WEEK 51 |
WEEK 51 |
Q UEEN VICTORIA'S husband was called the Prince Consort. He was a clever man, and, after he married Queen Victoria, he tried to do all he could for Britain. Although he was German, he learned to speak English almost perfectly, a thing which some of our German Kings had never troubled to do.
The Prince wanted to help trade and to keep peace. So he asked people to come from all parts of the world and bring with them the beautiful and useful things which were made in their countries, and also the things which grew there, such as plants and fruits. These were all to be gathered together in one great building so that the people of each country might see what the people in other countries were doing, and, having seen, might go home with new ideas. In this way the trade of the whole world would be helped. The Prince thought, too, that if people of different countries met together and came to know each other in this friendly manner, they would be less likely to want to fight with each other.
Although we have since had many great Exhibitions or World's Fairs, then, it was quite a new idea. It was so new that many people did not like it. They thought that it would be bad for Britain to bring a number of foreigners there. But in spite of difficulties, the Prince had his way.
One great difficulty was how to make a building quickly enough, and big enough to hold the beautiful things which were to be brought from all over the world. The Prince wanted to have a pretty building, and no one could think of anything except ugly brick sheds.
At last a gentleman, called Sir Joseph Paxton, said, "Why not use glass and iron?" And he sat down and drew a sketch of what he thought the building ought to be.
This idea of a glass house was quite as new as the idea of having an Exhibition at all, and the Prince was delighted with it. Very soon a palace of glass began to rise in Hyde Park and it seemed so beautiful that the people called it the Crystal Palace.
And very beautiful, indeed, it looked on the opening day. It gleamed and glittered like a fairy thing, it was decorated with the flags of all nations, with palms and flowers, with statues and fountains, and crowded with people from every country in the world.
Queen Victoria opened the Exhibition, and she was glad and happy, both because it all looked so beautiful, and because she knew it was the thought of her husband whom she loved so well. Bands played, a great choir sang, the world seemed full of sunshine and joy.
And lo! the long laborious miles
Of palace; lo! the giant aisles,
Rich in model and design;
Harvest-tool and husbandry,
Loom and wheel and enginery,
Secrets of the sullen mine,
Steel and gold, and corn and wine,
Fabric rough, or
Sunny tokens of the Line,
Polar marvels, and a feast
Of wonder, out of West and East,
And shapes and hues of Art divine!
All of beauty, all of use,
That one fair planet can produce,
Brought from under every star,
Blown from over every main,
And mixt, as life is mixt with pain,
The works of peace with works of war.
O ye, the wise who think, the wise who reign,
From growing commerce loose her latest chain,
And let the fair
To happy havens under all the sky,
And mix the seasons and the golden hours;
Till each man find his own in all men's good,
And all men work in noble brotherhood,
Breaking their mailed fleets and armed towers,
And ruling by obeying Nature's powers,
And gathering all the fruits of earth and crown'd,
with all her flowers.
The Exhibition was a great success. Never before had there been so many people from strange countries gathered together in London. Never before had so many beautiful and curious things been seen all at once. When it was over, the Crystal Palace was not destroyed, but was taken down and built up again at another place. There it has remained ever since, and is still one of the sights of London.
But although people hoped great things from this friendly gathering, their hopes were not fulfilled. Three years later, after a peace of forty years, Britain was again at war.
ONK, honk, honk! Out of the silence of the November night, down through the depths of the darkened sky, rang the thrilling call of the passing geese.
Honk, honk, honk! I was out of bed in an instant; but before I had touched the floor, there was a patter of feet in the boys' room, the creak of windows going up, and—silence.
Honk, honk, honk! A mighty flock was coming. The stars shone clear in the far blue; the trees stood dark on the rim of the North; and somewhere between the trees and the stars, somewhere along a pathway running north and south, close up against the distant sky, the wild geese were winging.
Honk, honk, honk! They were overhead. Clear as bugles, round and mellow as falling flute notes, ordered as the tramp of soldiers, fell the honk, honk, honk, as the flock in single line, or double like the letter V, swept over and was gone.
We had not seen them. Out of a sound sleep they had summoned us, out of beds with four wooden legs and no wings; and we had heard the wild sky-call, had heard and followed through our open windows, through the dark of the night, up into the blue vault under the light of the stars.
Round and dim swung the earth below us, hushed and asleep in the soft arms of the night. Hill and valley lay close together, farm-land and wood-land, all wrapped in the coverlet of the dark. City and town, like watch fires along the edge of a sleeping camp, burned bright on the rivers and brighter still on the ragged line of shore and sea, for we were far away near the stars. The mountains rose up, but they could not reach us; the white lakes beckoned, but they could not call us down. For the stars were bright, the sky-coast was clear, the wind in our wings was the keen, wild wind of the North, and the call that we heard—ah! who knows the call? Yet, who does not know it—that distant haunting call to fly, fly, fly?
I found myself in my bed the next morning. I found the small boys in their beds. I found the big round sun in the sky that morning and not a star in sight! There was nothing unusual to be seen up there, nothing mysterious at all. But there was something unusual, something mysterious to be seen in the four small faces at the breakfast-table that morning—eyes all full of stars and deep with the far, dark depths of the midnight sky into which they had gazed—into which those four small boys had flown!
We had often heard the geese go over before, but never such a flock as this, never such wild waking clangor, so clear, so far away, so measured, swift, and—gone!
I love the sound of the ocean surf, the roar of a winter gale in the leafless woods, the sough of the moss-hung cypress in the dark southern swamps. But no other voice of Nature is so strangely, deeply thrilling to me as the honk, honk, honk of the passing geese.
For what other voice, heard nowadays, of beast or bird is so wild and free and far-resounding? Heard in the solemn silence of the night, the notes fall as from the stars, a faint and far-off salutation, like the call of sentinels down the picket line—"All's well! All's well!" Heard in the open day, when you can see the winged wedge splitting through the dull gray sky, the notes seem to cleave the dun clouds, driven down by the powerful wing-beats where the travelers are passing high and far beyond the reach of our guns.
The sight of the geese going over in the day, and the sound of their trumpetings, turn the whole world of cloud and sky into a wilderness, as wild and primeval a wilderness as that distant forest of the far Northwest where the howl of wolves is still heard by the trappers. Even that wilderness, however, is passing; and perhaps no one of us will ever hear the howl of wolves in the hollow snow-filled forests, as many of our parents have heard. But the honk of the wild geese going over we should all hear, and our children should hear; for this flock of wild creatures we have in our hands to preserve.
The wild geese breed in the low, wet marshes of the half-frozen North, where, for a thousand years to come they will not interfere with the needs of man. They pass over our northern and middle states and spend the winter in the rivers, marshes, and lagoons of the South, where, for another thousand years to come, they can do little, if any, harm to man, but rather good.
But North and South, and all along their journey back and forth, they are shot for sport and food. For the wild geese cannot make this thousand-mile flight without coming down to rest and eat; and wherever that descent is made, there is pretty sure to be a man with a gun on the watch.
Here, close to my home, are four ponds; and around the sides of each of them are "goose blinds"—screens made of cedar and pine boughs fixed into the shore, behind which the gunners lie in wait. More than that, out upon the surface of the pond are geese swimming, but tied so that they cannot escape—geese that have been raised in captivity and placed there to lure the flying wild flocks down. Others, known as "flyers," are kept within the blind to be let loose when a big flock is seen approaching—to fly out and mingle with them and decoy them to the pond. These "flyers" are usually young birds and, when thrown out upon their wings, naturally come back, bringing the wild flock with them, to their fellows fastened in the pond.
A weary flock comes winging over, hungry, and looking for a place to rest. Instantly the captive geese out on the pond see them and set up a loud honking. The flying flock hear them and begin to descend. Then they see one (tossed from the blind) coming on to meet them, and they circle lower to the pond, only to fall before a fury of shots that pour from behind the blind.
Those of the flock that are not killed rise frightened and bewildered to fly to the opposite shore, where other guns riddle them, the whole flock sometimes perishing within the ring of fire!
Such shooting is a crime because it is unfair, giving the creature no chance to exercise his native wit and caution. The fun of hunting, as of any sport, is in playing the game—the danger, the exercise, the pitting of limb against limb, wit against wit, patience against patience; not in a heap of carcasses, the dead and bloody weight of mere meat!
If the hunter would only play fair with the wild goose, shoot him (the wild Canada goose) only along the North Carolina coast, where he passes the winter, then there would be no danger of the noble bird's becoming extinct. And the hunter then would know what real sport is, and what a long-headed, farsighted goose the wild goose really is—for there are few birds with his cunning and alertness.
Along the Carolina shore the geese congregate in vast numbers; and when the day is calm, they ride out into the ocean after feeding, so far off shore that no hunter could approach them. At night they come in for shelter across the bars, sailing into the safety of the inlets and bays for a place to sleep. If the wind rises, and a storm blows up, then they must remain in the pools and water-holes, where the hunter has a chance to take them. Only here, where the odds, never even, are not all against the birds, should the wild geese be hunted.
With the coming of March there is a new note in the clamor of the flocks, a new restlessness in their movements; and, before the month is gone, many mated pairs of the birds have flocked together and are off on their far northern journey to the icy lakes of Newfoundland and the wild, bleak marshes of Labrador.
Honk, honk, honk! Shall I hear them going over,—going northward,—as I have heard them going southward this fall? Winter comes down in their wake. There is the clang of the cold in their trumpeting, the closing of iron gates, the bolting of iron doors for the long boreal night. They pass and leave the forests empty, the meadows brown and sodden, the rivers silent, the bays and lakes close sealed. Spring will come up with them on their return; and their honk, honk, honk will waken the frogs from their oozy slumbers and stir every winter sleeper to the very circle of the Pole.
Honk, honk, honk! Oh, may I be awake to hear you, ye strong-winged travelers on the sky, when ye go over northward, calling the sleeping earth to waken, calling all the South to follow you through the broken ice-gates of the North!
Honk, honk, honk! The wild geese are passing—southward!
WEEK 51 |
The frost is here,
And fuel is dear,
And woods are sear,
And fires burn clear,
And frost is here
And has bitten the heel of the going year.
Bite, frost, bite!
You roll up away from the light
The blue woodlouse and the plump dor-mouse,
And the bees are still'd, and the flies are kill'd,
And you bite far into the heart of the house,
But not into mine.
Bite, frost, bite!
The woods are all the searer,
The fuel is all the dearer,
The fires are all the clearer,
My spring is all the nearer,
You have bitten into the heart of the earth,
But not into mine.
WEEK 51 |
WEEK 51 |
"Old England's sons are English yet, old England's hearts are strong,
And still she wears her coronet aflame with sword and song.
As in their pride our fathers died, if need be, so die we;
So wield we still, gainsay who will, the sceptre of the sea."
N APOLEON had closed all European ports against British commerce. But as the fleet of Great Britain was supreme upon the seas, she made answer that henceforth no colonial goods should be obtainable in France except through British ships. The United States of America, as a new nation, taking neither the side of England, nor, of France in their terrific struggle, resented this action, for it stopped their direct trading with France. Indeed it paralysed all trade, and in June 1812 the United States declared war on Great Britain.
It was a bold challenge. England indeed had her hands full with Napoleon in Europe; but even now her triumph was beginning. Napoleon was already on his fatal march to Moscow; Wellington had seized the two frontier fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. But England had the greatest navy in the world—a thousand sail; and the United States had the smallest—about twenty ships. The young Republic was full of confidence in their newly found strength; they had lost the guiding hand of Washington, who always upheld peace with the mother country.
It was somewhat natural to find that England, rich in her traditions of Nelson and Trafalgar, thought but little of this challenge, until one day the startling news reached her, that five of her ships of war had been captured by the United States. Something must be done at once, to wipe out this unlooked-for disgrace, that had fallen on the British flag.
One strong unassuming English sailor now took the matter into his own hands. Captain Broke, of H.M.S. Shannon, had spent the winter off Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he heard of the declaration of war between the two countries. He at once began to drill his gunners more severely than ever, until he made every one of them a good shot. The discipline on board his ship was splendid. His crew had worked with him for the last seven years; they had shared hardships and dangers together; and there was complete understanding between master and man. All were alike burning with desire to meet the ships of the United States. The Shannon herself was not a large ship. She carried thirty-eight guns and 284 men. She bore the marks of her service in the icy regions of the north. "Her sides were rusty, her sails were weather-soiled; a solitary flag flew from her mizzen-peak, and even its blue had become bleached by sun and rain and wind to a dingy grey."
In May 1813 the Shannon lay off Boston. Captain Broke determined to end the naval dispute by a single challenge of ship to ship. As antagonist he chose the Chesapeake, a ship larger than the Shannon, and carrying more men. On Tuesday, June 1, he despatched a letter to Captain Lawrence of the Chesapeake, which had been lying for months past in Boston Harbour.
"As the Chesapeake appears now ready for sea," ran the challenge, "I request that you will do me the favour to meet the Shannon with her, ship to ship, to try the fortune of our respective flags. Choose your terms and place, and let us meet."
Captain Lawrence was a formidable foe. He had already captured the Peacock, an English battleship, and was known to be one of the most gallant of men.
Having sent the challenge, Captain Broke now went up to the mast-head of the Shannon and watched anxiously for any movement on the part of the hostile ship. A faint breeze rippled over the waters of the Boston Harbour, while the summer sun lit up the town beyond. Mid-day came, and Broke descended to the deck.
"She will surely be out
It was true. Sail after sail spread forth, flag after flag unfurled, and with all speed the Chesapeake was seen bearing down on her expectant foe, attended by barges and pleasure-boats.
To the men of Boston, it seemed that Lawrence sailed forth to certain victory. They crowded house-tops and hills to see his success; they prepared a banquet to celebrate his triumphant return.
Slowly and in grim silence the Shannon and Chesapeake drew near. On board the Shannon, Broke was addressing his men.
Shannon and Chesapeake.
"Shannons!" he cried, "the Americans have lately triumphed over the British flag; they have said that England
had forgotten how to fight. You will let them see
As the Chesapeake moved on, a blaze of fluttering colours, one sailor looked sadly at the one faded blue flag above him.
"Mayn't we have three ensigns, sir, like she has?" he asked.
"No," answered the Captain; "we have always been an unassuming ship."
The fight soon began. Never was there a braver, shorter, or more deadly conflict. On both sides the fire was tremendous, but the well-trained British gunners on the Shannon fired with deadly aim; every shot told. The rigging of the Chesapeake was torn, her stern was beaten in, her decks were swept by fire. For six minutes the conflict raged. Lawrence had already fallen, mortally wounded. As the two ships ground together, Broke shouted above the din, "Follow me who can!" Then bounding on to the deck of the Chesapeake, over the bodies of dead and dying, the English sailors boarded the American ship, and thirteen minutes after the first shot had been fired, the British flag waved over the Chesapeake.
"Blow her up! blow her up!" cried the dying Lawrence.
But it was too late. The foe had yielded; resistance was over. Broke, now lying badly wounded, had won. He had restored confidence in his country's fleet, but at tremendous cost. 252 men from the two ships fell that day. It was characteristic of the Captain of the Shannon, that he should enter in his journal for that day only two words—"Took Chesapeake."
This ended the naval war, though fighting by land went on between the two countries till 1814, when peace was made, which has never been broken since.
WEEK 51 |
T he good curé of Terminaison says that this tale of Hyacinthe's is all a dream. But then Madame points triumphantly to the little cabinet of sandalwood in the corner of her room. It had stood there for many years now, and the dust has gathered in the fine lines of the little birds' feathers, and softened the petals of the lilies carved at the corners. And the wood has taken on a golden gleam like the memory of a sunset.
"What of that, my friend?" says Madame, pointing to the cabinet. And the old curé bows his head.
"It may be so. God is very good," he says gently. But he is never quite sure what he may believe.
On that winter day long ago, Hyacinthe was quite sure of one thing and that was that the workshop was very cold. There was no fire in it, and only one little lamp when the early dark drew on. The tools were so cold they scorched his fingers, and his feet were so cold he danced clumsily in the shavings to warm them. He was a great clumsy boy of fourteen, dark-faced, dull-eyed, and uncared for. He was clumsy because it is impossible to be graceful when you are growing very fast and have not enough to eat. He was dull-eyed because all eyes met his unlovingly. He was uncared for because no one knew the beauty of his soul. But his heavy young hands could carve things like birds and flowers perfectly. On this winter evening he was just wondering if he might lay aside the tools, and creep home to the cold loft where he slept, when he heard Pierre l'Oreillard's voice shouting outside.
"Be quick, be quick, and open the door, thou imbecile. It is I, thy master."
"Oui, mon maître," said Hyacinthe, and he shambled to the door and opened it.
Hyacinthe shambled to the door and opened it.
"Slow worm!" cried Pierre, and he cuffed Hyacinthe as he passed in. Hyacinthe rubbed his head and said nothing. He was used to blows. He wondered why his master was in the workshop at that time of day instead of drinking brandy at the Cinq Châteaux.
Pierre l'Oreillard had a small heavy bundle under his arm, wrapped in sacking, and then in burlap, and then in fine soft cloths. He laid it on a pile of shavings, and unfolded it carefully; and a dim sweetness filled the dark shed and hung heavily in the thin winter sunbeams.
"It is a piece of wood," said Hyacinthe in slow surprise. He knew that such wood had never been seen in Terminaison.
Pierre l'Oreillard rubbed the wood respectfully with his knobby fingers.
"It is sandalwood," he explained to Hyacinthe, pride of knowledge making him quite amiable, "a most precious wood that grows in warm countries, thou great goblin. Smell it, idiot. It is sweeter than cedar. It is to make a cabinet for the old Madame at the big house."
"Oui, man maître," said the dull Hyacinthe.
"Thy great hands shall shape and smooth the wood, nigaud, and I will render it beautiful," said Pierre, puffing out his chest.
"Yes, Master," answered Hyacinthe humbly, "and when is it to be ready for Madame?"
"Madame will want it perhaps next week, for that is Christmas. It is to be finished and ready on the holy festival, great sluggard. Hearest thou?" and he cuffed Hyacinthe's ears again furiously.
Hyacinthe knew that the making of the cabinet would fall to him, as most of the other work did. When Pierre l'Oreillard was gone he touched the strange sweet wood and at last laid his cheek against it, while the fragrance caught his breath. "How it is beautiful!" said Hyacinthe, and for a moment his eyes glowed, and he was happy. Then the light passed and with bent head he shuffled back to his bench through a foam of white shavings curling almost to his knees.
"Madame will want the cabinet for Christmas," repeated Hyacinthe to himself, and fell to work harder than ever, though it was so cold in the shed that his breath hung in the air like a little silvery cloud. There was a tiny window on his right, through which, when it was clear of frost, one looked on Terminaison; and that was cheerful, and made him whistle. But to the left, through the chink of the ill-fitting door, there was nothing to be seen but the forest, and the road dying under the snow.
Brandy was good at the Cinq Châteaux and Pierre l'Oreillard gave Hyacinthe plenty of directions, but no further help with the cabinet.
"That is to be finished for Madame at the festival, sluggard," said he every day, cuffing Hyacinthe about the head, "finished, and with a prettiness about the corners, hearest thou, ourson?"
"Yes, monsieur," said Hyacinthe in his slow way; "I will try to finish it. But if I hurry I shall spoil it."
Pierre's little eyes flickered. "See that it is done, and done properly. I suffer from a delicacy of the constitution and a little feebleness of the legs these days, so that I cannot handle the tools properly. I must leave this work to thee, gâcheur. And stand up and touch a hand to thy cap when I speak to thee, slow worm."
"Yes, monsieur," said Hyacinthe wearily.
It is hard to do all the work and to be beaten into the bargain. And fourteen is not very old. Hyacinthe worked on at the cabinet with his slow and exquisite skill. But on Christmas eve he was still at work, and the cabinet unfinished.
"The master will beat me," thought Hyacinthe, and he trembled a little, for Pierre's beatings were cruel. "But if I hurry, I shall spoil the wood, and it is too beautiful to be spoiled."
But he trembled again when Pierre came into the workshop, and he stood up and touched his cap,
"Is the cabinet finished, imbecile?" asked Pierre. And Hyacinthe answered in a low voice, "No, it is not finished yet, monsieur."
"Then work on it all night, and show it to me all completed in the morning, or thy bones shall mourn thine idleness," said Pierre, with a wicked look in his little eyes. And he shut Hyacinthe into the shed with a smoky lamp, his tools, and the sandalwood cabinet.
It was nothing unusual. He had been often left before to finish a piece of work overnight while Pierre went off to his brandies. But this was Christmas eve, and he was very tired. Even the scent of the sandalwood could not make him fancy he was warm. The world seemed to be a black place, full of suffering and despair.
"In all the world, I have no friend," said Hyacinthe, staring at the flame of the lamp. "In all the world, there is no one to care whether I live or die. In all the world, no place, no heart, no love. O kind God, is there a place, a love for me in another world?"
I hope you feel very sorry for Hyacinthe, lonely, and cold, and shut up in the workshop on the eve of Christmas. He was but an overgrown, unhappy child. And I think with old Madame that for unhappy children, at this season no help seems too divine for faith.
"There is no one to care for me," said Hyacinthe. And he even looked at the chisel in his hand, thinking that by a touch of that he might lose it all, and be at peace, somewhere, not far from God. Only it was forbidden. Then came the tears, and great sobs that shook him, so that he scarcely heard the gentle rattling of the latch.
He stumbled to the door, opening it on the still woods and the frosty stars. And a lad who stood outside in the snow said, "I see you are working late, comrade. May I come in?"
Hyacinthe brushed his ragged sleeve across his eyes and nodded "Yes." Those little villages strung along the great river see strange wayfarers at times. And Hyacinthe said to himself that surely here was such a one. Blinking into the stranger's eyes, he lost for a flash the first impression of youth, and received one of incredible age or sadness. But the wanderer's eyes were only quiet, very quiet, like the little pools in the wood where the wild doves went to drink. As he turned within the door, smiling at Hyacinthe and shaking some snow from his cap, he did not seem to be more than sixteen or so.
"It is very cold outside," he said. "There is a big oak tree on the edge of the fields that had split in the frost and frightened all the little squirrels asleep there. Next year it will make an even better home for them. And see what I found close by!" He opened his fingers and showed Hyacinthe a little sparrow lying unruffled in the palm.
"Pauvrette!" said the dull Hyacinthe. "Pauvrette! Is it then dead?" He touched it with a gentle forefinger.
"No," answered the strange boy, "it is not dead. We will put it here among the shavings, not far from the lamp, and it will be well by the morning."
He smiled at Hyacinthe again, and the shambling lad felt dimly as if the scent of the sandalwood were sweeter, and the lamp-flame clearer. But the stranger's eyes were only quiet, quiet.
"Have you come far?" asked Hyacinthe. "It is a bad season for traveling, and the wolves are out."
"A long way," said the other. "A long, long way.
I heard a child
"There is no child here," put in Hyacinthe. "Monsieur l'Oreillard says children cost too much money. But if you have come far, you must need food and fire, and I have neither. At the Cinq Châteaux you will find both."
The stranger looked at him again with those quiet eyes, and Hyacinthe fancied that his face was familiar. "I will stay here," he said; "you are late at work, and you are unhappy."
"Why as to that," answered Hyacinthe, rubbing his cheeks and ashamed of his tears, "most of us are sad at one time or another, the good God knows. Stay here and welcome if it pleases you; and you may take a share of my bed, though it is no more than a pile of balsam boughs and an old blanket in the loft. But I must work at this cabinet, for the drawers must be finished and the handles put on and the corners carved, all by the holy morning; or my wages will be paid with a stick."
"You have a hard master," put in the other, "if he would pay you with blows upon the feast of Noël."
"He is hard enough," said Hyacinthe, "but once he gave me a dinner of sausages and white wine; and once, in the summer, melons. If my eyes will stay open, I will finish this by morning. Stay with me an hour or so, comrade, and talk to me of your travels, so that the time may pass more quickly."
And while Hyacinthe worked, he told,—of sunshine and dust, of the shadow of vine-leaves on the flat white walls of a house; of rosy doves on the roof; of the flowers that come out in the spring, anemones crimson and blue, and white cyclamen in the shadow of the rocks; of the olive, the myrtle, and the almond; until Hyacinthe's fingers ceased working, and his sleepy eyes blinked wonderingly.
"See what you have done, comrade," he said at last; "you have told me of such pretty things that I have done but little work for an hour. And now the cabinet will never be finished, and I shall be beaten."
"Let me help you," smiled the other. "I also was bred a carpenter."
At first Hyacinthe would not, fearing to trust the sweet wood out of his own hands. But at length he allowed the stranger to fit in one of the drawers. And so deftly was it done that Hyacinthe pounded his fists on the bench in admiration. "You have a pretty knack," he cried. "It seemed as if you did but hold the drawer in your hands a moment, and hey! ho! it jumped into its place."
"Let me fit in the other little drawers while you rest awhile," said the stranger. So Hyacinthe curled up among the shavings, and the other boy fell to work upon the little cabinet of sandalwood.
Hyacinthe was very tired. He lay still among the shavings, and thought of all the boy had told him, of the hillside flowers, the laughing leaves, the golden bloom of the anise, and the golden sun upon the roads until he was warm. And all the time the boy with the quiet eyes was at work upon the cabinet, smoothing, fitting, polishing.
"You do better work than I," said Hyacinthe once, and the stranger answered, "I was lovingly taught." And again Hyacinthe said, "It is growing toward morning. In a little while I will get up and help you."
"Lie still and rest," said the other boy. And Hyacinthe lay still. His thoughts began to slide into dreams, and he woke with a little start, for there seemed to be music in the shed; though he could not tell whether it came from the strange boy's lips, or from the shabby tools as he used them, or from the stars.
"Lie still and rest," said the other boy.
"The stars are much paler," thought Hyacinthe. "Soon it will be morning, and the corners are not carved yet. I must get up and help this kind one in a little moment. Only the music and the sweetness seem to fold me close, so that I may not move."
Then behind the forest there shone a pale glow of dawn, and in Terminaison the church bells began to ring. "Day will soon be here," thought Hyacinthe, "and with day will come Monsieur l'Oreillard and his stick. I must get up and help for even yet the corners are not carved."
But the stranger looked at him, smiling as though he loved him, and laid his brown finger lightly on the four empty corners of the cabinet. And Hyacinthe saw the squares of reddish wood ripple and heave and break, as little clouds when the wind goes through the sky. And out of them thrust forth the little birds, and after them the lilies, for a moment living; but even as Hyacinthe looked, settling back into the sweet reddish-brown wood. Then the stranger smiled again, laid all the tools in order, and, opening the door, went away into the woods.
Hyacinthe crept slowly to the door. The winter sun, half risen, filled all the frosty air with splendid gold. Far down the road a figure seemed to move amid the glory but the splendor was such that Hyacinthe was blinded. His breath came sharply as the glow beat on the wretched shed, on the old shavings, on the cabinet with the little birds and the lilies carved at the corners.
He was too pure of heart to feel afraid. But "Blessed be the Lord," whispered Hyacinthe, clasping his slow hands, "for He hath visited and redeemed His people. But who will believe?"
Then the sun of Christ's day rose gloriously, and the little sparrow came from his nest among the shavings and shook his wings to the light.
"U NCLE Will," said Theodore, one cold November day, as they were walking briskly over the frozen ground, "where are all the wasps now?"
"Sure enough, Theodore, where are they?"
"They must be tucked up in their cradles for the winter, Uncle Will."
"Yes, they are all tucked up in their cradles. King Frost
has taken the
"They are wrapped in such warm silk blankets," said Theodore. "Do all the cradled wasps have silk blankets about them, Uncle Will?"
"All I know have, and very likely all of them are thus supplied."
"We cannot see the wasps, Uncle Will, but it is nice to think of them lying so snug and safe down in the ground."
"Yes, under our feet are the nests of the little wasps that were so happy all last summer. Everywhere old Mother Earth holds the insect children and the seed babies safe in her bosom. Winter will come soon and spread a thick, white snow-blanket over them, and thus they will lie warm enough and safe until lovely spring, with her crown of sunbeams, comes and calls them out into the sunshine and fresh air."
"And in the beams of the houses are the little cradles with the wasp babies wrapped in silk," added Theodore.
"Yes," continued Uncle Will; "and out in the garden are wasp nests cunningly hidden in the hollow stems of bushes, and under the roofs of the sheds are little mud caves, each with its living inmate, and hidden in cracks and corners the young queen hornets are lying asleep—dreaming maybe of the coming of the warmth and the flowers of spring."
"It is a fine thing to look forward to the springtime," said Theodore, "when all the little seeds and eggs and pupae stretch themselves and come out of the holes in the ground and the holes in the beams and the bush twigs, and find it is warm and lovely."
"Yes," said Uncle Will, "nothing outside of heaven is more wonderful or more beautiful than the blossoming of life on the earth."
WEEK 51 |
T HE Fairy Blackstick, by whose means this young King and Queen had certainly won their respective crowns back, would come not unfrequently to pay them a little visit—as they were riding in their triumphal progress towards Giglio's capital—change her wand into a pony, and travel by their Majesties' side, giving them the very best advice. I am not sure that King Giglio did not think the Fairy and her advice rather a bore, fancying it was his own valor and merits which had put him on his throne and conquered Padella; and, in fine, I fear he rather gave himself airs towards his best friend and patroness. She exhorted him to deal justly by his subjects, to draw mildly on the taxes, never to break his promise when he had once given it,—and in all respects to be a good king.
"A good king, my dear Fairy!" cries Rosalba. "Of course he will. Break his promise! Can you fancy my Giglio would ever do any thing so improper, so unlike him? No! never!" And she looked fondly towards Giglio, whom she thought a pattern of perfection.
"Why is Fairy Blackstick always advising me, and telling me how to manage my government, and warning me to keep my word. Does she suppose that I am not a man of sense and a man of honor?" asks Giglio testily. "Methinks she rather presumes upon her position."
"Hush! dear Giglio," says Rosalba. "You know Blackstick has been very kind to us, and we must not offend her." But the Fairy was not listening to Giglio's testy observations; she had fallen back, and was trotting on her pony by Bulbo's side, who rode a donkey, and made himself generally beloved in the army by his cheerfulness, kindness, and good humor to everybody. He was eager to see his darling Angelica. He thought there never was such a charming being. Blackstick did not tell him it was the possession of the magic rose that made Angelica so lovely in his eyes. She brought him the very best accounts of his little wife, whose misfortunes and humiliations had indeed very greatly improved her; and you see she could whisk off on her wand a hundred miles in a minute, and be back in no time, and so carry polite messages from Bulbo to Angelica, and from Angelica to Bulbo, and comfort that young man upon his journey.
When the Royal party arrived at the last stage before you reach Blombodinga, who should be in waiting, in her carriage there with her lady of honor by her side, but the Princess Angelica. She rushed into her husband's arms, scarcely stopping to make a passing curtsey to the King and Queen. She had no eyes but for Bulbo, who appeared perfectly lovely to her on account of the fairy ring which he wore, whilst she herself, wearing the magic rose in her bonnet, seemed entirely beautiful to the enraptured Bulbo.
A splendid luncheon was served to the Royal party, of which the Archbishop, the Chancellor, Duke Hedzoff, Countess Gruffanuff, and all our friends partook. The Fairy Blackstick being seated on the left of King Giglio, with Bulbo and Angelica beside her. You could hear the joy-bells ringing in the capital, and the guns which the citizens were firing off in honor of their Majesties.
"What can have induced that hideous old Gruffanuff to dress herself up in such an absurd way? Did you ask her to be your bride's maid, my dear?" says Giglio to Rosalba. "What a figure of fun Gruffy is!"
Gruffy was seated opposite their Majesties, between the Archbishop and the Lord Chancellor, and a figure of fun she certainly was, for she was dressed in a low white silk dress, with lace over, a wreath of white roses on her wig, a splendid lace veil, and her yellow old neck was covered with diamonds. She ogled the King in such a manner that His Majesty burst out laughing.
"Eleven o'clock!" cries Giglio, as the great Cathedral bell of Blombodinga tolled that hour. "Gentlemen and ladies, we must be starting. Archbishop, you must be at church I think before twelve?"
"We must be at church before twelve," sighs out Gruffanuff in a languishing voice, hiding her old face behind her fan.
"And then I shall be the happiest man in my dominions," cries Giglio, with an elegant bow to the blushing Rosalba.
"O my Giglio! O my dear Majesty!" exclaims
Gruffanuff; "and can it be that this happy moment at
"Of course it has arrived," says the King.
"You my bride?" roars out Giglio.
"You marry my Prince?" cries poor little Rosalba.
"Pooh! Nonsense! The woman's mad!" exclaims the King. And all the courtiers exhibited by their countenances and expressions, marks of surprise, or ridicule, or incredulity, or wonder.
"I should like to know who else is going to be
married, if I am not?" shrieks out Gruffanuff. "I
should like to know if King Giglio is a gentleman, and
if there is such a thing as justice in Paflagonia?
Lord Chancellor! my Lord Archbishop! will your
lordships sit by and see a poor, fond, confiding,
tender creature put upon? Has not Prince Giglio
promised to marry his Barbara? Is not this Giglio's
signature? Does not this paper declare that he is mine,
and only mine?" And she handed to his Grace the
Archbishop the document which the Prince signed that
evening when she wore the magic ring, and Giglio drank
so much champagne. And the old Archbishop, taking out
his eye-glasses, read:
"H'm," says the Archbishop, "the document is certainly a—a document."
"Phoo," says the Lord Chancellor, "the signature is not in his Majesty's handwriting." Indeed, since his studies at Bosfora, Giglio had made an immense improvement in calligraphy.
"Is it your handwriting, Giglio?" cries the Fairy Blackstick, with an awful severity of countenance.
"Y—y—y—es," poor Giglio gasps out. "I had quite forgotten the confounded paper; she can't mean to hold me by it. You old wretch, what will you take to let me off? Help the Queen, some one,—Her Majesty has fainted."
"Chop her head off!"
"Smother the old witch!"
"Pitch her into the river!"
Exclaim the impetuous Hedzoff,
the ardent Smith,
and the faithful Jones.
But Gruffanuff flung her arms round the Archbishop's neck, and bellowed out, "Justice, justice, my Lord Chancellor!" so loudly, that her piercing shrieks caused everybody to pause. As for Rosalba, she was borne away lifeless by her ladies; and you may imagine the look of agony which Giglio cast towards that lovely being, as his hope, his joy, his darling, his all in all, was thus removed, and in her place the horrid old Gruffanuff rushed up to his side, and once more shrieked out, "Justice! justice!"
"Won't you take that sum of money which Glumboso hid?" says Giglio, "two hundred and eighteen thousand millions, or thereabouts. It's a handsome sum."
"I will have that and you too!" says Gruffanuff.
"Let us throw the crown jewels into the bargain," gasps out Giglio.
"I will wear them by my Giglio's side!" says Gruffanuff.
"Will half, three-quarters, five-sixths, nineteen-twentieths, of my kingdom do, Countess?" asks the trembling monarch.
"What were all Europe to me without you, my Giglio?" cries Gruff, kissing his hand.
"I won't, I can't, I shan't,—I'll resign the crown first," shouts Giglio, tearing away his hand; but Gruff clung to it.
"I have a competency, my love," she says, "and with thee and a cottage thy Barbara will be happy."
Giglio was half mad with rage by this time. "I will not marry her," says he. "O Fairy, Fairy, give me counsel!" And as he spoke he looked wildly round at the severe face of the Fairy Blackstick.
"Well, Archbishop," said he, in a dreadful voice, that made his Grace start, "since this Fairy has led me to the height of happiness but to dash me down into the depths of despair, since I am to lose Rosalba, let me at least keep my honor. Get up, Countess, and let us be married; I can keep my word, but I can die afterwards."
"O dear Giglio," cries Gruffanuff, skipping up, "I knew, I knew I could trust thee—I knew that my Prince was the soul of honor. Jump into your carriages, ladies and gentlemen, and let us go to church at once; and as for dying, dear Giglio, no, no:—thou wilt forget that insignificant little chambermaid of a Queen—thou wilt live to be consoled by thy Barbara! She wishes to be a Queen, and not a Queen Dowager, my gracious Lord!" and hanging upon poor Giglio's arm, and leering and grinning in his face in the most disgusting manner, this old wretch tripped off in her white satin shoes, and jumped into the very carriage which had been got ready to convey Giglio and Rosalba to church. The cannons roared again, the bells pealed triple-bobmajors, the people came out flinging flowers upon the path of the royal bride and bridegroom, and Gruff looked out of the gilt coach window and bowed and grinned to them. Phoo! the horrid old wretch!
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,—
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.