Text of Plan #990
  WEEK 5  


The Railway Children  by Edith Nesbit

Prisoners and Captives

dropcap image T was one day when Mother had gone to Maidbridge. She had gone alone, but the children were to go to the station to meet her. And, loving the station as they did, it was only natural that they should be there a good hour before there was any chance of Mother's train arriving, even if the train were punctual, which was most unlikely. No doubt they would have been just as early, even if it had been a fine day, and all the delights of woods and fields and rocks and rivers had been open to them. But it happened to be a very wet day and, for July, very cold. There was a wild wind that drove flocks of dark purple clouds across the sky "like herds of dream-elephants," as Phyllis said. And the rain stung sharply, so that the way to the station was finished at a run. Then the rain fell faster and harder, and beat slantwise against the windows of the booking-office and of the chill place that had General Waiting Room on its door.

"It's like being in a besieged castle," Phyllis said; "look at the arrows of the foe striking against the battlements!"

"It's much more like a great garden-squirt," said Peter.

They decided to wait on the up side, for the down platform looked very wet indeed, and the rain was driving right into the little bleak shelter where down-passengers have to wait for their trains.

The hour would be full of incident and of interest, for there would be two up trains and one down to look at before the one that should bring Mother back.

"Perhaps it'll have stopped raining by then," said Bobbie; "anyhow, I'm glad I brought Mother's waterproof and umbrella."

They went into the desert spot labelled General Waiting Room, and the time passed pleasantly enough in a game of advertisements. You know the game, of course. It is something like dumb Crambo. The players take it in turns to go out, and then come back and look as like some advertisement as they can, and the others have to guess what advertisement it is meant to be. Bobbie came in and sat down under Mother's umbrella and made a sharp face, and everyone knew she was the fox who sits under the umbrella in the advertisement. Phyllis tried to make a Magic Carpet of Mother's waterproof, but it would not stand out stiff and raft-like as a Magic Carpet should, and nobody could guess it. Everyone thought Peter was carrying things a little too far when he blacked his face all over with coal-dust and struck a spidery attitude and said he was the blot that advertises somebody's Blue Black Writing Fluid.

It was Phyllis's turn again, and she was trying to look like the Sphinx that advertises What's-his-name's Personally Conducted Tours up the Nile when the sharp ting of the signal announced the up train. The children rushed out to see it pass. On its engine were the particular driver and fireman who were now numbered among the children's dearest friends. Courtesies passed between them. Jim asked after the toy engine, and Bobbie pressed on his acceptance a moist, greasy package of toffee that she had made herself.

Charmed by this attention, the engine-driver consented to consider her request that some day he would take Peter for a ride on the engine.

"Stand back, Mates," cried the engine-driver, suddenly, "and horf she goes."

And sure enough, off the train went. The children watched the tail-lights of the train till it disappeared round the curve of the line, and then turned to go back to the dusty freedom of the General Waiting Room and the joys of the advertisement game.

They expected to see just one or two people, the end of the procession of passengers who had given up their tickets and gone away. Instead, the platform round the door of the station had a dark blot round it, and the dark blot was a crowd of people.

"Oh!" cried Peter, with a thrill of joyous excitement, "something's happened! Come on!"

They ran down the platform. When they got to the crowd, they could, of course, see nothing but the damp backs and elbows of the people on the crowd's outside. Everybody was talking at once. It was evident that something had happened.

"It's my belief he's nothing worse than a natural," said a farmerish-looking person. Peter saw his red, clean-shaven face as he spoke.

"If you ask me, I should say it was a Police Court case," said a young man with a black bag.

"Not it; the Infirmary more like—"

Then the voice of the Station Master was heard, firm and official:

"Now, then—move along there. I'll attend to this, if you  please."

But the crowd did not move. And then came a voice that thrilled the children through and through. For it spoke in a foreign language. And, what is more, it was a language that they had never heard. They had heard French spoken and German. Aunt Emma knew German, and used to sing a song about bedeuten  and Zeiten  and bin  and Sinn.  Nor was it Latin. Peter had been in Latin for four terms.

It was some comfort, anyhow, to find that none of the crowd understood the foreign language any better than the children did.

"What's that he's saying?" asked the farmer, heavily.

"Sounds like French to me," said the Station Master, who had once been to Boulogne for the day.

"It isn't French!" cried Peter.

"What is it, then?" asked more than one voice. The crowd fell back a little to see who had spoken, and Peter pressed forward, so that when the crowd closed up again he was in the front rank.

"I don't know what it is," said Peter, "but it isn't French. I know that." Then he saw what it was that the crowd had for its centre. It was a man—the man, Peter did not doubt, who had spoken in that strange tongue. A man with long hair and wild eyes, with shabby clothes of a cut Peter had not seen before—a man whose hands and lips trembled, and who spoke again as his eyes fell on Peter.

"No, it's not French," said Peter.

"Try him with French if you know so much about it," said the farmer-man.

"Parlay voo Frongsay?"  began Peter, boldly, and the next moment the crowd recoiled again, for the man with the wild eyes had left leaning against the wall, and had sprung forward and caught Peter's hands, and began to pour forth a flood of words which, though he could not understand a word of them, Peter knew the sound of.

"There!" said he, and turned, his hands still clasped in the hands of the strange shabby figure, to throw a glance of triumph at the crowd; "there; that's  French."


"What does he say?"

"I don't know." Peter was obliged to own it.

"Here," said the Station Master again; "you move on if you please. I'll  deal with this case."

A few of the more timid or less inquisitive travellers moved slowly and reluctantly away. And Phyllis and Bobbie got near to Peter. All three had been taught  French at school. How deeply they now wished that they had learned  it! Peter shook his head at the stranger, but he also shook his hands as warmly and looked at him as kindly as he could. A person in the crowd, after some hesitation, said suddenly, "No comprenny!" and then, blushing deeply, backed out of the press and went away.

"Take him into your room," whispered Bobbie to the Station Master. "Mother can talk French. She'll be here by the next train from Maidbridge."

The Station Master took the arm of the stranger, suddenly but not unkindly. But the man wrenched his arm away, and cowered back coughing and trembling and trying to push the Station Master away.

"Oh, don't!" said Bobbie; "don't you see how frightened he is? He thinks you're going to shut him up. I know he does—look at his eyes!"

"They're like a fox's eyes when the beast's in a trap," said the farmer.

"Oh, let me try!" Bobbie went on; "I do really know one or two French words if I could only think of them."

Sometimes, in moments of great need, we can do wonderful things—things that in ordinary life we could hardly even dream of doing. Bobbie had never been anywhere near the top of her French class, but she must have learned something without knowing it, for now, looking at those wild, hunted eyes, she actually remembered and, what is more, spoke, some French words. She said:

"Vous attendre. Ma mère parlez Français. Nous—what's the French for 'being kind'?"

Nobody knew.

"Bong  is 'good,' " said Phyllis.

"Nous être bong pour vous."

I do not know whether the man understood her words, but he understood the touch of the hand she thrust into his, and the kindness of the other hand that stroked his shabby sleeve.

She pulled him gently towards the inmost sanctuary of the Station Master. The other children followed, and the Station Master shut the door in the face of the crowd, which stood a little while in the booking-office talking and looking at the fast-closed yellow door, and then by ones and twos went its way, grumbling.

Inside the Station Master's room Bobbie still held the stranger's hand and stroked his sleeve.

"Here's a go," said the Station Master; "no ticket—doesn't even know where he wants to go. I'm not sure now but what I ought to send for the police."

"Oh, don't!"  all the children pleaded at once. And suddenly Bobbie got between the others and the stranger, for she had seen that he was crying.

By a most unusual piece of good fortune she had a handkerchief in her pocket. By a still more uncommon accident the handkerchief was moderately clean. Standing in front of the stranger, she got out the handkerchief and passed it to him so that the others did not see.

"Wait till Mother comes," Phyllis was saying; "she does speak French beautifully. You'd just love to hear her."

"I'm sure he hasn't done anything like you're sent to prison for," said Peter.

"Looks like without visible means to me," said the Station Master. "Well, I don't mind giving him the benefit of the doubt till your Mamma comes. I should  like to know what nation's got the credit of him,  that I should."

Then Peter had an idea. He pulled an envelope out of his pocket, and showed that it was half full of foreign stamps.

"Look here," he said, "let's show him these—"

Bobbie looked and saw that the stranger had dried his eyes with her handkerchief. So she said: "All right."

They showed him an Italian stamp, and pointed from him to it and back again, and made signs of questions with their eyebrows. He shook his head. Then they showed him a Norwegian stamp—the common blue kind it was—and again he signed No. Then they showed him a Spanish one, and at that he took the envelope from Peter's hand and searched among the stamps with a hand that trembled. The hand that he reached out at last, with a gesture as of one answering a question, contained a Russian  stamp.

"He's Russian," cried Peter, "or else he's like 'the man who was'—in Kipling, you know."

The train from Maidbridge was signalled.

"I'll stay with him till you bring Mother in," said Bobbie.

"You're not afraid, Missie?"

"Oh, no," said Bobbie, looking at the stranger, as she might have looked at a strange dog of doubtful temper. "You wouldn't hurt me, would you?"

She smiled at him, and he smiled back, a queer crooked smile. And then he coughed again. And the heavy rattling swish of the incoming train swept past, and the Station Master and Peter and Phyllis went out to meet it. Bobbie was still holding the stranger's hand when they came back with Mother.

The Russian rose and bowed very ceremoniously.

Then Mother spoke in French, and he replied, haltingly at first, but presently in longer and longer sentences.

The children, watching his face and Mother's, knew that he was telling her things that made her angry and pitying, and sorry and indignant all at once.

"Well, Mum, what's it all about?" The Station Master could not restrain his curiosity any longer.

"Oh," said Mother, "it's all right. He's a Russian, and he's lost his ticket. And I'm afraid he's very ill. If you don't mind, I'll take him home with me now. He's really quite worn out. I'll run down and tell you all about him to-morrow."

"I hope you won't find you're taking home a frozen viper," said the Station Master, doubtfully.

"Oh, no," Mother said brightly, and she smiled; "I'm quite sure I'm not. Why, he's a great man in his own country, writes books—beautiful books—I've read some of them; but I'll tell you all about it to-morrow."

She spoke again in French to the Russian, and everyone could see the surprise and pleasure and gratitude in his eyes. He got up and politely bowed to the Station Master, and offered his arm most ceremoniously to Mother. She took it, but anybody could have seen that she was helping him along, and not he her.

"You girls run home and light a fire in the sitting-room," Mother said, "and Peter had better go for the Doctor."

But it was Bobbie who went for the Doctor.

"I hate to tell you," she said breathlessly when she came upon him in his shirt sleeves, weeding his pansy-bed, "but Mother's got a very shabby Russian, and I'm sure he'll have to belong to your Club. I'm certain he hasn't got any money. We found him at the station."

"Found him! Was he lost, then?" asked the Doctor, reaching for his coat.

"Yes," said Bobbie, unexpectedly, "that's just what he was. He's been telling Mother the sad, sweet story of his life in French; and she said would you be kind enough to come directly if you were at home. He has a dreadful cough, and he's been crying."

The Doctor smiled.

"Oh, don't," said Bobbie; "please don't. You wouldn't if you'd seen him. I never saw a man cry before. You don't know what it's like."

Dr. Forrest wished then that he hadn't smiled.

When Bobbie and the Doctor got to Three Chimneys, the Russian was sitting in the arm-chair that had been Father's, stretching his feet to the blaze of a bright wood fire, and sipping the tea Mother had made him.

"The man seems worn out, mind and body," was what the Doctor said; "the cough's bad, but there's nothing that can't be cured. He ought to go straight to bed, though—and let him have a fire at night."

"I'll make one in my room; it's the only one with a fireplace," said Mother. She did, and presently the Doctor helped the stranger to bed.

There was a big black trunk in Mother's room that none of the children had ever seen unlocked. Now, when she had lighted the fire, she unlocked it and took some clothes out—men's clothes—and set them to air by the newly lighted fire. Bobbie, coming in with more wood for the fire, saw the mark on the night-shirt, and looked over to the open trunk. All the things she could see were men's clothes. And the name marked on the shirt was Father's name. Then Father hadn't taken his clothes with him. And that night-shirt was one of Father's new ones. Bobbie remembered its being made, just before Peter's birthday. Why hadn't Father taken his clothes? Bobbie slipped from the room. As she went she heard the key turned in the lock of the trunk. Her heart was beating horribly. Why  hadn't Father taken his clothes? When Mother came out of the room, Bobbie flung tightly clasping arms round her waist, and whispered:

"Mother—Daddy isn't—isn't dead,  is he?"

"My darling, no! What made you think of anything so horrible?"

"I—I don't know," said Bobbie, angry with herself, but still clinging to that resolution of hers, not to see anything that Mother didn't mean her to see.

Mother gave her a hurried hug. "Daddy was quite, quite  well when I heard from him last," she said, "and he'll come back to us some day. Don't fancy such horrible things, darling!"

Later on, when the Russian stranger had been made comfortable for the night, Mother came into the girls' room. She was to sleep there in Phyllis's bed, and Phyllis was to have a mattress on the floor, a most amusing adventure for Phyllis. Directly Mother came in, two white figures started up, and two eager voices called:

"Now, Mother, tell us all about the Russian gentleman."

A white shape hopped into the room. It was Peter, dragging his quilt behind him like the tail of a white peacock.

"We have been patient," he said, "and I had to bite my tongue not to go to sleep, and I just nearly went to sleep and I bit too hard, and it hurts ever so. Do  tell us. Make a nice long story of it."

"I can't make a long story of it to-night," said Mother; "I'm very tired."

Bobbie knew by her voice that Mother had been crying, but the others didn't know.

"Well, make it as long as you can," said Phil, and Bobbie got her arms round Mother's waist and snuggled close to her.

"Well, it's a story long enough to make a whole book of. He's a writer; he's written beautiful books. In Russia at the time of the Tsar one dared not say anything about the rich people doing wrong, or about the things that ought to be done to make poor people better and happier. If one did one was sent to prison."

"But they can't,"  said Peter; "people only go to prison when they've done wrong."

"Or when the Judges think  they've done wrong," said Mother. "Yes, that's so in England. But in Russia it was different. And he wrote a beautiful book about poor people and how to help them. I've read it. There's nothing in it but goodness and kindness. And they sent him to prison for it. He was three years in a horrible dungeon, with hardly any light, and all damp and dreadful. In prison all alone for three years."

Mother's voice trembled a little and stopped suddenly.

"But, Mother," said Peter, "that can't be true now.  It sounds like something out of a history book—the Inquisition, or something."

"It was  true," said Mother; "it's all horribly true. Well, then they took him out and sent him to Siberia, a convict chained to other convicts—wicked men who'd done all sorts of crimes—a long chain of them, and they walked, and walked, and walked, for days and weeks, till he thought they'd never stop walking. And overseers went behind them with whips—yes, whips—to beat them if they got tired. And some of them went lame, and some fell down, and when they couldn't get up and go on, they beat them, and then left them to die. Oh, it's all too terrible! And at last he got to the mines, and he was condemned to stay there for life—for life, just for writing a good, noble, splendid book."

"How did he get away?"

"When the war came, some of the Russian prisoners were allowed to volunteer as soldiers. And he volunteered. But he deserted at the first chance he got and—"

"But that's very cowardly, isn't it"—said Peter—"to desert? Especially when it's war."

"Do you think he owed anything to a country that had done that  to him? If he did, he owed more to his wife and children. He didn't know what had become of them."

"Oh," cried Bobbie, "he had them  to think about and be miserable about too,  then, all the time he was in prison?"

"Yes, he had them to think about and be miserable about all the time he was in prison. For anything he knew they might have been sent to prison, too. They did those things in Russia. But while he was in the mines some friends managed to get a message to him that his wife and children had escaped and come to England. So when he deserted he came here to look for them."

"Had he got their address?" said practical Peter.

"No; just England. He was going to London, and he thought he had to change at our station, and then he found he'd lost his ticket and his purse."

"Oh, do  you think he'll find them?—I mean his wife and children, not the ticket and things."

"I hope so. Oh, I hope and pray that he'll find his wife and children again."

Even Phyllis now perceived that mother's voice was very unsteady.

"Why, Mother," she said, "how very sorry you seem to be for him!"

Mother didn't answer for a minute. Then she just said, "Yes," and then she seemed to be thinking. The children were quiet.

Presently she said, "Dears, when you say your prayers, I think you might ask God to show His pity upon all prisoners and captives."

"To show His pity," Bobbie repeated slowly, "upon all prisoners and captives. Is that right, Mother?"

"Yes," said Mother, "upon all prisoners and captives. All prisoners and captives."


Heroes of the Middle Ages  by Eva March Tappan

The Story of the Nibelungs

M ANY of the Goths had learned about Christianity, as has been said before; but for a long while most of the Teutons believed, or half believed, in the old fables of gods and heroes. One of these, the story of the Nibelungs, was a special favourite. It was told by father to son for centuries; then some unknown poet put it into poetry. This poem was called the Nibelungen-Lied, or song of the Nibelungs. It began with one of the evil pranks of Loki by which the gallant knight Siegfried became owner of a vast hoard of gold once belonging to a nation of dwarfs called Nibelungs. Siegfried was rich and handsome and brave, and he rode forth into the world, not knowing that the gold was accursed and would bring trouble to whoever might own it.

His first adventure was in Isenland, or Iceland, where he broke through a magic ring of fire that for many years had burned around a lofty castle on the summit of a mountain. In this castle lay Brunhild, a disobedient Valkyr whom Odin had punished by putting her and the king and court who had received her into a sleep. This was to last till some hero should pass the ring of fire. Siegfried broke through, found the beautiful maiden, and became betrothed to her. But after a brief period of happiness Odin bade the hero leave Isenland and go elsewhere in search of adventures.

Siegfried went next to the land of Burgundy, and there he found a new exploit awaiting him. King Günther had heard of the beautiful Brunhild, and was eager to marry her. Many a man had lost his life because of this same wish; for whoever would win her must outdo her in the games, and if he failed, both he and his attendant knights were put to death. The king and Siegfried set off for Isenland, and the games began. First, Brunhild threw her heavy javelin against the king's shield; but Günther cast it back at her so powerfully that she fell to the ground. When she rose, she caught up a stone, so heavy that twelve knights could hardly lift it, and hurled it an amazing distance. Then at one leap she sprang to where the stone had fallen; but Günther threw the stone farther and leaped farther. Then the Valkyr yielded and became his wife. She did not guess that it was not Günther who had beaten her, but Siegfried. Siegfried had a magic cap of darkness, and when he put it on, he became invisible; so while Günther went through the motions, it was really Siegfried who threw the javelin and hurled the stone and even carried Günther in his arms far beyond the leap of the Valkyr. So it was that Brunhild became the wife of Günther. As for Siegfried, an enchantment had been thrown about him, and he had entirely forgotten that he had ever ridden through the ring of fire or seen Brunhild before. The hand of the king's sister, the gentle, lovely Kriemhild, was to be his reward for his service to King Günther; and now both weddings were celebrated. Günther and Brunhild remained in Burgundy, and Siegfried carried Kriemhild to his kingdom in the Jutland.


Siegfried Fighting the Dragon

Even if Siegfried had forgotten Brunhild, she had not forgotten him, and she meant to have her revenge. She persuaded Günther to invite Siegfried and Kriemhild to Burgundy. It was easy for a quarrel to arise between the two queens, and Hagen, uncle of Kriemhild, took the part of Brunhild. He pretended that war had arisen against Günther, and Siegfried agreed to fight for his host. Kriemhild begged her uncle to help Siegfried whenever he was in peril; and the treacherous Hagen replied, "Surely; but first tell me where his chief peril lies. Is there some one way by which he may most easily lose his life?" "Yes," answered Kriemhild, "he once slew a dragon and bathed himself in its blood. Therefore no weapon can harm him save in one tiny place between his shoulders which was not touched by the blood because it was covered by a linden leaf." "Then do you sew a mark upon his garment directly over that place," said the false Hagen, "that I may guard it well." One day Siegfried went out hunting with Günther and Hagen, and it was not long before his body was brought back to the sorrowing Kriemhild. The treachery of Hagen, however, was not to be hidden, for during the funeral rites Siegfried's wounds began to bleed afresh as Hagen passed the bier; and from this Kriemhild knew that he was the murderer of her husband.


Bringing Back the Body of Siegfried

Siegfried's father lovingly begged Kriemhild to return to the Jutland with him; but she would not leave Burgundy, for she hoped some day to avenge her murdered husband. She sent for the Nibelung treasure and gave generously to all around her. Then wicked Hagen began to fear that the hearts of the people would turn towards her. Therefore he stole the treasure and sank it deep in the river Rhine; but he meant to recover it some day for himself.

It came about that King Etzel of Hungary sent a noble envoy to beg for the hand of the widowed queen. She answered him kindly, for she said to herself, "Etzel is brave and powerful, and if I wed him, I may be able some day to avenge my Siegfried." So it was that Kriemhild became the wife of Etzel, and was true and faithful to him for thirteen years. At the end of that time she asked him to invite the king and court of Burgundy to visit them. The Burgundians accepted the invitation, though the murderer Hagen urged them to remain at home. In Hungary they were treated with all courtesy; but Kriemhild had told her wrongs to her Hungarian friends, and as the guests sat at a magnificent feast given in their honour, the Hungarian knights dashed into the hall of feasting, and slew almost every one. Günther and Hagen yet lived, and Kriemhild bade Hagen reveal where he had hidden her stolen treasure. "Never, so long as Günther lives," was his reply. Kriemhild ordered Günther to be put to death and his head taken to Hagen, but Hagen still refused to tell what had become of the treasure. In her anger Kriemhild caught up the magic sword of Siegfried and struck off Hagen's head at a blow. Then one of the Burgundians cried, "Whatever may become of me, she shall gain nothing by this murderous deed"; and in a moment he had run her through with his sword. So ended the story of the treasure of the Nibelungs, which brought ill to every one who possessed it.


Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Mountain and the Squirrel

The mountain and the squirrel

Had a quarrel,

And the former called the latter "Little prig!"

Bun replied,

"You are doubtless very big,

But all sorts of things and weather

Must be taken in together

To make up a year,

And a sphere;

And I think it no disgrace

To occupy my place.

If I'm not so large as you,

You are not so small as I,

And not half so spry;

I'll not deny you make

A very pretty squirrel track.

Talents differ, all is well and wisely put.

If I cannot carry forests on my back,

Neither can you crack a nut."


  WEEK 5  


Our Island Story  by H. E. Marshall

Edward IV—The Story of the Kingmaker

E DWARD IV. now felt quite sure of the throne, and he married secretly a beautiful lady called Elizabeth Woodville. When this marriage became known, the Earl of Warwick was very angry, because he thought the King should have married some one more great and powerful.

The Earl of Warwick himself was so great and powerful that he was called the King-maker, and he had done much to make Edward king.

Edward soon acted in many ways which displeased the earl, and they quarrelled, and plots were formed to drive Edward from the throne. Among the people who plotted against him was the Duke of Clarence, King Edward's own brother.

At last the Earl of Warwick became so angry with Edward that he took him prisoner, and shut him up in a castle called Middleham. So there were two kings in England, both of them prisoners.

The King-maker, having made and unmade the King, now ruled the country himself for a year. He really had intended to make the Duke of Clarence king, but he found that even he was not powerful enough to do that.

In about a year's time Warwick set Edward free again and, strange to say, they made up their quarrels, and were friends once more.

But in a very short time they again quarrelled; so badly this time that the Earl of Warwick, who had fought so hard for the White Rose of York, forsook it and joined the Red Rose of Lancaster. He went to France, where Margaret and her son were, and offered to help them to conquer England and place Henry again on the throne.

So one morning Edward awoke to hear the Red Rose war-cry, and two friends, running into his room, begged him to fly. "For," they said, "even in your own army we know not who is true and who is false, many like Warwick having turned traitor."

Hardly waiting to dress, without money or armour, Edward threw himself upon his horse and rode as fast as possible to the coast. There he found some ships, and with a few friends and two or three hundred faithful soldiers, he sailed over to Holland.

They were very poor, they had no money nor goods nor indeed anything except the clothes they wore. Edward, who had one day been King of England, Wales and Ireland, found himself the next a homeless, penniless wanderer. And Warwick, in little more than a week, had deposed the King whom he had helped to set on the throne, and had placed Henry VI. once more there.

Henry was brought out of prison and dressed in beautiful robes, and, riding upon a splendid horse, was led through the town, while the people cheered and shouted, "God save the King! Long live King Harry!" Did he remember that the last time he rode through the same streets it had been as a wretched prisoner, bound and disgraced by the very man who now set him again on the throne? And did he remember that the people, who now cheered, had then cursed and laughed at him?

Although Henry was once more on the throne, he could not rule. He was like a wooden doll in the hands of a clever man such as the Earl of Warwick, and it was the earl and the Duke of Clarence who ruled.

Henry would have been far happier had he been left alone to his books and prayers. He loved peace, yet he was made the cause of war by the proud and powerful men and women around him.

Edward had been obliged to fly from the country penniless and almost friendless, yet he did not despair. He persuaded the Duke of Burgundy to help him, and soon returned to England with an army.

No sooner had he landed than people began to flock to him. By the time he reached Barnet, near London, he had a large army. Many who had joined Warwick now forsook him and returned to Edward, among them Edward's own brother, the Duke of Clarence, who brought twelve thousand men with him. There seemed to be no faith nor loyalty in those days. It was hard to know who was friend and who was foe.

At Barnet, on Easter Day, 14th April 1471 A.D., another terrible battle was fought. What made it more terrible was that it was begun and ended in a thick mist. In the white dimness, which wrapped both armies, it was difficult to know the Red Roses from the White, and indeed at one time the Red Roses fought against themselves. King Edward's men wore a golden sun embroidered upon their coats. The Duke of Oxford's men, who were fighting for King Henry, wore a golden star. In the mist the Red Rose soldiers, mistaking the star for the sun, attacked the Duke of Oxford's men, thinking that they were King Edward's men, and killed many of them.

From dawn to midday the battle raged. Then the Earl of Warwick's army broke and fled, leaving the White Rose victorious. The great King-maker was found dead upon the field, and Edward IV. was once more King.

On the very day of this battle Queen Margaret and her son, who was now about eighteen, landed in England. They had hoped to find Warwick victorious, and Henry on the throne. Instead they found Warwick dead, his army shattered, and Edward on the throne.

But Margaret was as bold as ever. She marched through England, gathering soldiers as she went, and at Tewkesbury another great battle was fought. Here again the Red Rose was utterly defeated, and Margaret and her son were taken prisoner.

Prince Edward was led before King Edward. The King looked fiercely at the young and handsome Prince. He hated him more than he had ever hated his poor, weak, gentle father.

"How dare you come into my kingdom to stir up my people to rebellion?" he asked.

"It is not your kingdom, but my father's," replied Prince Edward proudly. "You are a traitor. I should sit where you are. You should stand before me as a subject."

Then King Edward, pale with rage and hate, struck the boy in the face with his steel-gloved hand. The Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester, the King's brothers, dragged the Prince away and stabbed him to death.

Queen Margaret was put in prison, and a few days later King Henry died mysteriously in the Tower of London. Many people thought that he was murdered by King Edward's brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

At last it seemed as if all Edward's enemies were either dead or in prison, and that he might really rule in peace. The Red Rose party was for the time utterly crushed; some of the great nobles even were seen barefoot and in rags, begging for bread from door to door.

Edward never quite forgave his brother, the Duke of Clarence, for having, at one time, sided with Warwick. Clarence, too, was jealous of the Queen Elizabeth and her relatives, many of whom had the chief posts at court, so he quarrelled with them and with his brother the King.

At last, an old wizard prophesied that some one whose name began with "G" would bring about the death of King Edward and the ruin of his house. The Duke of Clarence was called George, and King Edward made the prophecy an excuse for shutting him up in the Tower. He never came out again.

It is supposed that he was murdered, some say by being drowned in a cask of wine by the order of his brother, the Duke of Gloucester.

Edward IV. died in 1483 A.D. He was brave, but cruel and revengeful, handsome but wicked, caring little for the happiness of his people, and his reign was dark with many battles and murders. He had ruled for twenty-two years, during twelve of which King Henry still lived.


Winter  by Dallas Lore Sharp

Christmas in the Woods

" 'Twas the night before Christmas,

and all through the house

 Not a creature was stirring,

not even a mouse."

B UT on the night before this particular Christmas every creature of the woods that could stir was up and stirring; for over the old snow was falling swiftly, silently, a soft, fresh covering that might mean a hungry Christmas unless the dinner were had before morning.

Yet, when the morning dawned, a cheery Christmas sun broke across the great gum swamp, lighting the snowy boles and soft-piled limbs of the giant trees with indescribable glory, and pouring, a golden flood, into the deep, spongy bottom of the swamp below. It would be a perfect Christmas in the woods, clear, mild, stirless, with silent footing for me, and everywhere the telltale snow.

And everywhere in the woods would be the Christmas spirit, too. As I paused among the pointed cedars of the pasture, looking down into the tangle at the head of the swamp, a clear, wild whistle rang in the thicket, followed by a flash through the alders like a tongue of fire, as a cardinal grosbeak shot down to the tangle of greenbrier and magnolia under the slope of the hill. The bird was a fleck of flaming summer. As warm as summer, too, were the pointed cones of stag-horn sumac burning on the crest of the ridge against the group of holly trees—trees as fresh as April, and all aglow with red berries.

The woods were decorated for the Holy Day. The gentleness of the soft, new snow touched everything; cheer and good-will lighted the unclouded sky and warmed the thick depths of the evergreens, and blazed in the crimson-berried bushes of the ilex and the alder. The Christmas woods were glad. The heart of the woods was full of Christmas peace.

Now I did not imagine all of this as I went along. Perhaps there was the spirit of Christmas in my heart, and so I found the spirit of Christmas in the woods; but so it must have been with the household I had just left, back on the city street. Every one had Christmas in his heart, and so every one found Christmas in the Christmas-tree blazing and glittering in its candle-flame blossoms and jeweled fruit.

So there was real Christmas joy and peace—a real Christmas spirit—abroad in the woods this snowy Christmas morning. The sky had it, the trees had it, the soft white slopes had it, the softly flowing creek had it, flowing softly toward the bay.

But doubtless my own feelings had something to do with it all. This was Christmas Day, and these were my home woods, the woods where I tramped and trapped and "grew up" when a boy; and this was I, after twenty years of absence, I, the boy again, back in the old familiar pasture on my way to Lupton's Pond!

Yes, I must say that I was almost afraid as I followed the old cow-path across the pasture, now only a slightly sunken line in the snow; I was afraid that the path might be gone. Twenty years are a good many years for a cow-path to last. But evidently the cows had been crossing every year since I had been away; and not a single new crook had they worn in the old winding trail. Then I was afraid, as I came to the fence where I could look down upon the pond, lest the pond might have disappeared. But no, there it lay, sealed over, as if kept for me by the snow! Then I looked fearfully over the pond, over the steep ridge on the opposite shore to where there used to stand two particular persimmon trees.

My heart beat wildly for a moment. The woods up the ridge had been cut off! Things had changed! I was confused and looked this way and that, when, so near to me that I could scarcely believe my eyes, I saw the twin trees, their hard, angular limbs closely globed with fruit, and standing softly out against the sky!

It was enough. Forgetting the twenty years, I hurried down across the pond and up to the persimmon trees on the other side—up into  the trees indeed, for I never stopped until I had climbed clear up into the top among the ripe persimmons!

Do you know what a persimmon, picked from a particular tree along Cohansey Creek on Christmas Day, tastes like? especially when you have not had a taste of persimmon for twenty years? No, you do not—because you are not twenty years old, perhaps, and because you were not a boy along Cohansey Creek, perhaps, and because, if you were, you did not know those two particular persimmon trees, maybe.

Nobody ever seemed to know the perfection of those persimmons, except myself and the 'possums. Not one of the Luptons, who owned the pasture, the pond, and the trees, had ever been a boy, so far as I could remember, and certainly not one of them had ever tasted the fruit of those two trees. There were other persimmon trees up and down the township, others here along the pond; but these two were the only trees to hold their fruit until Christmas, preserved with such richness of flavor, such a gummy, candied, wild, woodsy quality, that it could not decay. Those persimmons never decayed. They candied, evaporated, wrinkled, fell, and vanished away.

Or else the 'possums ate them—those that I did not eat. A 'possum had already been here this Christmas morning before me. I had noted his fresh tracks beneath the tree when I came up; and now, in the tree, I saw where the snow had been brushed from several of the large limbs as the 'possum had moved about in the top, eating his Christmas dinner.


You never ate a Christmas dinner high up in the top of a persimmon tree? But you will, perhaps, some day, as good a Christmas dinner, I hope, as ours was. For such persimmons! Bob Cratchit's goose ("There never was such a goose!") could not have been any better flavored. Nor could the little Cratchits have been any hungrier for goose than I was for persimmons.

Now the 'possum had been having persimmons every night since the frosts of October; so of course he felt no such hunger for persimmons as I felt. But ripe persimmons would be a Christmas dinner for a 'possum every day in the year. There is nothing so unspeakably good as persimmons if you happen to be a 'possum, or if you happen to be a boy—even after twenty years!

So the 'possum and I had our Christmas dinner together at Nature's invitation, in the top of the persimmon tree. The 'possum, to be sure, had eaten and gone before I came. But that is good form in the woods. He was expecting me, so he came early, just before dawn, that neither of us might be embarrassed, leaving his greetings for me in sign-language in the snow.

A Christmas dinner all alone would be cold cheer indeed. But I was not alone. Here was good company and plenty of it. Did not the tracks talk to me? With abundance of fruit still left in the tree, did I need to see that 'possum fold up his napkin, pull down his vest, spread his hands over his expansive person and groan in the fullness of his feast? No; all of that was printed plainly in the snow. Why, I could even hear his groans in his tumbled tracks at the foot of the tree, where the fat old fellow had literally fallen over himself! What an appetite! What a pudding of persimmons he must be! He can hardly walk for fat! Look at his trail in the snow leading down toward the pond—a big wide wallow where he has bounced along!

So I slide down the tree and take up the 'possum's trail. We have broken bread together, this 'possum and I, and now we will enter the woods together in the same good-fellowship for the rest of the day. Persimmons and good-will are very proper things to be filled with when you go into the Christmas woods.

And there is no better fellowship for such a tramp than the trail of some animal like the 'possum or the mink or the fox. To go in with one of these through the woods-door is to find yourself at home. Any one can manage to get inside the woods, as the grocery boy or the census man manages to get inside our houses. You can bolt in at any time on business. But a trail,  remember, is Nature's invitation. Go softly in with 'possum, or rabbit, or coon, and at the threshold of the trees you will be met by the Spirit of the Woods—you will be made a guest in this secret, shadowy house of the out-of-doors.

But do not fail first to break bread with the 'possum. A persimmon, or a handful of wintergreen berries, or a nip of sassafras root, or a piece of spruce gum, or a lump of liquid amber — share anything, take any small part in the life of these who live wild in the woods, and they will meet you at the threshold and make you more than welcome.

I went in with the 'possum. He had traveled home leisurely and without fear, as his tracks plainly showed. He was full of persimmons. A good happy world this, where such fare could be had for the picking! What need to hurry home? Unless, indeed, one were in danger of falling asleep by the way! So I thought, too, as I followed his winding path; and if I was tracking him to his den, it was only to wake him for a moment with the compliments of the season. But when I finally found him in his hollow gum, he was so sound asleep he barely knew that some one was poking him gently in the ribs and wishing him a merry Christmas.

The 'possum had led me far along the creek to the centre of the empty, hollow swamp, where the great-boled gums lifted their branches like a timbered, unshingled roof between me and the wide sky. Far away through the spaces of the rafters I saw a pair of wheeling buzzards, and under them, in lesser circles, a broad-winged hawk. Here, at the feet of the tall, clean trees, looking up through the leafless limbs, I had something of a measure for the flight of the great birds. And what power, what majesty and mystery in those distant buoyant wings!

I have seen the turkey buzzard sailing the skies on the bitterest winter days. To-day, however, could hardly be called winter. Indeed, nothing yet had felt the pinch of the cold. There was no hunger yet in the swamp, though this new snow had scared the raccoons out, and their half-human tracks along the margin of the swamp stream showed that, if not hungry, they at least feared that they might be.

For a coon hates snow. He invariably stays in during the first light snowfalls, and even in the late winter he will not venture forth in fresh snow unless driven by hunger or some other dire need. Perhaps, like a cat or a hen, he dislikes the wetting of his feet. Or it may be that the soft snow makes bad hunting—for him. The truth is, I believe, that such a snow makes too good hunting for the dogs and the gunner. The new snow tells too clear a story. For the coon's home is no dark den among the ledges; only a hollow in some ancient oak or tupelo. Once within, he is safe from the dogs, but his long, fierce fight for life taught him generations ago that the nest-tree is a fatal trap when behind the dogs come the axe and the gun. So he has grown wary and enduring. He waits until the snow grows crusty, when without sign, and almost without scent, he can slip forth among the long shadows and prowl to the edge of dawn.

Skirting the stream out toward the higher back woods, I chanced to spy a bunch of snow in one of the great sour gums, that I thought was an old nest. A second look showed me tiny green leaves, then white berries, then mistletoe!

It was not a surprise, however, for I had found it here before—a long, long time before. It was back in my schoolboy days that I first stood here under the mistletoe and had my first romance. There was no chandelier, no pretty girl, in that romance—only a boy, the mistletoe, the giant trees, and the sombre silent swamp. But there was more than that, there was the thrill of discovery, for until that day the boy did not know that mistletoe grew outside of England, did not know that it grew in his own native swamps! Rambling alone through the swamps along the creek that day, he stopped under a big curious bunch of green, high up in one of the gums, and—made his first discovery!

So this Christmas Day the boy climbed up again at the peril of his precious neck, and brought down a bit of that old romance.

I followed the stream along through the swamp to the open meadows, and then on under the steep wooded hillside that ran up to the higher land of corn and melon fields. Here at the foot of the slope the winter sun lay warm, and here in the sheltered, briery border I came upon the Christmas birds.

There was a great variety of them, feeding and preening and chirping in the vines. The tangle was a-twitter with their quiet, cheery talk. Such a medley of notes you could not hear at any other season outside a city bird store. How far the different species understood one another I should like to know, and whether the hum of voices meant sociability to them, as it certainly did to me. Doubtless the first cause of their flocking here was the sheltered warmth and the great numbers of berry-laden bushes, for there was no lack of abundance or of variety on this Christmas table.

In sight from where I stood hung bunches of withering chicken, or frost, grapes, plump clusters of blue-black berries of the greenbrier, and limbs of the smooth winterberry beaded with their flaming fruit. There were bushes of crimson ilex, too, trees of fruiting dogwood and holly, cedars in berry, dwarf sumac and seedy sedges, while patches on the wood slopes uncovered by the sun were spread with trailing partridge-berry and the coral-fruited wintergreen. I had eaten part of my dinner with the 'possum; now I picked a quantity of these wintergreen berries, and continued my meal with the birds. And they too, like the 'possum, had enough, and to spare.

Among the birds in the tangle was a large flock of northern fox sparrows, whose vigorous and continuous scratching in the bared spots made a most lively and cheery commotion.


Many of them were splashing about in tiny pools of snow-water, melted partly by the sun and partly by the warmth of their bodies as they bathed. One would hop to a softening bit of snow at the base of a tussock, keel over and begin to flop, soon sending up a shower of sparkling drops from his rather chilly tub. A winter snow-water bath seemed a necessity, a luxury indeed; for they all indulged, splashing with the same purpose and zest that they put into their scratching among the leaves.

A much bigger splashing drew me quietly through the bushes to find a marsh hawk giving himself a Christmas souse. The scratching, washing, and talking of the birds; the masses of green in the cedars, holly, and laurels; the glowing colors of the berries against the snow; the blue of the sky, and the golden warmth of the light made Christmas in the heart of the noon, that the very swamp seemed to feel.

Two months later there was to be scant picking here, for this was the beginning of the severest winter I ever knew. From this very ridge, in February, I had reports of berries gone, of birds starving, of whole coveys of quail frozen dead in the snow; but neither the birds nor I dreamed to-day of any such hunger and death. A flock of robins whirled into the cedars above me; a pair of cardinals whistled back and forth; tree sparrows, juncos, nuthatches, chickadees, and cedar-birds cheeped among the trees and bushes; and from the farm lands at the top of the slope rang the calls of meadowlarks.

Halfway up the hill I stopped under a blackjack oak, where, in the thin snow, there were signs of something like a Christmas revel. The ground was sprinkled with acorn-shells and trampled over with feet of several kinds and sizes,—quail, jay, and partridge feet; rabbit, squirrel, and mouse feet, all over the snow as the feast of acorns had gone on. Hundreds of the acorns were lying about, gnawed away at the cup end, where the shell was thinnest, many of them further broken and cleaned out by the birds.

As I sat studying the signs in the snow, my eye caught a tiny trail leading out from the others straight away toward a broken pile of cord-wood. The tracks were planted one after the other, so directly in line as to seem like the prints of a single foot. "That's a weasel's trail," I said, "the death's-head at this feast," and followed it slowly to the pile of wood. A shiver crept over me as I felt, even sooner than I saw, a pair of small, sinister eyes fixed upon mine. The evil pointed head, heavy but alert, and with a suggestion of fierce strength out of all proportion to the slender body, was watching me from between the sticks of cord-wood. And just so had it been watching the mice and the rabbits and the birds feasting under the tree!


I packed a ball of snow round and hard, slipped forward upon my knees and hurled it. Spat!  it struck the end of a stick within an inch of the ugly head, nearly filling the crevice with snow. Instantly the head appeared at another crack, and another ball struck viciously beside it. Now it was back where it first appeared, nor did it flinch for the next ball, or the next. The third went true, striking with a chug  and packing the crack. But the black, hating eyes were still watching me a foot lower down.

It is not all peace and good-will in the Christmas woods. But happily the weasels are few. More friendly and timid eyes were watching me than bold and murderous. It was foolish to want to kill—even the weasel, for one's woods are what one makes them. And so I let the man with the gun, who just then chanced along, think that I had turned boy again, and was snowballing the woodpile just for the fun of trying to hit the end of the biggest stick.

I was glad he had come. The sight of him took all hatred out of me. As he strode off with his stained bag I felt kindlier toward the weasel—there were worse in the woods than he. He must kill to live, and if he gloated over the kill, why, what fault of his? But the other, the one with the blood-stained game-bag, he killed for the love of killing. I was glad he had gone.

The crows were winging over toward their great roost in the pines when I turned toward the town. They, too, had had good picking along the creek flats and the ditches of the meadows. Their powerful wing-beats and constant play up in the air told of full crops and no fear for the night, already softly gray across the silent fields.

The air was crisper; the snow began to crackle underfoot; the twigs creaked and rattled as I brushed along; a brown beech leaf wavered down and skated with a thin scratch over the crust; and pure as the snow-wrapped crystal world, and sweet as the soft gray twilight, came the call of a quail.

These were not the voices, colors, odors, and forms of summer. The very face of things had changed; all had been reduced, made plain, simple, single, pure! There was less for the senses, but how much keener now their joy! The wide landscape, the frosty air, the tinkle of tiny icicles, and, out of the quiet of the falling twilight, the voice of the quail!

There is no day but is beautiful in the woods; and none more beautiful than one like this Christmas Day—warm, and still, and wrapped to the round red berries of the holly in the magic of the snow.



Over and Over Again

Over and over again,

No matter which way I turn,

I always find in the book of life,

Some lesson I have to learn.

I must take my turn at the mill,

I must grind out the golden grain,

I must work out my task with a resolute will,

Over and over again.

We cannot measure the need

Of even the tiniest flower,

Nor check the flow of the golden sands

That run through a single hour;

But the morning dews must fall,

And the sun and the summer rain

Must do their part, and perform it all

Over and over again.

Over and over again

The brook through the meadow flows,

And over and over again

The ponderous mill-wheel goes.

Once doing will not suffice,

Though doing be not in vain;

And a blessing failing us once or twice,

May come if we try again.

The path that has once been trod,

Is never so rough to the feet;

And the lesson we once have learned,

Is never so hard to repeat.

Though sorrowful tears must fall,

And the heart to its depths be driven

With storm and tempest, we need them all

To render us meet for Heaven.


  WEEK 5  


The Story Book of Science  by Jean Henri Fabre

The Sheepfold

I N the evening Uncle Paul resumed the story of the ants. At that hour Jacques was in the habit of going the round of the stables to see if the oxen were eating their fodder and if the well-fed lambs were sleeping peacefully beside their mothers. Under the pretense of giving the finishing touches to his wicker basket, Jacques stayed where he was. The real reason was that the ants' cows were on his mind. Uncle Paul related in detail what they had seen in the morning on the elder: how the plant-lice let the sugary drops ooze from their tubes, how the ants drank this delicious liquid and knew how, if necessary, to obtain it by caresses.

"What you are telling us, Master," said Jacques, "puts warmth into my old veins. I see once more how God takes care of His creatures, He who gives the plant-louse to the ant as He gives the cow to man."

"Yes, my good Jacques," returned Uncle Paul, "these things are done to increase our faith in Providence, whose all-seeing eye nothing can escape. To a thoughtful person, the beetle that drinks from the depths of a flower, the tuft of moss that receives the raindrop on the burning tile, bear witness to the divine goodness.

"To return to my story. If our cows wandered at will in the country, if we were obliged to take troublesome journeys to go and milk them in distant pastures, uncertain whether we should find them or not, it would be hard work for us, and very often impossible. How do we manage then? We keep them close at hand, in inclosures and in stables. This also is sometimes done by the ants with the plant-lice. To avoid tiresome journeys, sometimes useless, they put their herds in a park. Not all have this admirable foresight, however. Besides, if they had, it would be impossible to construct a park large enough for such innumerable cattle and their pasturage. How, for example, could they inclose in walls the willow that we saw this morning with its population of black lice? It is necessary to have conditions that are not beyond the forces available. Given a tuft of grass whose base is covered with a few plant-lice, the park is practicable.

"Ants that have found a little herd plan how to build a sheepfold, a summer châlet, where the plant-lice can be inclosed, sheltered from the too bright rays of the sun. They too will stay at the châlet for some time, so as to have the cows within reach and to milk them at leisure. To this end, they begin by removing a little of the earth at the base of the tuft so as to uncover the upper part of the root. This exposed part forms a sort of natural frame on which the building can rest. Now grains of damp earth are piled up one by one and shaped into a large vault, which rests on the frame of the roots and surrounds the stem above the point occupied by the plant-lice. Openings are made for the service of the sheepfold. The châlet is finished. Its inmates enjoy cool and quiet, with an assured supply of provisions. What more is needed for happiness? The cows are there, very peaceful, at their rack, that is to say, fixed by their stickers to the bark. Without leaving home the ants can drink to satiety that sweet milk from the tubes.

"Let us say, then, that the sheepfold made of clay is a building of not much importance, raised with little expense and hastily. One could overturn it by blowing hard. Why lavish such pains on so temporary a shelter? Does the shepherd in the high mountains take more care of his hut of pine branches, which must serve him for one or two months?

"It is said that ants are not satisfied with inclosing small herds of plant-lice found at the base of a tuft of grass, but that they also bring into the sheepfold plant-lice encountered at a distance. They thus make a herd for themselves when they do not find one already made. This mark of great foresight would not surprise me; but I dare not certify it, never having had the chance to prove it myself. What I have seen with my own eyes is the sheepfold of the plant-lice. If Jules looks carefully he will find some this summer, when the days are warmest, at the base of various potted plants."

"You may be sure, Uncle," said Jules, "I shall look for them. I want to see those strange ants' châlets. You have not yet told us why ants gorge themselves so, when they have the good luck to find a herd of plant-lice. You said those descending the elder with their big stomachs were going to distribute the food in the ant-hill."

"A foraging ant does not fail to regale itself on its own account if the occasion offers; and it is only fair. Before working for others must one not take care of one's own strength? But as soon as it has fed itself, it thinks of the other hungry ones. Among men, my child, it does not always happen so. There are people who, well fed themselves, think everybody else has dined. They are called egoists. God forbid your ever bearing that sorry name, of which the ant, paltry little creature, would be ashamed! As soon as it is satisfied, then, the ant remembers the hungry ones, and consequently fills the only vessel it has for carrying liquid food home; that is to say, its paunch.

"Now see it returning, with its swollen stomach. Oh! how it has stuffed so that others may eat! Miners, carpenters, and all the workers occupied in building the city await it so as to resume their work heartily, for pressing occupations do not permit them to go and seek the plant-lice themselves. It meets a carpenter, who for an instant drops his straw. The two ants meet mouth to mouth, as if to kiss. The milk-carrying ant disgorges a tiny little bit of the contents of its paunch, and the other one drinks the drop with avidity. Delicious! Oh! now how courageously it will work! The carpenter goes back to his straw again, the milk-carrier continues his delivery route. Another hungry one is met. Another kiss, another drop disgorged and passed from mouth to mouth. And so on with all the ants that present themselves, until the paunch is emptied. The milk-ant then departs to fill up its can again.

"Now, you can imagine that, to feed by the beakful a crowd of workers who cannot go themselves for victuals, one milk-ant is not enough; there must be a host of them. And then, under the ground, in the warm dormitories, there is another population of hungry ones. They are the young ants, the family, the hope of the city. I must tell you that ants, as well as other insects, hatch from an egg, like birds."

"One day," interposed Emile, "I lifted up a stone and saw a lot of little white grains that the ants hastened to carry away under the ground."

"Those white grains were eggs," said Uncle Paul, "which the ants had brought up from the bottom of their dwelling to expose them under the stone to the heat of the sun and facilitate their hatching. They hurried to descend again, when the stone was raised, so as to put them in a safe place, sheltered from danger.

"On coming out from the egg, the ant has not the form that you know. It is a little white worm, without feet, and quite powerless, not even able to move. There are in an ant-hill thousands of those little worms. Without stop or rest, the ants go from one to another, distributing a beakful, so that they begin to grow and change in one day into ants. I leave you to think how much they must work and how many plant-lice must be milked, merely to nurse the little ones that fill the dormitories."


Builders of Our Country: Book I  by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth

The Spanish Conquests and Explorations

Ponce de Leon

THE discovery by Columbus of a supposed sea route to Asia aroused the Spaniards both young and old. Many, attracted by the hope of gold or the love of adventure, left Spain for the new land.

Colony after colony was planted in the West Indies. Colonial governors were appointed; and practically a new, but crude, Spain was established. Then, feeling that nothing was too great to attempt with the long sea voyage safely over, the boldest of the adventurers sailed away again, each bent upon finding what seemed to him most desirable.

One of these Spanish seekers was called Juan Ponce de Leon. He had come to the new land with Columbus on his second voyage and, remaining, had been made governor of Porto Rico. This was very fine, but the Governor had his own reasons for not being perfectly happy. He was growing old; and to enjoy this new life thoroughly, a man should have the vigor of youth.

If only he were young again! With this great wish in his heart, Ponce de Leon one day heard of an island on which was a marvelous fountain. Whoever should drink of the water of this fountain, no matter how old he was, would find himself young again. Here was just what Ponce de Leon wanted above all else. He determined to find the Fountain of Youth at any cost. The Spanish king gave him permission to go in search of the island and, if he found it, to become its governor for life.

So Ponce de Leon had three splendid ships built with his own money and, when they were completed, started on his travels. This was in 1513.

One day the sailors spied land. On approaching, they found it to be a glorious country, full of splendid groves and beautiful wild flowers growing in the tall grasses and along the low shores. And the singing of the birds among the branches sounded sweet indeed.

It was Easter Sunday, called by the church Pasqua Florida,  or Flowery Easter; so, in honor of the day, and also because of the beautiful wild flowers, Ponce de Leon named the country Florida. He landed where St. Augustine now stands and took the land in the name of the King of Spain.

He explored the country for many miles along the coast. But beautiful as it was, its birds and wild flowers failed to tell him where to find the Fountain of Youth. So this poor knight had to sail back to Porto Rico, an older and wiser man than when he left.

In 1521 Ponce de Leon sailed again for his flower province to found a colony. But the natives were hostile. When the Spaniards landed, a storm of poisoned arrows greeted them. Many of the soldiers were killed. Ponce de Leon himself was wounded. A few who managed to escape to their ships bore their leader with them. They sailed to Cuba, and there Ponce de Leon died—an old man still.

The Fountain of Youth has never been discovered.

Hernando Cortez

ONE day an exploring expedition which had sailed from Cuba returned to that island. The leader had startling news to tell. He and his men had been to Mexico and had found there many wondrous things. The country was ruled by the Aztecs—a race of Indians who worshiped the sun and moon and the god of war. Unlike the natives of the West Indies, the Mexican Indians had beautiful temples and palaces; and they boasted of the endless gold to be had in their country.

So gold had been found at last! Nothing more was needed to make Mexico seem an enchanted country to the greedy Spaniards.

No time was lost in getting ready a new expedition and in choosing for its leader a brave, daring young Spanish soldier named Hernando Cortez. Unlike Ponce de Leon, Cortez set out, not merely to follow a will-o'-the-wisp, but to make an actual conquest.

It was early in 1519 when Cortez sailed from Cuba. In March he reached Mexico and, after a sharp skirmish with the natives at Tabasco, skirted the coast until he came to the present site of Vera Cruz. There he set up a fortified camp. Then he sank his ships so that his men would be obliged to follow him, and prepared to march to the City of Mexico.

Now there was a tradition among the Aztecs that, many years before, a man had appeared who was of the race of the Children of the Sun. They called him the Wonderchild. He had golden hair and was as fair as day. He stayed with them several years and taught them many things. One day he told them that they would see him no more, but that the men of his race would soon come and conquer the land of the Aztecs. Then he disappeared and was never seen again.

So when Montezuma, the Aztec ruler, heard that the Spaniards were coming toward the City of Mexico, he was indeed frightened. These men must be the race of which the Wonderchild had spoken.

How could he stop their coming to take possession of his capital? Perhaps presents would do. In this hope Montezuma sent messengers with rich gifts of gold and gems to meet the Spaniards and to beg them to turn back. Cortez paid no attention to their entreaties. Instead, he marched on to the city, where Montezuma very graciously received him, thinking, most likely, to make a virtue of necessity. And here week after week the Spaniards stayed, honored guests of the Indian chief, living on the best the land afforded.

But Cortez was not contented to be a guest. He had come to conquer. He had only a handful of soldiers, and Montezuma had thousands at his command. It was a bad situation. Finally he decided to capture the ruler. So one day he invited Montezuma to an interview; and when he arrived at the palace occupied by the Spaniards, Cortez took him prisoner.

When the Aztecs heard of the fate of their chief they were hot with anger. Still they were afraid to attack the palace for fear of killing Montezuma, whom they worshiped almost as a god.

Just at this time Cortez left for the coast. It seems that the Spaniards in Cuba had become jealous of Cortez and had sent soldiers to bring him back. Hearing of the plan, Cortez with less than two hundred men made a forced march to their camp and surprised and conquered them. This done, he returned at once to the City of Mexico.

While he was gone the soldiers left in charge at the capital had attacked the natives at a festival and killed hundreds of them. Then the Mexicans had turned upon their foes and would have slaughtered all, had not Cortez returned just in time. In order to save his men Cortez commanded Montezuma to show himself to the people from the top of the palace. When the natives saw their beloved chief they were delighted. In a moment, however, they were angry again; for Montezuma asked them to make peace. This they refused to do. In the fight that followed, Montezuma received a wound from which he soon died.

After this battle the Spaniards were obliged to flee. Instead of leaving the country, however, they returned and besieged the city for months. At last, in August, 1521, the Aztecs surrendered their capital. Cortez took it in the name of the King of Spain. The superstition of the Aztecs, and the wonderful perseverance of Cortez had made his voyage a success, and Mexico a Spanish land.

Balboa and Pizarro

ONE day, several years before Mexico became a possession of Spain, there came to a certain Indian village on the Isthmus of Panama, a party of Spaniards. At their head marched Balboa, the commander of the Spanish-Panama settlement.

So great a guest must be received with all possible ceremony. The visitors were welcomed to the home of the chief himself, and every honor was showered upon them. The Spaniards, in turn, were on their best behavior. Cordial greetings, compliments, and expressions of lasting friendship filled the air.

Then the Indian chief was moved to show even more plainly his love for the white man. So he gave Balboa seventy slaves and much gold.

As if by magic all was confusion. The greedy Spaniards began to quarrel over the gold, and hot words put a sudden end to the pleasure of a moment before.

With offended dignity the Indians watched and listened. At last the chief's son rose and said, "Brothers, your actions lead us to think you set great value on this yellow stuff, since you quarrel over it. If this be true, why do you not go to the southland, on the shore of the great western sea, where there is more than enough for all?"

Why not, indeed? This simple question resulted in Balboa's going in search of the new sea, and in his being the first European to gaze on the waters of the largest ocean on the globe. Then, drawing his sword, the discoverer of the Pacific waded out knee-deep and, standing in the water, claimed it for Spain with all the lands that border it.

Balboa found the Pacific Ocean, but not the land of gold. The Indian boy's tale of such a country was not forgotten, however; and years later the honor of its conquest fell to the lot of Francisco Pizarro, a soldier in the Spanish settlement on Panama.

Fired by the success of Cortez, two of Pizarro's friends suggested that he go in search of the famed country to the south. They said that they would furnish the money if he would head the expedition. The only condition was that Pizarro divide the spoils of the conquest equally among the three. Pizarro was delighted.

In 1525 he started in search of the golden kingdom of Peru. He invaded the country of the Incas and found splendid cities filled with rich treasures and beautiful buildings and temples. The Incas were the royal race of Peru. Like the Aztecs they claimed to be descendants of the sun.

Pizarro had only a few warriors with him, so, although he wanted very much to conquer the country, he dared not attempt it at this time. He went to Spain. There he was received at court as a great future conqueror and had no difficulty in obtaining men and money for his expedition to Peru.

With his small army Pizarro realized that the only way to conquer the Peruvians would be to capture their Inca or chief. He sent one of his bravest men, Hernando de Soto, with some soldiers and requested the Inca to come to the Spanish camp. The Inca, whose name was Atahualpa, hesitated at first, but at last decided to go.

When he reached Pizarro's camp, he was subjected to a trick whereby that unscrupulous leader meant to entrap the poor Inca. After receiving him with great show of friendliness, Pizarro had a priest read the story of the Bible. As soon as the priest had ended, Pizarro commanded the Inca to embrace the Catholic faith. As Pizarro fully expected, Atahualpa refused. And using his refusal as an excuse, the Spaniards thrust him into prison.

Naturally Atahualpa was very anxious to get out; so in order to obtain his freedom, he promised the Spaniards a room filled with gold and gems. In a short time the Peruvians had filled the chamber with rich treasures. Still the Spaniards were not satisfied. A rumor was abroad that a large army was coming to rescue the Inca and destroy the Spaniards. This was a good excuse for these cruel foreigners. So they killed poor Atahualpa in spite of his pleadings for mercy.

When the natives heard of the horrible death of their ruler, they were justly indignant. Pizarro, however, managed to make peace with them and became lord of the land. Several times the natives tried to get rid of the hated white man, but they soon realized that it was useless.

Pizarro did not live long to enjoy his newly acquired wealth. While he was so busy in Peru he had almost forgotten his two friends, who had helped him to his success. One of them died during these years. The other, Pizarro contrived to have killed because he rebelled against the small share of spoils that the conquerer gave him.

Now the murdered man had a son, and this son swore to avenge the death of his father. Pizarro heard of the plot and tried to escape, but the young man was not to be cheated. He followed his enemy to his very palace, and there he killed him. And so ended the career of Francisco Pizarro.

Hernando de Soto

NOT only had Pizarro become a wealthy man through the conquest of Peru, but so had every Spaniard who was with him. Hernando de Soto, the young Spanish soldier, was counted not only among the bravest, but also among the richest of these; and to him, in return for his services, Charles V of Spain gave the governorship of Cuba.

Yet De Soto was not content. He wanted more gold. So in 1539 he fitted out an expedition and, taking six hundred men and two hundred horses, sailed west in the hope of finding a second Peru. The army landed on the eastern coast of Florida and began their march inland.

We have seen that the Spaniards were naturally very cruel. Nor did they intend to mend their ways on this trip, as is shown by the fact that they carried with them fetters to bind the captured, and bloodhounds to bring back runaway prisoners. The soldiers seized the poor natives, chained them in couples and, driving them like beasts, forced them to carry the baggage. If an Indian refused to act as guide or in any way disobeyed, his punishment was terrible. The least he could hope for was to have his hands chopped off. Death by torture was the common fate. It is no wonder that such treatment made the Indians hate the Spaniards and in turn lose no chance to do them harm.

Owing largely to this bitter feeling, De Soto's journey was full of dangers almost from the very start. He had hoped to find a country full of gold and had promised his soldiers great rewards. But they were doomed to disappointment. The Indians would tell them very little and, when forced to act as guides, would often lead them into some swamp and, slipping away, leave them to get out as best they could.

Two years were spent in making this tedious march across the States of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Still no quantity of gold was found, and still the brave but brutal leader would not turn back.

One spring day in 1541, the Spaniards, worn out and discouraged, were making their way through a dense forest. Suddenly through an opening in the trees they caught the blue gleam of a river. Hurrying to its banks De Soto beheld the mighty Mississippi, the Father of Waters. The object of his long search was gold; but had De Soto found merely what he sought, his name would not have had so large a place in our history. To be known as Hernando de Soto, the first white man to behold the Mississippi River, is a distinction not to be equaled by the finding of untold wealth.

Not realizing what the discovery meant, De Soto was still bent on continuing his search for gold. Perhaps it lay just across this great river. At any rate he would find out. Soon all hands were busy building rafts to carry the little army to the other side.

There the weary search began again. For many months De Soto wandered over the country on the west bank of the Mississippi. Still no gold. With the disappointment and the hardships he was fast wearing out. Then he caught a fever and soon died.

The condition of his followers was pitiful. Between their sorrow at the loss of their leader and their fear of the Indians, they did not know where to turn.

You see De Soto had told the Indians that he was a Child of the Sun, and that death could not touch him. So they had a wholesome fear of him. What if they should find out now that De Soto was dead! Nothing was more likely than that they would at once attack and kill his men. In some way his death must be kept secret.

So, prompted by fear and moving like ghosts, the men wrapped their leader in a cloak, weighted it down with sand, and at midnight silently lowered him into the quiet waters of the Mississippi River. Then, telling the Indians that he had gone to heaven for a short visit and would soon be back, they broke camp and started for home on foot. Later they made boats and floated down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.

Of the gay six hundred who sailed away from Cuba in 1539, only three hundred, half-starved and wretched, reached the Spanish settlements in Mexico to tell the story of De Soto's great discovery.


Emily Dickinson

The Moon

The moon was but a chin of gold

A night or two ago,

And now she turns her perfect face

Upon the world below.

Her forehead is of amplest blond;

Her cheek like beryl stone;

Her eye unto the sumtner dew

The likest I have known.

Her lips of amber never part;

But what must be the smile

Upon her friend she could bestow

Were such her silver will!

And what a privilege to be

But the remotest star!

For certainly her way might pass

Beside your twinkling door.

Her bonnet is the firmament,

The universe her shoe,

The stars the trinkets at her belt,

Her dimities of blue.


  WEEK 5  


Otto of the Silver Hand  by Howard Pyle

How Otto Dwelt at St. Michaelsburg


S O the poor, little, motherless waif lived among the old monks at the White Cross on the hill, thriving and growing apace until he had reached eleven or twelve years of age; a slender, fair- haired little fellow, with a strange, quiet, serious manner.

"Poor little child!" Old Brother Benedict would sometimes say to the others, "poor little child! The troubles in which he was born must have broken his wits like a glass cup. What think ye he said to me to-day? 'Dear Brother Benedict,' said he, 'dost thou shave the hair off of the top of thy head so that the dear God may see thy thoughts the better?' Think of that now!" and the good old man shook with silent laughter.

When such talk came to the good Father Abbot's ears, he smiled quietly to himself. "It may be," said he, "that the wisdom of little children flies higher than our heavy wits can follow."

At least Otto was not slow with his studies, and Brother Emmanuel, who taught him his lessons, said more than once that, if his wits were cracked in other ways, they were sound enough in Latin.

Otto, in a quaint, simple way which belonged to him, was gentle and obedient to all. But there was one among the Brethren of St. Michaelsburg whom he loved far above all the rest—Brother John, a poor half-witted fellow, of some twenty-five or thirty years of age. When a very little child, he had fallen from his nurse's arms and hurt his head, and as he grew up into boyhood, and showed that his wits had been addled by his fall, his family knew not what else to do with him, and so sent him off to the Monastery of St. Michaelsburg, where he lived his simple, witless life upon a sort of sufferance, as though he were a tame, harmless animal.

While Otto was still a little baby, he had been given into Brother John's care. Thereafter, and until Otto had grown old enough to care for himself, poor Brother John never left his little charge, night or day. Oftentimes the good Father Abbot, coming into the garden, where he loved to walk alone in his meditations, would find the poor, simple Brother sitting under the shade of the pear-tree, close to the bee-hives, rocking the little baby in his arms, singing strange, crazy songs to it, and gazing far away into the blue, empty sky with his curious, pale eyes.

Although, as Otto grew up into boyhood, his lessons and his tasks separated him from Brother John, the bond between them seemed to grow stronger rather than weaker. During the hours that Otto had for his own they were scarcely ever apart. Down in the vineyard, where the monks were gathering the grapes for the vintage, in the garden, or in the fields, the two were always seen together, either wandering hand in hand, or seated in some shady nook or corner.

But most of all they loved to lie up in the airy wooden belfry; the great gaping bell hanging darkly above them, the mouldering cross-beams glimmering far up under the dim shadows of the roof, where dwelt a great brown owl that, unfrightened at their familiar presence, stared down at them with his round, solemn eyes. Below them stretched the white walls of the garden, beyond them the vineyard, and beyond that again the far shining river, that seemed to Otto's mind to lead into wonder-land. There the two would lie upon the belfry floor by the hour, talking together of the strangest things.


The poor, simple brother sitting under the pear-tree, close to the bee-hives, rocking the little baby in his arms.

"I saw the dear Angel Gabriel again yester morn," said Brother John.

"So!" says Otto, seriously; "and where was that?"

"It was out in the garden, in the old apple-tree," said Brother John. "I was walking there, and my wits were running around in the grass like a mouse. What heard I but a wonderful sound of singing, and it was like the hum of a great bee, only sweeter than honey. So I looked up into the tree, and there I saw two sparks. I thought at first that they were two stars that had fallen out of heaven; but what think you they were, little child?"

"I do not know," said Otto, breathlessly.

"They were angel's eyes," said Brother John; and he smiled in the strangest way, as he gazed up into the blue sky. "So I looked at the two sparks and felt happy, as one does in spring time when the cold weather is gone, and the warm sun shines, and the cuckoo sings again. Then, by-and-by, I saw the face to which the eyes belonged. First, it shone white and thin like the moon in the daylight; but it grew brighter and brighter, until it hurt one's eyes to look at it, as though it had been the blessed sun itself. Angel Gabriel's hand was as white as silver, and in it he held a green bough with blossoms, like those that grow on the thorn bush. As for his robe, it was all of one piece, and finer than the Father Abbot's linen, and shone beside like the sunlight on pure snow. So I knew from all these things that it was the blessed Angel Gabriel."

" 'What do they say about this tree, Brother John?' said he to me.

" 'They say it is dying, my Lord Angel,' said I, 'and that the gardener will bring a sharp axe and cut it down.'

" 'And what dost thou say about it, Brother John?' said he.

" 'I also say yes, and that it is dying,' said I.

"At that he smiled until his face shone so bright that I had to shut my eyes."

" 'Now I begin to believe, Brother John, that thou art as foolish as men say,' said he. 'Look, till I show thee.' And thereat I opened mine eyes again.

"Then Angel Gabriel touched the dead branches with the flowery twig that he held in his hand, and there was the dead wood all covered with green leaves, and fair blossoms and beautiful apples as yellow as gold. Each smelling more sweetly than a garden of flowers, and better to the taste than white bread and honey.

" 'They are souls of the apples,' said the good Angel, 'and they can never wither and die.'

" 'Then I'll tell the gardener that he shall not cut the tree down,' said I.

" 'No, no,' said the dear Gabriel, 'that will never do, for if the tree is not cut down here on the earth, it can never be planted in paradise.' "

Here Brother John stopped short in his story, and began singing one of his crazy songs, as he gazed with his pale eyes far away into nothing at all.

"But tell me, Brother John," said little Otto, in a hushed voice, "what else did the good Angel say to thee?"

Brother John stopped short in his song and began looking from right to left, and up and down, as though to gather his wits.

"So!" said he, "there was something else that he told me. Tschk! If I could but think now. Yes, good! This is it—'Nothing that has lived,'  said he, 'shall ever die, and nothing that has died shall ever live.' "

Otto drew a deep breath. "I would that I might see the beautiful Angel Gabriel sometime," said he; but Brother John was singing again and did not seem to hear what he said.

Next to Brother John, the nearest one to the little child was the good Abbot Otto, for though he had never seen wonderful things with the eyes of his soul, such as Brother John's had beheld, and so could not tell of them, he was yet able to give little Otto another pleasure that no one else could give.

He was a great lover of books, the old Abbot, and had under lock and key wonderful and beautiful volumes, bound in hog-skin and metal, and with covers inlaid with carved ivory, or studded with precious stones. But within these covers, beautiful as they were, lay the real wonder of the books, like the soul in the body; for there, beside the black letters and initials, gay with red and blue and gold, were beautiful pictures painted upon the creamy parchment. Saints and Angels, the Blessed Virgin with the golden oriole about her head, good St. Joseph, the three Kings; the simple Shepherds kneeling in the fields, while Angels with glories about their brow called to the poor Peasants from the blue sky above. But, most beautiful of all was the picture of the Christ Child lying in the manger, with the mild-eyed Kine gazing at him.

Sometimes the old Abbot would unlock the iron-bound chest where these treasures lay hidden, and carefully and lovingly brushing the few grains of dust from them, would lay them upon the table beside the oriel window in front of his little namesake, allowing the little boy freedom to turn the leaves as he chose.

Always it was one picture that little Otto sought; the Christ Child in the manger, with the Virgin, St. Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Kine. And as he would hang breathlessly gazing and gazing upon it, the old Abbot would sit watching him with a faint, half-sad smile flickering around his thin lips and his pale, narrow face.

It was a pleasant, peaceful life, but by-and-by the end came.

Otto was now nearly twelve years old.


Always it was one picture that little Otto sought.

One bright, clear day, near the hour of noon, little Otto heard the porter's bell sounding below in the court-yard—dong! dong!  Brother Emmanuel had been appointed as the boy's instructor, and just then Otto was conning his lessons in the good monk's cell. Nevertheless, at the sound of the bell he pricked up his ears and listened, for a visitor was a strange matter in that out-ofthe-way place, and he wondered who it could be. So, while his wits wandered his lessons lagged.

"Postera Phœba lustrabat lampade terras,"  continued Brother Emmanuel, inexorably running his horny finger-nail beneath the line, "humentemque Aurora polo dimoverat umbram—"  the lesson dragged along.

Just then a sandaled footstep sounded without, in the stone corridor, and a light tap fell upon Brother Emmanuel's door. It was Brother Ignatius, and the Abbot wished little Otto to come to the refectory.

As they crossed the court-yard Otto stared to see a group of mail-clad men-at-arms, some sitting upon their horses, some standing by the saddle-bow. "Yonder is the young baron," he heard one of them say in a gruff voice, and thereupon all turned and stared at him.

A stranger was in the refectory, standing beside the good old Abbot, while food and wine were being brought and set upon the table for his refreshment; a great, tall, broad-shouldered man, beside whom the Abbot looked thinner and slighter than ever.

The stranger was clad all in polished and gleaming armor, of plate and chain, over which was drawn a loose robe of gray woollen stuff, reaching to the knees and bound about the waist by a broad leathern sword-belt. Upon his arm he carried a great helmet which he had just removed from his head. His face was weather-beaten and rugged, and on lip and chin was a wiry, bristling beard; once red, now frosted with white.

Brother Ignatius had bidden Otto to enter, and had then closed the door behind him; and now, as the lad walked slowly up the long room, he gazed with round, wondering blue eyes at the stranger.

"Dost know who I am, Otto?" said the mail-clad knight, in a deep, growling voice.

"Methinks you are my father, sir," said Otto.

"Aye, thou art right," said Baron Conrad, "and I am glad to see that these milk-churning monks have not allowed thee to forget me, and who thou art thyself."

"An' it please you," said Otto, "no one churneth milk here but Brother Fritz; we be makers of wine and not makers of butter, at St. Michaelsburg."

Baron Conrad broke into a great, loud laugh, but Abbot Otto's sad and thoughtful face lit up with no shadow of an answering smile.

"Conrad," said he, turning to the other, "again let me urge thee; do not take the child hence, his life can never be your life, for he is not fitted for it. I had thought," said he, after a moment's pause, "I had thought that thou hadst meant to consecrate him—this motherless one—to the care of the Universal Mother Church."

"So!" said the Baron, "thou hadst thought that, hadst thou? Thou hadst thought that I had intended to deliver over this boy, the last of the Vuelphs, to the arms of the Church? What then was to become of our name and the glory of our race if it was to end with him in a monastery? No, Drachenhausen is the home of the Vuelphs, and there the last of the race shall live as his sires have lived before him, holding to his rights by the power and the might of his right hand."

The Abbot turned and looked at the boy, who was gaping in simple wide-eyed wonderment from one to the other as they spoke.

"And dost thou think, Conrad," said the old man, in his gentle, patient voice, "that that poor child can maintain his rights by the strength of his right hand?"

The Baron's look followed the Abbot's, and he said nothing.

In the few seconds of silence that followed, little Otto, in his simple mind, was wondering what all this talk portended. Why had his father come hither to St. Michaelsburg, lighting up the dim silence of the monastery with the flash and ring of his polished armor? Why had he talked about churning butter but now, when all the world knew that the monks of St. Michaelsburg made wine.

It was Baron Conrad's deep voice that broke the little pause of silence.

"If you have made a milkmaid of the boy," he burst out at last, "I thank the dear heaven that there is yet time to undo your work and to make a man of him."

The Abbot sighed. "The child is yours, Conrad," said he, "the will of the blessed saints be done. Mayhap if he goes to dwell at Drachenhausen he may make you the better instead of you making him the worse."

Then light came to the darkness of little Otto's wonderment; he saw what all this talk meant and why his father had come hither. He was to leave the happy, sunny silence of the dear White Cross, and to go out into that great world that he had so often looked down upon from the high windy belfry on the steep hillside.



Jataka Tales  by Ellen C. Babbitt

The Sandy Road

O NCE upon a time a merchant, with his goods packed in many carts, came to a desert. He was on his way to the country on the other side of the desert.

The sun shone on the fine sand, making it as hot as the top of a stove. No man could walk on it in the sunlight. But at night, after the sun went down, the sand cooled, and then men could travel upon it.

So the merchant waited until after dark, and then set out. Besides the goods that he was going to sell, he took jars of water and of rice, and firewood, so that the rice could be cooked.

All night long he and his men rode on and on. One man was the pilot. He rode first, for he knew the stars, and by them he guided the drivers.

At daybreak they stopped and camped. They unyoked the oxen, and fed them. They built fires and cooked the rice. Then they spread a great awning over all the carts and the oxen, and the men lay down under it to rest until sunset.


They built fires and cooked the rice.

In the early evening, they again built fires and cooked rice. After supper, they folded the awning and put it away. They yoked the oxen, and, as soon as the sand was cool, they started again on their journey across the desert.

Night after night they traveled in this way, resting during the heat of the day. At last one morning the pilot said: "In one more night we shall get out of the sand." The men were glad to hear this, for they were tired.

After supper that night the merchant said: "You may as well throw away nearly all the water and the firewood. By to-morrow we shall be in the city. Yoke the oxen and start on."

Then the pilot took his place at the head of the line. But, instead of sitting up and guiding the drivers, he lay down in the wagon on the cushions. Soon he was fast asleep, because he had not slept for many nights, and the light had been so strong in the daytime that he had not slept well then.

All night long the oxen went on. Near daybreak, the pilot awoke and looked at the last stars fading in the light. "Halt!" he called to the drivers. "We are in the same place where we were yesterday. The oxen must have turned about while I slept."

They unyoked the oxen, but there was no water for them to drink. They had thrown away the water that was left the night before. So the men spread the awning over the carts, and the oxen lay down, tired and thirsty. The men, too, lay down saying, "The wood and water are gone—we are lost."

But the merchant said to himself, "This is no time for me to sleep. I must find water. The oxen cannot go on if they do not have water to drink. The men must have water. They cannot cook the rice unless they have water. If I give up, we shall all be lost!"


"There must be water somewhere below."

On and on he walked, keeping close watch of the ground. At last he saw a tuft of grass. "There must be water somewhere below, or that grass would not be there," he said.

He ran back, shouting to the men, "Bring the spade and the hammer!"

They jumped up, and ran with him to the spot where the grass grew. They began to dig, and by and by they struck a rock and could dig no further. Then the merchant jumped down into the hole they had dug, and put his ear to the rock. "I hear water running under this rock," he called to them. "We must not give up!" Then the merchant came up out of the hole and said to a serving-lad: "My boy, if you give  up we are lost! You go down and try!"

The boy stood up straight and raised the hammer high above his head and hit the rock as hard as ever he could. He would not give in. They must be saved. Down came the hammer. This time the rock broke. And the boy had hardly time to get out of the well before it was full of cool water. The men drank as if they never could get enough, and then they watered the oxen, and bathed.

Then they split up their extra yokes and axles, and built a fire, and cooked their rice. Feeling better, they rested through the day. They set up a flag on the well for travelers to see.

At sundown, they started on again, and the next morning reached the city, where they sold the goods, and then returned home.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Kubla Khan

A Vision in a Dream

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round:

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills

Where blossom'd many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!

A savage place! as holy and enchanted

As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted

By woman wailing for her demon-lover!

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty fountain momently was forced:

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail;

And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,

Then reach'd the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:

And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure

Floated midway on the waves;

Where was heard the mingled measure

From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer

In a vision once I saw:

It was an Abyssinian maid,

And on her dulcimer she played,

Singing of Mount Abora.

Could I revive within me

Her symphony and song,

To such a deep delight 'twould win me

That with music loud and long,

I would build that dome in air,

That sunny dome! Those caves of ice!

And all who heard should see them there

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,

And close your eyes with holy dread

For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.


  WEEK 5  


The Awakening of Europe  by M. B. Synge

The Story of the Huguenots

"Thou Rochelle, our own Rochelle, proud city of the waters."


N O sooner was Colbert dead than Louis struck a tremendous blow at the large Huguenot community in his kingdom. The massacre of St Bartholomew, over 111 years before, had thinned their ranks; but a famous Act, known to history as the Edict of Nantes, had secured to them their rights as citizens of France. By this they could enjoy perfect freedom, they could hold offices side by side with Roman Catholics, they could build their own churches, teach in their own schools. So they had increased in numbers and in strength.

But in the year 1626, when Louis XIII. was reigning, their liberty was again threatened; they rose in revolt, and were besieged in their old stronghold—La Rochelle. The city was built in a crescent shape, round a fine land-locked bay, with a splendid harbour. It was sheltered from Atlantic storms by an island at the mouth of the harbour. So strong was the situation of La Rochelle, that the king, Louis XIII., and his great Minister Richelieu, had to bring the whole strength of the army to bear upon it. But stout Huguenot hearts beat within.

"We will not submit while there is one man left to shut the gates against the enemy," they said within the city walls.

Richelieu was determined to take the place. He built immense stone dykes out into the sea, across the harbour bar, from shore to shore. Where the water was too deep in the middle he filled huge ships with stones and sank them across the harbour mouth. It was a gigantic task, but it proved successful at last. Starvation began to tell on the heroic Huguenots, who could get no relief from without. Men, women, and children dropped dead in the streets, and after a resistance of fourteen months the city fell. And Richelieu, beside his king, rode into the death-stricken town of La Rochelle at the head of the royal army.

The Huguenots had again increased until they formed the most flourishing members of French trade. But Louis XIV. thought more about his own fame and power than of his country, and he now sought to convert or persecute them more fiercely than before. They were treated more and more harshly, until at length every career seemed closed to them. From time to time the king's messengers broke into their churches, placed their Bibles and hymn-books in a great pile, and set fire to them. Those that rebelled were hanged.

Then the king played his last card. In 1685 he revoked the famous Edict of Nantes, and thus struck the death-knell of the French Huguenots. With levers and pickaxes the Huguenot churches were knocked down. Children were torn from their mothers' arms to be brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, women were dragged from their sick-beds, hundreds were condemned to die, others were imprisoned for life.

"If God preserve the king, there will not be one Huguenot left twenty years hence," said one of Louis' friends.

Crushed, tormented, persecuted, there was nothing left them but flight, and even this was refused to most of them. They must become Roman Catholics or die. The frontiers of France were strongly guarded, the coasts were watched. In their desperate state the unhappy Huguenots crossed the frontier, through forests, over trackless wastes, or by high mountain paths, where no guard was stationed.

Numbers escaped into Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. They mostly travelled under cover of darkness in small parties. They disguised themselves in all sorts of ways. Some went as pedlars, others as soldiers, huntsmen, beggars, or servants. One well-known officer and his wife escaped to Holland dressed as orange-sellers, leading a donkey with panniers. Two little children were carried off in baskets slung across the back of a mule as luggage. One lady of high birth escaped as a peasant, with her infant son slung in a shawl at her back, passed through the guards, and made her way to London. Young girls browned their faces and pushed wheelbarrows to escape detection. Many hid in empty casks, and were thus carried on board ships bound for England. Their sufferings were terrible. Numbers were caught and brought back. Men and boys were put to serve as galley-slaves in the vessels of war which sailed up and down the Mediterranean Sea, five being chained to each oar.

Just a few were saved. The first admiral in France was a Huguenot. The king sent for him and begged him to become a Roman Catholic; but the old hero pointed to his grey hairs.

"For sixty years, sire, have I rendered to Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's: suffer me still to render unto God the things that are God's."

He was eighty years old, he had served his country well, and Louis spared him. But the great stream of Huguenot emigrants had left their country. It was the deathblow to several great branches of industry encouraged by Colbert. The silk manufacturers went over to London in a body. Amsterdam was filled with industrious French workers; Germany, Switzerland, all gained by the exodus. French ships were left unmanned, and the Huguenot seamen carried the news of their country's madness to the ends of the earth. Numbers sailed over the sea to America. A large party went to the Cape of Good Hope and joined the Dutch colony already thriving there under Van Riebeek. Thus a blow was struck at the prosperity of France. Not only her industries, but the flower of her race was gone, exiled, banished to foreign lands.

The greatness of France had already begun to pass away.


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

How Brock Brought Judgement on Loki


dropcap image T was then that Loki, with the wish of making the Æsir and the Vanir friendly to him once more, brought out the wonderful things he had gained from the Dwarfs—the spear Gungnir and the boat Skidbladnir. The Æsir and the Vanir marveled at things so wonderful. Loki gave the spear as a gift to Odin, and to Frey, who was chief of the Vanir, he gave the boat Skidbladnir.

All Asgard rejoiced that things so wonderful and so helpful had been brought to them. And Loki, who had made a great show in giving these gifts, said boastingly:

"None but the Dwarfs who work for me could make such things. There are other Dwarfs, but they are as unhandy as they are misshapen. The Dwarfs who are my servants are the only ones who can make such wonders."

Now Loki in his boastfulness had said a foolish thing. There were other Dwarfs besides those who had worked for him, and one of these was there in Asgard. All unknown to Loki he stood in the shadow of Odin's seat, listening to what had been said. Now he went over to Loki, his little, unshapely form trembling with rage—Brock, the most spiteful of all the Dwarfs.

"Ha, Loki, you boaster," he roared, "you lie in your words. Sindri, my brother, who would scorn to serve you, is the best smith in Svartheim."

The Æsir and the Vanir laughed to see Loki outfaced by Brock the Dwarf in the middle of his boastfulness. As they laughed Loki grew angry.

"Be silent, Dwarf," he said, "your brother will know about smith's work when he goes to the Dwarfs who are my friends, and learns something from them."

"He learn from the Dwarfs who are your friends! My brother Sindri learn from the Dwarfs who are your friends!" Brock roared, in a greater rage than before. "The things you have brought out of Svartheim would not be noticed by the Æsir and the Vanir if they were put beside the things that my brother Sindri can make."

"Sometime we will try your brother Sindri and see what he can do," said Loki.

"Try now, try now," Brock shouted. "I'll wager my head against yours, Loki, that his work will make the Dwellers in Asgard laugh at your boasting."

"I will take your wager," said Loki. "My head against yours. And glad will I be to see that ugly head of yours off your misshapen shoulders."

"The Æsir will judge whether my brother's work is not the best that ever came out of Svartheim. And they will see to it that you will pay your wager, Loki, the head off your shoulders. Will ye not sit in judgement, O Dwellers in Asgard?"

"We will sit in judgement," said the Æsir. Then, still full of rage, Brock the Dwarf went down to Svartheim, and to the place where his brother Sindri worked.

dropcap image HERE was Sindri in his glowing forge, working with bellows and anvil and hammers beside him, and around him masses of metal—gold and silver, copper and iron. Brock told his tale, how he had wagered his head against Loki's that Sindri could make things more wonderful than the spear and the boat that Loki had brought into Asgard.

"You were right in what you said, my brother," said Sindri, "and you shall not lose your head to Loki. But the two of us must work at what I am going to forge. It will be your work to keep the fire so that it will neither blaze up nor die down for a single instant. If you can keep the fire as I tell you, we will forge a wonder. Now, brother, keep your hands upon the bellows, and keep the fire under your control."

Then into the fire Sindri threw, not a piece of metal, but a pig's skin. Brock kept his hands on the bellows so that the fire neither died down nor blazed up for a single instant. And in the glowing fire the pigskin swelled itself into a strange shape.

But Brock was not left to work the bellows in peace. Into the forge flew a gad-fly. It lighted on Brock's hands and stung them. The Dwarf screamed with pain, but his hands still held the bellows, working to keep the fire steady, for he knew that the gad-fly was Loki, and that Loki was striving to spoil Sindri's work. Again the gad-fly stung his hands, but Brock, although his hands felt as if they were pierced with hot irons, still worked the bellows so that the fire did not blaze up or die down for a single instant.

Sindri came and looked into the fire. Over the shape that was rising there he said words of magic. The gad-fly had flown away, and Sindri bade his brother cease working. He took out the thing that had been shaped in the fire, and he worked over it with his hammer. It was a wonder indeed—a boar, all golden, that could fly through the air, and that shed light from its bristles as it flew. Brock forgot the pain in his hands and screamed with joy. "This is the greatest of wonders," he said. "The Dwellers in Asgard will have to give the judgement against Loki. I shall have Loki's head!"

But Sindri said, "The boar Golden Bristle may not be judged as great a wonder as the spear Gungnir or the boat Skidbladnir. We must make something more wonderful still. Work the bellows as before, brother, and do not let the fire die down or blaze up for a single instant."

Then Sindri took up a piece of gold that was so bright it lightened up the dark cavern that the Dwarfs worked in. He threw the piece of gold into the fire. Then he went to make ready something else and left Brock to work the bellows.

The gad-fly flew in again. Brock did not know it was there until it lighted on the back of his neck. It stung him till Brock felt the pain was wrenching him apart. But still he kept his hands on the bellows, working it so that the fire neither blazed up nor died down for a single instant. When Sindri came to look into the fire, Brock was not able to speak for pain.

Again Sindri said magic words over the gold that was being smelted in the fire. He took it out of the glow and worked it over on the main-anvil. Then in a whole he showed Brock something that looked like the circle of the sun. "A splendid arm-ring, my brother," he said. "An arm-ring for a God's right arm. And this ring has hidden wonders. Every ninth night eight rings like itself will drop from this arm-ring, for this is Draupnir, the Ring of Increase."

"To Odin, the Father of the Gods, the ring shall be given," said Brock. "And Odin will have to declare that nothing so wonderful or so profitable to the Gods was ever brought into Asgard. O Loki, cunning Loki, I shall have thy head in spite of thy tricks."

"Be not too hasty, brother," said Sindri. "What we have done so far is good. But better still must be the thing that will make the Dwellers in Asgard give the judgement that delivers Loki's head to thee. Work as before, brother, and do not let the fire blaze up or die down for a single instant."

This time Sindri threw into the fire a bar of iron. Then he went away to fetch the hammer that would shape it. Brock worked the bellows as before, but only his hands were steady, for every other part of him was trembling with expectation of the gad-fly's sting.

He saw the gad-fly dart into the forge. He screamed as it flew round and round him, searching out a place where it might sting him most fearfully. It lighted down on his forehead, just between his eyes. The first sting it gave took the sight from his eyes. It stung again and Brock felt the blood flowing down. Darkness filled the cave. Brock tried to keep his hands steady on the bellows, but he did not know whether the fire was blazing up or dying down. He shouted and Sindri hurried up.

Sindri said the magic words over the thing that was in the fire. "An instant more," he said, "and it would have been perfect. But because you let the fire die down for an instant the work is not as good as it might have been made." He took what was shaped in the fire to the main-anvil and worked over it. Then when Brock's eyesight came back to him he saw a great hammer, a hammer all of iron. The handle did not seem to be long enough to balance the head. This was because the fire had died down for an instant while it was being formed.

"The hammer is Miölnir," said Sindri, "and it is the greatest of the things that I am able to make. All in Asgard must rejoice to see this hammer. Thor only will be able to wield it. Now I am not afraid of the judgement that the Dwellers in Asgard will give."

"The Dwellers in Asgard will have to give judgement for us," Brock cried out. "They will have to give judgement for us, and the head of Loki, my tormentor, will be given me."

"No more wonderful or more profitable gifts than these have ever been brought into Asgard," Sindri said. "Thy head is saved, and thou wilt be able to take the head of Loki who was insolent to us. Bring it here, and we will throw it into the fire in the forge."

dropcap image HE Æsir and the Vanir were seated in the Council House of Asgard when a train of Dwarfs appeared before them. Brock came at the head of the train, and he was followed by a band of Dwarfs carrying things of great weight. Brock and his attendants stood round the throne of Odin, and harkened to the words of the Father of the Gods.

"We know why you have come into Asgard from out of Svartheim," Odin said. "You have brought things wonderful and profitable to the Dwellers in Asgard. Let what you have brought be seen, Brock. If they are more wonderful and more useful than the things Loki has brought out of Svartheim, the spear Gungnir and the boat Skidbladnir, we will give judgement for you."

Then Brock commanded the Dwarfs who waited on him to show the Dwellers in Asgard the first of the wonders that Sindri had made. They brought out the boar, Golden Bristle. Round and round the Council House the boar flew, leaving a track of brightness. The Dwellers in Asgard said one to the other that this was a wonder indeed. But none would say that the boar was a better thing to have in Asgard than the spear that would hit the mark no matter how badly it was flung, or the boat Skidbladnir that would sail on any sea, and that could be folded up so small that it would fit in any one's pocket: none would say that Golden Bristle was better than these wonders.

To Frey, who was Chief of the Vanir, Brock gave the wondrous boar.

Then the attending Dwarfs showed the arm-ring that was as bright as the circle of the Sun. All admired the noble ring. And when it was told how every ninth night this ring dropped eight rings of gold that were like itself, the Dwellers in Asgard spoke aloud, all saying that Draupnir, the Ring of Increase, was a wonder indeed. Hearing their voices raised, Brock looked triumphantly at Loki who was standing there with his lips drawn closely together.

To Odin, the Father of the Gods, Brock gave the noble arm-ring.

Then he commanded the attending Dwarfs to lay before Thor the hammer Miölnir. Thor took the hammer up and swung it around his head. As he did so he uttered a great cry. And the eyes of the Dwellers in Asgard lightened up when they saw Thor with the hammer Miölnir in his hands; their eyes lightened up and from their lips came the cry, "This is a wonder, a wonder indeed! With this hammer in his hand none can withstand Thor, our Champion. No greater thing has ever come into Asgard than the hammer Miölnir."

Then Odin, the Father of the Gods, spoke from his throne, giving judgement. "The hammer Miölnir that the Dwarf Brock has brought into Asgard is a thing wonderful indeed and profitable to the Gods. In Thor's hands it can crush mountains, and hurl the Giant race from the ramparts of Asgard. Sindri the Dwarf has forged a greater thing than the spear Gungnir and the boat Skidbladnir. There can be no other judgement."

Brock looked at Loki, showing his gnarled teeth. "Now, Loki, yield your head, yield your head," he cried.

"Do not ask such a thing," said Odin. "Put any other penalty on Loki for mocking you and tormenting you. Make him yield to you the greatest thing that is in his power to give."

"Not so, not so," screamed Brock. "You Dwellers in Asgard would shield one another. But what of me? Loki would have taken my head had I lost the wager. Loki has lost his head to me. Let him kneel down now till I cut it off."

Loki came forward, smiling with closed lips. "I kneel before you, Dwarf," he said. "Take off my head. But be careful. Do not touch my neck. I did not bargain that you should touch my neck. If you do, I shall call upon the Dwellers in Asgard to punish you."

Brock drew back with a snarl. "Is this the judgement of the Gods?" he asked.

"The bargain you made, Brock," said Odin, "was an evil one, and all its evil consequences you must bear."

Brock, in a rage, looked upon Loki, and he saw that his lips were smiling. He stamped his feet and raged. Then he went up to Loki and said, "I may not take your head, but I can do something with your lips that mock me."

"What would you do, Dwarf?" asked Thor.

"Sew Loki's lips together," said Brock, "so that he can do no more mischief with his talk. You Dwellers in Asgard cannot forbid me to do this. Down, Loki, on your knees before me."

Loki looked round on the Dwellers in Asgard and he saw that their judgement was that he must kneel before the Dwarf. He knelt down with a frown upon his brow. "Draw your lips together, Loki," said Brock. Loki drew his lips together while his eyes flashed fire. With an awl that he took from his belt Brock pierced Loki's lips. He took out a thong and tightened them together. Then in triumph the Dwarf looked on Loki.

"O Loki," he said, "you boasted that the Dwarfs who worked for you were better craftsman than Sindri, my brother. Your words have been shown to be lies. And now you cannot boast for a while."

Then Brock the Dwarf, with great majesty, walked out of the Council House of Asgard, and the attending Dwarfs marched behind him in procession. Down the passages in the earth the Dwarfs went, singing the song of Brock's triumph over Loki. And in Svartheim it was told forever after how Sindri and Brock had prevailed.

In Asgard, now that Loki's lips were closed, there was peace and respite from mischief. No one amongst the Æsir or the Vanir were sorry when Loki had to walk about in silence with his head bent low.


William Shakespeare


When icicles hang by the wall,

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,

And Tom bears logs into the hall,

And milk comes frozen home in pail,

When blood is nipt, and ways be foul,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,


Tuwhit! tuwhoo! A merry note!

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all around the wind doth blow,

And coughing drowns the parson's saw,

And birds sit brooding in the snow,

And Marian's nose looks red and raw,

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,

Then nightly sings the staring owl


Tuwhit! tuwhoo! A merry note!

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


  WEEK 5  


Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Upon the Rock  by Lisa M. Ripperton

The Prince That Married a Nixie


T HERE was a King's only son that rode down by the river where the banks are green, and he saw three water nixies sunning themselves on the shore and telling stories to one another. The first had sea-green hair, and she was as lovely as dawning; the second had hair the color of dark pools, and she was as lovely as twilight; but the third had golden hair that clad her from head to foot, and she was as handsome as noonday. All of them had fluted fins at their elbows and their ankles, and webs between their fingers, and they had great white water lilies braided in their hair.

The King's son thought he had never seen a lass that pleased him half so well as the golden-haired nixie; but he was a wise body, not one to spoil the cheese by eating the curds before they set. So off he marched to the wise woman who lived in the hill. And how could he be sure of catching the water nixie for a wife? That was the question the King's son put.

The wise woman looked for the answer in the black book with the scarlet letters, but it was not there. So then she looked for it in the white book with the golden letters, but it was not there.

"Well, well," says she, "I must be asking the help of the great one, and for that I must be weaving a spell; while I am about it, do you make no sound whatever!"

She knocked on the floor three times, and said:

"Master, master, give me a charm

Part to heal and part to harm,—

Fin-clearer, web-breaker,


A mighty puff of smoke rose out of the floor, that blinded the Prince. It was enough to make any one flinch, I can tell you, and even the King's son, who had been in many wars, stepped back a pace. And as he stepped, a board creaked under his foot.

Presently the smoke cleared away, there was a great round looking-glass with a silver rim.

"Ah, there is a crack in the pot, and Luck is leaking through," says the wise woman. "You certainly made a sound while I wove the spell, for only part of the charm is here; there should be a silver comb to go with the looking-glass. However, this will have to do. Three days from to-day, take this looking-glass to the same place in the river where you saw the water maids before, and set it in the rushes. When the nixie looks in it, throw your cloak over her, and hold her fast, and she will follow you meekly enough. But," says the wise woman, shaking her finger at him, "let me tell you that your wife will have webbed fingers and fins at elbows and ankles, to her dying day. That is because the magic comb is missing; if she had combed her hair while she looked in the looking-glass, she would have been all mortal at once, and the webs and fins would have disappeared. But a moldy loaf is better than hunger, as the beggar said."

The King's son agreed with her there, except as to the moldiness of the loaf; as for the webbed fingers, little enough did he care for a bit of matter like that! He did exactly as he was told; on the third day thereafter, he tucked the mirror with the silver rim under his coat, and strode away to the river bank. He had no more than laid the looking-glass in the moss and hidden himself, than the three water nixies rose from the water as before, and sunned themselves on the bank. The first two began to tell stories where they had left off before, but the third one saw the mirror, and leaned over it to have a look at herself. Quick as a bee-sting, the King's son darted out from the osiers, and flung his cloak over her.

Splash! splash! and that was the last of the two sisters. But the third one looked at the Prince out of her great gray eyes, and smiled at him; so he took her by the hand, and led her to the castle. Up there a gold crown was put on her head, and robes stiff with jewels were put on her shoulders, and she was married to the King's son with great pomp and ceremony.

But listen! That is not the end of the story! There is something more to this nut than the shell on the outside. The Prince was as happy as a lark in fair weather; nothing was too good for the bride, and all the tailors and seamstresses of the court were kept busy making tiny clothes for her. They were all made with big loops at the elbows, and very long petticoats, to leave room for the Princess's fins; and all the court ladies had to wear clothes exactly like them, out of respect to the wife of the King's son. It became the fashion to wear wide paddy mittens instead of gloves, too, because the Princess could not wear anything else.

So the Prince's face shone brighter every day, and the Princess smiled at him out of her great gray eyes; but look you, she had no more love for him than she had for the little lizards that ran in the sun on the garden wall. There was a good bit of the water witch about her still, and she plotted and planned to get rid of the Prince. "Once he is out of the way," she thought to herself, "I shall break the magic mirror and burn his cloak, and so I shall go back to my sisters in the green under-sea castles."

So presently she went to the Prince with tears in her eyes. "Come now," says he to her, "is there anything lacking?" Oh, no, there was nothing lacking; the trouble was that there was one thing too many.

"And what is that?" said the King's son. Well, it was a matter of fins at the elbows and webs in the fingers, such as no one else had; and the court ladies were saying this and that behind the Princess's back, because they had to wear big sleeves and long petticoats, and wide paddy mittens.

And was there no help for the webbed fingers and finned elbows and ankles? Yes, there was, but the Princess could not be asking such a task of her own husband. "Who better?" says the Prince; and he asked and asked her until she finally told him. Now it appeared that the Princess was the daughter of the King of all Fish, a lady of real nobility underseas; and here she had been married willy-nilly like any peasant maid, without the consent and the lawful sanction of her own people. If the Prince was to go and ask her in marriage properly, they would give their consent to let her become a mortal entirely, and as a sign of that, the marks of her lineage would disappear.

"Prut!" says the Prince; "I should find more difficulty in nipping dead leaves from the garden; and what persons shall I beseech?"

So the Princess named them over; there was her godmother the whale, and her stepbrother the pelican, and her father the King of all Fish. That would be sufficient, the Princess said.

The King's son put on his silver armor, that resisted heat and cold, and saddled his great horse; but before he set foot in the stirrup, he saw the wise woman in the corner of the stable.

"See now," says she; "here is a silver box with a little red cock in it; go in the direction that his beak points out, and you will never be at a loss. But there is something else too," said the wise woman. "Whatever you do, let none of the sea people kiss you at greeting or parting, or it will be the worse for you." The Prince thanked the wise woman, and put the silver box in his purse.

He got on his horse, and took his spear in his hand; then he bethought it to have a look at the little cock. It pointed straight down the sands to the sea, so off he set, with the whole court behind him, weeping and mourning.


The Princess waited until the water curled up about his horse's knees, and then she jumped nimbly to the stirrup, like a fish leaping in the sun, and reached up and kissed him. "Come," says she, "thou art somewhat of a man after all; I shall know of thee in ways which thou knowest not."

So the Prince rode straight on until the waves broke over his plume, and they could see him no more; and the court went home again. But sometimes the crooked stick burns better than the rest of the faggot bundle; the Princess stood still with her webbed hands stretched out over the water, that washed about her feet. And by and by what should come by but a scarlet fish with diamond eyes.

"Go to the north, to Mother Carey," says the Princess to him, "and tell her that I desire her chickens to bring news of my husband from time to time." The fish leaped out of the water and disappeared into it again, and the Princess went back to the castle.


The fish leaped out of the water and disappeared into it again.

Now you shall hear what befell the Prince. He rode on and on and on under the waves, until he came to the country of the fish. There was no ground at all, but sand, and no green trees, but great branches of white coral and dark seaweed that flung out its arms like banners. He followed where the little red cock pointed, and presently he came to the dwelling of the whale.

And what did he want there? That was the old whale's question. So the Prince told her who he was, and how he had married the daughter of the King of all Fish, and all the rest of it from beginning to end; and would the whale give her gracious consent to the marriage?

"When the tide has come in, the mind has no choice but to be wet," says the whale, very gruff; "but I will give my consent only on one condition. Bring me the kettle from the fire that burns at the north end of the world."

With that the whale went off to sleep, and not another word could he get out of her; so the King's son went off on his horse, and rode without stopping for many days and nights, until he came to the north of the world, where a fire burned so wide and high that it flickered over the whole sky.

There sat an old goody, warming her hands at it; she had long green eyes, and a very wise smile. "And so you have come for my kettle," says she; "well, you shall have it, provided you leave your gray horse behind you."


The Prince got down without a word and gave the bridle into her hand, and in return she gave him a great black kettle that boiled and bubbled of its own accord.

So the King's son started back again; he journeyed and journeyed, and it was a hard road to travel, for the sand of the sea roads ate into his feet, but at last he came to the dwelling of the whale, and he gave her the boiling kettle. She opened her mouth and swallowed it, and the kettle boiled over at once, so that the steam rose from her head like a fountain on a fair-day. The whale was immensely pleased with herself, and so have all whales been to this day, for the kettle has gone from one to the other; and she turned around and kissed the Prince, and gave her consent to the wedding. The Prince was troubled about the whale's kiss, because of what the wise woman had said, but he thought, "Come, what is one kiss after all?"

But behind him rose a great bird, that circled three times and flew far away and far away, until it came to the Princess's window. She held out her wrist, and the bird lighted on it.

"And has he accomplished anything?" That was what the Princess asked.

"Oh, yes," said the petrel, for this was one of Mother Carey's chickens, "he has given up his horse in order to get the kettle from the fire at the north end of the world, so that the whale would give her consent to the marriage." Then the bird flew away. But when the Princess took off her shoes that night, there were no fins at her ankles.

And in the meantime the King's son had come to the dwelling of the pelican. Would the pelican give his gracious consent to a marriage between the Prince and the daughter of the King of all Fish?

"Once a fish is swallowed, it cannot swim again," said the pelican, very sharp, "but I will give my consent on one condition. Bring me the leather pouch from the forge at the south end of the world." So the Prince started as the little red cock directed, but the journey took a very long time, because his heels were sore and his toes were raw, and it was hard traveling in the deep-sea currents.

At last he came to the south end of the world, where there was a forge whose fire was so great that the light from it flared up on the sky; and by the side of it sat an old man leaning on a hammer.

"So you have come for my leather pouch," says he; "well, you shall have it, provided you leave your silver armor behind you." The Prince took it off without a word, and in return the old man gave him a pouch of yellow leather.

The King's son turned about and started back; he journeyed and journeyed, and this time it took him just three times as long to reach the pelican's dwelling as it had taken him to reach the whale's, for the cold of the sea seemed to eat into his heart. But at last he came to the pelican, and gave him the leather pouch. The pelican was as pleased as a fisherman when the nets are heavy; he hung the pouch about his neck, where it has been ever since, and says he, "I freely give my consent." But he said it so low that the King's son had to bend his head to hear, and before he could draw it back again, the pelican had kissed him. The King's son was troubled once again on account of what the wise Woman had told him. "But then," says he to himself, "twice is but one more than once,—and what are kisses after all?"

But behind him rose a great bird, that circled three times, and flew and flew until it came to the Princess's window.

"And has he accomplished anything?" asked the Princess.

"Oh, yes," says the petrel; "he has given up his silver armor in order to get the leather pouch from the forge at the south end of the world, so that the pelican would give his consent to the marriage." Then the bird flew away; but that night, when the Princess took off her dress with the wide sleeves, there were no fins on her elbows.

In the meantime, the King's son looked at the little red cock, and set off, best foot ahead, for the castle of the King of all Fish. When he got there, the King was waiting for him.

"So, here you are at last," says he; "and what are you going to do for me? I am a hard one to please, I can tell you."

"I will do whatever you wish," says the Prince; "one does not purchase a diamond with smiles alone."

"You are right there," says the King of all Fish. "Now you may set about getting the magic silver comb that should have gone with the silver looking-glass that started all this gear," says he.

Well, the Prince lost no time in setting out. He took a peep at the little red cock, and followed where it pointed, and by and by he came to the mouth of a dark cave, where trails of smoke waved up and down. Prince sat down and thought for a time before deciding what he should do next. By and by, "Come," said he, "two can play some games as well as one!"

So he knocked three times on the rock at the cave mouth, and said:

"Master, master, give me a charm

Part to heal and part to harm,

Fin-clearer, web-breaker,


The smoke came up thick and thicker, and by and by a voice said, "Leave thy sword of knighthood upon the stone, and retire three steps." Very slowly the King's son took off the sword and laid it down, for next to his wife he prized it above everything in the world. But he did as he was told without a word. The smoke came down like fog at the river mouth, and hid the good sword; and when it cleared away, behold! there was no sword at all, but a well-wrought silver comb that glistened in the sun.

The Prince tucked it into his jacket, and traveled very slowly back, the way he had come. The King of all Fish was waiting for him again, and held out his hand for the comb as if it was a piece of the sun itself.

Now this time the Prince was on his guard to avoid a kiss from the Fish-King; so he held out the comb at arm's length.

The King took it, and says he, "Come, you are a likely lad; you have been casting a long time, and the bit of a net that is left to you is pretty well worn. Let me pass this comb through your hair, and you will be fresh for the journey home."

The Prince held his head over, but as the comb passed through his hair, the King bent down and kissed him. Then the Prince disappeared, and in his place was a great bird, that circled three times and flew away and away to the Princess's window. The Princess held out her wrist, and the bird perched on it.

"And has he accomplished anything?" That was what the Princess said. But the bird said nothing at all, and only looked at her with eyes full of tears; and by and by it flew away very sadly.

The Princess looked at her fingers, for if the King's son had accomplished the third task, and the King of all Fish had given his consent to the marriage, the webs would be gone. But no, there they were, as fast as if they had been sewed with waxed thread. Now that told her, straight enough, that it was all over with the Prince; and she should have bethought herself that now was the time to burn the cloak and break the mirror. But bless you! she thought no more about them than Lady Moon up yonder riding in her feather bed; for by this time the Princess was two parts mortal, and one part nixie.

When the whole court was asleep and snoring, she stole out and went down to the sea; she took off her jewelled clothes, and stepped into the water, and swam away. For seven days and seven nights she swam through seas and oceans without stopping or resting; and it was a hard journey, I can tell you, for she was partly of earth and partly of ocean, and for such the life of the sea is torment. By the end of the third day, the webs between her fingers were thin and fine; by the end of the fifth day, they were ragged and torn, and the Princess was swimming very slowly; by the end of the seventh day she stood before the steps of Mother Carey's throne, at the end of the extreme seas, and there were no webs between her fingers at all.

Down came Mother Carey, so radiant that it hurt one's eyes to look at her, but having withal a strong resemblance to the old woman at the fire and the old man at the forge; and when she spoke, her voice was the voice of the smoke in the cave mouth.

"And what do you want of me, Mortal?" says she.

"I am but lately a mortal," says the Princess, "as you know very well, most cruel! And what have you done with my husband?"

"Come, come," says Mother Carey, smiling,—and when she smiled, one thought the heaven had opened and sun had fallen through,—"there is no need of such speech as that! He is a very good lad, after all, and quite worthy of the daughter of the King of all Fish, for I have worn him out with tests at your father's wish. More than that, he has given me material for new things in the sea; of his armor I have made silver scales for all the fish, and of his steed I have made the sea-horse, a most excellent bony structure; and of his sword I have made the swordfish, the terror of the sea."

"In all of these things I am interested no whit," says the Princess, shivering in the cold; "give me my man again."

"So! you have decided to take him without question, after all, have you?" says the Mother of the Seas. "I must tell you that he has become one of my petrels because all three of your family have kissed him, according to your wish when you sent him from you; but if you really desire his return, you may pick him out from them all when my chickens come home at sunset."

By and by the sun set, and the stormy petrels came flocking in; there were thousands and thousands of them, and they filled the sky with the sound of their wings and their talk,—but the Princess could not understand them any more. Presently came Mother Carey.

"Which of them will you take?" says she. "You have but the one choice." The Princess looked and looked and looked, but there were many of them with human tears in their eyes,—the souls of drowned sailors, whose ill deeds kept them from heaven for a while. But after a space, she noticed one in a far corner, that sat with its head bowed down. She went over to it, and held it in her hand, but it would not look at her, and closed its eyes, and turned its head away in sorrow.

"I will have this and no other," says the Princess; and scarcely had the words passed her lips when she felt the beat of wings against her sides, and saw that her feet were gray claws.


The other bird flew beside her in silence; and they flew for three days and three nights, until they came to the Princess's window. In they flew, and there before the magic mirror lay the silver comb, as clear as moonlight. They rubbed themselves against it, and looked into the mirror, and there they were, the King's son and his wife, as bonny as ever.

So first they kissed each other, with as much love on one side as the other, this time; and then they dressed themselves in silks and brocades and ermine and vair and velvet, went down stairs hand in hand, to the chapel where the King and the Queen and all the court were mourning.

Well, well! There was a stir when folk saw them, I can tell you. They were married all over again, and the feasting, though it was somewhat hastily prepared, lasted full twenty-one days. But the Prince and Princess had no eyes for anything but each other, which is just as it should be and all the days of their lives there was never an ill word between them,—and that is something one cannot say of everybody, my grandfather says.


Insect Life  by Arabella B. Buckley

Injurious Beetles

A LL living creatures must hunt for food, and insects eat a great deal for their size. Beetles are very heavy feeders. They eat most when they are grubs, but some, like Cockchafers and Tiger-beetles, eat almost as much when they are full-grown and have their wings.

There are plant-eating beetles, and beetles which feed on other insects and animals. Altogether there are more than 3,000 species of beetles in the British Isles. It is useful to know what kind of food a beetle eats, for some do good work in the fields and gardens, while others do great injury to the crops.

One of the most mischievous is the Cockchafer. You know him quite well when he flies in your face in the evening. But perhaps you do not know him as a grub, when he lives for three or four years underground, and eats the roots of the grass, corn, and vegetables. If you see plants in the cornfield or garden looking sickly and yellow, and drooping their leaves although the ground is damp, it is most likely that there is a grub underneath, and it may be the grub of a Cockchafer.

Dig up the plant and you will find an ugly white creature (3, Plate, p. 30) like a huge maggot, almost as thick as your little finger, with a red head and very strong jaws. It has six long legs, with five joints, growing on the rings behind its head, and is so full of food that it can hardly crawl. The end of its tail is swollen into a thick cushion, and you can see the breathing all along its sides very clearly because it is so distended with food. You remember that it does not take in breath through its mouth, so it can go on eating all the time. If you had not disturbed it, it would have crept on from plant to plant across the field, doing nothing but eat for three years. It goes down deeper in the ground in winter to keep warm during the frosty weather.

At last in the autumn of the third year it draws itself together (4, p. 30), and leaves off eating for nearly eight months. If you can find one at this time you will be able to see the parts of the real beetle crumpled up under the clear skin, and for the last few months it will be a full-grown sleeping cockchafer.

Then, when the warm summer comes, it crawls up above ground and flies into the trees, eating their leaves as greedily as it ate their roots while it was a grub. This is the time to catch and kill them, for they only live about a month, and meanwhile the mother cockchafer lays the eggs which will hatch into grubs.


Destructive Beetles

You will be surprised to see how different the beetle is from the white grub you found underground. It is now a flying insect, about half an inch long, with brown powdery wing-cases, covering a pair of transparent wings. Its hind-body, or abdomen, ends in a fine point, and on its head it carries a pair of feelers tipped with broad folds like a half-open fan.

These folds are very handsome in the male Chafer (1, p. 30), but much smaller in the female (2), and by this you may know the mother which will lay the eggs. You must catch and kill these last if you want to save your crops, and the most merciful way to do this is to drop them into boiling  water. A crushed beetle is a long time dying, but boiling water kills them at once.

You will find that they rest in the daytime on favourite trees, and, if you spread a cloth underneath, you may beat the boughs and so catch a good many. Farmers use gas-lime and other dressings to kill the grubs in the ground.

Another very mischievous creature is the young of the Skipjack or Click-beetle (5, Plate, p. 30). All children know these little beetles, though perhaps you may not know their name. They are narrow and flat, about half an inch long, with very short legs. The most common one in England has reddish wing-cases, striped with long furrows, and a black head and thorax. Boys love to pick them up, and turn them on their backs, for they bend themselves up in the middle so as to rest on their head and tail. Then with a sudden jerk and a click they straighten themselves, so that their back hits your hand and sends them up in the air, and they come down the right way up. Sometimes they fall again on their backs, then they rest a little and begin again.

These amusing little creatures are very destructive when they are grubs, for the wireworms  we know so well are the young of the Click-beetle. If you find a wireworm and look at it carefully you will see that it is not a worm, but has the six legs on the rings behind its head, by which you know that it is an insect. Wireworms feed on the roots of most plants. They are long and narrow like a piece of wire, and are generally of a reddish yellow colour, and have very tough skins.

The Click-beetle lays her eggs in meadows, and among the roots of plants, and the wireworm when it is hatched often feeds for five years before turning into a beetle. Therefore Click-beetles must be destroyed, and salt and lime sprinkled on the earth to kill the grubs.

Unfortunately the pretty little Weevil-beetles are also very destructive. We read in Book I. about the Nut-weevil, and almost every plant and tree has some weevil which attacks it. There is the weevil of the apple-blossom (4), the Pea-weevil (1 and 2), the Bean-weevil (3), the Furze-weevil, the Vine-weevil, and many others. They all begin life as little soft maggots with no true legs, but only cushion feet, and with horny heads and sharp jaws.

You may know the full-grown weevils by their prominent snouts, sometimes broad and sometimes long. They are beautiful little creatures with polished wings which shine like jewels, and bright eyes; but as grubs they destroy the flowers, fruits, and green shoots everywhere.



Some of the most curious are the Stem-boring weevils. They have long snouts and very sharp jaws, and their feet have hairy pads underneath with sharp hooks at the end, so that they can cling firmly to smooth stems. If you search on the poplar tree in summer you may find a lovely Stem-borer with shining green wings and red eyes; and on the fruit trees of the orchard you are almost sure to find the Steel-blue weevil which lays her eggs in their shoots.

When the mother stem-borer wants to lay, she bores a hole in a young shoot with her snout and forces an egg into it. When she has laid several in this way, she sets to work to cut off the shoot with her sharp jaws. This often takes her some weeks, and if you see the hanging shoot and burn it you will destroy the grubs. But at last, when it hangs by only a thread of bark, she weighs it down, and it falls to the ground, where the grub feeds in peace when it is hatched.

Try to find Cockchafers—male, female, and grub. Bring in a Click-beetle and a Wireworm. Find as many weevils as you can; and twigs, flowers, and fruit with grubs in them.


Gelett Burgess

The Purple Cow

I never saw a purple cow.

I never hope to see one.

But I can tell you anyhow

I'd rather see than be one.


  WEEK 5  


Hurlbut's Story of the Bible  by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Boy in His Father's House

Luke ii: 40 to 52.

dropcap image ESUS was brought to Nazareth when he was a little child, not more than three years old; there he grew up as a boy and a young man; and there he lived until he was thirty years of age. We should like to know many things about his boyhood, but the Bible tells us very little. As Joseph was a workingman, it is likely that he lived in a house with only one room, with no floor except the earth, no window except a hole in the wall, no pictures upon the walls, and neither bedstead, nor cushions; they slept upon rolls of matting; and their meals were taken from a low table, not much larger than a stool.

Jesus may have learned to read at the village school, which was generally held in the house used for worship, called the "synagogue." The lessons were from rolls on which were written parts of the Old Testament; but Jesus never had a Bible of his own. From the time when he was a child he went with Joseph to the worship in the synagogue twice every week. There they sat on the floor, and heard the Old Testament read and explained; while Mary and the younger sisters of Jesus listened from a gallery behind a lattice-screen. The Jewish boys of that time were taught to know almost the whole of the Old Testament by heart.

It was the custom for the Jews from all parts of the land to go up to Jerusalem to worship at least once every year at the feast of the Passover, which was held in the spring. Some families also stayed to the feast of Pentecost, which was fifty days after Passover; and some went again in the fall to the feast of Tabernacles, when for a week all the families slept out of doors under roofs made of green twigs and bushes. (See Stories 23 and 28.) When Jesus was a boy twelve years old he was taken up to the feast of the Passover, and then for the first time he saw the holy city Jerusalem and the Temple of the Lord on Mount Moriah. Young as he was, his soul was stirred as he walked among the courts of the Temple, and saw the altar with its smoking sacrifice, the priests in their white robes, and the Levites with their silver trumpets. Though a boy, Jesus began to feel that he was the son of God and that this was his Father's house.


The boy in the temple.

His heart was so filled with the worship of the Temple, with the words of the scribes or teachers whom he heard in the courts, and with his own thoughts, that when it was time to go home to Nazareth he stayed behind, held fast by his love for the house of the Lord. The company of people who were travelling together was large, and at first he was not missed. But when night came and the boy Jesus could not be found, his mother was alarmed. The next day Joseph and Mary left their company and hastened back to Jerusalem. They did not at first think to go to the Temple. They sought him among their friends and kindred who were living in the city, but could not find him.

On the third day they went up to the Temple with heavy hearts, still looking for their boy. And there they found him, sitting in a company of the teachers of the law, listening to their words and asking them questions. Everybody who stood near was surprised to find how deep was the knowledge of this boy in the word of the Lord.

His mother spoke to him a little sharply, for she felt that her son had not been thoughtful of his duty. She said:

"Child, why have you treated us in this way? Do you not know that your father and I have been looking for you with troubled hearts?"

"Why did you seek for me?" said Jesus. "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

They did not understand these words, but Mary thought often about them afterward, for she felt that her son was no common child and that his words had a deep meaning. Though Jesus was wise beyond his years, he obeyed Joseph and his mother in all things. He went with them to Nazareth, and lived contented with the plain life of their country home.



As the years went on Jesus grew from a boy to a young man. He grew, too, in knowledge, and in wisdom, and in the favor of God. He won the love of all who knew him, for there was something in his nature that drew all hearts, both young and old.


Jesus as a boy at the house of his father and mother.

Jesus learned the trade of a carpenter or worker in wood with Joseph; and when Joseph died, while Jesus was still a young man, Jesus, as the oldest son, took up the care of his mother and his younger brothers and sisters. And so in the work of the carpenter's shop and the quiet life of a country village, and the worship of the synagogue, the years passed until Jesus was thirty years of age.


Five Children and It  by Edith Nesbit

No Wings

W HETHER anyone cried or not, there was certainly an interval during which none of the party was quite itself. When they grew calmer, Anthea put her handkerchief in her pocket and her arm round Jane, and said—

"It can't be for more than one night. We can signal with our handkerchiefs in the morning. They'll be dry then. And someone will come up and let us out"—

"And find the syphon," said Cyril gloomily; "and we shall be sent to prison for stealing"—

"You said it wasn't stealing. You said you were sure it wasn't."

"I'm not sure now,"  said Cyril shortly.

"Let's throw the thing away among the trees," said Robert, "then no one can do anything to us."

"Oh yes,"—Cyril's laugh was not a light-hearted one,—"and hit some chap on the head, and be murderers as well as—as the other thing."

"But we can't stay up here all night," said Jane; "and I want my tea."

"You can't  want your tea," said Robert; "you've only just had your dinner."

"But I do  want it," she said; "especially when you begin talking about stopping up here all night. Oh, Panther—I want to go home! I want to go home!"

"Hush, hush," Anthea said. "Don't, dear. It'll be all right, somehow. Don't, don't"—

"Let her cry," said Robert desperately; "if she howls loud enough, someone may hear and come and let us out."

"And see the soda-water thing," said Anthea swiftly. "Robert, don't be a brute. Oh, Jane, do try to be a man! It's just the same for all of us."

Jane did try to "be a man"—and reduced her howls to sniffs.

There was a pause. Then Cyril said slowly, "Look here. We must risk that syphon. I'll button it up inside my jacket—perhaps no one will notice it. You others keep well in front of me. There are lights in the clergyman's house. They've not gone to bed yet. We must just yell as loud as ever we can. Now all scream when I say three. Robert, you do the yell like a railway engine, and I'll do the coo-ee like father's. The girls can do as they please. One, two, three!"

A four-fold yell rent the silent peace of the evening, and a maid at one of the Vicarage windows paused with her hand on the blind-cord.

"One, two, three!" Another yell, piercing and complex, startled the owls and starlings to a flutter of feathers in the belfry below. The maid flew from the Vicarage window and ran down the Vicarage stairs and into the Vicarage kitchen, and fainted as soon as she had explained to the man-servant and the cook and the cook's cousin that she had seen a ghost. It was quite untrue, of course, but I suppose the girl's nerves were a little upset by the yelling.

"One, two, three!" The Vicar was on his doorstep by this time, and there was no mistaking the yell that greeted him.

"Goodness me," he said to his wife, "my dear, someone's being murdered in the church! Give me my hat and a thick stick, and tell Andrew to come after me. I expect it's the lunatic who stole the tongue."

The children had seen the flash of light when the Vicar opened his front door. They had seen his dark form on his doorstep, and they had paused for breath, and also to see what he would do.

When he turned back for his hat, Cyril said hastily—

"He thinks he only fancied he heard something. You don't half yell! Now! One, two, three!"

It was certainly a whole yell this time, and the Vicar's wife flung her arms round her husband and screamed a feeble echo of it.

"You shan't go!" she said, "not alone. Jessie!"—the maid unfainted and came out of the kitchen,—"send Andrew at once. There's a dangerous lunatic in the church, and he must go immediately and catch him."

"I expect he will  catch it too," said Jessie to herself as she went through the kitchen door. "Here, Andrew," she said, "there's someone screaming like mad in the church, and the missus says you're to go along and catch it."

"Not alone, I don't," said Andrew in low firm tones. To his master he merely said, "Yis sir."

"You heard those screams?"

"I did think I noticed a sort of something," said Andrew.

"Well, come on, then," said the Vicar. "My dear, I must  go!" He pushed her gently into the sitting-room, banged the door, and rushed out, dragging Andrew by the arm.

A volley of yells greeted them. Then as it died into silence Andrew shouted, "Hullo, you there! Did you call?"

"Yes," shouted four far-away voices.

"They seem to be in the air," said the Vicar. "Very remarkable."

"Where are you?" shouted Andrew; and Cyril replied in his deepest voice, very slow and loud—


"Come down, then!" said Andrew; and the same voice replied—

"Can't! Door locked!"

"My goodness!" said the Vicar. "Andrew, fetch the stable lantern. Perhaps it would be as well to fetch another man from the village."

"With the rest of the gang about, very likely. No, sir; if this 'ere ain't a trap—well, may I never! There's cook's cousin at the back door now. He's a keeper, sir, and used to dealing with vicious characters. And he's got his gun, sir."

"Hullo there!" shouted Cyril from the church-tower; "come up and let us out."

"We're a-coming," said Andrew. "I'm a-going to get a policeman and a gun."

"Andrew, Andrew," said the Vicar, "that's not the truth."

"It's near enough, sir, for the likes of them."

So Andrew fetched the lantern and the cook's cousin; and the Vicar's wife begged them all to be very careful.

They went across the churchyard—it was quite dark now—and as they went they talked. The Vicar was certain a lunatic was on the church-tower—the one who had written the mad letter, and taken the cold tongue and things. Andrew thought it was a "trap"; the cook's cousin alone was calm. "Great cry, little wool," said he; "dangerous chaps is quieter." He was not at all afraid. But then he had a gun. That was why he was asked to lead the way up the worn, steep, dark steps of the church-tower. He did lead the way, with the lantern in one hand and the gun in the other. Andrew went next. He pretended afterwards that this was because he was braver than his master, but really it was because he thought of traps and he did not like the idea of being behind the others for fear someone should come softly up behind him and catch hold of his legs in the dark. They went on and on, and round and round the little corkscrew staircase—then through the bell-ringers' loft, where the bell-ropes hung with soft furry ends like giant caterpillars—then up another stair into the belfry, where the big quiet bells are—and then on up a ladder with broad steps—and then up a little stone stair. And at the top of that there was a little door. And the door was bolted on the stair side.

The cook's cousin, who was a gamekeeper, kicked at the door, and said—

"Hullo, you there!"

The children were holding on to each other on the other side of the door, and trembling with anxiousness—and very hoarse with their howls. They could hardly speak, but Cyril managed to reply huskily—

"Hullo, you there!"

"How did you get up there?"

It was no use saying "We flew up," so Cyril said—

"We got up—and then we found the door was locked and we couldn't get down. Let us out—do."

"How many of you are there?" asked the keeper.

"Only four," said Cyril.

"Are you armed?"

"Are we what?"

"I've got my gun handy—so you'd best not try any tricks," said the keeper. "If we open the door, will you promise to come quietly down, and no nonsense?"

"Yes—oh YES!" said all the children together.

"Bless me," said the Vicar, "surely that was a female voice?"

"Shall I open the door, sir?" said the keeper. Andrew went down a few steps, "to leave room for the others," he said afterwards.

"Yes," said the Vicar, "open the door. Remember," he said through the keyhole, "we have come to release you. You will keep your promise to refrain from violence?"

"How this bolt do stick," said the keeper; "anyone 'ud think it hadn't been drawed for half a year." As a matter of fact it hadn't.

When all the bolts were drawn, the keeper spoke deep-chested words through the keyhole.


The keeper spoke deep-chested words through the keyhole.

"I don't open," said he, "till you've gone over to the other side of the tower. And if one of you comes at me I fire. Now!"

"We're all over on the other side," said the voices.

The keeper felt pleased with himself, and owned himself a bold man when he threw open that door, and, stepping out into the leads, flashed the full light of the stable lantern on the group of desperadoes standing against the parapet on the other side of the tower.

He lowered his gun, and he nearly dropped the lantern.

"So help me," he cried, "if they ain't a pack of kiddies!"

The Vicar now advanced.

"How did you come here?" he asked severely. "Tell me at once."

"Oh, take us down," said Jane, catching at his coat, "and we'll tell you anything you like. You won't believe us, but it doesn't matter. Oh, take us down!"

The others crowded round him, with the same entreaty. All but Cyril. He had enough to do with the soda-water syphon, which would keep slipping down under his jacket. It needed both hands to keep it steady in its place.

But he said, standing as far out of the lantern light as possible—

"Please do take us down."

So they were taken down. It is no joke to go down a strange church-tower in the dark, but the keeper helped them—only, Cyril had to be independent because of the soda-water syphon. It would keep trying to get away. Half-way down the ladder it all but escaped. Cyril just caught it by its spout, and as nearly as possible lost his footing. He was trembling and pale when at last they reached the bottom of the winding stair and stepped out on to the stones of the church-porch.

Then suddenly the keeper caught Cyril and Robert each by an arm.

"You bring along the gells, sir," said he; "you and Andrew can manage them."

"Let go!" said Cyril; "we aren't running away. We haven't hurt your old church. Leave go!"

"You just come along," said the keeper; and Cyril dared not oppose him with violence, because just then the syphon began to slip again.

So they were marched into the Vicarage study, and the Vicar's wife came rushing in.

"Oh, William, are  you safe?" she cried.

Robert hastened to allay her anxiety.

"Yes," he said, "he's quite safe. We haven't hurt them at all. And please, we're very late, and they'll be anxious at home. Could you send us home in your carriage?"

"Or perhaps there's a hotel near where we could get a carriage," said Anthea. "Martha will be very anxious as it is."

The Vicar had sunk into a chair, overcome by emotion and amazement.

Cyril had also sat down, and was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees because of the soda-water syphon.

"But how did you come to be locked up in the church-tower?" asked the Vicar.

"We went up," said Robert slowly, "and we were tired, and we all went to sleep, and when we woke up we found the door was locked, so we yelled."

"I should think you did!" said the Vicar's wife. "Frightening everybody out of their wits like this! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

"We are,"  said Jane gently.

"But who locked the door?" asked the Vicar.

"I don't know at all," said Robert, with perfect truth. "Do please send us home."

"Well, really," said the Vicar, "I suppose we'd better. Andrew, put the horse to, and you can take them home."

"Not alone, I don't," said Andrew to himself.

And the Vicar went on, "let this be a lesson to you"—— He went on talking, and the children listened miserably. But the keeper was not listening. He was looking at the unfortunate Cyril. He knew all about poachers, of course, so he knew how people look when they're hiding something. The Vicar had just got to the part about trying to grow up to be a blessing to your parents, and not a trouble and disgrace, when the keeper suddenly said—

"Arst him what he's got there under his jacket;" and Cyril knew that concealment was at an end. So he stood up, and squared his shoulders and tried to look noble, like the boys in books that no one can look in the face of and doubt that they come of brave and noble families, and will be faithful to the death, and he pulled out the syphon and said—

"Well, there you are, then."

There was silence. Cyril went on—there was nothing else for it—

"Yes, we took this out of your larder, and some chicken and tongue and bread. We were very hungry, and we didn't take the custard or jam. We only took bread and meat and water,—and we couldn't help its being soda kind,—just the necessaries of life; and we left half-a-crown to pay for it, and we left a letter. And we're very sorry. And my father will pay a fine and anything you like, but don't send us to prison. Mother would be so vexed. You know what you said about not being a disgrace. Well, don't you go and do it to us—that's all! We're as sorry as we can be. There!"

"However did you get up to the larder window?" said Mrs. Vicar.

"I can't tell you that," said Cyril firmly.

"Is this the whole truth you've been telling me?" asked the clergyman.

"No," answered Jane suddenly; "it's all true, but it's not the whole truth. We can't tell you that. It's no good asking. Oh, do forgive us and take us home!" She ran to the Vicar's wife and threw her arms round her. The Vicar's wife put her arms round Jane, and the keeper whispered behind his hand to the Vicar—

"They're all right, sir—I expect it's a pal they're standing by. Someone put 'em up to it, and they won't peach. Game little kids."

"Tell me," said the Vicar kindly, "are you screening someone else? Had anyone else anything to do with this?"

"Yes," said Anthea, thinking of the Psammead; "but it wasn't their fault."

"Very well, my dears," said the Vicar, "then let's say no more about it. Only just tell us why you wrote such an odd letter."

"I don't know," said Cyril. "You see, Anthea wrote it in such a hurry, and it really didn't seem like stealing then. But afterwards, when we found we couldn't get down off the church-tower, it seemed just exactly like it. We are all very sorry"—

"Say no more about it," said the Vicar's wife; "but another time just think before you take other people's tongues. Now—some cake and milk before you go home?"

When Andrew came to say that the horse was put to, and was he expected to be led alone into the trap that he had plainly seen from the first, he found the children eating cake and drinking milk and laughing at the Vicar's jokes. Jane was sitting on the Vicar's wife's lap.

So you see they got off better than they deserved.

The gamekeeper, who was the cook's cousin, asked leave to drive home with them, and Andrew was only too glad to have someone to protect him from that trap he was so certain of.

When the wagonette reached their own house, between the chalk-quarry and the gravel-pit, the children were very sleepy, but they felt that they and the keeper were friends for life.

Andrew dumped the children down at the iron gate without a word.

"You get along home," said the Vicarage cook's cousin, who was a gamekeeper. "I'll get me home on shanks' mare."

So Andrew had to drive off alone, which he did not like at all, and it was the keeper that was cousin to the Vicarage cook who went with the children to the door, and, when they had been swept to bed in a whirlwind of reproaches, remained to explain to Martha and the cook and the housemaid exactly what had happened. He explained so well that Martha was quite amicable the next morning.

After that he often used to come over and see Martha, and in the end—but that is another story, as dear Mr. Kipling says.

Martha was obliged to stick to what she had said the night before about keeping the children indoors the next day for a punishment. But she wasn't at all ugly about it, and agreed to let Robert go out for half an hour to get something he particularly wanted.

This, of course, was the day's wish.

Robert rushed to the gravel-pit, found the Psammead, and presently wished for—

But that, too, is another story.



King John and the Abbot of Canterbury

An ancient story I'll tell you anon

Of a notable prince that was called King John;

And he rulèd England with main and with might,

For he did great wrong, and maintained little right.

And I'll tell you a story, a story so merry,

Concerning the Abbot of Canterbury;

How for his house-keeping and high renown,

They rode post for him to fair London town.

An hundred men the king did hear say,

The abbot kept in his house every day;

And fifty gold chains without any doubt,

In velvet coats waited the abbot about.

"How now, father abbot, I hear it of thee,

Thou keepest a far better house than me;

And for thy house-keeping and high renown,

I fear thou work'st treason against my own crown."

"My liege," quo' the abbot, "I would it were known

I never spend nothing, but what is my own;

And I trust your grace will do me no deere,

For spending of my own true-gotton gear."

"Yes, yes, father abbot, thy fault it is high,

And now for the same thou needest must die;

For except thou canst answer me questions three,

Thy head shall be smitten from thy bodie.

"And first," quo' the king, "when I'm in this stead,

With my crown of gold so fair on my head,

Among all my liege-men so noble of birth,

Thou must tell me to one penny what I am worth.

"Secondly, tell me, without any doubt,

How soon I may ride the whole world about;

And at the third question, thou must not shrink,

But tell me here truly what I do think."

"O these are hard questions for my shallow wit,

Nor I cannot answer your grace as yet:

But if you will give me but three weeks' space,

I'll do my endeavor to answer your grace."

"Now three weeks' space to thee will I give,

And that is the longest time thou hast to live;

For if thou dost not answer my questions three,

Thy lands and thy livings are forfeit to me."

Away rode the abbot all sad at that word,

And he rode to Cambridge, and Oxenford;

But never a doctor there was so wise,

That could with his learning an answer devise.

Then home rode the abbot of comfort so cold,

And he met his shepherd a-going to fold:

"How now, my lord abbot, you are welcome home;

What news do you bring us from good King John?"

"Sad news, sad news, shepherd, I must give,

That I have but three days more to live;

For if I do not answer him questions three,

My head will be smitten from my bodie.

"The first is to tell him there in that stead,

With his crown of gold so fair on his head,

Among all his liege-men so noble of birth,

To within one penny of what he is worth.

"The second, to tell him without any doubt,

How soon he may ride this whole world about;

And at the third question I must not shrink,

But tell him there truly what he does think."

"Now cheer up, sire abbot, did you never hear yet

That a fool he may learn a wise man wit?

Lend me horse, and serving-men, and your apparel,

And I'll ride to London to answer your quarrel.

"Nay, frown not, if it hath been told unto me,

I am like your lordship, as ever may be;

And if you will but lend me your gown,

There is none shall know us at fair London town."

"Now horses and serving-men thou shalt have,

With sumptuous array most gallant and brave,

With crozier and mitre, and rochet, and cope,

Fit to appear 'fore our Father the Pope."

"Now welcome, sire abbot," the king he did say,

" 'Tis well thou'rt come back to keep thy day:

For and if thou cant answer my questions three,

Thy life and thy living both savèd shall be.

"And first, when thou seest me here in this stead,

With my crown of gold so fair on my head,

Among all my liege-men so noble of birth,

Tell me to one penny what I am worth."

"For thirty pence our Saviour was sold

Among the false Jews, as I have been told,

And twenty-nine is the worth of thee,

For I think thou art one penny worser than he."

The king he laughed, and swore by St. Bittel,

"I did not think I had been worth so little!

—Now secondly tell me, without any doubt,

How soon I may ride this whole world about."

"You must rise with the sun, and ride with the same

Until the next morning he riseth again;

And then your grace need not make any doubt

But in twenty-four hours you'll ride it about."

The king he laughed, and swore by St. Jone,

"I did not think it could be done so soon!

—Now from the third question thou must not shrink,

But tell me here truly what I do think."

"Yea, that shall I do, and make your grace merry;

You think I'm the Abbot of Canterbury;

But I'm his poor shepherd, as plain you may see,

That am come to beg pardon for him and for me."

The king he laughed and swore by the Mass,

"I'll make thee lord abbot this day in this place!"

"Now nay, my liege, be not in such speed,

For alack I can neither write nor read."

"Four nobles a week, then, I will give thee,

For this merry jest thou hast shown unto me;

And tell the old abbot when thou comest home,

Thou hast brought him a pardon from good King John."