Text of Plan #990
  WEEK 34  


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  by Mark Twain

Tom Takes Becky's Punishment

T HERE was something about Aunt Polly's manner, when she kissed Tom, that swept away his low spirits and made him light-hearted and happy again. He started to school and had the luck of coming upon Becky Thatcher at the head of Meadow Lane. His mood always determined his manner. Without a moment's hesitation he ran to her and said:

"I acted mighty mean to-day, Becky, and I'm so sorry. I won't ever, ever do that way again, as long as ever I live—please make up, won't you?"

The girl stopped and looked him scornfully in the face:

"I'll thank you to keep yourself to  yourself, Mr. Thomas Sawyer. I'll never speak to you again."

She tossed her head and passed on. Tom was so stunned that he had not even presence of mind enough to say "Who cares, Miss Smarty?" until the right time to say it had gone by. So he said nothing. But he was in a fine rage, nevertheless. He moped into the schoolyard wishing she were a boy, and imagining how he would trounce her if she were. He presently encountered her and delivered a stinging remark as he passed. She hurled one in return, and the angry breach was complete. It seemed to Becky, in her hot resentment, that she could hardly wait for school to "take in," she was so impatient to see Tom flogged for the injured spelling-book. If she had had any lingering notion of exposing Alfred Temple, Tom's offensive fling had driven it entirely away.

Poor girl, she did not know how fast she was nearing trouble herself. The master, Mr. Dobbins, had reached middle age with an unsatisfied ambition. The darling of his desires was to be a doctor, but poverty had decreed that he should be nothing higher than a village schoolmaster. Every day he took a mysterious book out of his desk and absorbed himself in it at times when no classes were reciting. He kept that book under lock and key. There was not an urchin in school but was perishing to have a glimpse of it, but the chance never came. Every boy and girl had a theory about the nature of that book; but no two theories were alike, and there was no way of getting at the facts in the case. Now, as Becky was passing by the desk, which stood near the door, she noticed that the key was in the lock! It was a precious moment. She glanced around; found herself alone, and the next instant she had the book in her hands. The title-page—Professor Somebody's Anatomy—carried no information to her mind; so she began to turn the leaves. She came at once upon a handsomely engraved and colored frontispiece—a human figure, stark naked. At that moment a shadow fell on the page and Tom Sawyer stepped in at the door, and caught a glimpse of the picture. Becky snatched at the book to close it, and had the hard luck to tear the pictured page half down the middle. She thrust the volume into the desk, turned the key, and burst out crying with shame and vexation.

"Tom Sawyer, you are just as mean as you can be, to sneak up on a person and look at what they're looking at."

"How could I  know you was looking at anything?"

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Tom Sawyer; you know you're going to tell on me, and oh, what shall I do, what shall I do! I'll be whipped, and I never was whipped in school."

Then she stamped her little foot and said:

"Be  so mean if you want to! I  know something that's going to happen. You just wait and you'll see! Hateful, hateful, hateful!"—and she flung out of the house with a new explosion of crying.

Tom stood still, rather flustered by this onslaught. Presently he said to himself:

"What a curious kind of a fool a girl is! Never been licked in school! Shucks. What's a licking! That's just like a girl—they're so thin-skinned and chicken-hearted. Well, of course I  ain't going to tell old Dobbins on this little fool, because there's other ways of getting even on her, that ain't so mean; but what of it? Old Dobbins will ask who it was tore his book. Nobody'll answer. Then he'll do just the way he always does—ask first one and then t'other, and when he comes to the right girl he'll know it, without any telling. Girls' faces always tell on them. They ain't got any backbone. She'll get licked. Well, it's a kind of a tight place for Becky Thatcher, because there ain't any way out of it." Tom conned the thing a moment longer and then added: "All right, though; she'd like to see me in just such a fix—let her sweat it out!"

Tom joined the mob of skylarking scholars outside. In a few moments the master arrived and school "took in." Tom did not feel a strong interest in his studies. Every time he stole a glance at the girls' side of the room Becky's face troubled him. Considering all things, he did not want to pity her, and yet it was all he could do to help it. He could get up no exultation that was really worthy the name. Presently the spelling-book discovery was made, and Tom's mind was entirely full of his own matters for a while after that. Becky roused up from her lethargy of distress and showed good interest in the proceedings. She did not expect that Tom could get out of his trouble by denying that he spilt the ink on the book himself; and she was right. The denial only seemed to make the thing worse for Tom. Becky supposed she would be glad of that, and she tried to believe she was glad of it, but she found she was not certain. When the worst came to the worst, she had an impulse to get up and tell on Alfred Temple, but she made an effort and forced herself to keep still—because, said she to herself, "he'll tell about me tearing the picture sure. I wouldn't say a word, not to save his life!"

Tom took his whipping and went back to his seat not at all broken-hearted, for he thought it was possible that he had unknowingly upset the ink on the spelling-book himself, in some skylarking bout—he had denied it for form's sake and because it was custom, and had stuck to the denial from principle.

A whole hour drifted by, the master sat nodding in his throne, the air was drowsy with the hum of study. By and by, Mr. Dobbins straightened himself up, yawned, then unlocked his desk, and reached for his book, but seemed undecided whether to take it out or leave it. Most of the pupils glanced up languidly, but there were two among them that watched his movements with intent eyes. Mr. Dobbins fingered his book absently for a while, then took it out and settled himself in his chair to read! Tom shot a glance at Becky. He had seen a hunted and helpless rabbit look as she did, with a gun leveled at its head. Instantly he forgot his quarrel with her. Quick—something must be done! done in a flash, too! But the very imminence of the emergency paralyzed his invention. Good!—he had an inspiration! He would run and snatch the book, spring through the door and fly. But his resolution shook for one little instant, and the chance was lost—the master opened the volume. If Tom only had the wasted opportunity back again! Too late. There was no help for Becky now, he said. The next moment the master faced the school. Every eye sank under his gaze. There was that in it which smote even the innocent with fear. There was silence while one might count ten, the master was gathering his wrath. Then he spoke:

"Who tore this book?"

There was not a sound. One could have heard a pin drop. The stillness continued; the master searched face after face for signs of guilt.

"Benjamin Rogers, did you tear this book?"

A denial. Another pause.

"Joseph Harper, did you?"

Another denial. Tom's uneasiness grew more and more intense under the slow torture of these proceedings. The master scanned the ranks of boys—considered awhile, then turned to the girls:

"Amy Lawrence?"

A shake of the head.

"Gracie Miller?"

The same sign.

"Susan Harper, did you do this?"

Another negative. The next girl was Becky Thatcher. Tom was trembling from head to foot with excitement and a sense of the hopelessness of the situation.

"Rebecca Thatcher" [Tom glanced at her face—it was white with terror]—"did you tear—no, look me in the face" [her hands rose in appeal]—"did you tear this book?"

A thought shot like lightning through Tom's brain. He sprang to his feet and shouted—"I  done it!"

The school stared in perplexity at this incredible folly. Tom stood a moment, to gather his dismembered faculties; and when he stepped forward to go to his punishment the surprise, the gratitude, the adoration that shone upon him out of poor Becky's eyes seemed pay enough for a hundred floggings. Inspired by the splendor of his own act, he took without an outcry the most merciless flaying that even Mr. Dobbins had ever administered; and also received with indifference the added cruelty of a command to remain two hours after school should be dismissed—for he knew who would wait for him outside till his captivity was done, and not count the tedious time as loss, either.

Tom went to bed that night planning vengeance against Alfred Temple; for with shame and repentance Becky had told him all, not forgetting her own treachery; but even the longing for vengeance had to give way, soon, to pleasanter musings, and he fell asleep at last, with Becky's latest words lingering dreamily in his ear—

"Tom, how could  you be so noble!"


Heroes of the Middle Ages  by Eva March Tappan

Christopher Columbus

T he crusades, the Renaissance, the invention of printing, and the travels of Marco Polo in the East had set people to thinking about matters in the great world beyond the limits of their own little villages or towns. India was especially attractive to many. The reason was that Europeans had learned to demand the spices and silks and cottons and jewels of the East. The old way of bringing these to Europe was up the Red Sea and across the Mediterranean to Venice; or through the Black Sea, past Constantinople, and through the Mediterranean to Genoa. Now that the Turks held Constantinople, communication with the East was made very difficult. Just as people were beginning to desire Eastern luxuries, it became more and more difficult to obtain them; and the nation that could find the shortest way to India would soon be possessed of untold wealth.


Columbus Before the Learned Men of Salamanca

One man who was thinking most earnestly about India was named Christopher Columbus. He was born in Genoa and had been at sea most of his life since he was fourteen. He had read and studied and thought until he was convinced that the world was round and that the best way to reach China and Japan was not to make the wearisome overland journey through Asia, but to sail directly west across the Atlantic. He had asked the city of Genoa to provide money for the expedition; and he had also asked the king of Portugal; but to no purpose. Finally he appealed to Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain.

This was why, toward the end of the fifteenth century, a company of learned Spaniards met together at Salamanca to listen to the schemes of a simple, unknown Italian sailor. Columbus told them what he believed. Then they brought forward their objections. "A ship might possibly reach India in that way," said one gravely, "but she could never sail uphill and come home again." "If the world is round and people are on the opposite side, they must hang by their feet with their heads down," declared another scornfully. Another objection was that such an expedition as Columbus proposed would be expensive. Moreover he demanded the title of admiral of whatever lands he might discover and one tenth of all precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and other merchandise that should be found in these lands. This was not because he was greedy for money, but he had conceived the notion of winning the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem from the Turks, and to do this would require an enormous fortune.

Columbus had formed a noble scheme, but there seemed small hope that it would be carried out by Spanish aid, for the Spaniards were waging an important war with the Moors, or Mohammedans. The Moors had a kingdom in the south of Spain containing a number of cities. In the capital, Granada, was the palace and fortress of the Alhambra, a wonderfully beautiful structure, even in ruins as it is to-day. Granada was captured, but even then the Spaniards seemed to have no time to listen to Columbus.


Convent of La Rabida
(The part Columbus knew is to the right)

At length he made up his mind to leave Spain and go for aid to the king of France. With his little son Diego he started out on foot. The child was hungry, and so they stopped at the gate of the convent of La Rabida, near the town of Palos, Spain, to beg for the food that was never refused to wayfarers. The prior was a student of geography. He heard the ideas of Columbus, put faith in them, and invited some of his learned friends to meet the stranger. "Spain must not lose the honour of such an enterprise," the prior declared, and he even went himself to the queen. He had once been her confessor, and she greeted him kindly. King Ferdinand did not believe in the undertaking, but the queen became thoroughly interested in it. She was Queen of Aragon by her marriage to Ferdinand, but she was Queen of Castile in her own right, and she exclaimed, "I undertake the enterprise for my own crown of Castile, and will pledge my jewels to raise the necessary funds."

Thus, after eighteen years' delay, the way opened for Columbus, and he set sail from Palos with three small vessels; but even after they were at sea Columbus must have felt as if his troubles were but just begun, for his sailors were full of fears. They were not cowards, but no one, they thought, had ever crossed the Atlantic, and there were legends that in one place it was swarming with monsters, and that in another the water boiled with intense heat. There was real danger, also, from the jealous Portuguese, for it was rumored that they had sent out vessels to capture Columbus's little fleet. It is small wonder that the sailors were dismayed by the fires of the volcanic peak of Teneriffe, but they were almost equally alarmed by every little occurrence. The mast of a wrecked vessel floated by, and they feared it was a sign that their vessel, too, would be wrecked. After a while, the magnetic needle ceased to point to the north star, and they were filled with dread lest they should lose their way on the vast ocean. One night a brilliant meteor appeared, and then they were sure that destruction was at hand. The good east wind was sweeping them gently along; but even that worried them, for they feared it would never alter, and how could they get home? Some of them had begun to whisper together of throwing Columbus overboard, when one day they saw land-birds and floating weeds and finally a glimmering light. Then the sailors were as eager to press onward as their leader.


Ships of Columbus
(The vessels were the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria)

Early on the following morning land appeared. Columbus wearing his brilliant scarlet robes and bearing the standard of Spain, was rowed ashore. He fell upon his knees and kissed the ground, thanking God most heartily for his care. Then he took possession of the land for Spain. The natives gathered around, and he gave them bells and glass beads. He supposed that of course he was just off the coast of India, and as he had reached the place by sailing west, he called it the West Indies and the people Indians. The island itself he named San Salvador. It is thought to have been one of the Bahamas. He spent some little time among the islands, always hoping to come upon the wealthy cities of the Great Khan. At length he returned to Spain, dreaming of future voyages that he would make.


Columbus's First View of the New World

When he reached Palos, the bells were rung and people gave up their business to celebrate the wonderful voyage and the safe return. Columbus made three other journeys across the ocean, hoping every time to find the rich cities of the East. His enemies claimed that he had mismanaged a colony that had been founded in the New World. Another governor was sent out, and he threw the great Admiral into chains. Ferdinand and Isabella were indignant when they knew of this outrage; but yet they could not help being disappointed that China had not been found. Neither they nor Columbus dreamed that he had discovered a new continent; and even if they had known it, they would have much preferred finding a way to trade with the distant East.


Columbus Narrates the Story of his Discoveries


William Blake

Nurse's Song

When voices of children are heard on the green,

And laughing is heard on the hill,

My heart is at rest within my breast,

And everything else is still.

"Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,

And the dews of night arise:

Come, come, leave off play, and let us away,

Till the morning appears in the skies."

"No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,

And we cannot go to sleep—

Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,

And the hills are all covered with sheep."

"Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,

And then go home to bed."

The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed

And all the hills echoèd.


  WEEK 34  


Our Island Story  by H. E. Marshall

William the Deliverer

A NY one could see that the people were everywhere ready for rebellion. The King alone would not see it and went on in his own way. He was angry and sullen, but very obstinate. "I will not give way," he said, "my father lost his head by giving way," and he resolved to punish the people.

But James had gone too far. The people were weary of a Popish tyrant, and they made up their minds to have a Protestant King. So they asked William, Prince of Orange, to come to rule over them, the Prince against whom Charles II. had fought in the Dutch wars. William had some claim to the throne. I will explain how.

Charles I. had a daughter called Mary. She married a Prince of Orange called William, and their son, also called William, was now Prince of Orange. He was thus the nephew of Charles II. and of James II., and besides this he had married his cousin, Mary, the eldest daughter of James II.

Although their father, James, was a Roman Catholic, Mary and her sister, Anne, were both Protestants, and except for their little brother, who was at this time a tiny baby, Mary was the next heir to the throne of Britain.

So when the British saw that James meant to rule as a tyrant and that there was no hope of any freedom or happiness for them as long as he was King, they sent messages to Holland begging William to come to take the crown.

William consented to come, and began to gather his ships and men. And one day a letter reached James telling him what the Prince of Orange was doing. As James read, he turned pale and the letter dropped from his hand. He had thought that he might ill-treat the people as he liked. Now he discovered his mistake and tried to undo the evil he had done. It was too late. His people had forsaken him.

William was ready to sail, but for some days he was prevented because of the wind which blew from the west. At last it changed, and what was known for many years after as the "Protestant East Wind" began to blow.

It blew the Prince and his great fleet to the shores of Britain. More than six hundred ships swept over the water, led by William in his vessel called the Brill.  From the mast-head floated his standard, with the arms of Nassau and of Britain upon it, and in great shining letters the words, "I will maintain the liberties of England, and the Protestant religion." By night the dark sea glittered for miles with lights. By day the white sails glimmered in the wintry sun.

Once before in our story a great conqueror called William had sailed to these shores with mighty ships and men. This was no conqueror, but a deliverer.

On the 5th of November 1688 A.D., William landed at Torbay, in Devonshire. There the stone upon which he first placed his foot is still to be seen. Although now it is a town, then it was a little lonely village, and the Prince had to sleep the first night in a tiny thatched cottage. But over it, as proudly as over any castle, fluttered the great banner with its promise, "I will maintain the liberties of England and the Protestant religion."

Through rain and wintry weather, over roads knee-deep in mud, the Prince and his army marched northward. Worn, wet, and muddy as they were, the people crowded everywhere along the way to cheer them. The Prince rode upon a beautiful white horse, a white feather was in his hat, and armour glittered upon his breast. His face was grave and stern, his eyes keen and watchful. He looked a soldier and a King.

As he rode along an old woman pushed her way through the crowd, and afraid neither of the prancing horses nor the drawn swords of the soldiers, darted to the side of the Prince. She seized his hand, and, looking up into his face with eyes full of tears, cried, "I am happy now, I am happy now." And the grave and stern William smiled gently as he looked down upon her. The Deliverer had come.


The Deliverer had come.

James II., his Queen, and their little boy fled to France. No one wanted James, no one regretted him. To go to France was the best thing he could do, and the King there received him kindly and treated him as an honoured guest.

At Westminster a Parliament was called, which arranged that William and Mary should be King and Queen together. For although Mary had the better right to the throne she did not wish to reign without her husband, nor did he wish to accept a lower rank than that of his wife.

So ended the "Glorious Revolution." It had been brought about with hardly any fighting at all, and the war between the King and Parliament was at an end, for William and Mary received the throne by the will of Parliament.


Summer  by Dallas Lore Sharp

The Mother Murre

I HEAR the bawling of my neighbor's cow. Her calf was carried off yesterday, and since then, during the long night, and all day long, her insistent woe has made our hillside melancholy. But I shall not hear her to-night, not from this distance. She will lie down to-night with the others of the herd, and munch her cud. Yet, when the rattling stanchions grow quiet and sleep steals along the stalls, she will turn her ears at every small stirring; she will raise her head to listen and utter a low, tender moo.  Her full udder hurts; but her cud is sweet. She is only a cow.

Had she been a wild cow, or had she been out with her calf in a wild pasture, the mother-love in her would have lived for six months. Here in the barn she will be forced to forget her calf in a few hours, and by morning her mother-love shall utterly have died.

There is a mother-principle alive in all nature that never dies. This is different from mother-love. The oak tree responds to the mother-principle, and bears acorns. It is a law of life. The mother-love or passion, on the other hand, occurs only among the higher animals. It is very common; and yet, while it is one of the strongest, most interesting, most beautiful of animal traits, it is at the same time the most individual and variable of all animal traits.

This particular cow of my neighbor's that I hear lowing, is an entirely gentle creature ordinarily, but with a calf at her side she will pitch at any one who approaches her. And there is no other cow in the herd that mourns so long after her calf. The mother in her is stronger, more enduring, than in any of the other nineteen cows in the barn. My own cow hardly mourns at all when her calf is taken away. She might be an oak tree losing its acorns, or a crab losing her hatching eggs, so far as any show of love is concerned.

The female crab attaches her eggs to her swimmerets and carries them about with her for their protection as the most devoted of mothers; yet she is no more conscious of them, and feels no more for them, than the frond of a cinnamon fern feels for its spores. She is a mother, without the love of the mother.

In the spider, however, just one step up the animal scale from the crab, you find the mother-love or passion. Crossing a field the other day, I came upon a large female spider of the hunter family, carrying a round white sack of eggs, half the size of a cherry, attached to her spinnerets. Plucking a long stem of grass, I detached the sack of eggs without bursting it. Instantly the mother turned and sprang at the grass-stem, fighting and biting until she got to the sack, which she seized in her strong jaws and made off with as fast as her long, rapid legs would carry her.


I laid the stem across her back and again took the sack away. She came on for it, fighting more fiercely than before. Once more she seized it; once more I forced it from her jaws, while she sprang at the grass-stem and tried to tear it to pieces. She must have been fighting for two minutes when, by a regrettable move on my part, one of her legs was injured. She did not falter in her fight. On she rushed for the sack as fast as I pulled it away. She would have fought for that sack, I believe, until she had not one of her eight legs to stand on, had I been cruel enough to compel her. It did not come to this, for suddenly the sack burst, and out poured, to my amazement, a myriad of tiny brown spiderlings. Before I could think what to do that mother spider had rushed among them and caused them to swarm upon her, covering her, many deep, even to the outer joints of her long legs. I did not disturb her again, but stood by and watched her slowly move off with her encrusting family to a place of safety.

I had seen these spiders try hard to escape with their egg-sacks before, but had never tested the strength of their purpose. For a time after this experience I made a point of taking the sacks away from every spider I found. Most of them scurried off to seek their own safety; one of them dropped her sack of her own accord; some of them showed reluctance to leave it; some of them a disposition to fight; but none of them the fierce, consuming mother-fire of the one with the hurt leg.

Among the fishes, much higher animal forms than the spiders, we find the mother-love only in the males.  It is the male stickleback that builds the nest, then goes out and drives  the female in to lay her eggs, then straightway drives her out to prevent her eating them, then puts himself on guard outside the nest to protect them from other sticklebacks and other enemies, until the young shall hatch and be able to swim away by themselves. Here he stays for a month, without eating or sleeping, so far as we know.


It is the male toadfish that crawls into the nest-hole and takes charge of the numerous family. He may dig the hole, too, as the male stickleback builds the nest. I do not know as to that. But I have raised many a stone in the edge of the tide along the shore of Naushon Island in Buzzard's Bay, to find the under surface covered with round, drop-like, amber eggs, and in the shallow cavity beneath, an old male toadfish, slimy and croaking, and with a countenance ugly enough to turn a prowling eel to stone. The female deposits the eggs, glues them fast with much nicety to the under surface of the rock, as a female might, and finishes her work. Departing at once, she leaves the coming brood to the care of the male, who from this time, without relief or even food in all probability, assumes the role and all the responsibilities of mother, and must consequently feel all the mother-love.

Something like this is true of the common horn-pout, or catfish, I believe, though I have never seen it recorded, and lack the chance at present of proving my earlier observations. I think it is father catfish that takes charge of the brood, of the swarm of kitten catfish, from the time the spawn is laid.

A curious sharing of mother qualities by male and female is shown in the Surinam toads of South America, where the male, taking the newly deposited eggs, places them upon the back of the female. Here, glued fast by their own adhesive jelly, they are soon surrounded by cells grown of the skin of the back, each cell capped by a lid. In these cells the eggs hatch, and the young go through their metamorphoses, apparently absorbing some nourishment through the skin of their mother. Finally they break through the lids of their cells and hop away. They might as well be toadstools upon a dead stump, so far as motherly care or concern goes, for, aside from allowing the male to spread the eggs upon her back, she is no more a mother to them than the dead stump is to the toadstools. She is host only to the little parasites.

I do not know of any mother-love among the reptiles. The mother-passion, so far as my observation goes, plays no part whatever in the life of reptiles. Whereas, passing on to the birds, the mother-passion becomes by all odds the most interesting thing in bird-life.

And is not the mother-passion among the mammals even more interesting? It is as if the watcher in the woods went out to see the mother animal only. It is her going and coming that we follow; her faring, foraging, and watch-care that let us deepest into the secrets of wild animal life.

On one of the large estates here in Hingham, a few weeks ago, a fox was found to be destroying poultry. The time of the raids, and their boldness, were proof enough that the fox must be a female with young. Poisoned meat was prepared for her, and at once the raids ceased. A few days later one of the workmen of the estate came upon the den of a fox, at the mouth of which lay dead a whole litter of young ones. They had been poisoned. The mother had not eaten the prepared food herself, but had carried it home to her family. They must have died in the burrow, for it was evident from the signs that she had dragged them into the fresh air to revive them, and deposited them gently on the sand by the hole. Then in her perplexity she had brought various tidbits of mouse and bird and rabbit, which she placed at their noses to tempt them to wake up out of their strange sleep and eat. No one knows how long she watched beside the lifeless forms, nor what her emotions were. She must have left the neighborhood soon after, however, for no one has seen her since about the estate.

The bird mother is the bravest, tenderest, most appealing thing one ever comes upon in the fields. It is the rare exception, but we sometimes find the real mother wholly lacking among the birds, as in the case of our notorious cowbird, who sneaks about, watching her chance, when some smaller bird is gone, to drop her egg into its nest. The egg must be laid, the burden of the race has been put upon the bird, but not the precious burden of the child. She lays eggs; but is not a mother.

The same is true of the European cuckoos, but not quite true, in spite of popular belief, of our American cuckoos. For our birds (both species) build rude, elementary nests as a rule, and brood their eggs. Occasionally they may use a robin's or a catbird's nest, in order to save labor. So undeveloped is the mother in the cuckoo that if you touch her eggs she will leave them—abandon her rude nest and eggs as if any excuse were excuse enough for an escape from the cares of motherhood. How should a bird with so little mother-love ever learn to build a firm-walled, safe, and love-lined nest?

The great California condor is a most faithful and anxious mother; the dumb affection of both parent birds, indeed, for their single offspring is pathetically human. On the other hand, the mother in the turkey buzzard is so evenly balanced against the vulture in her that I have known a brooding bird to be so upset by the sudden approach of a man as to rise from off her eggs and devour them instantly, greedily, and make off on her serenely soaring wings into the clouds.

Such mothers, however, are not the rule. The buzzard, the cuckoo, and the cowbird are the striking exceptions. The flicker will keep on laying eggs as fast as one takes them from the nest-hole, until she has no more eggs to lay. The quail will sometimes desert her nest if even a single egg is so much as touched, but only because she knows that she has been discovered and must start a new nest, hidden in some new place, for safety. She is a wise and devoted mother, keeping her brood with her as a "covey" all winter long.

One of the most striking cases of mother-love which has ever come under my observation, I saw in the summer of 1912 on the bird rookeries of the Three-Arch Rocks Reservation off the coast of Oregon.

We were making our slow way toward the top of the outer rock. Through rookery after rookery of birds we climbed until we reached the edge of the summit. Scrambling over this edge, we found ourselves in the midst of a great colony of nesting murres— hundreds of them—covering this steep rocky part of the top.

As our heads appeared above the rim, many of the colony took wing and whirred over us out to sea, but most of them sat close, each bird upon its egg or over its chick, loath to leave, and so expose to us the hidden treasure.

The top of the rock was somewhat cone-shaped, and in order to reach the peak and the colonies on the west side we had to make our way through this rookery of the murres. The first step among them, and the whole colony was gone, with a rush of wings and feet that sent several of the top-shaped eggs rolling, and several of the young birds toppling over the cliff to the pounding waves and ledges far below.

We stopped, but the colony, almost to a bird, had bolted, leaving scores of eggs and scores of downy young squealing and running together for shelter, like so many beetles under a lifted board.

But the birds had not every one bolted, for here sat two of the colony among the broken rocks. These two had not been frightened off. That both of them were greatly alarmed, any one could see from their open beaks, their rolling eyes, their tense bodies on tiptoe for flight. Yet here they sat, their wings out like props, or more like gripping hands, as if they were trying to hold themselves down to the rocks against their wild desire to fly.

And so they were, in truth, for under their extended wings I saw little black feet moving. Those two mother murres were not going to forsake their babies! No, not even for these approaching monsters, such as they had never before seen, clambering over their rocks.

What was different about these two? They had their young ones to protect. Yes, but so had every bird in the great colony its young one, or its egg, to protect, yet all the others had gone. Did these two have more mother-love than the others? And hence, more courage, more intelligence?

We took another step toward them, and one of the two birds sprang into the air, knocking her baby over and over with the stroke of her wing, and coming within an inch of hurling it across the rim to be battered on the ledges below. The other bird raised her wings to follow, then clapped them back over her baby. Fear is the most contagious thing in the world; and that flap of fear by the other bird thrilled her, too, but as she had withstood the stampede of the colony, so she caught herself again and held on.


She was now alone on the bare top of the rock, with ten thousand circling birds screaming to her in the air above, and with two men creeping up to her with a big black camera that clicked ominously. She let the multitude scream, and with threatening beak watched the two men come on. A motherless baby, spying her, ran down the rock squealing for his life. She spread a wing, put her bill behind him and shoved him quickly in out of sight with her own baby. The man with the camera saw the act, for I heard his machine click, and I heard him say something under his breath that you would hardly expect a mere man and a game-warden to say. But most men have a good deal of the mother in them; and the old bird had acted with such decision, such courage, such swift, compelling instinct, that any man, short of the wildest savage, would have felt his heart quicken at the sight.

"Just how compelling might that mother-instinct be?" I wondered. "Just how much would that mother-love stand?" I had dropped to my knees, and on all fours had crept up within about three feet of the bird. She still had chance for flight. Would she allow me to crawl any nearer? Slowly, very slowly, I stretched forward on my hands, like a measuring-worm, until my body lay flat on the rocks, and my fingers were within three inches  of her. But her wings were twitching, a wild light danced in her eyes, and her head turned toward the sea.

For a whole minute I did not stir. I was watching—and the wings again began to tighten about the babies, the wild light in the eyes died down, the long, sharp beak turned once more toward me.

Then slowly, very slowly, I raised my hand, touched her feathers with the tip of one finger—with two fingers—with my whole hand, while the loud camera click-clacked, click-clacked hardly four feet away!

It was a thrilling moment. I was not killing anything. I had no long-range rifle in my hands, coming up against the wind toward an unsuspecting creature hundreds of yards away. This was no wounded leopard charging me; no mother-bear defending with her giant might a captured cub. It was only a mother-bird, the size of a wild duck, with swift wings at her command, hiding under those wings her own and another's young, and her own boundless fear!

For the second time in my life I had taken captive with my bare hands a free wild bird. No, I had not taken her captive. She had made herself a captive; she had taken herself in the strong net of her mother-love.

And now her terror seemed quite gone. At the first touch of my hand I think she felt the love restraining it, and without fear or fret she let me reach under her and pull out the babies. But she reached after them with her bill to tuck them back out of sight, and when I did not let them go, she sidled toward me, quacking softly, a language that I perfectly understood, and was quick to respond to. I gave them back, fuzzy and black and white. She got them under her, stood up over them, pushed her wings down hard around them, her stout tail down hard behind them, and together with them pushed in an abandoned egg that was close at hand. Her own baby, some one else's baby, and some one else's forsaken egg! She could cover no more; she had not feathers enough. But she had heart enough; and into her mother's heart she had already tucked every motherless egg and nestling of the thousands of frightened birds, screaming and wheeling in the air high over her head.


Robert Burns

To a Mouse

On Turning Up Her Nest with the Plow, November, 1785

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie,

Oh, what a panic's in thy breastie!

Thou needna start awa' sae hasty,

Wi' bickering brattle!

I wad be laith to rin and chase thee,

Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion

Has broken Nature's social union,

And justifies that ill opinion,

Which makes thee startle

At me, thy poor earth-born companion

And fellow-mortal!

I doubtna, whiles, but thou may thieve;

What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!

A daimen icker in a thrave

'S a sma' request:

I'll get a blessin' wi' the lave,

And never miss 't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!

Its silly wa's the win's are strewin'!

And naething now to big a new ane

O' foggage green,

And bleak December's winds ensuin',

Baith snell and keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare and waste,

And weary winter comin' fast,

And cozie here, beneath the blast,

Thou thought to dwell,

Till, crash! the cruel coulter passed

Out through thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves and stibble

Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!

Now thou's turned out for a' thy trouble,

But house or hald,

To thole the winter's sleety dribble,

And cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best-laid schemes o' mice and men

Gang aft a-gley,

And lea'e us naught but grief and pain,

For promised joy.

Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!

The present only toucheth thee:

But, och! I backward cast my e'e

On prospects drear!

And forward, though I canna see,

I guess and fear.


  WEEK 34  


The Story Book of Science  by Jean Henri Fabre

The Storm

A ND, in fact, it was very hot when Uncle Paul and Jules started out. With a burning sun, they were sure to find the caterpillars in their silk bag, where they do not fail to take refuge to shelter themselves from a light that is too glaring for them; at an earlier or later hour, the nests might be empty, and the journey a fruitless one.

His heart full of the naïve joys proper to his age, his mind preoccupied by the caterpillars and their processions, Jules walked at a good pace, forgetting heat and fatigue. He had untied his cravat and thrown his blouse back on his shoulders. A holly stick, cut by his uncle from the hedge, served him as a third leg.

In the meantime the crickets chirped louder than usual; frogs croaked in the ponds; flies became teasing and persistent; sometimes a breath of air all at once blew along the road and raised a whirling column of dust. Jules did not notice these signs, but his uncle did, and from time to time looked up at the sky. Masses of reddish mist in the south seemed to give him some concern. "Perhaps we shall have rain," said he; "we must hurry."

About three o'clock they were at the pine wood. Uncle Paul cut a branch bearing a magnificent nest. He had guessed right: all the caterpillars had returned to their lodging, perhaps in prevision of bad weather. Then they sat in the shade of a group of pines, to rest a little before returning. Naturally they talked about caterpillars.

"The processionaries, you told me," said Jules, "leave their nests to scatter over the pines and eat the leaves. There are, in fact, a great many branches almost reduced to sticks of dry wood. Look at that pine I am pointing at; it is half stripped of leaves, as if fire had passed over it. I like the way the processionaries travel, but I can't help pitying those fine trees that wither under the miserable caterpillar's teeth."

"If the owner of these pines understood his interests better," returned Uncle Paul, "he would, in the winter, when the caterpillars are assembled in their silk bags, have the nests collected and burn them, in order to destroy the detestable breed that will gnaw the young shoots, browse the buds, and arrest the tree's development. The harm is much greater in our orchards. Various caterpillars live in companies on our fruit trees and spin nests in the same way as the processionaries. When summer comes, the starveling vermin scatter all over the trees, destroying leaves, buds, shoots. In a few hours the orchard is shorn and the crop is destroyed in its budding. So it is necessary to keep a careful lookout for caterpillar nests, remove them from the tree before spring, and burn them, so that nothing can escape; the future of the crop depends on it. It is fortunate that several kinds of creatures, little birds especially, come to our aid in this war to the death between man and the caterpillar; otherwise the worm, stronger than man on account of its infinite number, would ravage our crops. But we will talk of the little birds another time; the weather is threatening, we must go."

See how the reddish mist in the south, thicker and darker every moment, has become a large black cloud visibly invading the still clear part of the sky. Wind precedes it, bending the tops of the pines like a field of grain. There rises from the soil that odor of dust which the dry earth gives forth at the beginning of a storm.

"We must not think of starting now," cautioned Uncle Paul. "The storm is coming; it will be upon us in a few minutes. Let us hurry and find shelter."

Rain forms in the distance like a dim curtain extending clear across the sky. The sheet of water advances rapidly; it would beat the fastest racing horse. It is coming, it has come. Violent flashes of lightning furrow it, thunder roars in its depths.

At a clap of thunder heavier than the others Jules starts. "Let us stay here, Uncle," says the frightened child; "let us stay under this big bushy pine. It doesn't rain here under cover."

"No, my child," replies his uncle, who perceives that they are in the very heart of the storm; "let us get away from this dangerous tree."

And, taking Jules by the hand, he leads him hastily through the hail and rain. Beyond the wood Uncle Paul knows of an excavation hollowed out in the rock. They arrive there just as the storm breaks with all its force.

They had been there a quarter of an hour, silent before the solemn spectacle of the tempest, when a flash of fire, of dazzling brightness, rent the dark cloud in a zigzag line and struck a pine with a frightful detonation that had no reverberation or echo, but was so violent that one would have said the sky was falling. The fearful spectacle was over in the twinkling of an eye. Wild with terror, Jules had let himself fall on his knees, with clasped hands. He was crying and praying. His uncle's serenity was undisturbed.

"Take courage, my poor child," said Uncle Paul as soon as the first fright had passed. "Let us embrace each other and thank God for having kept us safe. We have just escaped a great danger; the thunderbolt struck the pine under which we were going to take shelter."

"Oh, what a scare I had, Uncle!" cried the boy. "I thought I should die of it. When you insisted on hurrying away in spite of the rain, did you know that the bolt would strike that tree?"

"No, my dear, I knew nothing about it, nor could any one know; only certain reasons made me fear the neighborhood of the big branching pine, and prudence dictated the search for a less dangerous shelter. If I yielded to my fears, if I listened to the voice of prudence, let us give thanks to God, who gave me presence of mind at that moment."

"You will tell me what made you avoid the dangerous shelter of the tree, will you not?"

"Very willingly; but when we are all together, so that each one may profit by it. No one ought to ignore the danger one runs in taking shelter under a tree during a storm."

In the meantime the rain-cloud with its lightnings and thunders had moved on into the distance. On one side, the sun was setting radiant; on the opposite side, in the wake of the storm, the rainbow bent its immense bright arch of all colors. Uncle Paul and Jules started on their way, without forgetting the famous caterpillars' nest which might have cost them so dear.


Four American Patriots  by Alma Holman Burton

The Declaration of Independence

When Henry arrived at Philadelphia, the Congress was already in session.

One of the new delegates was Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, who had just returned from London and knew all about the king and his Parliament.

Another new delegate was John Hancock, of Massachusetts, who told of the battles of Concord and Lexington.

The very day that Henry took his seat news came from the north that Colonel Ethan Allen had captured Ticonderoga, on Lake Champlain, with a large amount of arms and ammunition.

It was decided that the colonies must be put in a state of defence.

There was much to be done. Ships were to be built, cities on the coast to be fortified, treaties made with the Indians, and more appeals sent in to the king. It was agreed to raise troops from all the colonies, and George Washington was made commander-in-chief of the colonial army.

Patrick Henry was glad that his friend had been honored with such a high office.

Yet he knew that it was a great risk to head a rebellion against the king.

Washington knew this, too. He wanted to be loyal to the king, but he felt he must fight for the rights belonging to all English subjects.

His eyes were full of tears as he clasped Henry by the hand and said: "I fear this day will begin the decline of my reputation."

He soon left Philadelphia to take command of the American troops at Cambridge.

When Congress was adjourned, Henry and the other delegates from Virginia returned home to meet in a convention.

The governor had fled to a British ship, and so a committee was appointed to rule in his stead. Then it was decided to raise troops in the colony, and Patrick Henry was made commander-in-chief.

Soldiers hurried from every county in Virginia to the camping ground at Williamsburg. There were trappers in buckskin, and hunters in green shirts, and rich planters in fine uniforms. There was the sound of fife and drum, and banners were seen everywhere. Governor Dunmore called the Whigs rebels, and summoned Tories, Negroes, and Spaniards to fight them.

But before the troops came to battle, Patrick Henry resigned command. He was needed in the colonial convention at Williamsburg.

The convention met on the 6th of May, 1776.

Among the new delegates was James Madison. He was just twenty-five years old. He was a great scholar, but he was so shy that he did not attract much attention in his first debate.

Another new delegate was Edmund Randolph. He was twenty-three years old. His father was a Tory, and had sailed away to England, but young Randolph remained in America to help fight for liberty.

James Madison and Edmund Randolph listened with delight to Patrick Henry's speeches.

They said he seemed like a pillar of fire, which was leading the convention through the night of despair.

When the orator proposed that the colonies should declare themselves free from Great Britain, most of the delegates were convinced that this was the only thing to do.

And so, on the 15th of May, the Virginians resolved to instruct their delegates in Congress at Philadelphia to propose a declaration of independence.

The British flag was taken down from the staff on the capitol, and a Continental flag was hoisted with thirteen bars for the thirteen colonies.

Then Patrick Henry and some others wrote out a constitution for the state of Virginia.

You know that every state in these days has a written constitution, but in those days most of the states had charters granted by the king.

It was agreed that Virginia should have a Senate and a House of Representatives to make the laws which the people wanted, a governor who should enforce the laws, and judges who should preside in the courts.

The constitution of Virginia seemed so wise that it became a model for the other states.

On June 7th, Richard Henry Lee, one of the Virginia delegates, offered the resolution in Congress that the "United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states."

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence,  and after a long debate it was signed on the 4th of July, 1776.

And when the news reached Williamsburg, bells rang, bonfires blazed in the streets, and powder sizzled and spluttered in the gutters. It was the very first Fourth of July celebration in Virginia.


Emily Dickinson

Have You Got a Brook in Your Little Heart

Have you got a brook in your little heart,

Where bashful flowers blow,

And blushing birds go down to drink,

And shadows tremble so?

And nobody knows, so still it flows,

That any brook is there;

And yet your little draught of life

Is daily drunken there.

Then look out for the little brook in March,

When the rivers overflow,

And the snows come hurrying from the hills,

And the bridges often go.

And later, in August it may be,

When the meadows parching lie,

Beware, lest this little brook of life

Some burning noon go dry!


  WEEK 34  


Our Little Celtic Cousin of Long Ago  by Evaleen Stein

The New Home at Kinkora

Angus had disposed of his home rath to a bo-aire who had given in exchange many bags of wheat and silver rings and gold torques and necklaces. Then, loading in an ox-cart such things as they wished to take with them to Kinkora, they had set out for the river Shannon; for as Brian Boru's palace was on the bank of that river, it was easier to make the main journey by boat.

Eileen and her mother and Ferdiad rode in the cart with the driver, but Angus came beside them on a horse, which was considered the only proper way for a poet to ride; his horse had a single bridle and he guided and urged it on, not by a whip, but a small rod of carved yew wood having a curved end with a goad.

They all greatly enjoyed the journey both by land and water, and slept soundly every night at some comfortable brewy, which was the Celtic name for an inn, though, unlike our inns, they were places of free entertainment. Indeed, there were no other kind among the Celts, who thought so highly of hospitality that at every place where four important roads met they built a brewy. It was thought a great honor to be a brewy master and it was usually given to a man who had served his country well. He was given also a large piece of public farm land and many sheep and cows and was expected always to have food and beds ready for travelers. And lest any one should miss his way, a servant stood always at the cross roads to point out the brewy.

In this way they made the journey to Kinkora and were soon settled in their new home.

The second morning after their arrival, Ferdiad was in a meadow near by knocking about a leather ball with a bronze tipped stick when suddenly he threw it down, crying delightedly, "Well, Conn! We have been here two days and I wondered why you didn't come!" and he ran to meet his friend whose red head had just flamed in sight.

Conn laughed with pleasure. "I came the first chance I had," he panted, "and I ran the last half mile. My foster-father has been sick and I had to tend the cows and sheep so I couldn't get away before. How do you like it here?" he added, looking eagerly around. Then, seeing the ball and stick, "Oh," he cried, "why didn't I bring my stick and we could have had a game of hurley!"

"Never mind," said Ferdiad, "come and see where we live now."

"It's inside the high king's dun, isn't it?" asked Conn, looking toward the great earthen wall faced with stone and cement that rose near by enclosing the palace of Brian Boru.

"Yes," answered Ferdiad, "you know the king's poet and doctor and lawyer and the rest of the folks that always attend him have houses inside the dun."

"I know," said Conn, "and these scattered around through the fields are for the millers and farmers and cloth-makers and everybody who does things for the palace folks."

By this time the boys had come opposite the doorway in the great circular wall and had begun to weave their way among a number of tall upright stones, each as large as a man and placed as irregularly as if a lot of people running toward the dun had suddenly been petrified. It was like playing hide and seek for the boys to try to keep together.

"Well," said Ferdiad, as at last they stood before the open door of heavy oaken beams, "the king of Meath has stones before the wall of his dun, only not half so many as these!"

"They're a wonderful protection," said Conn, "and if any army tried to attack Brian Boru's palace they would have a mighty hard time getting inside the dun, for, of course, they would have to make their way between the stones a few at a time, just like we did."

Here the boys stepped inside the enclosure. They did not need to use the small log knocker which lay in a niche in a stone pillar beside the door, as the latter stood open with the keeper blinking in the sun. They crossed a wooden bridge over a moat and this brought them to the door of a second wall of earth thickly planted on top with hazel bushes. Passing through this they came to the very large green space in the center of which was a low mound where stood the wooden palace of Brian Boru. Dotted around near the earthen rampart were a number of round wattled houses where, as Ferdiad had said, the chief attendants of the high king lived.

"I've been here before," said Conn, who had often brought things from the farm of his foster-father, "and I've peeped inside the palace once or twice when the high king was away, but I haven't been in any of the chiefs' houses. Which is yours?" —"Oh, I see!" he added, laughing, as Eileen, catching sight of him, came running from an open doorway.

"Come in, Conn!" she cried, seizing both his hands. "Isn't our house pretty? It has stripes just like the queen's house at the fair!" and she pointed to the red and blue and green bands painted on the plaster that overlaid the wattled walls. "And see how nice it is inside!" she went on, leading Conn within.

"Yes," said Conn, "it is very pretty," and he gazed admiringly around. In the center of the house was a carved pole supporting the thatched roof, in which was a hole to let out the smoke when it was cold enough to build a fire on the earthen floor now strewn with rushes. There were several low tables and seats cushioned with white fleeces, and around the wall behind partitions of wickerwork stood the beds with posts fixed in the ground.

"I helped weave the coverlids!" said Eileen with pride as they peeped into these tiny bedrooms, "My loom is in our greenan," and she led the way to a separate little house shining white in the sun and covered with vines. For no Celtic home was considered complete without such a little bower, or greenan as they called it, for the mistress and her friends, and it was always placed in the pleasantest and sunniest spot.

Here Ferdiad called, "Come on Conn, let's go and take a look in the palace and around the dun. The high king and most of the flaiths have gone deer hunting and father Angus is practicing a new poem, so we'll poke around awhile and then after dinner maybe we can find somebody to tell us a story."

As the boys ran off together, "Be sure and show Conn the queen's greenan all thatched with bird wings!" called Eileen, and Conn smiled, for he had often seen the greenan with its wonderful roof of feathers which were arranged in glistening stripes of white and many colors. So, too, he had seen the great banquet hall of Brian Boru, though he looked in again to please Ferdiad. It was built much in the style of the Hall of Feasting at the Tailltenn fair, only handsomer and more gayly painted, and the heavy door of carved yew wood and the posts on either side were elaborately ornamented with gold and silver and bronze. As they looked inside, "There is where father Angus sits when there is a feast," said Ferdiad, pointing to a seat at one of the long tables next to the high king's throne-like chair.

Back of the banquet hall was a kitchen with open fires and spits for roasting and cauldrons for boiling. There was also on the mound another large wooden house with living rooms and curtained beds, although all the more important folks had each a little round sleeping house all to himself.

Outside the main dun were several smaller circular enclosures protected by ramparts, and in these were stables for the horses and chariots, sheds for cows and sheep and pigs, granaries for wheat and barley, and kennels for the great fierce wolf-hounds that were loosed every night to guard the dun from unwelcome visitors.

By the time the boys had seen everything dinner was ready and afterwards Ferdiad begged Angus to tell them a story. "It needn't be a long one," he said, "but Conn and I have been looking at the big wolf-hounds of the high king and we wish you would tell us about how Cuculain got his name."

Angus smiled, for he knew the boys had heard many times of the exploits of Cuculain (whose name means "the Hound of Culain"), the most famous of all the Celtic heroes, but he knew also that made no matter for the boys loved to hear the same stories over and over. So they went out under a quicken tree near the house where Angus sat on a bench while Ferdiad and Conn stretched out on the grass at his feet.


The Tortoise and the Geese and Other Fables of Bidpai  by Maude Barrows Dutton

The Sparrows and the Snake

Two Sparrows once built a nest in the eaves of a house and hatched their first young there. The happy Father immediately flew away to find some food for his little ones. On his return, he met the Mother Sparrow flying wildly about.

"My dear, what has happened, and why have you left our little ones unprotected?" he asked anxiously.


"Alas," replied the Mother Bird, "while you were gone a big Snake glided along the eaves and ate up all of our fledgelings. And now he lies sleeping in our nest. I have told him that you will pluck out both his eyes when you return, but he only replies, 'Bah, what has a big Snake to fear from a little brown Sparrow? Fly away and let me sleep in peace!' "

The little Sparrow comforted his mate as best he could, and then flew to a branch of a tree to think how he could punish the cruel and boasting Snake. As he was sitting there, he noticed that the good man of the house was about to light the evening lamp. Quickly the Sparrow dropped to the sill, and, flying in the window, seized the lighted taper from the man's hand. Then, carrying it carefully, lest the wind should blow out the flame, he bore it to his nest.

The Snake was suddenly awakened by the crackling of twigs in the nest as they rapidly caught fire. Terrified, he raised his head and was about to glide from the nest, when he was pierced by the pick of the good man, who, to save his house from catching fire, had climbed to the roof to tear down the burning nest.


William Brighty Rands

The Wonderful World

Great, wide, wonderful, beautiful world,

With the beautiful water about you curled,

And the wonderful grass upon your breast

World, you are beautifully dressed!

The wonderful air is over me,

And the wonderful wind is shaking the tree

It walks on the water and whirls the mills,

And talks to itself on the tops of the hills.

You friendly earth, how far do you go,

With wheat fields that nod, and rivers that flow,

And cities and gardens, and oceans and isles,

And people upon you for thousands of miles?

Ah, you are so great and I am so small,

I hardly can think of you, world, at all

And yet, when I said my prayers to-day,

A whisper within me seemed to say:

"You are more than the earth, though you're such a dot;

You can love and think, and the world cannot."

William Brighty Rands

England, 1823-1880


  WEEK 34  


The Struggle for Sea Power  by M. B. Synge

The Travels of Baron Humboldt

"I am going, O my people,

On a long and distant journey;

Many moons and many winters

Will have come and will have vanished,

Ere I come again to see you."


W HILE Mungo Park was making his way into the heart of Africa, another man was turning his thoughts towards South America, the geography of which was still very uncertain.

Baron Humboldt, whose discoveries were to enrich the world, was born in 1769—the same year as Napoleon and Wellington—at Berlin, where his father occupied a high position at the Court of the King of Prussia. As a little boy, Humboldt was taught by the man who had translated Robinson Crusoe into German, and his mind was soon filled with the spirit of adventure from reading the new story-book. But even the feats of Robinson Crusoe grew small beside those of the boy's next friend—Forster. Forster had not been wrecked on a desert island, but he had actually sailed round the world with Captain Cook, and had written an account of his adventures. His desire to travel grew more and more intense as the years passed on. His mind turned towards South America.

He read the chronicles of Balboa and Pizarro. and the grand old Spaniards of the sixteenth century. He learnt mining and geology, then a new science. He talked of his plans to Goethe and Schiller, the world-famed poets. He went to Paris to make known his great desire, and then, leaving home and luxury and a life made pleasant by many friends, he started for the unknown.

The spring of 1799 found him at Madrid, seeking leave from the King of Spain to visit the Spanish dominions in America. For at this time the main part of South America still belonged to Spain by reason of her conquests. The names of Columbus, Vespucci, Cabral, Balboa, Pizarro, Raleigh,—all rise before us in turn when we speak of South American discovery, while in North America, Cortes had gained Mexico for Spain.

Early in June 1799 Humboldt set sail from Corunna on board the Pizarro. He was accompanied by a young Frenchman, Bonpland, a man of science and a congenial companion. Slowly the coast of Europe faded from sight. They would not see it again for five years. Twelve days' sailing brought them to the Canary Islands, where they landed for Humboldt to go up the Peak of Tenerife, a volcano which had recently been very active. They sailed on over the southern seas, deeply impressed with the beauty of the southern skies. As they neared the equator, star after star they had known from childhood sank lower and lower, until apparently lost in the sea. The whole heaven seemed to change, until they hailed with delight the Southern Cross, or the four stars that form, roughly, a cross in the southern hemisphere.

Forty-one days after leaving Corunna they saw the coast of South America, and landed at Cumana, on the north coast of Venezuela. It was their first sight of the tropics. The deep silence, the brilliant colours, the gigantic trees, the strange birds, all impressed them deeply. Humboldt wrote down all his observations, and when he reached home again he gave them to the world, which was soon ringing with his fame. He studied everything: the stars in the heavens, the earthquakes which shook the earth; flowers, animals, shells, trees, the weather and temperature. His eyes and ears were ever open to take in all that Nature could tell him of her great and mysterious secrets. He rejoiced in the beautiful plains and valleys of Venezuela, watered by the vast Orinoco, and soon started off on an expedition into the very heart of things. In a large native canoe he sailed up the river with his friend. In a cabin made of palm-leaves, a table was made for him of ox-hides strained over a frame of Brazil-wood at one end of the boat, where he could sit and write. Many were the stories he told on his return. It was a voyage of peril and wild adventure for the two white men making their way into unknown regions. Never had they seen nature so wild and grand. Gigantic trees and tropical forests, grassy plains and vast rolling rivers abounded.

"The crocodile and boa rule the rivers; the jackal and other wild beasts rove here without fear or danger through the forests," says Humboldt.

Often he found immense tracts of country uninhabited by any human beings. Once he came upon a tribe of natives who made a practice of fattening and eating their wives. One of the deepest impressions was made by the huge cataracts on the Orinoco, at which he and Bonpland stood and gazed in awe. Never before had they seen such masses of foaming waters or such colossal black rocks rising from their surface.

After a journey of seventy-five days, during which they travelled no less than 375 miles, they returned to Guiana. They had sailed on five great rivers, they had discovered the union of the Orinoco and Amazon, the largest river in the world, and they made new maps of this hitherto unexplored region.

It is impossible to follow their wanderings, but their ascent of Chimborazo is interesting. At the time it was supposed to be the highest mountain in the world, but it was scaled by an Englishman, Whymper, in 1880, and it is now known that Mount Everest in the Himalayas is much higher.

January 1802 found the travellers at Quito, one of the most charming cities in South America. It stands among gigantic mountains and almost under the shadow of Cotopaxi, the highest volcano in the world. It is the capital of Ecuador (Equator). Humboldt, with two friends—a Frenchman and a Spaniard—arrived one fine day at the foot of Chimborazo, and they began the ascent on mules. They went steadily upwards till they reached a lake, which was already higher than the highest mountain in the Alps. Already they had attained the highest spot yet reached by human foot. The mules could go no farther, so the travellers went on foot. Over fields of newly-fallen snow, they gained a narrow ridge which led to the top. The path grew very steep and slippery, and their guides refused to go farther. Nothing daunted, the travellers went on. A thick mist now surrounded them. Their path was but ten inches broad. On one side was a chasm a thousand feet deep, on the other was a steep slope of snow covered with a glassy coat of ice. One false step meant certain death. Soon they had to crawl on hands and knees, but their courage was high, and they went doggedly on.

The fog grew thicker: they suffered from the rarity of the air. Breathing was difficult, and mountain sickness came on. Their heads swam, their lips bled, their eyes grew bloodshot. Suddenly the fog lifted, and they saw the summit. They hurried forward, filled with a great hope, when right across the ridge they saw a huge chasm which it was impossible to cross. By this time they were nearly frozen with cold. A great snowstorm broke over the top, and they were forced to turn back without having reached the summit. But they had reached a height of 19,200 feet above the sea, an altitude since surpassed, but never attained by man till that June day in 1802 by Humboldt and his two faithful friends.

It would take too long to tell how they crossed the lofty chain of the Andes and explored Peru, how they reached Lima, with its beautiful cathedral where Pizarro, its founder, lies buried; how they sailed north to Mexico, and finally, after an absence of five years, returned safely to Europe.

He went many another journey after this, and earned for himself the name of the "Monarch of Science," the "Father of Physical Geography." He outlived his contemporaries Napoleon and Wellington by many long years. Long after the "Great Captain" had done his wars and the "Great Despot" had suffered for his ambition, the "Monarch of Science" was winning his victories in a quiet way that cost no tears to others, but enlarged the boundaries of the world of thought beyond all human ken.


The Children of Odin: A Book of Northern Myths  by Padraic Colum

The Death of Sigurd


dropcap image T happened one day that Brynhild, Gunnar's wife, now a Queen, was with Sigurd's wife, bathing in a river. Not often they were together. Brynhild was the haughtiest of women, and often she treated Gudrun with disdain. Now as they were bathing together, Gudrun, shaking out her hair, cast some drops upon Brynhild. Brynhild went from Gudrun. And Sigurd's wife, not knowing that Brynhild had anger against her, went after her up the stream.

"Why dost though go so far up the river, Brynhild?" Gudrun asked.

"So that thou mayst not shake thy hair over me," answered Brynhild.

Gudrun stood still while Brynhild went up the river like a creature who was made to be alone. "Why dost thou speak so to me, sister?" Gudrun cried.

She remembered that from the first Brynhild had been haughty with her, often speaking to her with harshness and bitterness. She did not know what cause Brynhild had for this.

It was because Brynhild had seen in Sigurd the one who had ridden through the fire for the first time, he who had awakened her by breaking the binding of her breastplate and so drawing out of her flesh the thorn of the Tree of Sleep. She had given him her love when she awakened on the world. But he, as she thought, had forgotten her easily, giving his love to this other maiden. Brynhild, with her Valkyrie's pride, was left with a mighty anger in her heart.

"Why dost thou speak to me, Brynhild?" Gudrun asked.

"It would be ill indeed if drops from thy hair fell on one who is so much above thee, one who is King Gunnar's wife," Brynhild answered.

"Thou art married to a King, but not to one more valorous than my lord," Gudrun said.

"Gunnar is more valorous; why dost thou compare Sigurd with him?" Brynhild said.

"He slew the Dragon Fafnir, and won for himself Fafnir's hoard," said Gudrun.

"Gunnar rode through the ring of fire. Mayhap thou wilt tell us that Sigurd did the like," said Brynhild.

"Yea," said Gudrun, now made angry. "It was Sigurd and not Gunnar who rode through the ring of fire. He rode through it in Gunnar's shape, and he took the ring off thy finger—look, it is now on mine."

And Gudrun held out her hand on which was Andvari's ring. Then Brynhild knew, all at once, that what Gudrun said was true. It was Sigurd that rode through the ring of fire the second as well as the first time. It was he who had struggled with her, taking the ring off her hand and claiming her for a bride, not for himself but for another, and out of disdain.

Falsely had she been won. And she, one of Odin's Valkyries, had been wed to one who was not the bravest hero in the world, and she to whom untruth might not come had been deceived. She was silent now, and all the pride that was in her turned to hatred of Sigurd.

She went to Gunnar, her husband, and she told him that she was so deeply shamed that she could never be glad in his Hall again; that never would he see her drinking wine, nor embroidering with golden threads, and never would he hear her speaking words of kindness. And when she said this to him she rent the web she was weaving, and she wept aloud so that all in the hall heard her, and all marveled to hear the proud Queen cry.

Then Sigurd came to her, and he offered in atonement the whole hoard of Fafnir. And he told her how forgetfulness of her had come upon him, and he begged her to forgive him for winning her in falseness. But she answered him: "Too late thou hast come to me, Sigurd. Now I have only a great anger in my heart."

When Gunnar came she told him she would forgive him, and love him as she had not loved him before, if he would slay Sigurd. But Gunnar would not slay him, although Brynhild's passion moved him greatly, since Sigurd was a sworn brother of his.

Then she went to Högni and asked him to slay Sigurd, telling him that the whole of Fafnir's hoard would belong to the Nibelungs if Sigurd were slain. But Högni would not slay him, since Sigurd and he were sworn brothers.

There was one who had not sworn brotherhood with Sigurd. He was Guttorm, Gunnar's and Högni's half-brother. Brynhild went to Guttorm. He would not slay Sigurd, but Brynhild found that he was infirm of will and unsteady of thought. With Guttorm, then, she would work for the slaying of Sigurd. Her mind was fixed that he and she would no longer be in the world of men.

She made a dish of madness for Guttorm—serpent's venom and wolf's flesh mixed—and when he had eaten it Guttorm was crazed. Then did he listen to Brynhild's words. And she commanded him to go into the chamber where Sigurd slept and stab him through the body with a sword.

This Guttorm did. But Sigurd, before he gasped out his life, took Gram, his great sword, and flung it at Guttorm and cut him in twain.

And Brynhild, knowing what deed was done, went without and came to where Grani, Sigurd's proud horse, was standing. She stayed there with her arms across Grani's neck, the Valkyrie leaning across the horse that was born of Odin's horse. And Grani stood listening for some sound. He heard the cries of Gudrun over Sigurd, and then his heart burst and he died.

They bore Sigurd out of the Hall and Brynhild went beside where they placed him. She took a sword and put it through her own heart. Thus died Brynhild who had been made a mortal woman for her disobedience to the will of Odin, and who was won to be a mortal's wife by a falseness.

They took Sigurd and his horse Grani, and his helmet and his golden war-gear and they left all on a great painted ship. They could not but leave Brynhild beside him, Brynhild with her wondrous hair and her stern and beautiful face. They left the two together and launched the ship on the sea. And when the ship was on the water they fired it, and Brynhild once again lay in the flames.

And so Sigurd and Brynhild went together to join Baldur and Nanna in Hela's habitation.

dropcap image UNNAR and Högni came to dread the evil that was in the hoard. They took the gleaming and glittering mass and they brought it to the river along which, ages before, Hreidmar had his smithy and the Dwarf Andvari his cave. From a rock in the river they cast the gold and jewels into the water and the hoard of Andvari sank for ever beneath the waves. Then the River Maidens had possession again of their treasure. But not for long were they to guard it and to sing over it, for now the season that was called the Fimbul Winter was coming over the earth, and Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods, was coming to the Dwellers in Asgard.


  WEEK 34  


Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Across the Lake  by Lisa M. Ripperton

The Story of Merrymind

O NCE upon a time there lived in the north country a certain poor man and his wife, who had two corn-fields, three cows, five sheep, and thirteen children. Twelve of these children were called by names common in the north country—Hardhead, Stiffneck, Tightfingers, and the like; but when the thirteenth came to be named, either the poor man and his wife could remember no other name, or something in the child's look made them think it proper, for they called him Merrymind, which the neighbours thought a strange name, and very much above their station; however, as they showed no other signs of pride, the neighbours let that pass. Their thirteen children grew taller and stronger every year, and they had hard work to keep them in bread; but when the youngest was old enough to look after his father's sheep, there happened the great fair, to which everybody in the north country went, because it came only once in seven years, and was held on midsummer-day,—not in any town or village, but on a green plain, lying between a broad river and a high hill, where it was said the fairies used to dance in old and merry times.

Merchants and dealers of all sorts crowded to that fair from far and near. There was nothing known in the north country that could not be bought or sold in it, and neither old nor young were willing to go home without a fairing. The poor man who owned this large family could afford them little to spend in such ways; but as the fair happened only once in seven years, he would not show a poor spirit. Therefore, calling them about him, he opened the leathern bag in which his savings were stored, and gave every one of the thirteen a silver penny.

The boys and girls had never before owned so much pocket-money; and, wondering what they should buy, they dressed themselves in their holiday clothes, and set out with their father and mother to the fair. When they came near the ground that midsummer morning, the stalls, heaped up with all manner of merchandise, from ginger-bread upwards, the tents for fun and feasting, the puppet-shows, the rope-dancers, and the crowd of neighbours and strangers, all in their best attire, made those simple people think their north country fair the finest sight in the world. The day wore away in seeing wonders, and in chatting with old friends. It was surprising how far silver pennies went in those days; but before evening twelve of the thirteen had got fairly rid of their money. One bought a pair of brass buckles, another a crimson riband, a third green garters; the father bought a tobacco-pipe, the mother a horn snuffbox—in short, all had provided themselves with fairings except Merrymind.

The cause of the silver penny remaining in his pocket was that he had set his heart upon a fiddle; and fiddles enough there were in the fair—small and large, plain and painted; he looked at and priced the most of them, but there was not one that came within the compass of a silver penny. His father and mother warned him to make haste with his purchase, for they must all go home at sunset, because the way was long.

The sun was getting low and red upon the hill; the fair was growing thin, for many dealers had packed up their stalls and departed; but there was a mossy hollow in the great hill-side, to which the outskirts of the fair had reached, and Merrymind thought he would see what might be there. The first thing was a stall of fiddles, kept by a young merchant from a far country, who had many customers, his goods being fine and new; but hard by sat a little grey-haired man, at whom everybody had laughed that day, because he had nothing on his stall but one old dingy fiddle, and all its strings were broken. Nevertheless, the little man sat as stately, and cried, "Fiddles to sell!" as if he had the best stall in the fair.

"Buy a fiddle my young master?" he said, as Merrymind came forward. "You shall have it cheap; I ask but a silver penny for it; and if the strings were mended, its like would not be in the north country."

Merrymind thought this a great bargain. He was a handy boy, and could mend the strings while watching his father's sheep. So down went the silver penny on the little man's stall, and up went the fiddle under Merrymind's arm.

"Now, my young master," said the little man, "you see that we merchants have a deal to look after, and if you help me to bundle up my stall, I will tell you a wonderful piece of news about that fiddle."

Merrymind was good-natured and fond of news, so he helped him to tie up the loose boards and sticks that composed his stall with an old rope, and when they were hoisted on his back like a fagot, the little man said:

"About that fiddle, my young master: it is certain the strings can never be mended, nor made new, except by threads from the night-spinners, which, if you get, it will be a good penny-worth"; and up the hill he ran like a greyhound.

Merrymind thought that was queer news, but being given to hope the best, he believed the little man was only jesting, and made haste to join the rest of the family, who were soon on their way home. When they got there every one showed his bargain, and Merrymind showed his fiddle; but his brothers and sisters laughed at him for buying such a thing when he had never learned to play. His sisters asked him what music he could bring out of broken strings; and his father said:

"Thou hast shown little prudence in laying out thy first penny, from which token I fear thou wilt never have many to lay out."

In short, everybody threw scorn on Merrymind's bargain except his mother. She, good woman, said if he laid out one penny ill, he might lay out the next better; and who knew but his fiddle would be of use some day? To make her words good, Merrymind fell to repairing the strings—he spent all his time, both night and day, upon them; but, true to the little man's parting words, no mending would stand, and no string would hold on that fiddle. Merrymind tried everything, and wearied himself to no purpose. At last he thought of inquiring after people who spun at night; and this seemed such a good joke to the north country people, that they wanted no other till the next fair.

In the meantime Merrymind lost credit at home and abroad. Everybody believed in his father's prophecy; his brothers and sisters valued him no more than a herd-boy; the neighbours thought he must turn out a scapegrace. Still the boy would not part with his fiddle. It was his silver pennyworth, and he had a strong hope of mending the strings for all that had come and gone; but since nobody at home cared for him except his mother, and as she had twelve other children, he resolved to leave the scorn behind him, and go to seek his fortune.

The family were not very sorry to hear of that intention, being in a manner ashamed of him; besides, they could spare one out of thirteen. His father gave him a barley cake, and his mother her blessing. All his brothers and sisters wished him well. Most of the neighbours hoped that no harm would happen to him; and Merrymind set out one summer morning with the broken-stringed fiddle under his arm.

There were no highways then in the north country—people took whatever path pleased them best; so Merrymind went over the fair ground and up the hill, hoping to meet the little man, and learn something of the night-spinners. The hill was covered with heather to the top, and he went up without meeting any one. On the other side it was steep and rocky, and after a hard scramble down, he came to a narrow glen all overgrown with wild furze and brambles. Merrymind had never met with briars so sharp, but he was not the boy to turn back readily, and pressed on in spite of torn clothes and scratched hands, till he came to the end of the glen, where two paths met; one of them wound through a pine-wood, he knew not how far, but it seemed green and pleasant. The other was a rough, stony way leading to a wide valley surrounded by high hills, and overhung by a dull, thick mist, though it was yet early in the summer evening.

Merrymind was weary with his long journey, and stood thinking of what path to choose, when, by the way of the valley, there came an old man as tall and large as any three men of the north country. His white hair and beard hung like tangled flax about him; his clothes were made of sackcloth; and on his back he carried a heavy burden of dust heaped high in a great pannier.

"Listen to me, you lazy vagabond!" he said, coming near to Merrymind: "If you take the way through the wood I know not what will happen to you; but if you choose this path you must help me with my pannier, and I can tell you it's no trifle."

"Well, father," said Merrymind, "you seem tired, and I am younger than you, though not quite so tall; so, if you please, I will choose this way, and help you along with the pannier."

Scarce had he spoken when the huge man caught hold of him, firmly bound one side of the pannier to his shoulders with the same strong rope that fastened it on his own back, and never ceased scolding and calling him names as they marched over the stony ground together.


Merrymind and His Burden

It was a rough way and a heavy burden, and Merrymind wished himself a thousand times out of the old man's company, but there was no getting off; and at length, in hopes of beguiling the way, and putting him in better humour, he began to sing an old rhyme which his mother had taught him. By this time they had entered the valley, and the night had fallen very dark and cold. The old man ceased scolding, and by a feeble glimmer of the moonlight, which now began to shine, Merrymind saw that they were close by a deserted cottage, for its door stood open to the night winds. Here the old man paused, and loosed the rope from his own and Merrymind's shoulders.

"For seven times seven years," he said, "have I carried this pannier, and no one ever sang while helping me before. Night releases all men, so I release you. Where will you sleep—by my kitchen fire, or in that cold cottage?"

Merrymind thought he had got quite enough of the old man's society, and therefore answered:

"The cottage, good father, if you please."

"A sound sleep to you, then!" said the old man, and he went off with his pannier.

Merrymind stepped into the deserted cottage. The moon was shining through door and window, for the mist was gone, and the night looked clear as day; but in all the valley he could hear no sound, nor was there any trace of inhabitants in the cottage. The hearth looked as if there had not been a fire there for years. A single article of furniture was not to be seen; but Merrymind was sore weary, and, laying himself down in a corner, with his fiddle close by, he fell fast asleep.

The floor was hard, and his clothes were thin, but all through his sleep there came a sweet sound of singing voices and spinning-wheels, and Merrymind thought he must have been dreaming when he opened his eyes next morning on the bare and solitary house. The beautiful night was gone, and the heavy mist had come back. There was no blue sky, no bright sun to be seen. The light was cold and grey, like that of mid-winter; but Merrymind ate the half of his barley cake, drank from a stream hard by, and went out to see the valley.

It was full of inhabitants, and they were all busy in houses, in fields, in mills, and in forges. The men hammered and delved; the women scrubbed and scoured; the very children were hard at work; but Merrymind could hear neither talk nor laughter among them. Every face looked careworn and cheerless, and every word was something about work or gain.

Merrymind thought this unreasonable, for everybody there appeared rich. The women scrubbed in silk, the men delved in scarlet. Crimson curtains, marbled floors, and shelves of silver tankards were to be seen in every house; but their owners took neither ease nor pleasure in them, and everyone laboured as it were for life.

The birds of that valley did not sing—they were too busy pecking and building. The cats did not lie by the fire—they were all on the watch for mice. The dogs went out after hares on their own account. The cattle and sheep grazed as if they were never to get another mouthful; and the herdsmen were all splitting wood or making baskets.

In the midst of the valley there stood a stately castle, but instead of park and gardens, brew-houses and washing-greens lay round it. The gates stood open, and Merrymind ventured in. The courtyard was full of coopers. They were churning in the banquet hall. They were making cheese on the dais, and spinning and weaving in all its principal chambers. In the highest tower of that busy castle, at a window from which she could see the whole valley, there sat a noble lady. Her dress was rich, but of a dingy drab colour. Her hair was iron-grey; her look was sour and gloomy. Round her sat twelve maidens of the same aspect, spinning on ancient distaffs, and the lady spun as hard as they, but all the yarn they made was jet black.

No one in or out of the castle would reply to Merrymind's salutations, nor answer him any questions. The rich men pulled out their purses, saying, "Come and work for wages!" The poor men said, "We have no time to talk!" A cripple by the wayside wouldn't answer him, he was so busy begging; and a child by a cottage door said it must go to work. All day Merrymind wandered about with his broken-stringed fiddle, and all day he saw the great old man marching round and round the valley with his heavy burden of dust.

"It is the dreariest valley that ever I beheld!" he said to himself. "And no place to mend my fiddle in; but one would not like to go away without knowing what has come over the people, or if they have always worked so hard and heavily."

By this time the night again came on; he knew it by the clearing mist and the rising moon. The people began to hurry home in all directions. Silence came over house and field; and near the deserted cottage Merrymind met the old man.

"Good father," he said, "I pray you tell me what sport or pastime have the people of this valley?"

"Sport and pastime!" cried the old man, in great wrath. "Where did you hear of the like? We work by day and sleep by night. There is no sport in Dame Dreary's land!" and, with a hearty scolding for his idleness and levity, he left Merrymind to sleep once more in the cottage.

That night the boy did not sleep so sound; though too drowsy to open his eyes, he was sure there had been singing and spinning near him all night; and, resolving to find out what this meant before he left the valley, Merrymind ate the other half of his barley cake, drank again from the stream, and went out to see the country.

The same heavy mist shut out sun and sky; the same hard work went forward wherever he turned his eyes; and the great old man with the dust-pannier strode on his accustomed round. Merrymind could find no one to answer a single question; rich and poor wanted him to work still more earnestly than the day before; and fearing that some of them might press him into service, he wandered away to the farthest end of the valley.

There, there was no work, for the land lay bare and lonely, and was bounded by grey crags, as high and steep as any castle-wall. There was no passage or outlet, but through a great iron gate secured with a heavy padlock: close by it stood a white tent, and in the door a tall soldier, with one arm, stood smoking a long pipe. He was the first idle man Merrymind had seen in the valley, and his face looked to him like that of a friend; so coming up with his best bow, the boy said:

"Honourable master soldier, please to tell me what country is this, and why do the people work so hard?"

"Are you a stranger in this place, that you ask such questions?" answered the soldier.

"Yes," said Merrymind; "I came but the evening before yesterday."

"Then I am sorry for you, for here you must remain. My orders are to let everybody in and nobody out; and the giant with the dust-pannier guards the other entrance night and day," said the soldier.

"That is bad news," said Merrymind; "but since I am here, please to tell me why were such laws made, and what is the story of this valley?"

"Hold my pipe, and I will tell you," said the soldier, "for nobody else will take the time. This valley belongs to the lady of yonder castle, whom, for seven times seven years, men have called Dame Dreary. She had another name in her youth—they called her Lady Littlecare; and then the valley was the fairest spot in all the north country. The sun shone brightest there; the summers lingered longest. Fairies danced on the hill-tops; singing-birds sat on all the trees. Strongarm, the last of the giants, kept the pine-forest, and hewed yule logs out of it, when he was not sleeping in the sun. Two fair maidens, clothed in white, with silver wheels on their shoulders, came by night, and spun golden threads by the hearth of every cottage. The people wore homespun, and drank out of horn; but they had merry times. There were May-games, harvest-homes and Christmas cheer among them. Shepherds piped on the hill-sides, reapers sang in the fields, and laughter came with the red firelight out of every house in the evening. All that was changed, nobody knows how, for the old folks who remembered it are dead. Some say it was because of a magic ring which fell from the lady's finger; some because of a spring in the castle-court which went dry. However it was, the lady turned Dame Dreary. Hard work and hard times overspread the valley. The mist came down; the fairies departed; the giant Strongarm grew old, and took up a burden of dust; and the night-spinners were seen no more in any man's dwelling. They say it will be so till Dame Dreary lays down her distaff, and dances; but all the fiddlers of the north country have tried their merriest tunes to no purpose. The king is a wise prince and a great warrior. He has filled two treasure-houses, and conquered all his enemies; but he cannot change the order of Dame Dreary's land. I cannot tell you what great rewards he offered to any who could do it; but when no good came of his offers, the king feared that similar fashions might spread among his people, and therefore made a law that whosoever entered should not leave it. His majesty took me captive in war, and placed me here to keep the gate, and save his subjects trouble. If I had not brought my pipe with me, I should have been working as hard as any of them by this time, with my one arm. Young master, if you take my advice you will learn to smoke."

"If my fiddle were mended it would be better," said Merrymind; and he sat talking with the soldier till the mist began to clear and the moon to rise, and then went home to sleep in the deserted cottage.

It was late when he came near it, and the moonlight night looked lovely beside the misty day. Merrymind thought it was a good time for trying to get out of the valley. There was no foot abroad, and no appearance of the giant; but as Merrymind drew near to where the two paths met, there was he fast asleep beside a fire of pine cones, with his pannier at his head, and a heap of stones close by him. "Is that your kitchen-fire?" thought the boy to himself, and he tried to steal past; but Strongarm started up, and pursued him with stones, calling him bad names, half-way back to the cottage.

Merrymind was glad to run the whole way for fear of him. The door was still open, and the moon was shining in; but by the fireless hearth there sat two fair maidens, all in white spinning on silver wheels, and singing together a blithe and pleasant tune like the larks on May-morning. Merrymind could have listened all night, but suddenly he bethought him that these must be the night-spinners, whose threads would mend his fiddle; so, stepping with reverence and good courage, he said:

"Honourable ladies, I pray you give a poor boy a thread to mend his fiddle-strings."

"For seven times seven years," said the fair maidens, "have we spun by night in this deserted cottage, and no mortal has seen or spoken to us. Go and gather sticks through all the valley to make a fire for us on this cold hearth, and each of us will give you a thread for your pains."

Merrymind took his broken fiddle with him, and went through all the valley gathering sticks by the moonlight; but so careful were the people of Dame Dreary's land, that scarce a stick could be found, and the moon was gone, and the misty day had come before he was able to come back with a small fagot. The cottage door was still open; the fair maidens and their silver wheels were gone; but on the floor where they sat lay two long threads of gold.

Merrymind first heaped up his fagot on the hearth, to be ready against their coming at night, and next took up the golden threads to mend his fiddle. Then he learned the truth of the little man's saying at the fair, for no sooner were the strings fastened with those golden threads than they became firm. The old dingy fiddle too began to shine and glisten, and at length it was golden also. This sight made Merrymind so joyful, that, unlearned as he was in music, the boy tried to play. Scarce had his bow touched the strings when they began to play of themselves the same blithe and pleasant tune which the night-spinners sang together.

"Some of the workers will stop for the sake of this tune," said Merrymind, and he went out along the valley with his fiddle. The music filled the air; the busy people heard it; and never was such a day seen in Dame Dreary's land. The men paused in their delving; the women stopped their scrubbing; the little children dropped their work; and every one stood still in their places while Merrymind and his fiddle passed on. When he came to the castle, the coopers cast down their tools in the court; the churning and cheese-making ceased in the banquet hall; the looms and spinning-wheels stopped in the principal chambers; and Dame Dreary's distaff stood still in her hand.

Merrymind played through the halls and up the tower-stairs. As he came near, the dame cast down her distaff, and danced with all her might. All her maidens did the like; and as they danced she grew young again—the sourness passed from her looks, and the greyness from her hair. They brought her the dress of white and cherry-colour she used to wear in her youth, and she was no longer Dame Dreary, but the Lady Littlecare, with golden hair, and laughing eyes, and cheeks like summer roses.

Then a sound of merrymaking came up from the whole valley. The heavy mist rolled away over the hills; the sun shone out; the blue sky was seen; a clear spring gushed up in the castle-court; a white falcon came from the east with a golden ring, and put it on the lady's finger. After that Strongarm broke the rope, tossed the pannier of dust from his shoulder, and lay down to sleep in the sun. That night the fairies danced on the hill-tops; and the night-spinners, with their silver wheels, were seen by every hearth, and no more in the deserted cottage. Everybody praised Merrymind and his fiddle; and when news of his wonderful playing came to the king's ears, he commanded the iron gate to be taken away; he made the captive soldier a free man; and promoted Merrymind to be his first fiddler, which under that wise monarch was the highest post in his kingdom.

As soon as Merrymind's family and neighbours heard of the high preferment his fiddle had gained for him, they thought music must be a good thing, and man, woman, and child took to fiddling. It is said that none of them ever learned to play a single tune except Merrymind's mother, on whom her son bestowed great presents.


Will o' the Wasps  by Margaret Warner Morley

The Inventors of Paper

"I S it really paper she makes, Uncle Will?" Theodore asked, after thinking of it a few minutes.

"Just as real as the paper the newspapers are printed on. She takes wood fiber and chews it up and mixes it with a sticky substance from her mouth and flattens it out into thin paper; don't you remember the paper nests we found last winter?"

"Oh, yes! They are still in the attic. You promised to cut one open sometime, so we could see what is inside."

"So we will, but not yet. It will be better fun to see what is inside before the cover is put on. Come, I know where our white-faced lady has gone. We will see what she is doing with her paper."

"How did she learn to make paper?" Theodore asked, as he followed his uncle towards the barn.

"Oh, she understood the art from the beginning. Long before we had discovered ways of making paper, our fiery little Vespa was hanging her paper temples through all the forests of the earth. The only trouble with her paper for man's use is that it is too brittle and in too small sheets."

"And it is gray," said Theodore.

"Yes, though some of it is red or yellow or brown or even almost white, according to the material she finds to work with; the prettiest, I think, is a clear, pale, silver gray. I have seen beautiful hornets' nests of that. But here we are," and Uncle Will pointed to the hornet very busy over some tiny object under the window frame. When she had flown away, Uncle Will and Theodore went close to see what she had been doing.


  WEEK 34  


In God's Garden  by Amy Steedman

Saint Augustine of Hippo

The story of the life of Saint Augustine is different from almost every other saint story, because it is taken from his own words and not from what has been said about him. He wrote a wonderful book called The Confessions of Saint Augustine, and in it we find all that he thought and did from the time he was a little child.

Augustine was born in 354 in the northern part of Africa, which then belonged to Rome, and was one of the richest countries in the world. His mother, Monica, was a Christian, but all her prayers and loving care could not keep her son from evil ways. He is often called the prodigal saint, because he wandered very far astray for many years into that far country of the youngest son in the parable; living in the midst of the sins and evil pleasures of the world, until he learned to say, "I will arise and go to my father."

And so Augustine's story comforts and helps us when we feel how easy it is to do wrong, and how we fail every day to do the good things we meant to do. There are so few days we can mark with a white stone because we have really tried to be good, and so many days we are glad to forget because of the black cross that stands against them. And yet, who knows but, if we fight on to the end, we too may be saints as Augustine was, for he won his crown through many failures.

The story, in Augustine's own words, begins from the time when he was a very little baby, not from what he remembers, but from what he had learned as he watched other babies in whom he saw a picture of himself.

First of all Augustine tells of the tiny baby, who does nothing but sleep and eat and cry. Then the baby begins to laugh a little when he is awake, and very soon shows clearly his likes and dislikes, and kicks and beats with his little hands when he does not get exactly what he wants. Then comes the time of learning to speak and walk.

After that Augustine begins really to remember things about himself. For who could ever forget the trial of first going to school? Oh, how Augustine hated it, and how hard it seemed to him! The lessons were so difficult and the masters were so strict, and he loved play so much better than work, and when he went back to school with lessons unlearned and work undone, the result was of course that he was whipped. It did seem so unjust to him, for he could not see the use of lessons, and the whippings were so sore. And in his book he tells us how it made him say his first prayer to God—"I used to ask Thee, though a very little boy, yet with no little earnestness, that I might not be whipped at school."

Augustine could not see the reason why he should be forced to stay indoors and learn dull, wearisome lessons, when he might be playing in the sunshine and learning new games, which seemed so much more worth knowing. How those games delighted him! He was always eager to be first, to win the victory and to be ahead of every one else. But then followed the whipping at school, and the little sore body crept away and sobbed out the prayer from his little sore soul.

He did not understand how it could all be meant for his good. We never quite understand that till we have left school far behind.

I wonder if we all wrote down just exactly what we felt and did when we were little children, whether we would have as many things to confess as Augustine had? There are some faults which no one is very much ashamed to own because they don't seem small and mean and pitiful. But who would like to confess to being greedy and stealing sweet things from the table when no one was looking? Who would care to own that he cheated at games, caring only to come out first whether he had played fairly or not? Yet this great saint tells us he remembers doing all these mean things and looks back upon them with great sorrow. He warns other little children to kill these faults at the very beginning, for he knows how strong they grow and how difficult to conquer, when the mean child grows into a man whom no one can trust.

As time went on and he grew to be a big boy he went further and further astray. When he was little he stole things to eat because he was greedy or because he wanted to bribe other little boys to sell him their toys, but now that he was older it was out of mere pride and boastfulness that he took what did not belong to him. He thought it grand and manly to show off to other boys how little he cared about doing wrong.

Augustine tells us that in a garden near his house there was a pear-tree covered with pears neither sweet nor large. But just because it belonged to some one else, and he thought it fun to steal, he and his companions went out one dark night and robbed the tree of all its fruit. They did not care to eat the pears, and after tasting one or two threw all the rest to the pigs. There was no particular pleasure in this he allows, and he would never have done it alone, but he wanted the other boys to admire him and to think he was afraid of nothing.

And so years went on and Augustine grew up into manhood, and it seemed as if his evil ways would break his mother's heart. Through all his sin and foolishness she loved him and prayed for him but he paid no heed to her, and wandered further away into that far country, wasting all he had in living wildly and forgetting the God he had prayed to when a child.

One day when Monica was weeping over this wandering son of hers and praying for him with all her heart, God sent a comforting dream to her which she never forgot. She thought she saw herself standing on a narrow wooden plank, and towards her there came a shining angel who smiled upon her as she stood there worn out with sorrow and weeping.

"Why art thou so sad, and wherefore dost thou weep these daily tears?" asked the angel.

"I weep over the ruin of my son," answered the poor mother.

Then the angel bade her cease from grieving and be at rest, and told her to look and see that on the same narrow plank of salvation where she was standing Augustine stood beside her.

His mother told Augustine of this dream, and though he only laughed at it, it seemed to sink into his heart and he remembered it many years after. And to Monica it came as a breath of hope, and comforted her through many dark days. For she was sure that God had sent this dream to tell her that in the end she and her son would stand together in His presence.

But though Monica believed this she never ceased to do all that was in her power to help Augustine. And once she went to a learned bishop and begged him to talk to Augustine and try what he could do. But the bishop was a wise man and knew that by speaking he would do more harm than good, for Augustine was proud of his unbelief and had no longing in himself for better things. But Monica did not see this and could only implore the bishop to try, until the good man grew vexed with her and said at last, "I cannot help thee in this matter, but go thy way in peace. It cannot be that a son of such tears should perish."

And these words comforted Monica, as the dream had done, and made her sure that in the end all would be right.

The good bishop spoke truly, for after many years had passed Augustine began to be weary of his own way and to look for a higher, better life. He longed to turn his face homeward, but now he had lost the way, and for long he sought it with bitter tears.

At last, one day, he felt he could bear the burden of his evil life no longer. His sins felt like a heavy chain dragging him down in the darkness, and there was no light to show him which way to turn. Taking a roll of the scriptures he wandered out into the garden and there, as he wept, he heard a voice close by chanting over and over again "Take, read." He thought it must be some game that children were playing, but he could remember none that had those words in it. And then he thought perhaps this was a voice from heaven in answer to his prayer, telling him what to do.

Eagerly he took the holy writings in his hand and opened them to read, and there he found words telling him what sort of life he should lead. In a moment it all seemed clear to him. His Father was waiting to receive and pardon him; so he arose and left the far country and all his evil habits and turned his face to God.

And then he tells how he went straight to his mother—the mother who had loved and believed in him through all those evil days, and he told her like a little child how sorry he was at last.

Then, indeed, was Monica's mourning turned into joy, and so at her life's end she and her son sat hand in hand, both looking up towards the dawning heaven; he with eyes ashamed but full of hope, and she with tears all washed away, and eyes that shone with more than earthly joy.

When his mother at last died and left him alone, Augustine did not grieve, for he knew the parting was not for long. All that was left for him to do now was to strive to make good those years he had wasted, and be more fit to meet her when God should call him home.

And so it came to pass that this great sinner became one of God's saints and did a wonderful work for Him in the world. He was made Bishop of Hippo, and was one of the most famous bishops the world has ever known.

There is one legend told of Augustine which has comforted many hearts when puzzling questions have arisen and it has seemed so difficult to understand all the Bible teaches us about our Father in heaven.

They say that once when this great father of the Church was walking along by the seashore, troubled and perplexed because he could not understand many things about God, he came upon a little child playing there alone. The child had digged a hole in the sand and was carefully filling it with water which he brought from the sea in a spoon. The bishop stopped and watched him for a while and then he asked:

"What art thou doing, my child?"


"I mean to empty the sea into my hole," answered the child, busily going backwards and forwards with his spoon.

"But that is impossible," said the bishop.

"Not more impossible than that thy human mind should understand the mind of God," said the child, gazing upwards at him with grave, sweet eyes.

And before the bishop could answer the child had vanished, and the saint knew that God had sent him as an answer to his troubled thoughts, and as a rebuke for his trying to understand the things that only God could know.


The Princess and the Goblin  by George MacDonald

Curdie's Guide

J UST as the consolation of this resolve dawned upon his mind, and he was turning away for the cellar to follow the goblins into their hole, something touched his hand. It was the slightest touch, and when he looked he could see nothing. Feeling and peering about in the gray of the dawn, his fingers came upon a tight thread. He looked again, and narrowly, but still could see nothing. It flashed upon him that this must be the princess's thread. Without saying a word, for he knew no one would believe him any more than he had believed the princess, he followed the thread with his finger, contrived to give Lootie the slip, and was soon out of the house, and on the mountain-side—surprised that, if the thread were indeed her grandmother's messenger, it should have led the princess, as he supposed it must, into the mountain, where she would be certain to meet the goblins rushing back enraged from their defeat. But he hurried on in the hope of overtaking her first. When he arrived, however, at the place where the path turned off for the mine, he found that the thread did not turn with it, but went straight up the mountain. Could it be that the thread was leading him home to his mother's cottage? Could the princess be there? He bounded up the mountain like one of its own goats, and before the sun was up, the thread had brought him indeed to his mother's door. There it vanished from his fingers, and he could not find it, search as he might.

The door was on the latch, and he entered. There sat his mother by the fire, and in her arms lay the princess fast asleep.

"Hush, Curdie!" said his mother. "Do not wake her. I'm so glad you're come! I thought the cobs must have got you again!"


"Hush, Curdie!" said his mother. "Do not waken her."

With a heart full of delight, Curdie sat down at a corner of the hearth, on a stool opposite his mother's chair, and gazed at the princess, who slept as peacefully as if she had been in her own bed. All at once she opened her eyes and fixed them on him.

"Oh, Curdie! you're come!" she said quietly. "I thought you would!"

Curdie rose and stood before her with downcast eyes.

"Irene," he said, "I am very sorry I did not believe you."

"Oh, never mind, Curdie!" answered the princess. "You couldn't, you know. You do believe me now, don't you?"

"I can't help it now. I ought to have helped it before."

"Why can't you help it now?"

"Because, just as I was going into the mountain to look for you, I got hold of your thread, and it brought me here."

"Then you've come from my house, have you?"

"Yes, I have."

"I didn't know you were there."

"I've been there two or three days, I believe."

"And I never knew it!—Then perhaps you can tell me why my grandmother has brought me here? I can't think. Something woke me—I didn't know what, but I was frightened, and I felt for the thread, and there it was! I was more frightened still when it brought me out on the mountain, for I thought it was going to take me into it again, and I like the outside of it best. I supposed you were in trouble again, and I had to get you out, but it brought me here instead; and, oh, Curdie! your mother has been so kind to me—just like my own grandmother!"

Here Curdie's mother gave the princess a hug, and the princess turned and gave her a sweet smile, and held up her mouth to kiss her.

"Then you didn't see the cobs?" asked Curdie.

"No; I haven't been into the mountain, I told you, Curdie."

"But the cobs have been into your house—all over it—and into your bedroom making such a row!"

"What did they want there? It was very rude of them."

"They wanted you—to carry you off into the mountain with them, for a wife to their prince Harelip."

"Oh, how dreadful!" cried the princess, shuddering.

"But you needn't be afraid, you know. Your grandmother takes care of you."

"Ah! you do believe in my grandmother then? I'm so glad! She made me think you would some day."

All at once Curdie remembered his dream, and was silent, thinking.

"But how did you come to be in my house, and me not know it?" asked the princess.

Then Curdie had to explain everything—how he had watched for her sake, how he had been wounded and shut up by the soldiers, how he heard the noises and could not rise, and how the beautiful old lady had come to him, and all that followed.

"Poor Curdie! to lie there hurt and ill, and me never to know it!" exclaimed the princess, stroking his rough hand. "I would not have hesitated to come and nurse you, if they had told me."

"I didn't see you were lame," said his mother.

"Am I, mother? Oh—yes—I suppose I ought to be. I declare I've never thought of it since I got up to go down amongst the cobs!"

"Let me see the wound," said his mother.

He pulled down his stocking—when behold, except a great scar, his leg was perfectly sound!

Curdie and his mother gazed in each other's eyes, full of wonder, but Irene called out—

"I thought so, Curdie! I was sure it wasn't a dream. I was sure my grandmother had been to see you.—Don't you smell the roses? It was my grandmother healed your leg, and sent you to help me."

"No, Princess Irene," said Curdie; "I wasn't good enough to be allowed to help you: I didn't believe you. Your grandmother took care of you without me."

"She sent you to help my people, anyhow. I wish my king-papa would come. I do want so to tell him how good you have been!"

"But," said the mother, "we are forgetting how frightened your people must be.—You must take the princess home at once, Curdie—or at least go and tell them where she is."

"Yes, mother. Only I'm dreadfully hungry. Do let me have some breakfast first. They ought to have listened to me, and then they wouldn't have been taken by surprise as they were."

"That is true, Curdie; but it is not for you to blame them much. You remember?"

"Yes, mother, I do. Only I must really have something to eat."

"You shall, my boy—as fast as I can get it," said his mother, rising and setting the princess on her chair.

But before his breakfast was ready, Curdie jumped up so suddenly as to startle both his companions.

"Mother, mother!" he cried, "I was forgetting. You must take the princess home yourself. I must go and wake my father."

Without a word of explanation, he rushed to the place where his father was sleeping. Having thoroughly roused him with what he told him, he darted out of the cottage.



----- Aug 21 -----