WEEK 45 |
N OW to return to Tom and Becky's share in the picnic. They tripped along the murky aisles with the rest of the company, visiting the familiar wonders of the cave—wonders dubbed with rather over-descriptive names, such as "The Drawing-Room," "The Cathedral," "Aladdin's Palace," and so on. Presently the hide-and-seek frolicking began, and Tom and Becky engaged in it with zeal until the exertion began to grow a trifle wearisome; then they wandered down a sinuous avenue holding their candles aloft and reading the tangled web-work of names, dates, post-office addresses, and mottoes with which the rocky walls had been frescoed (in candle-smoke). Still drifting along and talking, they scarcely noticed that they were now in a part of the cave whose walls were not frescoed. They smoked their own names under an overhanging shelf and moved on. Presently they came to a place where a little stream of water, trickling over a ledge and carrying a limestone sediment with it, had, in the slow-dragging ages, formed a laced and ruffled Niagara in gleaming and imperishable stone. Tom squeezed his small body behind it in order to illuminate it for Becky's gratification. He found that it curtained a sort of steep natural stairway which was inclosed between narrow walls, and at once the ambition to be a discoverer seized him. Becky responded to his call, and they made a smoke-mark for future guidance, and started upon their quest. They wound this way and that, far down into the secret depths of the cave, made another mark, and branched off in search of novelties to tell the upper world about. In one place they found a spacious cavern, from whose ceiling depended a multitude of shining stalactites of the length and circumference of a man's leg; they walked all about it, wondering and admiring, and presently left it by one of the numerous passages that opened into it. This shortly brought them to a bewitching spring, whose basin was incrusted with a frostwork of glittering crystals; it was in the midst of a cavern whose walls were supported by many fantastic pillars which had been formed by the joining of great stalactites and stalagmites together, the result of the ceaseless water-drip of centuries. Under the roof vast knots of bats had packed themselves together, thousands in a bunch; the lights disturbed the creatures and they came flocking down by hundreds, squeaking and darting furiously at the candles. Tom knew their ways and the danger of this sort of conduct. He seized Becky's hand and hurried her into the first corridor that offered; and none too soon, for a bat struck Becky's light out with its wing while she was passing out of the cavern. The bats chased the children a good distance; but the fugitives plunged into every new passage that offered, and at last got rid of the perilous things. Tom found a subterranean lake, shortly, which stretched its dim length away until its shape was lost in the shadows. He wanted to explore its borders, but concluded that it would be best to sit down and rest awhile, first. Now, for the first time, the deep stillness of the place laid a clammy hand upon the spirits of the children. Becky said:
"Why, I didn't notice, but it seems ever so long since I heard any of the others."
"Come to think, Becky, we are away down below them—and I don't know how far away north, or south, or east, or whichever it is. We couldn't hear them here."
Becky grew apprehensive.
"I wonder how long we've been down here, Tom? We better start back."
"Yes, I reckon we better. P'raps we better."
"Can you find the way, Tom? It's all a mixed-up crookedness to me."
"I reckon I could find it—but then the bats. If they put our candles out it will be an awful fix. Let's try some other way, so as not to go through there."
"Well. But I hope we won't get lost. It would be so awful!" and the girl shuddered at the thought of the dreadful possibilities.
They started through a corridor, and traversed it in silence a long way, glancing at each new opening to see if there was anything familiar about the look of it; but they were all strange. Every time Tom made an examination, Becky would watch his face for an encouraging sign, and he would say cheerily:
"Oh, it's all right. This ain't the one, but we'll come to it right away!"
But he felt less and less hopeful with each failure, and presently began to turn off into diverging avenues at sheer random, in desperate hope of finding the one that was wanted. He still said it was "all right," but there was such a leaden dread at his heart that the words had lost their ring and sounded just as if he had said, "All is lost!" Becky clung to his side in an anguish of fear, and tried hard to keep back the tears, but they would come. At last she said:
"Oh, Tom, never mind the bats, let's go back that way! We seem to get worse and worse off all the time."
"Listen!" said he.
Profound silence; silence so deep that even their breathings were conspicuous in the hush. Tom shouted. The call went echoing down the empty aisles and died out in the distance in a faint sound that resembled a ripple of mocking laughter.
"Oh, don't do it again, Tom, it is too horrid," said Becky.
"It is horrid, but I better, Becky; they might hear us, you know," and he shouted again.
The "might" was even a chillier horror than the ghostly laughter, it so confessed a perishing hope. The children stood still and listened; but there was no result. Tom turned upon the back track at once, and hurried his steps. It was but a little while before a certain indecision in his manner revealed another fearful fact to Becky—he could not find his way back!
"Oh, Tom, you didn't make any marks!"
"Becky, I was such a fool! Such a fool! I never thought we might want to come back! No—I can't find the way. It's all mixed up."
"Tom, Tom, we're lost! we're lost!"
"Tom, Tom, we're lost! we're lost!"
"We never can get out of this awful place! Oh, why did we ever leave the others!"
She sank to the ground and burst into such a frenzy of crying that Tom was appalled with the idea that she might die, or lose her reason. He sat down by her and put his arms around her; she buried her face in his bosom, she clung to him, she poured out her terrors, her unavailing regrets, and the far echoes turned them all to jeering laughter. Tom begged her to pluck up hope again, and she said she could not. He fell to blaming and abusing himself for getting her into this miserable situation; this had a better effect. She said she would try to hope again, she would get up and follow wherever he might lead if only he would not talk like that any more. For he was no more to blame than she, she said.
So they moved on again—aimlessly—simply at random—all they could do was to move, keep moving. For a little while, hope made a show of reviving—not with any reason to back it, but only because it is its nature to revive when the spring has not been taken out of it by age and familiarity with failure.
By and by Tom took Becky's candle and blew it out. This economy meant so much! Words were not needed. Becky understood, and her hope died again. She knew that Tom had a whole candle and three or four pieces in his pockets—yet he must economize.
By and by, fatigue began to assert its claims; the children tried to pay no attention, for it was dreadful to think of sitting down when time was grown to be so precious; moving, in some direction, in any direction, was at least progress and might bear fruit; but to sit down was to invite death and shorten its pursuit.
At last Becky's frail limbs refused to carry her farther. She sat down. Tom rested with her, and they talked of home, and the friends there, and the comfortable beds and, above all, the light! Becky cried, and Tom tried to think of some way of comforting her, but all his encouragements were grown threadbare with use, and sounded like sarcasms. Fatigue bore so heavily upon Becky that she drowsed off to sleep. Tom was grateful. He sat looking into her drawn face and saw it grow smooth and natural under the influence of pleasant dreams; and by and by a smile dawned and rested there. The peaceful face reflected somewhat of peace and healing into his own spirit, and his thoughts wandered away to bygone times and dreamy memories. While he was deep in his musings, Becky woke up with a breezy little laugh—but it was stricken dead upon her lips, and a groan followed it.
"Oh, how could I sleep! I wish I never, never had waked! No! No, I don't, Tom! Don't look so! I won't say it again."
"I'm glad you've slept, Becky; you'll feel rested, now, and we'll find the way out."
"We can try, Tom; but I've seen such a beautiful country in my dream. I reckon we are going there."
"Maybe not, maybe not. Cheer up, Becky, and let's go on trying."
They rose up and wandered along, hand in hand and hopeless. They tried to estimate how long they had been in the cave, but all they knew was that it seemed days and weeks, and yet it was plain that this could not be, for their candles were not gone yet. A long time after this—they could not tell how long—Tom said they must go softly and listen for dripping water—they must find a spring. They found one presently, and Tom said it was time to rest again. Both were cruelly tired, yet Becky said she thought she could go on a little farther. She was surprised to hear Tom dissent. She could not understand it. They sat down, and Tom fastened his candle to the wall in front of them with some clay. Thought was soon busy; nothing was said for some time. Then Becky broke the silence:
"Tom, I am so hungry!"
Tom took something out of his pocket.
"Do you remember this?" said he.
Becky almost smiled.
"It's our wedding-cake, Tom."
"Yes—I wish it was as big as a barrel, for it's all we've got."
"I saved it from the picnic for us to dream on, Tom, the way grown-up
people do with wedding-cake—but it'll be
She dropped the sentence where it was. Tom divided the cake and Becky ate with good appetite, while Tom nibbled at his moiety. There was abundance of cold water to finish the feast with. By and by Becky suggested that they move on again. Tom was silent a moment. Then he said:
"Becky, can you bear it if I tell you something?"
Becky's face paled, but she thought she could.
"Well, then, Becky, we must stay here, where there's water to drink. That little piece is our last candle!"
Becky gave loose to tears and wailings. Tom did what he could to comfort her, but with little effect. At length Becky said:
"They'll miss us and hunt for us!"
"Yes, they will! Certainly they will!"
"Maybe they're hunting for us now, Tom."
"Why, I reckon maybe they are. I hope they are."
"When would they miss us, Tom?"
"When they get back to the boat, I reckon."
"Tom, it might be dark then—would they notice we hadn't come?"
"I don't know. But anyway, your mother would miss you as soon as they got home."
A frightened look in Becky's face brought Tom to his senses and he saw that he had made a blunder. Becky was not to have gone home that night! The children became silent and thoughtful. In a moment a new burst of grief from Becky showed Tom that the thing in his mind had struck hers also—that the Sabbath morning might be half spent before Mrs. Thatcher discovered that Becky was not at Mrs. Harper's.
The children fastened their eyes upon their bit of candle and watched it melt slowly and pitilessly away; saw the half-inch of wick stand alone at last; saw the feeble flame rise and fall, climb the thin column of smoke, linger at its top a moment, and then—the horror of utter darkness reigned!
How long afterward it was that Becky came to a slow consciousness that she was crying in Tom's arms, neither could tell. All that they knew was, that after what seemed a mighty stretch of time, both awoke out of a dead stupor of sleep and resumed their miseries once more. Tom said it might be Sunday, now—maybe Monday. He tried to get Becky to talk, but her sorrows were too oppressive, all her hopes were gone. Tom said that they must have been missed long ago, and no doubt the search was going on. He would shout and maybe some one would come. He tried it; but in the darkness the distant echoes sounded so hideously that he tried it no more.
The hours wasted away, and hunger came to torment the captives again. A portion of Tom's half of the cake was left; they divided and ate it. But they seemed hungrier than before. The poor morsel of food only whetted desire.
By and by Tom said:
Both held their breath and listened. There was a sound like the faintest, far-off shout. Instantly Tom answered it, and, leading Becky by the hand, started groping down the corridor in its direction. Presently he listened again; again the sound was heard, and apparently a little nearer.
"It's them!" said Tom; "they're coming! Come along, Becky—we're all right now!"
The joy of the prisoners was almost overwhelming. Their speed was slow, however, because pitfalls were somewhat common, and had to be guarded against. They shortly came to one and had to stop. It might be three feet deep, it might be a hundred—there was no passing it, at any rate. Tom got down on his breast and reached as far down as he could. No bottom. They must stay there and wait until the searchers came. They listened; evidently the distant shoutings were growing more distant! a moment or two more and they had gone altogether. The heart-sinking misery of it! Tom whooped until he was hoarse, but it was of no use. He talked hopefully to Becky; but an age of anxious waiting passed and no sounds came again.
The children groped their way back to the spring. The weary time dragged on; they slept again, and awoke famished and woe-stricken. Tom believed it must be Tuesday by this time.
Now an idea struck him. There were some side passages near at hand. It would be better to explore some of these than bear the weight of the heavy time in idleness. He took a kite-line from his pocket, tied it to a projection, and he and Becky started, Tom in the lead, unwinding the line as he groped along. At the end of twenty steps the corridor ended in a "jumping-off place." Tom got down on his knees and felt below, and then as far around the corner as he could reach with his hands conveniently; he made an effort to stretch yet a little farther to the right, and at that moment, not twenty yards away, a human hand, holding a candle, appeared from behind a rock! Tom lifted up a glorious shout, and instantly that hand was followed by the body it belonged to—Injun Joe's! Tom was paralyzed; he could not move. He was vastly gratified the next moment to see the "Spaniard" take to his heels and get himself out of sight. Tom wondered that Joe had not recognized his voice and come over and killed him for testifying in court. But the echoes must have disguised the voice. Without doubt, that was it, he reasoned. Tom's fright weakened every muscle in his body. He said to himself that if he had strength enough to get back to the spring he would stay there, and nothing should tempt him to run the risk of meeting Injun Joe again. He was careful to keep from Becky what it was he had seen. He told her he had only shouted "for luck."
But hunger and wretchedness rise superior to fears in the long run. Another tedious wait at the spring and another long sleep brought changes. The children awoke tortured with a raging hunger. Tom believed that it must be Wednesday or Thursday or even Friday or Saturday, now, and that the search had been given over. He proposed to explore another passage. He felt willing to risk Injun Joe and all other terrors. But Becky was very weak. She had sunk into a dreary apathy and would not be roused. She said she would wait, now, where she was, and die—it would not be long. She told Tom to go with the kite-line and explore if he chose; but she implored him to come back every little while and speak to her; and she made him promise that when the awful time came, he would stay by her and hold her hand until all was over.
Tom kissed her, with a choking sensation in his throat, and made a show of being confident of finding the searchers or an escape from the cave; then he took the kite-line in his hand and went groping down one of the passages on his hands and knees, distressed with hunger and sick with bodings of coming doom.
"Not a bird upon the tree but half forgave his being human."
The brothers who knew Francis best in these years, who shared his joys and sorrows, and even his thoughts, have many stories to tell of his love for flowers and birds and animals. When they were planting their little pieces of ground around the poor huts in the plain, he used to bid them leave a corner of good earth for "our little sisters, the flowers." Once, in the market-place of Siena, he rescued a pair of doves from being sold. He gathered them up in his robe, saying: "Little sister-doves, you are simple, and good, and pure. Why have they captured you? I will save you from death and make you nests for your little ones."
There is a pretty story of the friendship of Francis with a family of red-throats who used to come and pick up crumbs on the table where the Brothers were eating. Another story is of a frightened hare which some one had caught in a trap. "Come to me, Brother Hare," said Francis, and the trembling little beast fled to him and let itself be caressed by his kind hands. It even refused to run away, on being set down, so that Francis was obliged to carry it into the woods and leave it free to find its way home.
One day Francis was in a little boat, being ferried across the lake of Rieti, when a boatman made him a present of an uncommonly large fish, just caught and gasping for breath. The gift was accepted gladly, but, in a minute, the astonished giver saw Francis drop the creature back into the water, bidding it thank God. Probably neither the fish nor the fisherman understood the tender heart that could not bear to see anything suffer pain; yet, doubtless, in its own way, the poor fish was grateful to feel the cool water again, and it is to be hoped that it kept away from nets and hooks for ever after.
With birds Francis felt himself always among dear and happy friends. Once these little companions were even too noisy in their merry-making. It was on a day when Francis stood up to speak to a great crowd of men and women gathered out of doors. Hundreds of swallows were wheeling all about, as one often sees them of a spring afternoon, twittering and calling with shrill voices while they hunt their supper on the wing. This time the birds flew so low, and were so many and so loud, that Francis could not make himself heard. Suddenly he turned from his audience and spoke into the air: "It is time that I should have my turn to talk, little sister Swallows," he said; "be quiet and listen until I have finished"; and, so says the old story, the swallows obeyed his voice.
A short time after, Francis went on his way toward Bevagna, a small town on the southwestern side of the Umbrian valley. Looking off from Assisi, one may still see the road by which he must have walked. Two or three of his Brothers were with him, but Francis was not talking. His head was bent and he seemed to be thinking so hard that he had forgotten all about his comrades. Suddenly, as it is written in an old book called "The Little Flowers of St. Francis," "he lifted up his eyes and saw many trees along the side of the road and in their branches an almost countless number of birds; so that Francis wondered, and said to his companions: 'Wait for me here, and I will go and preach to my sisters the birds.' And he went into the field and began to preach to the birds that were on the ground, and, quickly, those that were up in the trees came to him, and they all kept quiet while Francis finished his sermon, and, even then, they did not go away until he had given them his blessing. And, when Francis went among them touching their heads, not one of them moved. The substance of the sermon that Francis made was this: 'My bird sisters, you are much beloved by God your Master, and always, in every place, you ought to praise Him, because He has given you liberty to fly everywhere; and He has given you also clothing double and triple. You are loved also by the air which He has given to you; and moreover, you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you, and gives you the rivers and the fountains to drink from; He gives you the mountains and the valleys for your refuge, and the tall trees for your nests, and, although you do not know how to spin nor sew, God clothes you and your children. God must love you much, since He gives you so many blessings, and therefore, be careful, my sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and always seek to praise God.' While Francis said these words, all those birds began to open their beaks, and stretch out their necks, and spread their wings, and bend their heads reverently toward the earth, and, with acts and songs, they showed that the Holy Father gave them great pleasure. And Francis rejoiced and made merry together with them, and he wondered much at such a multitude of birds, and at their beauty and at their attention and tameness, and he devoutly thanked God for them." The old story goes on to tell how, after the sermon, the great flock of birds rose into the air with wonderful songs and flew away North and South and East and West, even as the Poor Brothers must go, who, like the birds, had nothing of their own, but depended only on God's care of them.
This story of the birds was so much loved and so often told that, years afterward, the painters liked to paint it on the walls of the churches. You may still see, in the great Church of St. Francis in Assisi, a picture by the painter Giotto, of the grey-robed Brother, standing among the birds, and telling them, so simply that it really seemed as if a bird might understand, of the Father without whose love not even a sparrow falls.
One night Brother Francis and Brother Leone, "God's Little Lamb," were alone together. It was May, and in a great ilex tree near them a nightingale was singing sweet and clear, in the stillness. To Francis the song seemed all joy and praise. "Come, Brother Leone," he cried, "let us sing, too, and see which will tire first, our voices or that of the nightingale." But Brother Leone, who was, perhaps, tired and sleepy, excused himself, saying that he had no voice. Then Francis, his heart filled with the gladness of the beautiful spring-time, went out into the darkness, and, all night long, the man and the bird sang wonderful songs of love and praise. But even God's Troubadour could not outdo the little unseen singer in the ilex tree, and, at last, Francis owned merrily that Brother Nightingale was victor in this strange singing-match.
"Said Grey Brother, 'Where shall we lair to-day? for from now we follow new trails.' "—Kipling.
The huts in the plain below Assisi were the home of the Little Poor Men, in so far as they had a home; but, like the Troubadours and Knights Errant, they were wanderers always. Just as Sir Lancelot or Sir Gawain would ride away from the court of King Arthur to fight for any forlorn lady, or for any hard-pressed knight, so Brother Leone or Brother Francis would set forth at any moment to carry help to the miserable. But the Brothers went on foot, and they wore no armour, and fought no battles; yet they had need to be as brave as the best of knights, for they went among the sick, and cared for those who were dying of most terrible diseases. They met fierce enemies, too, since many people hated them because they spoke without fear in the streets, saying that pride and greed and war are wicked, and that folk should live by love and labour, not by fighting and robbery. When people saw that the Brothers really lived as they preached, that, when they were stoned by cruel hands and abused by cruel tongues, they returned only gentleness for anger, many began to listen gladly, and even barons and princes came to love Francis and his Brothers, as the poor and wretched had loved them from the first.
Francis himself had a manner so sweet and winning that no one could refuse to listen to him; and sometimes he used to be sent for to make peace between two enemies, because even angry men, listening to his voice, forgot their hatred, and were ready to forgive and to be friends again. The stories say, moreover, that he could control not fierce men only, but the fiercest of wild beasts.
One of the places which Francis often visited is a little city called Gubbio, about fifteen miles north of Assisi. Almost all the way the road lies across the high mountains and the traveller can overlook the long Umbrian valley. From these bare heights, Perugia and Assisi seem to lie low, but far to the south, on clear days, the tops of the tallest Apennines stand out against the sky. Before the road drops to the narrow valley which lies below the gates of Gubbio, Francis, who loved the mountains, always turned to look back at the great peaks, shining white in winter time, or soft and blue if it were summer.
Gubbio looks not unlike Assisi, but is still more steeply built up a mountain side. In those days the stone houses seemed to huddle within the great city walls for shelter, for there was frequent fighting at Gubbio. Even in times of peace, people were often afraid to go beyond the gates, because in the forests and caves on the mountain lived daring robbers and brigands. Besides the savage men, there were also savage beasts, and the shepherds feared for their lambs and kids, when they heard the howling of the wolves at night.
Once, when Brother Francis came to Gubbio, all the city was in terror because of a wolf, the largest and fiercest ever known. The huge creature prowled about the country, devouring sheep and goats; but, worse than that, it fell upon men, and had killed more than one shepherd. No man dared to go out of the gates alone, and even three or four together went armed, as if to battle; for the beast came close to the city walls, and his strength was as that of three hunters.
Bands of citizens had been out to seek the wolf, but had found only the track of his big feet, and the bones of the victims that he had eaten. Every night the folk of Gubbio, safely barred within their stone houses, told a new story of the four-footed enemy: how a shepherd had lost his fattest sheep and two of his best dogs; how a soldier, riding alone, toward evening, from the next town, had seen a great grey creature moving in the woods by the roadside, and had spurred his horse to its best speed and reached the gate with the beast close at the heels of the frightened horse. Night after night the children of Gubbio shivered in their beds, thinking of a long shadow that crept about the city walls in the moonlight, and seeming to hear the pad of four swift feet, coming nearer and nearer.
Brother Francis had been often in Gubbio and was well known there, and much loved, and therefore all the people turned to him with the stories of their suffering. He was sorry, says the old tale, to see the folk wishing, but not daring, to go outside the gates, because the wolf was most terrible and fierce. To the astonishment and horror of everybody, Francis declared that he would himself go out and meet the wolf.
Though all the crowd begged him not to venture, and filled his ears with accounts of the cruelty of the beast, the Little Poor Man, followed by one or two Brothers, went out from the city gate and down the road toward the spot where the wolf was thought to lurk. Behind the Brothers came the citizens of Gubbio, still frightened, but curious to see what would happen, and, it may be, quieted by the coolness and fearlessness of Francis. Close at the heels of the Brothers marched certain venturesome boys, and at the very end of the procession dangled a group of smaller, timider children, round-eyed and open-mouthed, who clutched each others' hands, and were always ready to scamper home at a moment's warning.
About a quarter of a mile beyond the gate, where a wood of tall oaks and walnuts shadowed the road, those who were nearest turned pale at the sight of the wolf, coming swiftly along, with his great jaws open, eager to spring upon Brother Francis, who walked ahead and alone. He went, not as a soldier goes to meet an enemy, but as one might go out to meet a welcome friend.
As the unarmed man and the wild beast neared each other, Francis called, cheerily: "Come hither, Brother Wolf! I ask you, for Christ's sake, to do no harm to me nor to any one." Then the crowd saw, with wonder, that the terrible wolf stopped running, and that the great, wicked jaws closed; and, presently, the creature came softly up to Brother Francis and, meek as a lamb, lay down at his feet. And Francis spoke to him as one man might reason with another: "Brother Wolf, you do much harm in all this countryside, and you have committed many crimes, hurting and killing God's creatures. Not only have you killed and eaten beasts, but you have dared to kill men, made in God's image, and, therefore, you deserve to be punished like the worst of thieves and murderers; and all the people cry out and murmur against you; and everybody is your enemy." The wolf lay perfectly still, with his head flat in the dust of the road, and his red tongue lolled out like that of a winded hound. The people forgot their fright, and spread themselves in a circle that all might see and hear; the children tiptoed closer, to look at the monster who had filled all their dreams with terror. "But I wish, Brother Wolf," went on the voice of Francis, "to make peace between you and this folk, so that you shall not harm them any more; and they shall forgive you all your misdeeds, and neither the men nor the dogs shall trouble you any longer." Then, with body and head and tail, the great wolf seemed to agree to all that Brother Francis said. Perhaps the wolf somewhat wondered what he should do for dinner, if he could not kill a sheep nor a child; perhaps he was so charmed by this strange, gentle voice that he forgot all about his dinner. Brother Francis did not forget, as his next words showed. "Brother Wolf," said he, "since you are honestly willing to make and keep this peace, I promise you that, as long as you live, the men of this place shall give you food, so that you shall never go hungry; for I know well that it is hunger that has made you do all this evil. But I want you to promise me, in return, that you will never harm any human being, nor any animal. Will you promise me this?" And the wolf nodded his head, as if he said: "Yes, I promise." And Francis said: "Brother Wolf, I want you to make me so sure of your promise that I cannot doubt it." The man held out his hand, and the beast lifted his paw and laid it clumsily on Brother Francis's palm, as much as to say: "Here is my hand. I will keep my part of the treaty." "And now," said Francis, "I wish you, Brother Wolf, to come with me, and not to be afraid, and we will finish this business."
Francis turned back toward the city, and the wolf walked beside him like a pet lamb; and the people of Gubbio followed, in great wonder, silently. But, once within the city, they spread the news from street to street and everybody, big and little, young and old, crowded into the square to see Brother Francis and the wolf.
Beside the fountain, in the centre of the square, stood the Little Poor Man in his grey gown, with the great grey beast at his side. When he spoke, his clear voice carried far, and all the crowd fell silent, striving to hear. "Listen, my friends," said Francis, "Brother Wolf, who is here before you, has promised me on his honour never to hurt you again in any way; and you, in your turn, must promise to give him all that he needs. I will go surety for him that he will keep his promise." And all the people, with one voice, pledged themselves to feed the wolf, and not to harm him.
Then, before them all, Brother Francis said to the wolf: "And you, Brother Wolf, promise again before all this people that you will keep faith with them, and will hurt no man, nor animal, nor any living thing." Then the wolf knelt down and bent his head and said, as well as he could, with his body, his head and his ears, that he meant to keep his word. And Brother Francis said: "Give me your hand here, before all the people, as you did outside the gate"; and the big grey paw was laid again in the hand of Brother Francis, while all the people shouted to heaven for joy that God had sent so good a man to deliver them from so terrible a beast.
After this Brother Wolf lived in Gubbio, and went about tamely from door to door, even entering the houses, without doing harm or being harmed. He was well fed and politely treated by everybody, and not a dog dared to bark at him. He must have led a long life of evil-doing before his change of heart, for, at the end of two years, he died of old age. When he died, all the citizens of Gubbio mourned for him greatly, for his own sake, and because the sight of him walking so meekly through the streets had made them always remember the goodness of Brother Francis.
|And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lute, and who has the sweetest voice of all God's creatures.—Koran.|
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
Whose heart-strings are a lute;
None sing so wildly well
As the Angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
Of his voice, all mute.
In her highest noon,
The enamoured moon
Blushes with love,
While, to listen, the red levin
(With the rapid Pleiads, even,
Which were seven)
Pauses in Heaven.
And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli's fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings,
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.
But the skies that angel trod,
Where deep thoughts are a duty,
Where Love's a grown-up God,
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.
Therefore thou art not wrong,
Israfeli, who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
Best bard, because the wisest:
Merrily live, and long!
The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit:
Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
With the fervor of thy lute:
Well may the stars be mute!
Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely—flowers,
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours.
If I could dwell
Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.
WEEK 45 |
This island loves thee well, thou famous man,
The greatest sailor since our world began.
I N 1789 A.D. a revolution broke out in France. The French people rose against their King and Queen and killed them and many of the nobles as well. Then they declared the country to be a Commonwealth or Republic as the English had done in the time of Cromwell.
At this time William Pitt the younger, son of the great William Pitt, Lord Chatham, was Prime Minister. He, unlike his father, was a peace minister. Britain with her new factories and new trade was growing wealthy, and Pitt tried hard to keep the country at peace. But he tried in vain, for France declared war. Once more, for nearly twenty years, Britain was fighting by land and by sea.
The French were led by Napoleon Bonaparte. He was one of the most wonderful men who have ever lived. Beginning life as a poor unknown soldier, he soon rose to be leader of the French army. He rose and rose until the people made him Emperor of France. His one desire was to be great and powerful, and he did not care how others suffered or how many people were killed so long as he had what he wanted. He made war all over Europe. He conquered kings and gave away their thrones and crowns to his own friends and relatives, and only the British were strong enough to stand against him.
Napoleon made up his mind to conquer Britain. He raised an army which he called the Army of England, and he made a medal in honour of the conquest of Britain which never took place, and engraved upon the medal, "Struck at London," although he never reached there. It was like Caligula and his army gathering shells on the shore, for Napoleon and his men came no nearer conquering Britain than those old Romans did.
Many of the Irish hated the English and would have been glad to help the French. Napoleon knew this, and he decided that Ireland was the best place at which to begin the attack. He fitted out a great fleet with the intention of landing in Ireland. But his ships were shattered by the winds as the ships of the Armada had been, and nothing came of this invasion. A little later the French really did land in Ireland, but the King's army was ready for them and they were forced to go away again.
Up till this time Ireland had still a separate Parliament,
just as Scotland had before
In January 1801 A.D., the first Imperial Parliament was called, and since then, English, Irish and Scottish members have sat together in the same House and have made the laws for the whole land.
On the 1st of January, King George made a proclamation
saying that his title should now be,
Meanwhile British ships under the great sailor Nelson were victorious by sea, and on land British soldiers hindered and spoiled Napoleon's plans. At last, as every one was tired of the war, peace was signed.
But peace did not last long. The following year war broke out again and Napoleon threatened once more to invade Britain. But the British built watch-towers and beacons along the coast so that warning could be sent from town to town if the dreaded tyrant should come. The young men drilled as volunteers to guard their homes. Every one was ready for the ogre Napoleon who never came.
While these preparations were being made at home, Nelson swept the seas searching for the French and Spanish navies, and at last they met in Trafalgar Bay, off the coast of Spain.
A few days before they met, Nelson wrote to a friend, "Here I am watching for the French and the Spaniards like a cat after the mice. If they come out, I know I shall catch them; but I am also almost sure that I shall be killed in doing it."
On the 21st October 1805 A.D., the battle began. Every captain in the fleet had received his orders and knew exactly what to do. But Nelson felt there was still something wanting, and, from the top-gallant mast of his own ship the Victory, a message was signalled through all the fleet, "England expects that every man will do his duty." The message was greeted with cheer upon cheer from every ship along the line, and every sailor felt his courage rise.
The battle soon became fierce—shot and shell flew thick and fast. Once as Nelson and Hardy, the captain of the Victory, stood on deck together, a shot fell between them tearing off one of Captain Hardy's shoe buckles. Each looked at the other fearing he was wounded. Then seeing neither of them were hurt, Nelson smiled and said calmly, "This is too warm work, Hardy, to last long."
Everything went well with the British. Already it seemed as if the victory was sure, when a chance shot struck Nelson and he fell forward on the deck.
"They have done for me at last, Hardy," he said, as some sailors, seeing their dear admiral fall, ran forward to carry him to a safe place. As Nelson was being carried past those who were fighting, he covered his face and the stars and medals on his coat in case they should see that he was wounded and feel discouraged, for his sailors loved him dearly.
"They have done for me at last, Hardy," said Nelson.
The great admiral was dying fast, but before he died Hardy was able to bring him the news that victory was theirs and that fourteen or fifteen of the enemies' ships had surrendered.
"I hope," said Nelson, "that none of our ships have struck their colours."
"No, my Lord, there is no fear of that."
"That's well! that's well!" he answered.
"Kiss me, Hardy," he said, a little later. Hardy knelt and kissed him. "I am satisfied now," he said. "Thank God I have done my duty." These were his last words.
With the battle of Trafalgar, which was fought on
'Twas in Trafalgar's Bay
We saw the Frenchmen lay,
Each heart was bounding then;
We scorned the foreign yoke,
Our ships were British oak,
And hearts of oak our men.
Our Nelson marked them on the wave,
Three cheers our gallant seamen gave,
Nor thought of home or beauty.
Along the line the signal
England expects that every man
This day will do his duty.
And now the cannons roar
Along the affrighted shore;
Our Nelson led the way,
His ship the Vict'ry named;
Long be that Vict'ry famed,
For vict'ry crowned the day.
But dearly was that conquest bought,
Too well the gallant hero fought,
For England, home, and beauty.
He cried, as midst the fire he ran,
England expects that every man
This day will do his duty.
At last the fatal wound,
Which spread dismay around,
The hero's breast received;
Heav'n fights on our side,
The day's our own, he cried,
Now long enough I've lived;
In honour's cause my life was past,
In honour's cause I fall at last,
For England, home, and beauty.
Thus ending life as he began,
England confessed that every man
That day had done his duty.
OU ought to go out into the fields and woods as many as
six times this fall, even though you have to take a
long street-car ride to get out of the city. Let me
give you just six bits of sound advice about going
First, go often to the same place, so that you can travel over and over the same ground and become very familiar with it. The first trip you will not see much but woods and fields. But after that, each succeeding walk will show you particular things—this dead tree with the flicker's hole, that old rail-pile with its rabbit-hole—until, by and by, you will know every turn and dip, every pile of stones, every hole and nest; and you will find a thousand things that on the first trip you didn't dream were there.
Secondly, when you go into the woods, go expecting to see something in particular—always looking for some particular nest, bird, beast, or plant. You may not find that particular thing, but your eyes will be sharpened by your expectation and purpose, and you will be pretty sure therefore to see something. At worst you will come back with a disappointment, and that is better than coming back without a thing!
Thirdly, go off when you can alone. Don't be selfish, unsociable, offish—by no means that. But you must learn to use your own eyes and ears, think your own thoughts, make your own discoveries, and follow the hints and hopes that you alone can have. Go with the school class for a picnic, but for woodcraft go alone.
Fourthly, learn first of all in the woods to be as silent as an Indian and as patient as a granite rock. Practice standing still when the mosquitoes sing, and fixing your mind on the hole under the stump instead of the hole the mosquito is boring between your eyes.
Fifthly, go out in every variety of weather, and at night, as well as during the day. There are three scenes to every day—morning, noon, and early evening—when the very actors themselves are changed. To one who has never been in the fields at daybreak, the world is so new, so fresh and strange, as to seem like a different planet. And then the evening—the hour of dusk and the deeper, darker night! Go once this autumn into the woods at night.
And lastly, don't go into the woods as if they were a kind of Noah's Ark; for you cannot enter the door and find all the animals standing in a row. You will go a great many times before seeing them all. Don't be disappointed if they are not so plentiful there as they are in your books. Nature books are like menageries—the animals are caught and caged for you. The woods are better than books and just as full of things, as soon as you learn to take a hint, to read the signs, to put two and two together and get—four—four paws—black paws, with a long black snout, a big ringed and bushy tail—a coon!
Whether you live in the heart of a great city or in the open country, you ought to begin this fall to learn the names and habits of the birds and beasts (snakes, lizards, turtles, toads!) that live wild in your region. Even when all the summer birds have gone south for the winter, there will remain in your woods and fields crows, jays, juncos, tree sparrows, chickadees, kinglets, nuthatches, screech owls, barred owls,—perhaps even snowy owls,—quails, partridges, goldfinches, with now and then a flock of crossbills, snow buntings, and other northern visitors, and even a flicker, robin, and bluebird left over from the fall migrations. These are plenty to begin on; and yet, as they are so few, compared with the numbers of the summer, the beginner's work is thus all the easier in the autumn.
You should go out one of these frosty mornings for chestnuts, if they grow in your woods; or for "shagbarks," if you live in New England; for black walnuts, if you live in the Middle States; for pecan nuts, if you live in the Gulf States; for butternuts, if you live in the states of the Middle West; for—what kind of nuts can you not go for, if you live in California where they make everything grow! It matters little whether you go for paper-shelled English walnuts or for plate-armored pignuts so long as you go. It is the going that is worth while.
You ought to go "cocooning" this fall—to sharpen your eyes. But do not go often; for once you begin to look for cocoons, you are in danger of seeing nothing else—except brown leaves. And how many brown leaves, that look like cocoons, there are! They tease you to vexation. But a day now and then "cocooning" will do you no harm; indeed, it will cultivate your habit of concentration and close seeing as will no other kind of hunting I know.
Bring home with you the big brown silky cocoons of cecropia—the largest cocoon you will find, lashed all along its length to its twig, and usually near the ground. Look on the black cherry, the barberry, sassafras, and roadside and garden trees for the harder, whiter cocoon of the promethea moth. This hangs by its tip, because the caterpillar has begun his house by using the leaf, spinning it into the cocoon as part of its walls, much as does the wretched "brown-tail." The gray cocoons, or rather nests, of this "brown-tail" moth you must bring home to burn, for they are one of our greatest pests. You will find them full of tiny caterpillars as you tear them open.
Bring home your collection and, with the help of such a book as "Moths and Butterflies" by Mary C. Dickerson, identify them and hang them up for their "coming out" in the spring.
If you live in the city, you ought to go up frequently to your roof and watch for the birds that fly over. If in one of our many cities near the water, you will have a chance that those in the country seldom have, of seeing the seabirds—the white herring gulls (the young gulls are brown, and look like a different species), as they pass over whistling plaintively, and others of the wild seafowl, that merely to hear and see in the smoky air of the city, is almost as refreshing as an ocean voyage. Then there are the parks and public gardens—never without their birds and, at the fall migrating time, often sheltering the very rarest of visitors.
In order to give point and purpose to one of these autumn outings, you should take your basket, or botanizing can, and scour the woods and fields for autumn berries. No bunch of flowers in June could be lovelier than the bunch of autumn berries that you can gather from thicket and wayside to carry home.
And then, in order to enjoy the trip all over again, read James Buckham's exquisite story, "A Quest for Fall Berries," in his book, "Where Town and Country Meet."
Take your botany can on a trip toward the end of November and see how many blossoming flowers you can bring home from the woods. Wild flowers after Thanksgiving in any northern state? Make the search, on all the southern slopes and in all the sheltered corners and see for yourselves. When you get back, you will want to read Mr. Bradford Torrey's account of the flowers that he found blossoming out of doors in New England in the month of November. But who is Mr. Bradford Torrey? and where can you find this account of his November walk? You do not know? Well, then there is something more for you to do this fall.
While you are finding out who Mr. Torrey is and what he has written, you should also get acquainted with John Burroughs, Olive Thorne Miller, Thoreau, Frank Bolles, William Hamilton Gibson, C. C. Abbott, Edward Breck, Gilbert White, and—but these will do for this fall. Don't fail to read dear old Gilbert White's "Natural History of Selborne"; though perhaps we grown-ups like it better than you may this fall. If you don't understand Gilbert White, then read this year "The Life of a Scotch Naturalist" by Samuel Smiles, and Arabella Buckley's two books, "Life and Her Children," and "Winners in Life's Race."
You ought to tie up a piece of suet for the birds; keep your cat in the house, except during the middle of the day, and—but I shall tell you no more. There is no end to the interesting things to do in your study of the out of doors and in your tramps afield this autumn.
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence;
Yet I know by their merry eyes,
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all?
I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away.
WEEK 45 |
"I T is not late yet, Uncle," said Jules; "you ought to tell us about those terrible mountains, those volcanoes that the showers of ashes come from."
At the word "volcano," Emile, who was already asleep, rubbed his eyes and became all attention. He too wanted to hear the great story. As usual, their uncle yielded to their entreaties.
"A volcano is a mountain that throws up smoke, calcined
"An eruption is generally announced beforehand by a column of smoke that fills the orifice of the crater and rises vertically, when the air is calm, to nearly a mile in height. At this elevation it spreads out in a sort of blanket that intercepts the sun's rays. Some days before the eruption the column of smoke sinks down on the volcano, covering it with a big black cloud. Then the earth begins to tremble around Vesuvius; rumbling detonations under the ground are heard, louder and louder each moment, soon exceeding in intensity the most violent claps of thunder. You would think you heard the cannonades of a numerous artillery detonating ceaselessly in the mountain's sides.
"All at once a sheaf of fire bursts from the crater to the
height of 2000 or 3000 meters. The cloud that is floating
over the volcano is illumined by the redness of the fire;
the sky seems inflamed. Millions of sparks dart out like
lightning to the top of the blazing sheaf, describe great
arcs, leaving on their way dazzling trails, and fall in a
shower of fire on the slopes of the volcano. These sparks,
so small from a distance, are incandescent masses of stone,
sometimes several meters in dimension, and of a sufficient
momentum to crush the most solid buildings in their fall.
"It is both terrible and beautiful," said Jules. "Oh! how I should like to see an eruption, but far off, of course."
"And the people who are on the mountain?" questioned Emile.
"'They are careful not to go on the mountain at that time;
they might lose their lives, suffocated by the smoke or
crushed by the shower of
"Meantime, from the depths of the mountain, through the
volcanic chimney, ascends a flux of melted mineral
substance, or lava, which pours out into the crater and
forms a lake of fire as dazzling as the sun. Spectators who,
from the plain, anxiously follow the progress of the
eruption, are warned of the coming of the
"The flow of lava comes to an end, sooner or later. Then subterranean vapors, freed from the enormous pressure of the fluid mass, escape with more violence than ever, carrying with them whirlwinds of fine dust that floats in sinister clouds and sinks down on the neighboring plain, or is even carried by the winds to a distance of hundreds of leagues. Finally, the terrible mountain calms down, and peace is restored for an indefinite time."
"If there are towns near the volcanoes, cannot those streams of fire reach them? Cannot those clouds of ashes bury them?" asked Jules.
"Unfortunately all that is possible and has happened. I will
tell you about it
Of course, the people were sure to disagree about the new Constitution. Governors in the states did not like to have a President who would be greater than they. Militias in the states did not want to be at the beck and call of a President who would be their commander-in-chief. Judges in the states did not care to have their decisions appealed to a supreme court. Merchants did not choose to allow a Congress to put taxes on the goods they imported from Europe.
And so there was a great deal of talking.
Those who favored the Constitution were called federalists, and those who opposed it were called anti-federalists.
Some great patriots were anti-federalists, Patrick Henry of Virginia was an anti-federalist, because he feared the President and Congress might take liberty from the people.
Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts, was an anti-federalist, because he feared one government could not hold so many states together.
Now, this old patriot had much influence. People said Massachusetts would vote against the Constitution if Samuel Adams did.
But some workingmen met in the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston. It was their opinion that if the Constitution was not ratified their trades would be ruined. A committee bore their resolutions to Samuel Adams; and Paul Revere, who had aroused the sleeping towns for the battle of Lexington, handed him the paper.
"How many mechanics were at the Green Dragon?" asked Adams.
"More, sir, than the Green Dragon could hold," answered Paul Revere.
"And where were the rest, Mr. Revere?"
"In the streets, sir."
"And how many were in the streets?"
"More, sir, than there are stars in the sky."
And because Samuel Adams had faith in the judgment of the industrious workingmen, he resolved from that moment to be a federalist.
Nothing that anybody could say changed the mind of Governor George Clinton, of New York. He opposed the Constitution with all his might.
Alexander Hamilton urged the adoption of the Constitution. He wrote, with John Jay, of New York, and James Madison, of Virginia, a series of essays called the Federalist. The Federalist explained the new plan of government.
It had great influence all over the country. But there were so many anti-federalists in New York that people said the state would never adopt the Constitution.
There was talking from morning till night in the taverns and on the corners of the streets.
Hamilton hardly slept or ate, he was so busy trying to persuade the people to agree to the Constitution. At last news came that eight states had ratified it.
When the New York convention met to vote, there was the greatest excitement. Only one more state was needed to make the Constitution a law. Would New Hampshire vote for it? Would Virginia vote for it? Hamilton sent off couriers for reports from these two states. The days seemed very long.
At last a courier came riding at full speed. "New Hampshire has ratified!" he shouted. "Hurrah!" answered the friends of the Constitution, and they hurried to tell that the new government was established.
Would New York join the union, or remain independent? Everybody was asking the question. Now, New York, at that time, was not so great in either wealth or population as Virginia, Massachusetts, or Pennsylvania. But the state was very important, for all that. There it lay, dividing New England from the middle and southern states. You can see very well that, if New York had stayed out of the union, she might have been a troublesome neighbor to the United States of America.
Hamilton argued in the convention while waiting for reports from Virginia. "Let others try the experiment first," said Governor Clinton and his friends. Everybody said that, if Virginia refused to ratify, New York would be sure to follow her example.
It took a long time for news to come from far away Virginia. But at last a horseman brought tidings that Virginia, the "mother of the colonies," had adopted the Constitution.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted the friends of the Constitution. "What will our convention do now?" they asked.
The excitement of the crowds outside the court-house waxed greater than ever. "Hamilton is speaking!" went from mouth to mouth. "Hamilton is speaking yet! He has changed more votes!"
And when the news was carried to the people that their convention had ratified the Constitution, a shout went up all over the state. There was a holiday to celebrate the event. Cannons boomed, bells rang, and thousands marched in line in the streets of New York city.
The portrait of Hamilton with the Constitution in his hand was carried in the parade; a small frigate, called the "Ship of State," bore the name Hamilton in large letters, and on the national flag were pictured the faces of Washington and Hamilton. The celebration closed with a public dinner, where toasts were offered in honor of Hamilton.
It was a proud day for the young federalist.
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there 's a pair of us—don't tell!
They 'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
WEEK 45 |
I T was the day of the great boar hunt for which spears and knives had been sharpening for at least a week. Everybody had been up since dawn and the palace courtyard rang with the neighing of horses and the baying of hounds.
It was the day of the great boar hunt.
Presently the king appeared, his blue eyes sparkling and eager; for hunting was his favorite sport. Indeed, the great wild forest full of wild beasts to be chased was, next to the warm springs, the chief reason why he had built his finest palace at the edge of Aachen.
Soon Charlemagne had mounted a splendid black horse which had been pawing the ground impatiently as a young Frankish noble clung to the bronze chains which served for bridle and which he now handed over to the King as the latter arranged himself on the handsomely carved leather saddle. He was dressed as usual, save that stuck through his sword-belt shone a long knife with a jeweled handle, while slung over one shoulder was a silver chain from which hung his hunting horn. It was made from the horn of an ox, the broad end being finished with a band of silver on which were chased hounds running at full speed.
The young Frank next handed the King a long, polished boar-spear, and at this signal all the other huntsmen sprang to their saddles, seized their spears from the attendants, the packs of hounds were turned loose, and Clatter! Clatter! Clatter! Thud! Thud! Thud! Bow-wow! Wow-wow-wow! Brrh-rrh! off they rushed toward the great forest.
On, on they pelted, across the meadows, toward the tall trees; and once within their shadows little they cared whether witch or fairy crossed their path. For the one thought of all those headlong huntsmen was for their bellowing hounds to start up some one of the fierce wild boars from his forest lair, so that they might chase him as with quivering bristles and red burning eyes he flew before them.
As Rainolf and the other boys, who had been in the courtyard watching the hunt start, heard the last echoes die away in the forest they all sighed enviously, and "Oh," said Rainolf, "don't I wish they'd have let us go along!"
All the rest felt quite the same way about it; for they had been taught to ride and could shoot very well with their bows and arrows, though, of course, they could not handle spears as yet. As they turned around with long faces, they were only half consoled when Aymon said, "Well, one comfort, Master Alcuin says we are to have a half holiday and need only take our singing lesson over in the cathedral."
So in a little while they all went over to the great cathedral which the King had caused to be built near the palace. It was very beautiful, being patterned after one Charlemagne had seen in Italy; and, as for the palace, he had brought wonderful Italian marbles and mosaics for it. Inside, in the place for the choir, was a carved wooden rack which held a very large parchment book. Its open pages were covered with bars of music made big enough so a number of singers could stand in front of it and yet be able to see the notes; for books were too scarce for everybody to have one.
When the boys entered the cathedral a row of men were already ranged in front of the choir book, among them Master Einhard, who smiled at Rainolf and made room for him beside himself as the other boys took their places behind, peering at the book as best they could. Facing them all stood the black-eyed teacher whom Charlemagne had brought from Italy to show the Frankish singers how properly to chant the church service and also to instruct the children in music.
As now the Italian beat time with one hand and sang "do-re-mi-fa," he frowned at the untrained voices of the Franks; that is, all but Master Einhard and Rainolf. These two had very sweet voices which blended well together; and as Rainolf stood beside Master Einhard he felt that he would rather sing beautifully than to do almost anything else, and he wondered if this was what Master Leobard meant when he said there would be something he would care more for than being a warrior. "Yes," he said to himself, "if I could only sing and make up songs of my own like Master Einhard does! And I will some day!" For, as Rainolf sang, a power began to waken within him.
Meantime, the Italian teacher fairly wrung his hands as the other singers went on do-re-mi-fa-ing without the least idea how badly they were doing it. And soon another sound arose which was almost as bad as their singing. It was the cathedral organ, which a young Frank was playing while another strapping youth puffed and panted as he worked a large bellows by which he forced the air into its few brass pipes. The keys were wide and heavy, and the young Frank in front of them struck each one a resounding blow with his fist, as that was the only way anybody could play on them.
Nevertheless, this organ which was the first any of the Frankish people had seen, was considered very wonderful indeed, and had been sent all the way from Constantinople as a present from the Greek emperor. And only the Sunday before, a noble Frankish lady had actually fainted from sheer joy at hearing so marvelous a musical instrument! So, you see, you really had better not laugh at it nor at the young Frank cheerfully pounding away with both fists.
The choir singers and the boys listened to the organ with great respect, as they had been taught, and supposed of course it must be very grand. Still, most of them felt relieved when the music lesson was over and they went out into the quiet morning air.
In the cathedral porch was a stone seat; and here as the boys passed along they saw Malagis curled up beside an old man wrapped in a long mantle and holding on his knees a musical instrument which looked something like a fiddle.
"I wonder where Malagis picked up that minnesinger?" whispered Rainolf to Aymon. But here the dwarf greeted the boys with a laugh. "Hey!" he cried. "We have been listening to your squawking,— all but Rainolf there,—he sings fairly well,—but as for the rest of you I thought some angry cats had climbed in at the windows and were fighting it out inside! But my friend here says he knows that Italian teacher of yours and that he is so fine that no matter how badly you bellow now, by and by you will all sing like a parcel of blue-birds. So cheer up!"
The old man, who had a gentle face, smiled at the speech of Malagis, and "Come, friend minstrel," said the dwarf, "sing us another song, like you sang to me a while ago, and show the youngsters what singing is!"
The boys crowded eagerly around, for everybody delighted in these wandering minstrels, or minnesingers as they were often called, and whose songs usually told some story, thus taking the place of story books which nobody had then.
The singer was from the southern part of Gaul, where they were better trained than in the ruder parts of the kingdom, and they all listened with pleasure as he touched the strings of his instrument and sang several song-stories in a voice still sweet and mellow, though he was no longer young.
Presently, after he had paused to rest awhile, "Won't you sing us another, sir minstrel?" begged Rainolf.
"I am a little tired, lad," answered the minstrel, "for before I fell in with your friend Malagis here, I had been practicing my song about Roland and the battle of Roncesvalles, which is my most difficult piece."
"Well," said Malagis, pursing his lips and shaking his head, "you had better leave that out of your list, my friend, if you want to sing in the palace before King Charlemagne, as I believe you said you did."
"Why," said the minstrel with a disappointed look, "it is my best song, and I thought he would like it. It is a favorite subject with the minnesingers where I come from. The Pass of Roncesvalles is not so very far from my home."
"That may be," said Malagis firmly, "but you don't know the King. He has never gotten over the loss of his nephew Roland and all the brave Paladins with him, and has never been quite the same since that battle. So I advise you to choose some other subject for him."
"But, sir minstrel," put in one of the boys, "won't you tell us the story? We won't ask you to sing it if you are tired, but just tell it. Of course we've heard of Roland and the Pass of Roncesvalles, but we'd like to hear what you have to say about it."
But the story will make a chapter all to itself.
There was a certain Crane, who took up her abode on the borders of a lake. There she lived for many years, catching and eating fish, and living a life of ease and luxury. At length, when she had grown old and feeble, she could no longer fish. Then she looked back sorrowfully on the days of her youth and sighed:—
"Alas, why did I not make some provision for my old age when I was young and strong? Now I am too weak to fish, and must therefore live upon my wits"; and she took her stand upon the margin of the lake, sighing and moaning.
From the bottom of the pond, a Crab heard her wails and swam to the surface.
"Why, what is the trouble, Friend Crane?" he asked, when he saw her mournful expression.
"Trouble enough!" replied the Crane. "As you know, I have always lived on the banks of this lake, and have caught a few fish every day for my dinner. But now I must soon die, for in a few weeks there will be no more fish here to catch."
"Why, how can that be?" questioned the Crab, now swimming nearer.
"Listen to me," the Crane continued, in the same sad voice. "Yesterday two fishermen passed this way, and one said to the other, 'Here is a pond full of fish. Let us throw our lines in here!' But the other fisherman urged him to go on to another lake not far distant. 'There we shall find even more fish than there are here,' he said. 'Let us therefore clear out that pond first, and then we can come back here.' Agreeing to this, they went off in search of the other lake. Now it is only a few weeks before they will return, and then I must surely die, for they will catch all the fish."
She had no sooner finished than the Crab sank quickly to the bottom to tell the bad news to the fish. Meantime the Crane stood on one leg and waited. Before long, she saw all the fish in the lake swimming rapidly towards her and flapping their fins in great excitement.
"We have just heard the news from the Crab," they gasped, "and our anxiety is so great that we have come to you for help, even though you have always been our enemy. We, as well as you, are now in danger of losing our lives if the fishermen return. Can you think of any escape, good Crane? If so, we beg you to tell us."
The Crane stood very still for a few moments, with her head on one side. Finally she spoke.
"I know of a pool not far from here," she began gravely, "where the water is so clear that you can easily count the grains of sand on the bottom. There you would find plenty of food and be safe from all fishermen, for that pool is enchanted. Now, if you will trust yourselves to me, I will carry three or four of you every day to that pond. I cannot carry more, for I am too old. This is the only escape for you."
The fish, who had listened very attentively to the words of the Crane, could not thank her enough for her kind offer. So it was agreed that that very morning she should begin to carry the fish to the other pond, so that no time should be lost. The Crane took the eager fish gently in her long bill and flew carefully away with them. But no sooner was she out of sight and hearing, than she alighted upon the ground and ate the fish. So, day by day, without any labor, the Crane had plenty of food.
Finally the Crab became anxious to be moved to the enchanted pond. The Crane knew that the Crab was her natural enemy, so she thought that this would be a good chance to get rid of him, too.
"Clasp your claws around my neck and hold fast," said the Crane. Then she spread her wings and flew off. But as they came near to the Crane's feeding-place, the Crab caught sight of the white fish-bones lying on the ground. In an instant he realized the cunning of the Crane.
"So this is the enchanted pond," he cried; and pressing his claws into the Crane's neck, he strangled her, and she fell to the ground dead.
I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day;
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away.
I remember, I remember
The roses, red and white,
The violets, and the lily-cups—
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,—
The tree is living yet!
I remember, I remember
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow.
I remember, I remember
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from Heaven
Than when I was a boy.
WEEK 45 |
"When a deed is done for freedom,
through the broad earth's aching breast
Runs a thrill of joy prophetic,
trembling on from east to west,
And the slave, where'er he cowers,
feels the soul within him climb
To the awful verge of manhood,
as the energy sublime
Of a century bursts full-blossomed
on the thorny stem of time."
W HEN the English took over the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch, there were a larger number of negro slaves there, than white men.
Let us take up the story of the slave-trade, and see how Great Britain took the lead in stopping this deplorable labour market, which she had been among the first to start.
From the earliest times, there had been slaves. Abraham had his slaves, the Greeks had slaves, and the Romans had slaves. They were prisoners of war, kept as bondsmen by their conquerors, and thus deprived of freedom. Thus, when the Romans conquered Britain, we get the well-known story of the little British slaves, in the market-place at Rome.
One day the Bishop of Rome noted the fair faces, white bodies, and golden hair of the small boys who stood bound in the slave market, waiting to be sold.
"From what country do these come?" he asked the slave-dealers.
"They are English—Angles," they told him.
"Not Angles, but Angels," commented the bishop, "with faces so angel-like."
"What is the name of their king?" he asked.
"Ælla," was the answer.
"Alleluia shall be sung in Ælla's land," he cried.
As Christianity spread, the condition of the slaves grew better, and gradually this sort of slavery vanished.
But in the fifteenth century, slavery again grew and flourished.
When the Portuguese, under Prince Henry the Navigator, were exploring the coast of West Africa, they one day brought back some black men, to show their royal master. The first idea in those days was to make these black men Christian, and to use them in the royal household. They were very useful, and more and more ships went off to the west coast, to bring back to Spain and Portugal these negroes. When Columbus discovered the West Indies, these black men were shipped over from Africa in quantities, to take the place of the native Indians in the sugar plantations. Presently the supply of negroes from the coast was exhausted, and men had to go inland and hunt them down to the coast. The first Englishman to engage in this cruel traffic was Captain John Hawkins, of Elizabethan fame. In the year 1562, he sailed to Sierra Leone, where he captured 300 negroes, which he sold for high prices to the Spaniards in the West Indies.
These were days of adventure and daring, in which human suffering played a large, silent part. Hawkins thought nothing of setting fire to native villages in Africa, and capturing the negroes as they attempted to escape. They were then chained together, as though they had been cattle, and driven to the coast to wait for ships bound for America. In the small sailing ships of the day, they were crammed below close to one another, as herrings in a barrel. In this state, they had to toss on the high seas for weeks together. Hundreds of them died from cold, exposure, want of proper food, and disease, before ever they reached the new homes of their bondage. They were gratefully bought by the colonists in America, for labourers were scarce, and there was much to be done in the new country.
Dutch and French joined in the trade. Each nation had its own slave centre in West Africa, and each shipped negro slaves to its own colony, on the distant shores of the Atlantic Ocean. As the demand increased, so the supply increased, till the slave-trade became the very life of the new colonies, the "strength and sinews" of the Western world.
Soon more than half the trade was in British hands. From Liverpool and Bristol, nearly 200 ships sailed in the course of one year, to pick up slaves in Africa to sell in America.
It was not till the eighteenth century, that the nature of the slave-trade came to be understood, when stories of cruelty and misery endured by the slaves, reached Europe, and all that was best in England rose up against it. Men began to inquire more into the condition of the slave. They learnt that he was treated as an animal, rather than a human being.
"A slave"—ran the slave-dealer's contract—"a slave is in the power of the master to whom he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry, his labour. He can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything, but what must belong to his master."
This was slavery indeed. Further, his children might be torn from him and sold to other masters, and he reaped no reward from the long and weary days of work often forced from him by means of a whip. Of course there were exceptions. There were slaves devoted to their masters, slaves who would die for them. But, as a rule, they were just so many cattle, and treated as such.
The same year that America made her great Declaration of Independence, England declared that the "slave-trade was contrary to the laws of God and the rights of men," and it was decided, that as soon as a slave set his foot on the soil of the British Islands, he was a free man. But it was more than thirty years, before British merchants could be brought to agree to give up this large source of profit. It was not till the year 1807, that the trade was finally forbidden. Meanwhile Denmark had already abolished the slave-trade in her colonies. Gradually the other nations of Europe followed the lead. And so the slave-trade became illegal under the flags of the Western nations. The greatest slave-dealing nation—even freedom-loving England—had lifted up her voice against oppression and cruelty, had carried her point against tremendous opposition.
"O thou great Wrong, that through the slow-paced years
Didst hold thy millions fettered, and didst wield
The scourge that drove the labourer to the field
And turned a stony gaze on human tears,
Thy cruel reign is o'er."
Day after day passed, and at last New Year's Eve arrived. Everything was arranged, every one was ready. The Swiss knew that if they were to succeed, they must get possession of all the castles which were in the hands of the Austrians. So their first plans were for the taking of these.
In Unterwalden there was a castle called Rossberg. The walls were thick and high, the gates heavy and strong. To take it by force seemed impossible.
Among the servants of the castle was a pretty girl called Anneli. She had laughing blue eyes, and golden hair which fell far below her waist in two long plaits. In spite of the sad times, she always seemed merry and smiling as a sunbeam. Many people loved Anneli, but the person she loved best was a shepherd called Joggeli, and she had promised to marry him.
Joggeli was one of those who had met upon the Rütli and sworn to free Switzerland from the Austrians. He often came to see Anneli at the castle, and because he knew that she too loved her country he often talked to her of how they hoped to overthrow the tyrants. Then Anneli's blue eyes would flash, and she would say, "Oh, if I were only a man, I would fight too. Joggeli, you don't know how I hate them—hate them!"
Then one night as they talked together Joggeli said, "You can help, Anneli, if you will."
"Oh, how? Tell me how," cried Anneli, her eyes dancing with delight. Joggeli bent and whispered to her, and as Anneli listened her eyes sparkled and her cheeks grew red. "O Joggeli," she cried, "then I can really help?"
"Yes, you can help very much," he replied, "in fact, we could not do without you. You will be brave? You are not afraid?"
"No," said Anneli, "I am not afraid. I am very proud that you should trust me."
After that day Anneli's eyes seemed merrier than ever, and she sang all day long, for was she not going to help to free her country?
One evening, when Joggeli came to the castle, he brought a long coil of rope hidden under his cloak. Anneli took it and hid it away carefully. Again and again Joggeli brought coils of rope, and Anneli knotted all the pieces together and hid them in a safe place.
On New Year's Eve Anneli sat alone in her little room overlooking the castle wall, waiting and listening. She had no light. Everything in the little room was very still and quiet. One by one all the sounds in the castle ceased. Soon every one was fast asleep. Only Anneli and the sleepy sentinels who guarded the great gate were awake. Twelve o'clock struck. As the last stroke died away Anneli crept softly across the room and opened the window. She brought the heavy rope from its hiding-place, and with her strong little hands knotted one end firmly round the iron bar which divided the window in two. Then she waited and listened. At last she heard a faint sound from down below. "Joggeli," she whispered.
"Anneli," came back the answer. "All is clear."
She lifted the rope then and let it drop gently over the castle wall.
Little Anneli was very brave, but she grew pale and trembled as she leaned against the window-sill, waiting. What if the rope broke? What if the iron bar gave way? she was asking herself.
But in a minute or two Joggeli's head appeared at the window; he put his hands on the ledge and leaped into the room. "Brave little girl!" he said, feeling in the darkness for Anneli's hand. Then he turned again to the window, and in another minute a second man appeared, then another and another, till twenty men had climbed up the rope and were standing safely within the castle walls.
In a minute or two Joggeli's head appeared at the window
"Are you ready, men?" asked Joggeli in a low voice.
"Yes," they whispered.
Then, at a sign from Joggeli, Anneli opened the door and ran down the long passage, followed by the twenty men. She led them straight to the great door which was guarded within by two sleepy Austrian soldiers.
The Swiss threw themselves upon the sentinels and bound and gagged them before they could utter a word.
Leaving one or two men to guard the door, they next went, guided by Anneli, to the room where the captain slept. Him, too, they seized and bound, and in a very short time, without even having drawn their swords, the castle was theirs.
The dark dungeons were unlocked and the prisoners set free. But the dungeons were not long left empty, for they were soon filled with the proud Austrian soldiers. The Swiss guarded the castle well, so that no Austrian, man or woman, could escape and carry the news to their friends and bring back help. But, upon the topmost tower, the Swiss lit a beacon fire which, seen far and wide, carried the news to Schwyzt and Uri that the castle Rossberg was taken.
WEEK 45 |
"Y ES, Peter is clever." So said his mother; but then every goose thinks her own gosling a swan.
The minister and all of the people of the village said Peter was but a dull block. Maybe Peter was a fool; but, as the old saying goes, never a fool tumbles out of the tree but he lights on his toes. So now you shall hear how that Peter sold his two baskets of eggs for more than you or I could do, wise as we be.
"Peter," said his mother.
"Yes," said Peter, for he was well brought up, and always answered when he was spoken to.
"My dear little child, thou art wise, though so young now; how shall we get money to pay our rent?"
"Sell the eggs that the speckled hen has laid," said Peter.
"But when we have spent the money for them, what then?"
"Sell more eggs," said Peter, for he had an answer for everything.
"But when the speckled hen lays no more eggs, what shall we do then?"
"We shall see," said Peter.
"Now indeed art thou wise," said his mother, "and I take thy meaning; it is this, when we have spent all, we must do as the little birds do, and trust in the good Heaven." Peter meant nothing of the kind, but then folks will think that such wise fellows as Peter and I mean more than we say, whence comes our wisdom.
So the next day Peter started off to the town, with the basket full of nice white eggs. The day was bright and warm and fair; the wind blew softly, and the wheatfields lay like green velvet in the sun. The flowers were sprinkled all over the grass, and the bees kicked up their yellow legs as they tilted into them. The garlic stuck up stout spikes into the air, and the young radishes were green and lusty. The brown bird in the tree sang, "Cuckoo! cuckoo!" and Peter trudged contentedly along, kicking up little clouds of dust at every footstep, whistling merrily and staring up into the bright sky, where the white clouds hung like little sheep, feeding on the wide blue field. "If those clouds were sheep, and the sheep were mine, then I would be a great man and very proud," said Peter. But the clouds were clouds, and he was not a great man; nevertheless, he whistled more merrily than ever, for it was very nice to think of these things.
So he trudged along with great comfort until high noontide, against which time he had come nigh to the town, for he could see the red roofs and the tall spires peeping over the crest of the next green hill. By this time his stomach was crying, "Give! give!" for it longed for bread and cheese. Now, a great gray stone stood near by at the forking of the road, and just as Peter came to it he heard a noise. "Click! clack!" he turned his head, and, lo and behold! the side of the stone opened like a door, and out came a little old man dressed all in fine black velvet.
"Good-day, Peter," said he. "Good-day, sir," said Peter, and he took off his hat as he spoke, for he could see with half an eye that this little old gentleman was none of your cheese-paring fine folks.
"Will you strike a bargain with me for your eggs?" said the little old man. Yes, Peter would strike a bargain; what would the little gentleman give him for his eggs? "I will give you this," said the little old man, and he drew a black bottle out of his pocket.
Peter took the bottle and turned it over and over in his hands. "It is," said he, "a pretty little, good little, sweet little bottle, but it is not worth as much as my basket of eggs."
"Prut!" said the little gentleman, "now you are not talking like the wise Peter. You should never judge by the outside of things. What would you like to have?"
"I should like," said Peter, "to have a good dinner."
"Nothing easier!" said the little gentleman, and he drew the cork. Pop! pop! and what should come out of the bottle but two tall men, dressed all in blue with gold trimmings. "What will you have, sir?" said the first of these to the little gentleman.
"A good dinner for two," said the little man.
No sooner said than done; for, before you could say Frederic Strutzenwillenbachen, there stood a table, with a sweet, clean, white cloth spread over it, and on this was the nicest dinner that you ever saw, for there were beer and chitterlings, and cheese and good white bread, fit for the king. Then Peter and the little man fell to with might and main, and ate till they could eat no more. After they were done, the two tall men took table and dishes and all back into the bottle again, and the little gentleman corked it up.
"Yes," said Peter, "I will give you my basket of eggs for the little black bottle." And so the bargain was struck. Then Peter started off home, and the little man went back again into the great stone and closed the door behind him. He took the basket of eggs with him; where he took it neither Peter nor I will ever be able to tell you.
So Peter trudged along homeward, until, after a while, the day waxing warm, he grew tired. "I wish," said he, "that I had a fine white horse to ride."
Then he took the cork out of the bottle. Pop! pop! and out came the two tall fellows, just as they had done for the little old man. "What will you have, sir?" said the first of them.
"I will have," said Peter, "a fine white horse to ride."
No sooner said than done; for there, before him in the road, stood a fine white horse, with a long mane and tail, just like so much spun silk. In his mouth was a silver bit; on his back was a splendid saddle, covered all over with gold and jewels; on his feet were shoes of pure gold, so that he was a very handsome horse indeed.
Peter mounted on his great horse and rode away home, as grand as though he were a lord or a nobleman.
Every one whom he met stopped in the middle of the road and looked after him. "Just look at Peter!" cried they; but Peter held his chin very high, and rode along without looking at them, for he knew what a fine sight he was on his white horse.
And so he came home again.
"What didst thou get for thy eggs, my little duck?" said his mother.
"I got a bottle, mother," said Peter.
Then at first Peter's mother began to think as others thought, that Peter was a dull block. But when she saw what a wonderful bottle it was, and how it held many good things and one over, she changed her mind again, and thought that her Peter was as wise as the moon.
And now nothing was lacking in the cottage; if Peter and his mother wanted this, it came to them; if they wished for that, the two tall men in the bottle fetched it. They lined the house all inside with pure gold, and built the chimneys of bricks of silver, so that there was nothing so fine between all the four great rivers. Peter dressed in satin and his mother in silk, and everybody called him "Lord Peter." Even the minister of the village said that he was no dull boy, for nobody is dull who rides on horseback and never wears wooden shoes. So now Peter was a rich man.
One morning Peter said to his mother, "Mother, I am going to ask the King to let me marry his daughter."
To this his mother said nothing, for surely her Peter was as good as any princess that ever lived.
So off Peter rode, dressed all in his best and seated astride of a grand horse.
At last he came to the palace, which was finer than the handsome new house of Herr Mayor Kopff. Rap! rap! rap! Peter knocked at the door, and presently came a neat servant girl and opened it to him. "Is the King at home, my dear?" said Peter.
Yes, the King was at home; would he come into the parlor and sit down? So Peter went into the parlor and sat down, and then the King came in, dressed all in his best dressing-gown, with silver slippers upon his feet, and a golden crown upon his head.
"What is your name?" said the King.
"Peter Stultzenmilchen," said Peter.
"And what do you want, Lord Peter," said the King; for, as I have said, Peter was dressed in his best clothes, and the old King thought that he was a great lord.
"I want to marry your daughter," said Peter.
To this the King said "Hum-m-m," and Peter said nothing. Then the King said that he had determined that no one should marry his daughter without bringing him a basketful of diamonds, rubies, topazes, emeralds, pearls, and all manner of precious stones; for he thought by this to get rid of Peter.
"Is that all?" said Peter. "Nothing is easier."
So off he went, until he came to a chestnut woods just back of the royal kitchen-garden. There he uncorked his bottle. Pop! pop! and out came the two tall men. "What will you have, sir?" said they. Peter told them what he wanted, and it was no sooner said than done; for, there on the ground before him, stood a basketful of all kinds of precious stones; each of them was as large as a hen's egg, and over all of them was spread a nice clean white napkin. So Peter took the basket on his arm and went back again to the palace.
But how the King did open his eyes, to be sure, and how he stared! "Now," said Peter, "I should like to marry your daughter, if you please."
At this the King hemmed and hawed again. No, Peter could not marry the Princess yet, for the King had determined that no man should marry his daughter without bringing him a bird all of pure silver that could sing whenever it was wanted, and that more sweetly than a nightingale; for he thought that now he should be rid of Peter, at any rate.
"Nothing easier," said Peter, and off he went again.
When he had come to the chestnut woods, he uncorked his bottle and told the two tall men what he wanted. No sooner said than done; for there was a bird all of pure silver. And not only that, but the bird sat in a little golden tree, and the leaves of the tree were emeralds, and rubies hung like cherries from the branches.
Then Peter wrapped this up in his handkerchief and took it to the palace. As for the King, he could not look at it or listen to it enough.
"Now," said Peter, "I should like to marry your daughter, if you please."
But at this the King sang the same tune again. No, Peter could not marry his daughter yet, for the King had determined that the man who was to marry his daughter should first bring him a golden sword, so keen that it could cut a feather floating in the air, yet so strong that it could cut through an iron bar.
"Nothing easier," said Peter, and this time the men of the bottle brought him such a sword as he asked for, and the hilt was studded all over with precious stones, so that it was very handsome indeed. Then Peter brought it to the King, and it did as the King would have it—it cut through a feather floating in the air; as for the iron bar, it cut through that as easily as you would bite through a radish.
And now it seemed as though there was nothing else to be done but to let Peter marry the Princess. So the King asked him in to supper, and they all three sat down together, the King and the Princess and Peter.
And it was a fine feast, I can tell you, for they had both white and red wine, besides sausages and cheese, and real white bread and puddings, and all manner of good things; for kings and princesses eat and drink of the best.
As for Peter, he made eyes at the Princess, and the Princess looked down on her plate and blushed, and Peter thought that he had never seen such a pretty girl.
After a while the King began to question Peter how he came by all these fine things—the precious stones, the silver bird, and the golden sword; but no, Peter would not tell. Then the King and the Princess begged and begged him, until, at last, Peter lost his wits and told all about the bottle. Then the King said nothing more, and presently, it being nine o'clock, Peter went to bed. After he had gone the King and the Princess put their heads together, and the end of the matter was that the wicked King went to Peter's room and stole the bottle from under the pillow where he had hidden it, and put one in its place that was as empty as a beer barrel after the soldiers have been in the town; for the King and the Princess thought that it would be a fine thing to have the bottle for themselves.
When the next morning had come, and they were all sitting at their breakfast together, the King said, "Now, Lord Peter, let us see what your bottle will do; give us such and such a kind of wine."
"Nothing easier," said Peter. Then he uncorked the bottle, but not so much as a single dead fly came out of it.
"But where is the wine?" said the King.
"I do not know," said Peter.
At this the King called him hard names and turned him out of the palace, neck and heels; so back poor Peter went to his mother with a flea in his ear, as the saying is. Now he was poor again, and everybody called him a dull block, for he rode no great white horse and he wore wooden shoes.
"Never mind," said his mother, "here is another basket of eggs from the speckled hen." So Peter set off with these to the market town, as he had done with the others before. When he had come to the great stone at the forking of the road, whom should he meet but the same little gentleman he had met the first time. "Will you strike a bargain?" said he. Yes, Peter would strike a bargain, and gladly. Thereupon the little old man brought out another black bottle.
"Two men are in this bottle," said the little old man; "when they have done all that you want them to do, say 'brikket-ligg' and they will go back again. Will you trade with me?" Yes, Peter would trade. So Peter gave the little man the eggs, and the little man gave Peter the second bottle, and they parted very good friends.
After a while Peter grew tired. "Now," said he to himself, "I will ride a little"; and so he drew the cork out of the bottle. Pop! pop! out came two men from the bottle; but this time they were ugly and black, and each held a stout stick in his hand. They said not a word, but, without more ado, fell upon Peter and began threshing him as though he was wheat on the barn floor.
"Stop! stop!" cried Peter, and he went hopping and skipping up and down, and here and there, but it seemed as though the two ugly black men did not hear him, for the blows fell as thick as hail on the roof. At last he gathered his wits together, like a flock of pigeons, and cried, "Brikket-ligg! brikket-ligg!" Then, whisk! pop! they went back into the bottle again, and Peter corked it up, and corked it tightly, I can tell you.
The next day he started off to the palace once more. Rap! rap! rap! he knocked at the door. Was the King at home? Yes, the King was at home; would he come and sit in the parlor?
Presently the King came in, in dressing-gown and slippers. "What! are you back again?" said he.
"Yes; I am back again," said Peter.
"What do you want?" said the King.
"I want to marry the Princess," said Peter.
"What have you brought this time?" said the King.
"I have brought another bottle," said Peter.
Then the King rubbed his hands and was very polite indeed, and asked Peter in to breakfast, and Peter went. So they all three sat down together, the King, the Princess, and Peter.
"My dear," said the King, to the Princess, "the Lord Peter has brought another bottle with him." Thereat the Princess was very polite also. Would Lord Peter let them see the bottle? Oh yes! Peter would do that: so he drew it out of his pocket and sat it upon the table.
Perhaps they would like to have it opened. Yes, that they would. So Peter opened the bottle.
Hui! what a hubbub there was! The King hopped about till his slippers flew off, his dressing-gown fluttered like great wings, and his crown rolled off from his head and across the floor, like a quoit at the fair. As for the Princess, she never danced in all of her life as she danced that morning. They made such a noise that the soldiers of the Royal Guard came running in; but the two tall black men spared them no more than the King and the Princess. Then came all of the Lords of the Council, and they likewise danced to the same music as the rest.
"Oh, Peter! dear Lord Peter! cork up your men again!" they all cried.
"Will you give me back my bottle?" said Peter.
"Yes! yes!" cried the King.
"Will you marry me?" said Peter.
"Yes! yes!" cried the Princess.
Then Peter said "brikket-ligg!" and the two tall men popped back into the bottle again. So the King gave him back his other bottle, and the minister was called in and married him to the Princess.
After that he lived happily, and when the old King died he became King over all of the land. As for the Princess, she was as good a wife as you ever saw, but Peter always kept the bottle near to him—maybe that was the reason.
Ah me! if I could only take my eggs to such a
market and get two such bottles for them!
What would I do with them? It would
take too long to tell you.
NCLE WILL helped Theodore climb up on the roof, where they
sat and waited, and sure enough after a little while along
"It is a big worker," whispered Theodore.
Up and down, here and there it flew—whish! down it pounced on a fly, but the fly was too quick; so up and down, here and there again—whish! down it pounced again.
"Why did it do that?" whispered Theodore; "there was no fly there. Do you think it thought that nail head was a fly?"
"It certainly looked so," said Uncle Will. "See, it is after it again!"
"What a silly!" said Theodore in disgust, as the hornet kept pouncing on the nail head; "where are its eyes?"
"Maybe it is old and needs spectacles," said Uncle Will slyly.
Theodore laughed. "Wouldn't it look funny!" he said, and then gave a little squeal, and clapped his hand over his mouth because Uncle Will had told him to be quiet and not frighten the wasps.
"Did you see that wasp? she got the fly!"
"So she did—the valiant huntress! and now there will be fresh fly for dinner."
They stayed quite a time watching the wasps on their hunting ground, as Uncle Will called he shed roof, and he told Theodore how wasps sometimes caught flies on the cows' backs when the cows were lying down in the pasture, and how a whole swarm of them would sometimes sally forth and attack a person passing too close to their nest, and how he had once stepped into a wasp's nest when he was looking for berries and how the hornets ran up his legs stinging all the way right through his stockings, for it happened when he was a little boy and wore knickerbockers.
"It would have been worse if you had been
"I suppose so," said Uncle Will; "but it didn't seem at the time as if anything could be worse."
"How do you suppose the wasps found that meat so soon?" Theodore asked Uncle Will, as they went out for a walk together after supper.
"How do you suppose they found it?"
"Perhaps," said Theodore, "they saw it, and perhaps they smelled it."
"It is more likely they smelled it," said Uncle Will. "They
must have pretty good smellers, judging by the quickness
with which they appear when anything they like comes upon
the scene. Once when I was off on a long tramp I sat down to
eat a bit of luncheon in a place under a shady beech tree,
with a pretty little brook rippling at its
"My! I wish I had been there," interrupted Theodore.
"Some day when your legs are longer and considerably stronger you shall go—well, there I sat as happy as could be, with the sun falling like gold through the leaves, but better than gold—when all at once I had company. Not only that, the company had come to dinner!"
"It was a hornet," said Theodore.
"It was a yellow jacket, my child, and it knew what was good at the first try. I don't suppose it had ever seen, smelled, heard, or read of a sandwich before, but the way it pitched into mine you would have thought it had been brought up on sandwiches."
"Did you let it have all it wanted?"
"Oh, yes, that is to say, as long as the sandwich lasted, which wasn't long."
"How could you bite it with the wasp there?"
"I didn't, you young and ignorant child. I waited until it had flown off with both hands full, then I got a good big bite before it came back again. In this way I got a bite every time it got a load, and it was a race to see who would get the most."
"I guess you did!"
"I guess I did too. The boys used to plague me when I was little for having a big mouth, but for once I had reason to be glad of it."
"Oh, Uncle Will!" said Theodore, "you have a beautiful mouth!"
"Well, yes, I think so too. But you and I are the only ones who have found out, so let us keep it a secret!"
WEEK 45 |
Evil days had fallen upon the little grey island of the north. Those who were strong used their strength to hurt the weak. Little heed was paid to law and order, and King Stephen's hands were too weak and helpless to govern a land that needed a strong stern ruler. Men said in their hearts, "God has forsaken England," for it seemed indeed as if the Evil One alone held sway.
But through the darkness there were faint signs of the coming dawn, and God's army was silently gathering strength to fight His battles and unfurl His banner.
Far away in the sunny land of France a little child was growing up at that time, knowing nothing and caring not at all about the woes of the little grey island of the north. Yet He who trains His saints to fight His battles was training the child to fight in many a hard struggle upon the battle-ground of England.
Little Hugh was born at the castle of Avalon near Grenoble, and was the son of a great noble to whom all Avalon belonged. Softly he was cradled and waited upon: the world was a place of sunshine and happiness to the son of the seigneur, and he had all that a child's heart could desire. But very soon a change came over his pleasant world and the sunshine seemed to fade. There was no mother to run to, no one to tell him where he might find her, only the strange sad words which he could not understand when they told him she was dead.
It was sad for little Hugh, but it was sadder still for his father, and the lord of Avalon felt he could no longer live in the castle that was now so dark and cheerless. So his thoughts turned towards a house close by where men lived together who wished to serve God, and he determined to spend the rest of his life with them. Hugh was only eight years old, too young to be left behind, so together the father and little son entered the priory, and left the castle and lands of Avalon to the elder sons.
It seemed strange for such a child to share the solemn strict life of these servants of God, but his father was glad it should be so. "I will have him taught to carry on warfare for God before he learns to live for the world," he said, as he looked at the well-knit straight little figure with the fearless eyes, every inch a soldier's son. Then little Hugh squared his shoulders and gazed proudly into his father's face. He scarcely understood what it all meant, but he loved the sound of those warlike words, "the warfare of God."
Among all those grave and learned men the child might perhaps have been spoilt, for he had a wonderfully winning way and a keen love of fun, while he was so quick to learn, and had such a marvellous memory, that it was a pleasure to teach him. But the brothers were too kind to spoil the child, and the old chronicle tells us "his infant body was made familiar with the scourge of the pedagogue."
There was a school at Grenoble, close by, to which Hugh was sent, and there he soon became a great favourite. He was eager at games as well as at lessons, and excelled in both. But his father, watching him, would sometimes disapprove of too many games, and would remind him of that "warfare of God."
"Little Hugh, little Hugh," he said, "I am bringing thee up for Christ. Sports are not thy business." Then he would tell him the story of other boys who had been brought up to serve God; about Samuel, who had heard God's voice because he listened so eagerly; of David, who learned to do things thoroughly, and to aim so straight at a mark that afterwards he could not fail to slay the giant and win a victory for the Lord.
So the boy grew into a youth, eager to begin the warfare for which his father had trained him. But there was other service awaiting him first close at home. His father was now growing old and infirm, and needed daily care and patient tending. With skilful gentle hands Hugh served him. Even the commonest duty was a pleasure to the son who so loved his father. He washed and dressed the old man, carried him in his strong young arms, prepared his food, counting each service an honour, as the service to a king. When his father's eyes grew dim, when his hands were frail and trembling, when his feet could no longer bear him, and the pleasant sounds of the busy world woke no echo in his dull ears, Hugh was eyes and hands, feet and ears, giving above all a willing service. Many a lesson had the father taught his child in the days of his strength, but the best of all lessons he taught in the days of his weakness—the lesson of loving patient service. So the old man lived to bless the son whom he had trained for God, and that blessing was like a spring of living water in Hugh's heart. Long after, when many troubles came, and the saint had travelled far along the hot and dusty road of life, he told a friend how the remembrance of his father's blessing was like a cup of cool water which he loved to "draw up thirstily from his eager heart."
That service ended, Hugh's thoughts began to turn to the warfare of which he had always dreamed. He had already been ordained, and his preaching stirred the people, but he longed for some harder duties and a sterner life.
Far away among the heights of the snow-capped mountains, there was a house of holy men just gathered together by Saint Brune. It was called the Great Chartreuse, and there the monks lived almost like hermits. They had little cells cut out of the bare rock, and their dress was a white sheep-skin with a hair-shirt beneath. On Sundays they each received a loaf of bread, which was to last all the week for their food, and although they had their meals together, they ate in strict silence, for no one was allowed to talk.
This was surely a place where one might endure hardness, and Hugh desired eagerly to join the brotherhood. Perhaps, too, he felt that he would be living nearer heaven up there amongst the snowy peaks.
But the prior looked somewhat scornfully at the young eager face.
"The men who inhabit these rocks," he said, "are hard as the rocks themselves, severe to themselves and others."
That was exactly what Hugh was longing for, and made him desire more than ever to enter the service, and although there were many difficulties in the way, he persevered steadfastly, and at last was received as a Carthusian monk.
Like all the other brothers, he lived, of course, a silent solitary life, but for him there were friends and companions which were not recognised in the monastery. He had always loved birds and beasts, and in this quiet life he found they were quick to make friends with him. Little by little he learned their secrets and their ways, and taught them to love and trust him. When he sat down to supper, his friends the birds would come hopping and fluttering in, ready to share his meal, perching on his finger and pecking the food from his spoon. Then from the woods the shy squirrels came flitting in, looking at him boldly with their bright inquiring eyes, while they made themselves quite at home, and whisked the food from his very plate with saucy boldness. Life could never be very lonely for Hugh with such a crowd of companions.
Meanwhile, in the little grey island of the north, better days were dawning, and with the death of King Stephen, law and order began once more to be restored. Henry ii. ruled with a firmer hand, and the fear of God, and the desire to serve Him, awoke again in men's hearts. Throughout the land many churches were built, and many a battle was fought for the right. Thomas à Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, so foully murdered in his own cathedral, gave up his life willingly "in the name of Christ, and for the defence of the Church," and his example roused the people to insist that God's house and God's servants should be properly respected.
The King himself, sorrowfully repentant of his share in the murder of the Archbishop, made a vow to found three abbeys, and invited monks from the monasteries abroad to come and settle in them.
Now one of the places chosen by the King for founding an abbey was Witham in Gloucester, but instead of building a proper home for the monks, Henry merely seized the land from the poor peasants without paying for it, and without finding them other homes. Of course the abbey did not flourish. The first abbot would not stay and the second died, and it seemed as if it was to be quite a failure, until the King thought of sending to the monastery of the Great Chartreuse to ask for an abbot who would rule with a strong arm and help to found a brotherhood.
"We must send our best," said the prior; and when he said that, all the monks knew that Hugh of Avalon would be chosen. Strong and steadfast as the rocks amongst which he dwelt, he was as fearless and brave as a lion, and yet with a heart so gentle and tender that all weak and helpless creatures loved and trusted him.
So it was that Hugh of Avalon came to England, and we may claim him as one of our own saints.
As soon as the new abbot found out how unjustly the King had dealt with the peasants of Witham, he set about to put things right.
"My lord," he said to the King, "until the last penny is paid to these poor men, the place cannot be given to us."
It was little wonder that from the beginning the poor people loved and respected their abbot, and his justice and fearlessness won the King's friendship too. There was no one Henry cared to consult more than this new friend of his, who was never afraid of telling him the truth.
When some time had passed, and the monks' houses still remained unbuilt, three of the brothers went to rernind the King of his broken promises.
"You think it a great thing to give us bread which we do not need," said one of the brothers, who was very angry. "We will leave your kingdom, and depart to our desert Chartreuse and our rocky Alps."
The King turned to Hugh.
"Will you also depart?" he asked.
"My lord," said Hugh quietly, "I do not despair of you. Rather I pity your hindrances and occupations which weigh against the care of your soul. You are busy, but when God will help, you will finish the good work you have begun."
"By my soul," cried the King, "while I breathe thou shalt not leave my kingdom. With thee I will share my counsels, with thee also the necessary care of my soul."
So the monastery was built, and the King's friendship for the abbot increased. It happened just at that time also that, as Henry was crossing to Normandy, the ship in which he sailed came nigh to being wrecked by a great gale that swept suddenly down upon her. The King in his fear prayed to God to save him for the sake of the good deeds and holy life of his friend the abbot. Then as the storm sank and the ship reached land, Henry felt sure he owed his safety to that good man. The country people, too, were fond of talking of the miracles worked by their beloved abbot, but Hugh himself would not hear of them. In the lives of the saints it was the miracles he counted least of all.
"The holiness of the saints," he would say, "was the greatest miracle and the best example for us to follow. Those who look at outward miracles through the little doors of their eyes, often see nothing by the inward gaze of faith."
It was a very different life at Witham to the hermit life among the snowy mountains, but Hugh remained just the same simple steadfast man. He still wore the rough hair-shirt and ate the same poor fare, and here as in his rocky cell the birds flew in to make friends with him and eat from his plate.
But after eleven quiet years at Witham, Hugh was called to harder work, for it was decided to make him Bishop of Lincoln. It was sorely against his will that he accepted the honour, and it was with a heavy heart that he bade farewell to the quiet monastery life.
There was great excitement and delight, however, among the company that attended the abbot on his way to Lincoln. The canons wore their richest cloaks, and the gilded trappings of their horses made a brave show as they clattered along. But all their grandeur could not hide that one shabby figure in their midst. Hugh, clothed in his monk's robe, rode on his old mule, and behind him was strapped a large bundle of bedding, sheep-skins, and rugs.
"Dost see our abbot?" said one to another. "He will put us all to shame. Men will laugh at the sight of the new bishop riding thus, with his old baggage strapped behind."
It was useless to suggest that the servants should take charge of the bundle. Hugh plodded on, too busy with his thoughts to notice the shame and discomfort of his companions.
At last, when twilight had fallen and night was coming on, one of his friends thought of a plan to save their dignity. One of the servants stole up softly from behind and cut the straps which bound the heavy sheep-skin bundle, so that it slipped off and was carried away to be placed among the other baggage, while Hugh went jogging on, dreaming his dreams and thinking little of earthly matters.
There was no thought of personal grandeur in Hugh's heart. Rather he felt like a sailor setting out on a perilous voyage, with storm-clouds already brooding close above the waves of this troublesome world. He walked barefooted to the cathedral where he was enthroned, clad only in his monk's robe. He was a strange shabby figure indeed among those gorgeous churchmen, but he walked with the bearing of a soldier and the dignity of a king.
B ETSINDA wandered on and on, till she passed through the town gates, and so on the great Crim Tartary road, the very way on which Giglio, too, was going. "Ah!" thought she, as the diligence passed her, of which the conductor was blowing a delightful tune on his horn, "how I should like to be on that coach!" But the coach and the jingling horses were very soon gone. She little knew who was in it, though very likely she was thinking of him all the time.
Then came an empty cart, returning from market; and the driver being a kind man, and seeing such a very pretty girl trudging along the road with bare feet, most good-naturedly gave her a seat. He said he lived on the confines of the forest, where his old father was a woodman, and, if she liked, he would take her so far on her road. All roads were the same to little Betsinda, so she very thankfully took this one.
And the carter put a cloth round her bare feet, and gave her some bread and cold bacon, and was very kind to her. For all that she was very cold and melancholy. When after travelling on and on, evening came, and all the black pines were bending with snow, and there, at last, was the comfortable light beaming in the woodman's windows, and so they arrived, and went into his cottage. He was an old man, and had a number of children, who were just at supper, with nice hot bread-and-milk, when their elder brother arrived with the cart. And they jumped and clapped their hands; for they were good children, and he had brought them toys from the town. And when they saw the pretty stranger they ran to her, and brought her to the fire, and rubbed her poor little feet, and brought her bread-and-milk.
"Look, Father!" they said to the old woodman, "look at this poor girl, and see what pretty cold feet she has. They are as white as our milk! And look and see what an odd cloak she has, just like the bit of velvet that hangs up in our cupboard, and which you found that day the little cubs were killed by King Padella in the forest! And look, why bless us all! she has got round her neck just such another little shoe as that you brought home, and have shown us so often—a little blue velvet shoe!"
"What," said the old woodman, "What is all this about a shoe and a cloak?"
And Betsinda explained that she had been left, when quite a little child, at the town with this cloak and this shoe. And the persons who had taken care of her had—had been angry with her for no fault, she hoped, of her own. And they had sent her away with her old clothes—and here, in fact, she was. She remembered having been in a forest—and perhaps it was a dream—it was so very odd and strange—having lived in a cave with lions there; and, before that, having lived in a very, very fine house, as fine as a king's, in a town.
When the woodman heard this, he was so astonished, it was quite curious to see how astonished he was. He went to his cupboard, and took out of a stocking a five-shilling piece of King Cavolfiore, and vowed it was exactly like the young woman.
And then he produced
the shoe and piece of velvet which he had kept so long,
and compared them with the things which Betsinda wore.
In Betsinda's little shoe was written, "Hopkins, maker
to the Royal
Family;" so in the other shoe was written, "Hopkins,
maker to the Royal Family." In the inside of Betsinda's
piece of cloak was embroidered,
On seeing this, the dear old woodman fell down on his knee, saying: "O my Princess, O my gracious royal lady, O my rightful Queen of Crim Tartary,—I hail thee—I acknowledge thee—I do thee homage!" And in token of his fealty, he rubbed his venerable nose three times on the ground, and put the Princess' foot on his head.
"Why," said she, "my good woodman, you must be a nobleman of my royal father's court!" For in her lowly retreat, and under the name of Betsinda, HER MAJESTY, ROSALBA, Queen of Crim Tartary, had read of the customs of all foreign courts and nations.
"Marry, indeed, am I, my gracious liege—the poor Lord Spinachi, once—the humble woodman these fifteen years syne. Ever since the tyrant, Padella (may ruin overtake the treacherous knave!), dismissed me from my post of First Lord."
"First Lord of the Toothpick and Join Keeper of the Snuff-box? I mind me! Thou heldest these posts under our royal Sire. They are restored to thee, Lord Spinachi! I make thee knight of the second class of our Order of the Pumpkin (the first class being reserved for crowned heads alone). Rise Marquis of Spinachi!" And with indescribable majesty, the Queen, who had no sword handy, waved the pewter spoon with which she had been taking her bread-and-milk, over the bald head of the old nobleman, whose tears absolutely made puddle on the ground, and whose dear children went to bed that night Lords and Ladies Bartolomeo, Ubaldo, Catarina, and Ottavia degli Spinachi!
The acquaintance HER MAJESTY showed with the history, and noble families of her empire was wonderful. "The House of Broccoli should remain faithful to us," she said; "they were ever welcome at our Court. Have the Articiocchi, as was their wont, turned to the Rising Sun? The family of Sauerkraut must sure be with us—they were ever welcome in the halls of King Cavolfiore." And so she went on enumerating quite a list of the nobility and gentry of Crim Tartary, so admirably had her Majesty profited by her studies while in exile.
The old Marquis of Spinachi said he could answer for them all; that the whole country groaned under Padella's tyranny, and longed to return to its rightful sovereign; and late as it was, he sent his children who knew the forest well, to summon this nobleman and that; and when his eldest son, who had been rubbing the horse down and giving him his supper, came into the house for his own, the Marquis told him to put his boots on, and a saddle on the mare, and ride hither and thither to such and such people.
When the young man heard who his companion in the cart had been, he too knelt down and put her royal foot on his head; he too bedewed the ground with his tears; he was frantically in love with her as everybody now was who saw her; so were the young Lords Bartolomeo and Ubaldo, who punched each other's little heads out of jealousy: and so when they came from the east and west, at the summons of the Marquis degli Spinachi, were the Crim Tartar Lords who still remained faithful to the House of Cavolfiore. They were such very old gentlemen for the most part, that her Majesty never suspected their absurd passion, and went among them quite unaware of the havoc her beauty was causing, until an old blind Lord who had joined her party, told her what the truth was; after which, for fear of making the people too much in love with her, she always wore a veil. She went about, privately, from one nobleman's castle to another; and they visited amongst themselves again, and had meetings, and composed proclamations and counter-proclamations, and distributed all the best places of the kingdom amongst one another, and selected who of the opposition party should be executed when the Queen came to her own. And so in about a year they were ready to move.
The party of Fidelity was in truth composed of very feeble old fogies for the most part; they went about the country waving their old swords and flags, and calling "God save the Queen!"
And King Padella happening to be absent upon an invasion, they had their own way for a little, and to be sure the people were very enthusiastic whenever they saw the Queen; otherwise the vulgar took matters very quietly, for they said, as far as they could recollect, they were pretty well as much taxed in Cavolfiore's time, as now in Padella's.
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing!
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms
So haggard, and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.
I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too—
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful, a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild—
I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan—
I set her on my pacing steed
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sideways would she bend, and sing
A faery's song—
She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said,
I love thee true.
She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore;
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.
And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dreamed—Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dreamed
On the cold hill's side.
I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all:
They cried—La belle dame sans merci
Hath thee in thrall!
I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the cold hill's side.
And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.