WEEK 44 |
A S the earliest suspicion of dawn appeared on Sunday morning, Huck came groping up the hill and rapped gently at the old Welshman's door. The inmates were asleep, but it was a sleep that was set on a hair-trigger, on account of the exciting episode of the night. A call came from a window:
Huck's scared voice answered in a low tone:
"Please let me in! It's only Huck Finn!"
"It's a name that can open this door night or day, lad!—and welcome!"
These were strange words to the vagabond boy's ears, and the pleasantest he had ever heard. He could not recollect that the closing word had ever been applied in his case before. The door was quickly unlocked, and he entered. Huck was given a seat and the old man and his brace of tall sons speedily dressed themselves.
"Now, my boy, I hope you're good and hungry, because breakfast will be ready as soon as the sun's up, and we'll have a piping hot one, too—make yourself easy about that! I and the boys hoped you'd turn up and stop here last night."
"I was awful scared," said Huck, "and I run. I took out when the pistols went off, and I didn't stop for three mile. I've come now becuz I wanted to know about it, you know; and I come before daylight becuz I didn't want to run acrost them devils, even if they was dead."
"Well, poor chap, you do look as if you'd had a hard night of it—but there's a bed here for you when you've had your breakfast. No, they ain't dead, lad—we are sorry enough for that. You see we knew right where to put our hands on them, by your description; so we crept along on tiptoe till we got within fifteen feet of them—dark as a cellar that sumach path was—and just then I found I was going to sneeze. It was the meanest kind of luck! I tried to keep it back, but no use—'twas bound to come, and it did come! I was in the lead with my pistol raised, and when the sneeze started those scoundrels a-rustling to get out of the path, I sung out, 'Fire boys!' and blazed away at the place where the rustling was. So did the boys. But they were off in a jiffy, those villains, and we after them, down through the woods. I judge we never touched them. They fired a shot apiece as they started, but their bullets whizzed by and didn't do us any harm. As soon as we lost the sound of their feet we quit chasing, and went down and stirred up the constables. They got a posse together, and went off to guard the river-bank, and as soon as it is light the sheriff and a gang are going to beat up the woods. My boys will be with them presently. I wish we had some sort of description of those rascals—'twould help a good deal. But you couldn't see what they were like, in the dark, lad, I suppose?"
"Oh, yes, I saw them down-town and follered them."
"Splendid! Describe them—describe them, my boy!"
"One's the old deaf and dumb Spaniard that's ben around here once or
twice, and t'other's a mean-looking,
"That's enough, lad, we know the men! Happened on them in the woods back of the widow's one day, and they slunk away. Off with you, boys, and tell the sheriff—get your breakfast to-morrow morning!"
The Welshman's sons departed at once. As they were leaving the room Huck sprang up and exclaimed:
"Oh, please don't tell
"All right if you say it, Huck, but you ought to have the credit of what you did."
"Oh, no, no! Please don't tell!"
When the young men were gone, the old Welshman said:
"They won't tell—and I won't. But why don't you want it known?"
Huck would not explain, further than to say that he already knew too much about one of those men and would not have the man know that he knew anything against him for the whole world—he would be killed for knowing it, sure.
The old man promised secrecy once more, and said:
"How did you come to follow these fellows, lad? Were they looking suspicious?"
Huck was silent while he framed a duly cautious reply. Then he said:
"Well, you see, I'm a kind of a hard lot,—least everybody says so, and I don't see nothing agin it—and sometimes I can't sleep much on account of thinking about it and sort of trying to strike out a new way of doing. That was the way of it last night. I couldn't sleep, and so I come along up street 'bout midnight, a-turning it all over, and when I got to that old shackly brick store by the Temperance Tavern, I backed up agin the wall to have another think. Well, just then along comes these two chaps slipping along close by me, with something under their arm, and I reckoned they'd stole it. One was a-smoking, and t'other one wanted a light; so they stopped right before me and the cigars lit up their faces and I see that the big one was the deaf and dumb Spaniard, by his white whiskers and the patch on his eye, and t'other one was a rusty, ragged-looking devil."
"Could you see the rags by the light of the cigars?"
This staggered Huck for a moment. Then he said:
"Well, I don't know—but somehow it seems as if I did."
"Then they went on, and
"Follered 'em—yes. That was it. I wanted to see what was up—they
sneaked along so. I dogged 'em to the widder's stile, and stood in the
dark and heard the ragged one beg for the widder, and the Spaniard
swear he'd spile her looks just as I told you and your
"What! The deaf and dumb man said all that!"
Huck had made another terrible mistake! He was trying his best to keep the old man from getting the faintest hint of who the Spaniard might be, and yet his tongue seemed determined to get him into trouble in spite of all he could do. He made several efforts to creep out of his scrape, but the old man's eye was upon him and he made blunder after blunder. Presently the Welshman said:
"My boy, don't be afraid of me. I wouldn't hurt a hair of your head for all the world. No—I'd protect you—I'd protect you. This Spaniard is not deaf and dumb; you've let that slip without intending it; you can't cover that up now. You know something about that Spaniard that you want to keep dark. Now trust me—tell me what it is, and trust me—I won't betray you."
Huck looked into the old man's honest eyes a moment, then bent over and whispered in his ear:
The Welshman almost jumped out of his chair. In a moment he said:
"It's all plain enough, now. When you talked about notching ears and slitting noses I judged that that was your own embellishment, because white men don't take that sort of revenge. But an Injun! That's a different matter altogether."
During breakfast the talk went on, and in the course of it the old man
said that the last thing which he and his sons had done, before going
to bed, was to get a lantern and examine the stile and
its vicinity for
marks of blood. They found none, but captured a
If the words had been lightning they could not have leaped with a more stunning suddenness from Huck's blanched lips. His eyes were staring wide, now, and his breath suspended—waiting for the answer. The Welshman started—stared in return—three seconds—five seconds—ten—then replied:
"Of burglar's tools. Why, what's the matter with you?"
Huck sank back, panting gently, but deeply, unutterably grateful. The Welshman eyed him gravely, curiously—and presently said:
"Yes, burglar's tools. That appears to relieve you a good deal. But what did give you that turn? What were you expecting we'd found?"
Huck was in a close place—the inquiring eye was upon him—he would have given anything for material for a plausible answer—nothing suggested itself—the inquiring eye was boring deeper and deeper—a senseless reply offered—there was no time to weigh it, so at a venture he uttered it—feebly:
"Sunday-school books, maybe."
Poor Huck was too distressed to smile, but the old man laughed loud and joyously, shook up the details of his anatomy from head to foot, and ended by saying that such a laugh was money in a man's pocket, because it cut down the doctor's bill like everything. Then he added:
"Poor old chap, you're white and jaded—you ain't well a bit—no wonder you're a little flighty and off your balance. But you'll come out of it. Rest and sleep will fetch you out all right, I hope."
Huck was irritated to think he had been such a goose and betrayed such a suspicious excitement, for he had dropped the idea that the parcel brought from the tavern was the treasure, as soon as he had heard the talk at the widow's stile. He had only thought it was not the treasure, however—he had not known that it wasn't—and so the suggestion of a captured bundle was too much for his self-possession. But on the whole he felt glad the little episode had happened, for now he knew beyond all question that that bundle was not the bundle, and so his mind was at rest and exceedingly comfortable. In fact, everything seemed to be drifting just in the right direction, now; the treasure must be still in No. 2, the men would be captured and jailed that day, and he and Tom could seize the gold that night without any trouble or any fear of interruption.
Just as breakfast was completed there was a knock at the door. Huck jumped for a hiding-place, for he had no mind to be connected even remotely with the late event. The Welshman admitted several ladies and gentlemen, among them the Widow Douglas, and noticed that groups of citizens were climbing up the hill—to stare at the stile. So the news had spread.
The Welshman had to tell the story of the night to the visitors. The widow's gratitude for her preservation was outspoken.
"Don't say a word about it, madam. There's another that you're more beholden to than you are to me and my boys, maybe, but he don't allow me to tell his name. We wouldn't have been there but for him."
Of course this excited a curiosity so vast that it almost belittled the main matter—but the Welshman allowed it to eat into the vitals of his visitors, and through them be transmitted to the whole town, for he refused to part with his secret. When all else had been learned, the widow said:
"I went to sleep reading in bed and slept straight through all that noise. Why didn't you come and wake me?"
"We judged it warn't worth while. Those fellows warn't likely to come again—they hadn't any tools left to work with, and what was the use of waking you up and scaring you to death? My three negro men stood guard at your house all the rest of the night. They've just come back."
More visitors came, and the story had to be told and retold for a couple of hours more.
There was no Sabbath-school during day-school vacation, but everybody was early at church. The stirring event was well canvassed. News came that not a sign of the two villains had been yet discovered. When the sermon was finished, Judge Thatcher's wife dropped alongside of Mrs. Harper as she moved down the aisle with the crowd and said:
"Is my Becky going to sleep all day? I just expected she would be tired to death."
"Yes," with a startled look—"didn't she stay with you last night?"
Mrs. Thatcher turned pale, and sank into a pew, just as Aunt Polly, talking briskly with a friend, passed by. Aunt Polly said:
"Good morning, Mrs. Thatcher. Good morning, Mrs. Harper. I've got a boy that's turned up missing. I reckon my Tom stayed at your house last night—one of you. And now he's afraid to come to church. I've got to settle with him."
Mrs. Thatcher shook her head feebly and turned paler than ever.
"He didn't stay with us," said Mrs. Harper, beginning to look uneasy. A marked anxiety came into Aunt Polly's face.
"Joe Harper, have you seen my Tom this morning?"
"When did you see him last?"
Joe tried to remember, but was not sure he could say. The people had stopped moving out of church. Whispers passed along, and a boding uneasiness took possession of every countenance. Children were anxiously questioned, and young teachers. They all said they had not noticed whether Tom and Becky were on board the ferryboat on the homeward trip; it was dark; no one thought of inquiring if any one was missing. One young man finally blurted out his fear that they were still in the cave! Mrs. Thatcher swooned away. Aunt Polly fell to crying and wringing her hands.
The alarm swept from lip to lip, from group to group, from street to street, and within five minutes the bells were wildly clanging and the whole town was up! The Cardiff Hill episode sank into instant insignificance, the burglars were forgotten, horses were saddled, skiffs were manned, the ferryboat ordered out, and before the horror was half an hour old, two hundred men were pouring down highroad and river toward the cave.
All the long afternoon the village seemed empty and dead. Many women visited Aunt Polly and Mrs. Thatcher and tried to comfort them. They cried with them, too, and that was still better than words. All the tedious night the town waited for news; but when the morning dawned at last, all the word that came was, "Send more candles—and send food." Mrs. Thatcher was almost crazed; and Aunt Polly, also. Judge Thatcher sent messages of hope and encouragement from the cave, but they conveyed no real cheer.
The old Welshman came home toward daylight, spattered with candle-grease, smeared with clay, and almost worn out. He found Huck still in the bed that had been provided for him, and delirious with fever. The physicians were all at the cave, so the Widow Douglas came and took charge of the patient. She said she would do her best by him, because, whether he was good, bad, or indifferent, he was the Lord's, and nothing that was the Lord's was a thing to be neglected. The Welshman said Huck had good spots in him, and the widow said:
"You can depend on it. That's the Lord's mark. He don't leave it off. He never does. Puts it somewhere on every creature that comes from His hands."
Early in the forenoon parties of jaded men began to straggle into the
village, but the strongest of the citizens continued searching. All the
news that could be gained was that remotenesses of the cavern were
being ransacked that had never been visited before; that every corner
and crevice was going to be thoroughly searched; that wherever one
wandered through the maze of passages, lights were to be seen flitting
hither and thither in the distance, and shoutings and pistol-shots sent
their hollow reverberations to the ear down the somber aisles. In one
place, far from the section usually traversed by tourists, the names
Three dreadful days and nights dragged their tedious hours along, and the village sank into a hopeless stupor. No one had heart for anything. The accidental discovery, just made, that the proprietor of the Temperance Tavern kept liquor on his premises, scarcely fluttered the public pulse, tremendous as the fact was. In a lucid interval, Huck feebly led up to the subject of taverns, and finally asked—dimly dreading the worst—if anything had been discovered at the Temperance Tavern since he had been ill.
"Yes," said the widow.
Huck started up in bed, wild-eyed:
"What! What was it?"
"Liquor!—and the place has been shut up. Lie down, child—what a turn you did give me!"
"Only tell me just one thing—only just one—please! Was it Tom Sawyer that found it?"
The widow burst into tears. "Hush, hush, child, hush! I've told you before, you must not talk. You are very, very sick!"
Then nothing but liquor had been found; there would have been a great powwow if it had been the gold. So the treasure was gone forever—gone forever! But what could she be crying about? Curious that she should cry.
These thoughts worked their dim way through Huck's mind, and under the weariness they gave him he fell asleep. The widow said to herself:
"There—he's asleep, poor wreck. Tom Sawyer find it! Pity but somebody could find Tom Sawyer! Ah, there ain't many left, now, that's got hope enough, or strength enough, either, to go on searching."
"O world as God has made it! all is beauty,
And knowing this is love, and love is duty,
What further may be asked for or declared?"
To Francis, the world seemed full of new and beautiful things to do. When he saw a poor little chapel by the roadside, he wanted to bring stones and build it up with his own hands. When he saw an old woman bending under a heavy load of faggots, or grass from the mountain, he wanted to take the burden upon his own shoulders. When he saw a hungry child, he wanted to give it his own dinner. Above all, it seemed to him that he must go everywhere and tell people to love and help each other, instead of fighting with swords and lances.
Piero Bernardone had been willing to give his son money and clothes and horses, that the boy might be as gay as any of his young friends; but Piero did not like to have his money thrown away on all the poor folk of Assisi. Before many days, Francis found that he had not much of his own to give. He did have some beautiful pieces of silk and velvet and embroidery that his father had brought him from one of his long journeys. One day Francis took these out from the carved oak chest in which he kept his treasures. He spread them upon the floor and looked at them with the trained eye of a merchant's clerk. He knew exactly how much money they ought to bring. The next morning he rolled his merchandise into a parcel, bound it to his saddle, and rode away to Foligno, to the market-place, for it was the day of the fair. The square was thronged with people. Under gay booths in the centre, all along the streets, against the palace walls, even on the steps of the cathedral, buyers and sellers were bargaining. Many were there who had seen Francis ride gallantly by, a few months before, on his way to the war. Now, they were astonished to see him, with simple clothes and gentle manner, offering his goods for sale. When all the gay stuffs were gone, Francis sold his horse also, and started back toward Assisi on foot, with a full purse at his side. Perhaps the horse he had just sold was the very one on which he had ridden so merrily over the same road with his soldier friends. However that may be, as Francis neared home and turned off from the high-road, to climb the stony foot-path that shortens the way, his heart was far happier than it had ever been before. He smiled to himself as he remembered how he had loved war; how his heart had delighted in banners and bright armour and martial music. Now, he had no sword nor shield, not even a horse, and he was a most unsoldierly figure with his dusty feet and his plain clothes. On the hillside, he turned and looked down the road once more, wondering what had become of the knightly company who had gone to do battle in the far-off south. As he went on his way again he thought gladly, "My Captain is greater and braver than Walter of Brienne, though He was only the Carpenter of Nazareth. I can be a soldier still!"
The time came quickly when Francis needed more than a soldier's courage. His father and his brother were terribly angry with him, because, they said, he was making himself and the family ridiculous. Piero Bernardone had always been a hard man, and now, in his wrath and disappointment, he was cruel. The poor mother tried to make peace, but Piero only became as angry with her as with his son.
At one time Francis hid himself for days in the little chapel of San Damiano, outside the city, where he had found a friend in the poor priest. Piero sought for him in fury, but did not find him. Francis could not long endure to be in hiding, like a coward, and he determined to go home to his father, and to explain that he must live the life that he knew to be right. By this time all Assisi had heard of the trouble between father and son, and there were many people who thought Francis a madman. Before he reached his father's door the idlers and children were shouting about him, making so much noise that Piero burst into the street, to know what was happening. When he saw Francis he was wild with anger. He would not listen to a word, but fell upon the youth like a savage. The crowd stood back in horror, and the father with cruel blows and crueller curses dragged his son away and, thrusting him, half strangled, into a dark room, locked the door.
How long Francis was kept a prisoner we do not know. At last his father was obliged to go away on a journey, and Lady Pica, who saw that all her efforts to soften her husband's heart were fruitless, unlocked the door and set her son at liberty.
All Piero's fatherly love had turned to bitter hatred. When he came home, he went to the rulers of the city and demanded that Francis should be banished from Assisi. Then Francis appealed for protection to the bishop, to whom he told the whole sad story. He told him of his past life and of the life he now wished to lead; he told him of his father's anger and of his mother's grief.
One day, in the little square in front of the bishop's palace, there was a strange scene. Before a crowd of men and women and children, who wondered at the change in the boy they had always known, and who wondered still more at the fierce anger of the father, Francis stripped off the clothes he wore and laid them, with the little money that he had left, at the bishop's feet. Then he spoke, and his voice rang clear and sweet, with no touch of fear nor of anger: "Listen, all of you, and understand. Until this time I have called Piero Bernardone my father, but now I must serve God. Therefore I give back to my earthly father all my money and my clothing, everything that I have had from him, and from this time forth I shall say only: 'Our Father who art in Heaven.' " The crowd of neighbours and friends stood silent and astonished to see the merchant greedily seize the money and the garments and go away without one look of pity for his son. Then Bishop Guido, with his own cloak, covered the lad, who stood trembling, partly with cold and partly with grief. We must remember that Francis had a loving, gentle spirit and longed to be at peace with his father; but, as he had said himself, he was Christ's soldier, and a soldier has no choice but to obey. In his heart he seemed to hear quite plainly his Captain's order: "My soldier, Francis, you must be poor, not rich; you must not wear soft clothing nor feast at princes' tables; but you must go through city streets and country lanes, and take care of my sick folk and my poor."
"The olives they were not blind to him,
The little grey leaves were kind to him
When into the woods he came."
"Take henceforth Francis and Poverty for lovers. Their concord and glad semblances made love, and wonder and sweet regard to be the cause of holy thoughts."—Dante.
After these things, Francis found himself without home, or clothing, or money. Scantily clad in an old cloak, lent to him by the bishop's gardener, he wandered outside the city gate on the mountain side. It was early spring, and the snow lay white in the ravines above him, and on all the far-off peaks across the valley. But the sky was blue and, on the stony slopes, the yellow broom was in full flower. Francis threw himself down on the sunny side of a great olive tree. He leaned against the warm grey trunk, and looked and listened. A tiny lizard darted across the ground close to his hand, and shot up the tree like a green flame. The wind in the dry, silvery olive leaves whispered like a kindly voice, and in every thicket the birds were singing. It seemed to Francis that the wind spoke to him, and that the birds sang to him. He forgot his sorrows and sang also the gay old Troubadour songs, which were the only ones he knew. He did not sing battle songs, but those that told of April, of nightingales, of roses and of fair ladies. Like a courtly minstrel he sang:
" 'O nightingale, go where my lady dwells,
And bear her news of me;
Then listen while she truly tells
Her tales to thee;
And she, if she doth not forget
My love and pain,
Will bid thee swiftly turn again
Where I wait yet
To know how pass my lady's days,
To learn of all her words and ways.' "
The nightingales were not yet come from the South, but the sparrows made merrier than ever in the bright broom, and a wood-dove, hidden in an oak tree, was calling to his mate; and Francis sang again, the song that he had loved best in the days when he dreamed of fighting splendid battles for the sake of a golden-haired princess:
" 'Great lady, who art fairest
Men say, of all things fair,
The noble name thou bearest
None may so fitly bear;
Clear fountain of all beauty
That gladdens the green earth,
Thy deeds of love and duty
Are more than blood and birth.' "
Even as he sang, he thought: "The Lady whom I shall serve has no other suitor, no poet has ever sung her praises, and no knight has ever fought her battles; for I will be the faithful lover of the Lady Poverty, whom all men else despise."
Little by little, the good people of Assisi became accustomed to seeing Francis Bernardone dressed in a dust-coloured robe, with a cord about his waist. He went barefooted and bareheaded. Many still thought him mad, and the street children shouted at him and threw mud and stones. The young men with whom he had eaten so many suppers and sung so many songs, now jeered at him, and even his brother joined in the cruel sport. Francis was too tender-hearted not to be hurt by all this, but he never answered angrily. He thought: "It is because they do not understand." But, if his rich friends were unkind, the poor folk who had loved him for his gentle words and for his gifts, when he was the proud young merchant, loved him the better now that he had given them all his money, and was ready to share his crust of bread with any hungry man. At the little hospital where Francis had gone first in splendid clothes, with a full purse at his side, the lepers wondered to see him come so poorly dressed, with no horse and no money. But, when they saw how gently he took care of those who were most sick and helpless, they called him "Brother Francis"; and they forgot their suffering while he talked and sang to them.
One by one new friends came to Francis asking that they might live as he lived, wear a coarse robe and go bare-footed, and work with him for the poor and the sick. The first of all was a former friend, a rich gentleman of Assisi, named Bernardo di Quintevalle. This man gave away his riches and came to live with Francis in the service of the Lady Poverty. He was called Brother Bernardo, and Francis loved him dearly and, because he was the first of the little company of Brothers, used to call him "my oldest son." The second of the new friends was named Piero, and the third Sylvester. Sylvester had been a selfish man, greedy of gold, but when he saw Francis and, after him, Bernardo give away their wealth so gladly, and live so happily without it, he wanted for himself that joy that his money could not buy, and he ended by coming to be one of the Brothers.
When there were several in the company of Brothers, Francis named them "The Little Poor Men of God." Three of them who were most with Francis, and who afterward wrote down the story of his life, were Brother Egidio, Brother Ruffino and Brother Leone. Brother Leone's name means Lion, but he was so gentle and so unlike his name that Francis used to call him "God's Little Lamb." Of Brother Egidio, who loved long, dangerous journeys, and who was always ready for any adventure, Francis would say: "He is one of the knights of my Round Table."
The new Brothers were without money, and without even a house in which to live. In the summer it seemed to them to matter little. They slept out under the wide sky, as the shepherds still sleep in Italy, and the moon, rising over Monte Subasio, flooded all the valley with white light; and the nightingales filled the forest with wonderful music. But when the autumn nights grew cold, when the moonlight fell upon a valley thick with mist, the Brothers looked about for shelter. Their refuge was a little building, scarcely more than a hovel, falling to ruin, and abandoned. It had once been a retreat for lepers, but the lepers had been moved to that hospital nearer the city which Francis had so many times visited. The older building had been called Rivo Torto, Crooked Brook, from the little stream beside which it stood. Here the Brothers lived all through the winter, and, when spring came, so many had joined the Brotherhood that they had not room to sleep. Miserable as it was, Francis and his first Brothers loved their little hovel, and were happy there, and from its scant shelter they went out to carry joy and healing to the sad and to the sick. The ruined hospital long ago disappeared and, to-day, it is not easy to find even the place where it stood. In among fields, where the corn grows so tall that one walks as if in a forest, there is a tiny chapel with an old well and a hut or two. Even the name has been changed, and if one asks a peasant the way to Rivo Torto, he will point out a great church far away; yet, in spite of years and changes, the memory of Francis and his little Brotherhood still shines over the spot, warm and bright, like the August sunshine on the corn.
Straight across the plain, not far from Rivo Torto, in the midst of tall forest trees, stood a little chapel where Francis and his few Brothers had often gone to rest and to pray. A rich abbot, seeing that the Little Poor Men had no place to sleep, made them a present of this chapel and the ground about it. Here they built rude huts and planted a hedge and made for themselves a home, which they called the Portiuncula, the little portion. A great church, called Santa Maria degli Angeli, has been built upon this spot and the little old chapel still stands under its dome.
The life of the Poor Brothers does not seem a gay one, as we read about it, yet they were most happy-hearted. There was no work too humble nor too hard for them to do. They helped at ploughing in the spring, at reaping and threshing in the summer. In autumn they gathered grapes or nuts, and in winter olives, for in Umbria the olive harvest is in the winter. When the Brothers were paid for their work, they gave away everything except what was needed for the day's food.
They often made long journeys, working their way from place to place. Thus it happened, one day, that Brother Egidio, the "Knight of the Round Table," was standing in a public square in Rome, when a countryman came by, asking for a laborer to go and gather nuts from a very tall tree. The men who stood about said: "No: we remember your tree. It is too high and we do not want to break our necks." "I will go, gladly," said Egidio, "if you will give me half the nuts I gather." The bargain was made, and Brother Egidio climbed to the highest branches and beat down all the nuts. His share he gathered up in his robe, and went merrily through the streets of Rome, throwing nuts to the poor folk whom he met, till all were gone.
Wherever the Little Poor Men came they brought help and comfort, and people came to love them and to welcome them, even those who, at first, had mocked at them and thrown stones. For love and joy and helpfulness and gentle words make most of the happiness of life, and all these gifts the Brothers had to give, even when they had not a penny, nor a loaf of bread.
WEEK 44 |
W HILE Britain was fighting and losing a great colony, another battle was being fought and won. This was a peaceful battle—the battle of industries and inventions. To invent really means to find out, and people were now finding out all kinds of things which made living much more easy and comfortable.
The two chief things which were found out about this time were, first, how to spin cotton, wool, and linen by machinery instead of by hand; second, how to use steam to make this machinery work, and how to make it draw trains along lines and carry ships over the sea.
Before spinning-frames were invented, women used to spin with wheels in their own homes. But that was such slow work that the weavers could not get enough yarn to keep their looms going, and because of that they could not make as much cloth as they might otherwise have done. They grumbled so much about this that clever people began to wonder if it would be possible to spin in some quicker way. Among these clever people was a man called Richard Arkwright.
Richard Arkwright's father and mother were very poor and they had a great many children—thirteen in all, and of those thirteen Richard was the youngest. As Richard's father and mother were so poor and had so many children they had no money to spend in sending them to school, and in those days there were no free schools. So Richard hardly knew how to read or write. What he did know he taught himself with the help of an uncle who was very kind to him.
When Richard grew up he became a barber. He rented a little cellar and there he stuck up his red and white pole which is the sign of a barber's shop. Then he waited for people to come to have their hair cut and to be shaved.
But for some reason or other very few people came. Perhaps it was because Richard's shop was little and dark and down stairs. Perhaps it was because he was always thinking of other things and so did not make a very good barber. Whatever the reason was, few people came and Richard became poorer and poorer.
At last he had a great idea. If people would not come to be shaved for two pence, which was the usual price, why then he would shave them for one penny, and in this way cut out all the other barbers. So he wrote a big sign and pasted it over his doorway. "Come to the Subterraneous Barber. He shaves for a penny!!" Subterraneous means underground. It was not long before some people saw this sign. "Hullo!" they said, "what is this? Shave for a penny? Well, there is no harm in trying."
So they tried, and Richard's shop became the fashion. It was crowded, while those of other barbers were empty.
Richard's shop soon became the fashion.
The other barbers were very angry. But what was to be done? People were not likely to pay two pence, when they could be shaved for one penny.
But at last the barbers all agreed that they, too, should put up signs saying that they shaved for one penny. Richard, however, did not want to lose all the trade which he had gained. He wrote out a new sign, "Come to the Subterraneous Barber. He shaves for a halfpenny!!" So he was still the cheapest barber in the town. But shaving for a halfpenny did not pay very well.
At this time nearly every one wore wigs. Even people who had hair enough of their own cut it short and wore wigs of long hair, tied behind with ribbon, as you can see in the picture.
Arkwright found out how to dye hair different colours, so he left off shaving, and travelled about the country buying hair from people who were willing to sell it. Then he dyed it to the fashionable colour, and made it into wigs for fine gentlemen. This paid very much better than shaving people for a halfpenny, and soon Arkwright's hair was known to be the best in the country. He got on so well that he gave up his little shop in the cellar and took a better one.
But Richard was not really interested in making wigs. What he really liked was machinery, and he spent all his spare time making models of a spinning-frame. He got a man called Kay, who was a watchmaker, to help him, and Richard soon became so interested in his machinery that he neglected his business and became quite poor again.
Richard's wife, finding that they were growing poorer and poorer, thought that this was all the fault of the models, so one day she smashed them, hoping her husband would go back to his wig-making. Richard was very grieved when he found his beautiful models broken, but far from giving up, he became even more determined to go on making models. He was so poor by this time, and his clothes were in such rags that he could not go out in the streets.
Richard got leave to set up his machine in a school house. The house was in a quiet place surrounded by a garden, so that Arkwright and Kay could work in peace. This was very necessary, for Richard Arkwright's wife was not the only person who wished to smash models or even machinery itself. The work-people were very ignorant, and they hated these new inventions which they thought were going to take away their work. They hated them so much that, when the new inventions came into use, the work-people often broke into the factories and wrecked the machines.
But even in his quiet garden, Richard was not quite safe, for two old women who lived not far off could hear the whirring and humming of the machinery. They were very frightened at these new strange noises which they thought must be made by evil spirits. They told people that the sound was as if the wicked one was tuning his bagpipes while Arkwright and Kay danced a jig. The people would have broken into the house to see what really was there, but they were too much afraid of the evil spirits.
At last Arkwright conquered all his difficulties. His spinning-frame was a success and although his troubles did not end for a long time, he at length made a great fortune and died Sir Richard Arkwright. He not only made a great fortune for himself, but he helped to make Britain wealthy. After Arkwright's invention came into use, the looms could make so much cloth that the merchants had enough not only to supply Britain, but to sell to other countries. Britain began to be called the workshop of the world, and a few years later, a great Frenchman called us "a nation of shopkeepers," a name of which we have no reason to be ashamed.
Other men besides Arkwright invented spinning-frames, but I
have told you about Arkwright because
his was the first
really successful frame, and the machines which are used
Arkwright built mills and taught his work-people how to use the machines, and from his time the great factories began to grow up which now give work to so many people, and which have made so many towns rich and famous. Arkwright's frames were first worked by water, so that a factory could only be built near a stream. But later, when Watt and Stephenson discovered the power of steam, they were worked by steam.
When Watt and Stephenson made their engines and built railways, when British steamships carrying British goods sailed proudly over the seas, Britain was more than ever mistress of the waves, and she was also the workshop and the market of the world.
T HANKSGIVING at Grandfather's farm was more than a holiday. It was a great date on the calendar, for it divided the year in halves as no other single day of the three hundred and sixty-five did. It marked the end of the outdoors, and the beginning of the indoors—the day when everybody came home; when along with them into the house came all the outdoors, too, as if the whole farm were brought in to toast its toes before the great hearth fire!
For the hearth fire was big enough and cheery enough. And so was the farmhouse—that is, if you added the big barn and the crib-house and the wagon-house and the dog-house and the hen-house and the "spring-house!"
Oh, there was plenty of room inside for everybody and for everything! And there needed to be; for did not everybody come home to Grandfather's for Thanksgiving? And did not everything that anybody could need for the winter, grow on Grandfather's farm?
And it all had to be brought in by Thanksgiving Day—everything brought in, everything housed and stored and battened down tight. The preparations began along in late October, continuing with more speed as the days shortened and darkened and hurried us into November. And they continued with still more speed as the gray lowering clouds thickened in the sky, and the wind began to whistle through the oak grove. Then, with the first real cold snap, the first swift flurry of snow, how the husking and the stacking and the chopping went on!
Thanksgiving must find us ready for winter indoors and out.
The hay-mows were full to the beams where the swallows built; the north and west sides of the barnyard were flanked with a deep wind-break of corn-fodder that ran on down the old worm-fence each side of the lane in yellow zigzag walls; the big wooden pump under the turn-o'-lane tree by the barn was bundled up and buttoned to the tip of its dripping nose; the bees by the currant bushes were double-hived, the strawberries covered with hay, the wood all split and piled, the cellar windows packed, and the storm-doors put on.
The very cows had put on an extra coat, and turned their collars up about their ears; the turkeys had changed their roost from the ridge-pole of the corn-crib to the pearmain tree on the sunny side of the wagon-house; the squirrels had finished their bulky nests in the oaks; the muskrats of the lower pasture had completed their lodges; the whole farm—house, barn, fields, and wood-lot—had shuffled into its greatcoat and muffler and settled comfortably down for the winter.
The old farmhouse was an invitation to winter. It looked its joy at the prospect of the coming cold. Low, weather-worn, mossy-shingled, secluded in its wayward garden of box and bleeding-hearts, sheltered by its tall pines, grape-vined, hop-vined, clung to by creeper and honeysuckle, it stood where the roads divided, halfway between everywhere, unpainted, unpretentious, as much a part of the landscape as the muskrat-lodge, and, like the lodge, roomy, warm, and hospitable.
Round at the back, under the wide, open shed, a door led into the kitchen; another led into the living-room; another, into the store-room; and two big, slanting double-doors, scoured and slippery with four generations of sliders, covered the cavernous way into the cellar. But they let the smell of apples up, as the garret door let the smell of sage and thyme come down; while from the door of the store-room, mingling with the odor of apples and herbs, filling the whole house and all my early memories, came the smell of broom-corn, came the sound of Grandfather's loom.
For Grandfather in the winter made brooms—the best brooms, I think, that ever were made. The tall broom-corn was grown on the farm in the summer, ripened and cut and seeded, and then, as soon as winter set in, was loomed and wired and sewed into brooms.
But the cured and seeded broom-corn was not the main thing, after all, that was brought in for the winter. Behind the stove in the kitchen, stood the sweet-potato box (a sweet potato, you know, must be kept dry and warm). An ample, ten-barrel box it was, fresh-papered like the walls, full of Jersey sweets that were sweet—long, golden, syrupy potatoes, such as grow only in the warm sandy soil of southern New Jersey.
Against that big box in Grandmother's kitchen stood the sea-chest, fresh with the same kitchen paper and piled with wood. There was another such chest in the living-room near the old fireplace, and still another in Grandfather's work-room behind the "template" stove.
But wood and warmth and sweet smells were not all. There was music also, the music of life, of young life and of old life—grandparents, grandchildren (about twenty-eight of the latter). There were seven of us alone—a girl at each end of the seven and one in the middle. Thanksgiving always found us all at Grandfather's and brimming full of thanks.
That, of course, was long, long ago. Things are different nowadays. There are as many grandfathers, I suppose, as ever; but they don't make brooms in the winter and live on farms.
They live in flats. The old farm with its open acres has become a city street; the generous old farmhouse has become a speaking-tube, kitchenette, and bath—all the "modern conveniences"; the cows have evaporated into convenient cans of condensed "milk"; the ten-barrel box of potatoes has changed into a convenient ten-pound bag, the wood-pile into a convenient five-cent bundle of blocks tied up with a tarred string, the fireplace into a convenient gas log, the seven children into one or none, or into a little bull-terrier pup.
But is it so? No, it is not so—not so of a million homes. For there is many an old-fashioned farmhouse still in the country, and many a new-fashioned city house where there are more human children than little bull-terrier pups.
And it is not so in my home, which is neither a real farm nor yet a city home. For here are some small boys who live very much as I did when I was a boy. No, they are not farmer's boys; for I am not a farmer, but only a "commuter"—if you know what that is. I go into a great city for my work; and when the day's work is done, I turn homeward here to Mullein Hill—far out in the country. And when the dark November nights come, I hang the lantern high in the stable, as my father used to do, while four shining faces gather round, as four small boys seat themselves on upturned buckets behind the cow. The lantern flickers, the milk foams, the stories flow—"Bucksy" stories of the noble red-man; and stories of the heroes of old; and marvelous stories of that greatest hero of all—their father, far away yonder when he was a boy, when there were so many interesting things to do on Grandfather's farm just before Thanksgiving Day.
The lantern flickers, the milk foams, the stories flow.
The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter "Little prig!"
"You are doubtless very big,
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year,
And a sphere;
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry;
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track.
Talents differ, all is well and wisely put.
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."
WEEK 44 |
"T HE explanations of this morning account for the formation of clouds. A continual evaporation takes place on the surface of the damp earth as well as on the surface of the different sheets of water, lakes, ponds, marshes, streams, and above all the sea. The vapors formed rise into the air and remain invisible as long as the heat is sufficient. But since heat diminishes as the height increases, there comes a time when the vapors can no longer be kept in complete solution, and they condense into a mass of visible vapor, into a fog or cloud.
"When, after a chill encountered in the upper strata of the
"What do you say, Uncle?" interrupted Emile; "rains blood or sulphur? For my part, I should be dreadfully afraid."
"I too," said Claire.
"Is that true?" Jules asked, in his turn.
"True. You know well I only tell you true stories. There are
rains of blood and sulphur, at least in appearance. It is
proved that showers have been seen of which the drops left
on the walls, roads, leaves of the trees, and clothes of
"It is that dust that daubs your nose yellow when you smell a lily too close," declared Jules.
"Exactly. It is called pollen. Well, in falling at a
distance, sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by rain,
the pollen gathered up from the forests by a breath of wind
"Your rain of blood or sulphur isn't at all terrifying," Claire remarked.
"Of course not; and yet whole populations have their hearts frozen with fear at the inoffensive fall of a whirlwind of pollen or red dust. They believe themselves visited with plagues, precursors of the end of the world. Ignorance is a pitiful thing, my dear children, and knowledge is a fine thing, even if it only served to deliver us from stupid terrors."
"In future," said Jules, stoutly, "it can rain sulphur or blood; if any one is afraid, it will not be I."
"There can also fall from the sky, with or without rain, various mineral substances, such as sand, for example, or powdered chalk, or dust from the roads. There is even mention of showers of small animals, caterpillars, insects, and very young toads. The marvelous feature of these rains disappears if one considers that a violent blast of wind can carry with it all light substances encountered in its course, and can transport them long distances before letting them fall again.
"At other times a rain of insects is due to something else besides transportation by the wind. Some kinds of grasshoppers, for example, gather together in immense swarms to go to another district when nutriment fails them. The emigrating band flies, as at a given signal, and passes through the air in the form of a great cloud that intercepts the daylight. The migration continues for days at a time, so numerous is the host. Then the voracious swarm alights, like a living storm, on the vegetation of some distant province. In a few hours grass, leaves of trees, grain, prairies—everything is browsed. The soil, as if ravaged by fire, hasn't a blade of grass left. Sometimes the people of Algeria die of hunger. The grasshopper has devoured their harvests.
"Volcanoes cause cinder-showers. Volcanic ashes is the name given to the calcined dust thrown up to a great height by volcanoes at the moment of their eruption. These powdered substances form enormous clouds, which produce in the daytime a darkness like that of the darkest nights, and which, falling to earth at a greater or less distance, stifle animals and plants under their showers of dust."
Not long after Hamilton began the practice of law, he was elected a member from New York to the Continental Congress. Here he did what he could.
But the old Continental Congress had served its purpose; it had done very well for war; it would not do for peace. There was no President; there was no Supreme Court. Even the Congress itself was without any real authority. The little states were jealous of the big states, and the delegates were going home, one by one. Everybody said there would soon be no Congress at all.
Now, just at this very time there was more need of a strong government than ever before.
The paper dollars which Congress had issued were refused in payment of debts. People said the dollars were "not worth a continental," which meant they were not worth anything at all.
Indeed, everything continental seemed worthless. The Continental Congress had borrowed money from France, Holland, and Spain, and these countries clamored in vain for their pay.
The continental flag could not protect American commerce; the pirates in the Mediterranean Sea plundered the American ships, and British sailors boarded them; and the Spaniards at New Orleans refused to allow the Mississippi River to be navigated by Americans.
The continental army was disbanded; and when Congress taxed the states to raise some money, there were riots everywhere.
The kings of Europe began to rejoice at the distress of the Americans. "See," they said to their subjects, "see what a ridiculous spectacle a republic makes of itself! A kingdom is a firm and stable government; a republic is the rule of a mob."
England said that if the republic were only let alone it would fall to pieces of its own weight, and soon one state after another would be knocking at the door of Parliament to ask protection against her neighbors. And so King George kept his troops in the forts along the St. Lawrence. He hoped to win his colonies back again.
Hamilton urged Congress to call a convention of delegates from all the states to agree upon a better plan of government.
Now, there was so much quarreling in Congress that Hamilton could get little attention, and he soon resigned his office to practice law. But he watched and waited for the time when he might again propose a convention.
At last he was sent as a delegate to a commercial meeting at Annapolis. Here he urged his plan for a more perfect union. James Madison, of Virginia, helped him, and it was decided to ask Congress to call a convention to revise the articles of confederation.
Congress agreed to do this; and so, in May, 1787, a convention met at Philadelphia to form a permanent union between the states.
It was a noted body of men. There was George Washington, the hero of the Revolution; Robert Morris, the great merchant prince, who had almost spent his fortune that the armies might be fed; Benjamin Franklin, who had just returned from the court of the French king; Edmund Randolph, who had refused to sail away in a Tory ship with his father; and James Madison, who would one day be President.
There were governors, lawyers, and merchants among these delegates at Philadelphia, but among them all none was more ready for work than Alexander Hamilton.
He had a plan of government already formed in his own mind, and wished to persuade the rest to adopt it.
George Washington was elected president of the convention, and then the debates began.
Now, all agreed that there should be a union of the states, but there were many different opinions about what this union should be.
Some wanted a government with each state independent, except in time of war. Others wanted a government with all the states firmly united. A few, who had been made timid by the riots, declared that only a king could keep peace.
The convention lasted four months, and the debates were loud and long. Many times the meeting was almost broken up, and the talk grew so bitter that Franklin moved prayer be said every morning.
Hamilton was kept very busy. Once he spoke five hours without stopping. He proposed a strong government, with a President, a Congress, and a Supreme Court, much as we have it now. Some day, in a larger book, you will read all about it.
In the end, the Constitution of the United States was written and signed. Washington's name was first on the list. The great general held his pen in his hand as he said: "Should the states reject this excellent Constitution, the probability is that an opportunity will never again offer to cancel another in peace. The next will be drawn in blood." Franklin said: "I consent, sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure it is not the best."
No one has told what Hamilton said, but we can see his name standing out, firm and clear, on the yellow parchment which lies under glass in the capitol at Washington.
After the Constitution was properly signed by the delegates, it was submitted to the old Continental Congress. The Congress agreed to let the states say whether they wished to adopt the new government.
If nine states adopted it, a union would be formed. All the states called conventions to consider the question.
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have cross'd the bar.
WEEK 44 |
"R AINOLF," said Aymon as the two boys went out into the courtyard after they had had their dinner, "while the King is sleeping, let's get the other boys and go over to the forest and see if there is anything in our rabbit snares."
"All right!" said Rainolf, and soon the group of pages left the palace and crossing a few open meadows came to the edge of the great wild forest that stretched on and on, nobody knew how far.
Here the boys scattered for awhile hunting the traps which several of them had placed there. But the little forest creatures had all been too wary for them and none had been caught. So by and by, answering Rainolf's halloo, they all came out and, as the air was heavy and warm under the dense boughs, were glad to throw themselves on the grass beneath a great oak tree which stood near a bubbling spring. This spring was thought to have miraculous power, but many people who visited it were afraid of witches and fairies whom they thought lived in the forest beyond; so as charms against these they often brought little silver trinkets, a number of which dangled from the boughs of the oak. The spot was a favorite lounging place for the boys, and this time they found some one ahead of them.
"Look!" said Aymon, "There's Malagis! I wonder if he thinks he can straighten his crooked foot by hanging it in the spring?"
"Tut! Tut!" said Malagis, who had heard them, "I'm not so silly! I'm just poking up these bubbles with my toes to see if there are really fairies playing ball with them as some people say."
"You had better be careful," said Aymon seriously, "They might not like your impudence."
"Pshaw!" retorted Malagis, taking care however to remove his foot, "I'm not afraid of fairies,—or witches either!" he added loftily. "I guess I know a few spells myself."
Here the boys looked at him respectfully and with some awe; for while he liked to chaff with them and allowed them to be very familiar with him, nevertheless everybody declared Malagis was a master of magic arts.
"Well," said one of the boys, after a pause, "maybe the King will let you work your spells, because you're his dwarf; but I heard one of the officers of the palace say the other day that Charlemagne had made a new law forbidding anybody to practice witchcraft."
At this Malagis looked very wise, but merely said, "That doesn't hurt me any. I'm not a witch! Though there are plenty of them in yonder forest!" and he nodded his head toward the dark trees behind them.
The boys shivered a little and drew closer together; for most people then believed in witches and fairies and dragons, too, for that matter. More than once it had been whispered that firebreathing dragons were to be found in some of the rocky caverns hidden among the trees.
"Malagis," said Rainolf, as he peered into its shadows, "how far does the forest reach?"
"Oh," answered the dwarf vaguely, "ever and ever and ever so far! Leagues and leagues and leagues; I dare say it's part of the big forest where Charlemagne overthrew the Irminsul."
"What was that?" asked one of the other boys.
"Why," said Malagis, "it was the special idol of the Saxon folks. You know they are the wild heathen tribes up north of here that tie their hair up in top-knots and carry great wooden clubs, and that Charlemagne has been fighting for years and years trying to conquer and make Christians of."
"Well, the thing they called the Irminsul was a big wooden pillar set up in a certain place in the forest and on top of it was an image of a man wearing a helmet and carrying a shield with a bear and lion carved on it. There were great treasures of gold and jewels at the foot of the pillar, offerings from the Saxons; for the Irminsul was their most sacred idol."
"And did you say Charlemagne threw it over?" put in Aymon.
"Indeed he did!" answered Malagis. "He marched up there with his army and hunted through the forest till he found where it was. Of course the Saxons rushed out all ready to fight, but then they felt sure the idol would do something terrible to the King and save them the trouble. So they stood around waiting for it to happen."
"But that didn't bother Charlemagne a bit. He defied them. And then instead of the Irminsul doing anything, he simply walked up to it and knocked it over and smash! down it tumbled and broke all to pieces! After that he burned up the wooden pillar and took the treasures and divided them among his bravest captains."
"What did the Saxons say to that?" asked Rainolf.
"Well," said Malagis, "at first they were stunned; but they still had hopes of revenge. For it seems the King's army had had to march a long way without any water, and the Saxons saw the Franks were half dead from thirst and thought they would all die entirely in a few minutes and that that was the way the Irminsul meant to punish them."
"But, bless your heart," went on Malagis chuckling, "just then along came a big black cloud and when it got right over Charlemagne's army what did it do but burst and pour down buckets and buckets-full of water, so they had all they could drink and more, too! When the Saxons saw that, they were as meek as could be and all said they would submit to the King and be Christians. And there were so many that it kept Archbishop Turpin and all the priests who were along with Charlemagne busy for three days baptizing them. Of course more of the heathen ones keep cropping up now and then for the King to fight, but he has them very well under control now."
"The King is surely a great warrior!" said Rainolf.
"Yes," said Malagis, "but he's greater still at making good laws and seeing that people mind them. He's great on learning, too. That's why, years ago, he sent all the way to Britain for Master Alcuin to come over and start the palace school; he wanted his children and everybody's children to learn something. You boys are lucky to have Master Alcuin teach you awhile, for he is a famous scholar."
"Why, won't he teach us all the time?" asked Rainolf.
"No," said Aymon, "didn't I tell you that three years ago the King gave him the Abbey at Tours and he has started another big school there?"
"Yes," said Malagis, "he is just here now because the King wanted to consult him about something."
"Who will teach us when he goes back?" again asked Rainolf.
"Probably that big sandy-haired monk who
"No," said Rainolf, who had been rather bewildered by the number of grown people in the school.
"Well," said Malagis, who was in a talkative mood, "it's funny how he got here. One day, about two years ago, I was going along the street in Aachen, and when I came to the marketplace there on a bench stood that monk and another one like him, both Scotch though they had come here from Ireland. They were both crying out at the top of their lungs, 'Knowledge to sell! Knowledge to sell! Who'll buy?' for all the world like a couple of fish-mongers."
"I thought it so odd, that when I got back to the palace I told Charlemagne and he sent for them to come to him. He asked them if it was true they were trying to hawk knowledge as if it were a brace of pigeons, and they said yes, it was; that they had first-rate knowledge to sell to the highest bidder. The King was pleased with them, and amused, too, I think. Anyway, he engaged them for teachers, and they proved to be fine. One of them is off now starting more schools."
"Does Master Einhard teach?" asked Rainolf, who wanted to know who everybody was.
"No," said Malagis, "he has about all he can do as the King's scribe; though he is a mighty good minnesinger besides and often sings in the evenings. He was taught in the palace school with the King's children and always stood so high in his studies that Charlemagne noticed him and has shown him great favor."
"You were lucky, boy," continued the dwarf,
eying Rainolf shrewdly, "to attract the King's
"No," said Rainolf wonderingly.
"I will tell you," said Malagis, clasping his hands around his knees on which he rested his peaked chin. "He was on his way home from the town of Paderborn and stopped for dinner at the monastery of Saint Martin, and after dinner went in to look at the monastery school. About half the children there came from noble families and lived in castles, and the rest were just poor children from the village of Saint Martin. The King began asking questions, and it seems all the noble children had been spending their time playing and paying no attention to the monks; so just about all the answers he got came from the poor children who were used to minding and did what they were told and studied their books.
"Charlemagne was very angry. He quickly sorted out all the poor children and put them at his right hand and praised them and spoke kindly to them. And then he turned around and if he didn't give those noble children the worst lecture they ever got!"
Here Malagis pursed up his lips and smiled as he went on, "He told them they would be terribly fooled if they thought because their fathers were noblemen they could have honors whether they knew anything or not. He said he would show his favor to the people who were learning things, no matter how poor they were, and if those noble children expected to get anything from him they would have to start in and do some studying."
Here some of the boys who had not been getting on much at the palace school, began to look very uncomfortable, and one of them hastened to change the subject. "Malagis," he said, pointing to one of the high towers of the palace not far away, "is that really a brazen eagle there on top of the tower? It is so high up I can't see it very well."
"And," said another boy, "is it true that sometimes it turns by magic, and that then the King knows that he is needed in whatever part of kingdom the eagle seems to look toward?"
"Yes," answered Malagis gravely, "it is quite true. I helped to place that eagle myself!" and he wagged his head proudly. "You just keep watch of it,"—here Malagis crumpled his claw-like hands into a sort of funnel through which his keen eyes peered at the eagle as he went on slowly,—"it's beginning now to turn—just the least—little tiny bit— to the south!"
"What does that mean?" asked the boys eagerly. "What is south of here?" For none of them knew much geography; nor did anybody else, for that matter. You would have laughed to see their maps and wondered how anyone found his way about at all.
"Hm," said Malagis sagely, "there is a great deal south of us. There is Burgundy and Africa and Spain and a great deal of Asia and the kingdom of Prester John,"—which most people thought was a wonderful place, somewhere to the southeast, where there were red and blue lions and many marvelous things. So Malagis supposed he was telling the truth, as also about Asia; but then he came back to facts when he added, "Yes, and there's Italy and Rome where the Pope lives. I wouldn't wonder if the eagle is going to mean Italy."
Here a little group of Aachen folk came bringing a blind man to the spring so that he might bathe his eyes in its miraculous waters. And the boys and Malagis slowly strolled off toward the palace.
In the neighborhood of Bagdad there was a beautiful meadow, which was the home of many wild animals. They would have lived very happily there had it not been for one mischief-loving Lion. Every day this Lion wandered about, killing many helpless creatures for the mere sport of the slaying. To put an end to this, the animals gathered in a body, and going to the Lion, spoke to him in this wise:—
"King Lion, we are proud to have such a brave and valiant beast to rule over us. But we do not think that it is fitting for one of your rank to hunt for his own food. We therefore wait upon you with this request: Henceforth do you remain quietly at home, and we your subjects will bring to your lair such food as it is fitting that a king should eat."
The Lion, who was greatly flattered, immediately accepted their offer. Thus every day the animals drew lots to decide who among their number should offer himself for the Lion's daily portion. In due time it came about that the lot fell upon the Hare. Now the Hare, when he learned that it was his turn to die, complained bitterly.
"Do you not see that we are still tormented by that Lion?" he asked the other animals. "Only leave it to me, and I will release you for all time from his tyranny."
The other animals were only too glad at these words, and told the Hare to go his way. The Hare hid for some time in the bushes, and then hurried to the Lion's lair. By this time the Lion was as angry as he was hungry. He was snarling, and lashing his yellow tail on the ground. When he saw the Hare, he called out loudly,—
"Who are you, and what are my subjects doing? I have had no morsel of food to-day!"
The Hare besought him to calm his anger and listen to him.
"The lot fell to-day," he began, "on another hare and myself. In good season we were on our way here to offer ourselves for your dinner, when a lion sprang out of the bushes and seized my companion. In vain I cried to him that we were destined for the King's table, and, moreover, that no one was permitted to hunt in these royal woods except your Majesty. He paid no heed to my words save to retort,—'You do not know what you are saying. I am the only king here. That other Lion, to whom you all bow down, is a usurper.' Dumb with fright, I jumped into the nearest bush."
The Lion grew more and more indignant as he listened to the Hare's tale.
"If I could once find that lion," he roared, "I would soon teach him who is king of these woods."
"If your Majesty will trust me," answered the Hare, humbly, "I can take you to his hiding-place."
So the Hare and the Lion went out together. They crossed the woods and the meadow, and came to an ancient well, which was full of clear, deep water.
"Yonder is the home of your enemy," whispered the Hare, pointing to the well. "If you go near enough, you can see him. But," he added, "perhaps you had better wait until he comes out before you attack him."
These words only made the Lion more indignant. "He shall not live a moment after I have laid eyes upon him," he growled.
So the Hare and the Lion approached stealthily to the well. As they bent over the edge and looked down into the clear water, they saw themselves reflected there. The Lion, thinking that it was the other lion with the other hare, leaped into the well, never to come out again.
WEEK 44 |
"Look, I have made ye a place and opened wide the doors."
B EYOND the Cape of Good Hope and across the wide Pacific lay Australia, the Great South Land, still occupied only by wandering native tribes. But now, as men pored over the thrilling journals of Captain Cook, they felt that "a new earth was open in the Pacific for the expansion of the English race."
The independence of America, had made the plantations no longer possible for English convict settlements, so it was decided to use the new empty continent-island, in the distant Pacific, for this purpose. In the year 1788, the first fleet of eleven ships anchored off Botany Bay, on the eastern coast of Australia, after eight months at sea. Some 800 convicts were on board under Governor Phillips.
The landing-place proved disappointing, and in an open rowing-boat Phillips explored northwards. Port Jackson fulfilled all requirements.
"Here," wrote the governor triumphantly home—"Here we have the satisfaction of finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in perfect safety."
In honour of Lord Sydney, Secretary of State in England, he named the chosen spot Sydney, and here
"What Frobisher and Raleigh did for America, we are
But, like other early settlements, this one was doomed to suffer. Misfortunes fell thick on the little colony. A drought set in: the seeds did not sprout. The cattle disappeared, the sheep died. Store-ships from England were wrecked. And still more and more convicts were sent out.
"We have not a shoe to our feet nor a shirt to our backs," wrote the wretched colonists. Famine stared them in the face.
Yet in the colony's darkest hour the governor never swerved from his opinion. "This country," he repeats, "will prove the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made."
Cheerfully he shared the slender daily rations with the convicts. But the time came, when even they were nearly finished. Phillips watched in vain for a friendly sail on the horizon. "At times," he says pathetically, "when the day was fast setting and the shadows of the evening stretched out, I have been deceived by some fantastic little cloud resembling the sails of a ship."
At last it came. Men wrung each other's hands with overflowing hearts, women kissed their children with passionate tears of relief. The colony was saved. But the governor was broken down with long anxiety, and had to return to England.
On board the new vessel bringing the new governor, were two young men, thirsting for adventure. Their names—Bass and Flinders—are now famous in the annals of Australian discovery. No sooner had they arrived, than they set forth in a little boat only eight feet long, suitably called the Tom Thumb. They followed the coast of New South Wales for a considerable distance, making clear much that was obscure. Then Bass got a whale-boat and crew of six men, to proceed on a more important voyage of discovery to the south. It was successful beyond all expectation. He discovered that Tasmania was an island, and the channel that separates it from the mainland has since borne the name of Bass's Straits. He had sailed 600 miles in his whale-boat through boisterous storms, and he returned to Sydney to find himself a hero. His achievement ranked as one of the boldest in the annals of navigation.
Soon after this, Flinders, in command of the Investigator, sailed completely round the coast of Australia.
Starting from King George's Sound, in the extreme south-west, he passed by the bleak rocky heights of the Great
Australian Bight, naming bays and islands as he sailed. On the map
After a rest at Sydney the energetic Flinders set forth again. He sailed round the northern territory, which in 1863 was added to the province of South Australia, and returned to Sydney after another year's absence.
It would take too long to tell the adventures that befell Flinders, on his way back to England; how he set sail and was wrecked on the great coral reef, which bars the north-east coast of New South Wales; how he found a small boat of twenty-nine tons, in which he sailed safely across the ocean to Mauritius, where he was taken prisoner by the French, then in possession. For six years he lay in captivity, till Trafalgar had been fought and won, and Mauritius fell into English hands. Two more tragedies ended his life. The French had already published an account of Australian explorations and his own account was published the very day he died.
So far most of the exploration of the great south continent had been by sea. No white man had ventured far inland. For some sixty miles inland, running parallel to the east coast, rose the chain of the Blue Mountains. With their jagged peaks and bottomless chasms, they had so far proved an impassable barrier to the interior. Even the daring Bass had tried and failed. He had climbed precipices with iron hooks fastened to his arms, and descended into terrific caverns by means of ropes, but he had not been able to accomplish the feat of gaining the other side.
It now became a matter of extreme importance to extend the boundaries of New South Wales inland. Shipload after shipload of colonists had sailed from the mother country, till more pasturage was required for the ever increasing flocks and herds. At last three colonists started off, determined to force a way through the Blue Mountains. Bound together by ropes and armed with axes, they cut their way bravely through the virgin forests, climbing as they went. Forward and upward they fought their way, where no white man had penetrated before, past the spot, where Bass had failed, till they discovered a range, along the ridge of which they made their way. Arrived at the last summit, they were rewarded by the magnificent prospect, that now opened before them. They had seen their promised land, and the three ragged hungry pioneers made their way back to Sydney with their joyful news. The discovery meant new life to the colony, and two years later, just before the battle of Waterloo, a road was triumphantly opened across the Blue Mountains, to the famous plains of Bathurst.
It was no wonder that Kendall, the poet of New South Wales, broke into song over this famous exploit.
"The dauntless three. For twenty days and nights
These heroes battled with the haughty heights;
For twenty spaces of the star and sun
These Romans kept their harness buckled on;
By gaping gorges, and by cliffs austere,
These fathers struggled in the great old year;
Their feet they set on strange hills scarred by fire,
Their strong arms forced a path through brake and briar;
They fought with Nature till they reached the throne
Where morning glittered on the Great Unknown."
As soon as Gessler landed, he called for his horse, and silent and gloomy, his heart full of bitter hate against Tell and all the Swiss, he mounted and rode towards his castle at Küssnacht.
But Tell's heart, too, was full of hate and anger. That morning he had been a gentle, peace-loving man. Now all was changed. Gessler's cruel jest had made him hard and angry. He could not forget that he might have killed his own boy. He seemed to see always before him Walter bound to the tree with the apple on his head. Tell made up his mind that Gessler should never make any one else suffer so much. There was only one thing to do. That was to kill Gessler, and that Tell meant to do.
If Gessler escaped from the storm, Tell was sure that he would go straight to his castle at Küssnacht. There was only one road which led from the lake to the castle, and at a place called the Hollow Way it became very narrow, and the banks rose steep and rugged on either side. There Tell made up his mind to wait for Gessler. There he meant to free his country from the cruel tyrant.
Without stopping for food or rest, Tell hurried through the woods until he came to the Hollow Way. There he waited and watched. Many people passed along the road. There were herds with their flocks, and travellers of all kinds, among them a poor woman whose husband had been put in prison by Gessler, so that now she had no home, and had to wander about with her children begging. She stopped and spoke to Tell, and the story she told of Gessler's cruelty made Tell's heart burn with anger, and made him more sure than ever that the deed he meant to do was just and right.
The day went on, and still Gessler did not come, and still Tell waited. At last he heard the distant tramp of feet and the sound of voices. Surely he had come at last. But as the sounds came nearer, Tell knew that it could not be Gessler, for he heard music and laughter, and through the Hollow Way came a gaily dressed crowd. It was a wedding-party. Laughing and merry, the bride and bridegroom with their friends passed along. When they were out of sight the wind brought back the sound of their merry voices to Tell, as he waited upon the bank. They, at least, had for a time forgotten Gessler.
At last, as the sun was setting, Tell heard the tramp of horses, and a herald dashed along the road, shouting, "Room for the Governor. Room, I say."
As Gessler came slowly on behind, Tell could hear him talking in a loud and angry voice to a friend. "Obedience I will have," he was saying. "I have been far too mild a ruler over this people. They grow too proud. But I will break their pride. Let them prate of freedom, indeed. I will crush——." The sentence was never finished. An arrow whizzed through the air, and with a groan Gessler fell, dead.
Tell's second arrow had found its mark.
Tell's second arrow had found its mark
Immediately everything was in confusion. Gessler's soldiers crowded round, trying to do something for their master. But it was useless. He was dead. Tell's aim had been true.
"Who has done this foul murder?" cried one of Gessler's friends, looking round.
"The shot was mine," answered Tell, from where he stood on the high bank. "But no murder have I done. I have but freed an unoffending people from a base and cowardly tyrant. My cause is just, let God be the judge."
At the sound of his voice every one turned to look at Tell, as he stood above them calm and unafraid.
"Seize him!" cried the man who had already spoken, as soon as he recovered from his astonishment. "Seize him, it is Tell the archer."
Five or six men scrambled up the steep bank as fast as they could. But Tell slipped quietly through the bushes, and when they reached the top he was nowhere to be found.
The short winter's day was closing in fast, and Tell found it easy to escape in the darkness from Gessler's soldiers. They soon gave up the chase, and, returning to the road, took up their master's dead body and carried it to his castle at Küssnacht. There was little sorrow for him, for he had been a hard master. The Austrian soldiers did not grieve, and the Swiss, wherever they heard the news, rejoiced.
As soon as he was free of the soldiers, Tell turned and made for Stauffacher's house. All through the night he walked, until he came to the pretty house with its red roofs and many windows which had made Gessler so angry.
Now there was no light in any of the windows, and all was still and quiet. But Tell knew in which of the rooms Stauffacher slept, and he knocked softly upon the window until he had aroused his friend.
"William Tell!" said Stauffacher in astonishment. "I heard from Walter Fürst that you were a prisoner. Thank Heaven that you are free again."
"I am free," said Tell; "you, too, are free. Gessler is dead."
"Gessler dead!" exclaimed Stauffacher. "Now indeed have we cause for thankfulness. Tell me, how did it happen?" and he drew William Tell into the house.
Tell soon told all his story. Then Stauffacher, seeing how weary he was, gave him food and made him rest.
That night Tell slept well. All next day he remained hidden in Stauffacher's house. "You must not go," said his friend, "Gessler's soldiers will be searching for you." But when evening came Tell crept out into the dark again, and kind friends rowed him across the lake back to Fluelen. There, where a few days before he had been a prisoner, he landed, now free.
Tell went at once to Walter Fürst's house, and soon messengers were hurrying all through the land to gather together again the Confederates, as those who had met on the Rütli were called.
This time they gathered with less fear and less secrecy, for was not the dreaded Governor dead? Not one but was glad, yet some of the Confederates blamed Tell, for they had all promised to wait until the first of January before doing anything. "I know," said Tell, "but he drove me to it." And every man there who had left a little boy at home felt that he too might have done the same thing.
Now that Tell had struck the first blow, some of the Confederates wished to rise at once. But others said, "No, it is only a few weeks now until New Year's Day. Let us wait."
So they waited, and everything seemed quiet and peaceful in the land, for the Emperor sent no Governor to take Gessler's place, as he was far away in Austria, too busy fighting and quarrelling there to think of Switzerland in the meantime. "When I have finished this war," he said, "it will be time enough to crush these Swiss rebels."
WEEK 44 |
T HERE was once upon a time a King who had a wife with golden hair, and she was so beautiful that you couldn't find anyone like her in the world. It happened that she fell ill, and when she felt that she must soon die, she sent for the King, and said, "If you want to marry after my death, make no one queen unless she is just as beautiful as I am, and has just such golden hair as I have. Promise me this." After the King had promised her this, she closed her eyes and died.
For a long time the King was not to be comforted, and he did not even think of taking a second wife. At last his councillors said, "The King must marry again, so that we may have a queen." So messengers were sent far and wide to seek for a bride equal to the late Queen in beauty. But there was no one in the wide world, and if there had been she could not have had such golden hair. Then the messengers came home again, not having been able to find a queen.
Now, the King had a daughter, who was just as beautiful as her dead mother, and had just such golden hair. One day when she had grown up, her father looked at her, and saw that she was exactly like her mother, so he said to his councillors, "I will marry my daughter to one of you, and she shall be queen, for she is exactly like her dead mother, and when I die her husband shall be king."
But when the Princess heard of her father's decision, she was not at all pleased, and said to him, "Before I do your bidding, I must have three dresses; one as golden as the sun, one as silver as the moon, and one as shining as the stars. Besides these, I want a cloak made of a thousand different kinds of skin; every animal in your kingdom must give a bit of his skin to it." But she thought to herself, "This will be quite impossible, and I shall not have to marry someone I do not care for."
The King, however, was not to be turned from his purpose, and he commanded the most skilled maidens in his kingdom to weave the three dresses, one as golden as the sun, and one as silver as the moon, and one as shining as the stars; and he gave orders to all his huntsmen to catch one of every kind of beast in the kingdom, and to get a bit of its skin to make the cloak of a thousand pieces of fur.
At last, when all was ready, the King commanded the cloak to be brought to him, and he spread it out before the Princess, and said, "To-morrow shall be your wedding-day."
When the Princess saw that there was no more hope of changing her father's resolution, she determined to flee away. In the night, when everyone else was sleeping, she got up and took three things from her treasures, a gold ring, a little gold spinning-wheel, and a gold reel; she put the sun, moon, and star dresses in a nutshell, drew on the cloak of many skins, and made her face and hands black with soot. Then she commended herself to God, and went out and travelled the whole night till she came to a large forest. And as she was very much tired she sat down inside a hollow tree and fell asleep.
The sun rose and she still slept on and on, although it was nearly noon. Now, it happened that the king to whom this wood belonged was hunting in it. When his dogs came to the tree, they sniffed, and ran round and round it, barking. The King said to the huntsmen, "See what sort of a wild beast is in there." The huntsmen went in, and then came back and said, "In the hollow tree there lies a wonderful animal that we don't know, and we have never seen one like it; its skin is made of a thousand pieces of fur; but it is lying down asleep." The King said, "See if you can catch it alive, and then fasten it to the cart, and we will take it with us." When the huntsmen seized the maiden, she awoke and was frightened, and cried out to them, "I am a poor child, forsaken by father and mother; take pity on me, and let me go with you."
Then they said to her, "Many-furred Creature, you can work in the kitchen; come with us and sweep the ashes together." So they put her in the cart and they went back to the palace. There they showed her a tiny room under the stairs, where no daylight came, and said to her, "Many-furred Creature, you can live and sleep here." Then she was sent into the kitchen, where she carried wood and water, poked the fire, washed vegetables, plucked fowls, swept up the ashes, and did all the dirty work.
So the Many-furred Creature lived for a long time in great poverty. Ah, beautiful King's daughter, what is going to befall you now?
It happened once when a great feast was being held in the palace, that she said to the cook, "Can I go upstairs for a little bit and look on? I will stand outside the doors." The cook replied, "Yes, you can go up, but in half-an-hour you must be back here to sweep up the ashes."
Then she took her little oil-lamp, and went into her little room, drew off her fur cloak, and washed off the soot from her face and hands, so that her beauty shone forth, and it was as if one sunbeam after another were coming out of a black cloud. Then she opened the nut, and took out the dress as golden as the sun. And when she had done this, she went up to the feast, and everyone stepped out of her way, for nobody knew her, and they thought she must be a King's daughter. But the King came towards her and gave her his hand, and danced with her, thinking to himself, "My eyes have never beheld anyone so fair!"
When the dance was ended, she curtseyed to him, and when the King looked round she had disappeared, no one knew whither. The guards who were standing before the palace were called and questioned, but no one had seen her.
She had run to her little room and had quickly taken off her dress, made her face and hands black, put on the fur cloak, and was once more the Many-furred Creature. When she came into the kitchen and was setting about her work of sweeping the ashes together, the cook said to her, "Let that wait till to-morrow, and just cook the King's soup for me; I want to have a little peep at the company upstairs; but be sure that you do not let a hair fall into it, otherwise you will get nothing to eat in future!" So the cook went away, and the Many-furred Creature cooked the soup for the King. She made a bread-soup as well as she possibly could, and when it was done, she fetched her gold ring from her little room, and laid it in the tureen in which the soup was to be served up.
When the dance was ended, the King had his soup brought to him and ate it, and it was so good that he thought he had never tasted such soup in his life. But when he came to the bottom of the dish he saw a gold ring lying there, and he could not imagine how it got in. Then he commanded the cook to be brought before him.
The cook was terrified when he heard the command, and said to the Many-furred Creature, "You must have let a hair fall into the soup, and if you have you deserve a good beating!"
When he came before the King, the King asked who had cooked the soup. The cook answered, "I cooked it." But the King said, "That's not true, for it was quite different and much better soup than you have ever cooked." Then the cook said, "I must confess; I did not cook the soup; the Many-furred Creature did." "Let her be brought before me," said the King.
When the Many-furred Creature came, the King asked her who she was. "I am a poor child without father or mother." Then he asked her, "What do you do in my palace?" "I am of no use except to have boots thrown at my head." "How did you get the ring which was in the soup?" he asked. "I know nothing at all about the ring," she answered. So the King could find out nothing, and was obliged to send her away.
After a time there was another feast, and the Many-furred Creature begged the cook as at the last one to let her go and look on. He answered, "Yes, but come back again in half-an-hour and cook the King the bread-soup that he likes so much." So she ran away to her little room, washed herself quickly, took out of the nut the dress as silver as the moon and put it on. Then she went upstairs looking just like a King's daughter, and the King came towards her, delighted to see her again, and as the dance had just begun, they danced together.
But when the dance was ended, she disappeared again so quickly that the King could not see which way she went. She ran to her little room and changed herself once more into the Many-furred Creature, and went into the kitchen to cook the bread-soup.
When the cook was upstairs, she fetched the golden spinning-wheel and put it in the dish so that the soup was poured over it. It was brought to the King, who ate it, and liked it as much as the last time. He had the cook sent to him, and again he had to confess that the Many-furred Creature had cooked the soup.
Then the Many-furred Creature came before the King, but she said again that she was of no use except to have boots thrown at her head, and that she knew nothing at all of the golden spinning-wheel.
When the King had a feast for the third time, things did not turn out quite the same as at the other two. The cook said, "You must be a witch, Many-furred Creature, for you always put something in the soup, so that it is much better and tastes nicer to the King than any that I cook." But because she begged hard, he let her go up for the usual time. Now she put on the dress as shining as the stars, and stepped into the hall in it.
The King danced again with the beautiful maiden, and thought she had never looked so beautiful. And while he was dancing, he put a gold ring on her finger without her seeing it, and he commanded that the dance should last longer than usual. When it was finished he wanted to keep her hands in his, but she broke from him, and sprang so quickly away among the people that she vanished from his sight. She ran as fast as she could to her little room under the stairs, but because she had stayed too long beyond the half-hour, she could not stop to take off the beautiful dress, but only threw the fur cloak over it, and in her haste she did not make herself quite black with the soot, one finger remaining white. The Many-furred Creature now ran into the kitchen, cooked the King's bread-soup, and when the cook had gone, she laid the gold reel in the dish.
When the King found the reel at the bottom, he had the Many-furred Creature brought to him, and then he saw the white finger, and the ring which he had put on her hand in the dance. Then he took her hand and held her tightly, and as she was trying to get away, she undid the fur-cloak a little bit and the star-dress shone out. The King seized the cloak and tore it off her. Her golden hair came down, and she stood there in her full splendour, and could not hide herself away any more. And when the soot and ashes had been washed from her face, she looked more beautiful than anyone in the world. But the King said, "You are my dear bride, and we will never be separated from one another." So the wedding was celebrated and they lived happily ever after.
F course you know," said Uncle Will, one day, "that not
"Yes, I know," said Theodore; "there is a yellow jacket's nest under the plank walk that goes down to the front gate. You can see them go in and out, and you have to be careful not to step on any of them, because the others would be mad and sting you to death."
"Well, you could run into the house and shut the door," said Uncle Will; "but of course it is safer as well as kinder not to step on them."
"Do they do any harm?" asked Theodore.
"Not a bit," answered Uncle Will. "On the contrary they are good neighbors, because they catch so many flies—only when fruit is ripe they are apt to help themselves a little too freely."
"I should think so!" shouted Theodore; "didn't I pick up a nice ripe pear this morning, and there was a little hole in one side of it and out of the hole popped a little yellow tail and waved its sting about then out backed the wasp in a hurry, as if someone had pushed it from behind."
"I guess somebody did push it," said Uncle Will.
"I guess so too; because the minute it was out another yellow tail appeared in the doorway, and when that wasp had flown off, came another and another—seven or eight in all, and there was a great big hole inside where they had eaten the pear until there wasn't much left but skin and bones—skin and core, I mean."
"Yes," said Uncle Will, "sometimes wasps are very troublesome to fruit growers, but generally they do not take more than their share. They like meat even better than fruit, and they even enjoy cooked meat, so if you were to put a little piece on the table some wasp body would find it in less than no time."
"Let's do it;" and Theodore started on a run for the house and soon came back with a scrap of meat.
"Let's play it is dinner time and this is the table;" and he laid the meat on the end of a stump while they both sat a little way off and watched.
"Wasps are fond of sweets, too, you know."
"Oh, yes, I forgot;" and Theodore darted away, soon to return with a piece of bread well spread with nice sweet syrup.
"This is their dessert and here is the fruit," he said as he put the bread and molasses on the stump with a slice of apple.
"Now for the party!" and they settled themselves down in a comfortable manner and began to talk about all sorts of things until they quite forgot the wasps.
"See there!" said Uncle Will, suddenly; and when Theodore looked at the wasp's feast, behold! three yellow jackets were busy gnawing away at the meat. No sooner had one cut out a little bit of a chunk than away it flew. In a few minutes half a dozen had found the meat, and they all fell to work with a hearty good will, cutting out and carrying away balls of meat and coming back for more.
"They are taking it home to their children," said Theodore, eagerly.
"I believe they are," said Uncle Will.
"They don't care much for dessert, though," said Theodore; "they don't go near the syrup and apple! Oh, there goes one now,—see it lick up the syrup! but now it goes over to the meat, and none of them touch the apple!"
"Never mind," said Uncle Will, consolingly; "you can't expect them to choose bread and butter when there is plum cake to be had; apple they can get any time, but it is only on high days and holidays that meat comes their way. It must be a good change from fly, you know—and so much easier to catch! By the way, did you ever watch a hornet catching flies?"
"No, never," said Theodore; "did you?"
"Yes, and not so long ago—it is only yesterday I saw two or three hunting along the shed roof in the sun. Let's go and see if they are there today."
So they went.
WEEK 44 |
Pilate thought that Jesus was a harmless man, but perhaps one whose mind was weak, and he could see no reason why the rulers and the people should be so bitter against him. But they cried out all the more, saying, "He stirs up the people everywhere, from Galilee even to this place."
When Pilate heard the word "Galilee," he asked if this man had come from that land. They told him that he had; and then Pilate said, "Galilee and its people are under the rule of Herod. He has come up to Jerusalem, and I will send this man to him."
So, from Pilate's court-room, Jesus was sent, still bound, to Herod's palace. This was the Herod who had put John the Baptist in prison, and had given his head to a dancing-girl, as we read in Story 127. Herod was very glad to see Jesus, for he had heard many things about him; and he hoped to see him do some wonderful thing. But Jesus would not work wonders as a show, to be looked at; and when Herod asked him many questions, Jesus would not speak a word. Herod would not judge Jesus, for he knew that Jesus had done nothing wrong; so he and his soldiers mocked Jesus, and dressed him in a gay robe, as though he were a make-believe king, and sent him back to Pilate.
So Pilate, much against his will, was compelled to decide either for Jesus or against him. And just as Jesus was standing bound before him a message came to Pilate from his wife, saying, "Do nothing against that good man; for in this night I have suffered many things in a dream on account of him."
Pilate said to the Jews, "You have brought this man to me as one who is leading the people to evil; and I have seen that there is no evil in him, nor has Herod; now I will order that he be beaten with rods, and then set free. For you know that it is the custom to set a prisoner free at the time of the feast."
They set some prisoner free, as a sign of the joy at the feast. And at that time there was in the prison a man named Barabbas, who was a robber and a murderer. Pilate said to the people, "Shall I set free Jesus, who is called the King of the Jews?"
But the rulers went among the people and urged them to ask for Barabbas to be set free.
And the crowd cried out, "Not this man, but Barabbas!"
Then Pilate said, "What, then, shall I do with Jesus?"
And they all cried out, "Crucify him! Let him die on the cross!"
Pilate wished greatly to spare the life of Jesus. To show how he felt, he sent for water, and he washed his hands before all the people, saying, "My hands are clean from the blood of this good man!"
And they cried out, "Let his blood be on us, and on our children after us! Crucify him! Send him to the cross!"
Then Pilate, to please the people, gave them what they asked. He set free Barabbas, the man of their choice, though he was a robber and a murderer; but before giving way to the cry that he should send Jesus to the cross, he tried once more to save his life. He caused Jesus to be beaten until the blood came upon him, hoping that this might satisfy the people. As Jesus was spoken of as a king, the soldiers who beat Jesus made a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, such as was worn by kings, and bowing down before him they called out to him, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
Then, hoping to awaken some pity for Jesus, Pilate brought him out to the people, with the crown of thorns and the purple robe upon him, and Pilate said, "Look on this man!"
But again the cry arose, "Crucify him! Send him to the cross!"
And at last Pilate yielded to the voice of the people. He sat down on the judgment-seat, and gave commands that Jesus, whom he knew to be a good man, one who had done nothing evil, should be put to death upon the cross.
"Look on this man."
G RUFFANUFF who had seen what had happened with the King, and knew that Giglio must come to grief, got up very early the next morning, and went to devise some plans for rescuing her darling husband, as the silly old thing insisted on calling him. She found him walking up and down the garden, thinking of a rhyme for Betsinda (tinder and winda were all he could find), and indeed having forgotten all about the past evening, except that Betsinda was the most lovely of beings.
"Well, dear Giglio," says Gruff.
"Well, dear Gruffy," says Giglio, only he was quite satirical.
"I have been thinking, darling, what you must do in this scrape. You must fly the country for a while."
"What scrape?—fly the country? Never without her I love, Countess," says Giglio.
"No, she will accompany you, dear Prince," she says, in her most coaxing accents. "First we must get the jewels belonging to our royal parents, and those of her and his present Majesty. Here is the key, duck; they are all yours you know by right, for you are the rightful King of Paflagonia, and your wife will be the rightful Queen."
"Will she?" says Giglio.
"Yes; and having got the jewels, go to Glumboso's
apartment, where, under his bed, you will find sacks
containing money to the amount of
"We will fly?" says Giglio.
"Yes, you and your bride—your affianced love—your Gruffy!" says the Countess, with a languishing leer.
"You, my bride!" says Giglio. "You, you hideous old woman!"
"O you, you wretch! didn't you give me this paper promising marriage?" cries Gruff.
"Get away, you old goose! I love Betsinda, and Betsinda only!" And in a fit of terror he ran from her as quickly as he could.
"He! he! he!" shrieks out Gruff, "a promise is a
promise, if there are laws in Paflagonia! And as for
that monster, that wretch, that fiend, that ugly little
vixen—as for that upstart,
that ingrate, that beast, Betsinda, Master Giglio will
have no little difficulty in discovering her
whereabouts. He may look very long before
I warrant. He little knows that Miss Betsinda
Is—what? Now, you shall hear. Poor Betsinda got up at five in winter's morning to bring her cruel mistress her tea; and instead of finding her in a good humor, found Gruffy as cross as two sticks. The Countess boxed Betsinda's ears half a dozen times whilst she was dressing; but as poor little Betsinda was used to this kind of treatment, she did not feel any special alarm. "And now," says she, "when her Majesty rings her bell twice, I'll trouble you, miss, to attend."
So when the Queen's bell rang twice, Betsinda came to her Majesty and made a pretty little curtsey. The Queen, the Princess, and Gruffanuff were all three in the room. As soon as they saw her they began,
"You wretch!" says the Queen.
"You little vulgar thing!" says the Princess.
"You beast!" says Gruffanuff.
"Get out of my sight!" says the Queen.
"Go away with you, do!" says the Princess.
"Quit the premises!" says Gruffanuff.
Alas! and woe is me! very lamentable events had occurred to Betsinda that morning, and all in consequence of that fatal warming-pan business of the previous night. The King had offered to marry her; of course her Majesty the Queen was jealous: Bulbo had fallen in love with her; of course Angelica was furious: Giglio was in love with her, and O what a fury Gruffy was in!
"Take off that cap I gave you,"
"Take off that petticoat I gave you,"
"Take off that gown I gave you,"
they said, all at once,
and began tearing the clothes off poor Betsinda.
"How dare you flirt with the King?"
"How dare you flirt with Prince Bulbo?"
"How dare you flirt with Prince Giglio?"
cried the Queen, the Princess, and Countess.
"Give her the rags she wore when she came into the house, and turn her out of it!" cries the Queen.
"Mind she does not go with my shoes on, which I lent her so kindly," says the Princess; and indeed the Princess' shoes were a great deal too big for Betsinda.
"Come with me, you filthy hussy!" and taking up the Queen's poker, the cruel Gruffanuff drove Betsinda into her room.
The Countess went to the glass box in which she had kept Betsinda's old cloak and shoe this ever so long, and said: "Take those rags, you little beggar creature, and strip off every thing belonging to honest people, and go about your business"; and she actually tore off the poor little delicate thing's back almost all her things, and told her to be off out of the house.
Poor Betsinda huddled the cloak round her back, on which were embroidered the letters PRIN . . . ROSAL, . . . and then came a great rent.
As for the shoe, what was she to do with one poor little tootsey sandal? the string was still to it, so she hung it round her neck.
"Won't you give me a pair of shoes to go out in the snow, mum, if you please, mum!" cried the poor child.
"No, you wicked beast!" says Gruffanuff, driving her along with the poker—driving her down the cold stairs—driving her through the cold hall—flinging her out into the cold street, so that the knocker itself shed tears to see her!
But a kind fairy made the soft snow warm for her little feet, and she wrapped herself up in the ermine of her mantle and was gone.
"And now let us think about breakfast," says the greedy Queen.
"What dress shall I put on, mamma? the pink or the pea-green," says Angelica. "Which do you think the dear Prince will like best?"
"Mrs. V.!" sings out the King from his dressing-room, "Let us have sausages for breakfast! Remember we have Prince Bulbo staying with us!"
And they all went to get ready.
Nine o'clock came, and they were all in the breakfast-room, and no Prince Bulbo as yet. The urn was hissing and humming; the muffins were smoking—such a heap of muffins! the eggs were done, there was a pot of raspberry jam, and coffee, and a beautiful chicken and tongue on the side table. Marmitonio the cook brought in the sausages. O how nice they smelt!
"Where is Bulbo?" said the King. "John, where is His Royal Highness?"
John said he had a took hup His Roilighnessesses shaving-water, and his clothes and things, and he wasn't in his room, which he sposed His Royliness was just stepped hout.
"Stepped out before breakfast in the snow! Impossible!"
says the King, sticking his fork into a sausage.
"My dear, take one. Angelica won't you have a saveloy?"
The Princess took one, being very fond of them; and at
this moment Glumboso entered with Captain Hedzoff, both
looking very much disturbed. "I am afraid your
"Sire, I am afraid if we wait till after breakfast it will be too late," says Glumboso. "He—he—he'll be hanged at half-past nine."
"Don't talk about hanging and spoil my breakfast, you unkind, vulgar man you!" cries the Princess. "John, some mustard. Pray who is to be hanged?"
"Sire, it is the Prince," whispers Glumboso to the King.
"Talk about business after breakfast, I tell you!" says his Majesty, quite sulky.
"We shall have a war, Sire, depend on it," says the
Minister. "His father, King
"His father, King who?" says the King, "King Padella is not Giglio's father. My brother, King Savio, was Giglio's father."
"It's Prince Bulbo they are hanging, Sire, not Prince Giglio," says the Prime Minister.
"You told me to hang the Prince, and I took the ugly one," says Hedzoff. "I didn't, of course, think your Majesty intended to murder your own flesh and blood!"
The King for all reply flung the plate of sausages at Hedzoff's head. The Princess cried out Hee-karee-karee! and fell down in a fainting fit.
"Turn the cock of the urn upon her Royal Highness," said the King, and the boiling water gradually revived her. His Majesty looked at his watch, compared it by the clock in the parlor, and by that of the church in the square opposite; then he wound it up; then he looked at it again. "The great question is," says he, "am I fast or am I slow? If I'm slow, we may as well go on with breakfast. If I'm fast, why there is just the possibility of saving Prince Bulbo. It's a doosid awkward mistake, and upon my word, Hedzoff, I have the greatest mind to have you hanged too."
"Sire, I did but my duty; a soldier has but his orders. I didn't expect after forty-seven years of faithful service that my sovereign would think of putting me to a felon's death!"
"A hundred thousand plagues upon you! Can't you see that while you are talking my Bulbo is being hung!" screamed the Princess.
"By Jove! she's always right, that girl, and I'm so absent," says the King, looking at his watch again. "Ha! there go the drums! What a doosid awkward think though!"
"O papa, you goose! Write the reprieve, and let me run with it," cries the Princess—and she got a sheet of paper, and pen and ink, and laid them before the King.
"Confound it! Where are my spectacles!" the monarch
exclaimed. "Angelica! Go up into my bedroom, look
under my pillow, not your mamma's; there you'll see
my keys. Bring them down to me, and—Well, well! what
impetuous things these girls are!" Angelica was gone,
and had run up panting to the bedroom, and found the
keys, and was back again before the King had finished a
muffin. "Now love," says he, "you must go all the way
back for my desk, in which my spectacles are. If you
would but have heard me
"My dear, when you go out of a room, how often have I told you, shut the door. That's a darling. That's all." At last the keys and the desk and the spectacles were got, and the King mended his pen, and signed his name to a reprieve, and Angelica ran with it as swift as the wind. "You'd better stay, my love, and finish the muffins. There's no use going. Be sure it's too late. Hand me over that raspberry jam, please," said the monarch. "Bong! Bawong! There goes the half hour. I knew it was."
Angelica ran, and ran, and ran, and ran. She ran up Fore Street, and down High Street, and through the Market-place, and down to the left, and over the bridge, and up the blind alley, and back again, and round by the Castle, and so along by the Haberdasher's on the right, opposite the lamp-post, and round the square, and she came—she came to the Execution place, where she saw Bulbo laying his head on the block!!! The executioner raised his axe, but at that moment the Princess came panting up and cried Reprieve. "Reprieve!" screamed the Princess. "Reprieve!" shouted all the people. Up the scaffold stairs she sprang, with the agility of a lighter of lamps; and flinging herself in Bulbo's arms, regardless of all ceremony, she cried out: "O my Prince! my lord! my love! my Bulbo! Thine Angelica has been in time to save thy precious existence, sweet rosebud; to prevent thy being nipped in thy young bloom! Had aught befallen thee, Angelica too had died, and welcomed death that joined her to her Bulbo."
"H'm! there's no accounting for tastes," said Bulbo, looking so very much puzzled and uncomfortable that the Princess, in tones of tenderest strain, asked the cause of his disquiet.
"I tell you what it is, Angelica," said he, "Since I came here yesterday there has been such a row, and disturbance, and quarrelling, and fighting, and chopping of heads off, and the deuce to pay, that I am inclined to go back to Crim Tartary."
"But with me as thy bride, my Bulbo! Though wherever thou art is Crim Tartary to me, my bold, my beautiful, my Bulbo!"
"Well, well, I suppose we must be married," says Bulbo. "Doctor, you came to read the funeral service—read the marriage service, will you? What must be, must. That will satisfy Angelica, and then, in the name of peace and quietness, do let us go back to breakfast."
Bulbo had carried a rose in his mouth all the time of the dismal ceremony. It was a fairy rose, and he was told by his mother that he ought never to part with it. So he had kept it between his teeth, even when he laid his poor head upon the block, hoping vaguely that some chance would turn up in his favor. As he began to speak to Angelica, he forgot about the rose, and of course it dropped out of his mouth. The romantic Princess instantly stooped and seized it. "Sweet rose!" she exclaimed, "that bloomed upon my Bulbo's lip, never, never will I part from thee!" and she placed it in her bosom. And you know Bulbo couldn't ask her to give the rose back again. And they went to breakfast; and as they walked, it appeared to Bulbo that Angelica became more exquisitely lovely every moment.
He was frantic until they were married; and now,
strange to say, it was Angelica who didn't
care about him! He knelt down, he kissed her hand, he
prayed and begged; he cried with admiration, while she
for her part said she really thought they might wait;
it seemed to her he was not handsome any more—no, not
at all, quite the reverse, and not clever, no, very
stupid, and not well-bred, like Giglio; no, on the
What, I cannot say, for King Valoroso roared out "Pooh, stuff!" in a terrible voice. "We will have no more of this shilly-shallying! Call the Archbishop, and let the Prince and Princess be married off-hand!"
So, married they were, and I am sure for my part I trust they will be happy.