WEEK 37 |
A T last the sleepy atmosphere was stirred—and vigorously: the murder trial came on in the court. It became the absorbing topic of village talk immediately. Tom could not get away from it. Every reference to the murder sent a shudder to his heart, for his troubled conscience and fears almost persuaded him that these remarks were put forth in his hearing as "feelers"; he did not see how he could be suspected of knowing anything about the murder, but still he could not be comfortable in the midst of this gossip. It kept him in a cold shiver all the time. He took Huck to a lonely place to have a talk with him. It would be some relief to unseal his tongue for a little while; to divide his burden of distress with another sufferer. Moreover, he wanted to assure himself that Huck had remained discreet.
"Huck, have you ever told anybody about—that?"
"You know what."
"Oh—'course I haven't."
"Never a word?"
"Never a solitary word, so help me. What makes you ask?"
"Well, I was afeard."
"Why, Tom Sawyer, we wouldn't be alive two days if that got found out. You know that."
Tom felt more comfortable. After a pause:
"Huck, they couldn't anybody get you to tell, could they?"
"Get me to tell? Why, if I wanted that half-breed devil to drownd me they could get me to tell. They ain't no different way."
"Well, that's all right, then. I reckon we're safe as long as we keep mum. But let's swear again, anyway. It's more surer."
So they swore again with dread solemnities.
"What is the talk around, Huck? I've heard a power of it."
"Talk? Well, it's just Muff Potter, Muff Potter, Muff Potter all the time. It keeps me in a sweat, constant, so's I want to hide som'ers."
"That's just the same way they go on round me. I reckon he's a goner. Don't you feel sorry for him, sometimes?"
"Most always—most always. He ain't no account; but then he hain't ever done anything to hurt anybody. Just fishes a little, to get money to get drunk on—and loafs around considerable; but lord, we all do that—leastways most of us—preachers and such like. But he's kind of good—he give me half a fish, once, when there warn't enough for two; and lots of times he's kind of stood by me when I was out of luck."
"Well, he's mended kites for me, Huck, and knitted hooks on to my line. I wish we could get him out of there."
"My! we couldn't get him out, Tom. And besides, 'twouldn't do any good; they'd ketch him again."
"Yes—so they would. But I hate to hear 'em abuse him so like the dickens when he never done—that."
"I do too, Tom. Lord, I hear 'em say he's the bloodiest-looking villain in this country, and they wonder he wasn't ever hung before."
"Yes, they talk like that, all the time. I've heard 'em say that if he was to get free they'd lynch him."
"And they'd do it, too."
The boys had a long talk, but it brought them little comfort. As the twilight drew on, they found themselves hanging about the neighborhood of the little isolated jail, perhaps with an undefined hope that something would happen that might clear away their difficulties. But nothing happened; there seemed to be no angels or fairies interested in this luckless captive.
The boys did as they had often done before—went to the cell grating and gave Potter some tobacco and matches. He was on the ground floor and there were no guards.
His gratitude for their gifts had always smote their consciences before—it cut deeper than ever, this time. They felt cowardly and treacherous to the last degree when Potter said:
"You've been mighty good to me, boys—better'n anybody else in this town. And I don't forget it, I don't. Often I says to myself, says I, 'I used to mend all the boys' kites and things, and show 'em where the good fishin'-places was, and befriend 'em what I could, and now they've all forgot old Muff when he's in trouble; but Tom don't, and Huck don't—they don't forget him,' says I, 'and I don't forget them.' Well, boys, I done an awful thing—drunk and crazy at the time—that's the only way I account for it—and now I got to swing for it, and it's right. Right, and best, too, I reckon—hope so, anyway. Well, we won't talk about that. I don't want to make you feel bad; you've befriended me. But what I want to say, is, don't you ever get drunk—then you won't ever get here. Stand a litter furder west—so—that's it; it's a prime comfort to see faces that's friendly when a body's in such a muck of trouble, and there don't none come here but yourn. Good friendly faces—good friendly faces. Git up on one another's backs and let me touch 'em. That's it. Shake hands—yourn'll come through the bars, but mine's too big. Little hands, and weak—but they've helped Muff Potter a power, and they'd help him more if they could."
Tom went home miserable, and his dreams that night were full of horrors. The next day and the day after, he hung about the courtroom, drawn by an almost irresistible impulse to go in, but forcing himself to stay out. Huck was having the same experience. They studiously avoided each other. Each wandered away, from time to time, but the same dismal fascination always brought them back presently. Tom kept his ears open when idlers sauntered out of the courtroom, but invariably heard distressing news—the toils were closing more and more relentlessly around poor Potter. At the end of the second day the village talk was to the effect that Injun Joe's evidence stood firm and unshaken, and that there was not the slightest question as to what the jury's verdict would be.
Tom was out late that night, and came to bed through the window. He was in a tremendous state of excitement. It was hours before he got to sleep. All the village flocked to the courthouse the next morning, for this was to be the great day. Both sexes were about equally represented in the packed audience. After a long wait the jury filed in and took their places; shortly afterward, Potter, pale and haggard, timid and hopeless, was brought in, with chains upon him, and seated where all the curious eyes could stare at him; no less conspicuous was Injun Joe, stolid as ever. There was another pause, and then the judge arrived and the sheriff proclaimed the opening of the court. The usual whisperings among the lawyers and gathering together of papers followed. These details and accompanying delays worked up an atmosphere of preparation that was as impressive as it was fascinating.
Now a witness was called who testified that he found Muff Potter washing in the brook, at an early hour of the morning that the murder was discovered, and that he immediately sneaked away. After some further questioning, counsel for the prosecution said:
"Take the witness."
The prisoner raised his eyes for a moment, but dropped them again when his own counsel said:
"I have no questions to ask him."
The next witness proved the finding of the knife near the corpse. Counsel for the prosecution said:
"Take the witness."
"I have no questions to ask him," Potter's lawyer replied.
A third witness swore he had often seen the knife in Potter's possession.
"Take the witness."
Counsel for Potter declined to question him. The faces of the audience began to betray annoyance. Did this attorney mean to throw away his client's life without an effort?
Several witnesses deposed concerning Potter's guilty behavior when brought to the scene of the murder. They were allowed to leave the stand without being cross-questioned.
Every detail of the damaging circumstances that occurred in the graveyard upon that morning which all present remembered so well was brought out by credible witnesses, but none of them were cross-examined by Potter's lawyer. The perplexity and dissatisfaction of the house expressed itself in murmurs and provoked a reproof from the bench. Counsel for the prosecution now said:
"By the oaths of citizens whose simple word is above suspicion, we have fastened this awful crime, beyond all possibility of question, upon the unhappy prisoner at the bar. We rest our case here."
A groan escaped from poor Potter, and he put his face in his hands and rocked his body softly to and fro, while a painful silence reigned in the courtroom. Many men were moved, and many women's compassion testified itself in tears. Counsel for the defense rose and said:
"Your honor, in our remarks at the opening of this trial, we foreshadowed our purpose to prove that our client did this fearful deed while under the influence of a blind and irresponsible delirium produced by drink. We have changed our mind. We shall not offer that plea." [Then to the clerk:] "Call Thomas Sawyer!"
A puzzled amazement awoke in every face in the house, not even excepting Potter's. Every eye fastened itself with wondering interest upon Tom as he rose and took his place upon the stand. The boy looked wild enough, for he was badly scared. The oath was administered.
"Thomas Sawyer, where were you on the seventeenth of June, about the hour of midnight?"
Tom glanced at Injun Joe's iron face and his tongue failed him. The audience listened breathless, but the words refused to come. After a few moments, however, the boy got a little of his strength back, and managed to put enough of it into his voice to make part of the house hear:
"In the graveyard!"
"A little bit louder, please. Don't be afraid. You
"In the graveyard."
A contemptuous smile flitted across Injun Joe's face.
"Were you anywhere near Horse Williams's grave?"
"Speak up—just a trifle louder. How near were you?"
"Near as I am to you."
"Were you hidden, or not?"
"I was hid."
"Behind the elms that's on the edge of the grave."
Injun Joe gave a barely perceptible start.
"Any one with you?"
"Yes, sir. I went there
"Wait—wait a moment. Never mind mentioning your companion's name. We will produce him at the proper time. Did you carry anything there with you."
Tom hesitated and looked confused.
"Speak out, my boy—don't be diffident. The truth is always respectable. What did you take there?"
"Only a—a—dead cat."
There was a ripple of mirth, which the court checked.
"We will produce the skeleton of that cat. Now, my boy, tell us everything that occurred—tell it in your own way—don't skip anything, and don't be afraid."
Tom began—hesitatingly at first, but as he warmed to his subject his words flowed more and more easily; in a little while every sound ceased but his own voice; every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale.
The strain upon pent emotion reached its climax.
The strain upon pent emotion reached its climax when the boy said:
Crash! Quick as lightning the half-breed sprang for a window, tore his way through all opposers, and was gone!
I n the days of King John, the English had their hands full with only one king to manage, but a time came in Scotland when there were thirteen persons who claimed the throne. Finally it was clear that two of them had stronger claims than the other eleven. They were John Baliol and Robert Bruce. Baliol was the grandson of the eldest daughter of a certain royal David, and Bruce was a son of the second daughter of this same king. People in Scotland took sides, some in favour of Baliol and some in favour of Bruce, and feeling was so strong that there was danger of civil war. "King Edward of England is a wise king. Let us leave the question to him," said the Scottish nobles, and it was done. This was a fine chance for King Edward. He declared at once that neither Baliol nor Bruce, but he himself had the best claim to the Scottish throne. Baliol, however, might rule under him, he said. But Baliol did not prove obedient enough to please him, so Edward carried him and the famous Stone of Scone off to London together. The Scots prized the Stone highly. They had a tradition that Jacob's head had rested upon it the night that he had his dream of angels ascending and descending between heaven and earth; and whenever a Scottish king was to be crowned, he always took his seat upon this stone. Edward had it put underneath the seat of the chair in Westminster Abbey, in which English sovereigns sit at their coronation; and perhaps he thought that Scotland had yielded, and there would be no more trouble. On the contrary, in a very little while William Wallace led the Scots against the English and defeated them in a great battle. Soon after this, however, he fell into the hands of Edward and was put to death.
After a few years the Scots found a new leader. This was the grandson of Robert Bruce, and his name, too, was Robert Bruce. He was crowned King of Scotland, and the Scots flocked to his standard. Then came Edward with a large force, and soon the King of Scotland was hiding first in the Grampian Hills, then on a little island off the north coast of Ireland. He was almost in despair, for he had tried six times to get the better of the English and had failed. One day, it is said, he lay in a lonely hut on a heap of straw, wondering if it would not be better to give it up and leave Scotland to herself. Just then he caught sight of a spider trying to swing itself from one rafter to another. Six times it tried, and six times it failed. "Just as many times as I have failed," thought Bruce, and he said to himself, "If it tries again and succeeds, I, too, will try again." The spider tried again and it succeeded. Bruce tried again, and he, too, succeeded. Edward died, and before his son Edward II. was ready to attend to matters in Scotland, Bruce had captured most of the castles that Edward I. had taken and had brought an army together.
Coronation Chair with Stone of Scone
When Edward II was at last ready to march into Scotland, some two or three years later, he came with a large force as far as Stirling. Bruce met him with one only one-third as large, but every man in it was bent upon doing his best to drive away the English. Bruce dug deep pits in front of his lines. Many of the English cavalry plunged into these and were slain, and the rest were thrown into confusion. Then as the English troops looked at the hill lying to the right of the Scottish army, they saw a new army coming over the crest. It was really only the servants and wagons and camp followers; but Bruce had given them plenty of banners, and the English supposed they were fresh troops. Then King Edward and his men ran away as fast as they could; but the Scots pursued, and the king barely escaped being taken prisoner. This was the Battle of Bannockburn, the most bloody defeat that the English ever met with in Scotland. The victory of the Scots freed Scotland from all English claims; and a few years later England acknowledged her independence.
Battle of Bannockburn
It was of this battle that Robert Burns wrote:—
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!
Now 's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power—
Chains and slavery!
Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or Freeman fa',
Let him follow me!
By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!—
Let us do, or die!
In 1603 James VI. of Scotland became James I. of England, but although for the next hundred years the kingdoms were ruled by the same sovereign, the parliaments were not united. This followed, however, in 1707, England and Scotland were henceforth one country under the name of Great Britain.
WEEK 37 |
ILLIAM and Mary had no children, so Mary's sister, Anne,
the younger daughter of
At last a peace was made called the Peace of Utrecht. By
this treaty Louis acknowledged Anne as the rightful Queen of
Britain, and also promised to send James the Pretender, as
the son of
Marlborough was a famous soldier, but he was also a great statesman, and indeed he and his wife, the Duchess of Marlborough, ruled the Queen for many years. He was brave and clever, but he was greedy and not quite honest. He made many enemies, who succeeded at last in having him disgraced, and both he and his wife were sent away from court.
The Duchess had a very bad temper, and she was so angry when she had to leave court that she smashed all the furniture in her rooms, and threw the Queen's keys at the Duke's head, when he was sent to ask for them. It was no wonder that the Queen, who was gentle and kind, had been afraid of the Duchess, and had been ruled by her.
Other clever men succeeded Marlborough, and another clever woman succeeded the Duchess, for Queen Anne was not a strong-minded woman, and she allowed herself to be ruled and led by favourites and statesmen. Like Queen Elizabeth she had many great men around her, and although they thought more perhaps of making themselves famous and powerful than of what was best for the country, still the country prospered.
The greatest thing that happened in the reign of Anne was the union of the Parliaments of England and Scotland.
Since 1603 A.D., when
Wise men saw that there could be no real union until there was only one Parliament, until English and Scots met and discussed the laws together. Cromwell indeed had called English, Scottish, and Irish members to his Parliament, but it had been for so short a time, and in such troubled days that people had almost forgotten about it.
Even now it was not an easy thing to do, but at last all difficulties were smoothed away. It was agreed among other things that each country should keep its own law courts and its own religion, but that they should have the same King, the same Parliament, the same money, and the same flag, and that the country should be called Great Britain.
The English flag was a red
The reason we call our flag the Union Jack is because
When the Queen gave her consent to the act of union, as it
was named, she called both Lords and Commons together, and
made a speech to them. "I desire and expect from all my
subjects of both nations, that from henceforth they act with
all possible respect and kindness
to one another, that so it
may appear to all the world they have hearts disposed to
become one people. This will give me great pleasure." Then
the last English Parliament rose, and, on
It was a great state ceremony. Each Scottish lord was led to his place by two English lords. The Queen in her royal robes made a speech from the throne in which she heartily welcomed the new members, and ever since that day, in spite of difficulties and troubles, England and Scotland have really been one country.
Queen Anne died on
F IRST, select some bird or beast or insect that lives with you in your dooryard or house or near neighborhood, and keep track of his doings all summer long, jotting down in a diary your observations. You might take the white-faced hornet that builds the big paper nests in the trees; or the mud wasp, or the toad under the steps, or the swifts in the chimney, or the swallows in the barn. It hardly matters what you take, for every life is interesting. The object is to learn how to follow up your study, how to watch one life long enough, and under circumstances different enough, to discover its many-sidedness, its fascination and romance. Such careful and prolonged study will surely reveal to you something no one else has seen, too. It will be good training in patience and independence.
Along with this study of one life, keep a list of all the beasts, birds, insects, flowers, etc., that live—I mean, that build nests or dig holes and rear families—in your dooryard or in this "haunt" that I told you in "The Spring of the Year" you ought to pick out as your own field of study. This list will grow all through the summer and from year to year. I have a list of seventy-six wild neighbors (not counting the butterflies and insects) that are sharing my fourteen-acre farm with me. How many and what wild things are sharing your dooryard, your park, your favorite haunt or farm with you? Such a list of names, with a blank place left for each where observations can be entered from time to time, would be one of the most useful and interesting journals you could keep.
All through June and into July you should have a round of birds' nests that you visit daily, and to which you can take your friends and visitors—that is, if you live in or near the country. One will be in the big unused chimney of the house, perhaps, and that will be the first; then one in the barn, or in a bird-house in the yard; or in the pear- or apple-tree hole; one in the lilac or honeysuckle bushes, and then down into the orchard, out into the meadow, on into the woods and back—taking in twenty to thirty birds' nests with eggs and young! Did you ever do it? Can you do it this summer? Don't you think it would be quite as exciting and interesting as going to the circus? I can do it; and if you come out to Mullein Hill in June or July, any one of my small boys will take you on his "birds' nest round."
You should camp out—even if you have to pitch your tent in the back yard or up on the roof! You should go to sleep on a bed of boughs,—pine, or spruce, or hickory, if possible,—or swing your hammock between the trunks of sweet-smelling forest trees, and turn your face up to the stars! You will never want to sleep in a room with closed windows after that. To see the stars looking down upon you; to see the tree-tops swaying over you; to feel the fresh night wind stealing across your face and breathing into your very soul—yes, you must sleep at least one night this summer right out on a bed of boughs; but with a blanket of wool and a piece of sail-cloth or rubber coat over you and under you, and perhaps some mosquito-netting.
But you must not build a fire in the woods, unless you have a guide or older people with a permit along. Fires are terrible masters, and it is almost as dangerous to build a fire in the woods as to build one in the waste-paper basket in the basement of some large store.
Along the seashore or by the margin of a river or lake, if you take every precaution, it might be safe enough; but in the woods, if camping out, make all preparations by clearing a wide space down to the bare ground, then see that it is bare ground and not a boggy, rooty peat-bed beneath, that will take fire and smoulder and burn away down under the surface out of sight, to break through, perhaps, a week after you have gone, and set the whole mountain-side afire. Build your fire on bare, sandy earth; have a shovel and can of water at hand, and put the fire out when you are done with it. It is against the law in most States to set a fire out of doors after the 1st of April, without a permit from the fire-warden.
Now, after this caution, you ought to go out some evening by the shore with a small party and roast some green corn in the husk; then, wrapping some potatoes in clay, bake them; if you have fish, wrap them in clay with their scales on, and bake them. The scales will come off beautifully when the clay is cracked off, and leave you the tastiest meal of fish and potatoes and corn you ever ate. Every boy and girl ought to have a little camp-life and ought to have each his share of camp-work to perform this summer.
At the close of some stifling July day you ought to go out into the orchard or woods and watch the evening come on—to notice how the wild life revives, flowers open, birds sing, animals stir, breezes start, leaves whisper, and all the world awakes.
Then follow that up by getting out the next morning before sunrise, say at half-past three o'clock, an hour before the sun bursts over the eastern hills. If you are not a stump or a stone, the sight and the smell—the whole indescribable freshness and wonder of it all—will thrill you. Would you go to the Pyramids or Niagara or the Yellowstone Park? Yes, you would, and you would take a great deal of trouble to see any one of these wonders! Just as great a wonder, just as thrilling an experience, is right outside of your bedroom early any June, July, or August morning! I know boys and girls who never saw the sun get up!
You ought to spend some time this summer on a real farm. Boy or girl, you need to feel ploughed ground under your feet; you need the contact with growing things in the ground; you need to handle a hoe, gather the garden vegetables, feed the chickens, feed the pigs, drive the cows to pasture, help stow away the hay—and all the other interesting experiences that make up the simple, elemental, and wonderfully varied day of farm life.
A mere visit is not enough. You need to take part in the digging and weeding and planting. The other day I let out my cow after keeping her all winter in the barn. The first thing she did was to kick up her heels and run to a pile of fresh earth about a newly planted tree and fall to eating it—not the tree, but the earth, the raw, rich soil—until her muzzle was muddy halfway to her eyes. You do not need to eat it; but the need to smell it, to see it, to feel it, to work in it, is just as real as the cow's need to eat it.
You ought to learn how to browse and nibble in the woods. What do I mean? Why, just this: that you ought to learn how to taste the woods as well as to see them. Maurice Thompson, in "Byways and Bird Notes," a book you ought to read (and that is another "ought to do" for this summer), has a chapter called "Browsing and Nibbling" in which his mountain guide says: "What makes me allus a-nibblin' an' a-browsin' of the bushes an' things as I goes along? I kinder b'lieve hit keeps a feller's heart stiddy an' his blood pure for to nibble an' browse kinder like a deer does. You know a deer is allus strong an' active, an' hit is everlastin'ly a-nibblin' an' a-browsin'. Ef hit is good for the annymel, hit otter be good for the feller."
The guide may not be right about the strength to be had from tasting the roots and barks and buds of things, but I know that I am right when I tell you that the very sap of the summer woods will seem to mingle with your blood at the taste of the aromatic sassafras root, the spicy bark of the sweet birch and the biting bulb of the Indian turnip. Many of the perfumes, odors, resins, gums, saps, and nectars of the woods can be known to you only by sense of taste.
"But I shall bite into something poisonous," you say. Yes, you must look out for that, and you must take the pains this summer to learn the poisonous things of our woods and fields.
So before you begin to browse and nibble, make a business of learning the deadly nightshade with its green or its red berries; the poison sumach with its loose panicles or clusters of grayish-white berries; the three-leaved poison ivy or "ground oak "(which you can easily tell from the five-leaved Virginia creeper); and the deadly mushrooms with their bulbous roots.
These are the poisonous plants that you will meet with most frequently, but there are a few others, and it will be safest not to nibble any plant that is strange to you.
The Deadly Amanita
Nor am I suggesting that you make a meal on the pitch of the pine trees or anything else. Do not eat any of these things; taste them only. I was once made desperately ill by eating poke root (I was a very little child) which I took for sweet potato. Poke berries are not good to eat.
Take along a few good sandwiches from home to eat. But learn to know the mints, the medicinal roots and barks, and that long list of old-fashioned "herbs" that our grandmothers hung from the garret rafters and made us take occasionally as "tea."
Finally, as a lover of the woods and wild life, you ought to take a personal responsibility for the preservation of the trees and woods in your neighborhood, and of the birds and beasts and other lowlier forms of wild life. Year by year the wild things are vanishing never to return to your woods, and never to be seen again by man. Do what you can to stop the hunting and ignorant killing of every sort. You ought to get and read "Our Vanishing Wild Life," by William T. Hornaday, and then join the growing host of us who, alarmed at the fearful increase of insect pests, and the loss to the beauty and interest of the out-of-doors through the extermination of wild life, are doing our best to save the wild things we still have and to increase their numbers.
WEEK 37 |
"S INCE the cat threatens to get cross, we will have recourse to another way of producing electricity.
"You fold lengthwise a good sheet of ordinary paper; then take hold of the double strip by each end. Next, you heat it just to the scorching point over a stove or in front of a hot fire. The greater the heat, the more electricity will be developed. Finally, still holding the strip by the ends alone, you rub it quickly, as soon as it is hot, on a piece of woolen cloth previously warmed and stretched over the knee. It can be rubbed on the trousers if they are woolen. The friction must be rapid and lengthwise of the paper. After a short rubbing the band is quickly raised with one hand, with great care not to let the paper touch against anything; if it did the electricity would be dissipated. Then without delay you bring up the knuckles of your free hand, or, better, the end of a key, near to the middle of the strip of paper; and you will see a bright spark dart from the paper to the key with a slight crackling. To get another spark you must go through the same operations again, for at the approach of the finger or key the sheet of paper loses all its electricity.
"Instead of making a spark, you can hold the electrified sheet flat above little pieces of paper, straw, or feathers. These light bodies are attracted and repelled in turn; they come and go rapidly from the electrified strip to the object which serves them as support, and from this to the strip."
Adding example to precept, Uncle Paul took a sheet of paper,
folded it in a strip to give it more resistance, warmed it,
rubbed it on his knee, and finally made a spark fly from it
on the approach of his
They say that Mother Ambroisine had much trouble that evening in getting Jules to go to bed; for, once master of the process, he did not tire of warming and rubbing. His uncle's intervention was necessary to put an end to the electric experiments.
After the Constitutional Convention at Richmond, Patrick Henry continued to practice law in the courts.
He rode from place to place on horseback or in an old gig; and at the taverns where he stopped he was always surrounded by an admiring crowd.
Wealth came. He bought many plantations and prospered greatly.
Then, as the years bent his shoulders and wrinkled his high brow, he retired to the quiet of an estate, called Red Hill, on the Staunton River.
The hospitable house stood on a slight rise of ground, surrounded by groves of oak, pine, and walnut trees.
Below it stretched the green valley, with its winding stream and gently sloping hills. In the distance towered the lofty peaks of the Blue Ridge.
In full view of this beautiful scene, the noble man sat often in a great armchair under the shade of a spreading walnut tree, or walked from grove to grove as he talked with himself. No one interrupted him then; but when the hour of solitude was over his grandchildren gathered around with a shout.
There were frolics on the grass, where the silver-haired grandfather was the noisiest of the merrymakers. And he often told stories, while the little ones listened with breathless attention, or he made his violin mimic the birds, while the joyous band about him vied at guessing which songster was a prisoner in the instrument.
Nothing tempted the great orator from this delightful retreat of his old age. Virginia elected him governor for a sixth term, but he firmly refused the honor. His friend Washington, who had become President of the United States, asked him to be Minister to Spain, and then he asked him to be Secretary of State, and then to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; but he would listen to no offers of high place.
When John Adams became President, he urged Mr. Henry to go as an envoy to France, but he refused. The years lay heavy on his shoulders because of ill-health. Besides, he had won laurels enough.
In January, 1799, a letter came from Mount Vernon, marked "Confidential." It was in the handwriting of George Washington.
Just at this time several states claimed the right to declare void some laws made by Congress. The laws were not wise, and many in Virginia said it was the duty of the legislature to refuse to obey them.
Washington implored Patrick Henry to speak in defence of the government of the United States.
Now, the great orator did not like the laws very well himself; but he said, when an Act of Congress became a law, it was the duty of every citizen to obey it. He agreed to tell the people what he thought about it.
It had been many years since Patrick Henry had spoken in public; and when it was noised around that he would speak at Charlottesville court-house, people flocked in from all over the country to hear him.
The college in the next county closed for a holiday, and president, professors and students hurried to find standing room in the court-house.
Before the hour for the meeting, such crowds followed the orator about that a clergyman said, to rebuke them: "Mr. Henry is not a god!"
"No," said Mr. Henry, who was deeply moved because the people were so devoted to him; "no, indeed, my friends, I am but a poor worm of the dust."
When the great orator arose to speak, he seemed stooped with age. His face was pale and care-worn.
At first his voice was cracked and shrill, and his gestures were feeble; but soon his bowed head became erect, his blue eyes glowed, his features looked like those of a young man, his voice rang out like music to the farthest listener of the thousands standing in the courtyard.
He told them they had planted thorns in his pillow, and that he could not sleep while Virginia was a rebel to the government of the United States. The Virginians had dared to pronounce the laws of Congress without force. Only the Supreme Court of the United States had the right to do that.
He said they would drive the United States government to arms against them to enforce her rightful authority; and, because they were too weak alone, the Virginians would call in the Spaniards, or the French, or the English, from over the sea, to help them fight against the government of the United States, and then these foreign powers would make them slaves.
He asked if Charlotte County had the right to defy the laws of Virginia. Then he showed them how Virginia belonged to the United States, just as Charlotte County belonged to Virginia.
"Let us preserve our strength united," he said, "against whatever foreign nation may dare to enter our territory."
The vast multitude hung on each word and look. When he had finished his magnificent speech, he was very weak; and as he was carried into the tavern near by, some one said, "The sun has set in all his glory."
He returned to his home. A few weeks later, while sitting in his chair, he died.
Just before the end came, he prayed aloud in a clear voice for his family and for his country. When he breathed for the last time, his old family physician left his side to throw himself down under the trees and sob aloud. And everybody who had known the brave, generous, and gifted Patrick Henry grieved over his loss.
A marble slab covers his grave, inscribed with the name, the birth, and the death, and the words: "His fame is his best epitaph."
Before the year closed, George Washington died also, and there was mourning throughout the land for these two great patriots, who had done so much for Virginia and for the young republic of the United States.
I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges;
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.
Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come, and men may go,
But I go on forever.
I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.
With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.
I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come, and men may go,
But I go on forever.
I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,
And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel,
With many a silvery water-break
Above the golden gravel,
And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come, and men may go,
But I go on forever.
I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.
I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars,
I loiter round my cresses;
And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come, and men may go,
But I go on forever.
WEEK 37 |
Sure enough, at daybreak the next morning there rose the sound of wild war cries as the Celts rushed out from their camp toward the Ford of Hurdles. The full tide was roaring and bellowing across the Lawn of the Bulls, but its noise was quite drowned as with fierce cries of their own the Danes sprang to meet them.
"Hark! Hark!" exclaimed Ferdiad as he and Conn jumped from the ox-cart where they had slept, "the fight has begun!" As none of the boys were allowed in the way of the battle but had been ordered to stay behind the lines, "Let's run up the side of the Hill of Howth," he said, "we can at least see it from there. My, how I wish we could be in it!"
"Don't you, though!" cried Conn longingly as they scrambled up the steep grassy slopes.
There were others also watching from the Hill; the doctors who must be ready to help the wounded, the priests to comfort the dying, and the historians to write down just what went on. For the Celts liked to keep an account of all their doings.
The boys stood near these, and as the fight became fiercer and fiercer of course they grew more and more excited.
"I wonder where the high king is?" said Conn.
"I don't know," answered Ferdiad,—then, "Look!" he cried, "I believe he is over yonder sitting on a rock! Can you see?"
"Yes," replied Conn, "and there's a ring of men with locked shields standing all around him!"
It was indeed the aged high king. His face was white and set as if carved from marble, yet his piercing eyes were brave and fearless as he sat watching the battle which he was certain would in some way bring death to him. For the Dane prophecy had sunk deep into his mind, and nothing could shake his belief that it would be fulfilled.
Wilder and wilder grew the struggle. Banners fluttered and fell, and the loud battle cries from thousands of throats, the clanking of Danish armor and rattling of spears and shields all mingled in one hoarse roar as the chariots of the Celtic kings rushed hither and thither and the poets goaded their horses to the front ranks bravely chanting their songs and inspiring the courage of the soldiers.
The sun rose higher and higher and the ebbing tide flowed far out to sea, and still the conflict raged and none could foresee who would be the victors. Now one side and now the other seemed gaining the advantage. But toward noon the watchers on the Hill began to despair, for they could see the yellow tunics of the Celtic soldiers rolling back in a tawny flood as the gleaming mail of the Danes swept over them.
Ferdiad and Conn scarcely spoke as breathlessly they looked, each wondering whether his father or foster-father still lived or had gone down before the Danish hosts as had already the son and grandson of the high king.
But Brian Boru was too proud and skillful a warrior to allow his armies to meet defeat at the hands of pirates and sea-rovers no matter how many or how powerful. Still standing white and motionless, watching the plain through the ring of shields, nevertheless he was all the while sending swift messengers back and forth ordering the battle, till at length, as the sunset tide again surged in, bellowing, over the waterworn bowlders, the tide of war turned also for the Celts.
Louder and louder rang the songs of the poets, the voice of Angus leading them all, as the Celtic kings and captains rallying their soldiers for a last mighty effort, rushed resistlessly forward, hurling their spears, thrusting with their swords and dealing deadly blows with their battle axes, till suddenly their Danish foes gave way and fled wildly before them.
At this the boys could hold back no longer, but flying down the hillside ran toward the seashore where the victorious Celts were pursuing the Danes, who were trying to reach the long dragon ships in which they had come to Ireland and which were moored at the mouth of the river Liffey. When the tide was low they could easily wade out to these, but now plunging into the great green breakers hundreds and hundreds met their death. Some tried to reach the bridge over the Liffey which led to their fortress only to find escape cut off by the brave Celts who had captured and held it.
When dusk fell, the great army of the Danes was crushed and defeated. Of those who had not fallen in battle or been drowned in the roaring tide a few had managed to escape, but most were prisoners in the hands of the Celtic soldiers. The Battle of Clontarf was over and the high king, Brian Boru, had forever broken the power of the Danes in Ireland.
But what of the high king himself? Had he escaped the death for which he had waited through all the long day? No, he had not escaped. Faithfully from early dawn to sunset the shield men had guarded him in unbroken ring, and not till the tide of battle turned and the Celts were pursuing the flying Danes did they relax their watch. For how could they know that at the very moment their tired arms dropped to their sides a fugitive Dane, who had managed to escape the Celtic spears and crept through the forest and behind the rocks at the foot of the Hill, would spring upon the aged monarch and deal him death with a single thrust of his sword?
But thus it was the soothsayer's prophecy was fulfilled.
Thus it was the soothsayer's prophecy was fulfilled.
A partridge was one day strutting along the ground when a Hawk alighted near by. The Partridge thought that her last hour had surely come, and hid, trembling with fear, in a hole in the rock. The Hawk, however, made no effort to harm her, but, on the contrary, began to talk to her in soft, caressing tones.
"My dear, merry-faced, pretty-strutting Partridge," he began, "please come out of that hole and make friends with me."
"Base deceiver," replied the Partridge, "cease your flattery and false offers of friendship! Do I not know that you are now probably fresh from feasting on one of my kin?"
But the Hawk tried to calm her suspicions. "I own," he continued, "that up to the present moment I have always looked upon partridges as my prey, but to-day, when I saw you strutting up the hill so prettily, the desire came over me to win you for my friend. If you will only come and live in my nest, I will promise to protect you from all other hawks, and, in good time, will bring you another partridge for your mate."
"Even if your promise should be true," the Partridge made answer, safe within her hole, "I know that you are one of the kings among birds, and that I am only a poor Partridge. Suppose that some day I should displease you. Would you not promptly tear me to pieces?"
Still the Hawk was so persistent with his pledges of friendship that the Partridge at last crept out of her hole. The Hawk, greatly delighted, embraced her fondly and carried her off to his nest.
For many days they lived happily together, until the Hawk fell sick. All day long he was obliged to stay in the nest, and could not go out for food. He grew more and more hungry as night came on, and his eyes rested ever more longingly and more longingly on the Partridge. Finally he decided to pick a quarrel with her.
"It is not right," the Hawk suddenly snapped, "that I should lie here in the hot sun and that you should be protected by the shade."
The Partridge had drawn further away into the corner of the nest.
"Oh, King of Birds," she replied gently, "it is now night and there is no sun. The heat that you feel is the fever in your blood."
"You saucy baggage," retorted the Hawk. "Will you tell me that what I say is untrue? You shall be punished for this." And so saying, he fell upon her and tore her to pieces.
O! I wish the sun was bright in the sky,
And the fox was back in his den, O!
For always I'm hearing the passing by
Of the terrible robber men, O!
The terrible robber men.
O! what does the fox carry over the rye
When it's bright in the morn again, O!
And what is it making the lonesome cry
With the terrible robber men, O!
The terrible robber men.
O! I wish the sun was bright in the sky,
And the fox was back in his den, O!
For always I'm hearing the passing by
Of the terrible robber men, O!
The terrible robber men.
WEEK 37 |
"Of Nelson and the North
Sing the glorious day's renown,
When to battle fierce came forth
All the might of Denmark's crown."
T HE news of Nelson's great victory spread over Europe rapidly. The Italians were specially pleased at Napoleon's defeat, since he had overrun their country.
"Oh, brave Nelson!" cried the Queen of Naples, a sister of Marie Antoinette, bursting into tears. "God bless and protect our brave leader. Oh Nelson, Nelson, what do we not owe you,—Victor, saviour of Italy!"
England's navy had grown very formidable. She had within a short time defeated the Spanish fleet off Cape St Vincent, the Dutch fleet off Camperdown, and the French fleet off the coast of Africa. Three fleets had been destroyed, but the great northern fleet yet remained. There was the fleet of Russia, begun by Peter the Great a hundred years before, the fleet of Sweden, and the fleet of Denmark. And these three northern powers now united, to destroy the growing strength of England's sea power.
Brilliant leader though he was, Nelson was only second in command on this expedition against the northern fleets. His chief was Sir Hyde Parker, a man who finally intrusted the command practically to the hero of the Nile.
Nelson joined the fleet at Yarmouth in Norfolk, England, in the autumn of 1800. He found the admiral nervous at the prospect of "dark nights and fields of ice."
"I hope," said Nelson, "we shall give our northern enemies that hailstorm of bullets, which gives our dear country the dominion of the seas. We have it; and all the devils of the north cannot take it from us if our wooden walls have fair play."
So eighteen great battleships fought their way across the stormy North Sea to Denmark. Their orders were to negotiate, if possible, rather than fight; so when they arrived at the northern point of Denmark, known as the Skaw, they anchored, and a messenger was sent forward to negotiate under a flag of truce. The delay irritated Nelson sorely.
"I hate your pen-and-ink men," he said; "a fleet of British warships are the best negotiators in Europe. While negotiations are going on, the Dane should see our flag waving every time he lifts his head."
But the eighteen battleships, with their tall masts and huge wooden hulls, stood without the Sound, and the northern powers decided to fight. A rumour reached the admiral that the defences of the Danes were very strong, and that Copenhagen one of the finest capitals in Europe, was literally bristling with guns. His indecision was overruled by Nelson.
"They will grow stronger every day and ever hour," he cried. "On your decision depends whether our country shall be degraded in the eyes of Europe, or whether she shall rear her head higher than ever."
The die was cast, and the fleet sailed on between the coasts of Denmark and Sweden till the island of Zealand was reached. There were two ways round the island—one by the Sound and Copenhagen, the key to the Baltic, the other by the Belt. Another discussion arose.
"Let it be by the Sound, by the Belt, or any other way," cried Nelson impatiently; "but lose not an hour."
The batteries at Elsinore fired on the ships, but they swept proudly on through the Sound and anchored near Copenhagen. Even Nelson was astonished at the threatening appearance of the enemy's preparations. The Danish ships bristled with cannon, the entrance to the harbour was protected by a chain, and batteries commanded the entrance. It was suggested that the three northern fleets would surely defeat the English at last.
"So much the better," said Nelson excitedly, as he paced the deck of his ship; "I wish there were twice as many. The greater the number, the more glorious the victory."
It was April 1, the night before the battle. Nelson, who had been working hard all day, sat down to dinner with a large party of his officers. He was in the highest spirits.
"To-morrow," he had just written home, "will, I hope, be a proud day for England."
He slept little all night, receiving reports of the wind from hour to hour.
When morning dawned it was fair. Every plan was made for the attack.
It was just ten o'clock when the
"Sign of battle flew
O'er the lofty British line:
. . . . . .
There was silence deep as death;
And the boldest held his breath
For a time."
Slowly towards the Danish ships, drawn up in line of battle outside Copenhagen, came on the English, until the thunder of guns rolled from end to end of the battle-line. It was a narrow channel, and shallow, and the first English ships ran aground, throwing out all Nelson's plans.
For three hours the fighting continued: the admiral watched with anxiety the growing danger of Nelson's position. The Danes, old sea-rovers as they were, fought with a splendid courage, and fearing for his fleet, the admiral ran up a signal to "Cease action!"
Meanwhile Nelson was pacing his quarter-deck in great excitement.
"It is warm work," he said. "This day may be the last to any of us at any moment. But mark you," he added with feeling, "I would not, be elsewhere for thousands."
Then suddenly from the mast-head of the flag-ship flew the admiral's signal. Nelson did not see it. They told him of it.
"Cease action?" he cried, as if he could not understand. "Fly from the enemy? Never! Never!"
Then turning to one of his officers, he said bitterly, "You know I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes." With these words he put the telescope to his blind eye, exclaiming with some humour, "I really do not see the signal!"
"Keep my signal flying for closer battle. Nail it to the mast!" he said with emphasis. And the battle raged on fiercely. By two o'clock the Danish fire grew less, and as the smoke cleared away the Danish flagship was seen drifting in flames before the wind, with her miserable crew throwing themselves overboard from every port-hole. The battle was practically over, and again Nelson had won the victory. Under a flag of truce he sent a messenger ashore with terms addressed to "The brothers of Englishmen—the Danes."
"Out spoke the victor then,
As he hail'd them o'er the wave:
'Ye are brothers! we are men!
And we conquer but to save;—
So peace instead of death let us bring:
But yield, proud foe, thy fleet,
With the crews, at England's feet,
And make submission meet
To our king."
"I have been in one hundred and five engagements," said Nelson; "but this is the most terrible of all."
So the Danish fleet was destroyed, and Nelson returned to England the victor of Copenhagen.
In Unterwalden there lived a good old man, called Henri of Melchthal. He was known and loved by all around, and he lived happily with his son in their little farmhouse. Henri of Melchthal was rich. Flocks of sheep and goats fed upon the hillside above the farm; herds of cattle browsed upon the meadowland which sloped from the door of the house; in the farm-yard, among the stacks of corn, were cocks and hens and geese and ducks.
Henri was old and grave and his son Arnold was young and gay, but they loved each other dearly and were always together. All day long Arnold worked hard on the farm, feeding the cattle, ploughing and reaping. In the evening, when work was over, the two would sit together by the fire, while Henri told stories of bygone days, or Arnold played wild mountain tunes upon his bagpipes.
When Landenberg came to rule over Unterwalden, he noticed the neat farmhouse, and he envied the flocks and herds. He soon found out that Henri was a rich man, and he made up his mind to take his riches from him. But Henri was so quiet and orderly that even Landenberg found it difficult to find any cause for which he might be punished.
Arnold, however, was young and careless. He hated the Austrian ruler, and he took no pains to hide his hatred. At last one day Landenberg, hearing of some boyish nickname Arnold had used in speaking of him, resolved to punish him.
Landenberg knew that Henri of Melchthal possessed the best yoke of oxen in all the countryside. He had long envied them, and now he meant to have them. So, calling his servant Rudolph, he ordered him to go to Henri of Melchthal's house and bring away the oxen.
Rudolph, taking some soldiers with him, set out for the farm. When he arrived there he found Arnold in the field ploughing. In Switzerland, at this time, oxen were used to draw the ploughs instead of horses. Rudolph saw that Arnold was using the very oxen which he had been sent to take, so he and the soldiers rode across the field to where Arnold was.
Arnold checked his oxen and looked up in astonishment as they came. What could they want? he asked himself. It made him angry to see the fresh-turned furrows being trampled by horses' hoofs. "The Austrian peacocks," he growled to himself, "could they not keep to the road?"
"Men," said Rudolph, when he was quite near to Arnold, "unyoke these oxen."
Arnold sprang forward. "Do not dare," he said, "do not dare to lay a finger upon them. They are mine."
"Yours!" said Rudolph, "yours! Nay, they belong to my lord of Landenberg. You will perhaps think twice in the future ere you call my lord an "Austrian peacock."
"Master Rudolph," said Arnold, trying to keep down his anger and to speak calmly, "I may have been foolish, but I meant no ill, and surely a yoke of oxen is too great a fine to pay for a few idle words."
"Who made you a judge?" asked Rudolph. "How shall an ignorant peasant say what punishments are just?"
"Nay," said Arnold, "I do not make myself a judge. I do but ask justice. If I have done wrong let me be taken before the court, and I will cheerfully pay what fine is lawful—but to take my oxen—ah, good Master Rudolph, how can I plough if you take my oxen?"
"I care not how you plough," said Rudolph. "I have been sent to take your oxen and take them I shall. If peasants will plough, let them yoke themselves to the shafts. It is all they are fit for. Come, men," he added, laying his hand upon the wooden collar to which the oxen were yoked, "unbind the beasts."
Then Arnold's rage burst out. "Hands off!" he cried, and with the stick which he carried he aimed a blow at Rudolph's hand, as it lay upon the wooden collar.
Rudolph uttered a howl of pain and anger. Two of his fingers were broken. "At him, men, and seize him," he cried. "He shall smart for this."
The men sprang forward, but Arnold was too quick for them. He turned and fled away over the field, for he had no weapon except his stick.
Arnold was one of the fastest runners in the country, and the soldiers were weighted with their heavy armour. They could not run fast, and they stumbled and fell in the newly-ploughed field. So Arnold got safely away to the shelter of the pine forest on the mountain beyond.
"Fools and idiots," yelled Rudolph, as the soldiers returned. "Why could you not catch him? Fools, unyoke the oxen and let us be going."
The men did as they were told, and the gentle, patient beasts, which had stood quietly all the time, now lowed piteously, as if they knew that they were leaving their kind master for ever.
That night it was known far and wide that Arnold of Melchthal had struck the Governor's servant and that he had fled away. And Henri sat alone by his fireside, sadly wondering what would happen, and if he would ever again see his dear son.
Rudolph went straight to the Governor and told him all that had happened. Landenberg was furiously angry, and he sent soldiers through all the country to search for Arnold. But no trace of him could be found, for Arnold was already far away, and was safely hidden by his friends.
"Bring the father here to me," said Landenberg at last. "He must know where his son is hiding."
So the soldiers went to the pretty farmhouse, where Henri now lived all by himself, and, seizing him, brought him before the Governor.
"What is your name?" asked Landenberg.
"I am called Henri of Melchthal."
"Ah! then tell me, where is your rebellious son?"
"I know not, my lord."
"Do not tell me that," said Landenberg fiercely. "I do not believe you. You must know. You are in league together. Tell me at once."
"I know not, my lord," said Henri again. "My son has not come near the house since the day on which he fled."
"Ah," said Landenberg again, "I do not believe you. But I will soon make you tell. Ho! headsman, without there."
The headsman entered.
"Take him away," said Landenberg, pointing at Henri, "and if he will not speak, put out his eyes."
"My lord, my lord, I know not, I know not!" cried Henri in agony. But the headsman led him away and put out his eyes.
"Now," said Landenberg to Rudolph, with a cruel laugh," he has paid with his two eyes for your two fingers."
"That makes me no richer," grumbled Rudolph.
"True," said Landenberg, "but there is much money in his house, and he has herds and flocks enough. You shall have a share of them, for you serve me well."
So Landenberg took Henri of Melchthal's house and lands and cattle, and all that he had. And the old man, who only a few days before had been rich and happy, was left to wander away alone, a poor, blind beggar.
But kind people had pity on Henri of Melchthal. They remembered how good and generous he had been when he was rich and happy, so, now that he was poor and in trouble, they took him to their homes and tried to comfort him and make him forget all that he had lost.
The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when the Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
WEEK 37 |
O NCE upon a time the cuckoo gave a big tea-party. It was a grand affair, I can tell you. Every bird of note was present, from the eagle down to the sparrow. All the finches were there, the larks, crows, and swallows; so how they managed to seat them all is more than I can tell.
Now, the cuckoo was a wise old bird, and she never took a step of this sort without a reason. You sometimes hear people say, "As silly as a cuckoo," but you may take my word for it, it is only because they know nothing at all about her.
Well, a bright idea had occurred to the cuckoo, and it was just this: She thought it was high time the birds chose a king of their own. If they had a king, you see, they might in time be able to have a "Court Circular," which would sound very grand. Besides, who knew but that in the future some of her own family might even marry royalty? Yes, it was a good idea, she thought, but the other birds would have to be consulted first.
So she gave a big tea-party, and fed them all up with the finest worms and dainties to be had, just to put them into a good temper.
Even the hungry sparrow finished eating at last—and you have no idea what his appetite was like!—and then the cuckoo broke the news gently that she thought they ought to have a king to manage their affairs for them.
Now this caused no end of commotion. And there they sat—fathers, mothers, uncles, and cousins, all talking away at the same time.
Just then the cock and hen passed by, taking a little airing.
You must know that they had heard nothing about the tea-party. They were just the cock and hen, and it did not matter much what they thought; so they did not get an invitation.
"Wat! wat!" cried the hen, when she heard the dreadful din. Of course the cock understood her language, and knew that she was asking what was going on.
"I'll find out, my dear," he answered, and he inquired from a fat, green frog.
"They want to choose a king over the birds," he told the hen, a minute after.
"Stuff and nonsense!" clucked the hen; only it did not sound quite like that, because she spoke in her own language, you see.
Well, the end of it all was that everybody was in favor of a king, save the plover, and he cried: "I have been free all my life, and I'll die free!" Then away he flew to a dismal swamp, and was seen no more.
So they agreed to meet again next morning, if it was fine. Their king was to be the bird who could fly higher than all the rest, and they wanted a fine day so that nobody could say afterward, "I could have flown much higher, only it was so windy," or something of the sort.
The next day was perfect, so they all gathered together in a big meadow. When the cuckoo had counted "Three," they all rose up with one accord into the air, making such a cloud of dust that for a moment you could not see a thing.
Higher and higher they flew, but one by one the little birds had to give up, and in the end the eagle was the only bird left flying, and he looked as though he had reached the sun itself.
But a tiny little bird had joined them unasked, and he had not even a name.
Nobody noticed him hide himself among the feathers in the eagle's back; so when the cuckoo had counted three, up he went with the rest, although they did not know it.
Now, when the eagle saw that all the others had given up, he, too, began to descend. Then out flew the little bird without a name, and up he went, much higher still.
"I am king! I am king!" cried the eagle, when he reached the ground.
"Not at all," replied the little bird without a name, "for I have flown higher still," and then down he came.
"I am king! I am king!" he chirped, as soon as he got his breath again.
"You crafty little creature!" they shouted, with one voice. "We will have another test, and a fair one this time."
So the bird who could fall deepest into the earth was to be their king, they said.
Well, the cock set to work and began to grub a hole in the ground, while the duck jumped down into a grave; but unluckily she sprained her foot, and she waddled off, saying: "Bad work! Bad work!"
But the little bird without a name crept right into a mouse-hole, and cried shrilly:
"I am king! I am king!"
"Then we will show you how we treat our royalty!" cried the angry birds. "We will keep you in the mouse-hole and starve you."
So they set the owl to keep watch over the hole during the night, and if he let the bird go he was to be put to death on the spot. The others were all so tired and weary that they flew home and went to bed.
Now, when he had stared into the hole for two whole hours, the poor owl began to feel very sleepy. So he went to sleep with one eye and watched intently with the other, and all went well for a time. But as luck would have it, when he shut one eye, after a while, he forgot to open the other, and you may be sure the little bird without a name soon made his escape from his prison.
After that the poor owl never dared show his face again by day, for fear the birds should put him to death. He flies about all night long, and he is a great enemy of the little mice because they make such—to him—unfortunate holes.
As for that little bird without a name, he did not feel very safe either, so he always hid in the hedges, and when he felt pretty secure he would cry out: "I am king! I am king!"
In time the other birds grew to call him the "Hedge king," just for scorn, and that means "Wren." That is how he came by his name.
"N OW, good Uncle Will o' the Wasps, let us have that queer story about how the nest grows," begged Theodore the very first chance he got.
"Well," said Uncle Will, "as soon as the little
"Isn't she clever," exclaimed Theodore, "to do it that way! If she took the old tent off before making the new one, the little cradles might get wet."
"That is the point, I suppose, and she probably wants to keep her little ones warm."
"Does just one wasp have to build the whole nest?"
"Oh, no indeed! one begins it—the queen wasp."
"Oh, I see," said Theodore, "it is like the bees!"
"Not quite," said Uncle Will, "the wasp queen starts all alone, while the queen bee always has a swarm of workers to help her, you remember."
"But where does the queen wasp come from?"
"Well, it is this way. In the autumn she creeps away into some warm corner and lies dormant until spring. When spring comes, you will see the big queen wasps looking about for a good place to build."
"Like the bumble bees," said Theodore.
"Yes, very much like the bumble bees. The queen finds a
building site that suits her, and then begins. She makes the
cells and feeds and cares for the first
grubs. When they
have grown to their full
"She covers over their cells," finished Theodore, "just like the bees."
"Don't jump to a conclusion too quickly," said Uncle Will. "Wasps are not bees, you know, and the mother wasp does not seal up her cell—her infant saves her the trouble by doing it itself!"
"How can it?" exclaimed Theodore; "where does it get the wax or paper I suppose it would want?"
"It does not use either wax or paper. It uses silk."
"Oh my!" said Theodore, "I suppose it has silk in its mouth, then."
"Yes; it secretes a sticky liquid that pulls out into silk threads, and it is very little trouble for it to weave a nice silk curtain over the end of the cell when the time comes."
"When it has eaten all it can find and feels tired and lazy," added Theodore.
"That is probably the way it is," agreed Uncle Will.
"It must be a great help to the mother hornet not to have all that to do," said Theodore.
"Yes, indeed, it is no trouble at all for each to weave its own, but it would be hard work for the wasp mother to have to weave at all, particularly as she does not stop building cells and laying eggs and feeding the grubs as they hatch out. She is busy all the time with no workers to help her. That is, not at first, but in a few days the little pupae complete their transformation, and you know what next."
"If wasps were like bees," said Theodore slily, "I should guess they gnawed a hole in the cap and crept out full-grown wasps, with wings and all."
"Yes," said Uncle Will, laughing, "you guessed right this time. And they resemble the bees in yet other ways."
"Are the young wasps workers?" demanded Theodore.
"Yes," said Uncle Will heartily, "that they are, and as soon as they have dried their wings and looked about a little they take upon themselves the responsibility of feeding the grubs and of building new cells and new house walls."
"Are they smaller than the queen?"
"Yes; they, like the bumble bee workers, are much smaller than the queen. And now you know why, in the spring, we see a few big hornets flying about and later a great number of smaller ones."
"The big one is the queen, who later stays at home and lays the eggs, I suppose," said Theodore.
"Yes, that's it," said Uncle Will. "The queen now devotes all her time to indoors duties, while the industrious workers go abroad to collect wood-pulp and catch insects, and steal meat from the kitchen table."
"And do the workers know, right away without anyone telling them, how to make the paper houses?"
"Right away they go to work making a paper house, just as the young bees go to work in the hive," said Uncle Will; "but it happens that a great many nests are begun and never finished, like these little ones I have in my pocket. You often find them at the beginning of the season."
"I wonder why that is," said Theodore.
"Perhaps the birds are sometimes to blame," said Uncle Will. "Perhaps they catch the queen and eat her, perhaps she gets drowned or lost, strayed or stolen, or maybe she has decided she has made a mistake in taking her abode, and changes the site before it is too late."
WEEK 37 |
Matthew xxi: 1 to 11; xxvi: 6 to 16;
Mark ii: 1 to 11; xiv: 3 to 11;
Luke xix: 29 to 41; xxii: 3 to 6;
John xii: 1 to 19.
ROM Jericho, Jesus and his disciples went up from the mountains, and came to Bethany, where his friends Martha and Mary lived, and where he had raised Lazarus to life, as we read in Story 135. Many people in Jerusalem heard that Jesus was there; and they went out of the city to see him, for Bethany was only two miles from Jerusalem. Some came also to see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead; but the rulers of the Jews said to each other:
"We must not only kill Jesus, but Lazarus also, because on his account so many of the people are going after Jesus and are believing on him."
The friends of Jesus in Bethany made a supper for Jesus at the home of a man named Simon. He was called "Simon the Leper;" and perhaps he was one whom Jesus had cured of leprosy. Jesus and his disciples, with Lazarus, leaned upon the couches around the table, as the guests; and Martha was one of those who waited upon them. While they were at the supper, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, came into the room, carrying a sealed jar of very precious perfume. She opened the jar, and poured some of the perfume upon the head of Jesus, and some upon his feet, and she wiped his feet with her long hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of the disciples of Jesus, Judas Iscariot, was not pleased at this. He said, "Why was such a waste of the perfume made? This might have been sold for more than forty-five dollars, and the money given to the poor!"
This he said, but not because he cared for the poor. Judas was the one who kept the bag of money for Jesus and the twelve, and he was a thief, and took away for his own use all the money that he could steal.
But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you find fault with the woman? She has done a good work for me. You have the poor always with you, and whenever you wish you can give to them. But you will have me with you only a little while. She has done what she could; for she has come to perfume my body for its burial. And truly I say to you, that wherever the gospel shall be preached throughout the world, what this woman has done shall be told in memory of her." Perhaps Mary knew what others did not believe, that Jesus was soon to die; and she showed her love for him, and her sorrow for his coming death, by this rich gift.
But Judas, the disciple who carried the bag, was very angry at Jesus; and from that time he was looking for a chance to betray Jesus, or to give him up to his enemies. He went to the chief priests, and said, "What will you give me if I will put Jesus into your hands?"
They said, "We will give you thirty pieces of silver."
And for thirty pieces of silver Judas promised to help them take Jesus, and make him their prisoner.
On the morning after the supper at Bethany, Jesus called two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the next village, and at a place where two roads cross, and there you will find an ass tied, and a colt with it. Loose them, and bring them to me. And if anyone says to you, 'Why do you do this?' say 'The Lord has need of them,' and they will let them go."
They went to the place, and found the ass and the colt, and were loosing them, when the owner said, "What are you doing, untying the ass?"
And they said, as Jesus had told them to say, "The Lord has need of it!"
Then the owner gave them the ass and the colt for the use of Jesus. They brought them to Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, and they laid some of their own clothes on the colt for a cushion, and set Jesus upon it. Then all the disciples and a very great multitude threw their garments upon the ground for Jesus to ride upon. Others cut down branches from the trees and laid them on the ground.
And as Jesus rode over the mountain toward Jerusalem many walked before him waving branches of palm-trees. And they all cried together:
"Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"
These things they said because they believed Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed King, and they hoped that he would now set up his throne in Jerusalem. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd, who did not believe in Jesus, said to him, "Master, stop your disciples!"
But Jesus said, "I tell you, that if these should be still, the very stones would cry out!"
And when he came into Jerusalem with all this multitude, all the city was filled with wonder. They said, "Who is this?"
And the multitude answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee!"
Jesus rides into Jerusalem.
And Jesus went into the temple, and looked around it; but he did not stay, because the hour was late. He went again to Bethany, and there stayed at night with his friends.
These things took place on Sunday, the first day of the week; and that Sunday in the year is called Palm Sunday, because of the palm-branches which the people carried before Jesus.
I T happened that the undersigned spent the last Christmas season in a foreign city where there were many English children.
In that city, if you wanted to give a child's party, you could not even get a magic-lantern or buy Twelfth-Night characters—those funny painted pictures of the King, the Queen, the Lover, the Lady, the Dandy, the Captain, and so on—with which our young ones are wont to recreate themselves at this festive time.
My friend, Miss Bunch, who was governess of a large family, that lived in the Piano No-bile of the house inhabited by myself and my young charges (it was the Palazzo Poniatowski at Rome, and Messrs. Spillmann, two of the best pastry-cooks in Christendom, have their shop on the ground-floor); Miss Bunch, I say, begged me to draw a set of Twelfth Night characters for the amusement of our young people.
She is a lady of great fancy and droll imagination, and having looked at the characters, she and I composed a history about them, which was recited to the little folks at night, and served as our FIRE-SIDE PANTOMIME.
Our juvenile audience was amused by the adventures of Giglio and Bulbo, Rosalba and Angelica. I am bound to say the fate of the Hall Porter created a considerable sensation, and the wrath of Countess Gruffanuff was received with extreme pleasure.
If these children are pleased, thought I, why should not others be amused also? In a few days Dr. Birch's young friends will be expected to reassemble at Rodwell Riegs, where they will learn every thing that is useful, and under the eyes of careful ushers continue the business of their little lives.
But in the meanwhile, and for a brief holiday, let us laugh and be as pleasant as we can. And you elder folks—a little joking and dancing and fooling will do even you no harm. The author wishes you a merry Christmas, and welcomes you to the Fireside Pantomime.
|M. A. TITMARSH.|
T HIS is Valoroso XXIV., King of Paflagonia, seated with his Queen and only child at their royal breakfast-table, and receiving the letter which announces to his Majesty a proposed visit from Prince Bulbo, heir of Padella, reigning King of Crim Tartary. Remark the delight upon the monarch's royal features. He is so absorbed in the perusal of the King of Crim Tartary's letter, that he allows his eggs to get cold, and leaves his august muffins untasted.
"What! that wicked, brave, delightful Prince Bulbo!" cries Princess Angelica—"so handsome, so accomplished, so witty,—the conqueror of Rimbombamento, where he slew ten thousand giants!"
"Who told you of him, my dear?" asks his Majesty.
"A little bird," says Angelica.
"Poor Giglio!" says mamma, pouring out the tea.
"Bother Giglio!" cries Angelica, tossing up her head, which rustled with a thousand curl-papers.
"I wish," growls the King—"I wish Giglio
"Was better? Yes, dear, he is better," says the Queen. "Angelica's little maid, Betsinda, told me so when she came to my room this morning with my early tea."
"You are always drinking tea," said the monarch, with a scowl.
"It is better than drinking port or brandy-and-water," replies her Majesty.
"Well, well, my dear, I only said you were fond of drinking tea," said the King of Paflagonia, with an effort as if to command his temper. "Angelica! I hope you have plenty of new dresses; your milliners' bills are long enough. My dear Queen, you must see and have some parties. I prefer dinners, but of course you will be for balls. Your everlasting blue velvet quite tires me; and, my love, I should like you to have a new necklace. Order one. Not more than a hundred or a hundred and fifty thousand pounds."
"And Giglio, dear," says the Queen.
"GIGLIO MAY GO TO
"Oh, sir!" screams her Majesty. "Your own nephew! our late King's only son."
"Giglio may go to the tailor's, and order the bills to be sent in to Glumboso to pay. Confound him! I mean bless his dear heart. He need want for nothing; give him a couple of guineas for pocket-money, my dear, and you may as well order yourself bracelets, while you are about the necklace, Mrs. V."
Her Majesty, or Mrs. V., as the monarch facetiously called her (for even royalty will have its sport, and this august family was very much attached), embraced her husband, and, twining her arm around her daughter's waist, they quitted the breakfast-room in order to make all things ready for the princely stranger.
When they were gone, the smile that had lighted up the
eyes of the husband and father
fled—the pride of the
MAN was alone.
Had I the pen of a
He rushed to the cupboard, seizing from the table one of the many egg-cups with which his princely board was served for the matin meal, drew out a bottle of right Nautz or Cognac, filled and emptied the cup several times, and laid it down with a hoarse "Ha, ha, ha! now Valoroso is a man again!"
"But oh!" he went on (still sipping, I am sorry to say), "ere I was a king, I needed not this intoxicating draught; once I detested the hot brandy wine, and quaffed no other fount but nature's rill. It dashes not more quickly o'er the rocks than I did, as, with blunderbuss in hand, I brushed away the early morning dew, and shot the partridge, snipe, or antlered deer! Ah! well may England's dramatist remark, 'Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown!' Why did I steal my nephew's, my young Giglio's—? Steal! said I; no, no, no, not steal, not steal. Let me withdraw that odious expression. I took, and on my manly head I set, the royal crown of Paflagonia; I took, and with my royal arm I wield, the sceptral rod of Paflagonia; I took, and in my outstretched hand I hold, the royal orb of Paflagonia! Could a poor boy, a snivelling, drivelling boy—was in his nurse's arms but yesterday, and cried for sugar plums and puled for pap—bear up the awful weight of crown, orb, sceptre? gird on the sword my royal fathers wore, and meet in fight the tough Crimean foe?"
And then the monarch went on to argue in his own mind (though we need not say that blank verse is not argument) that what he had got it was his duty to keep, and that, if at one time he had entertained ideas of a certain restitution, which shall be nameless, the prospect by a certain marriage of uniting two crowns and two nations which had been engaged in bloody and expensive wars, as the Paflagonians and the Crimeans had been, put the idea of Giglio's restoration to the throne out of the question: nay, were his own brother, King Savio, alive, he would certainly will away the crown from his own son in order to bring about such a desirable union.
Thus easily do we deceive ourselves! Thus do we fancy what we wish is right! The King took courage, read the papers, finished his muffins and eggs, and rang the bell for his Prime Minister. The Queen, after thinking whether she should go up and see Giglio, who had been sick, thought, "Not now. Business first; pleasure afterwards. I will go and see dear Giglio this afternoon; and now I will drive to the jeweller's, to look for the necklace and bracelets." The Princess went up into her own room, and made Betsinda, her maid, bring out all her dresses; and as for Giglio, they forgot him as much as I forget what I had for dinner last Tuesday twelvemonth.
Auld Daddy Darkness creeps frae his hole,
Black as a blackamoor, blin' as a mole:
Stir the fire till it lowes, let the bairnie sit,
Auld Daddy Darkness is no wantit yit.
See him in the corners hidin' frae the licht,
See him at the window gloomin' at the nicht;
Turn up the gas licht, close the shutters a',
An' Auld Daddy Darkness will flee far awa'.
Awa' to hide the birdie within its cosy nest,
Awa' to lap the wee flooers on their mither's breast,
Awa' to loosen Gaffer Toil frae his daily ca',
For Auld Daddy Darkness is kindly to a'.
He comes when we're weary to wean's frae oor waes,
He comes when the bairnies are gettin' aff their claes;
To cover them sae cosy, an' bring bonnie dreams,
So Auld Daddy Darkness is better than he seems.
Steek yer een, my wee tot, ye'll see Daddy then;
He's in below the bed claes, to cuddle ye he's fain;
Noo nestle in his bosie, sleep and dream yer fill,
Till Wee Davie Daylicht comes keekin' owre the hill.