WEEK 48 |
H UCK said: "Tom, we can slope, if we can find a rope. The window ain't high from the ground."
"Shucks, what do you want to slope for?"
"Well, I ain't used to that kind of a crowd. I can't stand it. I ain't going down there, Tom."
"Oh, bother! It ain't anything. I don't mind it a bit. I'll take care of you."
"Tom," said he, "auntie has been waiting for you all the afternoon. Mary got your Sunday clothes ready, and everybody's been fretting about you. Say—ain't this grease and clay, on your clothes?"
"Now, Mr. Siddy, you jist 'tend to your own business. What's all this blow-out about, anyway?"
"It's one of the widow's parties that she's always having. This time it's for the Welshman and his sons, on account of that scrape they helped her out of the other night. And say—I can tell you something, if you want to know."
"Why, old Mr. Jones is going to try to spring something on the people here to-night, but I overheard him tell auntie to-day about it, as a secret, but I reckon it's not much of a secret now. Everybody knows—the widow, too, for all she tries to let on she don't. Mr. Jones was bound Huck should be here—couldn't get along with his grand secret without Huck, you know!"
"Secret about what, Sid?"
"About Huck tracking the robbers to the widow's. I reckon Mr. Jones was going to make a grand time over his surprise, but I bet you it will drop pretty flat."
Sid chuckled in a very contented and satisfied way.
"Sid, was it you that told?"
"Oh, never mind who it was. Somebody told—that's enough."
"Sid, there's only one person in this town mean enough to do that, and that's you. If you had been in Huck's place you'd 'a' sneaked down the hill and never told anybody on the robbers. You can't do any but mean things, and you can't bear to see anybody praised for doing good ones. There—no thanks, as the widow says"—and Tom cuffed Sid's ears and helped him to the door with several kicks. "Now go and tell auntie if you dare—and to-morrow you'll catch it!"
Some minutes later the widow's guests were at the supper-table, and a
dozen children were propped up at little side-tables in the same room,
after the fashion of that country and that day. At the proper time Mr.
Jones made his little speech, in which he thanked the widow for the
honor she was doing himself and his sons, but said that there was
another person whose
And so forth and so on. He sprung his secret about Huck's share in the adventure in the finest dramatic manner he was master of, but the surprise it occasioned was largely counterfeit and not as clamorous and effusive as it might have been under happier circumstances. However, the widow made a pretty fair show of astonishment, and heaped so many compliments and so much gratitude upon Huck that he almost forgot the nearly intolerable discomfort of his new clothes in the entirely intolerable discomfort of being set up as a target for everybody's gaze and everybody's laudations.
The widow said she meant to give Huck a home under her roof and have him educated; and that when she could spare the money she would start him in business in a modest way. Tom's chance was come. He said:
"Huck don't need it. Huck's rich."
Nothing but a heavy strain upon the good manners of the company kept back the due and proper complimentary laugh at this pleasant joke. But the silence was a little awkward. Tom broke it:
"Huck's got money. Maybe you don't believe it, but he's got lots of it. Oh, you needn't smile—I reckon I can show you. You just wait a minute."
Tom ran out of doors. The company looked at each other with a perplexed interest—and inquiringly at Huck, who was tongue-tied.
"Sid, what ails Tom?" said Aunt Polly. "He—well, there ain't ever any
making of that boy out. I
Tom entered, struggling with the weight of his sacks, and Aunt Polly did not finish her sentence. Tom poured the mass of yellow coin upon the table and said:
"There—what did I tell you? Half of it's Huck's and half of it's mine!"
The spectacle took the general breath away. All gazed, nobody spoke for a moment. Then there was a unanimous call for an explanation. Tom said he could furnish it, and he did. The tale was long, but brimful of interest. There was scarcely an interruption from any one to break the charm of its flow. When he had finished, Mr. Jones said:
"I thought I had fixed up a little surprise for this occasion, but it don't amount to anything now. This one makes it sing mighty small, I'm willing to allow."
The money was counted. The sum amounted to a little over twelve thousand dollars. It was more than any one present had ever seen at one time before, though several persons were there who were worth considerably more than that in property.
The story of the Troubadour is almost finished. The last years of his life were years of suffering and sorrow. Now that the Brotherhood had grown so large, many of its members were forgetting the teaching of their leader. Instead of serving Lady Poverty, they were serving Lady Wealth, or Lady Pride, or Lady Fame; and they were Little Poor Men only on the outside, in their coarse grey robes and their unshod feet. This change in his Brothers well-nigh broke the heart of Francis of Assisi. He remembered the first winter in the hovel at Rivo Torto, when, in spite of cold and want, the little company had been so happy and so united. He remembered the joy with which they had built the huts in the plain, and had planted their tiny gardens. It seemed to him that his children were scattered far and wide over the world; that they were no longer simple servants of all who needed help, but that each was striving for his own comfort and his own gain. There came back to him an old dream. He had dreamed of a little black hen who had so many chickens that she could not gather them all under her wings. Some would be left out, to die of cold or to be stolen by the fox. Even in his grief, Francis smiled over his dream. "I am the little hen," he thought, "and I cannot any longer shelter my brood."
Besides his sorrow, Francis had much illness and pain to bear. His body, "Brother Ass," as he sometimes called it, was worn and weak, but his heart was brave, and his spirit was always sweet.
In those days, sick people could not have the help and comfort that doctors and nurses have learned to give. There was no ether nor chloroform to put a patient out of pain, and surgery was horribly cruel. Once when Francis was exceedingly ill, the doctors decided that they must burn his forehead with a hot iron. As the surgeon came close to him with the terrible rod, heated till it looked white and quivering, Francis shrank away fearfully for a minute. Then he lifted his hand and said cheerily: "Brother Fire, thou art one of the most beautiful of all things, help me in this hour; thou knowest how I have always loved thee; be courteous to me to-day." The Brothers, unable to bear the sight, had gone to the next room. A moment later, they came back, and Francis, smiling on them, asked: "Why did you run away in such a cowardly fashion? I have not felt the pain," he added. "Brother Doctor, if it is necessary, you may begin again."
One great joy remained to Francis almost until the end, the joy of being out of doors. His love for a life under the sky; his love for birds and flowers, for long journeys through the river valleys or among the high mountains, never left him. One mountain he loved best of all. It is called La Verna, and it stands, wild and beautiful, among the Tuscan Apennines. A certain Count Orlando, to whom all the region belonged, had once heard Brother Francis preach, and had said to him: "I have a mountain in Tuscany. It is a silent and lonely place, where one might rest and think and pray. If you would like it, I will gladly give it to you and to your Brothers."
The old story says that Brother Francis was greatly pleased by this gift of the mountain. He thanked first God and then Messer Orlando, and he promised that when he should return to the Portiuncula he would send some of the Brothers to Messer Orlando, at his castle of Chiusi. This castle stood, and its roofless walls still stand, where the road begins to climb to La Verna.
So it happened, that when Count Orlando went home, he was visited by two Grey Brothers from Assisi, come to see if, in the forest of La Verna, they might find a fit place for Brother Francis. Count Orlando received the two Brothers with the greatest joy and friendliness, and, because the mountain was filled with wild beasts, he sent armed men to escort the strangers. The Little Poor Men, with their guard of soldiers, searched about on the steep, rocky mountain, till they found a small level place, like a natural terrace, looking off to the southwest. "Here," they said, "is the right spot. Let us build huts for ourselves and for our Brothers."
The soldiers of Count Orlando began to cut down great branches from the fir trees and beeches, and, with these, they helped the Brothers to make rude shelters.
Then startled eyes looked out from the green shadows, and soft feet rustled away over the fallen leaves; and a thousand pairs of wings made a whirring sound, for all the wild things of La Verna were disturbed by the loud voices and the ringing axes of Count Orlando's soldiers, and Brother Francis was not there to understand and comfort them.
When the green, sweet-smelling huts were finished, the two Brothers with their guard of soldiers went back to the castle of Chiusi to thank Count Orlando for his gift. Then they journeyed down to the plain of Assisi and reported to Brother Francis that the Tuscan mountain was the fittest place in the world in which to think and pray. Brother Francis rejoiced at the account of the two Brothers, and he thought it good that a company of the Poor Men should keep at La Verna the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, which comes at the end of September.
He started out bravely on foot, as of old, but during the long, rough journey, he became so weak that the Brothers were forced to ask help of a peasant who was riding upon an ass. The peasant gave his beast to the sick man, and walked beside him all the way, until they reached the sheer grey crags below the little huts that Count Orlando's soldiers had built.
Here they rested under an oak tree before making the steep climb. Brother Francis sat looking about the place, of which he had heard so much, and, says the story: "As he was looking and thinking there came great flocks of birds from every direction, singing and beating their wings, and they showed signs of joy and welcome. They circled around Francis, so that some perched on his head, some on his shoulders, on his arms, in his lap and even on his feet. His companions and the peasant saw them with wonder, but Francis said, all happy of heart: 'I believe, dearest Brothers, that our Lord Jesus Christ is pleased that we are to live in this lonely mountain, since our sisters and brothers, the birds, show such joy at our coming.' "
The little company lived for some weeks on the mountain. Apart from the others, that he might be more alone, Francis had a tiny hut, and here he spent much time in prayer. Only Brother Leone was allowed to come to him, before dawn each day, bringing his scant food. His only other comrade was a falcon, whose shrill cry used to waken him long before light; but sometimes, when Brother Francis, worn and ill, lay sleeping, Brother Falcon, like a person discreet and pitiful, would be silent until later in the morning.
The forest was full of singing birds, but sweeter music than theirs sounded sometimes in the ears of the Little Poor Man, who, growing weaker and weaker in body, fixed his mind more and more on the glory and the joy of the heavenly life.
Once, as he thought on these things, longing to know what heaven might be like, he saw before him a most beautiful angel with a viol in his left hand and a bow in his right. As Francis gazed, wondering, the angel touched the strings with his bow and so soft a melody was heard that the spirit of Francis was filled with sweetness, and he forgot all his pain of body and mind.
One morning, in the hours before sunrise, Francis was kneeling in prayer not far from his hut, when a light shone in the heaven above him, and came nearer and nearer. And, behold! it was a seraph with six wings shining and aflame. As the seraph came nearer in swift flight he seemed to Francis like the figure of a man crucified. Two wings were lifted above his head, and two outstretched in flight and two were folded down, covering all his body. And Francis was filled with fear, and yet with great joy.
Then all the mountain of La Verna seemed to burn with rosiest flame. The flame shone out and lighted the hills and valleys far away, as if it were the red light of dawn. The shepherds, watching their flocks, were frightened to see the mountain all ablaze, and afterward they declared that the flame had lasted on La Verna for an hour and more. The light shone even into the windows of the low houses and little inns in the country round about; so that some mule drivers, who were sleeping at an inn not far away to the west, rose, and saddled and loaded their mules, thinking that it was day. As they went on their journey they were astonished to see the beautiful light fade away over La Verna, and, after an hour of darkness, the real sun rise.
If the shepherds on the hills, and the muleteers going sleepily along the road wondered and feared because of the great light that was not dawn, the Brothers on La Verna wondered still more.
But Brother Francis knew what the vision meant. Often in these last years his life had seemed a failure, and sometimes he had envied the martyrs of the early Church, and even his own Brothers who had given their lives for the faith in Africa and in Spain. Now, the vision of pain and glory seemed to say to him: "Be content, Little Poor Man, for not by the martyrdom of thy body, but by the fire of thy spirit, thou art made like to thy Master, Christ." And the Brothers who wrote down the story tell how, from that wonderful hour upon the mountain, their beloved leader bore on his hands and on his feet marks like the nail-prints of the Crucified.
Almost the first we know of Francis of Assisi is the story of the sweet-voiced lad who liked to sing gay songs of love and war. Almost the last that we know of him is the more beautiful story of the song which he made and sang only a little while before he died. He had been terribly ill, he was weak, and sad, and in great pain, but, one morning, his friends heard the wonderful voice, strong and clear as of old, singing words that they had never known. He had often sung the sweet old Latin hymns, but these words were Italian, and so simple that it seemed as if the singer made them as he sang. And so he did. The weary, suffering man was still at heart the Troubadour. He was still, as he used to call himself, the Lark, and, like the lark, he sang for sheer happiness and praise. It is not easy to put the quaint old Italian into English; the beauty and the music seem to disappear. The last song of God's Troubadour, the song that cheered his hours of pain and comforted the friends who loved him, was a "Song of the Sun."
"O Lord, we praise Thee for our Brother Sun,
Who brings us day, who brings us golden light.
He tells us of Thy Beauty, Holy One.
We praise Thee, too, when falls the quiet night,
For Sister Moon, and every silver star
That Thou hast set in Heaven, clear and far.
"For our brave Brother Wind we give Thee praise;
For clouds and stormy skies, for gentle air;
And for our Sister Water, cool and fair,
Who does service in sweet, humble ways;
But, when the winter darkens, bitter cold,
We praise Thee every night and all day long
"For our good friend, so merry and so bold,
Dear Brother Fire, beautiful and strong.
For our good Mother Earth, we praise Thee, Lord;
For the bright flowers she scatters everywhere;
For all the fruit and grain her fields afford;
For her great beauty, and her tireless care."
It was through this "Song of the Sun" that the last great joy of his life came to Francis. He was the guest of the Bishop of Assisi in the same palace where, so long before, he had gone with the story of his father's anger and his mother's grief. Bishop Guido must have been an old man now, but he was, as always, impulsive and hot-tempered. He had kept a certain love for Francis all these years, but with most of his neighbours he was often at odds. Just now a sharp feud was going on between the Bishop and the Governor of the city, and all Assisi was in tumult. Francis loved his native town, and he loved peace with all his heart, and this quarrel meant to him the deepest sorrow. His days were full of suffering, but he forgot himself, and only prayed that he might make peace before he died.
One day he called a Brother to him and said: "Go to the Governor, and beg him to come with all the chief men of the city to the porch before the Bishop's palace." The Governor came at this request from the dying Francis, and when the Bishop stepped out at his palace door he found himself in a gathering of the very men with whom he was at strife.
Just at that moment two Grey Brothers came forward before the two proud enemies, and one said: "My Lords, Brother Francis has made a song for the praise of God, and he begs you will all listen to it," and they began to sing "The Song of the Sun." They sang the praise of Sun and Moon, of Wind and Fire, of Sister Water and Mother Earth; and then their voices rose higher and sweeter in a new stanza that Francis, in his longing for peace, had added:
"We praise Thee, Lord, for gentle souls who live
In love and peace, who bear with no complaint
All wounds and wrongs; who pity and forgive;
Each one of these, Most High, shall be Thy saint."
The old story tells that the Governor listened, standing humbly "weeping hot tears, for he greatly loved the blessed Francis. When the song was finished: 'Know in truth,' he said, 'that I pardon the Lord Bishop, whom I wish and ought to regard as my lord, for even if some one had murdered my brother, I should be ready to forgive the murderer.' After these words he threw himself at the feet of the Bishop and said to him: 'Behold me, ready to do all that you wish, for love of our Lord Jesus Christ and for His servant Francis.'
"Then the Bishop, taking him by the hand, lifted him and said: 'In my calling, I ought to be humble, but since I am by nature too quickly angry, you must pardon me.' "
A few days later Brother Francis was carried out from the Bishop's palace, and borne tenderly down the familiar road toward the Portiuncula. At the Leper Hospital he asked his bearers to halt, and he looked back, with dim eyes, lovingly, and, lifting his feeble hand, he blessed Assisi. Then the grey procession entered the forest, and passed softly through the fallen leaves to the poor huts and the bright garden which had been the dearest home of the Brotherhood.
And here the Troubadour, the Little Poor Man, died, happy and high-hearted, singing praise, at the last, for the welcome coming of "Our Sister Death."
Under a roof of twisted boughs
And silver leaves and noon-day sky,
Among gaunt trunks, where lizards house,
On the hot sun-burnt grass I lie;
I hear soft notes of birds that drowse,
And steps that echo by
Unseen, along the sunken way
That drops below the city-wall.
Not of to-day, nor yesterday,
The hidden, holy feet that fall.
O whispering leaves, beseech them stay!
O birds, awake and call!
Say that a pilgrim, journeying long,
From that loud land that lies to west,
Where tongues debate of right and wrong,
Would be "The Little Poor Man's" guest;
Would learn "The Lark's" divine "Sun-Song,"
And how glad hearts are blest.
Say: "Master, we of over-seas
Confess that oft our hearts are set
On gold and gain; and if, with these,
For lore of books we strive and fret,
Perchance some lore of bended knees
And saint-hood we forget;
"Still, in one thought our lips are bold—
That, in our world of haste and care,
Through days whose hours are bought and sold,
Days full of deeds and scant of prayer,
Of thy life's gospel this we hold:
The hands that toil are fair.
"Therefore, forgive; assoil each stain
Of trade and hate, of war and wrath;
Teach us thy tenderness for pain;
Thy music that no other hath;
Thy fellowship with sun and rain,
And flowers along thy path."
Thou dost not answer. Down the track
Where now I thought thy feet must pass,
With patient step and burdened back
Go "Brother Ox" and "Brother Ass."
A mountain cloud looms swift and black,
O'ershadowing stone and grass.
The silver leaves are turned to grey;
There comes no sound from hedge nor tree;
Only a voice from far away,
Borne o'er the silent hills to me,
Entreats: "Be light of heart to-day;
To-morrow joy shall be.
"The glad of heart no hope betrays,
Since 'Mother Earth' and 'Sister Death'
Are good to know, and sweet to praise."
I hear not all the far voice saith
Of Love, that trod green Umbrian ways,
And streets of Nazareth.
WEEK 48 |
EORGE IV. had only one child, a daughter, and she died some
time before her father, so he was succeeded by his brother
William, who was
William was called the Sailor King because he had served in
the navy. He was bluff and rough and good-natured, not at
all like a King. He used to be fond of strolling about
London with a walking-stick or an umbrella just like an
ordinary man. But British people have always loved a sailor,
so they were glad when William became King, and hoped that
he would prove a better one than
That some of his people had not much reverence for him, is shown by one man who wrote of him, "He seems a kind-hearted, well-meaning, not stupid, bustling old fellow, and if he doesn't go mad, may make a very decent King." Later the same man called him, "One of the silliest old gentlemen in his dominions." If he had been left to himself, the "Well-meaning old fellow" would have been quite pleased to jog along without troubling about his kingdom or his duties. But that was not to be. The days of the clatter and jangle of steel armour were over, the roar and crackle of musket and cannon were silent for the time, but in the peace and silence men were thinking and planning and working for the good of the nation.
For hundreds of years the people of Britain had had the right of choosing men to send to Parliament to tell their troubles and their wrongs, and to help to make just laws for the ruling of the country. The whole nation, of course, cannot go to Westminster, for no building would be large enough to contain them all, and the talking would never be finished, and no laws would ever be made. So each county and each big town chooses a man who goes to Parliament to speak and vote in the name of those who send him.
That is what is intended, but at this time the reality was something quite different.
During the hundreds of years which had passed since it had been first arranged which towns should send members to Parliament, there had been many changes. Places which had once been large towns had for some reason or another become deserted. Where there had been houses, churches, shops, and crowded, busy streets, there was now perhaps only one lonely house, or perhaps only a deserted hillside. Yet that lonely house or deserted hillside continued to send a member to Parliament. On the other hand since factories had been built, great towns had sprung up, where a hundred years before there had been perhaps only a single cottage. But these great towns with all their hard-working people had no right to send a member to Parliament, and could have no voice in making the laws.
This seems very absurd. Nowadays, we think it would be quite easy for any sensible man to see that this state of affairs was wrong. But a hundred years ago many sensible people did not see it. They were pleased with things as they were, and very angry with those who tried to alter them.
But some people were quite determined they should be altered, and two men called Lord Grey and Lord John Russell, brought into Parliament what is called the Reform Bill. This Bill took the right of sending any one to Parliament away from the bare and lonely hillsides, and gave the right to the new and busy towns, so that the people should really be represented, that is, should have some one in Parliament to act and speak for them.
There was a long and fierce struggle before this Bill became
law. You know that there are two Houses of Parliament, the
House of Commons and the House of Lords. A bill to become
law must be read in both Houses, and must be voted for by
the greater number of the members in each. That is, more
than half the members must vote for it. For instance, if
there were only one hundred members, at least
After a great deal of difficulty the Commons were made to consent to the Reform Bill, but the Lords did not want it, neither did the King, and again and again they refused consent.
The country, however, had become so determined about it that there were riots everywhere when it became known that the Lords would not pass the Bill. The people who had been quite ready to love their King began to hate him, and instead of cheering when he appeared, they hissed and groaned.
So bitter did the feeling become that the friends of the Bill feared there would be another revolution, and at last they forced the King to give his consent. The Lords followed, and the Bill became law.
One more step toward liberty had been taken.
Another great thing which happened during the reign of
For many years people had been in the habit of stealing black people from their homes in Africa, and selling them as slaves in the colonies. People had grown so used to it that they did not see how wicked and cruel this was. These poor black people were taken to market and sold like cattle, they were branded like cattle, and beaten like cattle. They had to work very hard, were paid no wages, and were often very cruelly treated. All masters, of course, were not cruel, some of them were even kind to their poor slaves, but still they had very unhappy lives. They had no rights whatever, their children might be taken from them and sold, sometimes even husbands and wives were sold to different masters, and never saw each other again. A master might treat his slaves as badly as he chose, and no one could punish him.
In the old, rough, wild days no one cared about the sufferings of these poor black people. They were only niggers, and made for work and suffering, and nothing was thought about it.
But, as time went on, people became less rough and more kind-hearted, and good men began to try to make people see the wickedness of slavery. For some years, a man called Wilberforce had been doing his best, and now he was joined by others, among whom was Macaulay, the father of the great writer. Mr. Macaulay had himself been a manager of a sugar plantation in the West Indies where slaves worked. But he gave up his post because he could not bear to see the misery and unhappiness of the slaves, and came home to try to do something for them.
It was not a very easy thing to do, because all the work on the sugar and coffee plantations in the West Indies was done by slaves. The planters said they would be ruined if the slaves were made free, as the black people would not work unless they were forced to do so. Besides, they had paid a great deal of money for their slaves, and it seemed unfair that they should be made to lose it all.
But, at last, all difficulties were smoothed away. The
British Parliament said they would give twenty millions of
money to the planters to make up for what they would lose in
freeing their slaves, and, in the year
Many other things were done during the reign of
HAVE had many a person ask me, "What is the best way to learn about the out of doors?" and I always answer, "Don't try to learn about it, but first go out of the house and get into the out of doors. Then open both eyes, use both of your ears, and stand in one place stock still as long as you can; and you will soon know the out of doors itself, which is better than knowing about it."
"But," says my learner, "if I go out of the house, I don't get into the out of doors at all, but into a city street!"
Look there—in the middle of the street! What is it? An English sparrow? Yes, an English sparrow—six English sparrows. Are they not a part of the out of doors? And look up there, over your head—a strip of sky? Yes—is not a strip of blue sky a part of the out of doors?
Now let me tell you how I learned an outdoor lesson one night along a crowded city street.
It was a cold, wet night; and the thick, foggy twilight, settling down into the narrow streets, was full of smoke and smell and chill. A raw wind blew in from the sea and sent a shiver past every corner. The street lights blinked, the street mud glistened, the street noises clashed and rattled, and the street crowds poured up and down and bore me along with them.
I was homesick—homesick for the country. I longed to hear the sound of the wind in the pine trees; I longed to hear the single far-away bark of the dog on the neighboring farm, or the bang of a barn-door, or the clack of a guinea going to roost. It was half-past five, and thousands of clerks were pouring from the closing stores; but I was lonely, homesick for the quiet, the wideness, the trees and sky of the country.
Feeling thus, and seeing only the strange faces all about me, and the steep narrow walls of the street high above me, I drifted along, until suddenly I caught the sound of bird voices shrill and sharp through the din.
I stopped, but was instantly jostled out of the street, up against a grim iron fence, to find myself peering through the pickets into an ancient cemetery in the very heart of Boston.
As I looked, there loomed up in the fog and rain overhead the outlines of three or four gaunt trees, whose limbs were as thick with sparrows as they had ever been with leaves. A sparrow roost! Birds, ten thousand birds, gone to roost in the business section of a great city, with ten thousand human beings passing under them as they slept!
I got in behind a big waste-barrel by the iron fence and let the crowd surge past. It was such a sight as I had never seen. I had seen thousands of chimney swallows go to roost in the deserted chimneys of a great country house; I had many a time gone down at night to the great crow-roost in the pines at Cubby Hollow; but I had never stumbled upon a bird-roost on a crowded city street before!
The hurrying throng behind me thinned and straggled while I waited, watching by the iron fence. The wind freshened, the mist thickened into fine rain that came slanting down through the half-lighted trees; the sleeping sparrows twittered and shifted uneasily on the limbs.
The streets were being deserted. It was going to be a wild night on the water, and a wild night in the swaying, creaking tops of these old elm trees. I shivered at the thought of the sparrows sleeping out in such a night as this, and turned away toward my own snug roost hardly two blocks away.
The night grew wilder. The wind rattled down our street past a hundred loose shutters; the rain slapped against the windows, and then stopped as a heavy gust curled over the line of roofs opposite. I thought of the sparrows. Had they been driven from the tossing limbs? Could they cling fast in such a wind, and could they sleep?
Going to the window I looked down into the street. Only the electric light at the corner showed through the blur of the storm. The street was empty.
I slipped into my coat and went out; not even a policeman was in sight. Only the whirling sheets of rain, only the wild sounds of the wind were with me. The lights flared, but only to fill the streets with fantastic shadows and to open up a yawning cavern in every deep, dark doorway.
Keeping in the lee of the shuttered buildings, I made my way to the sparrow roost. I shall never forget the sight! Not a sparrow had left his perch, but every bird had now turned, facing the wind—breasting the wind, I should say; for every head was under a wing, as near as I could make out, and every breast was toward the storm. Here, on the limbs, as close as beads on a string, they clung and rocked in the arms of the wind, every one with his feathers tight to his body, his tail lying out flat on the storm.
Now there is the outdoor lesson I learned, and that is how I learned it. And what was the lesson? Why, this: that you are not shut away from Nature even in the heart of a great city; that the out of doors lies very close about you, as you hurry down a crowded city street.
WEEK 48 |
A S their uncle finished speaking, the postman came with a letter. A friend advised Uncle Paul to go to town on pressing business, and he wished to take advantage of the occasion to give his nephews the diversion of a little journey. He had Jules and Emile dressed in their Sunday clothes, and they set out to wait for the train at the neighboring station. At the station Uncle Paul went up to a grating behind which was a very busy man, and through a wicket he handed him some money. In exchange the busy man gave him three pieces of cardboard. Uncle Paul presented these pieces of cardboard to a man who guarded the entrance to a room. The man looked and let them enter.
Here they are in what is called the
They enter the railway car, the steam hisses, the
train starts, and they are off. After a moment, when full speed
had been gained: "Uncle Paul," said Emile, "see how the
trees run, dance, and whirl around!" His uncle made him a
sign to be silent. He had two reasons for this: first, Emile
had just made a foolish remark, and, secondly, his uncle did
not choose to notice the
Besides, Uncle Paul is not very communicative when
traveling; he prefers to maintain a discreet reserve and
keep silence. There are people whom you have never seen
before, and perhaps will never see again, who immediately
become very familiar with their traveling companions. Rather
than hold their tongues they would talk to themselves. Uncle
Paul does not like such people; he considers them
By evening the three travelers had returned, all much pleased with their trip. Uncle Paul had brought to a favorable conclusion his business in town. Emile and Jules each came back with an idea. When they had done honor to the excellent supper Mother Ambroisine had prepared on purpose to wind up the holiday with a little treat, Jules was the first to impart his idea to his uncle.
"Of all that I saw
"It does not go by itself," replied his uncle; "it is steam that puts it in motion. Let us, then, first learn what steam is and what its power.
"When water is put on the fire, it first gets hot, then begins to boil, sending off vapor, which is dissipated in the air. If the boiling continues some time, it ends with there being nothing in the pot; all the water has disappeared."
"That is what happened to Mother Ambroisine day before yesterday," put in Emile. "She was boiling some potatoes, and having neglected to look into the pot for some time, she found them without a drop of water, half burnt. She had to begin all over again. Mother Ambroisine was not pleased."
"By heat," continued Uncle Paul, "water becomes invisible, intangible, as subtle as air. That is what is called vapor."
"You told us that the moisture in the air, the cause of fogs and clouds, is also vapor." This from Claire.
"Yes, that is vapor, but vapor formed only by the heat of the sun. Now, you must know that the stronger the heat, the more abundant is the vapor. If you put a pot full of water on the fire, the burning heat of the grate sets free incomparably more vapor than the temperature of a hot summer sun could. As long as it escapes freely from the pot, the vapor thus formed has nothing remarkable about it; so your attention has never been arrested by the fumes of a boiling pot. But if the pot is covered, covered tight, so as not to leave the slightest opening, then the steam, which tends to expand to an enormous volume, is furious to get out of its prison; it pushes and thrusts in all directions to remove the obstacles that oppose its expansion. However solid it may be, the pot ends by bursting under the indomitable pushing of the imprisoned steam. That is what I am going to show you with a little bottle, and not with a pot, which would not shut tight enough and the cover of which could be easily pushed off by the steam. And besides, even if I had a suitable pot, I should take care not to use it, for it might blow the house up and kill us all."
Uncle Paul took a glass vial, put a finger's breadth of water into it, corked it tightly with a cork stopper, and then tied the cork with a piece of wire. The vial thus prepared was put on the ashes before the fire. Then he took Emile, Jules, and Claire, and drew them quickly into the garden, to see from a distance what would happen, without fear of being injured by the explosion. They waited a few minutes, then boom! They ran up and found the vial broken into a thousand pieces scattered here and there with extreme violence.
"The cause of the explosion and the bursting of the bottle
was the steam, which, having no way of escape, accumulated
and exerted against its prison walls a stronger and stronger
pressure as the temperature rose. A time then came when the
vial could no longer resist the pressure of the steam, and
it burst to pieces. They call elastic force the pressure
exerted by steam on the inside of pots that hold it
prisoner. The greater the heat, the stronger the pressure.
With heat enough it may acquire an irresistible power,
capable of bursting, not only a glass
bottle, but also the
thickest, most solid pots of iron, bronze, or any other very
resistant material. Is it necessary to say that under those
conditions the explosion is terrific? The fragments of the
pot are thrown with a violence comparable to that of a
"Don't be afraid, Uncle," Jules hastened to interpose; "we will be careful not to repeat the experiment; it is too dangerous."
"Now you know what makes the locomotive and a great many other machines move. In a strong boiler, tightly closed, steam is formed by the action of a hot furnace. This steam, of an enormous power, makes every effort to escape. It presses particularly on a piece placed for that purpose, which it chases before it. From that a movement results that sets everything going, as you will see in the case of the locomotive. To conclude, let us remember that in every steam engine the essential thing, the generator of the force, is a boiler, a closed pot that boils."
When all danger of war was over, Hamilton began again to practice law.
He withdrew more and more from public life. It is said that in the trial of his cases the great lawyer was almost always successful.
Sometimes he spoke many hours, but no one wished to leave the court-room until he had finished his speech.
Now, all this time Aaron Burr had been rising in power. He was crafty and revengeful; he did what he could to blacken the character of Hamilton. When the term of John Adams drew to a close, Aaron Burr became a candidate for President against Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia.
Hamilton used his great influence against the election of Burr. He thought him a man without honor, and therefore unfit for the high office to which he aspired.
When Jefferson was elected, Burr was very angry; he said that Hamilton had caused his defeat.
Then, when Burr wished to be governor of New York, he was defeated again. He was more angry than ever; he laid all the blame of failure on Hamilton; he brooded over his evil thoughts.
How might he get rid of this powerful man who stood in his way? He decided to kill him; but he said he would not, like a common murderer, kill him in the night; he would challenge him to fight a duel.
It is said that Burr trained his hand at shooting targets until he never missed his mark. When he was sure that he would not fail he sent a challenge to Hamilton.
In those days a duel was a common way to settle disputes. Hamilton had lost a dear son in a duel. He thought the custom of dueling was wrong; yet he knew very well that, if he did not accept the challenge, he would be called a coward.
"If war should ever break out again," he said, "who would trust a man in command, if he had ever been called a coward?"
And so he accepted Burr's challenge, but he asked that the duel be put off until he had finished his cases in that term of court. He did not wish others to suffer loss if he died.
The days went by; the great lawyer pleaded his cases, and attended to all his duties as usual.
Once, at a public dinner, when urged to sing his favorite song, he arose to his feet and sang the patriotic verses, one by one.
Just across the table sat Aaron Burr. His eyes were fixed on the glowing face of the singer. He whispered to himself: "It is the last time that the people of this nation shall listen to the voice of Alexander Hamilton."
At dawn, on the eleventh day of July, 1804, the duel took place. The two men, with their seconds, met on the Jersey shore at Weehawken, opposite New York. Hamilton had said he would not fire the first round; he did not wish to kill his enemy. They measured paces. At the given word, Burr fired. Hamilton fell. Burr hastened away in a boat. He was soon condemned as a murderer, and fled for his life.
Hamilton was carried to his barge. He was placed on a cot, and borne to the house of a friend. A long line of citizens followed the almost lifeless body. They wept and wrung their hands. All felt that he must die. His wife and children were summoned; and, in a few hours, Alexander Hamilton breathed his last.
On the day of his funeral the business houses in New York City were closed. The flags on the ships in the harbor were hung at half-mast, and the bells of the churches were muffled and tolled.
A vast procession followed the hero to his grave. His war horse, with empty saddle, draped in black, walked behind the casket. Then came regiments of soldiers. Then the president and the students of Columbia College marched together, because the "orphan boy of Nevis" had been an honored student of Columbia College, when it was King's College. Behind the students marched the many societies, who wished to do honor to the dead; and all over the country there was mourning for the great financier, the soldier, the lawyer, and the statesman, Alexander Hamilton.
Ministers in their pulpits deplored his loss. One said: "Alexander Hamilton was a man on whom nature seemed to impress the stamp of greatness.
"He was the hero whose first appearance in the field conciliated the esteem of Washington; the statesman whose genius impressed itself upon the constitution of his country; the patriot whose integrity baffled the closest scrutiny, and the counsellor who was at once the pride of the bar and the admiration of the court.
"The name of Hamilton raises in the mind the idea of whatever is great, whatever is splendid, whatever is illustrious in human nature.
"Wherever Alexander Hamilton was, the friendless had a friend, the fatherless a father, and the poor man an advocate."
The newspapers were banded in black. Each paid loving tribute to the dead. Even those that had often opposed him hastened now to praise him.
"Americans!" said the Charleston Courier, "in Alexander Hamilton, you have lost your champion, your counsellor, and your guide.
"Who is there in the ancient or the modern world that has surpassed him? If we look to his life, we shall find more to praise and less to censure than in almost any other.
"The head that guided your guides—that clearest head that ever conceived, and that sweetest tongue that ever uttered, the dictates of wisdom—lies mouldering to clay; yet the deeds this great man wrought will live forever."
"The name of Hamilton will not die," said one newspaper, "until that dark day shall come when the name of Washington will also be remembered no more."
"No country ever deplored a greater man," said another.
"Behold!" said another, "a Washington and a Hamilton meet again in gladness and triumph."
The dust of the illustrious statesman lies in Trinity Churchyard, at the head of busy Wall Street. On a bluff of Manhattan stands the "Grange," once his country home, removed a short distance from where it then stood. But the thirteen trees still flourish where he planted them in remembrance of the thirteen states he had helped to unite into one great nation.
They tower high above the trees around them. It was thus, too, that the fame of Alexander Hamilton arose above that of other men.
Like Cain, who slew his brother, Aaron Burr, who slew America's greatest statesman, became a wanderer on the earth. The name of Hamilton sounded in his ears wherever he went.
"Ah, the slayer of Hamilton!" exclaimed an English lord, and cooly turned his back.
"I always have a miniature of Hamilton hanging over my mantle piece," replied a French statesman whose favor he sought.
"By the death of Hamilton you have forfeited the right of citizenship," said a consul as he refused him passports.
Wearied with his treatment in Europe, Burr returned to New York city.
His old friends shunned him and strangers who heard his name refused to clasp his hand.
At last, when very old and very poor, he died; and the event served only to renew the universal praise of Alexander Hamilton.
Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasp'd no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again
And ghastly through the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
WEEK 48 |
T HERE was one part of the palace in which Rainolf especially delighted, and this was the great writing-room. Here, always, were to be found a number of monks from the monastery by the cathedral who spent their time making the most beautiful books. It was chiefly the Bible and the works of the older Greek and Latin authors which they carefully copied out by hand so more people might read them. And all the while they were learning more and more how to decorate and make them beautiful with gold and color.
The King admired these beautiful painted books above all things, and in every way encouraged the monks to make them finer and finer. And they grew so skillful all over his kingdom that the painted, or illuminated books, as they were called, which were made during the reign of Charlemagne are still treasured and admired by everybody.
Rainolf used to spend an hour or two every day in this writing-room, for one of the monks, Brother Coplas, was teaching him to write, and he hoped some day to learn to paint also, for he longed to make a beautiful book all himself. And down in his heart he looked forward to the day when one of the books he made would be filled with his own songs. For all the while Master Einhard was helping him with his music and even encouraging him to make up little songs to sing.
Rainolf was thinking of this as he was busy at work in the writing-room a few days after the coming of the Caliph's messengers, when the door opened and in came the King. With him were two of the Bagdad strangers whom he had brought to see the writing-room, of which he was very proud. The visitors looked with interest at the queer high desks where the monks were working, at the rolls of parchment and the paints and gold and colored inks and goose-quill pens.
"Father Willibrod," said the King to the head of the writing-room, "will you not show us some of the finished pages?"
Father Willibrod hastened to open a great drawer in a desk nearby and displayed a number of large pages so beautifully written and surrounded by such brilliant and glowing borders of birds and flowers with here and there pictures on backgrounds of sparkling gold all so lovely that the strangers exclaimed with admiration and the King smiled with pleasure.
"Show us some of the covers, too, Father Willibrod," he said.
And in another drawer they saw covers already finished ready for the painted pages. For the finest books these covers were of wrought silver set with precious stones, and some of beautifully carved ivory. Others were of velvet, which had been embroidered by the ladies of the palace; while for the commoner books deer-skin would be used.
As the party was leaving the room, the King passed near the desk where Brother Coplas and Rainolf sat side by side. He paused a moment looking at the boy's work and "Good!" he said, "You are improving, lad," and then he sighed as he added, "I wish I had had such training when my hand was supple as yours!"
As he passed out Brother Coplas whispered to Rainolf, "The King would give anything to be able to write and paint books!"
"Why, he can write, can't he?" asked Rainolf in surprise.
"To be sure," said Brother Coplas. "But he wants to be able to do it evenly and regularly as we do in our books. One of his body servants told me he keeps a pen and tablet of parchment under his pillow every night, and often when he can't sleep he will get up and have a lamp lighted and will practice for a long time trying to write beautifully."
And this was not so easy, either; for writing then was more like printing, each letter being made separately, which, of course, was much slower than our way of joining them together; a simple little trick which no one as yet had thought of.
Before long Rainolf had finished his page, and as his fingers were tired he got up and strolled around the room, for he loved to look at what they were all doing.
"Oh, but that is beautiful!" he exclaimed as he stopped by a desk where a monk was writing a chapter from the Bible in letters of gold on a page of parchment he had stained a rich purple.
A monk was writing a chapter from the Bible in letters of gold.
"Master Alcuin says they have nothing finer in Tours," said another brother, who had paused to admire the page, "and in his monastery they do famous work."
"Yes," said Rainolf, "Brother Coplas told me Master Alcuin is having a wonderful Bible made there for the King."
"Why," he said, as he came to another desk, "I didn't know you were here, Master Einhard! What is this you are writing? It isn't Latin!"
"No," answered Master Einhard, who was carefully copying on neat pages something written on a number of loose scraps. "It is some work I am doing for the King, and I am writing it in our own language; for these are songs of some of the Frankish minnesingers. You know how the King likes songs."
"I know he likes yours!" said Rainolf warmly.
"Perhaps," said Master Einhard modestly. "But he likes other peoples', too. Sometimes, when minnesingers come on long winter evenings, he will have the fireplace filled with blazing logs and will wrap himself up in a big mantle of otter skins and sit up half the night listening to them. Some of these men come from the wilder parts of the kingdom up north, and they know old heathen song-stories that have been handed down nobody knows how long. The King is wonderfully interested in these, and whenever any of those people come he gets me to write down the words of the stories they sing, and as, of course, I have to write very fast, it needs to be copied plainly. I have written out ever so many, and the King is getting quite a collection." Here he pointed with pride to a pile of pages in a recess of his desk.
As Rainolf passed on, Master Einhard again bent over his work; for he could not possibly know that twenty years later, when King Charlemagne was dead and gone, his stupid son Louis would one day find those carefully written pages and, not dreaming of their value, would carelessly toss them in the fire!
Heigho! it is a great pity to be stupid!
Meantime, as Rainolf left the writing-room and went into the courtyard he almost ran into Malagis, who was standing on the toes of his good foot and whirling around like a weather-cock.
"Hey, youngster!" he said, "I was just taking some exercise. By the way, I have news for you. Didn't your horoscope say you were to see something of the world?"
"Yes," said Rainolf, puzzled.
"Well, I guess all of our stars must say the same thing, for we are all likely to go traveling."
"How?" asked Rainolf.
"Listen!" answered Malagis, pointing, with a wise air, to the highest palace tower. "Didn't I tell you youngsters a while ago that that big bronze eagle was turning a tiny bit to the south? And didn't I say it meant the King would be needed in that direction, most likely in Italy?"
"Yes, you did," answered Rainolf respectfully.
"Well," said Malagis, with a triumphant gleam in his strange bright eyes, "look at it now!"
As Rainolf gazed, with an awed expression, sure enough, the great bronze bird had veered more and more till it seemed to be looking straight to the south.
"Now, sir," said Malagis, "I happen to know that the King has received word that Pope Leo is in trouble in Rome and wants the most powerful king in Christendom—of course that's Charlemagne— to come and help him. And the King is going, and, as usual, when he can possibly manage it, he will take nearly everybody along. So there! What did I tell you!"
And Malagis again began his whirling, while Rainolf stared at the eagle with his head full of eager dreams.
A Camel Driver, crossing the plains, stopped to rest where a caravan had halted and built a fire the night before; in the morning they had moved on before it had died out. As the night wind arose, it fanned the sparks and soon set all the brush-wood around on fire. In the midst of the brush-wood lay coiled an Adder, fast asleep. The flames, however, soon awoke him, but not until he was completely encircled by the fire. He was about to despair of his life, when he saw the Camel Driver and called upon him for aid. At first the Camel Driver hesitated, for he remembered the poisonous sting of the Adder. Still, he could not bear to see any living creature suffer, so he promised to help the Adder. He had a bag beneath his saddle. This he now drew forth and tied to the end of his spear. He then reached it over into the midst of the burning brush; the Adder crawled inside, and the Camel Driver drew him safely out of the fire.
"Now go your way," said the Camel Driver, loosening the neck of the bag so that the Adder could glide out. "Only remember the kindness which I have shown to you, and do you hereafter be kind to men in your turn."
"I confess," replied the Adder, slipping out on the ground, "that you have been kind to me, and yet I shall not go away until I have stung both you and your camel. I only leave it to you to decide whether I shall sting you first or the camel."
"What a monster of ingratitude you are!" cried the Camel Driver. "Is it right to return evil for good?"
"Such is the custom of men," said the Adder.
"You are not only ungrateful, but untruthful as well," the Camel Driver made reply. "It would be hard indeed for you to prove these words of yours. There is no other creature in the world, I venture to say, who will agree with you. If you can find out one other, I will allow you to sting me."
"Very well," responded the Adder; "let us put the question to yonder Cow."
The Cow stopped chewing her cud. "If you mean what is man's custom," she began, in answer to their question, "I must answer to my sorrow that he is wont to repay evil for good. For many years I have been the faithful servant of a farmer. Every day I have supplied him with milk to drink and rich cream for his butter. Now I am old and no longer able to serve him. So he has put me out in this pasture that I may grow fat, and only yesterday he brought the butcher to see me. To-morrow I am to be sold for beef. Surely this is repaying my kindness with evil."
"You see," said the Adder to the Camel Driver, "that what I said is true. Get ready for me to sting you. Shall it be you or the camel first?"
"Hold," replied the Camel Driver. "In court a decree is not passed without the testimony of two witnesses. Bring another witness, and if he agrees with the Cow, you may do with me as you please."
The Adder looked about him and saw that they were standing beneath a huge palm-tree. "Let us put the question to the tree," he said.
When the Palm had heard their question, he shook his great branches sadly. "Experience has taught me," he moaned, "that for every favor you do to men, you must expect some injury in return. I stand here in the desert, doing harm to none and good to many. Every traveler who comes by can rest beneath my shade. I bear dates for his refreshment, and gladly give my sap to quench his thirst. Yet when the traveler has eaten and slept beneath my shade, he looks up into my branches and says to himself: 'That branch would make me a good cane, or handle for my axe,' or 'What splendid wood there is in this tree! I must cut off a limb to make some new doors for my house.' And I must consent to this without a murmur. Thus is my kindness returned by men."
"The two witnesses have now testified," spoke the Adder, "and agree. Which shall I bite first, you or the camel?"
But just at that moment a Fox ran by, and the Camel Driver pleaded that they might hear one more testimony. The Adder was so pleased with what the Cow and the Tree had said, that he readily agreed to listen to the Fox.
When the Camel Driver had finished telling the whole tale to the Fox, the Fox laughed out loud. "You seem to be a clever fellow," he replied to the Camel Driver. "Why do you tell me such a falsehood?"
"Indeed, he is telling you nothing but the truth," the Adder hastened to assure the Fox.
Again the Fox laughed outright. "Do you mean to tell me," he asked scornfully, "that such a large Adder as you could possibly get into such a small bag?"
"If you do not believe it, I will crawl in again and show you," answered the Adder.
"Well," responded the Fox, thoughtfully, "if I see you in there with my own eyes, then I will consent to give my answer to your question."
The Camel Driver straightway held the bag open, and the Adder crept in and coiled up in the bottom.
"Be quick now," cried the Fox, "and draw the string. Any creature so lacking in gratitude as this Adder deserves nothing but death."
WEEK 48 |
"Greatest, yet with least pretence,
Great in council and great in war,
Foremost captain of his time,
Rich in saving common-sense,
And, as the greatest only are,
In his simplicity sublime."
W HILE Sir John Moore lay dying on the field of Coruna, Napoleon was galloping off with all speed to Austria. But he left orders with his generals, that they were to finish driving the English from the Peninsula and subdue the country. He made not the slightest doubt, that all would soon be accomplished, and that his brother Joseph would rule undisturbed over his new Spanish kingdom. But as Sir Arthur Wellesley once more stepped upon the scene, the eyes of Europe became riveted upon the conflict, that now threatened to overthrow that power.
It was but three months after Coruna, that the greatest soldier England could now produce landed at Lisbon. Three French armies, under tried generals, confronted him in Portugal and Spain. It was against Soult at Oporto, that Wellesley determined to strike his first blow. So he marched northwards till he came to the river Douro, which rolled rapidly between him and the enemy at Oporto. The march had been quick, and Soult was strangely unprepared for what now happened. Mounting a hill opposite the town, Wellesley hastily surveyed the situation. There was no bridge over the Douro, no boats visible on the banks. But the river must be crossed. Presently it was discovered, that a barber from Oporto was crossing over in a tiny boat. This was instantly seized, and, springing in, an English officer rowed back across the stream to the farther bank, where he found four old barges stranded in the mud, which he towed across.
"Let the men embark," said Wellesley hastily.
As the English dragged their guns up the hill on the opposite side, Soult discovered what had happened. He had been completely surprised, and nothing was left him, but to retreat with all the speed possible. At four o'clock in the afternoon, it is said that Wellesley ate the dinner prepared for Marshal Soult in Oporto.
With Soult in full flight, and Oporto, the second town in Portugal, in English hands, Wellesley determined to push on towards Madrid. The Spanish army under old Cuesta now joined him; but Cuesta proved a sore trial to the English commander. On June 27 the English and Spanish armies entered Spain, and Wellesley's troubles began. He had crossed the boundary with the full assurance that food should be found for his troops. But Spanish promises proved to be worthless, and the English were nearly starved. Horses died by hundreds, and the British soldiers were led on, complaining bitterly of their treatment. At last they reached Talavera, a picturesque old town on the Tagus, some seventy-five miles to the south of Madrid. Cuesta now proved hopeless. While Wellesley was discussing matters of the highest importance with him, the old man would fall asleep. On July 22, Wellesley found that a single French army was within striking distance, and Cuesta at last agreed to attack him next day, before other French troops joined him. Wellesley was arranging the plan of battle for the morrow, when the old Spanish general rose and went off to bed. The British were under arms at three next morning, but Cuesta did not get up till seven. Then he arrived at the British camp in a coach with six horses, to say that, as it was Sunday, he must decline to fight. Later in the day, he was induced to examine the ground for the coming battle; but he soon alighted from his coach-and-six, sat down under the shade of a neighbouring tree, and went off to sleep.
"If Cuesta had fought, when I wanted him, it would have been as great a battle as Waterloo, and would have cleared the French out of Spain," said Sir Arthur Wellesley pitifully, when speaking of Talavera.
Cuesta's obstinacy cost him dear. Three French armies now joined forces—making some 50,000 in all—and held the road to Madrid. Among the French leaders was Joseph Bonaparte, fighting for his kingdom.
At two o'clock on the afternoon of July 27 the battle of Talavera began. Perhaps the chief feature in it was the flight of the Spaniards. "They fired one far-off and terrific volley into space, and then, before its sound had died away, no less than 10,000 of them, or nearly a third of Cuesta's entire force, betook themselves to flight. The infantry flung away their muskets, the gunners cut their traces and galloped off on their horses: baggage-carts and ammunition waggons swelled the torrent of fugitives." And behind them all Cuesta, in his carriage drawn by nine mules, followed hard. All that day the battle lasted. Towards midnight the firing died away, but only to be renewed on the morrow. Right through the day the battle raged, until, when night again fell, Wellesley stood victorious on the battlefield of Talavera, though 6000 of his men lay dead or dying around him. The loss of those brave lives was not in vain.
"The battle of Talavera," says one, "restored to the successors of Marlborough the glory which for a whole age seemed to have passed from them."
The defeat of his army made Napoleon change his mind about the bravery of British troops and the ability of British commanders.
"It seems this is a man indeed, this Wellesley," said Napoleon when the news reached him at Vienna.
In this the whole world agreed with him. England showered honours on her hero. He was made a peer, with the titles of Baron Douro of Wellesley and Viscount Wellington of Talavera.
Henceforth the "ugly boy Arthur" is known to history as the Duke of Wellington. This is he—
"Who never sold the Truth to serve the hour,
Nor palter'd with Eternal God for power;
Whose life was work, whose language rife
With rugged maxims hewn from life;
Who never spoke against a foe."
For a few years the Swiss had peace, but when the Emperor Henri died the Duke of Austria, who was now called Leopold, tried to make the Princes choose him as the next Emperor. But Albrecht had been hated so much that the Princes would not choose an Austrian as Emperor. That made the Swiss very glad, for they greatly feared another Austrian ruler. The new Emperor was called Louis, and he was king to the Swiss, as Henri had been, and gave them new letters saying that they were a free people.
Duke Leopold of Austria was very angry that he had not been chosen Emperor, and his anger made him hate the Swiss more than ever. Like Duke Albrecht, he resolved to fight against them and conquer them. "The wretched peasants!" he said; "I will yet tread them under foot."
Duke Leopold gathered his army and set out for Schwytz, which he meant to conquer first. He was so sure of victory that he took with him a cartload of ropes with which to bind the prisoners.
But when the Swiss heard that Duke Leopold was coming, they made ready to fight, strengthening their towns as best they could, and keeping watch for him day and night.
Duke Leopold was a fierce and terrible man, but he was also tall and handsome. He looked very splendid and knightly as, dressed in glittering armour, he rode at the head of his troops. Behind him were the greatest of Austria's knights and nobles, followed by twenty thousand gallant soldiers in shining armour.
And this great host came marching against only six hundred mountain peasants. There seemed no doubt as to how the fight must end. But Duke Leopold little knew what wonderful deeds these peasants could do when fighting for their country and their freedom.
When the men of Schwytz heard that Leopold's great army was near, they sent to Uri and Unterwalden for help. They did not send in vain, and on the fourteenth of November, as the sun was setting, four hundred men of Uri arrived, led by Tell and Walter Fürst. At midnight, as they sat round the watch-fires, Arnold Melchthal came from Unterwalden bringing with him three hundred more. The whole army numbered now thirteen hundred men.
Round the camp fires the leaders held a council of war. "Brothers," said Stauffacher, "once more we are gathered to protect our country against Austria. With God's help we will once more succeed. Even among the Austrians we are not without friends. Yesterday this arrow was shot into our camp," he went on, holding up the arrow so that all might see it. "Fastened to the shaft is a piece of parchment, and written upon it the words, 'Beware of Morgarten.' That is surely meant for a warning."
"What does it mean?" asked some one.
"Are you sure it is a friend and no traitor who sends the message?"
"I know the writing. It certainly comes as a friendly warning."
"Whose is it?"
"It is the writing of the Count Henri of Hunenberg. He is our friend although he is an Austrian."
"Yes, yes," said every one, "we may trust him, he is just and good."
Then a very old man rose and seemed about to speak, and every one was silent to listen to him. He was so weak and crippled that he could not fight, indeed he could hardly walk. But still he had come with the army, for although his body was bent and worn with age, his mind was bright and keen, and he was very wise. He loved his country, and the people were glad to listen to his counsels.
"The letter is the warning of a friend," said this old man. "It means that you must stay upon the heights of Morgarten. Duke Leopold will lead his army through the valley below. When his knights and horsemen are close packed in the narrow pass between the mountain and the lake they will be at our mercy. You can then rush down upon them from above, and they will not be able to escape."
The leaders resolved to do as the old man advised, and after everything was arranged for the coming battle, they lay down to rest till dawn. But scarcely had they done so that the camp was roused again. In the still night the sound of the tramp of feet could be heard.
"Who goes there?" called the sentinel.
"Friends," came the answer, "we would speak with the captains of the army."
Dimly through the darkness could be seen the forms of a small company of men. They were soon surrounded, and their leaders were brought before Tell and the other captains.
"Who are you, and what do you want?" asked Tell.
"We are outlaws," replied the men. "For our misdeeds we have been banished from the land. But we are sorry for the evil that we have done, and we have come to beg you to give us a chance to win again the place which we have lost. There are fifty of us. We come to offer our lives for our country. Let us fight with you against the Austrians. We ask nothing better than to die for our Fatherland."
"Go away a little," said Tell, "until we talk of this matter. What think you?" he added, turning to his fellows as the outlaws moved away.
"They may not fight with us," said the others. "We cannot trust them." So after a little more talk the outlaws were told that they could not be allowed to fight in the Swiss army, and that they must go away.
The fifty men were very sad because the Confederates would not let them help in the fighting. They went sorrowfully from the Swiss camp, but they did not go far. A little way off there was a ledge of rock above a steep precipice. There they lay down to wait for the enemy, for, although they were not to be allowed to fight in the army, they had made up their minds to die for their country. They had no arms nor weapons of any kind, but somehow or other they meant to help.
Soon the first streaks of dawn turned the snow-topped mountains pink. The camp was all astir, and in the early morning light the Swiss were drawn up in fighting order. They wore little armour, and besides their bows and arrows their chief weapon was what was called a "Morning Star." This was a heavy club, the head of which was thickly covered with sharp iron points, so that it looked like a star. And although it had such a beautiful name, it was a very deadly weapon.
When the Swiss were ready for battle, they fell upon their knees, as their old custom was, calling upon God, as their only Lord and Master, to help them that day. "Lord God of heaven and earth, look upon their pride and our lowliness. Show that Thou forsakest not those who trust in Thee, but bring them low who trust in themselves and glory in their own strength." Then they rose from their knees and stood waiting for the enemy.
They had not long to wait. The first beams of the winter sun fell upon helmet and breastplate, on glittering shield and spear. Soon, as far as the eye could reach, the valley was full of a slowly moving mass of men and horses, their banners fluttering in the wind, their weapons and armour gleaming in the sunlight.
Never before had the Swiss seen such an army. On they came, first the knights and men on horseback, behind the foot-soldiers, until the valley between the mountain and the lake was close packed. And above them, on the mountain-side, the Swiss stood quietly watching and waiting.
Meanwhile the fifty outlaws had not been idle. They had gathered great heaps of huge stones and boulders and brought them to the edge of the precipice. Now they felt their time had come. The mountain road was slippery, and the Austrian horsemen moved slowly and carefully, but the foot-soldiers behind pressed on so quickly that the ranks were broken and thrown into disorder. At this moment the outlaws, uttering wild shouts, rolled the huge stones which they had gathered down upon the struggling mass of men and horses below. As the stones came crashing upon them, the Austrian soldiers, already in some disorder, were thrown into utter confusion. Riders were overthrown and trampled underfoot; horses wild with terror galloped madly among the close-drawn ranks; and always the soldiers from behind, not knowing what was happening in front, kept pressing on.
The panic and rout seemed complete, when down the mountain-side came the Swiss, charging in perfect order. For although the slope was steep, their iron spiked shoes gave them firm hold upon the rocky crags. Swinging their morning stars about their heads, they fell upon the Austrian host.
In the narrow pass between the mountain and the lake there was great slaughter. Knight after knight fell dead under the blows of the terrible morning stars. Hundreds were crushed and trampled to death by their fellows. Hundreds more sprang into the lake, hoping to save themselves, and were drowned.
Fearless and foremost among the Swiss fought Tell and his friends. As Tell with great blows clove a path through the Austrian ranks, two knights fell upon him. "Die, traitor," they cried, as their swords flashed in the sunlight. But Tell avoided the blows, and swinging his morning star, brought it crashing down upon the head of one of the knights, while with his dagger in his left hand he kept off the other.
The first knight fell, and as he fell his helmet rolled off, so that his face was seen. It was the face of Gessler's son Dietrich.
The second knight now attacked Tell fiercely. But very soon he too lay dead beside his brother. For he also was a son of Gessler. The two brothers had hoped to avenge their father's death.
Landenberg also, in spite of his promise never to return to Switzerland, was with the Austrian army. But he too fell upon the field.
In less than an hour and a half, before nine o'clock in the morning, the Swiss had gained a complete victory. It is said that fifteen thousand men fell in this battle. All the pride and the glory of the Austrian army had perished. For many years chivalry was rare in the countries around, for all the bravest and best knights lay dead upon the field of Morgarten.
Duke Leopold himself hardly escaped with his life. He was led almost by force out of the battle by a soldier who knew the mountain passes, and pale as death, broken and sad, he arrived late that evening at a place of safety.
Duke Leopold tried no more to take away the freedom of the Swiss. After this battle a peace was signed, and year by year it was renewed.
Yet although by this battle a great blow against Austria had been struck, the struggle was not at an end. It was not until nearly two hundred years after Tell's great shot that the Swiss were entirely free. But never again did such dark and terrible days come upon them; never again did they suffer as they suffered when Gessler and Landenberg ruled the land.
In gratitude for the victory of Morgarten, the Swiss built a chapel upon the battlefield. The walls of it are painted with pictures of the fight, and to this day, every year on the fifteenth of November, the day on which the battle was fought, a service of thanksgiving is held.
Tell lived quietly for many years in his house at Bürglen, happy with his wife and children. In the year 1354 there was a great flood which carried away many houses and did much harm. Many people were drowned, and William Tell, who was now an old man, was among them.
But Tell still lives in the memory of the Swiss. They
love him still and honour him as the saviour of their
country. Where his house at Bürglen stood there is now
a chapel. On its walls are written, in German, these
"Here, where this holy church doth stand,
The saviour of his fatherland
Great William Tell erstwhile did live.
He made our freedom truly live,
And him to thank and God to praise,
This church upon the spot we raise.
Ah, comrades dear, think well thereon
What God and our fathers for us have done."
There is also a chapel upon the spot where Tell sprang from Gessler's boat. The place is called Tell's Platte, and to this day, once a year, a solemn service is held there, and the people, dressed in their best, come from all sides in a gay procession of decorated boats to do honour to the memory of their hero.
At Küssnacht too, on the spot where Gessler died, a chapel was built. After hundreds of years that chapel fell into ruins, but another was built which still stands.
Perhaps some day you may go to Switzerland and see all these interesting places.
WEEK 48 |
T HE King of the Golden River had hardly made the extraordinary exit related in the last chapter, before Hans and Schwartz came roaring into the house very savagely drunk. The discovery of the total loss of their last piece of plate had the effect of sobering them just enough to enable them to stand over Gluck, beating him very steadily for a quarter of an hour; at the expiration of which period they dropped into a couple of chairs, and requested to know what he had to say for himself. Gluck told them his story, of which of course they did not believe a word. They beat him again, till their arms were tired, and staggered to bed. In the morning, however, the steadiness, with which he adhered to his story obtained him some degree of credence; the immediate consequence of which was that the two brothers, after wrangling a long time on the knotty question, which of them should try his fortune first, drew their swords, and began fighting. The noise of the fray alarmed the neighbors, who, finding they could not pacify the combatants, sent for the constable.
Hans, on hearing this, contrived to escape, and hid himself; but Schwartz was taken before the magistrate, fined for breaking the peace, and, having drunk out his last penny the evening before, was thrown into prison till he should pay.
When Hans heard this, he was much delighted, and determined to set out immediately for the Golden River. How to get the holy water was the question. He went to the priest, but the priest could not give any holy water to so abandoned a character. So Hans went to vespers in the evening for the first time in his life, and, under pretense of crossing himself, stole a cupful, and returned home in triumph.
Next morning he got up before the sun rose, put the holy water into a strong flask, and two bottles of wine and some meat in a basket, slung them over his back, took his alpine staff in his hand, and set off for the mountains.
On his way out of the town he had to pass the prison, and as he looked in at the windows, whom should he see but Schwartz himself peeping out of the bars, and looking very disconsolate.
"Good morning, brother," said Hans; "have you any message for the King of the Golden River?"
Schwartz gnashed his teeth with rage, and shook the bars with all his strength; but Hans only laughed at him, and advised him to make himself comfortable till he came back again, shouldered his basket, shook the bottle of holy water in Schwartz's face till it frothed again, and marched off in the highest spirits in the world.
It was indeed a morning that might have made anyone happy, even with no Golden River to seek for. Level lines of dewy mist lay stretched along the valley, out of which rose the massy mountains—their lower cliffs in pale gray shadow, hardly distinguishable from the floating vapor, but gradually ascending till they caught the sunlight, which ran in sharp touches of ruddy color along the angular crags, and pierced, in long level rays, through their fringes of spear-like pine. Far above, shot up red splintered masses of castellated rock, jagged and shivered into myriads of fantastic forms, with here and there a streak of sunlit snow, traced down their charms like a line of forked lightning; and, far beyond, and far above all these, fainter than the morning cloud, but purer and changeless, slept, in the blue sky, the utmost peaks of the eternal snow.
The Golden River, which sprang from one of the lower and snowless elevations, was now nearly in shadow; all but the uppermost jets of spray, which rose like slow smoke above the undulating line of the cataract, and floated away in feeble wreaths upon the morning wind.
On this object, and on this alone, Hans' eyes and thoughts were fixed; forgetting the distance he had to traverse, he set off at an imprudent rate of walking, which greatly exhausted him before he had scaled the first range of the green and low hills. He was, moreover, surprised, on surmounting them, to find that a large glacier, of whose existence, notwithstanding his previous knowledge of the mountains, he had been absolutely ignorant, lay between him and the source of the Golden River. He entered on it with the boldness of a practised mountaineer; yet he thought he had never traversed so strange or so dangerous a glacier in his life. The ice was excessively slippery, and out of all its chasms came wild sounds of gushing water; not monotonous or low, but changeful and loud, rising occasionally into drifting passages of wild melody, then breaking off into short melancholy tones, or sudden shrieks resembling those of human voices in distress or pain. The ice was broken into thousands of confused shapes, but none, Hans thought, like the ordinary forms of splintered ice. There seemed a curious expression about all their outlines—a perpetual resemblance to living features, distorted and scornful.
There seemed a curious expression about all their outlines.
Myriads of deceitful shadows and lurid lights played and floated about and through the pale blue pinnacles, dazzling and confusing the sight of the traveler; while his ears grew dull and his head giddy with the constant gush and roar of the concealed waters. These painful circumstances increased upon him as he advanced; the ice crashed and yawned into fresh chasms at his feet, tottering spires nodded around him, and fell thundering across his path; and though he had repeatedly faced these dangers on the most terrific glaciers, and in the wildest weather, it was with a new and oppressive feeling of panic terror that he leaped the last chasm, and flung himself, exhausted and shuddering, on the firm turf of the mountain.
He had been compelled to abandon his basket of food, which became a perilous incumbrance on the glacier, and had no means of refreshing himself but by breaking off and eating some of the pieces of ice. This, however, relieved his thirst; an hour's repose recruited his hardy frame, and with the indomitable spirit of avarice he resumed his laborious journey.
His way now lay straight up a ridge of bare red rocks, without a blade of grass to ease the foot, or a projecting angle to afford an inch of shade from the south sun. It was past noon, and the rays beat intensely upon the steep path, while the whole atmosphere was motionless, and penetrated with heat. Intense thirst was soon added to the bodily fatigue with which Hans was now afflicted; glance after glance he cast on the flask of water which hung at his belt. "Three drops are enough," at last thought he; "I may, at least, cool my lips with it."
He opened the flask, and was raising it to his lips, when his eye fell on an object lying on the rock beside him; he thought it moved. It was a small dog, apparently in the last agony of death from thirst. Its tongue was out, its jaws dry, its limbs extended lifelessly, and a swarm of black ants were crawling about its lips and throat. Its eye moved to the bottle which Hans held in his hand. He raised it, drank, spurned the animal with his foot, and passed on. And he did not know how it was, but he thought that a strange shadow had suddenly come across the blue sky.
The path became steeper and more rugged every moment; and the high hill air, instead of refreshing him, seemed to throw his blood into a fever. The noise of the hill cataracts sounded like mockery in his ears; they were all distant, and his thirst increased every moment. Another hour passed, and he again looked down to the flask at his side; it was half empty, but there was much more than three drops in it. He stopped to open it, and again, as he did so, something moved in the path above him. It was a fair child, stretched nearly lifeless on the rock, its breast heaving with thirst, its eyes closed, and its lips parched and burning. Hans eyed it deliberately, drank, and passed on. And a dark gray cloud came over the sun, and long, snake-like shadows crept up along the mountain sides. Hans struggled on. The sun was sinking, but its descent seemed to bring no coolness; the leaden height of the dead air pressed upon his brow and heart, but the goal was near. He saw the cataract of the Golden River springing from the hill-side, scarcely five hundred feet above him. He paused for a moment to breathe, and sprang on to complete his task.
At this instant a faint cry fell on his ear. He turned, and saw a gray-haired old man extended on the rocks. His eyes were sunk, his features deadly pale, and gathered into an expression of despair. "Water!" he stretched his arms to Hans, and cried feebly: "Water! I am dying."
"I have none," replied Hans; "thou hast had thy share of life." He strode over the prostrate body, and darted on. And a flash of blue lightning rose out of the east, shaped like a sword; it shook thrice over the whole heaven, and left it dark with one heavy, impenetrable shade. The sun was setting; it plunged towards the horizon like a red-hot ball.
The roar of the Golden River rose on Hans' ear. He stood at the brink of the chasm through which it ran. Its waves were filled with the red glory of the sunset; they shook their crests like tongues of fire, and flashes of bloody light gleamed along their foam. Their sound came mightier and mightier on his senses; his brain grew giddy with the prolonged thunder. Shuddering, he drew the flask from his girdle and hurled it into the center of the torrent. As he did so, an icy chill shot through his limbs; he staggered, shrieked, and fell. The waters closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly into the night as it gushed over
THE BLACK STONE.
"I F I thought," said Uncle Will one day, "that you had not had enough of wasps and their doings I would introduce you at once to a new family of them."
"Oh, Uncle Will o' the Wasps! if you think I have had enough of wasps you are greatly mistaken. I have not begun to have enough—so come on with the new family, if you please."
"They dig holes in the ground," said Uncle Will.
"Oh, yes!" replied Theodore, "digger wasps. I have heard you speak of them before."
"They belong, not to the true wasps, such as Vespa and Polistes, but rather to the division in which we find Pelopaeus."
"That suits me," returned Theodore. "It makes no difference at all what family they belong to, so long as they are interesting people."
"Well, come along, then, for I find them very interesting. They are solitary wasps for one thing, and the solitary wasps seem to have to exercise their wits more than the social wasps that live in colonies and so necessarily do things after a fixed pattern. Here, let us sit under this bush in the shade and watch that hole in the path."
"There she comes," whispered Theodore after a few minutes. "Why, I believe she is dragging a caterpillar!" and sure enough a black wasp came hurrying along transporting a caterpillar as long as itself.
"It must have been stung or it would squirm," said Theodore.
"Yes, no doubt it has been stung. Do you know that the caterpillar sometimes becomes chrysalid after it has been stowed away in the wasp's nest?"
"Dear me, Uncle Will, what if it hatched out into a butterfly—wouldn't that be dreadful!"
"Oh, but it never does—it goes to sleep when stung and sometimes has life enough to make its first transformation, but that is the end. I cannot go on and wake up."
"I am glad of that," said Theodore, "it seems as if things were made to come just right. See!" he suddenly exclaimed, "the wasp has left its caterpillar and gone into the hole—why didn't it take in the caterpillar?"
"Perhaps it wanted to see if there were burglars in the house first. You know a stranger sometimes takes possession of the nest while the owner is away, and such a tenant has to be cast out. Now we will see what wits our Lady Digger has"; and Uncle Will carefully removed the caterpillar from the rim of the nest where it had been left and laid it on the ground about a foot away.
"Do you think she can find it?" whispered Theodore excitedly.
"Here she comes," said Uncle Will as the wasp suddenly emerged from the nest and looked about for the caterpillar.
"My, how crazy she is!" said Theodore, squeezing Uncle Will's hand.
"No wonder, with a whole leg of mutton stolen from her pantry."
"All the food she had for her child to grow upon!" added Theodore; "don't you think we ought to give it back to her?"
"Let's wait a little. See, she is looking about on all sides, farther and farther from the nest—I shouldn't wonder—there!"
"She has found it," said Theodore with suppressed
excitement. "I am so glad! She has grabbed it as though she
were as pleased as could be, and is dragging it back to the
"Yes, she suspects danger and has popped in to see that all is well inside—now, Madam Wasp, you have lost your pickled caterpillar again," and Uncle Will removed it as before, only further away.
Again the wasp came out and looked for the caterpillar, and again scurried about in apparent excitement until she had found it.
Several times the caterpillar was removed, and as often found and dragged back to the nest where it was left while the wasp went in to explore. At last Uncle Will and Theodore left the caterpillar undisturbed, and the wasp came out, seized it and dragged it out of sight down into its hole.
"How relieved she must be to get it in at last!" laughed Uncle Will.
"Yes, we have made her a great deal of trouble, Uncle Will; but wasn't it fun! She hunted around just like Rover when you have thrown a stick that he can't find. What is her house like, down there in the ground? Is the hole deep—could we see in? I'm going to try."
But do his best Theodore could see nothing in the dark little hole, and scurried back to his seat by Uncle Will as the wasp suddenly appeared.
Instead of flying away for another caterpillar, her ladyship began to scratch the ground about the hole.
"Why," said Theodore, eagerly watching proceedings, "she is filling the hole with dirt, I do believe."
"Keep quiet now, just watch and see," warned Uncle Will.
"I tell you, Uncle Will, she has filled it up and is now patting it all down nice and smooth—see! she has brought a dry leaf and put over it!—and now a tiny twig—why, what has become of her?" and Theodore looked around—"why, where is the nest? I can't find it."
Uncle Will laughed. "That is the trick, my fine nephew. She doesn't want anybody to find the hole. She has finished and gone."
"I don't know. Perhaps to make another nest."
"Is that the same one?" and Theodore pointed to a wasp flitting up and down the path as if looking for something.
"Perhaps so, perhaps not, but it is apparently looking for a good place to dig—maybe we can see a nest begun, as well as having seen one finished."
"Yes, she is digging with her front feet, like a dog—now she is off—why didn't she finish?"
"Perhaps she encountered a stone too big to move, perhaps she decided to find a site with a better view."
"Oh, Uncle Will, what does she care for a view, when all she does is to dig down in the ground!"
"Well, I only said perhaps, you know. See, she has started again—no, that place doesn't suit either. Madam, you appear to me to be wasting a great deal of time starting tunnels and then abandoning them."
"Let's walk along, Uncle Will, and see if we can't find a wasp digging."
"I'm sure we can," agreed Uncle Will, "for this is digging time and the wasps are very busy."
"There!" interrupted Theodore. "see that!" and sure enough there was a big yellow and brown wasp half buried and causing the dirt to fly out behind her in a fine stream of dust.
"She does seem to be at it for good," said Uncle Will, sitting down under a tree—"at work tooth and nail, so to speak."
"At work jaws and claws!" amended Theodore, thumping Uncle Will, and then sitting on his knee.
"Yes, jaws and claws it is," agreed Uncle Will; "or rather jaws and legs, for she kicks the dirt out with all the strength of her legs."
"Does she loosen it with her jaws?"
"Probably, though as she has her head buried in the ground I cannot see very well what she is doing with her jaws."
"See, she is almost out of sight—how deep does she go, Uncle Will o' the Wasps?"
"I suppose," said Uncle Will, "we shall have to dig out a nest one of these days to satisfy your curiosity."
"But now," said Theodore, "since we have lost that nest, and may not find another right away, can't you tell me, and make some pictures?"
"Oh, yes, if that is what you want. You see the wasp digs
straight down only an inch or two, then turns the direction
of the tunnel—so, and goes on for a distance,
"Why does she bend the tunnel, Uncle Will?"
"Perhaps to keep the room at the bottom from filling up with dirt, for you see the tunnel ends in a little room where she stores her provisions and lays her eggs."
"One egg in each nest?"
"Yes, just one—to keep her greedy babies out of temptation, you know."
"And the baby eats its caterpillar and moults and changes into a pupa, and finally comes out a wasp and has to make its way out through the tunnel and gnaw open the doorway," finished Theodore jumping up and running up and down the path, and then sitting down again.
"I think it was funny the way that wasp hunted about and found the caterpillar every time!"
"Yes, the solitary wasps are knowing people. I once saw a big one close the opening to its nest with a stone over the mouth when it left to get another caterpillar."
"So nobody could get in?"
"Yes, and perhaps so the opening would not so readily be seen. You know there are always enemies lying in wait to enter the nest. These enemies are small insects that, too lazy to make and provision their own nests, wait until the wasp has hers ready, when one of the little rascals slips in and lays her own egg, when it easily devours the rightful occupant along with the food stored away for the baby wasp's use."
"Oh, my! what lovely creatures!" said Theodore, sarcastically.
"Yes, aren't they lovely! But you see their evil ways have served to develop the wits of the wasp; probably if it had not been for these enemies her ladyship would have been much more stupid than she is today."
"Was it fear of enemies that made the little black wasp look into her nest every time before taking in the caterpillar?"
"Probably it was."
"Tell more about the wasp that put the stone over its nest," Uncle Will.
"Well, that is the gist of the story. She put the stone in the opening to the nest, and when she came back she took out the stone and went in, but she always replaced it before leaving, until she had fully provisioned the nest and filled the opening with dirt."
"That was like people, Uncle Will," said Theodore. Then after a pause he asked, "How many caterpillars do they catch?"
"I'm sure I don't know, only you may be sure they take in just enough, and not one too many. But not all the miner wasps use caterpillars you know."
"Sometimes. What would you think of a wasp who chose the gentle tarantula for her prey?"
"The tarantula? Why, Uncle Will, the tarantula is that big, hairy spider that lives in the hot south, and makes a nest with a cover that has a hinge that lifts up and down. How could any wasp catch such a monstrous spider as that?"
"It would certainly need to be a strong, fierce insect; and such it is. Yes, there is a wasp that actually tackles the savage tarantula and stings it until it is paralyzed, unless, of course, the tarantula proves the better fighter—which sometimes happens—when the dinner party is reversed and the tarantula dines on wasp."
"It must be something of a fight between them, Uncle Will."
"I should think so; but our wasps here at home often tackle insects bigger than themselves, although none so fierce, of course, as the tarantula. Now there is a wasp that selects cicadas—you know, what we call 'locusts,' that spring their rattles in the summer—those big horny fellows that leave their pupa shells about on the bushes and tree trunks."
"Yes, I know," said Theodore; "how can they carry them?"
"Sometimes they drag them, and sometimes they climb up a tree and fly from there. If the nest is not too far from the tree that is an easy way to get to it. And some wasps have a taste for grasshoppers. Indeed, a good many kinds of insects fall a prey first and last to these Amazons with poisoned darts."
"Amazons were big, strong ladies who lived long ago and went to battle with helmets on their heads," said Theodore. "And these are big, strong mother wasps that go hunting to feed their children. Don't they ever hatch into workers?"
"I have never heard that they did. You see, they have no use for workers—they are too independent. But there are drones; the eggs hatch into queens and drones."
"Then each wasp must make a good many nests. What a lot of trouble to dig a hole for each egg!"
"Oh, they love to dig; they have big strong legs on purpose,
with stiff hairs on them to sweep up
"Brooms instead of pollen baskets," laughed Theodore.
"Exactly so. The eggs stay in the ground all winter, and in the spring the drones and queens hatch out. They mate and the drones die; but the queens live to make nests and catch insects and lay eggs and suck nectar from the flowers and enjoy the hot sun all through the summer."
"And sometimes sting people," added Theodore.
"Not often, my wise philosopher. The solitary wasp, remember, is a queen, and no queen is rash about using her sting as you well know. Of course she will use it if she thinks she has to; but she does not go about looking for trouble."
WEEK 48 |
Matthew xxviii: 1 to 10;
Mark xvi: 1 to 13;
Luke xxiv: 1 to 49;
John xx: 1 to 23.
N Sunday morning, two days after the death and burial of Jesus, some women went very early, as soon as it was light, to the tomb in the garden. One of these women was Mary Magdalene, another was also named Mary, and another was named Salome. They were bringing some more fragrant gums and spices to place in the wrappings upon the body of Jesus. And as they went they said to each other, "Who will roll away for us the great stone at the door of the cave?"
But when they came to the cave, they saw that the seal was broken, the stone was rolled away, and the soldiers who had been on guard were gone. There stood the tomb of Jesus all open! They did not know that before they came to the tomb there had been an earthquake; and that an angel had come down from heaven and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. When the soldiers on guard saw the angel, with his flashing face, and his dazzling garments, they fell to the ground as though they were dead, and as soon as they could rise up, they fled away from the spot in terror; so when the women came there was no man in sight.
The guards of the tomb fall to the earth.
As soon as Mary Magdalene saw that the tomb was open, without stopping to look into it, she ran quickly to tell the disciples. A moment after she had gone, the other women looked into the tomb and they saw that the body of Jesus was not there. But they saw sitting at each end of the tomb a young man, clothed in a long white garment. Their faces shone like angels, and when the women saw they were filled with fear. One of the angels said to them:
"Do not be afraid; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here; he is risen, as he said that he would rise from the dead. Come, see the place where the Lord lay; and then go and tell his disciples, and tell Peter too, that Jesus will go before you into Galilee, and you shall see him there."
The women see the angel at the tomb of Jesus.
Then the women went away in mingled joy and fear. They ran in haste to bring this word of the angel to the disciples.
But while these women were looking into the tomb, and were listening to the angel, Mary Magdalene was seeking the disciples, to tell them that the tomb was open and the body of Jesus was not there; for she did not know that he had risen. She found Peter and John and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him!"
Then Peter and John at once went as quickly as they could go, to the tomb. John outran Peter, and came first to the tomb, perhaps because he was the youngest. But when he saw the open door, and the broken seal, and the stone lying at one side, he stood still for a moment. John stooped and looked into the cave, and he could see the linen cloths that had been wrapped around the body of Jesus lying together. But when Peter came up he did not wait, but pressed at once into the tomb; and then John followed him, and he too walked into the cave. Now he could see not only the long strips of linen rolled up; but in another place, carefully folded, the napkin that had been tied over the face of Jesus.
Then suddenly it flashed upon the mind of John, "Jesus has risen from the dead!" For he had not seen the angel, nor heard his words. From that moment John believed that Jesus was once more living. Both Peter and John went away, to think of the strange things they had seen. And very soon Mary Magdalene came back to the tomb. No one was there, for both the women and the disciples had gone away. Mary Magdalene did not know that Jesus had risen, for she had not heard the angel's message.
She wept as she thought of her Lord, slain by wicked men, and not even allowed to rest in his grave. And still weeping, she stooped and looked into the tomb. There she saw two men in white garments sitting, one at the head, the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain. They were the two angels whom the other women had seen, but Mary Magdalene did not know this. One of them said to her, "Woman, why do you weep?"
She answered, "Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him."
Something caused her to turn around; and she saw a man standing behind her. It was Jesus; but her eyes were held for a moment from knowing him. He said to her, "Woman, why do you weep?"
Mary Magdalene meeting the risen Jesus.
She supposed that he was the gardener, and said, hardly looking at him, "Sir, if you have carried him out of this place, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."
Then the stranger spoke her name, "Mary!" and she knew that he was Jesus, no longer dead, but living. She turned around, and fell down before him, and was about to seize his feet, as she said, "My Master!"
But Jesus said to her, "Do not take hold of me; I am not yet going away to my Father. But go to my brothers, and say to them, I go up to my Father and to your Father, to my God, and to your God!"
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples how she had seen the Lord, and how he had spoken these things to her. So this was the first time that any one saw Jesus after he rose from the dead.
You remember that the other women, another Mary, and Salome, and the rest, had not seen the risen Christ, but they had seen an angel, who told them that he had risen, and would meet his disciples in Galilee. They went into the city, and were looking for disciples when suddenly Jesus himself stood before them, and said "All Hail!" That means, "A welcome to all of you!" They fell down before him, and worshipped him. And Jesus said to them, as he had said to Mary Magdalene, only a few moments before, "Do not be afraid; but find my brothers, and tell them to go into Galilee and they shall see me there."
And this was the second time that Jesus showed himself living on the day when he arose.
On that same day two of the followers of Jesus were walking out of Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles away. While they were talking over the strange happenings of the day, they saw that a stranger was walking beside them. It was Jesus, their risen Lord, but they were held back from knowing him. The stranger said to them, "What words are these that you are speaking with each other, which seem to make you so sad?"
One of the two men, named Cleopas, answered, "Are you even a stranger in Jerusalem, and have not heard of what things have taken place there in the last few days?"
The stranger said, "What things?"
And they said, "The things with regard to Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in his acts and his words before God and all the people; how the chief priests and our rulers caused him to be sentenced to death, and how he died on the cross. But we hoped that he was the promised One, who was to save Israel. And now it is the third day since he was put to death. And today some women of our company who were early at the tomb surprised us with the news that the tomb was empty, his body was not there; and they had seen a vision of angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Then some of us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him."
Then the stranger said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe what the prophets have said! Was it not needful for the Christ to suffer these things, and then to enter in his glory?"
Then he began with the books of Moses, and went through the prophets, and showed them in all the Scriptures the meaning of all that was told about Christ. And as they went on they came to the village to which they were going, and he acted as though he would go on beyond it. Then they urged and persuaded him to stay with them. They said, "Abide with us, for it is now almost evening, and the day is at its close."
And he went in with them and sat down with them to a supper. As they were about to eat he took the loaf of bread into his hands, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them. And at that moment their eyes were opened and they knew that he was the Lord; and he passed out of their sight. They said to each other, "Was not our heart burning within us while he talked to us on the road, and while he opened to us the words of the Scriptures?"
This was the third time that Jesus showed himself on that day. These two men hastened to Jerusalem that night to tell what they had seen. And they found ten of the disciples met together and saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has been seen by Simon Peter."
We do not know what Jesus said to Peter; but this was the fourth time that he was seen living on that day when he arose.
The ten disciples and other followers of Jesus were together in a room on that night, and the doors were shut. Suddenly Jesus himself was seen standing among them. He said, "Peace be unto you!"
Some of them were alarmed when they saw him and thought that he must be a spirit. But he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do fears come to you? Look at the wounds in my hands and my feet! Handle me, and see. A spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see that I have."
And he showed them his hands and his side. They could scarcely believe for the joy of seeing him again. He said, "Have you here anything to eat?"
They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of a honeycomb, and he ate before them. And he said, "This is what I told you while I was with you, that everything written of me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, must come to pass. It was needful that Christ should suffer thus, and should rise from the dead, and that everywhere the gospel should be preached in his name. I will send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in Jerusalem after I leave you, until power shall come upon you from on high."
Then when the disciples saw that it was really the Lord, and that he was alive from the dead, they were glad. And Jesus said to them again, "Peace be to you, as my Father has sent me, even so I send you. May the Spirit of God come upon you!"
And this was the fifth time that Jesus showed himself alive on that day. This Sunday was the brightest day in all the world, because on it Jesus rose from the dead. And that Sunday in every year is called Easter Sunday.
The risen Christ blessing his disciples.
K ING PADELLA made very similar proposals to Rosalba to those which she had received from the various princes who, as we have seen, had fallen in love with her. His Majesty was a widower, and offered to marry his fair captive that instant, but she declined his invitation in her usual polite, gentle manner, stating that Prince Giglio was her love, and that any other union was out of the question. Having tried tears and supplications in vain, this violent-tempered monarch menaced her with threats and tortures; but she declared she would rather suffer all these than accept the hand of her father's murderer, who left her finally, uttering the most awful imprecations, and bidding her prepare for death on the following morning.
All night long the King spent in advising how he should get rid of this obdurate young creature. Cutting off her head was much too easy a death for her; hanging was so common in his Majesty's dominions that it no longer afforded him any sport: finally, he bethought himself of a pair of lions which had lately been sent to him as presents, and he determined, with these ferocious brutes, to hunt poor Rosalba down. Adjoining his castle was an amphitheatre where the Prince indulged in bull-baiting, rat-hunting, and other ferocious sports. The two lions were kept in a cage under this place; their roaring might be heard over the whole city, the inhabitants of which, I am sorry to say, thronged in numbers to see a poor young lady gobbled up by two wild beasts.
The King took his place in the royal box, having the officers of his court around and the Count Hogginarmo by his side, upon whom his Majesty was observed to look very fiercely; the fact is royal spies had told the monarch of Hogginarmo's behaviour, his proposals to Rosalba, and his offer to fight for the crown. Black as thunder looked King Padella at this proud noble, as they sat in the front seats of the theatre waiting to see the tragedy whereof poor Rosalba was to be the heroine.
At length that princess was brought out in her night-gown, with all her beautiful hair falling down her back, and looking so pretty that even the beef-eaters and keepers of the wild animals wept plentifully at seeing her. And she walked with her poor little feet (only luckily the arena was covered with sawdust), and went and leaned up against a great stone in the centre of the amphitheatre, round which the court and the people were seated in boxes with bars before them, for fear of the great, fierce, red-maned, black-throated, long-tailed, roaring, bellowing, rushing lions. And now the gates were opened, and with a wurrawar-rurawarar two great lean, hungry, roaring lions rushed out of their den where they had been kept for three weeks on nothing but a little toast-and-water, and dashed straight up to the stone where poor Rosalba was waiting. Commend her to your patron saints, all you kind people, for she is in a dreadful state.
There was a hum and a buzz all through the circus, and the fierce King Padella even felt a little compassion. But Count Hogginarmo, seated by his Majesty, roared out, "Hurray! Now for it! Soo-soo-soo!" that nobleman being uncommonly angry still at Rosalba's refusal of him.
But O strange event! O remarkable circumstance! O extraordinary coincidence, which I am sure none of you could by any possibility have divined! When the lions came to Rosalba, instead of devouring her with their great teeth, it was with kisses they gobbled her up! They licked her pretty feet, they nuzzled their noses in her lap, they moo'd; they seemed to say: "Dear, dear sister, don't you recollect your brothers in the forest?" And she put her pretty white arms round their tawny necks, and kissed them.
King Padella was much astonished. The Count Hogginarmo was extremely disgusted. "Pooh!" the Count cried. "Gammon!" exclaimed his Lordship. "These lions are tame beasts come from Wombwell's or Astley's. It is a shame to put people off in this way. I believe they are little boys dressed up in door-mats. They are no lions at all."
"Ha!" said the King, "you dare to say 'gammon' to your sovereign, do you? These lions are no lions at all, arn't they? Ho! my beef-eaters! Ho! my body-guard! Take this Count Hogginarmo and fling him into the circus! Give him a sword and buckler; let him keep his armor on, and his weather-eye out, and fight these lions."
The haughty Hogginarmo laid down his opera-glass, and looked scowling round at the King and his attendants. "Touch me not, dogs!" he said, "or by St. Nicholas the Elder I will gore you! Your majesty thinks Hogginarmo is afraid? No, not of a hundred thousand lions! Follow me down into the circus, King Padella, and match thyself against one of yon brutes. Thou darest not. Let them both come on, then!" And opening a grating of the box, he jumped lightly down into the circus.
Wurra wurra wurra wur-aw-
In about two minutes
The Count Hogginarmo was
bones, boots, and all,
There was an
End of him.
At this the King said: "Serve him right, the
rebellious ruffian! And now, as those lions won't eat
"Let her off!—let her off!" cried the crowd.
"NO!" roared the King. "Let the beefeaters go down and chop her into small pieces. If the lions defend her, let the archers shoot them to death. That hussy shall die in tortures!"
"A-a-ah!" cried the crowd. "Shame! shame!"
"Who dares cry out shame?" cried the furious potentate (so little can tyrants command their passions). "Fling any scoundrel who says a word down among the lions!" I warrant you there was a dead silence then, which was broken by a pang arang pang pangkarangpang, and a knight and a herald rode in at the farther end of the circus. The knight, in full armor, with his visor up, and bearing a letter on the point of his lance.
"Ha!" exclaimed the King, "by my fay, 'tis Elephant and Castle, pursuivant of my brother of Paflagonia, and the Knight, an my memory serves me, is the gallant Captain Hedzoff! What news from Paflagonia, gallant Hedzoff? Elephant and Castle, beshrew me, thy trumpeting must have made thee thirsty. What will my trusty herald like to drink?"
"Bespeaking first safe conduct from your Lordship," said Captain Hedzoff, "before we take a drink of any thing, permit us to deliver our king's message."
"My Lordship, ha?" said Crim Tartary, frowning terrifically. "That title soundeth strange in the anointed ears of a crowned king. Straightway speak out your message, knight and herald!"
Reining up his charger in a most elegant manner close under the King's balcony, Hedzoff turned to the herald and bade him begin.
Elephant and Castle, dropping his trumpet over his shoulder, took a large sheet of paper out of his hat, and began to read:
"O yes! O yes! O yes! Know all men by these
presents, that we, Giglio, King of Paflagonia, Grand
Duke of Cappadocia, Sovereign Prince of Turkey and the
Sausage Islands, having assumed our rightful throne and
title, long time falsely borne by our usurping uncle,
styling himself King of
"Ha!" growled Padella.
"—Hereby summon the false traitor, Padella, calling
himself King of Crim
The King's curses were dreadful. "Go on, Elephant and Castle!" said the intrepid Hedzoff.
"—To release from cowardly imprisonment his liege lady and rightful sovereign, ROSALBA, Queen of Crim Tartary, and restore her to her royal throne, in default of which, I, Giglio, proclaim the said Padella sneak, traitor, humbug, usurper, and coward. I challenge him to meet me, with fists or with pistols, with battle-axe or sword, with blunderbuss or single-stick, alone or at the head of his army, on foot or on horseback, and will prove my words upon his wicked, ugly body!"
"God save the King!" said Captain Hedzoff, executing a demivolte, two semilunes, and three caracols.
"Is that all?" said Padella, with the terrific calm of concentrated fury.
"That, sir, is all my Royal Master's message. Here is his Majesty's letter in autograph, and here is his glove, and if any gentleman of Crim Tartary chooses to find fault with his Majesty's expressions, I, Tuffskin Hedzoff, Captain of the Guard, am very much at his service," and he waved his lance and looked at the assembly all round.
"And what says my good brother of Paflagonia, my dear son's father-in-law to this rubbish?" asked the King.
"The King's uncle hath been deprived of the crown he
unjustly wore," said Hedzoff gravely.
"He and his ex-minister, Glumboso, are now in prison
waiting the sentence of my Royal Master. After the
"Of what?" asked the surprised Padella.
"Of Bombardaro, where my liege, his present Majesty, would have performed prodigies of valor, but that the whole of his uncle's army came over to our side, with the exception of Prince Bulbo."
"Ah! my boy, my boy, my Bulbo was no traitor!" cried Padella.
"Prince Bulbo, far from coming over to us, ran away, sir; but I caught him. The Prince is a prisoner in our army, and the most terrific tortures await him if a hair of the Princess Rosalba's head is injured."
"Do they?" exclaimed the furious Padella, who was now perfectly livid with rage. "Do they indeed? So much the worse for Bulbo. I've twenty sons as lovely each as Bulbo. Not one but is as fit to reign as Bulbo. Whip, whack, flog, starve, rack, punish, torture Bulbo—break all his bones—roast him or flay him alive—pull all his pretty teeth out one by one! But justly dear as Bulbo is to me,—joy of my eyes, fond treasure of my soul! ha, ha, ha, ha! revenge is dearer still. Ho! torturers, rack-men, executioners—light up the fires and make the pincers hot! get lots of boiling lead!—Bring out ROSALBA!