Text of Plan #990
  WEEK 52  


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----- Seasonal Story -----

  WEEK 52  


Our Island Story  by H. E. Marshall


R USSIA is a great country in the east of Europe. But if you look at the map you will see that, although it is very large, it has not much seashore. That is bad for a country, for, unless it has seaports, its ships cannot easily sail to other countries with goods and bring back their goods in exchange.

To the south of Russia lies the Black Sea, but then as now half of the shore of that sea belonged to Turkey, and Turkey had the right to keep the ships of other nations out of the Black Sea. Russia was very angry at this, and formed plans to conquer Turkey and take possession of the country. The Emperor of Russia had another reason for wishing to fight with the Turks. The Turks, you know, are Mahometans, but many of the people who lived in Turkey had become Christian. The Emperor thought that these Christians were badly treated by the Turks, and he wished to protect them. This made the Sultan very angry, for he said that the Emperor was not really anxious about the happiness of the Christians, but merely wished to interfere with his rule.

The Russian Emperor hoped that the British would help him to fight the Turks, and he offered to divide Turkey, when conquered, with Britain.

But the British were on good terms with the Turks, and they had several reasons for not wishing Russia to conquer Turkey. So when war at last broke out, they sided with the Turks against the Russians, as did the French, who also thought that it would be a bad thing if Russia conquered Turkey.

For the first time, France and Britain, instead of fighting against each other, fought side by side. Lord Raglan led the British army, Marshal St. Arnaud the French. The war was fought in the Crimea, a little peninsula in the Black Sea, and from that it was called the Crimean War.

Both the French and the British sent fleets into the Black Sea, but they did not do much, as the war was chiefly fought on land round the fortress of Sebastopol, which the allies, as the armies of Britain, France, and Turkey were called, besieged. Ally comes from the same word as alliance, and means, "the friends" or "those who had joined together."

Britain had been at peace for forty years, and, although the soldiers had not forgotten how to fight, it seemed as if those in command had forgotten how to plan a war.

The winter in Russia is terribly cold, and the people who had charge of sending out clothes to the soldiers sent the things to the wrong places. So when the soldiers were shivering with cold at one place, great stores of warm clothing would be lying at another, perhaps not many miles off, but quite out of reach. Once a whole shipload of boots arrived, and, when they were unpacked, they were found to be all for the left foot. Terrible storms arose, too, which wrecked the ships which were bringing stores of food. These storms not only wrecked the ships, but they tore down and blew away the soldiers' tents, so that they had to sleep in the open air in the snow and bitter frost. They had nothing upon which to sleep except wet straw, and often they had no bed-clothes at all. And this in cold so dreadful that, if a man took hold of a piece of iron, it would freeze to his hand, so that he could not leave go without tearing away the skin.

So great was the suffering that many of the soldiers became sick and ill. The hospitals were soon filled, and many more died of disease than were killed by the Russians. In those days there were very few proper nurses, and the poor sick soldiers were very badly cared for, until a lady called Florence Nightingale went out to the Crimea, taking with her other ladies as nurses.

When Florence Nightingale and her nurses arrived in the Crimea, the dirt and horror of the hospitals were dreadful. The great wards were crowded from end to end with sick and wounded, dead and dying. No one did anything for the poor soldiers, their wounds even were often not dressed; they were brought there to die. But Florence Nightingale worked so hard that soon the hospitals were sweet and clean, and the men grew well instead of dying. The soldiers loved and adored her, and she never seemed to tire of working for them. Long after every one else had gone, she would walk through the wards carrying a lamp in her hand, moving softly from bed to bed, doing what she could for the poor wounded men. "She would speak to one and another," said one poor fellow afterwards, "and nod and smile to many more; but she could not do it to all, there were so many of us; but we could kiss her shadow as it fell, and lay our heads on our pillows again, content."

Lo! in that house of misery

A lady with a lamp I see

Pass through the glimmering gloom,

And flit from room to room.

And slow, as in a dream of bliss,

The speechless sufferer turns to kiss

Her shadow, as it falls

Upon the darkening walls.

As if a door in heaven should be

Opened and then closed suddenly,

The vision came and went,

The light shone and was spent.

On England's annals, through the long

Hereafter of her speech and song,

That light its rays shall cast

From portals of the past.

A lady with a lamp shall stand

In the great history of the land,

A noble type of good,

Heroic womanhood.

Once Florence Nightingale went out into the trenches among the soldiers to get a good view of Sebastopol. When it became known that she was there, they sent up such a shout that the Russians behind their strong battlements heard it and trembled, not knowing what it might mean. There was not a man there but honoured her as he would a queen. Florence Nightingale worked so hard that at last she, too, became ill of the terrible Crimean fever. Then there was sorrow indeed. Little could the men do for her who had done so much for them, but even in that wild place they found flowers to bring to her to cheer her loneliness. And she did not die, but still lived to bring joy to many.

Since Florence Nightingale worked among the soldiers in the Crimea, army nurses have worn red crosses upon their sleeves, as the crusaders did long ago. But those who wear the cross to-day do not go to battle to fight, but to help the wounded and the dying. Over the hospitals on the battlefield too flies the red cross flag, and no enemy ever fires at it or injures any one who wears the red cross badge.

The British soldiers were brave, and in spite of sickness and suffering they fought gallantly, but they were often badly led, and many mistakes were made. One dreadful mistake was made at a battle called Balaclava.

There was a brigade of cavalry called the Light Brigade. Lord Raglan sent a message to the officer in command, telling him to prevent the Russians carrying away some guns. The officer thought he was meant to charge right forward, and he did so. But it was a mistake. He and his men rode straight to death. For a mile and a half they rode with Russian guns in front of them, Russian guns on either side of them, thundering death. When their comrades saw what the Light Brigade was doing, they stood watching in horror and wonder, as six hundred men of the brigade rode down the lane of fire and smoke, and disappeared in the bank of smoke beyond.

It was horrible! What was happening to these gallant soldiers? They rode straight up to the Russian guns and drove the gunners away. But they could not stay there. The whole Russian army was arrayed against them, so they rode back again—back through that awful lane of shot and shell. Six hundred and seven men went, only one hundred and ninety-eight returned.

It was a splendid show of bravery, but utterly useless. What was the order given? What were the men meant to do? No one can answer the question. "It is magnificent," said a French officer who saw it, "but it is not war." Yet all the world saw what Britons could do in obedience to a command.

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

" 'Forward the Light Brigade.

Charge for the guns!' " he said:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

Forward the Light Brigade.

Was there a man dismayed?

Not tho' the soldier knew

Some one had blundered:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of Hell

Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,

Flash'd as they turn'd in air,

Sabring the gunners there,

Charging an army, while

All the world wonder'd:

Plunged in the battery-smoke,

Right thro' the line they broke;

Cossack and Russian

Reel'd from the sabre-stroke

Shatter'd and sunder'd.

Then they rode back, but not

Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them.

Cannon behind them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with shot and shell.

While horse and hero fell,

They that had fought so well

Came thro' the jaws of Death,

Back from the mouth of Hell,

All that was left of them,

Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?

Oh! the wild charge they made.

All the world wonder'd.

Honour the charge they made,

Honour the Light Brigade,

Noble six hundred.

The siege of Sebastopol lasted about a year, during which time the Sardinians joined the allies. Sardinia was a very small kingdom, but the people were brave; they wanted to take a place among the great powers of Europe, and the allies were very glad to have their help. During the winter, too, the Russian Emperor died. He was so sad and disappointed because his soldiers were being beaten, that he did not care to live. He died of a broken heart. When the Emperor died, people hoped that the war would come to an end, but it did not. His son, the new Emperor, still carried it on.

At last the French and British made a fierce attack on Sebastopol, and, although they did not succeed in doing all they meant to do, the Russians felt that they could hold out no longer. Next morning Sebastopol was empty and in flames. The Russians had set it on fire and fled.

After this, the war soon came to an end, and a few months later peace was signed. Russia had failed, and Turkey was neither conquered nor divided.


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  WEEK 52  


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Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Death of the Old Year

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,

And the winter winds are wearily sighing:

Toll ye the church-bell sad and slow,

And tread softly and speak low,

For the old year lies a-dying.

Old year, you must not die;

You came to us so readily,

You lived with us so steadily,

Old year, you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:

He will not see the dawn of day.

He hath no other life above.

He gave me a friend, and a true true-love,

And the New-year will take 'em away.

Old year, you must not go;

So long as you have been with us,

Such joy as you have seen with us,

Old year, you shall not go.

He froth'd his bumpers to the brim;

A jollier year we shall not see.

But tho' his eyes are waxing dim,

And tho' his foes speak ill of him,

He was a friend to me.

Old year, you shall not die;

We did so laugh and cry with you,

I've half a mind to die with you,

Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,

But all his merry quips are o'er.

To see him die, across the waste

His son and heir doth ride post-haste,

But he'll be dead before.

Every one for his own.

The night is starry and cold, my friend,

And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,

Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow

I heard just now the crowing cock.

The shadows flicker to and fro:

The cricket chirps: the light burns low:

'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.

Shake hands, before you die.

Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:

What is it we can do for you?

Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.

Alack! our friend is gone.

Close up his eyes; tie up his chin;

Step from the corpse, and let him in

That standeth there alone,

And waiteth at the door.

There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,

And a new face at the door, my friend,

A new face at the door.


  WEEK 52  


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  WEEK 52  


The Struggle for Sea Power  by M. B. Synge

Napoleon's Retreat from Moscow

"No pitying voice commands a halt,

No courage can dispel the dire assault:

Distracted, spiritless, benumbed, and blind,

Whole legions sink—and in one instant find

Burial and death."


T HE story of Napoleon's advance to and retreat from Moscow, is one of the most pathetic in human history. Full of spirit, the Grand Army had started, but already difficulties were beginning. It took three days to cross the Niemen, by means of pontoon bridges thrown across; but they reached the far side unmolested, and pursued their way over the sandy wastes. The solitude of the way, the sultry heat of a Russian midsummer, and drenching thunderstorms depressed the spirits of the army. By the time they reached Vilna—some seventy miles on—10,000 horses had perished, 30,000 stragglers had deserted, and there were 25,000 sick men, and the transports as yet ever so far behind.

It was not till July 16, that an advance was possible, and the Grand Army could once more march on its way to Moscow. Fever and disease now played their part, and food ran short. No human genius could have achieved the stupendous task, Napoleon had now undertaken. So fearful was the prospect, that Napoleon seriously thought of putting off the invasion till the spring. But the temptation of conquest was strong upon him, and once more the great host moved forward to Smolensko. The Russians moved out of each city as the French advanced.

At last, on September 7, the two armies met some seventy miles from Moscow, and a tremendous battle was fought at Borodino. Both sides claimed the victory, which neither had won, though 40,000 French and 30,000 Russians lay wounded or dead on the battlefield.

The Grand Army, now so reduced in size, reached Moscow a week later. There lay the famous city at last at the foot of the hill, with its gardens, its churches, its river, its steeples crowned with golden balls, all flashing and blazing in the bright morning sunlight of that autumn day.

"Moscow! Moscow!" cried the delighted soldiers.

"Yes, here at last is the famous city," said Napoleon, reining in his horse.

The conqueror entered his new capital, expecting to be met with the keys of the city and the submission of Alexander. What was his surprise, then, to find the city empty and deserted! The houses were closed, the streets were bare. To add to this disappointment, flames were soon seen bursting forth from various quarters. The Russians had set their capital on fire!

For three days and nights the fire raged furiously, till from the very Kremlin or citadel, where Napoleon was staying, flames issued forth. A great part of the wonderful city was destroyed, and the question of food-supply again faced Napoleon. The Russians had swept the district bare.

Still Napoleon hoped to bring Alexander to terms, but the Tsar's proclamation to his people showed, that he understood the peril of the French in Moscow: "The enemy is in deserted Moscow, without means of existence. He has the wreck of his army in Moscow. He is in the heart of Russia, without a single Russian at his feet, while our forces are increasing round him. To escape famine, he must pass through the close ranks of our brave soldiers."

Still Napoleon lingered on. September passed, October had begun. The idea of spending a winter in the blackened city, with only salted horse-flesh to eat, was intolerable, and at last the order to retreat was given.

It was the 18th of October, just a month after their entry into the capital, that the French army once more filed through the gates. There were about 100,000 fighting men now, with a number of sick. Besides these, were a number of followers, stragglers, prisoners, baggage-bearers,—men of all nations, speaking all languages,—one idea of escaping the terrors of a Russian winter hurrying them onwards. So far the weather was fine. A few days after their start, a Russian army blocked their way. A battle was fought, and the Grand Army was further reduced to 65,000 men. On they hastened. They could rest and get food at Smolensko, if only they could reach it, before the snow began. On November 6, winter suddenly came upon them. The clear blue sky disappeared, the sun was seen no more, bitter blasts of wind cut through them; and then came thick flakes of snow, darkening the whole air. Through whirlwinds of snow and sleet, the troops forced their dreary way. Their clothes froze on them, icicles hung from their beards. Those who sank down from very weariness, rose no more. All order was at an end. Muskets fell from the frozen hands that carried them. Before, above, around them, was nothing but snow. Now and again they tried to light fires to thaw their clothes and cook their wretched meal of horse-flesh.

"Smolensko, Smolensko," they murmured to one another.

It was November 14, before they reached this longed-for goal and literally fought for food. Two-thirds of the army had perished in twenty-five days, and much was yet before them. They must push on quickly,—push on through bands of attacking Russians all the way. The firmness of Napoleon never left him. In the midst of the wildest swamp, in snowstorms and darkness, by night and day, he never lost sight of the fact, that this handful of hungry, frost-bitten men was the Grand Army of France, and that he, their leader, was the conqueror of Europe. They were now within three days march of the river Beresina, which had to be crossed, when news arrived, that the Russians had broken down the bridge. The Emperor struck the ground with his stick, and, raising his eyes to heaven, cried, "Is it written there that henceforth every step shall be a fault?"

The situation was indeed desperate. They must march on and cross the river under fire, and across bridges of their own making. In the midst of their sufferings, they never doubted their Emperor. His genius had always triumphed; he would lead them to victory yet. On they dragged—on towards the fatal Beresina. It was November 25, and late that evening, the first pile was driven into the muddy bank of the river for the bridge. All night they worked, up to their necks in water, struggling with pieces of ice carried down by the stream. The lights from the Russian fires gleamed from the opposite side. One after another his generals tried to persuade Napoleon to escape, but he refused to desert his army in the face of so great danger.

All went well for a time. Napoleon and some 2000 soldiers were across, and the bridge was heavily weighted with masses of struggling men, when with a thundering crash and a cry of horror the bridge broke in the middle. The Russians now rushed to the attack, and terrible indeed was the onslaught. Thousands were drowned, thousands were killed. The scene was terrible. On November 29, Napoleon and the remains of the Grand Army pushed on towards Vilna, where they arrived after a fearful march through ice and snow. Here at last the Emperor left them, to push on to Paris as fast as he might.

Then, and not till then, the Grand Army lost heart. The weather grew worse; the very birds froze in the air and dropped dead at their feet. On they tramped, with their eyes cast down. To stop meant certain death. The only sound in the stillness, was the dull tread of their own feet in the snow and the feeble groans of the dying. Their only food was boiled horse-flesh, together with a little rye meal, kneaded into muffins with snow-water, and seasoned with the powder of their cartridges.

Out of the 600,000 men who had so proudly crossed the river Niemen seven months before, for the conquest of Russia, only 20,000 staggered across the frozen river. The rest of that mighty host "lay at rest under Nature's winding-sheet of snow."

Just a week before Christmas, Napoleon reached the Tuileries.

"All had gone well," he said. "Moscow was in his power; but the cold of the winter had caused a general calamity, by reason of which the army had sustained very great losses."


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  WEEK 52  


Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Across the Lake  by Lisa M. Ripperton

The Little Match-Girl

I T was terribly cold; it snowed and was already almost dark, and evening came on, the last evening of the year. In the cold and gloom a poor little girl, bareheaded and barefoot, was walking through the streets. When she left her own house she certainly had had slippers on; but of what use were they? They were very big slippers, and her mother had used them till then, so big were they. The little maid lost them as she slipped across the road, where two carriages were rattling by terribly fast. One slipper was not to be found again, and a boy had seized the other and run away with it. He thought he could use it very well as a cradle some day when he had children of his own. So now the little girl went with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches, and a bundle of them in her hand. No one had bought anything of her all day, and no one had given her a farthing.

Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along, a picture of misery, poor little girl! The snowflakes covered her long fair hair, which fell in pretty curls over her neck; but she did not think of that now. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was a glorious smell of roast goose, for it was New-year's eve. Yes, she thought of that!

In a corner formed by two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sat down, cowering. She had drawn up her little feet, but she was still colder, and she did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches and did not bring a farthing of money. From her father she would certainly receive a beating; and, besides, it was cold at home, for they had nothing over them but a roof through which the wind whistled, though the largest rents had been stopped with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost benumbed with the cold. Ah, a match might do her good, if she could only draw one from the bundle and rub it against the wall and warm her hands at it. She drew one out. R-r-atch! how it sputtered and burned! It was a warm, bright flame, like a little candle, when she held her hands over it; it was a wonderful little light! It really seemed to the little girl as if she sat before a great polished stove with bright brass feet and a brass cover. How the fire burned! How comfortable it was! But the little flame went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the burnt match in her hand.

A second was rubbed against the wall. It burned up, and when the light fell upon the wall it became transparent like a thin veil, and she could see through it into the room. On the table a snow-white cloth was spread; upon it stood a shining dinner service; the roast goose smoked gloriously, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And, what was still more splendid to behold, the goose hopped down from the dish and waddled along the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out and only the thick, damp, cold wall was before her. She lighted another match. Then she was sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree; it was greater and more ornamented than the one she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant's. Thousands of candles burned upon the green branches, and colored pictures like those in the print-shops looked down upon them. The little girl stretched forth her hand toward them; then the match went out. The Christmas lights mounted higher. She saw them now as stars in the sky; one of them fell down, forming a long line of fire.

"Now some one is dying," thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star fell down a soul mounted up to God.

She rubbed another match against the wall; it became bright again, and in the brightness the old grandmother stood clear and shining, mild and lovely.

"Grandmother!" cried the child. "Oh, take me with you! I know you will go when the match is burned out. You will vanish like the warm fire, the warm food, and the great, glorious Christmas tree!"


And she hastily rubbed the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to hold her grandmother fast. And the matches burned with such a glow that it became brighter than in the middle of the day; grandmother had never been so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and both flew in brightness and joy above the earth, very, very high, and up there was neither cold, nor hunger, nor care—they were with God.

But in the corner, leaning against the wall, sat the poor girl with red cheeks and smiling mouth, frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. The New-year's sun rose upon a little corpse! The child sat there, stiff and cold, with the matches, of which one bundle was burned. "She wanted to warm herself," the people said. No one imagined what a beautiful thing she had seen and in what glory she had gone in with her grandmother to the New-year's day.


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  WEEK 52  


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The Rose and the Ring  by William Makepeace Thackeray

And Now We Come to the Last Scene in the Pantomime


T HE many ups and downs of her life had given the Princess Rosalba prodigious strength of mind, and that highly principled young woman presently recovered from her fainting-fit out of which Fairy Blackstick, by a precious essence which the Fairy always carried in her pocket, awakened her. Instead of tearing her hair, crying and bemoaning herself, and fainting again, as many young women would have done, Rosalba remembered that she owed an example of firmness to her subjects, and though she loved Giglio more than her life, was determined, as she told the Fairy, not to interfere between him and justice, or to cause him to break his royal word.

"I cannot marry him, but I shall love him always," says she to Blackstick; "I will go and be present at his marriage with the Countess, and sign the book, and wish them happy with all my heart. I will see, when I get home, whether I cannot make the new Queen some handsome presents. The Crim Tartary crown diamonds are uncommonly fine, and I shall never have any use for them. I will live and die unmarried like Queen Elizabeth, and, of course, I shall leave my crown to Giglio when I quit this world. Let us go and see them married, my dear Fairy, let me say my one last farewell to him; and then, if you please, I will return to my own dominions."

So the Fairy kissed Rosalba with peculiar tenderness, and at once changed her wand into a very comfortable coach-and-four, with a steady coachman, and two respectable footmen behind; and the Fairy and Rosalba got into the coach, which Angelica and Bulbo entered after them. As for honest Bulbo, he was blubbering in the most pathetic manner, quite overcome by Rosalba's misfortune. She was touched by the honest fellow's sympathy, promised to restore to him the confiscated estates of Duke Padella his father, and created him, as he sat there in the coach, Prince, Highness, and First Grandee of the Crim Tarter Empire. The coach moved on, and, being a fairy coach, soon came up with the bridal procession.

Before the ceremony at the church it was the custom in Paflagonia, as it is in other countries, for the bride and bridegroom to sign the Contract of Marriage, which was to be witnessed by the Chancellor, Minister, Lord Mayor, and principal officers of state. Now, as the Royal Palace was being painted and furnished anew, it was not ready for the reception of the King and his bride, who proposed at first to take up their residence at the Prince's palace, that one which Valoroso occupied when Angelica was born, and before he usurped the throne.

So the marriage party drove up to the palace: the dignitaries got out of their carriages and stood aside; poor Rosalba stepped out of her coach, supported by Bulbo, and stood almost fainting up against the railings, so as to have a last look of her dear Giglio. As for Blackstick, she, according to her custom, had flown out of the coach window in some inscrutable manner, and was now standing at the palace door.

Giglio came up the steps with his horrible bride on his arm, looking as pale as if he were going to execution. He only frowned at the Fairy Blackstick—he was angry with her, and thought she came to insult his misery.

"Get out of the way, pray," says Gruffanuff, haughtily. "I wonder why you are always poking your nose into other people's affairs?"

"Are you determined to make this poor young man unhappy?" says Blackstick.

"To marry him, yes! What business is it of yours? Pray, madam, don't say 'you' to a Queen," cries Gruffanuff.

"You won't take the money he offered you?"


"You won't let him off his bargain, though you know you cheated him when you made him sign the paper?"

"Impudence! Policemen, remove this woman!" cries Gruffanuff. And the policemen were rushing forward, but with a wave of her wand the Fairy struck them all like so many statues in their places.

"You won't take any thing in exchange for your bond, Mrs. Gruffanuff," cries the Fairy, with awful severity. "I speak for the last time."

"No!" shrieks Gruffanuff, stamping with her foot. "I'll have my husband, my husband, my husband!"

"You SHALL HAVE YOUR HUSBAND!" the Fairy Blackstick cried; and advancing a step laid her hand upon the nose of the KNOCKER.

As she touched it, the brass nose seemed to elongate, the open mouth opened still wider, and uttered a roar which made everybody start. The eyes rolled wildly; the arms and legs uncurled themselves, writhed about, and seemed to lengthen with each twist; the knocker expanded into a figure in yellow livery, six feet high; the screws by which it was fixed to the door unloosed themselves, and JENKINS GRUFFANUFF once more trod the threshold off which he had been lifted more than twenty years ago!


"Master's not at home," says Jenkins, just in his old voice; and Mrs. Jenkins, giving a dreadful youp, fell down in a fit, in which nobody minded her.

For everybody was shouting: "Huzzay! huzzay!"  "Hip, hip, hurray!"  "Long live the King and Queen!"  "Were such things ever seen?"  "No, never, never, never!"  "The Fairy Blackstick forever!"

The bells were ringing double peals, the guns roaring and banging most prodigiously. Bulbo was embracing everybody; the Lord Chancellor was flinging up his wig and shouting like a madman; Hedzoff had got the Archbishop round the waist, and they were dancing a jig for joy; and as for Giglio, I leave you to imagine what he  was doing, and if he kissed Rosalba once, twice—twenty thousand times, I'm sure I don't think he was wrong.

So Gruffanuff opened the hall door with a low bow, just as he had been accustomed to do, and they all went in and signed the book, and then they went to church and were married, and the Fairy Blackstick sailed away on her cane, and was never more heard of in Paflagonia.


The Rose and the Ring  by William Makepeace Thackeray


Here begins the pantomine.

Royal folks at breakfast time.

Awful consequence of crime!

Ah, I fear, King Valoroso,

That your conduct is but so‑so!

Here, behold the monarch sit,

With her majesty opposite.

How the monarch ruled his nation.

Gruffanuff, and what her station.

Beware of pride without a cause.

Who the fairy Blackstick was.

Fairy roses, Fairy rings,

Turn out sometimes troublesome things.

Flattering courtiers make poor martyrs.

Who was king of the Crim Tartars?

Gruffanuff is silenced quite,

Don't you think she served him right?

All ye footmen, rude and rough,

Warning take by Gruffanuff!

How the Princess, as she played,

Met a little beggar-maid.

How this little beggar-baby

Danced and sang, as droll as may be.

Of the mistress and the maid,

Whilst one worked, the other played.

Shows how Giglio evinces

Idle tastes like other princes.

How his pretty cousin meets him,

And how saucily she treats him.

Much I fear, when hearts are ill,

Small 's the good of doctor's pill.

Folks with whom we're all acquainted

Aren't so handsome as they're painted.

O you painter, how you flatter!

Sure he must be laughing at her!

Other girls, the author guesses,

Love to flirt besides princesses.

Other folks, as well as they,

Blindly fling good luck away.

Flourish trumpets! rattle drums

Royal Bulbo this way comes!

Friends, if we were princes, too,

Drums would beat for me and you.

Giglio's jealous of the Crim-

Tartar prince, and laughs at him.

Here's a pretty figure for laughter!

How they dined and quarrelled after,

Read, and take a warning by 't,

Have good care of what you write.

Poor Betsinda! Much, I fear,

Grief 's in store for you, my dear!

Jealousy, in some men's souls,

Warmer burns than pans of coals.

Even though you wear a crown,

Burning love will knock you down.

See the Monarch in a huff;

Look at lovely Gruffanuff!

Critics serve us authors thus:

Sport to them is death to us.

Leaving Bulbo in this fix,

We return to Gruffy's tricks.

She has Giglio's plighted troth.

Prince and maid, she hates them both.

See! How woman's anger flies out,

Sure they'll tear Betsinda's eyes out!

While the rope 's round Bulbo's neck fast,

King and Queen sit down to breakfast.

Here, upon the new scaffold

Thank our stars! Jack Ketch is baffled;

Bulbo and his bride are married.

Now we're to Betsinda carried.

To a hut she gains admission,

What a touching recognition!

Champion bold of right and beauty,

To Rosalba pay your duty!

You, who with success would fight,

Should be strong as well as right.

How Count Hogginarmo woo'd her,

Surely nothing could be ruder.

Much I fear your reign is over.

Poor Rosalba! where's your lover?

King Padella comes a wooing.

Here we see what Giglio's doing.

As becomes his lineage knightly,

Master Giglio acts politely.

Of the bag, and how she gave it,

Oh! how I should like to have it!

Humble pie is wholesome meat,

Good for all of us to eat.

In the papers here we read

Most important news indeed.

On perusal of this letter

Giglio swears that he'll abet her.

Now good-bye to book and pen,

Follow Giglio, gentlemen!

Hasten, rescue! Giglio run! for

Else our poor Rosalba 's done for.

Little suffering victim tender!

From these lions Heaven defend her!

I'll keep clear when lions sup;

These ate Hogginarmo up.

Yet the terrible Crim Tartar,

Still would poor Rosalba martyr.

Of poor Bulbo, how they picked him

Out, as usual, for a victim.

May we ne'er be thus befriended!

Bulbo's pains seem well-nigh ended.

Hark! they play the March in Saul!

But the young Queen rescues all.

Kissings, huggings, billings, cooings,

And all sorts of merry doings.

After kissing, billing, cooing,

Up, Sir King! for mischief 's brewing!

Trumpets pealing, chargers prancing,

Stabbing, slashing, axing, lancing.

Now the dreadful battle 's over,

Onward ride they, maid and lover.

Here's a pretty pair of knaves,

Tell us how the king behaves.

Bulbo now is happy quite.

Madam Gruff demands her right.

Giglio shows extreme disgust,

Says he won't, but knows he must.

Gruffy, 'twixt the cup and lip,

Sure we know there's many a slip.

Plans of rogues are often crost,

Gruffy's husband 's won and lost.

So our little story ends,

Merry Christmas, good my friends.



An Old Christmas Carol

As Joseph was a-waukin',

He heard an angel sing,

"This night shall be the birthnight

Of Christ our heavenly King.

"His birth-bed shall be neither

In housen nor in hall,

Nor in the place of paradise,

But in the oxen's stall.

"He neither shall be rockèd

In silver nor in gold,

But in the wooden manger

That lieth in the mould.

"He neither shall be washen

With white wine nor with red,

But with the fair spring water

That on you shall be shed.

"He neither shall be clothèd

In purple nor in pall,

But in the fair, white linen

That usen babies all."

As Joseph was a-waukin',

Thus did the angel sing,

And Mary's son at midnight

Was born to be our King.

Then be you glad, good people,

At this time of the year;

And light you up your candles,

For His star it shineth clear.