WEEK 50 |
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.
"Fear not," said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind;
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind.
"To you, in David's town, this day
Is born, of David's line,
The Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign:
"The heavenly babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swaddling bands,
And in a manger laid."
Thus spake the seraph; and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels, praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song:
"All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease."
WEEK 50 |
S OME time after Victoria began to reign, the poor people were in great distress. Work was scarce and bread was dear, and many died of hunger.
Long ago, most of the people in Britain used to live by cultivating the land; that is, by ploughing, sowing, and reaping. In those days enough corn was grown in Britain to feed all the people. But as years went on, the great lords, who owned the land, found that they made more money by rearing sheep for their wool than by growing corn and wheat for food. So year by year less and less corn was grown in the island. Year by year, too, more babies were born and grew up into men and women, so that there were more people to feed. Then discoveries began to be made and factories were built, and the people who used to plough and sow went into the towns to work in the factories. And so, because it became more difficult to find people to do farm work, still less corn was grown. Gradually the supply of corn became very small and, in consequence, very dear. For it always happens that if there is only a little of something which a great many people want, that article becomes very dear and only those who are well off can afford to buy it. That is what happened to corn in Britain. There was not enough for all, and it became so dear that only the rich people could buy it, and the poor people starved. Bread was so dear that, however hard men worked, they could not earn enough to feed themselves and their children.
There was plenty of corn in other parts of the world. In fact people in other parts of the world had more than they wanted. They would gladly have sold it to Britain, and have bought instead, the beautiful cloths which were being made in the British factories. In that way the people in Britain would have had plenty to eat, and the people in other parts of the world would have had better clothes to wear, and every one would have been happier and better off.
But, unfortunately, some years before this, a law had been passed that no foreign corn might be brought into the country until British corn cost eighty shillings a quarter, which is very, very dear indeed. The people who made this law meant to be kind to the farmers and help them to get a good price for their corn, but they did not see how unkind they were to the poor.
At last a few people saw what a dreadful mistake these Corn Laws, as they were called, were, and they began with all their might and main to try to have them altered. The chief of these people were John Bright, Richard Cobden, and Charles Villiers, but they found it was very difficult to make others think as they did.
For a long time they fought in vain, while the people grew poorer and poorer, starving, struggling, dying. Even little children and old men had to work hard all day long, always hungry.
Child, what has thou with sleep to do?
Awake and dry thine eyes:
Thy tiny hands must labour too;
Our bread is tax'd, arise!
Arise, and toil long hours twice seven,
For pennies two or three;
Thy woes make angels weep in heaven,
But England still is free.
Up, weary man of
And toil in hopeless woe;
Our bread is tax'd, our rivals thrive,
Our gods will have it so.
Yet God is undethron'd on high,
And undethron'd will be:
Father of all! hear Thou our cry
And England shall be free!
But there was worse still to come. In Ireland nearly all the poor people lived on potatoes only. And the potatoes all went bad. In a few weeks the food which ought to have lasted for a whole year became rotten.
This was such a terrible misfortune that some of the men who had been against the repeal of the Corn Laws went over to the other side and tried to do away with them as fast as they could. Among these men was Sir Robert Peel, who was now Prime Minister. They knew that unless corn could be brought cheaply into Ireland there would be a famine.
A famine did come, and the people died in hundreds. Little children cried in vain to their mothers for something to eat. The mothers had nothing to give. It was a dreadful time, worse than any war.
Rich people sent money and food to the poor, starving Irish, but in spite of everything that was done, the misery was terrible. Some of the food and money came from the United States of America—from the colonies which Britain had so lately lost. The owners of ships and railways did what they could too, and all parcels which were marked "For Ireland," were carried free on their trains and ships. When at last the famine was over, it was found that nearly a quarter of the people in Ireland had died.
But the Corn Laws had been done away with.
Y OU ought to hear the scream of the hen-hawks circling high in the air. In August and September and late into October, if you listen in the open country, you will hear their piercing whistle,—shrill, exultant scream comes nearer to describing it,—as they sail and sail a mile away in the sky.
You ought to go out upon some mowing hill or field of stubble and hear the crickets, then into the apple orchard and hear the katydids, then into the high grass and bushes along the fence and hear the whole stringed chorus of green grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets. You have heard them all your life; but the trouble is that, because you have heard them so constantly in the autumn, and because one player after another has come gradually into the orchestra, you have taken them as part of the natural course of things and have never really heard them individually, to know what parts they play. Now anybody can hear a lion roar, or a mule bray, or a loon laugh his wild crazy laugh over a silent mountain lake, and know what sound it is; but who can hear a cricket out of doors, or a grasshopper, and know which is which?
Did you ever hear a loon laugh? You ought to. I would go a hundred miles to hear that weird, meaningless, melancholy, maniacal laughter of the loon, or great northern diver, as the dusk comes down over some lonely lake in the wilderness of the far North.
From Maine westward to northern Illinois you may listen for him in early autumn; then, when the migration begins, anywhere south to the Gulf of Mexico. You may never hear the call of the bull moose in the northern woods, nor the howl of a coyote on the western prairies, nor the wild cac, cac, cac of the soaring eagles, nor the husky yap, yap, yap of the fox. But, if you do, "make a note of it," as Captain Cuttle would say; for the tongues that utter this wild language are fast ceasing to speak to us.
One strangely sweet, strangely wild voice that you still may hear in our old apple orchards, is the whimpering, whinnying voice of the little screech owl. "When night comes," says the bird book, "one may hear the screech owl's tremulous, wailing whistle. It is a weird, melancholy call, welcomed only by those who love Nature's voice, whatever be the medium through which she speaks."
Now listen this autumn for the screech owl; listen until the weird, melancholy call is welcomed by you, until the shiver that creeps up your back turns off through your hair, as you hear the low plaintive voice speaking to you out of the hollow darkness, out of the softness and the silence of night.
You ought to hear the brown leaves rustling under your feet.
"Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead;
They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread."
And they should rustle to your tread as well. Scuff along in them where they lie in deep windrows by the side of the road; and hear them also, as the wind gathers them into a whirling flurry and sends them rattling over the fields.
You ought to hear the cry of the blue jay and the caw of the crow in the autumn woods.
"The robin and the wren are flown, but from the shrub the jay,
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day."
Everybody knows those lines of Bryant, because everybody has heard that loud scream of the jay in the lonesome woods, and the caw, caw, caw of the sentinel crow from the top of some tall tree.
The robins may not be all gone, for I heard and saw a flock of them this year in January; but they are silent now, and so many of the birds have gone, and the woods have become so empty, that the cries of the jay and the crow seem, on a gloomy day, to be the only sounds in all the hollow woods. There could hardly be an autumn for me if I did not hear these two voices speaking—the one with a kind of warning in its shrill, half-plaintive cry; the other with a message slow and solemn, like the color of its sable coat.
You ought to hear, you ought to catch, I should say, a good round scolding from the red squirrel this fall. A red squirrel is always ready to scold you (and doubtless you are always in need of his scolding), but he is never so breathless and emphatic as in the fall. "Whose nuts are these in the woods?" he asks, as you come up with your stick and bag. "Who found this tree first? Come, get out of here! Get right back to the city and eat peanuts! Come, do you hear? Get out of this!"
No, don't be afraid; he won't "eat you alive"—though I think he might if he were big enough. He won't blow up, either, and burst! He is the kind of fire-cracker that you call a "sizzler"—all sputter and no explosion. But isn't he a tempest! Isn't he a whirlwind! Isn't he a red-coated cyclone! Let him blow! The little scamp, he steals birds' eggs in the summer, they say; but there are none now for him to steal, and the woods are very empty. We need a dash of him on these autumn days, as we need a dash of spice in our food.
In the far western mountains he has a cousin called the Douglas squirrel; and Mr. John Muir calls him "the brightest of all the squirrels I have ever seen, a hot spark of life, making every tree tingle with his prickly toes, a condensed nugget of fresh mountain vigor and valor, as free from disease as a sunbeam. How he scolds, and what faces he makes, all eyes, teeth, and whiskers!"
You must hear him this fall and take your scolding, whether you deserve it or not.
You ought to hear in the cedars, pines, or spruces the small thin cheep, cheep, cheep of the chickadees or the kinglets. You must take a quiet day on the very edge of winter and, in some sunny dip or glade, hear them as they feed and flit about you. They speak in a language different from that of the crow and the jay.
This tiny talk of the kinglet is all friendly and cheerful and personal and confidential, as if you were one of the party and liked spiders' eggs and sunshine and didn't care a snap for the coming winter! In all the vast gray out of doors what bits of winged bravery, what crumbs of feathered courage, they seem! One is hardly ready for the winter until he has heard them in the cedars and has been assured that they will stay, no matter how it snows and blows.
You ought to hear, some quiet day or moonlit night in October or November, the baying of the hounds as they course the swamps and meadows on the heels of the fox. Strange advice, you say? No, not strange. It is a wild, fierce cry that your fathers heard, and their fathers, and theirs—away on back to the cave days, when life was hardly anything but the hunt, and the dogs were the only tame animal, and the most useful possession, man had. Their deep bass voices have echoed through all the wild forests of our past, and stir within us nowadays wild memories that are good for us again to feel.
Stand still, as the baying pack comes bringing the quarry through the forest toward you. The blood will leap in your veins, as the ringing cries lift and fall in the chorus that echoes back from every hollow and hill around; and you will on with the panting pack—will on in the fierce, wild exultation of the chase; for instinctively we are hunters, just as all our ancestors were.
No, don't be afraid. You won't catch the fox.
You ought to hear by day—or better, by night—the call of the migrating birds as they pass over, through the sky, on their way to the South. East or west, on the Atlantic or on the Pacific shore, or in the vast valley of the Mississippi, you may hear at night, so high in air that you cannot see the birds, these voices of the passing migrants. Chink, chink, chink! will drop the calls of the bobolinks—fine, metallic, starry notes; honk, honk, honk! the clarion cry of the wild geese will ring along the aërial way, as they shout to one another and to you, listening far below them on the steadfast earth.
Far away, yonder in the starry vault, far beyond the reach of human eyes, a multitude of feathered folk, myriads of them, are streaming over; armies of them winging down the long highway of the sky from the frozen North, down to the rice fields of the Carolinas, down to the deep tangled jungles of the Amazon, down beyond the cold, cruel reach of winter.
Listen as they hail you from the sky.
WEEK 50 |
WEEK 50 |
WEEK 50 |
"I have touch'd the highest point of all my greatness."
H AVING made peace with Austria and suppressed the restless Tyrol, Napoleon returned to Paris. His great ambition was still unsatisfied, and he now made up his mind to take a further step to improve his wonderful position.
"I and my house," he said grandly to his French subjects, "will ever be found ready to sacrifice everything, even our dearest ties and feelings, to the welfare of the French people."
This was the first time he had hinted to the world, of the great step he was about to take, in divorcing his faithful wife Josephine, in order to marry a royal princess of Europe. Josephine, the widow of a French general, had married Napoleon in the days when he was a lonely young Corsican, making his way upwards in Paris. She and her two children had been loved by him for fourteen years. To her son, Eugene, Napoleon had given important posts; her daughter, Hortense, had been married to Louis Bonaparte, and was now Queen of Holland. Josephine had shared Napoleon's humble fortunes; she had been crowned Empress of the French but six years before.
One November evening, in the palace of the Tuileries, where they lived, Napoleon told Josephine of the step he intended to take. It was for the good of the empire, he told her. Was she willing to make this sacrifice?
It was a scene that left its mark on the stern Emperor. Josephine pleaded and entreated until, quite overcome, she fell fainting at his feet. Tenderly he raised her and carried her down the narrow staircase leading to her room. But Josephine had received a wound past healing, and she disappears from history—a heart-broken woman.
Napoleon now turned to Russia to ask the hand of Alexander's sister, but this was refused him. He then turned to Austria, and was accepted by the Emperor Francis, for his daughter Maria Louisa, who was just eighteen. Her journey from Vienna to the French capital is not unlike that of her great-aunt Marie Antoinette forty years before, as she drove with her Austrian ladies to meet the bridegroom, she had never yet seen. Napoleon rode forth to meet her, and they were married with great splendour in Paris.
Napoleon was now at the height of his greatness and glory. He had extended the French Empire far and wide. The rich lands beyond the Rhine owned his sway, in the person of his youngest brother Jerome. His brother Louis, having abdicated the throne of Holland, that country had just been formally annexed to France. The Pope had been carried captive to France, and the Papal States now belonged to the French Empire. Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam were the three great capitals of the world-empire. Sweden was not strong enough to resist his power, Austria was at peace. For the throne of restless Spain, Joseph Bonaparte was still contending, but Napoleon had no fears in that quarter. As yet Russia was following his lead, but it was evident she was fast "slipping out of the leading-strings of Tilsit."
When Alexander of Russia had heard of Napoleon's marriage with Maria Louisa, he had exclaimed, "The next thing will be to drive us back into our forests."
He was not far wrong. Russia had not been active enough in closing her northern ports to British trade. To press yet closer this "Continental system," as it was called, was Napoleon's only hope of still crushing England. If Alexander would not submit, Alexander must be made to submit.
Napoleon was feeling more secure than ever just now. A son had been born to him in March 1811, and he had presented the baby Napoleon to his people, as King of Rome. For this child of the great empire was reserved the saddest of fates.
"Now begins the finest epoch of my reign,'' the Emperor had cried in his joy, at the birth of a son.
He did not know, that it was the moment of his decline.
It was August 16—the day after his birthday when the little Napoleon was six months old—that Napoleon sketched to his ministry his whole plan of the great Russian campaign, which had long been occupying his mind. He was going to invade Russia with an overwhelming force, and compel her to close every port to English ships. Now was the time to strike, for the Peninsular war was at its height, and England was already at war with the United States.
A tremendous force was collected, numbering 600,000 men. There were Austrians, Italians, Poles, Prussians, as well as French—all the soldiers of the empire. There were crowned heads in command, and tried generals. Such a host had never been seen before in modern history.
On May 16, 1812, Napoleon himself arrived at Dresden, with his wife Maria Louisa and the little child-king of Rome. Here the Emperor of Austria came to meet them, and various crowned heads paid court to the man who, for the last time, was figuring as the "king of kings."
A fortnight later, he was on his way to Russia at the head of his Grand Army. Arrived at the banks of the Niemen—the river forming the boundary between Russia and Prussia—Napoleon stopped. He was not very far from Tilsit, where he had made peace with Alexander on the raft in this same river. Would it be peace again with the Tsar or war? He issued a proclamation to his soldiers.
"Soldiers," it ran, "Russia is dragged on by her fate: her destiny must be fulfilled. Let us march, let us cross the Niemen; let us carry war into her territories."
In a very different spirit Alexander was addressing his troops on the farther side.
"Soldiers," he was saying, "you fight for your native land. Your Emperor is amongst you. God fights against the aggressor."
Alexander spoke truly when he said, "I have learnt to know him now. Napoleon or I: I or Napoleon: we cannot reign side by side."
WEEK 50 |
W HEN Gluck found that Schwartz did not come back, he was very sorry, and did not know what to do. He had no money, and was obliged to go and hire himself again to the goldsmith, who worked him very hard, and gave him very little money. So, after a month or two, Gluck grew tired and made up his mind to go and try his fortune with the Golden River. "The little king looked very kind," thought he. "I don't think he will turn me into a black stone." So he went to the priest, and the priest gave him some holy water as soon as he asked for it. Then Gluck took some bread in his basket, and the bottle of water, and set off very early for the mountains.
If the glacier had occasioned a great deal of fatigue in his brothers, it was twenty times worse for him, who was neither so strong nor so practised on the mountains. He had several very bad falls, lost his basket and bread, and was very much frightened at the strange noises under the ice. He lay a long time to rest on the grass, after he had got over, and began to climb the hill just in the hottest part of the day. When he had climbed for an hour, he got dreadfully thirsty, and was going to drink, like his brothers, when he saw an old man coming down the path above him, looking very feeble, and leaning on a staff. "My son," said the old man, "I am faint with thirst; give me some of that water." Then Gluck looked at him, and when he saw that he was pale and weary, he gave him the water. "Only pray don't drink it all," said Gluck. But the old man drank a great deal, and gave him back the bottle two-thirds empty. Then he bade him goodspeed, and Gluck went on again merrily. And the path became easier to his feet, and two or three blades of grass appeared upon it, and some grasshoppers began singing on the bank beside it; and Gluck thought he had never heard such merry singing.
Then he went on for another hour, and the thirst increased on him so that he thought he should be forced to drink. But, as he raised the flask, he saw a little child lying panting by the road-side, and it cried out piteously for water. Then Gluck struggled with himself, and determined to bear the thirst a little longer; and he put the bottle to the child's lips, and it drank it all but a few drops. Then it smiled on him, and got up, and ran down the hill; and Gluck looked after it, till it became as small as a little star, and then turned, and began climbing again. And then there were all kinds of sweet flowers growing on the rocks, bright green moss with pale-pink starry flowers, and soft belled gentians, more blue than the sky at its deepest, and pure white transparent lilies. And crimson and purple butterflies darted hither and thither, and the sky sent down such pure light that Gluck had never felt so happy in his life.
Yet, when he had climbed for another hour, his thirst became intolerable again; and when he looked at his bottle, he saw that there were only five or six drops left in it, and he could not venture to drink. And as he was hanging the flask to his belt again, he saw a little dog lying on the rocks, gasping for breath—just as Hans had seen it on the day of his ascent. And Gluck stopped and looked at it, and then at the Golden River, not five hundred yards above him; and he thought of the dwarf's words, "that no one could succeed, except in his first attempt"; and he tried to pass the dog, but it whined piteously, and Gluck stopped again. "Poor beastie," said Gluck, "it'll be dead when I come down again if I don't help it." Then he looked closer and closer at it, and its eye turned on him so mournfully that he could not stand it. "Confound the King and his gold too," said Gluck; and he opened the flask and poured all the water into the dog's mouth.
The dog sprang up and stood on its hind legs. Its tail disappeared; its ears became long, longer, silky, golden; its nose became very red; its eyes became very twinkling; in three seconds the dog was gone, and before Gluck stood his old acquaintance, the King of the Golden River.
"Thank you," said the monarch; "but don't be frightened, it's all right"; for Gluck showed manifest symptoms of consternation at this unlooked-for reply to his last observation. "Why didn't you come before," continued the dwarf, "instead of sending me those rascally brothers of yours, for me to have the trouble of turning into stones? Very hard stones they make too."
"Oh, dear me!" said Gluck, "have you really been so cruel?"
"Cruel!" said the dwarf; "they poured unholy water into my stream; do you suppose I'm going to allow that?"
"Why," said Gluck, "I am sure, sir—your majesty, I mean—they got the water out of the church font."
"Very probably," replied the dwarf; "but," and his countenance grew stern as he spoke, "the water which has been refused to the cry of the weary and dying is unholy, though it had been blessed by every saint in heaven; and the water which is found in the vessel of mercy is holy, though it had been defiled with corpses."
So saying, the dwarf stooped and plucked a lily that grew at his feet. On its white leaves there hung three drops of clear dew. And the dwarf shook them into the flask which Gluck held in his hand. "Cast these into the river," he said, "and descend on the other side of the mountains into the Treasure Valley. And so goodspeed."
The dwarf shook them into the flask which Gluck held in his hand.
As he spoke the figure of the dwarf became indistinct. The playing colors of his robe formed themselves into a prismatic mist of dewy light; he stood for an instant veiled with them as with the belt of a broad rainbow. The colors grew faint, the mist rose into the air; the monarch had evaporated.
And Gluck climbed to the brink of the Golden River, and its waves were as clear as crystal, and as brilliant as the sun. And when he cast the three drops of dew into the stream, there opened where they fell a small circular whirlpool, into which the waters descended with a musical noise.
Gluck stood watching it for some time, very much disappointed, because not only the river was not turned into gold, but its waters seemed much diminished in quantity. Yet he obeyed his friend the dwarf and descended the other side of the mountains, towards the Treasure Valley; and as he went, he thought he heard the noise of water working its way under the ground. And, when he came in sight of the Treasure Valley, behold, a river like the Golden River was springing from a new cleft of the rocks above it, and was flowing in innumerable streams among the dry heaps of red sand.
And as Gluck gazed, fresh grass sprang beside the new streams, and creeping plants grew and climbed among the moistening soil. Young flowers opened suddenly along the river sides, as stars leap out when twilight is deepening, and thickets of myrtle and tendrils of vine cast lengthening shadows over the valley as they grew. And thus the Treasure Valley became a garden again, and the inheritance which had been lost by cruelty was regained by love.
And Gluck went and dwelt in the valley, and the poor were never driven from his door; so that his barns became full of corn, and his house of treasure. And, for him, the river had, according to the dwarf's promise, become a River of Gold.
And to this day, the inhabitants of the valley point out the place where the three drops of holy dew were cast into the stream, and trace the course of the Golden River under the ground until it emerges in the Treasure Valley. And at the top of the cataract of the Golden River are still to be seen two black stones, round which the waters howl mournfully every day at sunset; and these stones are still called by the people of the valley
THE BLACK BROTHERS.
"S EE, Uncle Will, there is a little bit of a yellow jacket," said Theodore, as he and Uncle Will were on the porch one day.
"What is it doing?" asked Uncle Will.
"It is gnawing wood for its nest—why, no! what is it doing, Uncle Will? It seems to be making a hole in the beam."
"We must attend to this," said Uncle Will. "I somebody is boring a hole in our beam it must be going to build a house there, and we must be looking after the title deed and the rent and all that."
"But yellow jackets don't bore holes in wood; only carpenter bees do that—at least that is the way as far as I know."
"I am glad you ended up that way, my dear young philosopher,
for the truth is, you do not know the whole story about
wasps—nobody does. And that little yellow
"Is it a solitary wasp? I believe it is a carpenter! Is it a carpenter, Uncle Will?"
"Your guess has hit the right mark this time! A carpenter it is."
"How hard it works! See its head move! It doesn't make the sawdust fly like the carpenter bee, but then it isn't half as big as old Mrs. Brushylegs. And what a big head it has!" he added as the wasp backed out of its hole and stood on the beam a minute before flying away.
"Big head and jaws—big for its size, I mean, of course,"
pursued Uncle Will. "When a wasp has to work in wood it must
be equipped with good, strong
"Here it comes back again. Do you think it took a little flight to rest itself, Uncle Will? or maybe it went after a big of luncheon. It must get hungry working so hard—why, there it is again! Oh, Uncle Will! did you see that?" Theodore exclaimed, as the wasp emerged again and flew away. "It had sawdust in its mouth and flew a little way off and dropped it, and here it comes back again. See, it has got its head in the hole and is working as hard as ever."
You can imagine that Theodore watched with interest for the little wasp to come out again, and presently it did, with another load of sawdust which it carried to a distance and then dropped as before. Back and forth it went, gnawing out bits of wood, dropping them on the ground and returning to repeat the operation.
"It is odd," said Theodore, "for it to do that. The carpenter bee just pelts ahead, gnaws the sawdust loose and kicks it out, until sometimes it comes out in quite a stream. Why! you can tell where a carpenter bee is working by the heap of sawdust under the nest."
"Perhaps," said Uncle Will, "that is why this pretty little wasp carpenter carries away the litter; she may not want it known where her nest is."
"Isn't she just a wise one!" said Theodore admiringly. "But we wouldn't disturb her."
"I doubt if she troubles her head much about us," said Uncle Will. "You remember the agile little enemy that so troubles the miner wasps?"
"Yes, and so taught them to close their nests when they go away. Has this little carpenter of ours an enemy like that?"
"I hope that this particular one has not, but such is often the case. They little villain goes in when the wasp mother is away seeking provisions, and lays her own egg on nice stung spider or fly—and you know the rest of the story."
"I hope it won't happen this time!" said Theodore; "but if it does happen I hope we shall be on hand to see it. Perhaps we could catch the villain and save the day."
"Perhaps we could, but these little rogues are as quick as a flash and to catch them is no easy task. If the wasp sees one she chases it, but it is so quick and so small that she is not able to catch it—at least not as a rule."
"There she comes, and I believe she has a fly, Uncle Will—see, she has gone in with it!"
"Yes, the house is built, the nursery is furnished, and soon it will be provisioned and sealed up. So we will leave it and betake ourselves to the garden to make the acquaintance of another carpenter—if she deserves the name—for she only bites through the hard part of the stems of the berry bushes and cleans out the soft pith inside; here we are," and Uncle Will drew aside the long boughs of a raspberry bush for Theodore to see. He looked for some time before he found the round hole the wasp had made in one of the stems.
"She doesn't have to work very hard, Uncle Will."
"No, she is next in laziness—or is it cleverness?—to those that plaster up keyholes. Here in the hollow stem she has found a safe home. Here she brings her plaster and walls up cell after cell as the insects are stored within and the eggs laid."
"Will it kill the bush, Uncle Will?"
"No, not unless a high wind should come along and buffet and twist the bushes in its merry glee, or the berry pickers bend the bough too much—then, well, then the twig where the nest lies, weakened because of the hole bored through the bark and the long tunnel hollowed in the pith, may break off. If there are a great many of these wasps the berry growers sometimes suffer."
"It is a pretty little thing, said Theodore, as the wasp suddenly appeared upon the scene and popped into the round hole in the stem; "when will the young wasp come out?"
"It is so late now it will probably lie dormant till next spring."
"Yes," said Theodore thoughtfully; "summer is almost gone, and what a lot we have learned about wasps!"
"Yes," said Uncle Will, with a twinkle in his eye, "we have learned a great deal, but not nearly all there is to learn. We might spend all our whole lives studying wasps, and still leave enough undone to fill several lifetimes."
Theodore shook his head.
"It would be good fun to study out a few new kinds of wasps, but I should not care to spend my whole life that way," he said.
"No, nor I," laughed Uncle Will. "The best way, I think, is to study them for recreation. Then we can have a real good time and learn something too."
"Next spring we will go at it again. Dear me, Uncle Will o' the Wasps, I wish it was next spring now!"
"What about coasting and skating?"
"Oh, of course, I don't really want the winter gone. But wasps are such interesting folks when a fellow has an Uncle Will o' the Wasps to introduce them."
WEEK 50 |
A S soon as King Padella heard, what we know already, that his victim, the lovely Rosalba, had escaped him, his Majesty's fury knew no bounds, and he pitched the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chamberlain, and every officer of the crown whom he could set eyes on, into the caldron of boiling oil prepared for the Princess. Then he ordered out his whole army, horse, foot, and artillery; and set forth at the head of an innumerable host, and I should think twenty thousand drummers, trumpeters, and fifers.
King Giglio's advanced guard, you may be sure, kept that monarch acquainted with the enemy's dealings, and he was in no wise disconcerted. He was much too polite to alarm the Princess, his lovely guest, with any unnecessary rumors of battles impending; on the contrary, he did every thing to amuse and divert her; gave her a most elegant breakfast, dinner, lunch, and got up a ball for her that evening, when he danced with her every single dance.
Poor Bulbo was taken into favor again, and allowed to go quite free now. He had new clothes given him, was called "My good cousin" by his Majesty, and was treated with the greatest distinction by everybody. But it was easy to see he was very melancholy. The fact is, the sight of Betsinda, who looked perfectly lovely in an elegant new dress, set poor Bulbo frantic in love with her again. And he never thought about Angelica, now Princess Bulbo, whom he had left at home, and who, as we know, did not care much about him.
The King, dancing the twenty-fifth polka with Rosalba, remarked with wonder the ring she wore; and then Rosalba told him how she had got it from Gruffanuff, who no doubt had picked it up when Angelica flung it away.
"Yes," says the Fairy Blackstick, who had come to see the young people, and who had very likely certain plans regarding them. "That ring I gave the Queen, Giglio's mother, who was not, saving your presence, a very wise woman; it is enchanted, and whoever wears it looks beautiful in the eyes of the world. I made poor Prince Bulbo, when he was christened, the present of a rose which made him look handsome while he had it; but he gave it to Angelica, who instantly looked beautiful again, whilst Bulbo relapsed into his natural plainness."
"Rosalba needs no ring, I am sure," says Giglio, with a low bow. "She is beautiful enough, in my eyes, without any enchanted aid."
"O sir," said Rosalba.
"Take off the ring and try," said the King, and resolutely drew the ring off her finger. In his eyes she looked just as handsome as before!
The King was thinking of throwing the ring away, as it was so dangerous and made all the people so mad about Rosalba, but being a prince of great humor, and good humor too, he cast his eyes upon a poor youth who happened to be looking on very disconsolately, and said:
"Bulbo, my poor lad! come and try on this ring. The Princess Rosalba makes it a present to you." The magic properties of this ring were uncommonly strong, for no sooner had Bulbo put it on, but lo and behold! he appeared a personable, agreeable young prince enough,—with a fine complexion, fair hair, rather stout, and with bandy legs; but these were encased in such a beautiful pair of yellow morocco boots that nobody remarked them. And Bulbo's spirits rose up almost immediately after he had looked in the glass, and he talked to their Majesties in the most lively, agreeable manner, and danced opposite the Queen with one of the prettiest maids of honor, and after looking at her Majesty, could not help saying: "How very odd; she is very pretty, but not so extraordinarily handsome." "Oh no, by no means!" says the Maid of Honor.
"But what care I, dear sir," says the Queen, who overheard them, "if you think I am good-looking enough?"
His Majesty's glance in reply to this affectionate speech was such that no painter could draw it. And the Fairy Blackstick said: "Bless you, my darling children! Now you are united and happy; and now you see what I said from the first, that a little misfortune has done you both good. You, Giglio, had you been bred in prosperity, would scarcely have learned to read or write,—you would have been idle and extravagant, and could not have been a good king as now you will be. You, Rosalba, would have been so flattered that your little head might have been turned like Angelica's, who thought herself too good for Giglio."
"As if anybody could be good enough for him," cried Rosalba.
"O you, you darling!" says Giglio. And so she was; and he was just holding out his arms in order to give her a hug before the whole company, when a messenger came rushing in, and said: "My Lord, the enemy!"
"To arms!" cries Giglio.
"Oh, mercy!" says Rosalba, and fainted of course. He snatched one kiss from her lips, and rushed forth to the field of battle!
The fairy had provided King Giglio with a suit of armor, which was not only embroidered all over with jewels, and blinding to your eyes to look at, but was water-proof, gun-proof, and sword-proof; so that in the midst of the very hottest battles his Majesty rode about as calmly as if he had been a British grenadier at Alma. Were I engaged in fighting for my country, I should like such a suit of armor as Prince Giglio wore; but you know he was a prince of a fairy tale, and they always have these wonderful things.
Besides the fairy armor, the Prince had a fairy horse, which would gallop at any pace you please; and a fairy sword, which would lengthen, and run through a whole regiment of enemies at once. With such a weapon at command, I wonder, for my part, he thought of ordering his army out; but forth they all came in magnificent new uniforms, Hedzoff and the Prince's two college friends each commanding a division, and his Majesty prancing in person at the head of them all.
Ah! if I had the pen of a Sir Archibald Alison, my dear friends, would I not now entertain you with the account of a most tremendous shindy? Should not fine blows be struck? dreadful wounds be delivered? arrows darken the air? cannon balls crash through the battalions? cavalry charge infantry? infantry pitch into cavalry? bugles blow; drums beat; horses neigh; fifes sing; soldiers roar, swear, hurray; officers shout out: "Forward, my men!" "This way, lads!" "Give it 'em, boys. Fight for King Giglio, and the cause of right!" "King Padella forever!" Would I not describe all this, I say, and in the very finest language, too? But this humble pen does not possess the skill necessary for the description of combats. In a word, the overthrow of King Padella's army was so complete, that if they had been Russians you could not have wished them to be more utterly smashed and confounded.
As for that usurping monarch, having performed acts of valor much more considerable than could be expected of a royal ruffian and usurper, who had such a bad cause, and who was so cruel to women,—as for King Padella, I say, when his army ran away the King ran away too, kicking his first general, Prince Punchikoff, from his saddle, and galloping away on the Prince's horse, having indeed had twenty-five or twenty-six of his own shot under him. Hedzoff coming up, and finding Punchikoff down, as you may imagine very speedily disposed of him. Meanwhile King Padella was scampering off as hard as his horse could lay legs to ground. Fast as he scampered, I promise you somebody else galloped faster; and that individual, as no doubt you are aware, was the Royal Giglio, who kept bawling out: "Stay, traitor! Turn, miscreant, and defend thyself! Stand, tyrant, coward, ruffian, royal wretch, till I cut thy ugly head from thy usurping shoulders!" And with his fairy sword, which elongated itself at will, his Majesty kept poking and prodding Padella in the back, until that wicked monarch roared with anguish.
When he was fairly brought to bay, Padella turned and dealt Prince Giglio a prodigious crack over the sconce with his battle-axe, a most enormous weapon, which had cut down I don't know how many regiments in the course of the afternoon. But, Law bless you! though the blow fell right down on his Majesty's helmet, it made no more impression than if Padella had struck him with a pat of butter; his battle-axe crumpled up in Padella's hand, and the Royal Giglio laughed for very scorn at the impotent efforts of that atrocious usurper.
At the ill success of his blow the Crim Tartar monarch was justly irritated. "If," says he to Giglio, "you ride a fairy horse, and wear fairy armor, what on earth is the use of my hitting you? I may as well give myself up a prisoner at once. Your Majesty won't, I suppose, be so mean as to strike a poor fellow who can't strike again?"
The justice of Padella's remark struck the magnanimous Giglio. "Do you yield yourself a prisoner, Padella?" says he.
"Of course I do," says Padella.
"Do you acknowledge Rosalba as your rightful Queen, and give up the crown and all your treasures to your rightful mistress?"
"If I must I must," says Padella, who was naturally very sulky.
By this time King Giglio's aids-de-camp had come up, whom his Majesty ordered to bind the prisoner. And they tied his hands behind him, and bound his legs tight under his horse, having set him with his face to the tail; and in this fashion he was led back to King Giglio's quarters, and thrust into the very dungeon where young Bulbo had been confined.
Padella (who was a very different person in the depth of his distress to Padella the proud wearer of the Crim Tartar crown) now most affectionately and earnestly asked to see his son—his dear eldest boy—his darling Bulbo; and that good-natured young man never once reproached his haughty parent for his unkind conduct the day before, when he would have left Bulbo to be shot without any pity, but came to see his father, and spoke to him through the grating of the door, beyond which he was not allowed to go, and brought him some sandwiches from the grand supper which his Majesty was giving above stairs, in honor of the brilliant victory which had just been achieved.
"I cannot stay with you long, sir," says Bulbo, who was in his best ball dress, as he handed his father in the prog, "I am engaged to dance the next quadrille with her Majesty Queen Rosalba, and I hear the fiddles playing at this very moment."
So Bulbo went back to the ball-room, and the wretched Padella ate his solitary supper in silence and tears.
All was now joy in King Giglio's circle. Dancing, feasting, fun, illuminations, and jollifications of all sorts ensued. The people through whose villages they passed were ordered to illuminate their cottages at night, and scatter flowers on the roads during the day. They were requested, and I promise you they did not like to refuse, to serve the troops liberally with eatables and wine; besides, the army was enriched by the immense quantity of plunder which was found in King Padella's camp, and taken from his soldiers, who (after they had given up every thing) were allowed to fraternize with the conquerors, and the united forces marched back by easy stages towards King Giglio's capital, his royal banner and that of Queen Rosalba being carried in front of the troops. Hedzoff was made a Duke and a Field Marshal, Smith and Jones were promoted to be Earls, the Crim Tartar Order of the Pumpkin and the Paflagonian decoration of the Cucumber were freely distributed by their Majesties to the army. Queen Rosalba wore the Paflagonian Ribbon of the Cucumber across her riding habit, whilst King Giglio never appeared without the grand Cordon of the Pumpkin. How the people cheered them as they rode along side by side! They were pronounced to be the handsomest couple ever seen: that was a matter of course; but they really were very handsome, and, had they been otherwise, would have looked so, they were so happy! Their Majesties were never separated during the whole day, but breakfasted, dined, and supped together always, and rode side by side, interchanging elegant compliments, and indulging in the most delightful conversation. At night, her Majesty's ladies of honor (who had all rallied round her the day after King Padella's defeat) came and conducted her to the apartments prepared for her; whilst King Giglio, surrounded by his gentlemen, withdrew to his own royal quarters. It was agreed they should be married as soon as they reached the capital, and orders were dispatched to the Archbishop of Blombodinga, to hold himself in readiness to perform the interesting ceremony. Duke Hedzoff carried the message, and gave instructions to have the Royal Castle splendidly refurnished and painted afresh. The Duke seized Glumboso, the Ex-Prime Minister, and made him refund that considerable sum of money which the old scoundrel had secreted out of the late King's treasure. He also clapped Valoroso into prison (who, by the way, had been dethroned for some considerable period past), and when the ex-monarch weakly remonstrated, Hedzoff said: "A soldier, sir, knows but his duty; my orders are to lock you up along with the Ex-King Padella, whom I have brought hither a prisoner under guard."
So these two ex-royal personages were sent for a year to the House of Correction, and thereafter were obliged to become monks, of the severest Order of Flagellants, in which state, by fasting, by vigils, by flogging (which they administered to one another, humbly but resolutely), no doubt they exhibited a repentance for their past misdeeds, usurpations, and private and public crimes.
As for Glumboso, that rogue was sent to the galleys, and never had an opportunity to steal any more.
He came all so still
Where His mother was,
As dew in April
That falleth on the grass.
He came all so still
Where His mother lay,
As dew in April
That falleth on the spray.
He came all so still
To His mother's bower,
As dew in April
That falleth on the flower.
Mother and maiden
Was never none but she!
Well might such a lady
God's mother be.