him in the ways of the hunter and outlaw. Here and there they went, taking vengeance on King Siggeir's men. The boy was fierce, but never did he speak a word that was false.
One day when Sigmund and Sinfiotli were hunting, they came upon a strange house in the dark wood. When they went within they found two men lying there sleeping a deep sleep. On their arms were heavy rings of gold, and Sigmund knew that they were the sons of Kings.
And beside the sleeping men he saw wolf skins, left there as though they had been cast off. Then Sigmund knew that these men were shape-changers—that they were ones who changed their shapes and ranged through the forests as wolves.
Sigmund and Sinfiotli put on the skins that the men had cast off, and when they did this they changed their shapes and became as wolves. And as wolves they ranged through the forest, now and then changing their shapes back to those of men. As wolves they fell upon King Siggeir's men and slew more and more of them.
One day Sigmund said to Sinfiotli: "Thou art still young and I would not have thee be too rash. If thou dost come upon a company of seven men, fight them. But if thou dost come on a company greater than seven, raise up thy voice as a wolf's cry and bring me to thy side."
Sinfiotli promised that he would do this.
One day, as he went through the forest in his wolf's shape, Sigmund heard the din of a struggle and he stopped to listen for Sinfiotli's call. But no call came. Then Sigmund went through the forest in the direction of the struggle. On his way he passed the bodies of eleven slain men. And he came upon Sinfiotli lying in the thicket, his wolf's shape upon him, and panting from the battle he had waged.
"Thou didst strive with eleven men. Why didst thou not call to me?" Sigmund said.
"Why should I have called to thee? I am not so feeble but I can strive with eleven men."
Sigmund was made angry with this answer. He looked on Sinfiotli where he lay, and the wicked wolf's nature that was in the skin came over him. He sprang upon him, sinking his teeth in Sinfiotli's throat.
Sinfiotli lay gasping in the throes of death. And Sigmund, knowing the deadly grip that was in those jaws of his, howled his anguish.
Then, as he licked the face of his comrade, he saw two weasels meet. They began to fight, one with the other, and the first caught the second at the throat, and bit him with his teeth and laid him out as if in death. Sigmund marked the combat and the end of it. But then the first weasel ran and found leaves of a certain herb and he put them upon his comrade's wound. And the herb cured the wound, and the weasel that was bitten rose up and was sound and swift again.
Sigmund went searching for the herb he saw the weasel carry to his comrade. And as he sought for it he saw a raven with a leaf in her beak. She dropped the leaf as he came to her, and behold! It was the same leaf as the weasel had brought to his comrade. Sigmund took it and laid it on the wound he had made in Sinfiotli's throat, and the wound healed, and Sinfiotli was sound once more. They went back to their hut in the forest. And the next day they burnt the wolf-skins, and they prayed the Gods that they might never be afflicted with the wolf's evil nature again. And Sigmund and Sinfiotli never afterwards changed their shapes.
Here are sweet peas, on tiptoe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.
Linger awhile upon some bending planks
That lean against a streamlet's rushy banks,
And watch intently Nature's gentle doings,
They will be found softer than ringdove's cooings.
How silent comes the water round that bend!
Not the minutest whisper does it send
To the o'erhanging sallows: blades of grass
Slowly across the chequer'd shadows pass.
WEEK 29 |
T HERE lived in a village two men who both had the same name—they were called Claus; but one of them had four horses and the other had only one horse, so in order to tell one from the other people called the owner of the four horses "Big Claus" and him who had only one "Little Claus." Now we shall hear what happened to the two, for this is a true story.
The whole week through Little Claus was obliged to plow for Big Claus, and lend him his one horse, and in return Big Claus lent him all his four horses, but only on one day of the week, and that was Sunday. Then how proudly Little Claus would smack his whip over all five horses! They were as good as his own on that one day. The sun shone brightly, and all the bells in the church-tower were ringing merrily as the people passed by, dressed in their best clothes, with their prayer-books under their arms. They were going to hear the clergyman preach, and they looked at Little Claus plowing with his five horses, and he was so proud that he smacked his whip and said, "G'up, all my horses!"
"You must not say that," said Big Claus, "for only one of them belongs to you."
But when another lot of people went by to church Little Claus forgot what he ought to say and called out, "G'up, all my horses!"
"Now, I tell you not to say that again," said Big Claus; "for if you do I shall hit your horse on the head so that he will drop dead on the spot, and that will be the end of him."
"I promise you I will not say it any more," said the other; but as soon as people came by, nodding to him, and wishing him "Good day," he became so pleased and thought how grand it looked to have five horses plowing in his field that he cried out again, "G'up, all my horses!"
"I'll g'up your horses for you," said Big Claus, and, seizing a carriage-weight, he struck the one horse of Little Claus on the head, and he fell dead instantly.
"Ah! now I have no horse at all," said Little Claus, and he began to weep. But after a while he took off the dead horse's skin and hung the hide to dry in the wind. Then he put the dry skin into a bag and, placing it over his shoulder, went out into the next town to sell the horse's hide.
He had a very long way to go and had to pass through a dark, gloomy forest. Presently a storm arose and he lost his way, and before he discovered the right path evening came on, and it was still a long way to the town, and too far to return home before night.
Near the road stood a large farm-house. The shutters outside the windows were closed, but lights shone through the crevices and at the top. "I might get permission to stay here for the night," thought Little Claus; so he went up to the door and knocked.
The Farmer's Wife opened the door, but when she heard what he wanted she told him to go away, as her husband would not allow her to admit strangers.
"Then I shall be obliged to lie out here," said Little Claus to himself; and the Farmer's Wife shut the door in his face.
Near to the farm-house stood a large haystack, and between it and the house was a small shed with a thatched roof.
"I can lie up there," said Little Claus as he saw the roof; "it will make a famous bed, but I hope the stork will not fly down and bite my legs"; for on it stood a living stork, whose nest was in the roof.
So Little Claus climbed to the roof of the shed, and while he turned himself to get comfortable he discovered that the wooden shutters, which were closed, did not reach to the tops of the windows of the farm-house, so that he could see into a room in which a large table was laid out with wine, roast meat, and a splendid fish. The Farmer's Wife and the Sexton were sitting at the table together, and she filled his glass and helped him plentifully to fish, for that was something he was fond of.
"If I could only get some, too," thought Little Claus; and he stretched his neck toward the window. Oh, what a lovely pie he could see there! Oh, but that was a feast!
Now he heard some one riding down the road toward the farm-house. It was the woman's husband coming home. He was a good man, but still he had a very strange prejudice—he could not bear the sight of a sexton. If one appeared before him he would put himself in a terrible rage. And so it was that the Sexton had gone to visit the Farmer's Wife during her husband's absence from home, and the good woman had placed before him the best she had in the house to eat. When she heard the Farmer coming she was frightened, and begged the Sexton to hide himself in a large empty chest that stood in the room. He did so, for he knew her husband could not endure the sight of a sexton. The woman then quickly put away the wine and hid all the rest of the nice things in the oven, for if her husband had seen them he would have asked what they were brought out for.
"Oh, dear!" sighed Little Claus, from the top of the shed, as he saw all the good things disappear.
"Is any one up there?" asked the Farmer, looking up and discovering Little Claus. "Why are you lying up there? Come down and come into the house with me."
So Little Claus came down and told the Farmer how he had lost his way and begged for a night's lodging.
"All right," said the Farmer, "but we must have something to eat first."
The woman received them both very kindly, laid the cloth on a large table, and placed before them a dish of groats. The Farmer was very hungry and ate his groats with a good appetite; but Little Claus could not help thinking of the nice roast meat, fish, and pies which he knew were in the oven. Under the table at his feet lay the sack containing the horse's skin, which he intended to sell at the next town. Now Little Claus did not relish groats at all, so he trod with his foot on the sack under the table, and the dry skin squeaked quite loud. "Hush!" said Little Claus to his sack, at the same time treading upon it again till it squeaked louder than before.
"Hello! What have you got in your sack?" asked the Farmer.
"Oh, it is a conjurer," said Little Claus; "and he says we need not eat groats, for he has conjured the oven full of roast meat, fish, and pie."
"Wonderful!" cried the Farmer, and he opened the oven door; and there lay all the nice things hidden by the Farmer's Wife, but which he supposed had been conjured there by the wizard under the table. The woman dared not say anything; so she placed the things before them, and they both ate of the fish, the meat, and the pastry.
Then Little Claus trod again upon his sack, and it squeaked as before.
"What does he say now?" asked the Farmer.
"He says," replied Little Claus, "that there are three bottles of wine for us standing in the corner by the oven."
So the woman was obliged to bring out the wine also, which she had hidden, and the Farmer drank it till he became quite merry. He would have liked such a conjurer as Little Claus carried in his sack. "Could he conjure up the devil?" asked the Farmer. "I should like to see him now, while I am so merry."
"Oh yes!" replied Little Claus, "my conjurer can do anything I ask him—can you not?" he asked, treading at the same time on the sack till it squeaked. "Do you hear? He answers 'Yes,' but he fears that we shall not like to look at him."
"Oh, I am not afraid. What will he be like?"
"Well, he is very much like a sexton."
"Ha!" said the Farmer. "Then he must be ugly. Do you know, I cannot endure the sight of a sexton. However, that doesn't matter; I shall know who it is, so I shall not mind. Now then, I have got up my courage, but don't let him come too near me."
"Stop! I must ask the conjurer," said Little Claus; so he trod on the bag, and stooped his ear down to listen.
"What does he say?"
"He says that you must go and open that large chest which stands in the corner, and you will see the devil crouching down inside; but you must hold the lid firmly, that he may not slip out."
"Will you come and help me hold it?" said the Farmer, going toward the chest in which his wife had hidden the Sexton, who now lay inside, very much frightened. The Farmer lifted the lid a very little way and peeped in.
"Eh!" cried he, springing backward. "Ah, I saw him, and he is exactly like our sexton. How dreadful it is!" So after that he was obliged to drink again, and they sat and drank till far into the night.
"You must sell your conjurer to me," said the Farmer; "ask as much as you like, I will pay it; indeed, I would give you directly a whole bushel of gold."
"No, indeed, I cannot," said Little Claus; "only think how much profit I could make out of this conjurer."
"But I should like to have him," said the Farmer, still continuing his entreaties.
"Well," said Little Claus, at length, "you have been so good as to give me a night's lodging, I will not refuse you; you shall have the conjurer for a bushel of money, but I will have quite full measure."
"So you shall," said the Farmer; "but you must take away the chest as well. I would not have it in the house another hour; there is no knowing if he may not be still there."
So Little Claus gave the Farmer the sack containing the dried horse's skin and received in exchange a bushel of money—full measure. The Farmer also gave him a wheelbarrow on which to carry away the chest and the gold.
"Farewell," said Little Claus, as he went off with his money and the great chest, in which the Sexton lay still concealed. On one side of the forest was a broad, deep river; the water flowed so rapidly that very few were able to swim against the stream. A new bridge had lately been built across it, and in the middle of this bridge Little Claus stopped, and said, loud enough to be heard by the Sexton:
"Now, what shall I do with this stupid chest? It is as heavy as if it were full of stones. I shall be tired if I roll it any farther, so I may as well throw it into the river; if it swims after me to my house, well and good; and if not, it will not much matter."
So he seized the chest in his hand and lifted it up a little, as if he were going to throw it into the water.
"No, leave it alone," cried the Sexton, from within the chest. "Let me out first."
"Oh!" exclaimed Little Claus, pretending to be frightened, "he is in there still, is he? I must throw him into the river, that he may be drowned."
"Oh no! Oh no!" cried the Sexton. "I will give you a whole bushelful of money if you will let me go."
"Why, that is another matter," said Little Claus, opening the chest. The Sexton crept out, pushed the empty chest into the water, and went to his house; then he measured out a whole bushelful of gold for Little Claus, who had already received one from the Farmer, so that now he had a barrowful.
"I have been well paid for my horse," said he to himself, when he reached home, entered his own room, and emptied all his money into a heap on the floor. "How vexed Big Claus will be when he finds how rich I have become all through my one horse; but I shall not tell him exactly how it all happened." Then he sent a boy to Big Claus to borrow a bushel measure.
"What can he want it for?" thought Big Claus; so he smeared the bottom of the measure with tar, that some of whatever was put into it might stick there and remain. And so it happened; for, when the measure returned, three new silver florins were sticking to it.
"What does this mean?" said Big Claus; so he ran off directly to Little Claus and asked, "Where did you get so much money?"
"Oh, for my horse's hide; I sold it yesterday."
"It was certainly well paid for, then," said Big Claus; and he ran home to his house, seized a hatchet, and knocked all his four horses on the head, flayed off their skins, and took them to the town to sell. "Hides, hides! Who'll buy hides?" he cried, as he went through the streets. All the shoemakers and tanners came running and asked how much he wanted for them.
"A bushel of money for each," replied Big Claus.
"Are you mad?" they all cried. "Do you think we have money to spend by the bushel?"
"Hides, hides!" he cried again. "Who'll buy hides?" But to all who inquired the price his answer was, "A bushel of money."
"He is making fools of us," said they all; then the shoemakers took their straps, and the tanners their leather aprons, and began to beat Big Claus.
"Hides, hides!" they cried, mocking him. "Yes, we'll mark your hide for you till it is black and blue."
"Out of the town with him," said they. And Big Claus was obliged to run as fast he could; he had never before been so thoroughly beaten.
"Ah," said he, as he came to his house, "Little Claus shall pay me for this; I will beat him to death."
Now it happened that the old grandmother of Little Claus died. She had been cross, unkind, and really spiteful to him; but he was very sorry, and took the dead woman and laid her on his warm bed to see if he could bring her to life again. There he determined that she should lie the whole night, while he seated himself in a chair in a corner of the room, as he had often done before.
During the night, as he sat there, the door opened, and in came Big Claus with a hatchet. He knew well where Little Claus's bed stood, so he went right up to it and struck the old grandmother on the head, thinking it must be Little Claus.
"There!" cried he. "Now you cannot make a fool of me again," and then he went home.
"That is a very wicked man," thought Little Claus; "he meant to kill me. It is a good thing for my old grandmother that she was already dead, or he would have taken her life."
Then he dressed his old grandmother in her best clothes, borrowed a horse of his neighbor, and harnessed it to a cart. Then he placed the old woman on the back seat, so that she might not fall out as he drove, and rode away through the wood. By sunrise they reached a large inn, where Little Claus stopped and went to get something to eat.
The Landlord was a rich man and a good man, too, but as passionate as if he had been made of pepper and snuff.
"Good morning," said he to Little Claus; "you are come betimes to-day."
"Yes," said Little Claus; "I am going to the town with my old grandmother; she is sitting at the back of the wagon, but I cannot bring her into the room. Will you take her a glass of mead? But you must speak very loud, for she cannot hear well."
"Yes, certainly I will," replied the Landlord. And, pouring out a glass of mead, he carried it out to the dead grandmother, who sat upright in the cart.
"Here is a glass of mead from your grandson," said the Landlord.
The dead woman did not answer a word, but sat quite still.
"Do you not hear?" cried the Landlord, as loud as he could. "Here is a glass of mead from your grandson."
Again and again he bawled it out, but as she did not stir he flew into a passion and threw the glass of mead in her face; it struck her on the nose, and she fell backward out of the cart, for she was only seated there, not tied in.
"Mercy!" cried Little Claus, and sprang out of the door, and seized hold of the Landlord by the throat. "You have killed my grandmother! See, here is a great hole in her forehead."
"Oh, how unfortunate," said the Landlord, wringing his hands. "This all comes of my fiery temper. Dear Little Claus, I will give you a whole bushel of money, and will bury your grandmother as if she were my own; only keep silent, or else they will cut off my head, and that would be disagreeable."
So it happened that Little Claus received another bushel of money, and the Landlord buried his old grandmother as if she had been his own.
When now Little Claus reached home again he immediately sent a boy to Big Claus, requesting him to lend him a bushel measure.
"How is this?" thought Big Claus. "Did I not kill him? I must go and see for myself." So he went to Little Claus, and took the bushel measure with him. "How did you get all this money?" asked Big Claus, staring with wide-open eyes at his neighbor's treasures.
"You killed my grandmother instead of me," said Little Claus, "so I have sold her for a bushel of money."
"That is a good price, anyway," said Big Claus. So he went home, took a hatchet and killed his own grandmother with one blow. Then he placed her on a cart and drove into the town to the Apothecary and asked him if he would buy a dead body.
"Whose is it, and where did you get it?" asked the Apothecary.
"It is my grandmother," he replied; "I struck her dead for a bushel of money."
"Heaven preserve us!" cried the Apothecary. "You are out of your mind. Don't say such things, or you will lose your head." And then he talked to him seriously about the wicked deed he had done, and told him that such a wicked man would surely be punished. Big Claus got so frightened that he rushed out of the apothecary shop, jumped into the cart, whipped up his horses, and drove home quickly. The Apothecary and all the people thought him mad and let him drive where he liked.
"You shall pay for this," said Big Claus, as soon as he got into the highroad. "That you shall, Little Claus." So as soon as he reached home he took the largest sack he could find and went over to Little Claus. "You have played me another trick," said he. "First I killed all my horses, and then my old grandmother, and it is all your fault, but you shall not make a fool of me any more." So he laid hold of Little Claus round the body and pushed him into the sack, which he took on his shoulders, saying, "Now I'm going to drown you in the river."
He had a long way to go before he reached the river, and Little Claus was not a very light weight to carry. The road led by the church, and as they passed he could hear the organ playing and the people singing beautifully. Big Claus put down the sack close to the church door, and thought he might as well go in and hear a psalm before he went any farther. Little Claus could not possibly get out of the sack, and all the people were in church, so in he went.
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" sighed Little Claus in the sack, as he turned and twisted about; but he found he could not loosen the string with which it was tied. Presently an old cattle-driver with snowy hair passed by, carrying a large staff in his hand with which he drove a large herd of cows and oxen before him. They stumbled against the sack in which lay Little Claus, and turned it over. "Oh, dear!" sighed Little Claus. "I am so young and going so soon to heaven."
"And I, poor fellow," said the drover, "I, who am so old already, cannot get there."
"Open the sack," cried Little Claus; "creep into it instead of me, and you will soon be there."
"With all my heart," replied the drover, opening the sack, from which sprang Little Claus as quickly as possible. "Will you take care of my cattle?" said the old man as he crept into the bag.
"Yes," said Little Claus, and he tied up the sack, and then walked off with all the cows and oxen.
When Big Claus came out of church he took up the sack and placed it on his shoulders. It appeared to have become lighter, for the old drover was not half so heavy as Little Claus.
"How light he seems now," said he. "Ah, it is because I have been to church." So he walked on to the river, which was deep and broad, and threw the sack containing the old drover into the water, believing it to be Little Claus. "There you may lie!" he exclaimed. "You will play me no more tricks now." Then he turned to go home, but when he came to a place where two roads crossed there was Little Claus driving the cattle. "How is this?" said Big Claus. "Did I not drown you just now?"
"Yes," said Little Claus, "you threw me into the river about an hour ago."
"But where ever did you get all these fine beasts?" asked Big Claus.
"These beasts are sea-cattle," replied Little Claus. "I'll tell you the whole story, and thank you for drowning me. I am above you now; I am really very rich. I was frightened, to be sure, while I lay tied up in the sack, and the wind whistled in my ears when you threw me into the river from the bridge, and I sank to the bottom immediately, but I did not hurt myself, for I fell upon beautifully soft grass which grows down there, and in a moment the sack opened and the sweetest little maiden came toward me. She had snow-white robes and a wreath of green leaves on her wet hair. She took me by the hand and said, 'So you are come, Little Claus, and here are some cattle for you to begin with. About a mile farther on the road there is another herd for you.' Then I saw that the river formed a great highway for people who live in the sea. They were walking and driving here and there from the sea to the land at the spot where the river terminates. The bed of the river was covered with the loveliest flowers and sweet, fresh grass. The fish swam past me as rapidly as the birds do here in the air. How handsome all the people were, and what fine cattle were grazing on the hills and in the valleys!"
"But why did you come up again," said Big Claus, "if it was all so beautiful down there? I should not have done so."
"Well," said Little Claus, "it was good policy on my part; you heard me say just now that I was told by the sea-maiden to go a mile farther on the road and I should find a whole herd of cattle. By the road she meant the river, for she could not travel any other way, but I knew the winding of the river, and how it bends, sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, and it seemed a long way, so I chose a shorter one, and by coming up to the land and then driving across the fields back again to the river I shall save half a mile and get all my cattle more quickly."
"What a lucky fellow you are!" exclaimed Big Claus. "Do you think I should get any sea-cattle if I went down to the bottom of the river?"
"Yes, I think so," said Little Claus; "but I cannot carry you there in a sack; you are too heavy. However, if you will go there first, and then creep into a sack, I will throw you in with the greatest pleasure."
"Thank you," said Big Claus; "but, remember, if I do not get any sea-cattle down there I shall come up again and give you a good thrashing."
"No, now, don't be too fierce about it!" said Little Claus, as they walked on toward the river. When they approached it the cattle, who were very thirsty, saw the stream and ran down to drink. "See what a hurry they are in," said Little Claus; "they are longing to get down again."
"Come. Help me make haste," said Big Claus, "or you'll get beaten." So he crept into a large sack which had been lying across the back of one oxen. "Put in a stone," said little Big Claus, "or I may not sink."
"Oh, there's not much fear of that," replied Little Claus; still he put a large stone into the bag and then tied it tightly and gave it a push.
"Plump!" In went Big Claus, and immediately sank to the bottom of the river.
"I'm afraid he will not find any cattle," said Little Claus, and then he drove his own beasts homeward.
N EXT day when Uncle Will and Theodore got to their perch on the workbench lo! the little mud cave was closed up! There was no sign of a hole anywhere. "It is all over," said Theodore, ruefully. "I wish we had seen her close it up. What do you think has become of her?"
"Why, here she is," said Uncle Will; and, sure enough, in flew the little lady Pelopaeus with another pellet of mud, and began to build another cell beside the first one. Theodore was so delighted at this that he forgot himself and began to kick.
"I declare," said Uncle Will, "I've a mind to put you in a mud cave and seal you up!"
"I would hammer on the walls with my heels and fists and break the clay to pieces and crawl out," said Theodore, stopping his kicking and hugging Uncle Will about the neck, which was almost as bad.
Meantime Pelopaeus was as busy as ever coming with her mud pellets and going after more.
"I believe," said Uncle Will one day, "that I have found where Pelopaeus gets her clay. Come, let us go and see."
So they went, and, sure enough, there behind the woodshed was a nice wet spot where the clay was a red as blood, and on one edge of it were not only one, but half a dozen wasps, all standing with their tails in the air and working as if for dear life, each trying to bite out a nice round ball with its little jaws.
"Why do they stand on their heads?" asked Theodore, laughing at the sight.
"They are so engrossed they probably do not know whether they are on their heads or their heels; you see, they get a pretty good purchase standing that way."
Which was their Pelopaeus they could not tell; but it was great sport to watch them as, one by one, their efforts crowned with success, they lifted themselves in the air with their burdens and flew off each to its own nest. And while some were always going away laden, others were always arriving without any load.
It was such fun to watch these proceedings that Uncle Will and Theodore stayed until they were almost late for dinner, and they would have come again in the afternoon only that Uncle Will had to go to town and Theodore wanted to play with the boys who lived next door.
Day after day the
Then the third nest was begun, finished, provisioned, and sealed. And then a fourth was started, not beside the other three, but on top of one of them. Of course Uncle Will and Theodore came every day to see how matters were progressing.
"She is making a pile of nests," said Theodore, as the wasp started a fifth nest on top of the first set and beside number four.
"Yes," said Uncle Will. "Pelopaeus is apt to do that. I have seen a bunch of wasp's nests as big as your fist."
"I wonder why she gets up there under the roof," said Theodore, as they stood watching, one day.
"Perhaps," replied Uncle Will, "she wants to be safe from hungry birds who might be looking out for a good meal of tender young wasp."
"Perhaps she wants to get in out of the rain," said Theodore. "Maybe the rain would melt her mud nests."
"Maybe," said Uncle Will, "but I doubt it. She does such strong, firm work, and there are wasps that always build in the open. I found such a nest awhile ago hanging to the branch of a pine tree. It looked like a ball of sand, and was almost as hard as brick. Inside of it were little caves in each of which lay a white grub."
"I wish," said Theodore, "you had kept it for me."
"I wish so too," said Uncle Will. "Next time I find one you may be sure I will keep it."
"Do you know what kind of wasp built it, Uncle Will?"
"Yes, but it was not Pelopaeus. It belonged to another family of wasps."
WEEK 29 |
John ix: 1 to 41.
NE Sabbath-day, as Jesus and his disciples were walking in Jerusalem, they met a blind man begging. This man in all his life had never seen, for he had been born blind. The disciples said to Jesus, as they were passing him, "Master, whose fault was it that this man was born blind? Was it because he has sinned, or did his parents sin?"
For the Jews thought that when any evil came, it was caused by some one's sin. But Jesus said, "This man was born blind, not because of his parents' sin, nor because of his own; but so that God might show his power in him. We must do God's work while it is day; for the night is coming when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
When Jesus had said this he spat on the ground, and mixed up the spittle with earth, making a little lump of clay. This clay Jesus spread on the eyes of the blind man, and then he said to him, "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam."
The pool of Siloam was a large cistern or reservoir on the southeast of Jerusalem, outside the wall, where the valley of Gihon and the valley of the Kedrom come together. To go to this pool the blind man, with two great blotches of mud on his face, must walk through the streets of the city, out of the gate, and into the valley. He went, and felt his way down the steps into the pool of Siloam. There he washed, and then at once his lifelong blindness passed away, and he could see. When the man came back to the part of the city where he lived, his neighbors could scarcely believe that he was the same man. They said, "Is not this the man who used to sit on the street begging?"
The pool of Siloam as seen
"This must be the same man," said some; but others said, "No, it is some one who looks like him."
But the man said, "I am the very same man who was blind!"
"Why, how did this come to pass?" they asked him. "How were your eyes opened?"
"The man called Jesus," he answered, "mixed clay, and put it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash,' and I went and washed, and then I could see."
"Where is this man?" they asked him.
"I do not know," said the man.
Some of the Pharisees, the men who made a show of always obeying the law, asked the man how he had been made to see. He said to them, as he had said before, "A man put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and my sight came to me."
Some of the Pharisees said, "The man who did this is not a man of God, because he does not keep the Sabbath. He makes clay, and puts it on men's eyes, working on the Sabbath-day. He is a sinner."
Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such wonderful works?" And thus the people were divided in what they thought of Jesus. They asked the man who had been blind, "What do you think of this man who has opened your eyes?"
"He is a prophet of God!" said the man.
But the leading Jews would not believe that this man had gained his sight until they had sent for his father and his mother. The Jews asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How is it that he can now see?"
His parents were afraid to tell all they knew; for the Jews had agreed that if any man should say that Jesus was the Christ, the Saviour, he should be turned out of the synagogue, and not be allowed to worship any more with the people. So his parents said to the Jews, "We know that this is our son, and we know that he was born blind. But how he was made to see we do not know, or who has opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him, and let him speak for himself." Then again the rulers of the Jews called the man who had been blind; and they said to him, "Give God the praise for your sight. We know that this man who made clay on the Sabbath-day is a sinner."
"Whether that man is a sinner or not, I do not know," answered the man; "but one thing I do know, that once I was blind, and now I see." They said to him again, "What did this man do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
"I have told you already, and you would not listen," said the man. "Why do you wish to hear it again? Do you intend to believe in him and be his followers?"
This made them very angry, and they said to the man, "You are his follower; but we are followers of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this fellow, we do not even know from what place he comes!"
The man said, "Why, that is a very wonderful thing! You who are teachers of the people, do not know who this man is, or from what place he comes; and yet he has had power to open my eyes! We know that God does not hear sinners; but God hears only those who worship him and do his will. Never before has any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could not do such works as these!"
The rulers of the Jews, these Pharisees, then said to the man, "You were born in sin; and do you try to teach us?"
And they turned him out of the synagogue, and would not let him worship with them. Jesus heard of this; and when Jesus found him he said to him, "Do you believe on the Son of God?"
The man said, "And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?" "You have seen him," said Jesus, "and it is he who now talks with you!"
The man said, "Lord, I believe." And he fell down before Jesus and worshipped him.
U P the stair then they went, and the next and the next, and through the long rows of empty rooms, and up the little tower stairs, Irene growing happier and happier as she ascended. There was no answer when she knocked at length at the door of the workroom, nor could she hear any sound of the spinning-wheel, and once more her heart sank within her—but only for one moment, as she turned and knocked at the other door.
"Come in," answered the sweet voice of her grandmother, and Irene opened the door and entered, followed by Curdie.
"You darling!" cried the lady, who was seated by a fire of red roses mingled with white—"I've been waiting for you, and indeed getting a little anxious about you, and beginning to think whether I had not better go and fetch you myself."
As she spoke she took the little princess in her arms and placed her upon her lap. She was dressed in white now, and looking if possible more lovely than ever.
"I've brought Curdie, grandmother. He wouldn't believe what I told him and so I've brought him."
"Yes—I see him. He is a good boy, Curdie, and a brave boy. Aren't you glad you have got him out?"
"Yes, grandmother. But it wasn't very good of him not to believe me when I was telling him the truth."
"People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less. I doubt if you would have believed it all yourself if you hadn't seen some of it."
"Ah! yes, grandmother, I daresay. I'm sure you are right. But he'll believe now."
"I don't know that," replied her grandmother.
"Won't you, Curdie?" said Irene, looking round at him as she asked the question.
He was standing in the middle of the floor, staring, and looking strangely bewildered. This she thought came of his astonishment at the beauty of the lady.
"Make a bow to my grandmother, Curdie," she said.
"I don't see any grandmother," answered Curdie, rather gruffly.
"Don't see my grandmother when I'm sitting in her lap!" exclaimed the princess.
"No, I don't," reiterated Curdie, in an offended tone.
"Don't you see the lovely fire of roses—white ones amongst them this time?" asked Irene, almost as bewildered as he.
"No, I don't," answered Curdie, almost sulkily.
"Nor the blue bed? Nor the rose-colored counterpane? Nor the beautiful light, like the moon, hanging from the roof?"
"You're making game of me, your royal Highness; and after what we have come through together this day, I don't think it is kind of you," said Curdie, feeling very much hurt.
"Then what do you see?" asked Irene, who perceived at once that for her not to believe him was at least as bad as for him not to believe her.
"I see a big, bare, garret-room—like the one in mother's cottage, only big enough to take the cottage itself in, and leave a good margin all round," answered Curdie.
"And what more do you see?"
"I see a tub, and a heap of musty straw, and a withered apple, and a ray of sunlight coming through a hole in the middle of the roof, and shining on your head, and making all the place look a curious dusky brown. I think you had better drop it, princess, and go down to the nursery, like a good girl."
"But don't you hear my grandmother talking to me?" asked Irene, almost crying.
"No. I hear the cooing of a lot of pigeons. If you won't come down, I will go without you. I think that will be better anyhow, for I'm sure nobody who met us would believe a word we said to them. They would think we made it all up. I don't expect anybody but my own father and mother to believe me. They know I wouldn't tell a story."
"And yet you won't believe me, Curdie?" expostulated the princess, now fairly crying with vexation and sorrow at the gulf between her and Curdie.
"No. I can't, and I can't help it," said Curdie, turning to leave the room.
"What shall I do, grandmother?" sobbed the princess, turning her face round upon the lady's bosom, and shaking with suppressed sobs.
"You must give him time," said her grandmother; "and you must be content not to be believed for a while. It is very hard to bear; but I have had to bear it, and shall have to bear it many a time yet. I will take care of what Curdie thinks of you in the end. You must let him go now."
"You are not coming, are you?" asked Curdie.
"No, Curdie; my grandmother says I must let you go. Turn to the right when you get to the bottom of all the stairs, and in that way you will arrive safely at the hall where the great door is."
"Oh! I don't doubt I can find my way—without you, princess, or your old grannie's thread either," said Curdie, quite rudely.
"Oh, Curdie! Curdie!"
"I wish I had gone home at once. I'm very much obliged to you, Irene, for getting me out of that hole, but I wish you hadn't made a fool of me afterward."
He said this as he opened the door, which he left open, and,
without another word, went down the stairs. Irene listened with
dismay to his departing footsteps. Then turning again to
"What does it all mean, grandmother?" she sobbed, and burst into fresh tears.
"It means, my love, that I did not mean to show myself. Curdie is not yet able to believe some things. Seeing is not believing—it is only seeing. You remember I told you that if Lootie were to see me, she would rub her eyes, forget the half she saw, and call the other half nonsense."
"Yes; but I should have thought
"You are right. Curdie is much farther on than Lootie, and you will see what will come of it. But in the meantime, you must be content, I say, to be misunderstood for a while. We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be. But there is one thing much more necessary."
"What is that, grandmother?"
"To understand other people."
"Yes, grandmother. I must be fair—for if I'm not fair to other people, I'm not worth being understood myself. I see. So as Curdie can't help it, I will not be vexed with him, but just wait."
"There's my own dear child," said her grandmother, and pressed her close to her bosom.
"Why weren't you in your workroom, when we came up, grandmother?" asked Irene, after a few moments' silence.
"If I had been there, Curdie would have seen me well enough. But why should I be there rather than in this beautiful room?"
"I thought you would be spinning."
"I've nobody to spin for just at present. I never spin without knowing for whom I am spinning."
"That reminds me—there is one thing that puzzles me," said the princess: "how are you to get the thread out of the mountain again? Surely you won't have to make another for me! That would be such a trouble!"
The lady set her down, and rose, and went to the fire. Putting in her hand, she drew it out again, and held up the shining ball between her finger and thumb.
"I've got it now, you see," she said, coming back to the princess, "all ready for you when you want it."
Going to her cabinet, she laid it in the same drawer as before.
"And here is your ring," she added, taking it from the little finger of her left hand, and putting it on the forefinger of Irene's right hand.
"Oh, thank you, grandmother. I feel so safe now!"
"You are very tired, my child," the lady went on. "Your hands are hurt with the stones, and I have counted nine bruises on you. Just look what you are like."
And she held up to her a little mirror which she had brought from the cabinet. The princess burst into a merry laugh at the sight. She was so draggled with the stream, and dirty with creeping through narrow places, that if she had seen the reflection without knowing it was a reflection, she would have taken herself for some gypsy-child whose face was washed and hair combed about once in a month. The lady laughed too, and lifting her again upon her knee, took off her cloak and night-gown. Then she carried her to the side of the room. Irene wondered what she was going to do with her, but asked no questions—only starting a little when she found that she was going to lay her in the large silver bath; for as she looked into it, again she saw no bottom, but the stars shining miles away, as it seemed, in a great blue gulf. Her hands closed involuntarily on the beautiful arms that held her, and that was all.
The lady pressed her once more to her bosom,
"Do not be afraid, my child."
"No, grandmother," answered the princess, with a little gasp; and the next instant she sank in the clear cool water.
When she opened her eyes, she saw nothing but a strange lovely blue over and beneath and all about her. The lady and the beautiful room had vanished from her sight, and she seemed utterly alone. But instead of being afraid, she felt more than happy—perfectly blissful. And from somewhere came the voice of the lady, singing a strange sweet song, of which she could distinguish every word; but of the sense she had only a feeling—no understanding. Nor could she remember a single line after it was gone. It vanished, like the poetry in a dream, as fast as it came. In after years, however, she would sometimes fancy that snatches of melody suddenly rising in her brain, must be little phrases and fragments of the air of that song; and the very fancy would make her happier, and abler to do her duty.
How long she lay in the water she did not know. It seemed a long time—not from weariness, but from pleasure. But at last she felt the beautiful hands lay hold of her, and through the gurgling waters, she was lifted out into the lovely room. The lady carried her to the fire, and sat down with her in her lap, and dried her tenderly with the softest towel. It was so different from Lootie's drying. When the lady had done, she stooped to the fire, and drew from it her night-gown, as white as snow.
"How delicious!" exclaimed the princess. "It smells of all the roses in the world, I think."
When she stood up on the floor, she felt as if she had been made over again. Every bruise and all weariness were gone, and her hands were soft and whole as ever.
"Now I am going to put you to bed for a good sleep," said her grandmother.
"But what will Lootie be thinking? And what am I to say to her when she asks me where I have been?"
"Don't trouble yourself about it. You will find it all come right," said her grandmother, and laid her into the blue bed, under the rosy counterpane.
"There is just one thing more," said Irene. "I am a little anxious about Curdie. As I brought him into the house, I ought to have seen him safe on his way home."
"I took care of all that," answered the lady. "I told you to let him go, and therefore I was bound to look after him. Nobody saw him, and he is now eating a good dinner in his mother's cottage, far up the mountain."
"Then I will go to sleep," said Irene, and in a few minutes, she was fast asleep.