WEEK 7 |
HOPE you don't mind my telling you a good deal about Roberta. The fact is I am growing very fond of her. The more I observe her the more I love her. And I notice all sorts of things about her that I like.
For instance, she was quite oddly anxious to make other people happy. And she could keep a secret, a tolerably rare accomplishment. Also she had the power of silent sympathy. That sounds rather dull, I know, but it's not so dull as it sounds. It just means that a person is able to know that you are unhappy, and to love you extra on that account, without bothering you by telling you all the time how sorry she is for you. That was what Bobbie was like. She knew that Mother was unhappy—and that Mother had not told her the reason. So she just loved Mother more and never said a single word that could let Mother know how earnestly her little girl wondered what Mother was unhappy about. This needs practice. It is not so easy as you might think.
Whatever happened—and all sorts of nice, pleasant ordinary things
happened, such as picnics, games, and buns for tea—Bobbie always had
these thoughts at the back of her mind. "Mother's unhappy. Why? I don't
She doesn't want me to know. I won't try to find out. But she
is unhappy. Why? I don't know. She
The Russian gentleman still took up a good deal of everybody's thoughts. All the Editors and Secretaries of Societies and Members of Parliament had answered Mother's letters as politely as they knew how; but none of them could tell where the wife and children of Mr. Szezcpansky would be likely to be. (Did I tell you that the Russian's very Russian name was that?)
Bobbie had another quality which you will hear differently described by different people. Some of them call it interfering in other people's business—and some call it "helping lame dogs over stiles," and some call it "loving-kindness." It just means trying to help people.
She racked her brains to think of some way of helping the Russian gentleman to find his wife and children. He had learned a few words of English now. He could say "Good morning," and "Good night," and "Please," and "Thank you," and "Pretty," when the children brought him flowers, and "Ver' good," when they asked him how he had slept.
The way he smiled when he "said his English," was, Bobbie felt, "just too sweet for anything." She used to think of his face because she fancied it would help her to some way of helping him. But it did not. Yet his being there cheered her because she saw that it made Mother happier.
"She likes to have someone to be good to, even beside us," said Bobbie. "And I know she hated to let him have Father's clothes. But I suppose it 'hurt nice,' or she wouldn't have."
For many and many a night after the day when she and Peter and Phyllis had saved the train from wreck by waving their little red flannel flags, Bobbie used to wake screaming and shivering, seeing again that horrible mound, and the poor, dear trustful engine rushing on towards it—just thinking that it was doing its swift duty, and that everything was clear and safe. And then a warm thrill of pleasure used to run through her at the remembrance of how she and Peter and Phyllis and the red flannel petticoats had really saved everybody.
One morning a letter came. It was addressed to Peter and Bobbie and Phyllis. They opened it with enthusiastic curiosity, for they did not often get letters.
The letter said:
Dear Sir, and Ladies,— It is proposed to make a small presentation to you, in commemoration of your prompt and courageous action in warning the train on the ___ inst., and thus averting what must, humanly speaking, have been a terrible accident. The presentation will take place at the ___ Station at three o'clock on the 30th inst., if this time and place will be convenient to you.
Secretary, Great Northern and Southern Railway Co.
There never had been a prouder moment in the lives of the three children. They rushed to Mother with the letter, and she also felt proud and said so, and this made the children happier than ever.
"But if the presentation is money, you must say, 'Thank you, but we'd
rather not take
"Phil and I can wash them," said Bobbie, "if you'll iron them, Mother."
Washing is rather fun. I wonder whether you've ever done it? This particular washing took place in the back kitchen, which had a stone floor and a very big stone sink under its window.
"Let's put the bath on the sink," said Phyllis; "then we can pretend we're out-of-doors washerwomen like Mother saw in France."
"But they were washing in the cold river," said Peter, his hands in his pockets, "not in hot water."
"This is a hot river, then," said Phyllis; "lend a hand with the bath, there's a dear."
"I should like to see a deer lending a hand," said Peter, but he lent his.
"Now to rub and scrub and scrub and rub," said Phyllis, hopping joyously about as Bobbie carefully carried the heavy kettle from the kitchen fire.
"Oh, no!" said Bobbie, greatly shocked; "you don't rub muslin. You put the boiled soap in the hot water and make it all frothy-lathery—and then you shake the muslin and squeeze it, ever so gently, and all the dirt comes out. It's only clumsy things like tablecloths and sheets that have to be rubbed."
The lilac and the Gloire de Dijon roses outside the window swayed in the soft breeze.
"It's a nice drying day—that's one thing," said Bobbie, feeling very grown up. "Oh, I do wonder what wonderful feelings we shall have when we wear the Indian muslin dresses!"
"Yes, so do I," said Phyllis, shaking and squeezing the muslin in quite a professional manner.
"Now we squeeze out the soapy water. No—we mustn't twist them—and then rinse them. I'll hold them while you and Peter empty the bath and get clean water."
"A presentation! That means presents," said Peter, as his sisters, having duly washed the pegs and wiped the line, hung up the dresses to dry. "Whatever will it be?"
"It might be anything," said Phyllis; "what I've always wanted is a baby elephant—but I suppose they wouldn't know that."
"Suppose it was gold models of steam-engines?" said Bobbie.
"Or a big model of the scene of the prevented accident," suggested Peter, "with a little model train, and dolls dressed like us and the engine-driver and fireman and passengers."
"Do you like," said Bobbie, doubtfully, drying her hands on the rough towel that hung on a roller at the back of the scullery door, "do you like us being rewarded for saving a train?"
"Yes, I do," said Peter, downrightly; "and don't you try to come it over us that you don't like it, too. Because I know you do."
"Yes," said Bobbie, doubtfully, "I know I do. But oughtn't we to be satisfied with just having done it, and not ask for anything more?"
"Who did ask for anything more, silly?" said her brother; "Victoria Cross soldiers don't ask for it; but they're glad enough to get it all the same. Perhaps it'll be medals. Then, when I'm very old indeed, I shall show them to my grandchildren and say, 'We only did our duty,' and they'll be awfully proud of me."
"You have to be married," warned Phyllis, "or you don't have any grandchildren."
"I suppose I shall have to be married some day," said Peter, "but it will be an awful bother having her round all the time. I'd like to marry a lady who had trances, and only woke up once or twice a year."
"Just to say you were the light of her life and then go to sleep again. Yes. That wouldn't be bad," said Bobbie.
"When I get married," said Phyllis, "I shall want him to want me to be awake all the time, so that I can hear him say how nice I am."
"I think it would be nice," said Bobbie, "to marry someone very poor, and then you'd do all the work and he'd love you most frightfully, and see the blue wood smoke curling up among the trees from the domestic hearth as he came home from work every night. I say—we've got to answer that letter and say that the time and place will be convenient to us. There's the soap, Peter. We're both as clean as clean. That pink box of writing paper you had on your birthday, Phil."
It took some time to arrange what should be said. Mother had gone back to her writing, and several sheets of pink paper with scalloped gilt edges and green four-leaved shamrocks in the corner were spoiled before the three had decided what to say. Then each made a copy and signed it with its own name.
The threefold letter ran:
Dear Mr. Jabez Inglewood,— Thank you very much. We did not want to be rewarded but only to save the train, but we are glad you think so and thank you very much. The time and place you say will be quite convenient to us. Thank you very much.
Your affecate little friend,
Then came the name, and after it:
P.S. Thank you very much.
"Washing is much easier than ironing," said Bobbie, taking the clean dry dresses off the line. "I do love to see things come clean. Oh—I don't know how we shall wait till it's time to know what presentation they're going to present!"
When at last—it seemed a very long time after—it was the day, the three children went down to the station at the proper time. And everything that happened was so odd that it seemed like a dream. The Station Master came out to meet them—in his best clothes, as Peter noticed at once—and led them into the waiting-room where once they had played the advertisement game. It looked quite different now. A carpet had been put down—and there were pots of roses on the mantelpiece and on the window ledges—green branches stuck up, like holly and laurel are at Christmas, over the framed advertisement of Cook's Tours and the Beauties of Devon and the Paris-Lyons Railway. There were quite a number of people there besides the Porter—two or three ladies in smart dresses, and quite a crowd of gentlemen in high hats and frock coats—besides everybody who belonged to the station. They recognized several people who had been in the train on the red-flannel-petticoat day. Best of all their own old gentleman was there, and his coat and hat and collar seemed more than ever different from anyone else's. He shook hands with them and then everybody sat down on chairs, and a gentleman in spectacles—they found out afterwards that he was the District Superintendent—began quite a long speech—very clever indeed. I am not going to write the speech down. First, because you would think it dull; and secondly, because it made all the children blush so, and get so hot about the ears that I am quite anxious to get away from this part of the subject; and thirdly, because the gentleman took so many words to say what he had to say that I really haven't time to write them down. He said all sorts of nice things about the children's bravery and presence of mind, and when he had done he sat down, and everyone who was there clapped and said, "Hear, hear."
And then the old gentleman got up and said things, too. It was very like a prize-giving. And then he called the children one by one, by their names, and gave each of them a beautiful gold watch and chain. And inside the watches were engraved after the name of the watch's new owner:
"From the Directors of the Northern and Southern Railway in grateful recognition of the courageous and prompt action which averted an accident on — 1905."
The watches were the most beautiful you can possibly imagine, and each one had a blue leather case to live in when it was at home.
"You must make a speech now and thank everyone for their kindness," whispered the Station Master in Peter's ear and pushed him forward. "Begin 'Ladies and Gentlemen'," he added.
Each of the children had already said "Thank you," quite properly.
"Oh, dear," said Peter, but he did not resist the push.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," he said in a rather husky voice. Then there was a pause, and he heard his heart beating in his throat. "Ladies and Gentlemen," he went on with a rush, "it's most awfully good of you, and we shall treasure the watches all our lives—but really we don't deserve it because what we did wasn't anything, really. At least, I mean it was awfully exciting, and what I mean to say—thank you all very, very much."
The people clapped Peter more than they had done the District Superintendent, and then everybody shook hands with them, and as soon as politeness would let them, they got away, and tore up the hill to Three Chimneys with their watches in their hands.
It was a wonderful day—the kind of day that very seldom happens to anybody and to most of us not at all.
"I did want to talk to the old gentleman about something else," said Bobbie, "but it was so public—like being in church."
"What did you want to say?" asked Phyllis.
"I'll tell you when I've thought about it more," said Bobbie.
So when she had thought a little more she wrote a letter.
My dearest old gentleman, [it said] I want most awfully to ask you something. If you could get out of the train and go by the next, it would do. I do not want you to give me anything. Mother says we ought not to. And besides, we do not want any things. Only to talk to you about a Prisoner and Captive. Your loving little friend,
She got the Station Master to give the letter to the old gentleman, and next day she asked Peter and Phyllis to come down to the station with her at the time when the train that brought the old gentleman from town would be passing through.
She explained her idea to them—and they approved thoroughly.
They had all washed their hands and faces, and brushed their hair, and were looking as tidy as they knew how. But Phyllis, always unlucky, had upset a jug of lemonade down the front of her dress. There was no time to change—and the wind happening to blow from the coal yard, her frock was soon powdered with grey, which stuck to the sticky lemonade stains and made her look, as Peter said, "like any little gutter child."
It was decided that she should keep behind the others as much as possible.
"Perhaps the old gentleman won't notice," said Bobbie. "The aged are often weak in the eyes."
There was no sign of weakness, however, in the eyes, or in any other part of the old gentleman, as he stepped from the train and looked up and down the platform.
The three children, now that it came to the point, suddenly felt that rush of deep shyness which makes your ears red and hot, your hands warm and wet, and the tip of your nose pink and shiny.
"Oh," said Phyllis, "my heart's thumping like a steam-engine—right under my sash, too."
"Nonsense," said Peter, "people's hearts aren't under their sashes."
"I don't care—mine is," said Phyllis.
"If you're going to talk like a poetry-book," said Peter, "my heart's in my mouth."
"My heart's in my boots—if you come to that," said Roberta; "but do come on—he'll think we're idiots."
"He won't be far wrong," said Peter, gloomily. And they went forward to meet the old gentleman.
"Hullo," he said, shaking hands with them all in turn. "This is a very great pleasure."
"It was good of you to get out," Bobbie said, perspiring and polite.
He took her arm and drew her into the waiting-room where she and the others had played the advertisement game the day they found the Russian. Phyllis and Peter followed. "Well?" said the old gentleman, giving Bobbie's arm a kind little shake before he let it go. "Well? What is it?"
"Oh, please!" said Bobbie.
"Yes?" said the old gentleman.
"What I mean to
"Well?" said the old gentleman.
"It's all very nice and kind," said she.
"But?" he said.
"I wish I might say something," she said.
"Say it," said he.
"Well, then," said Bobbie—and out came the story of the Russian who had written the beautiful book about poor people, and had been sent to prison and to Siberia for just that.
"And what we want more than anything in the world is to find his wife and children for him," said Bobbie, "but we don't know how. But you must be most horribly clever, or you wouldn't be a Direction of the Railway. And if you knew how—and would? We'd rather have that than anything else in the world. We'd go without the watches, even, if you could sell them and find his wife with the money."
And the others said so, too, though not with so much enthusiasm.
"Hum," said the old gentleman, pulling down the white waistcoat that had the big gilt buttons on it, "what did you say the name was—Fryingpansky?"
"No, no," said Bobbie earnestly. "I'll write it down for you. It doesn't really look at all like that except when you say it. Have you a bit of pencil and the back of an envelope?" she asked.
The old gentleman got out a gold pencil-case and a beautiful, sweet-smelling, green Russian leather note-book and opened it at a new page.
"Here," he said, "write here."
She wrote down "Szezcpansky," and said:
"That's how you write it. You call it Shepansky."
The old gentleman took out a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles and fitted them on his nose. When he had read the name, he looked quite different.
"That man? Bless my soul!" he said. "Why, I've read his book! It's translated into every European language. A fine book—a noble book. And so your mother took him in—like the good Samaritan. Well, well. I'll tell you what, youngsters—your mother must be a very good woman."
"Of course she is," said Phyllis, in astonishment.
"And you're a very good man," said Bobbie, very shy, but firmly resolved to be polite.
"You flatter me," said the old gentleman, taking off his hat with a flourish. "And now am I to tell you what I think of you?"
"Oh, please don't," said Bobbie, hastily.
"Why?" asked the old gentleman.
"I don't exactly know," said Bobbie. "Only—if it's horrid, I don't want you to; and if it's nice, I'd rather you didn't."
The old gentleman laughed.
"Well, then," he said, "I'll only just say that I'm very glad you came to me about this—very glad, indeed. And I shouldn't be surprised if I found out something very soon. I know a great many Russians in London, and every Russian knows his name. Now tell me all about yourselves."
He turned to the others, but there was only one other, and that was Peter. Phyllis had disappeared.
"Tell me all about yourself," said the old gentleman again. And, quite naturally, Peter was stricken dumb.
"All right, we'll have an examination," said the old gentleman; "you two sit on the table, and I'll sit on the bench and ask questions."
He did, and out came their names and ages—their Father's name and business—how long they had lived at Three Chimneys and a great deal more.
The questions were beginning to turn on a herring and a half for three-halfpence, and a pound of lead and a pound of feathers, when the door of the waiting-room was kicked open by a boot; as the boot entered everyone could see that its lace was coming undone—and in came Phyllis, very slowly and carefully.
In one hand she carried a large tin can, and in the other a thick slice of bread and butter.
"Afternoon tea," she announced proudly, and held the can and the bread and butter out to the old gentleman, who took them and said:
"Bless my soul!"
"Yes," said Phyllis.
"It's very thoughtful of you," said the old gentleman, "very."
"But you might have got a cup," said Bobbie, "and a plate."
"Perks always drinks out of the can," said Phyllis, flushing red. "I think it was very nice of him to give it me at all—let alone cups and plates," she added.
"So do I," said the old gentleman, and he drank some of the tea and tasted the bread and butter.
And then it was time for the next train, and he got into it with many good-byes and kind last words.
"Well," said Peter, when they were left on the platform, and the tail-lights of the train disappeared round the corner, "it's my belief that we've lighted a candle today—like Latimer, you know, when he was being burned—and there'll be fireworks for our Russian before long."
And so there were.
It wasn't ten days after the interview in the waiting room that the three children were sitting on the top of the biggest rock in the field below their house watching the 5.15 steam away from the station along the bottom of the valley. They saw, too, the few people who had got out at the station straggling up the road towards the village—and they saw one person leave the road and open the gate that led across the fields to Three Chimneys and to nowhere else.
"Who on earth!" said Peter, scrambling down.
"Let's go and see," said Phyllis.
So they did. And when they got near enough to see who the person was, they saw it was their old gentleman himself, his brass buttons winking in the afternoon sunshine, and his white waistcoat looking whiter than ever against the green of the field.
"Hullo!" shouted the children, waving their hands.
"Hullo!" shouted the old gentleman, waving his hat.
Then the three started to run—and when they got to him they hardly had breath left to say:
"How do you do?"
"Good news," said he. "I've found your Russian friend's wife and child—and I couldn't resist the temptation of giving myself the pleasure of telling him."
But as he looked at Bobbie's face he felt that he could resist that temptation.
"Here," he said to her, "you run on and tell him. The other two will show me the way."
Bobbie ran. But when she had breathlessly panted out the news to the Russian and Mother sitting in the quiet garden—when Mother's face had lighted up so beautifully, and she had said half a dozen quick French words to the Exile—Bobbie wished that she had not carried the news. For the Russian sprang up with a cry that made Bobbie's heart leap and then tremble—a cry of love and longing such as she had never heard. Then he took Mother's hand and kissed it gently and reverently—and then he sank down in his chair and covered his face with his hands and sobbed. Bobbie crept away. She did not want to see the others just then.
But she was as gay as anybody when the endless French talking was over, when Peter had torn down to the village for buns and cakes, and the girls had got tea ready and taken it out into the garden.
The old gentleman was most merry and delightful. He seemed to be able to talk in French and English almost at the same moment, and Mother did nearly as well. It was a delightful time. Mother seemed as if she could not make enough fuss about the old gentleman, and she said yes at once when he asked if he might present some "goodies" to his little friends.
The word was new to the children—but they guessed that it meant sweets, for the three large pink and green boxes, tied with green ribbon, which he took out of his bag, held unheard-of layers of beautiful chocolates.
The Russian's few belongings were packed, and they all saw him off at the station.
Then Mother turned to the old gentleman and said: "I don't know how to thank you for everything. It has been a real pleasure to me to see you. But we live very quietly. I am so sorry that I can't ask you to come and see us again."
The children thought this very hard. When they had made a friend—and such a friend—they would dearly have liked him to come and see them again.
What the old gentleman thought they couldn't tell. He only said:
"I consider myself very fortunate, Madam, to have been received once at your house."
"Ah," said Mother, "I know I must seem surly
"You could never seem anything but a most charming and gracious lady," said the old gentleman, with another of his bows.
And as they turned to go up the hill, Bobbie saw her Mother's face.
"How tired you look, Mammy," she said; "lean on me."
"It's my place to give Mother my arm," said Peter. "I'm the head man of the family when Father's away."
Mother took an arm of each.
"How awfully nice," said Phyllis, skipping joyfully, "to think of the dear Russian embracing his long-lost wife. The baby must have grown a lot since he saw it."
"Yes," said Mother.
"I wonder whether Father will think I've grown," Phyllis went on, skipping still more gaily. "I have grown already, haven't I, Mother?"
"Yes," said Mother, "oh, yes," and Bobbie and Peter felt her hands tighten on their arms.
"Poor old Mammy, you are tired," said Peter.
Bobbie said, "Come on, Phil; I'll race you to the gate."
And she started the race, though she hated doing it. You know why Bobbie did that. Mother only thought that Bobbie was tired of walking slowly. Even Mothers, who love you better than anyone else ever will, don't always understand.
I N 476, one year before the death of Genseric the Vandal, a Goth named Odoacer became ruler of Italy. He had taken the throne from the handsome boy who had been ruling as Emperor, permitting him to escape and allowing him six thousand gold pieces a year. The Roman Senate, which had once been a courageous and patriotic body of men, decided that there was no longer any Western Empire, and that its rule belonged to the Emperor in the East, whose capital was Constantinople. The Emperor accepted this view, and left Odoacer in Italy to represent him. This event is called the fall of the Western Empire.
Remains of the Palace of Theodoric at Ravenna, Italy
In this same year, 476, Theodoric became king of the Ostrogoths, or Goths of the East. The Emperor in the East had hired this nation to defend the lower Danube, and Theodoric, a little boy of the royal family, had been sent to Constantinople as a hostage, or pledge that his people would keep their promises. When Theodoric grew up and became king, the Emperor permitted him to go and drive Odoacer out of Italy. Theodoric started with his army, and with all the rest of his tribe, for they meant not only to drive out Odoacer, but to make their homes in Italy.
There were three fierce battles. Finally it was agreed that Odoacer and Theodoric should rule with equal powers. Before long, however, Theodoric treacherously murdered Odoacer and became sole ruler of Italy. He meant to rule like the Romans, but more wisely. He chose from the old Roman laws those which he thought just. He broke up the vast estates of the very wealthy and made many small farms, so that much more grain was raised. He built many handsome buildings, and he encouraged his subjects to read and study. The emperors in the East were doing their best to keep back the hordes of Huns and other barbarians, and it began to seem as if Italy would grow into a powerful, well-governed country with Goths for its rulers.
That might have come to pass if a brilliant man named Justinian had not become ruler in the Eastern Empire after the death of Theodoric. His great wish was to bring back Italy and Africa to the Empire. Fortunately for him, he had an officer named Belisarius, who was not only a skilful general, but who had the power of making his soldiers eager to follow him. Under his lead, Italy and Africa were regained, the Vandals in Africa were scattered, and the Goths in Italy were hopelessly beaten. Justinian brought together all that was known of the Roman law, and it is upon his Code of Laws that the governments of the chief countries of Europe are founded. While he lived, there seemed some hope that the Empire would be mighty again; but as soon as he died, it lapsed into the same weak, tottering state as just before his day.
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.
WEEK 7 |
W HEN Edward was told what his uncle had done, he was very sad and very much afraid. "Oh," he said, "I hope my uncle will not take my life as he has taken my kingdom." From that day he became sorrowful, and did not seem to care about anything. He did not even trouble to dress himself properly.
Richard took away all the little Princes' servants and left them only one man, called Black Bill. He was rough and rude, but even he loved the gentle little boys and tried to comfort them, for, shut up in one room with nothing to do, the days seemed very long and dreary.
The days seemed very long and dreary to the two little boys.
But although Richard was King, he could not be happy. He could not forget the little Princes in the Tower. As long as they lived, he knew that some day the people might drag him from the throne and make one of them King instead. So he determined to kill Edward and his brother.
King Richard sent a message to the Governor of the Tower telling him to kill the Princes. But the Governor refused to do the wicked deed. Richard, however, could always find men bad enough to do what he wanted.
He sent a bad man now to the Governor of the Tower, commanding him to give up the keys of the Tower for one night. The Governor was forced to obey the King, but he did so with a sad heart.
That night the little Princes went to sleep with their arms round each other's necks, each trying to comfort the other. They lay together in a great big bed, happy in their dreams, with tears still wet upon their cheeks.
As they slept two men crept softly, softly up the dark stair. Quietly they opened the door and stole into the room. They stood beside the bed, hardly daring to look at the two pretty children in case the sight might soften even their hard hearts, and they would be unable to do the cruel deed. Then they seized the clothes and the pillows and pressed them over the faces of the little boys. They could not scream, they could not breathe. Soon they lay still, smothered in their sleep.
Then these wicked men took the bodies of the two little Princes, threw them into a hole which they had made under the staircase, covered them over and fled away. There the bodies were found many years later.
Now that Richard had murdered the rightful King and his brother, he was no happier. Terrible dreams came to him at night so that he could not sleep. By day he thought that people were ever ready to kill him, and his hand was almost always on his dagger. The people hated him and he knew no rest nor peace. He tried to make good laws so that the people might forget his wickedness. But it was no use. They hated him in spite of all he could do.
Plots against Richard soon began. Even the Duke of Buckingham, who had helped him in his wickedness, and put him on the throne, turned against him.
The people longed for another King, and their thoughts went out to Henry Tudor, Duke of Richmond.
You remember that
Queen Catherine, the widow of
Henry of Richmond was at this time living in France, but he now gathered an army and came over to England. But before he came Richard had already fought the Duke of Buckingham. He defeated him, took him prisoner, and then cut off his head. When Henry heard that, he went away again.
But he soon came back. This time as soon as Henry landed, people flocked to him. Noble after noble deserted Richard and joined the Red Rose party.
In 1485 A.D. a great battle was fought called the Battle of Bosworth Field. This was the last of the Wars of the Roses, and in it King Richard was killed. He fought well, for, although he was small and deformed, he could fight. His horse was killed under him, but he still fought on foot. In the middle of the battle Lord Stanley left the King, and, with all his followers, joined Henry Tudor. Seeing that the battle was lost, some of his nobles begged Richard to fly, but he would not. "I will die a King," he said, and so he fell in the thickest of the fight. As he fell, the crown which he had worn over his helmet rolled away under a hawthorn tree. There it was found by Lord Stanley who set it upon Henry Tudor's head and, on the battle-field with the dead and dying round, the soldiers shouted, "King Henry! King Henry! Long live King Henry!" The place is still called Crown Hill to this day.
Richard III. had reigned two years, two months and one day.
"And it was
Y OU should go skating—crawling, I ought to say—over a pond of glare ice this winter. Take the pond you are most familiar with. Go early on a bright day, before any skater arrives, and lying flat upon the clear, "black" ice, study the bottom of the pond and the fish that swim below you. They have boats with glass bottoms along the California coast, through which to watch the marvelous bottoms off shore. But an Eastern pond covered with glare ice is as good, for such ice is a plate-glass window into a wonder world.
Fight your way one of these winter days to the crest of some high hill and stand up against a northwest gale. Feel the sweep of the winds from across the plain beneath you; hear them speaking close in your ear, as they fly past; catch them and breathe them, until they run red in your leaping veins. Master them, and make them, mighty as they are, your own. And something large and free, strong and sound will pass into you; and you will love the great world more, and you will feel how fit a place, for the strong of heart, is this earth to live on.
Keep a careful list of the winter birds you see; and visit every variety of wood, meadow, and upland in your neighborhood—not neglecting the parks and city trees—for a sight of the rarer winter visitors, such as the snowy owl, the snow buntings, and the crossbills.
If you know little about the birds, then this is the time to begin your study. When they are so few and scarce? Yes, just because they are few and scarce. On a June morning (unless you are at home in the woods) you will be confused by the medley of songs you hear, and the shapes flitting everywhere about you; and you may be tempted to give up your study for the very multitude. Get a pair of good field or opera glasses and a good bird book, such as Hoffmann's "Guide to the Birds," and go into the fields and woods—leaving the book at home.
The first bird you see follow up until
you can remember
(1) his size, color—whether he has a white bar on
wings, or small spots or large clear spots on breast;
(2) his chirp, or call; (3) something peculiar about
his flight—a flirt of the tail, a habit of flying
down to the ground in getting away. Then come back to
your book and identify him from memory. If you cannot,
then go out again and again; and it will not be long
before either this first one, or others, will be
accurately made out—the beginning of an acquaintance
that you can extend in the summer, but which will be
plenty large enough for your "coming-out" winter into
bird society. For here is a list of the birds you may
be able to find during the
Screech owl, crow, robin, flicker, jay, goldfinch, tree sparrow, English sparrow, song sparrow, junco, golden-crowned kinglet, nuthatch, brown creeper, downy woodpecker, quail, partridge.
See to it that no bird in your neighborhood starves for lack of food that you can supply. Tie a piece of suet to a tree or bush near the house (by the window if you can) for the chickadees and blue jays; keep a place on the lawn cleared of snow and well supplied with crumbs and small seeds for the juncos and the sparrows; hang a netted bag of cracked nuts out some where for the nuthatches; and provide corn and nuts for the squirrels.
Go out on a cold December day, or a January day, and see how many "signs" of spring—"Minor Prophets," as Mr. Torrey calls them—you can bring home. They will be mostly buds of various sorts. Then, on a warm, soft day, go again to see what you can bring home—flitting, creeping, crawling things that the warm sun has brought from their winter hiding.
Make a map of your sky, showing the positions of the planets, the constellations, and the most brilliant stars, the points in the horizon for the rising and setting of the sun, say, in January, noting the changes in places of things since your last map drawn in October. Any school child can do it, and, in doing it, learn the few large facts about the sky that most people are pitifully ignorant of.
Go out after a fresh light snow and take up the trail of a fox or a rabbit or a partridge, as you might take up a problem in arithmetic, or as a detective might take up a clew, and "solve" it—where the creature came from, where going, what for, in a hurry or not, pursued or pursuing, etc. It will give you one of the best of lessons in observation, in following a clew, and in learning to take a hint.
Go out to study the face of the ground—the ridges, hollows, level places, the ledges, meadows, sandbanks, the course of the streams, the location of the springs—the general shape and contour, the pitch and slant and make-up of the region over which you tramp in the summer. Now, when the leaves are off and things swept bare, you can get a general idea of the lay of the land that will greatly aid you in your more detailed study of plants and birds, of individual things, in the summer. It is like an outline map in your geography.
Winter is the time to do much good reading. A tramp over real fields is to be preferred to a tramp in a book. But a good book is pretty nearly as good as anything under the stars. You need both fields and books. And during these cold days—impossible days, some of them, for work afield—you will read, read. Oh, the good things to read that have been written about the out-of-doors!
I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me,
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.
I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.
And this shall be for music when no one else is near
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.
WEEK 7 |
PLANT-LOUSE, we will suppose," resumed Uncle Paul, "has
just established itself on the tender shoot of a rosebush.
It is alone, all alone. A few days after, young
"The ants would be the most to be pitied," said Emile.
"The round earth would continue to turn just the same, even
when the last
"This devourer is of a delicate green with a white stripe on
its back. It is tapering in front, swollen at the back. When
it doubles itself up it takes the shape of a
(a) larva (b) pupa (c) first joint of larva
"Is that all? Oh, no. Here is the
"Is that all? Oh, no. Those poor
"The herring, cod, and sardine are given over as pasturage for the devourers of the sea, earth and sky. When they undertake long voyages to graze in favorable spots, their extermination is imminent. The hungry ones of the sea surround the school of fish; the famished ones of the sky hover over their route; those of the earth await them on the shore. Man hastens to lend a strong hand to the killing and to take his share of the sea food. He equips fleets, goes to the fish with naval armies in which all nations are represented; he dries in the sun, salts, smokes, packs. But there is no perceptible diminution in the supply; for him the weak are infinite in number. One cod lays nine million eggs! Where are the devourers that will see the end of such a family?"
"Nine million eggs!" exclaimed Emile. "Is that a great many?"
"Just to count them, one by one, would take nearly a year of ten working hours each day."
"Whoever counted them had lots of patience," was Emile's comment.
"They are not counted," replied Uncle Paul; "they are weighed, which is quickly done; and from the weight the number is deduced.
"Like the cod in the sea, the
"Perhaps as large a place as our garden," suggested Claire.
"More than that; the garden is a hundred meters long and the
same in width. Well, the family of that one
"In spite of the hungry ones which devour them, the
"Man, so powerful, can do nothing against these little creatures, invincible in their multitude."
Uncle Paul finished the story of the ants and their cows.
Several times since, Emile, Jules, and Claire have talked of
the prodigious families of the
SIR WALTER RALEIGH was a brave and gallant English knight who lived during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The story is told that one day, as the Queen approached the place where he was waiting with a crowd to see her pass, she paused before a muddy spot in the way. Raleigh, without a moment's hesitation, slipped his velvet cape from his shoulders and spread it out for her to walk on. This little act of courtesy greatly pleased Queen Elizabeth, and ever after she remembered her gallant knight.
Raleigh was born in a seaport town of Devonshire in 1552. Here large sailing vessels used to anchor to load and unload their cargoes.
When a boy, Raleigh was like all other boys. There was nothing he enjoyed quite so much as going down to the wharves and hearing the sailors tell thrilling stories of the sea and the strange countries they had visited. Then Raleigh would say to himself, "When I am a man, I, too, will discover some new land." And though he never discovered a new land, he did much in attempting to found an English colony in America.
Since the Cabots crossed the Atlantic, England had not sent out many exploring expeditions. But, as you know, Spain had done so; and her colonies were growing stronger than those of any other European nation, and her trade was greater.
Never the best of friends with Spain, England naturally did not like to see Spain gaining more power than she herself across the sea. So, not to be outdone, the English made plans for planting colonies in America and for carrying on a larger trade with that country.
Moreover, England had other reasons for wanting to colonize America besides the desire to increase her trade and to hold her own with Spain. There was always the old hope of finding gold; and there was yet a fourth reason, one that had grown out of the condition of the English people themselves.
In the time of Queen Elizabeth, the population of England was about five millions, and there was not work enough in the kingdom to keep so many people employed. Hundreds could find nothing to do. So, while the rich in England were growing richer each day, the poor were growing poorer.
Why not send these poor idle people to America? There they would certainly have plenty of work and a fair chance to make a new start in life.
Of course this would mean a great risk and vast sums of money, and there were few persons who cared to hazard all they owned in an undertaking that might be unsuccessful. Again, how many people do you suppose would willingly be separated forever from their friends in England?
Yet, in spite of the risk, there were some wealthy men in England who put great sums of money into ships to carry colonists across the ocean. One of these was Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a stepbrother of Walter Raleigh. In 1578 he set sail with seven ships to plant a colony in North America. His first attempt was unsuccessful.
On his second voyage Sir Humphrey landed in Newfoundland and claimed it in the name of the Queen. From there he sailed south to the Kennebec River. As his three vessels skirted the coast, a great storm arose. Suddenly with a crash the largest ship crushed its bows against a hidden rock and sank.
The storm continued to rage wildly. Sir Humphrey decided to head for England. Soon his little ship began to founder in the terrible sea. Sitting near the stern the brave man called out to his companions on the other vessel, "The way to heaven is as near by sea as by land." That night his ship went down, and neither he nor his sailors were ever seen again.
ON the death of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Walter Raleigh decided to carry out his stepbrother's scheme. He was a rich man and a great favorite with the Queen. He asked her to renew in his name the charter granted to Sir Humphrey, and the Queen gladly did so.
These charters gave in writing the privileges the Queen was willing to grant her colonists. It was so far from England to America, and the journey back and forth took so long, that it would have been impossible to refer questions to the Queen as they came up. The only way was to decide ahead what the colonists should be allowed to do. Then if the people who were to sail to the new land felt that they could be content under those conditions, all well and good. Otherwise they had better stay in England.
Walter Raleigh's charter granted him the right to explore and settle the eastern coast of America and to make himself governor of any colony he might found. The colonists who went with him were to have all the political and religious rights and privileges that they had in England.
This was a very fair charter. Everything seemed to promise success to the future colonists. But to make assurance doubly sure, Raleigh thought best to send an exploring party ahead, so that when the colonists reached America they would know what to expect. With this in view, two vessels sailed away from England in 1584.
Their anchors were cast just off the island of Roanoke; and going ashore the English found the climate delightful, the vegetation rich, and the Indians most eager to welcome them. For several weeks the explorers stayed on the island; and such a good time did they have that, when they got back to England, they gave only glowing reports of all they had seen. Queen Elizabeth was so delighted when she heard of the glorious regions across the sea, that she named them Virginia, in her own honor. Elizabeth was not married and was proud of her title, "The Virgin Queen." As a reward for his efforts in the new land, Raleigh was knighted and became Sir Walter Raleigh.
Now there was nothing to delay the sending out of the
colony, and soon the
So far so good. But from this time matters did not progress. The colonists were lazy. Instead of exerting themselves in tilling the ground and building homes, they wasted their time and lived on what they could get from the Indians. Of course the Indians did not like this arrangement. The English were only a burden to them, and constant quarrels arose.
The next year Sir Francis Drake sailed up to Virginia to see how the colonists were getting along. He found them almost destitute and terribly homesick; and, yielding to their pleadings, he carried them back to England.
As far as founding a colony was concerned, the expedition had proved a failure. However, it brought about two results which became of great value to England. On their return Sir Walter's colonists presented him with two kinds of plants which they had found growing on Roanoke Island. One was the potato, which, up to this time, the English had never known. They tried it and liked it so well that it has ever since been raised in their land.
The other plant was tobacco, which the colonists had tried and had deemed worthy of being carried all the way to England.
Sir Walter tried the tobacco; and he, too, liked it. An
amusing tale is told of what happened to Sir Walter one
day as he was smoking. His servant, who had never
before seen smoke come out of anyone's mouth, came into
the room. He glanced at his master, thought he must be
on fire, and rushed out for a jug of water, which he
promptly poured all over
In 1587 Sir Walter Raleigh made another effort to colonize America. This time the colonists included women and children as well as men.
Soon after they landed on Roanoke a little girl was
born. She was the first child of English parents to be
born in America. Her name was Virginia Dare, and she
was the granddaughter of
Before long Deputy Governor White sailed back to England for new supplies. When he started, the colonists told him that, if for any reason they left Roanoke Island, they would carve on a tree the name of the place where he could find them; and that, if they were in any trouble when they moved, he would see a cross cut above the name.
Three years passed before Governor White came back to the island, and by that time there was no one to receive him. He could not find a single one of the colonists. Their homes were deserted, and the harbor was empty. Not a trace was left excepting the word "Croatoan" cut into the trunk of a tree, but there was no cross over the name. Croatoan was the name of an island not far away. But though search after search was made, not one of the missing colonists was ever found on that island or anywhere else.
Saddened and disappointed by the fate of his colonists, Sir Walter Raleigh gave up his idea of personally founding an English settlement in America. His experiment had cost him over forty thousand pounds. However, he still held firmly to his belief that this country would one day be an English nation.
Stimulated by his example, others followed his lead with happier results. After a few years, more and more English people crossed to America, and many English colonies were established along the eastern coast.
The colonists soon realized that they had to work in order to live. They built comfortable homes, raised crops, and traded among themselves. They laid the foundations of such towns as Jamestown and Plymouth, which in the course of time became centers of trade with the mother country. In fact the English colonists who followed Sir Walter Raleigh's example succeeded by their hard and earnest work in turning a wilderness into the prosperous land of an English-speaking nation.
Many, many welcomes,
February, fair maid,
Ever as of old time,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February, fair maid.
WEEK 7 |
HERE was a new emperor in Germany who had come from a far away Swiss castle—Count Rudolph of Hapsburg, a good, honest man with a good, honest, homely face, but bringing with him a stern sense of justice and of right, and a determination to put down the lawlessness of the savage German barons among whom he had come as Emperor.
One day two strangers came galloping up the winding path to the gates of the Dragon's house. A horn sounded thin and clear, a parley was held across the chasm in the road between the two strangers and the porter who appeared at the little wicket. Then a messenger was sent running to the Baron, who presently came striding across the open court-yard to the gateway to parley with the strangers.
The two bore with them a folded parchment with a great red seal hanging from it like a clot of blood; it was a message from the Emperor demanding that the Baron should come to the Imperial Court to answer certain charges that had been brought against him, and to give his bond to maintain the peace of the empire.
One by one those barons who had been carrying on their private wars, or had been despoiling the burgher folk in their traffic from town to town, and against whom complaint had been lodged, were summoned to the Imperial Court, where they were compelled to promise peace and to swear allegiance to the new order of things. All those who came willingly were allowed to return home again after giving security for maintaining the peace; all those who came not willingly were either brought in chains or rooted out of their strongholds with fire and sword, and their roofs burned over their heads.
Now it was Baron Conrad's turn to be summoned to the Imperial Court, for complaint had been lodged against him by his old enemy of Trutz-Drachen—Baron Henry—the nephew of the old Baron Frederick who had been slain while kneeling in the dust of the road back of the Kaiserburg.
The Grim Baron sat silent with his chin resting upon his clenched fist.
No one at Drachenhausen could read but Master Rudolph, the steward, who was sand blind, and little Otto. So the boy read the summons to his father, while the grim Baron sat silent with his chin resting upon his clenched fist and his eyebrows drawn together into a thoughtful frown as he gazed into the pale face of his son, who sat by the rude oaken table with the great parchment spread out before him.
Should he answer the summons, or scorn it as he would have done under the old emperors? Baron Conrad knew not which to do; pride said one thing and policy another. The Emperor was a man with an iron hand, and Baron Conrad knew what had happened to those who had refused to obey the imperial commands. So at last he decided that he would go to the court, taking with him a suitable escort to support his dignity.
It was with nearly a hundred armed men clattering behind him that Baron Conrad rode away to court to answer the imperial summons. The castle was stripped of its fighting men, and only eight remained behind to guard the great stone fortress and the little simple-witted boy.
It was a sad mistake.
Three days had passed since the Baron had left the castle, and now the third night had come. The moon was hanging midway in the sky, white and full, for it was barely past midnight.
The high precipitous banks of the rocky road threw a dense black shadow into the gully below, and in that crooked inky line that scarred the white face of the moonlit rocks a band of some thirty men were creeping slowly and stealthily nearer and nearer to Castle Drachenhausen. At the head of them was a tall, slender knight clad in light chain armor, his head covered only by a steel cap or bascinet.
Along the shadow they crept, with only now and then a faint clink or jingle of armor to break the stillness, for most of those who followed the armed knight were clad in leathern jerkins; only one or two wearing even so much as a steel breast-plate by way of armor.
So at last they reached the chasm that yawned beneath the roadway, and there they stopped, for they had reached the spot toward which they had been journeying. It was Baron Henry of Trutz-Drachen who had thus come in the silence of the night time to the Dragon's house, and his visit boded no good to those within.
The Baron and two or three of his men talked together in low tones, now and then looking up at the sheer wall that towered above them.
"Yonder is the place, Lord Baron," said one of those who stood with him. "I have scanned every foot of the wall at night for a week past. An we get not in by that way, we get not in at all. A keen eye, a true aim, and a bold man are all that we need, and the business is done." Here again all looked upward at the gray wall above them, rising up in the silent night air.
High aloft hung the wooden bartizan or watch-tower, clinging to the face of the outer wall and looming black against the pale sky above. Three great beams pierced the wall, and upon them the wooden tower rested. The middle beam jutted out beyond the rest to the distance of five or six feet, and the end of it was carved into the rude semblance of a dragon's head.
"So, good," said the Baron at last; "then let us see if thy plan holds, and if Hans Schmidt's aim is true enough to earn the three marks that I have promised him. Where is the bag?"
One of those who stood near handed the Baron a leathern pouch, the Baron opened it and drew out a ball of fine thread, another of twine, a coil of stout rope, and a great bundle that looked, until it was unrolled, like a coarse fish-net. It was a rope ladder. While these were being made ready, Hans Schmidt, a thick-set, low-browed, broad-shouldered archer, strung his stout bow, and carefully choosing three arrows from those in his quiver, he stuck them point downward in the earth. Unwinding the ball of thread, he laid it loosely in large loops upon the ground so that it might run easily without hitching, then he tied the end of the thread tightly around one of his arrows. He fitted the arrow to the bow and drew the feather to his ear. Twang! rang the bowstring, and the feathered messenger flew whistling upon its errand to the watch-tower. The very first shaft did the work.
"Good," said Hans Schmidt, the archer, in his heavy voice, "the three marks are mine, Lord Baron."
The arrow had fallen over and across the jutting beam between the carved dragon's head and the bartizan, carrying with it the thread, which now hung from above, glimmering white in the moonlight like a cobweb.
The rest was an easy task enough. First the twine was drawn up to and over the beam by the thread, then the rope was drawn up by the twine, and last of all the rope ladder by the rope. There it hung like a thin, slender black line against the silent gray walls.
"And now," said the Baron, "who will go first and win fifty marks for his own, and climb the rope ladder to the tower yonder?" Those around hesitated. "Is there none brave enough to venture?" said the Baron, after a pause of silence.
A stout, young fellow, of about eighteen years of age, stepped forward and flung his flat leathern cap upon the ground. "I will go, my Lord Baron," said he.
"Good," said the Baron, "the fifty marks are thine. And now listen, if thou findest no one in the watch-tower, whistle thus; if the watchman be at his post, see that thou makest all safe before thou givest the signal. When all is ready the others will follow thee. And now go and good luck go with thee."
The young fellow spat upon his hands and, seizing the ropes, began slowly and carefully to mount the flimsy, shaking ladder. Those below held it as tight as they were able, but nevertheless he swung backward and forward and round and round as he climbed steadily upward. Once he stopped upon the way, and those below saw him clutch the ladder close to him as though dizzied by the height and the motion but he soon began again, up, up, up like some great black spider. Presently he came out from the black shadow below and into the white moonlight, and then his shadow followed him step by step up the gray wall upon his way. At last he reached the jutting beam, and there again he stopped for a moment clutching tightly to it. The next he was upon the beam, dragging himself toward the window of the bartizan just above. Slowly raising himself upon his narrow foothold he peeped cautiously within. Those watching him from below saw him slip his hand softly to his side, and then place something between his teeth. It was his dagger. Reaching up, he clutched the window sill above him and, with a silent spring, seated himself upon it. The next moment he disappeared within. A few seconds of silence followed, then of sudden a sharp gurgling cry broke the stillness. There was another pause of silence, then a faint shrill whistle sounded from above.
Slowly raising himself upon the narrow foothold he peeped cautiously within.
"Who will go next?" said the Baron. It was Hans Schmidt who stepped forward. Another followed the arch up the ladder, and another, and another. Last of all went the Baron Henry himself, and nothing was left but the rope ladder hanging from above, and swaying back and forth in the wind.
That night Schwartz Carl had been bousing it over a pot of yellow wine in the pantry with his old crony, Master Rudolph, the steward; and the two, chatting and gossiping together, had passed the time away until long after the rest of the castle had been wrapped in sleep. Then, perhaps a little unsteady upon his feet, Schwartz Carl betook himself homeward to the Melchior tower.
He stood for a while in the shadow of the doorway, gazing up into the pale sky above him at the great, bright, round moon, that hung like a bubble above the sharp peaks of the roofs standing black as ink against the sky. But all of a sudden he started up from the post against which he had been leaning, and with head bent to one side, stood listening breathlessly, for he too had heard that smothered cry from the watch-tower. So he stood intently, motionlessly, listening, listening; but all was silent except for the monotonous dripping of water in one of the nooks of the court-yard, and the distant murmur of the river borne upon the breath of the night air. "Mayhap I was mistaken," muttered Schwartz Carl to himself.
But the next moment the silence was broken again by a faint, shrill whistle; what did it mean?
Back of the heavy oaken door of the tower was Schwartz Carl's cross-bow, the portable windlass with which the bowstring was drawn back, and a pouch of bolts. Schwartz Carl reached back into the darkness, fumbling in the gloom until his fingers met the weapon. Setting his foot in the iron stirrup at the end of the stock, he wound the stout bow-string into the notch of the trigger, and carefully fitted the heavy, murderous-looking bolt into the groove.
Schwartz Carl, holding his arbelast in his hand, stood silently watching.
Minute after minute passed, and Schwartz Carl, holding his arbelast in his hand, stood silently waiting and watching in the sharp-cut, black shadow of the doorway, motionless as a stone statue. Minute after minute passed. Suddenly there was a movement in the shadow of the arch of the great gateway across the court-yard, and the next moment a leathern-clad figure crept noiselessly out upon the moonlit pavement, and stood there listening, his head bent to one side. Schwartz Carl knew very well that it was no one belonging to the castle, and, from the nature of his action, that he was upon no good errand.
He did not stop to challenge the suspicious stranger. The taking of another's life was thought too small a matter for much thought or care in those days. Schwartz Carl would have shot a man for a much smaller reason than the suspicious actions of this fellow. The leather-clad figure stood a fine target in the moonlight for a cross-bow bolt. Schwartz Carl slowly raised the weapon to his shoulder and took a long and steady aim. Just then the stranger put his fingers to his lips and gave a low, shrill whistle. It was the last whistle that he was to give upon this earth. There was a sharp, jarring twang of the bow-string, the hiss of the flying bolt, and the dull thud as it struck its mark. The man gave a shrill, quavering cry, and went staggering back, and then fell all of a heap against the wall behind him. As though in answer to the cry, half a dozen men rushed tumultuously out from the shadow of the gateway whence the stranger had just come, and then stood in the court-yard, looking uncertainly this way and that, not knowing from what quarter the stroke had come that had laid their comrade low.
But Schwartz Carl did not give them time to discover that; there was no chance to string his cumbersome weapon again; down he flung it upon the ground. "To arms!" he roared in a voice of thunder, and then clapped to the door of Melchior's tower and shot the great iron bolts with a clang and rattle.
The next instant the Trutz-Drachen men were thundering at the door, but Schwartz Carl was already far up the winding steps.
But now the others came pouring out from the gateway. "To the house," roared Baron Henry.
Then suddenly a clashing, clanging uproar crashed out upon the night. Dong! Dong! It was the great alarm bell from Melchior's tower—Schwartz Carl was at his post.
Little Baron Otto lay sleeping upon the great rough bed in his room, dreaming of the White Cross on the hill and of brother John. By and by he heard the convent bell ringing, and knew that there must be visitors at the gate, for loud voices sounded through his dream. Presently he knew that he was coming awake, but though the sunny monastery garden grew dimmer and dimmer to his sleeping sight, the clanging of the bell and the sound of shouts grew louder and louder. Then he opened his eyes. Flaming red lights from torches, carried hither and thither by people in the court-yard outside, flashed and ran along the wall of his room. Hoarse shouts and cries filled the air, and suddenly the shrill, piercing shriek of a woman rang from wall to wall; and through the noises the great bell from far above upon Melchior's tower clashed and clanged its harsh, resonant alarm.
Otto sprang from his bed and looked out of the window and down upon the court-yard below. "Dear God! what dreadful thing hath happened?" he cried and clasped his hands together.
A cloud of smoke was pouring out from the windows of the building across the court-yard, whence a dull ruddy glow flashed and flickered. Strange men were running here and there with flaming torches, and the now continuous shrieking of women pierced the air.
Just beneath the window lay the figure of a man half naked and face downward upon the stones. Then suddenly Otto cried out in fear and horror, for, as he looked with dazed and bewildered eyes down into the lurid court-yard beneath, a savage man, in a shining breast-plate and steel cap, came dragging the dark, silent figure of a woman across the stones; but whether she was dead or in a swoon, Otto could not tell.
And every moment the pulsing of that dull red glare from the windows of the building across the court-yard shone more brightly, and the glare from other flaming buildings, which Otto could not see from his window, turned the black, starry night into a lurid day.
Just then the door of the room was burst open, and in rushed poor old Ursela, crazy with her terror. She flung herself down upon the floor and caught Otto around the knees. "Save me!" she cried, "save me!" as though the poor, pale child could be of any help to her at such a time. In the passageway without shone the light of torches, and the sound of loud footsteps came nearer and nearer.
And still through all the din sounded continually the clash and clang and clamor of the great alarm bell.
The red light flashed into the room, and in the doorway stood a tall, thin figure clad from head to foot in glittering chain armor. From behind this fierce knight, with his dark, narrow, cruel face, its deep-set eyes glistening in the light of the torches, crowded six or eight savage, low-browed, brutal men, who stared into the room and at the white-faced boy as he stood by the window with the old woman clinging to his knees and praying to him for help.
"We have cracked the nut and here is the kernel," said one of them who stood behind the rest, and thereupon a roar of brutal laughter went up. But the cruel face of the armed knight never relaxed into a smile; he strode into the room and laid his iron hand heavily upon the boy's shoulder. "Art thou the young Baron Otto?" said he, in a harsh voice.
"Aye," said the lad; "but do not kill me."
He strode forward into the room and laid his hand heavily on the boy's shoulder.
The knight did not answer him. "Fetch the cord hither," said he, "and drag the old witch away."
It took two of them to loosen poor old Ursela's crazy clutch from about her young master. Then amid roars of laughter they dragged her away, screaming and scratching and striking with her fists.
They drew back Otto's arms behind his back and wrapped them round and round with a bowstring. Then they pushed and hustled and thrust him forth from the room and along the passageway, now bright with the flames that roared and crackled without. Down the steep stairway they drove him, where thrice he stumbled and fell amid roars of laughter. At last they were out into the open air of the court-yard. Here was a terrible sight, but Otto saw nothing of it; his blue eyes were gazing far away, and his lips moved softly with the prayer that the good monks of St. Michaelsburg had taught him, for he thought that they meant to slay him.
All around the court-yard the flames roared and snapped and crackled. Four or five figures lay scattered here and there, silent in all the glare and uproar. The heat was so intense that they were soon forced back into the shelter of the great gateway, where the women captives, under the guard of three or four of the Trutz-Drachen men, were crowded together in dumb, bewildered terror. Only one man was to be seen among the captives, poor, old, half blind Master Rudolph, the steward, who crouched tremblingly among the women.
They had set the blaze to Melchior's tower, and now, below, it was a seething furnace. Above, the smoke rolled in black clouds from the windows, but still the alarm bell sounded through all the blaze and smoke. Higher and higher the flames rose; a trickle of fire ran along the frame buildings hanging aloft in the air. A clear flame burst out at the peak of the roof, but still the bell rang forth its clamorous clangor. Presently those who watched below saw the cluster of buildings bend and sink and sway; there was a crash and roar, a cloud of sparks flew up as though to the very heavens themselves, and the bell of Melchior's tower was stilled forever. A great shout arose from the watching, upturned faces.
"Forward!" cried Baron Henry, and out from the gateway they swept and across the drawbridge, leaving Drachenhausen behind them a flaming furnace blazing against the gray of the early dawning.
A T one time a dishonest king had a man called the Valuer in his court. The Valuer set the price which ought to be paid for horses and elephants and the other animals. He also set the price on jewelry and gold, and things of that kind.
This man was honest and just, and set the proper price to be paid to the owners of the goods.
The king was not pleased with this Valuer, because he was honest. "If I had another sort of a man as Valuer, I might gain more riches," he thought.
One day the king saw a stupid, miserly peasant come into the palace yard. The king sent for the fellow and asked him if he would like to be the Valuer. The peasant said he would like the position. So the king had him made Valuer. He sent the honest Valuer away from the palace.
Then the peasant began to set the prices on horses and elephants, upon gold and jewels. He did not know their value, so he would say anything he chose. As the king had made him Valuer, the people had to sell their goods for the price he set.
So they went before the king.
By and by a horse-dealer brought five hundred horses to the court of this king. The Valuer came and said they were worth a mere measure of rice. So the king ordered the horse-dealer to be given the measure of rice, and the horses to be put in the palace stables.
The horse-dealer went then to see the honest man who had been the Valuer, and told him what had happened.
"What shall I do?" asked the horse-dealer.
"I think you can give a present to the Valuer which will make him do and say what you want him to do and say," said the man. "Go to him and give him a fine present, then say to him: 'You said the horses are worth a measure of rice, but now tell what a measure of rice is worth! Can you value that standing in your place by the king?' If he says he can, go with him to the king, and I will be there, too."
The horse-dealer thought this was a good idea. So he took a fine present to the Valuer, and said what the other man had told him to say.
The Valuer took the present, and said: "Yes, I can go before the king with you and tell what a measure of rice is worth. I can value that now."
"Well, let us go at once," said the horse-dealer. So they went before the king and his ministers in the palace.
The horse-dealer bowed down before the king, and said: "O King, I have learned that a measure of rice is the value of my five hundred horses. But will the king be pleased to ask the Valuer what is the value of the measure of rice?"
He ran away from the laughing crowd.
The king, not knowing what had happened, asked: "How now, Valuer, what are five hundred horses worth?"
"A measure of rice, O King!" said he.
"Very good, then! If five hundred horses are worth a measure of rice, what is the measure of rice worth?"
"The measure of rice is worth your whole city," replied the foolish fellow.
The ministers clapped their hands, laughing, and saying, "What a foolish Valuer! How can such a man hold that office? We used to think this great city was beyond price, but this man says it is worth only a measure of rice."
Then the king was ashamed, and drove out the foolish fellow.
"I tried to please the king by setting a low price on the horses, and now see what has happened to me!" said the Valuer, as he ran away from the laughing crowd.
No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
The ship was as still as she could be,
Her sails from heaven received no motion,
Her keel was steady in the ocean.
Without either sign or sound of their shock,
The waves flow'd over the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.
The good old Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.
When the Rock was hid by the surge's swell,
The mariners heard the warning bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok.
The sun in heaven was shining gay,
All things were joyful on that day;
The sea-birds scream'd as they wheel'd round,
And there was joyance in their sound.
The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen
A darker speck on the ocean green:
Sir Ralph the Rover walk'd his deck,
And he fix'd his eyes on the darker speck.
He felt the cheering power of Spring,
It made him whistle, it made him sing;
His heart was mirthful to excess,
But the Rover's mirth was wickedness.
His eye was on the Inchcape float;
Quoth he, "My men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I'll plague the priest of Aberbrothok."
The boat is lower'd, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And he cut the bell from the Inchcape float.
Down sunk the bell, with a gurgling sound,
The bubbles rose and burst around;
Quoth Sir Ralph, "The next who comes to the Rock
Won't bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok."
Sir Ralph the Rover sail'd away,
He scour'd the seas for many a day;
And now grown rich with plunder'd store,
He steers his course for Scotland's shore.
So thick a haze o'erspreads the sky
They cannot see the sun on high;
The wind hath blown a gale all day,
At evening it hath died away.
On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
So dark it is they see no land,
Quoth Sir Ralph, "It will be lighter soon,
For there is the dawn of the rising moon."
"Canst hear," said one, "the breakers roar?
For methinks we should be near the shore;
Now where we are I cannot tell,
But I wish I could hear the Inchcape Bell."
They hear no sound, the swell is strong;
Though the wind hath fallen, they drift along,
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock;
"Oh, Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!"
Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
He curst himself in his despair;
The waves rush in on every side,
The ship is sinking beneath the tide.
But even in his dying fear
One dreadful sound could the Rover hear,
A sound as if, with the Inchcape Bell,
The fiends below were ringing his knell.
WEEK 7 |
" 'But everybody said,' quoth he,
'That 'twas a famous victory.' "
WAY in the heart of the German Black Forest rises the river Danube, one of the largest rivers in Europe. It is more
than double the length of the Rhine; it is swifter than the Seine. After leaving Germany it waters the plains
of Hungary, supplies Vienna, the capital of Austria, and flows into the Black Sea. But
He had left Harwich in the April of 1704 and reached The Hague two days later. Heart-broken at the death from smallpox of her only son, the Duchess of Marlborough wanted to go with him. But "I am going into Germany," the Duke wrote to her from Holland, "where it would be impossible for you to follow me; but love me as you do now and no hurt can come to me."
Marlborough had no easy task before him. Louis XIV. had been victorious in Germany, and the French boundaries seemed growing larger and larger. He now had designs on Vienna, where he thought to decide the fate of the empire. This master-stroke of Louis roused Marlborough to a master-stroke in return, but he kept his plans a secret. Having completed his preparations at The Hague, he sailed round to Utrecht. All Europe was now watching his progress with the greatest interest and anxiety. With a huge army of English and Dutch soldiers he now marched southwards, his plans yet a secret from the world.
"I am in a house that has a view over the finest country that is possible to be seen," he wrote to his wife. "I see out of my chamber window the Rhine and the Neckar. I hope in eight days to meet with Prince Eugene."
Now, Prince Eugene of Savoy ruled over a little State bordering on France, and he had promised to help England against the growing power of Louis. The two generals now met for the first time, and Marlborough reviewed his troops in the presence of the Prince, who was much surprised at their smartness after the long march.
"I have heard much of the English cavalry," he said, "and find it indeed to be the best appointed and finest I have ever seen. Money, of which you have no want in England, can buy clothes and arms, but nothing can purchase the spirit which I see in the looks of your men."
"My troops," answered Marlborough, "are now inspirited by your presence. To you we owe that spirit which awakens your admiration."
It was only now after the Neckar had been crossed, and Marlborough had struck through the heart of Germany towards the Danube, that his plans unfolded themselves before the eyes of the world. He would defeat the French before they reached Vienna. He now joined the Imperial German army under the Prince of Baden.
"I am come to meet the deliverer of the Empire," said the Prince.
"I am come to learn of your Highness how to save the Empire," answered Marlborough, though he wrote to his wife a few days later, "You know I am not good at compliments."
They had now reached the Danube. Behind a little stream which ran through the swampy ground to the Danube lay the huge army of French and Bavarians. They were strongly entrenched, for in front lay a swamp, to the right the Danube, to the left some hill country. It was near the little village of Blenheim, which has given its name to one of the most memorable battles in the history of the world. Fifty thousand soldiers in this position feared no foe.
"I know the danger," said Marlborough, when the officers ventured to suggest the hopelessness of fighting such an army; "but a battle is absolutely necessary."
He gave orders for a general engagement on the following day. That anxious night, on the banks of the fast-flowing Danube, was spent by Marlborough in prayer. He felt a nation's fate hung in the balance; but "I have great reason to hope that everything will go well," he wrote calmly home.
The morning of August 13 broke, and the troops were soon astir; but it was not till midday that the actual action began. Marlborough himself chose the centre for his attack. He made an artificial road across the swamp and threw his 8000 horsemen across. Two of these desperate charges, led by the Duke himself, decided the day. The French were flung back on the Danube and at last forced to surrender. Hundreds were drowned while trying to swim across the swift river, 12,000 were slain, 14,000 taken prisoners.
The battle was hardly won when Marlborough took from his pocket-book a slip of paper.
"I have not time to say more," he scribbled to his wife, "but to beg you will give my duty to the Queen, and let her know that her army has had a glorious victory."
This little time-worn note may still be seen at the palace at Blenheim, near Oxford, which was afterwards built at the country's expense for Marlborough, as a memorial of his famous victory.
Not only England, but the whole of Europe, was amazed at the victory at Blenheim. The invincible power of France had at last been checked. The finest French regiments had been destroyed in a single battle. Marlborough had fought with the fate of Europe in his hand and had won. In England his name was on every lip, his praises were sung by poets and statesmen; but in France Louis loved not the name of Marlborough, and the little French children trembled with fear at the sound.
REY, chief of the Vanir, longed to have sight of his sister who had been from Asgard for so long. (You must know that this happened during the time when Freya was wandering through the world, seeking her husband, the lost Odur.) Now there was in Asgard a place from which one could overlook the world and have a glimpse of all who wandered there. That place was Hlidskjalf, Odin's lofty Watch-Tower.
High up into the blue of the air that Tower went. Frey came to it and he knew that Odin All-Father was not upon Hlidskjalf. Only the two wolves, Geri and Freki, that crouched beside Odin's seat at the banquet, were there, and they stood in the way of Frey's entrance to the Tower. But Frey spoke to Geri and Freki in the language of the Gods, and Odin's wolves had to let him pass.
But, as he went up the steps within the Tower, Frey, chief of the Vanir, knew that he was doing a fateful thing. For none of the High Gods, not even Thor, the Defender of Asgard, nor Baldur, the Best-Beloved of the Gods, had ever climbed up to the top of that Tower and seated themselves upon the All-Father's seat. "But if I could see my sister once I should be contented," said Frey to himself, "and no harm can come to me if I look out on the world."
He came to the top of Hlidskjalf. He seated himself on Odin's lofty seat. He looked out on the world. He saw Midgard, the World of Men, with its houses and towns, its farms and people. Beyond Midgard he saw Jötunheim, the Realm of the Giants, terrible in its dark mountains and its masses of snow and ice. He saw Freya as she went upon her wanderings, and he marked that her face was turned towards Asgard and that her steps were leading toward the City of the Gods. "I have contented myself by looking from Hlidskjalf," said Frey to himself, "and no harm has come to me."
But even as he spoke his gaze was drawn to a dwelling that stood in the middle of the ice and snow of Jötunheim. Long he gazed upon that dwelling without knowing why he looked that way. Then the door of the house was opened and a Giant maiden stood within the doorway. Frey gazed and gazed upon her. So great was the beauty of her face that it was like starlight in that dark land. She looked from the doorway of the house, and then turned and went within, shutting the door.
Frey sat on Odin's high seat for long. Then he went down the steps of the Tower and passed by the two wolves, Geri and Freki, that looked threateningly upon him. He went through Asgard, but he found no one to please him in the City of the Gods. That night sleep did not come to him, for his thoughts were fixed upon the loveliness of the Giant maid he had looked upon. And when morning came he was filled with loneliness because he thought himself so far from her. He went to Hlidskjalf again, thinking to climb the Tower and have sight of her once more. But the two wolves, Geri and Freki, bared their teeth at him and would not let him pass, although he spoke to them again in the language of the Gods.
He went and spoke to wise Niörd, his father. "She whom you have seen, my son," said Niörd, "is Gerda, the daughter of the Giant Gymer. You must give over thinking of her. Your love for her would be an ill thing for you."
"Why should it be an ill thing for me?" Frey asked.
"Because you would have to give that which you prize most for the sake of coming to her."
"That which I prize most," said Frey, "is my magic sword."
"You will have to give your magic sword," said his father, the wise Niörd.
"I will give it," said Frey, loosening his magic sword from his belt.
"Bethink thee, my son," said Niörd. "If thou givest thy sword, what weapon wilt thou have on the day of Ragnarök, when the Giants will make war upon the Gods?"
Frey did not speak, but he thought the day of Ragnarök was far off. "I cannot live without Gerda," he said, as he turned away.
HERE was one in Asgard who was called Skirnir. He was a venturesome being who never cared what he said or did. To no one else but Skirnir could Frey bring himself to tell of the trouble that had fallen on him—the trouble that was the punishment for his placing himself on the seat of the All-Father.
Skirnir laughed when he heard Frey's tale. "Thou, a Van, in love with a maid of Jötunheim! This is fun indeed! Will ye make a marriage of it?"
"Would that I might even speak to her or send a message of love to her," said Frey. "But I may not leave my watch over the Elves."
"And if I should take a message to Gerda," said Skirnir the Venturesome, "what would my reward be?"
"My boat Skidbladnir or my boar Golden Bristle," said Frey.
"No, no," said Skirnir. "I want something to go by my side. I want something to use in my hand. Give me the magic sword you own."
Frey thought upon what his father said, that he would be left weaponless on the day of Ragnarök, when the Giants would make war upon the Gods and when Asgard would be endangered. He thought upon this, and drew back from Skirnir, and for a while he remained in thought. And all the time thick-set Skirnir was laughing at him out of his wide mouth and his blue eyes. Then Frey said to himself, "The day of Ragnarök is far off, and I cannot live without Gerda."
He drew the magic sword from his belt and he placed it in Skirnir's hand. "I give you my sword, Skirnir," he said. "Take my message to Gerda, Gymer's daughter. Show her this gold and these precious jewels, and say I love her, and that I claim her love."
"I shall bring the maid to you," said Skirnir the Venturesome.
"But how wilt thou get to Jötunheim?" said Frey, suddenly remembering how dark the Giants' land was and how terrible were the approaches to it.
"Oh, with a good horse and a good sword one can get anywhere," said Skirnir. "My horse is a mighty horse, and you have given me your sword of magic. To‑morrow I shall make the journey."
KIRNIR rode across Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge, laughing out of his wide mouth and his blue eyes at Heimdall, the Warder of the Bridge to Asgard. His mighty horse trod the earth of Midgard, and swam the river that divides Midgard, the World of Men, from Jötunheim, the Realm of the Giants. He rode on heedlessly and recklessly, as he did all things. Then out of the iron forests came the monstrous wolves of Jötunheim, to tear and devour him and his mighty horse. It was well for Skirnir that he had in his belt Frey's magic sword. Its edge slew and its gleam frightened the monstrous beasts. On and on Skirnir rode on his mighty horse. Then he came to a wall of fire. No other horse but his mighty horse could go through it. Skirnir rode through the fire and came to the dale in which was Gymer's dwelling.
And now he was before the house that Frey had seen Gerda enter on the day when he had climbed Hlidskjalf, Odin's Watch-Tower. The mighty hounds that guarded Gymer's dwelling came and bayed around him. But the gleam of the magic sword kept them away. Skirnir backed his horse to the door, and made his horse's hooves strike against it.
Gymer was in the feast hall drinking with his Giant friends, and he did not hear the baying of the hounds nor the clatter that Skirnir made before the door. But Gerda sat spinning with her maidens in the hall. "Who comes to Gymer's door?" she said.
"A warrior upon a mighty horse," said one of the maidens.
"Even though he be an enemy and one who slew my brother, yet shall we open the door to him and give him a cup of Gymer's mead," said Gerda.
One of the maidens opened the door and Skirnir entered Gymer's dwelling. He knew Gerda amongst her maidens. He went to her and showed her the rich gold and the precious jewels that he had brought from Frey. "These are for you, fairest Gerda," he said, "if you will give your love to Frey, the Chief of the Vanir."
"Show your gold and jewels to other maidens," said Gerda. "Gold and jewels will never bring me to give my love."
Then Skirnir the Venturesome, the heedless of his words, drew the magic sword from his belt and held it above her. "Give your love to Frey, who has given me this sword," he said, "or meet your death by the edge of it."
Gerda, Gymer's daughter, only laughed at the reckless Skirnir. "Make the daughters of men fearful by the sharpness of Frey's sword, she said, "but do not try to frighten a Giant's daughter with it."
Then Skirnir the Reckless, the heedless of his words, made the magic sword flash before her eyes, while he cried out in a terrible voice, saying a spell over her:
Gerda, I will curse thee;
Yes, with this magic
Blade I shall touch thee;
Such is its power
That, like a thistle,
Withered 'twill leave thee,
Like a thistle in the wind
Strips from the roof.
Hearing these terrible words and the strange hissings of the magic sword, Gerda threw herself on the ground, crying out for pity. But Skirnir stood above her, and the magic sword flashed and hissed over her. Skirnir sang:
More ugly I'll leave thee
Than maid ever was;
Thou wilt be mocked at
By men and by Giants;
A Dwarf only will wed thee;
Now on this instant
With this blade I shall touch thee,
And leave thee bespelled.
She lifted herself on her knees and cried out to Skirnir to spare her from the spell of the magic sword.
"Only if thou wilt give thy love to Frey," said Skirnir.
"I will give my love to him," said Gerda. "Now put up thy magic sword and drink a cup of mead and depart from Gymer's dwelling."
"I will not drink a cup of your mead nor shall I depart from Gymer's dwelling until you yourself say that you will meet and speak with Frey."
"I will meet and speak with him," said Gerda.
"When will you meet and speak with him?" asked Skirnir.
"In the wood of Barri nine nights from this. Let him come and meet me there."
Then Skirnir put up his magic sword and drank the cup of mead that Gerda gave him. He rode from Gymer's house, laughing aloud at having won Gerda for Frey, and so making the magic sword his own for ever.
KIRNIR the Venturesome, the heedless of his words, riding across Bifröst on his mighty horse, found Frey standing waiting for him beside Heimdall, the Warder of the Bridge to Asgard.
"What news dost thou bring me?" cried Frey. "Speak, Skirnir, before thou dost dismount from thine horse."
"In nine nights from this thou mayst meet Gerda in Barri Wood," said Skirnir. He looked at him, laughing out of his wide mouth and his blue eyes. But Frey turned away, saying to himself:
Long is one day;
Long, long two.
Can I live through
Nine long days?
Long indeed were those days for Frey. But the ninth day came, and in the evening Frey went to Barri Wood. And there he met Gerda, the Giant maid. She was as fair as when he had seen her before the door of Gymer's house. And when she saw Frey, so tall and noble looking, the Giant's daughter was glad that Skirnir the Venturesome had made her promise to come to Barri Wood. They gave each other rings of gold. It was settled that the Giant maid should come as a bride to Asgard.
Gerda came, but another Giant maid came also. This is how that came to be:
All the Dwellers in Asgard were standing before the great gate, waiting to welcome the bride of Frey. There appeared a Giant maid who was not Gerda; all in armor was she.
"I am Skadi," she said, "the daughter of Thiassi. My father met his death at the hands of the Dwellers in Asgard. I claim a recompense."
"What recompense would you have, maiden?" asked Odin, smiling to see a Giant maid standing so boldly in Asgard.
"A husband from amongst you, even as Gerda. And I myself must be let choose him."
All laughed aloud at the words of Skadi. Then said Odin, laughing, "We will let you choose a husband from amongst us, but you must choose him by his feet."
"I will choose him whatever way you will," said Skadi, fixing her eyes on Baldur, the most beautiful of all the Dwellers in Asgard.
They put a bandage round her eyes, and the Æsir and the Vanir sat in a half circle around. As she went by she stooped over each and laid hands upon their feet. At last she came to one whose feet were so finely formed that she felt sure it was Baldur. She stood up and said:
"This is the one that Skadi chooses for her husband."
Then the Æsir and the Vanir laughed more and more. They took the bandage off her eyes and she saw, not Baldur the Beautiful, but Niörd, the father of Frey. But as Skadi looked more and more on Niörd she became more and more contented with her choice; for Niörd was strong, and he was noble looking.
These two, Niörd and Skadi, went first to live in Niörd's palace by the sea; but the coming of the sea mew would waken Skadi too early in the morning, and she drew her husband to the mountaintop where she was more at home. He would not live long away from the sound of the sea. Back and forward, between the mountain and the sea, Skadi and Niörd went. But Gerda stayed in Asgard with Frey, her husband, and the Æsir and the Vanir came to love greatly Gerda, the Giant maid.
WEEK 7 |
ES, he was the most beautiful Prince that ever was born. Of course, being a prince, people said this: but it was true besides. When he looked at the candle, his eyes had an expression of earnest inquiry quite startling in a new-born baby. His nose—there was not much of it certainly, but what there was seemed an aquiline shape; his complexion was a charming, healthy purple; he was round and fat, straight-limbed and long—in fact, a splendid baby, and everybody was exceedingly proud of him, especially his father and mother, the King and Queen of Nomansland, who had waited for him during their happy reign of ten years—now made happier than ever, to themselves and their subjects, by the appearance of a son and heir.
The only person who was not quite happy was the King's brother, the heir-presumptive, who would have been king one day had the baby not been born. But as his majesty was very kind to him, and even rather sorry for him—insomuch that at the Queen's request he gave him a dukedom almost as big as a county,—the Crown Prince, as he was called, tried to seem pleased also; and let us hope he succeeded.
The Prince's christening was to be a grand affair. According to the custom of the country, there were chosen for him four-and-twenty godfathers and godmothers, who each had to give him a name, and promise to do their utmost for him. When he came of age, he himself had to choose the name—and the godfather or godmother—that he liked the best, for the rest of his days.
Meantime all was rejoicing. Subscriptions were made among the rich to give pleasure to the poor: dinners in town-halls for the workingmen; tea-parties in the streets for their wives; and milk and bun feasts for the children in the school-rooms. For Nomansland, though I cannot point it out in any map, or read of it in any history, was, I believe, much like our own or many another country.
As for the Palace—which was no different from other palaces—it was clean "turned out of the windows," as people say, with the preparations going on. The only quiet place in it was the room which, though the Prince was six weeks old, his mother the Queen had never quitted. Nobody said she was ill, however; it would have been so inconvenient; and as she said nothing about it herself, but lay pale and placid, giving no trouble to anybody, nobody thought much about her. All the world was absorbed in admiring the baby.
The christening-day came at last, and it was as lovely as the Prince himself. All the people in the palace were lovely too—or thought themselves so, in the elegant new clothes which the queen, who thought of everybody, had taken care to give them, from the ladies-in-waiting down to the poor little kitchenmaid, who looked at herself in her pink cotton gown, and thought, doubtless, that there never was such a pretty girl as she.
All the people in the palace were lovely too—or thought themselves so, . . . from the ladies-in-waiting down. . .
The poor little kitchenmaid . . . in her pink cotton gown . . . thought doubtless, there never was such a pretty girl.
By six in the morning all the royal household had dressed itself in its very best; and then the little Prince was dressed in his best—his magnificent christening-robe; which proceeding his Royal Highness did not like at all, but kicked and screamed like any common baby. When he had a little calmed down, they carried him to be looked at by the Queen his mother, who, though her royal robes had been brought and laid upon the bed, was, as everybody well knew, quite unable to rise and put them on.
She admired her baby very much; kissed and blessed him, and lay looking at him, as she did for hours sometimes, when he was placed beside her fast asleep; then she gave him up with a gentle smile, and saying "she hoped he would be very good, that it would be a very nice christening, and all the guests would enjoy themselves," turned peacefully over on her bed, saying nothing more to anybody. She was a very uncomplaining person—the Queen, and her name was Dolorez.
Everything went on exactly as if she had been present. All, even the King himself, had grown used to her absence, for she was not strong, and for years had not joined in any gaieties. She always did her royal duties, but as to pleasures, they could go on quite well without her, or it seemed so. The company arrived: great and notable persons in this and neighboring countries; also the four-and-twenty godfathers and godmothers, who had been chosen with care, as the people who would be most useful to his Royal Highness should he ever want friends, which did not seem likely. What such want could possibly happen to the heir of the powerful monarch of Nomansland?
They came, walking two and two, with their coronets on their heads—being dukes and duchesses, prince and princesses, or the like; they all kissed the child and pronounced the name each had given him. Then the four-and-twenty names were shouted out with great energy by six heralds, one after the other, and afterwards written down, to be preserved in the state records, in readiness for the next time they were wanted which would be either on his Royal Highness's coronation or his funeral. Soon the ceremony was over, and everybody satisfied; except, perhaps, the little Prince himself, who moaned faintly under his christening robes, which nearly smothered him.
In truth, though very few knew, the Prince in coming to the chapel had met with a slight disaster. His nurse—not his ordinary one, but the state nursemaid, an elegant and fashionable young lady of rank, whose duty it was to carry him to and from the chapel, had been so occupied in arranging her train with one hand, while she held the baby with the other, that she stumbled and let him fall, just at the foot of the marble staircase. To be sure, she contrived to pick him up again the next minute, and the accident was so slight it seemed hardly worth speaking of. Consequently, nobody did speak of it. The baby had turned deadly pale, but did not cry, so no person a step or two behind could discover anything wrong; afterwards, even if he had moaned, the silver trumpets were loud enough to drown his voice.
It would have been a pity to let anything trouble such a day of felicity.
So, after a minute's pause, the procession had moved on. Such a procession! Heralds in blue and silver; pages in crimson and gold; and a troop of little girls in dazzling white, carrying baskets of flowers, which they strewed all the way before the nurse and child,—finally the four-and-twenty godfathers and godmothers, as proud as possible, and so splendid to look at that they would have quite extinguished their small godson—merely a heap of lace and muslin with a baby-face inside—had it not been for a canopy of white satin and ostrich feathers, which was held over him wherever he was carried.
The procession had moved on. Such a procession! Heralds in blue and silver; pages in crimson and gold.
Thus, with the sun shining on them through the painted windows, they stood; the King and his train on one side, the Prince and his attendants on the other, as pretty a sight as ever was seen out of fairyland.
"It's just like fairyland," whispered the eldest little girl to the next eldest, as she shook the last rose out of her basket; "and I think the only thing the Prince wants now is a fairy godmother."
"Does he?" said a shrill but soft and not unpleasant voice behind; and there was seen among the group of children somebody—not a child yet no bigger than a child: somebody whom nobody had seen before, and who certainly had not been invited, for she had no christening clothes on.
She was a little old woman dressed all in grey: grey gown, grey hooded cloak, of a material excessively fine, and a tint that seemed perpetually changing, like the grey of an evening sky. Her hair was grey, and her eyes also; even her complexion had a soft grey shadow over it. But there was nothing unpleasantly old about her, and her smile was as sweet and childlike as the Prince's own, which stole over his pale little face the instant she came near enough to touch him.
"Take care. Don't let the baby fall again."
"Take care, don't let the baby fall again."
The grand young lady nurse started, flushing angrily.
"Who spoke to me? How did anybody know?—I mean, what business has
"Nevertheless I must kiss him. I am his godmother."
"You!" cried the elegant lady nurse.
"You! !" repeated all the gentlemen and ladies in waiting.
"You! ! !" echoed the heralds and pages—and they began to blow the silver trumpets, in order to stop all further conversation.
The Prince's procession formed itself for returning—the King and his train having already moved off toward the palace—but, on the topmost step of the marble stairs stood, right in front of all, the little old woman clothed in grey.
She stretched herself on tiptoe by the help of her stick, and gave the little Prince three kisses.
"This is intolerable!" cried the young lady nurse, wiping the kisses off rapidly with her lace handkerchief. "Such an insult to his Royal Highness! Take yourself out of the way, old woman, or the King shall be informed immediately."
"The King knows nothing of me, more's the pity," replied the old woman, with an indifferent air, as if she thought the loss was more on his Majesty's side than hers. "My friend in the palace is the King's wife."
"Kings' wives are called queens," said the lady nurse, with a contemptuous air.
"You are right," replied the old woman. "Nevertheless, I know her Majesty well, and I love her and her child. And—since you dropped him on the marble stairs (this she said in a mysterious whisper, which made the young lady tremble in spite of her anger)—I choose to take him for my own. I am his godmother, ready to help him whenever he wants me."
"You help him!" cried all the group breaking into shouts of laughter, to which the little old woman paid not the slightest attention. Her soft grey eyes were fixed on the Prince, who seemed to answer to the look, smiling again and again in the causeless, aimless fashion that babies do smile.
"His Majesty must hear of this," said a gentleman-in-waiting.
"His Majesty will hear quite enough news in a minute or two," said the old woman sadly. And again stretching up to the little Prince, she kissed him on the forehead solemnly.
"Be called by a new name which nobody has ever thought of. Be Prince Dolor, in memory of your mother Dolorez."
"In memory of!" Everybody started at the ominous phrase, and also at a most terrible breach of etiquette which the old woman had committed. In Nomansland, neither the king nor the queen was supposed to have any Christian name at all. They dropped it on their coronation-day, and it never was mentioned again till it was engraved on their coffins when they died.
"Old woman, you are exceedingly ill-bred," cried the eldest lady-in-waiting, much horrified. "How you could know the fact passes my comprehension. But even if you did know it, how dared you presume to hint that her most gracious Majesty is called Dolorez?"
"Was called Dolorez," said the old woman, with a tender solemnity.
The first gentleman, called the Gold-stick-in-waiting, raised it to strike her, and all the rest stretched out their hands to seize her; but the grey mantle melted from between their fingers like air; and, before anybody had time to do anything more, there came a heavy, muffled, startling sound.
The great bell of the palace—the bell which was only heard on the death of some one of the Royal family, and for as many times as he or she was years old—began to toll. They listened, mute and horror-stricken. Some one counted: One—two—three—four—up to nine and twenty—just the queen's age.
It was, indeed, the Queen. Her Majesty was dead! In the midst of the festivities she had slipped away, out of her new happiness and her old sufferings, not few nor small. Sending away all her women to see the sight—at least, they said afterwards, in excuse, that she had done so, and it was very like her to do it—she had turned with her face to the window, whence one could just see the tops of the distant mountains—the Beautiful Mountains, as they were called—where she was born. So gazing, she had quietly died.
When the little Prince was carried back to his mother's room, there was no mother to kiss him. And, though he did not know it, there would be for him no mother's kiss any more.
As for his Godmother—the little old woman in grey who called herself so—whether she melted into air, like her gown when they touched it, or whether she flew out of the chapel window, or slipped through the doorway among the bewildered crowd, nobody knew—nobody ever thought about her.
Only the nurse, the ordinary homely one, coming out of the Prince's nursery in the middle of the night in search of a cordial to quiet his continual moans, saw, sitting in the doorway, something which she would have thought a mere shadow, had she not seen shining out of it two eyes, grey and soft and sweet. She put her hand before her own, screaming loudly. When she took them away the old woman was gone.
E VERYBODY was very kind to the poor little Prince. I think people generally are kind to motherless children, whether princes or peasants. He had a magnificent nursery, and a regular suite of attendants, and was treated with the greatest respect and state. Nobody was allowed to talk to him in silly baby language, or dandle him, or above all to kiss him, though, perhaps, some people did it surreptitiously, for he was such a sweet baby that it was difficult to help it.
It could not be said that the Prince missed his mother; children of his age cannot do that; but somehow after she died everything seemed to go wrong with him. From a beautiful baby he became sickly and pale, seeming to have almost ceased growing, especially in his legs, which had been so fat and strong. But after the day of his christening they withered and shrank; he no longer kicked them out either in passion or play, and when, as he got to be nearly a year old, his nurse tried to make him stand upon them, he only tumbled down.
This happened so many times that at last people began to talk about it. A prince, and not able to stand on his own legs! What a dreadful thing! what a misfortune for the country!
Rather a misfortune to him also, poor little boy! but nobody seemed to think of that. And when, after a while, his health revived, and the old bright look came back to his sweet little face, and his body grew larger and stronger, though still his legs remained the same, people continued to speak of him in whispers, and with grave shakes of the head. Everybody knew, though nobody said it, that something, impossible to guess what, was not quite right with the poor little Prince.
Of course, nobody hinted this to the King his father: it does not do to tell great people anything unpleasant. And besides, his Majesty took very little notice of his son, or of his other affairs, beyond the necessary duties of his kingdom. People had said he would not miss the Queen at all, she having been so long an invalid: but he did. After her death he never was quite the same. He established himself in her empty rooms, the only rooms in the palace whence one could see the Beautiful Mountains, and was often observed looking at them as if he thought she had flown away thither, and that his longing could bring her back again. And by a curious coincidence, which nobody dared inquire into, he desired that the Prince might be called, not by any of the four-and-twenty grand names given him by his godfathers and godmothers, but by the identical name mentioned by the little old woman in grey,—Dolor, after his mother Dolorez.
Once a week, according to established state custom, the Prince, dressed in his very best, was brought to the King his father for half-an-hour, but his Majesty was generally too ill and too melancholy to pay much heed to the child.
Only once, when he and the Crown Prince, who was exceedingly attentive to his royal brother, were sitting together, with Prince Dolor playing in a corner of the room, dragging himself about with his arms rather than his legs, and sometimes trying feebly to crawl from one chair to another, it seemed to strike the father that all was not right with his son.
"How old is his Royal Highness?" said he suddenly to the nurse.
"How old is his Royal Highness?" said he suddenly to the nurse.
"Two years, three months, and five days, please your Majesty."
"It does not please me," said the King with a sigh. "He ought to be far more forward than he is now ought he not, brother? You, who have so many children, must know. Is there not something wrong about him?"
"Oh, no," said the Crown Prince, exchanging meaning looks with the nurse, who did not understand at all, but stood frightened and trembling with the tears in her eyes. "Nothing to make your Majesty at all uneasy. No doubt his Royal Highness will outgrow it in time."
"A slight delicacy—ahem!—in the spine; something inherited, perhaps, from his dear mother."
"Ah, she was always delicate; but she was the sweetest woman that ever lived. Come here, my little son."
And as the Prince turned round upon his father a small, sweet, grave face—so like his mother's—his Majesty the King smiled and held out his arms. But when the boy came to him, not running like a boy, but wriggling awkwardly along the floor, the royal countenance clouded over.
"I ought to have been told of this. It is terrible—terrible! And for a prince too! Send for all the doctors in my kingdom immediately."
They came, and each gave a different opinion, and ordered a different mode of treatment. The only thing they agreed in was what had been pretty well known before: that the prince must have been hurt when he was an infant—let fall, perhaps, so as to injure his spine and lower limbs. Did nobody remember?
No, nobody. Indignantly, all the nurses denied that any such accident had happened, was possible to have happened, until the faithful country nurse recollected that it really had happened on the day of the christening. For which unluckily good memory all the others scolded her so severely that she had no peace of her life, and soon after, by the influence of the young lady nurse who had carried the baby that fatal day, and who was a sort of connection of the Crown Prince, being his wife's second cousin once removed, the poor woman was pensioned off, and sent to the Beautiful Mountains, from whence she came, with orders to remain there for the rest of her days.
But of all this the King knew nothing, for, indeed, after the first shock of finding out that his son could not walk, and seemed never likely to walk, he interfered very little concerning him. The whole thing was too painful, and his Majesty had never liked painful things. Sometimes he inquired after Prince Dolor, and they told him his Royal Highness was going on as well as could be expected, which really was the case. For after worrying the poor child and perplexing themselves with one remedy after another, the Crown Prince, not wishing to offend any of the differing doctors, had proposed leaving him to nature; and nature, the safest doctor of all, had come to his help, and done her best. He could not walk, it is true; his limbs were mere useless additions to his body; but the body itself was strong and sound. And his face was the same as ever—just his mother's face, one of the sweetest in the world!
Even the King, indifferent as he was, sometimes looked at the little fellow with sad tenderness, noticing how cleverly he learned to crawl, and swing himself about by his arms, so that in his own awkward way he was as active in motion as most children of his age.
"Poor little man! he does his best, and he is not unhappy; not half so unhappy as I, brother," addressing the Crown Prince, who was more constant than ever in his attendance upon the sick monarch. "If anything should befall me, I have appointed you Regent. In case of my death, you will take care of my poor little boy?"
"Certainly, certainly; but do not let us imagine any such misfortune. I assure your Majesty—everybody will assure you—that it is not in the least likely."
He knew, however, and everybody knew, that it was likely, and soon after it actually did happen. The King died, as suddenly and quietly as the Queen had done—indeed, in her very room and bed; and Prince Dolor was left without either father or mother—as sad a thing as could happen, even to a Prince.
He was more than that now, though. He was a king. In Nomansland, as in other countries, the people were struck with grief one day and revived the next. "The king is dead—long live the king!" was the cry that rang through the nation, and almost before his late Majesty had been laid beside the queen in their splendid mausoleum, crowds came thronging from all parts to the royal palace, eager to see the new monarch.
They did see him—the Prince Regent took care they should—sitting on the floor of the council-chamber, sucking his thumb! And when one of the gentlemen-in-waiting lifted him up and carried him—fancy carrying a king!—to the chair of state, and put the crown on his head, he shook it off again, it was so heavy and uncomfortable. Sliding down to the foot of the throne, he began playing with the golden lions that supported it, stroking their paws and putting his tiny fingers into their eyes, and laughing—laughing as if he had at last found something to amuse him.
"There's a fine king for you!" said the first lord-in-waiting, a friend of the Prince Regent's (the Crown Prince that used to be, who, in the deepest mourning, stood silently beside the throne of his young nephew. He was a handsome man, very grand and clever-looking). "What a king! who can never stand to receive his subjects, never walk in processions, who, to the last day of his life, will have to be carried about like a baby. Very unfortunate!"
"Exceedingly unfortunate," repeated the second lord. "It is always bad for a nation when its king is a child; but such a child—a permanent cripple, if not worse."
"Let us hope not worse," said the first lord in a very hopeless tone,
and looking towards the Regent, who stood erect and pretended to hear
nothing. "I have heard that these sort of children with very large
heads and great broad foreheads and staring eyes, are—well, well, let
us hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.
"I swear," said the Crown Prince, coming forward and kissing the hilt of
his sword—"I swear to perform my duties as regent, to take all care of
his Royal Highness—his Majesty, I mean," with a grand bow to the little
child, who laughed innocently back again. "And I will do my humble
best to govern the country. Still, if the country has the slightest
But the Crown Prince being generalissimo, having the whole army at his beck and call, so that he could have begun a civil war in no time; the country had, of course, not the slightest objection.
So the king and queen slept together in peace, and Prince Dolor reigned over the land—that is, his uncle did; and everybody said what a fortunate thing it was for the poor little Prince to have such a clever uncle to take care of him. All things went on as usual; indeed, after the Regent had brought his wife and her seven sons, and established them in the palace, rather better than usual. For they gave such splendid entertainments and made the capital so lively, that trade revived, and the country was said to be more flourishing than it had been for a century.
Whenever the Regent and his sons appeared, they were received with shouts—"Long live the Crown Prince!" "Long live the Royal family!" And, in truth, they were very fine children, the whole seven of them, and made a great show when they rode out together on seven beautiful horses, one height above another, down to the youngest, on his tiny black pony, no bigger than a large dog.
And, in truth, they were very fine children, the whole seven of them.
As for the other child, his Royal Highness Prince Dolor—for somehow people soon ceased to call him his Majesty, which seemed such a ridiculous title for a poor little fellow, a helpless cripple—with only head and trunk, and no legs to speak of—he was seen very seldom by anybody.
They make a great show when they rode out together on seven beautiful horses.
Sometimes, people daring enough to peer over the high wall of the palace garden, noticed there, carried in a footman's arms, or drawn in a chair, or left to play on the grass, often with nobody to mind him, a pretty little boy, with a bright intelligent face, and large melancholy eyes—no, not exactly melancholy, for they were his mother's, and she was by no means sad-minded, but thoughtful and dreamy. They rather perplexed people, those childish eyes; they were so exceedingly innocent and yet so penetrating. If anybody did a wrong thing, told a lie, for instance, they would turn round with such a grave silent surprise—the child never talked much—that every naughty person in the palace was rather afraid of Prince Dolor.
He could not help it, and perhaps he did not even know it, being no better a child than many other children, but there was something about him which made bad people sorry, and grumbling people ashamed of themselves, and ill-natured people gentle and kind. I suppose, because they were touched to see a poor little fellow who did not in the least know what had befallen him, or what lay before him, living his baby life as happy as the day is long. Thus, whether or not he was good himself, the sight of him and his affliction made other people good, and, above all, made everybody love him. So much so, that his uncle the Regent began to feel a little uncomfortable.
Now, I have nothing to say against uncles in general. They are usually very excellent people, and very convenient to little boys and girls.
Even the "cruel uncle" of the "Babes in the Wood" I believe to be quite an exceptional character. And this "cruel uncle" of whom I am telling was, I hope, an exception, too.
He did not mean to be cruel. If anybody had called him so, he would have resented it extremely: he would have said that what he did was done entirely for the good of the country. But he was a man who had always been accustomed to consider himself first and foremost, believing that whatever he wanted was sure to be right, and, therefore, he ought to have it. So he tried to get it, and got it too, as people like him very often do. Whether they enjoy it when they have it, is another question.
Therefore, he went one day to the council-chamber, determined on making a speech and informing the ministers and the country at large that the young King was in failing health, and that it would be advisable to send him for a time to the Beautiful Mountains. Whether he really meant to do this; or whether it occurred to him afterwards that there would be an easier way of attaining his great desire, the crown of Nomansland, is a point which I cannot decide.
But soon after, when he had obtained an order in council to send the King away—which was done in great state, with a guard of honour composed of two whole regiments of soldiers—the nation learnt, without much surprise, that the poor little Prince—nobody ever called him king now—had gone a much longer journey than to the Beautiful Mountains.
He had fallen ill on the road and died within a few hours; at least, so declared the physician in attendance, and the nurse who had been sent to take care of him. They brought his coffin back in great state, and buried it in the mausoleum with his parents.
So Prince Dolor was seen no more. The country went into deep mourning for him, and then forgot him, and his uncle reigned in his stead. That illustrious personage accepted his crown with great decorum, and wore it with great dignity to the last. But whether he enjoyed it or not, there is no evidence to show.
T HE honey-bees are buzzy, fuzzy little pepper-pots.
They have pretty, shining wings, but if you so much as touch one of them you will see what happens!
You cannot wonder that they do not like to have you come too near, for they are such little creatures that even a small child must seem to them a tremendous giant.
How would you like to see a great warm creature as large as a hill come lumbering up and try to put a finger the size of a church steeple upon you?
I am sure you would do anything to keep it away, and if you had a good sharp sting you would use it. So we must not blame the Bee People for stinging us.
It is the only way they have of telling us to keep away and let them alone.
They are friendly enough to their own relations, as you will agree when you learn that there are sometimes as many as sixty thousand of them living happily together in one family.
Sometimes we build houses, which we call hives, for them, and sometimes they live in a hollow tree in the woods.
The hives we usually make in these days are square-cornered boxes that can be opened to take out the honey or to attend to the bees. In some parts of the country an old-fashioned hive called a "bee gum" is still used. If you go to the mountains of North Carolina, you will see a great many bee gums. Nearly every cabin has a row of them in its yard, and they are made by chopping down hollow sweet-gum trees and cutting off lengths of about three feet.
Sometimes other hollow trees are used, but they are all called "gums." The mountaineers stand the "gum" on a board or a stone, and put anther board or stone on top for a roof. All the holes are plastered up with mud except those near the bottom, where the bees go in and out. The mud is used to keep out moths, which otherwise might get in and spoil the honey-combs.
A row of bee gums standing beside a log cabin on a mountain-side is very pretty.
A skep is a hive made of twisted straw, and in old times was used more than any other, particularly in England. It had a peculiar shape, and to this day when we say a thing is hive-shaped, we mean it is shaped like the skep.
Once in a while honey-bees make their home in the hollow walls of a building, and there is a house in a New England city where bees have lived for a number of years. They are under the roof somewhere, and there they stay safe, and year after year store up honey which nobody can reach. Stories are told of old houses whose hollow walls, when they were pulled down, were found to be filled with honey-combs. It is not easy to get honey that is stored in the walls of houses, as the bees fight bravely for their property.
Honey-bees are small people, being only about twice as large as common house-flies.
Some are brown all over, and some that were brought here from Italy have tan-colored abdomens, but all of them, the brown bees, the Italian bees, and the other kinds of hive bees in this country, are called by the same name, Apis Mellifica. Apis is the Latin word for bee, and mellifica is the Latin word for honey-making; and they have this pretty name because they make and store up quantities of good honey, which we like to eat.
The Bee People are sun-lovers, and all summer long on bright days you may see them hurrying about But in the winter- time you would look in vain for them, no matter how brightly the sun might shine, for they are Friends of the Flowers and seldom leave home except when there are blossoms for them to visit.
Many flowers keep a dainty table spread for the bees. Cups of nectar and dishes of ambrosia are ready for them to eat and drink and carry home.
If it were not for these gifts from the flowers, the honey-bees could not live, as they get all their food from their flower friends.
White Clover, from which a great deal of honey is made
Oh! the Queen of the Orkney Islands,
She's travelling over the sea:
She's bringing a beautiful cuttlefish,
To play with my baby and me.
Oh! his head is three miles long, my dear,
His tail is three miles short.
And when he goes out he wriggles his snout,
In a way that no cuttlefish ought.
Oh! the Queen of the Orkney Islands,
She rides on a
He takes her a mile, with an elegant smile,
At every flip of his tail.
He can snuffle and snore like a Highlandman,
And swear like a Portugee;
He can amble and prance like a peer of France,
And lie like a heathen Chinee.
Oh! the Queen of the Orkney Islands,
She dresses in wonderful taste.
The sea-serpent coils, all painted in oils,
Oh! her gown is made of the green
And though she knows nothing of feet,
She can manage her train, with an air of disdain,
In a way that is perfectly sweet.
Oh! the Queen of the Orkney Islands,
She's travelling over the main.
So we'll hire a hack, and we'll take her straight back
To her beautiful Islands again.
WEEK 7 |
Matthew iv: 1 to 11;
Mark i: 12, 13;
Luke iv: 1 to 13;
John i: 29 to 51.
ROM the earliest years of Jesus the Holy Spirit of God was with him, growing as he grew. And in the hour when he was baptized and the form of a dove was seen hovering over him, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit as no man before him had been filled, for he was the Son of God. At that hour he knew more fully than he had ever known before that work that he should do to save men. The Spirit of God sent Jesus into the desert, there to be for a time alone with God and to plan out his work for men.
So earnest was the thought of Jesus in the desert, so full was his union with God, that for forty days he never once ate anything, or felt any wish for food. But when the forty days were ended, then suddenly hunger came upon him, and he felt faint and starving, as any other man would feel who had fasted for so long a time.
At that moment Satan, the evil spirit, came to Jesus as he comes to us, and put a thought into his mind. It was this thought:
"If you are the Son of God, you can do whatever you please, and can have whatever you wish. Why do you not command that these stones be turned into loaves of bread for you to eat?"
Jesus knew that he could do this, but he knew also that
this power had been given to him, not for himself, but
that he might help others. He said to the evil spirit,
"It is written in God's book 'Man shall not live by
bread alone, but by every word that cometh out of the
Then the evil spirit led Jesus to Jerusalem, the holy
city, and brought him to the top of a high tower on the
Temple, and said to him, "Now show all the people that
you are the Son of God by
throwing yourself down to the
ground. You know that it is written in the book of
Psalms, 'He shall give his angels charge over thee; and
in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any
time thou dash thy foot against a
But Jesus knew that this would not be right, for it
would be done not to please God, but to show himself
before men and as a trial of God's power, when God
himself had not commanded it. He answered, "It is
written again, 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy
Again the evil spirit tried to lead Jesus into doing wrong, as he leads us all. He led him to the top of a high mountain, and caused a vision of all the kingdoms of the world and their glory to stand before the eyes of Jesus. Then he said, "All these shall be yours; you shall be the king of all the earth if you will only fall down and worship me."
Then Jesus said to him, "Leave me, Satan, thou evil
spirit! For it is written, 'Thou shalt worship the
Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou
When Satan found that Jesus would not listen to him, he left him; and then the angels of God came to Jesus in the desert and gave to him the food that he needed.
After this victory over the evil spirit, Jesus went again from the desert to the place at the river Jordan where he had been baptized. It was near a city sometimes called Bethabara, a word which means "a place of crossing," because it was one of the places where the river Jordan was so shallow that the people could walk across it. The city was called also "Bethany beyond Jordan," so that it would not be mistaken for another Bethany on the Mount of Olives, very near Jerusalem.
There John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, and he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one of whom I spoke, saying, 'There is One coming after me who is greater than I.' This is the Son of God."
And again, the next morning, John the Baptist was standing with two young men, his followers. They were fishermen who had come from the Sea of Galilee to hear him. One was named Andrew, and the other John. John the Baptist saw Jesus walking near by, and he said again, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
When the two young men heard this they left John and went to speak with Jesus, although they had not known him before. Jesus saw that they were following him, and he said, "What is it that you wish from me?"
They said to him, "Master, we would like to know where you are staying, so that we can see you and talk with you."
Jesus said to them, "Come and see."
They went with Jesus and saw where he was staying, and stayed and talked with him, and listened to his words all the rest of that day, for it was about ten o'clock in the morning when they first saw Jesus. And these two young men went away from the meeting with Jesus, believing that Jesus was the Saviour and the King of Israel. These two, Andrew and John, were the first two men, after John the Baptist, to believe in Jesus.
Jesus teaching by the sea of Galilee.
Each of these two men had a brother whom he wished might know Jesus. Andrew's brother was named Simon, and John's brother was named James. These four men were all fishermen together upon the Sea of Galilee. Andrew found his brother first and he said to him, "We have found the Anointed One, the Christ who is to be the King of Israel."
And Andrew brought his brother to meet Jesus. Jesus
saw him coming, and without waiting to hear his name,
he said, "Your name is Simon, and you are the son of
Jonas. But I will give you a new name. You shall be
The word "rock" in Hebrew, the language of the Jews, was "Cephas," and in Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, it is "Petros," or Peter. So from that time Simon was called Simon Peter, that is, "Simon the Rock." So now Jesus had three followers, Andrew, John, and Simon Peter. The next day he was going back to Galilee, the part of the land where was his home, he met another man named Philip, who had also come from Galilee. He said to Philip, "Follow me."
And Philip went with Jesus as the fourth of his followers. Philip found a friend, whose name was Nathanael. He came from a place in Galilee, called Cana. Philip said to Nathanael, "We have found the one of whom Moses wrote in the law, and of whom the prophets spoke, the Anointed Christ. It is Jesus of Nazareth."
Nathanael lived not many miles from Nazareth, and he did not think that such a place as Nazareth could have in it one so great as the Christ, whom the Jews looked for as their king. He said to Philip, rather in scorn, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?"
Philip knew that if Nathanael could only meet Jesus and hear his words he would believe in him, as the others believed. He said to Nathanael, "Come and see him for yourself."
And he brought Nathanael to Jesus. As soon as Jesus saw him he said, "Here is an Israelite indeed, a man without evil."
Nathanael was surprised at this, and he said to Jesus, "Master, how did you know me?"
"Before Philip called you, when you were standing under the fig-tree, I saw you," said Jesus.
At this Nathanael wondered all the more, for he saw that Jesus knew what no man could know. He said, "Master, thou art the Son of God! Thou art the King of Israel!"
Jesus said to Nathanael, "Do you believe in me because I tell you that I saw you under the fig-tree? You shall see greater things than these. The time shall come when you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God going up and coming down through me, the Son of God."
Jesus had now five followers. These men and others who walked with him, and listened to his words, were called "disciples," a word which means "learners."
Jesus makes Peter and Andrew his disciples.
T HE children were sitting in the gloomy banqueting-hall, at the end of one of the long bare wooden tables. There was now no hope. Martha had brought in the dinner, and the dinner was invisible, and unfeelable too; for, when they rubbed their hands along the table, they knew but too well that for them there was nothing there but table.
Suddenly Cyril felt in his pocket.
"Right, oh!" he cried. "Look here! Biscuits."
Somewhat broken and crumbled, certainly, but still biscuits. Three whole ones, and a generous handful of crumbs and fragments.
"I got them this morning—cook—and I'd quite forgotten," he explained as he divided them with scrupulous fairness into four heaps.
They were eaten in a happy silence, though they had an odd taste, because they had been in Cyril's pocket all the morning with a hank of tarred twine, some green fir-cones, and a ball of cobbler's wax.
"Yes, but look here, Squirrel," said Robert; "you're so clever at explaining about invisibleness and all that. How is it the biscuits are here, and all the bread and meat and things have disappeared?"
"I don't know," said Cyril after a pause, "unless it's because we had them. Nothing about us has changed. Everything's in my pocket all right."
"Then if we had the mutton it would be real," said Robert. "Oh, don't I wish we could find it!"
"But we can't find it. I suppose it isn't ours till we've got it in our mouths."
"Or in our pockets," said Jane, thinking of the biscuits.
"Who puts mutton in their pockets, goose-girl?" said Cyril. "But I know—at any rate, I'll try it!"
He leaned over the table with his face about an inch from it, and kept opening and shutting his mouth as if he were taking bites out of air.
"It's no good," said Robert in deep dejection. "You'll only—— Hullo!"
Cyril stood up with a grin of triumph, holding a square piece of bread in his mouth. It was quite real. Everyone saw it. It is true that, directly he bit a piece off, the rest vanished; but it was all right, because he knew he had it in his hand though he could neither see nor feel it. He took another bite from the air between his fingers, and it turned into bread as he bit. The next moment all the others were following his example, and opening and shutting their mouths an inch or so from the bare-looking table. Robert captured a slice of mutton, and—but I think I will draw a veil over the rest of this painful scene. It is enough to say that they all had enough mutton, and that when Martha came to change the plates she said she had never seen such a mess in all her born days.
The pudding was, fortunately, a plain suet one, and in answer to Martha's questions the children all with one accord said that they would not have molasses on it—nor jam, nor sugar—"Just plain, please," they said. Martha said, "Well, I never—what next, I wonder!" and went away.
Then ensued another scene on which I will not dwell, for nobody looks nice picking up slices of suet pudding from the table in its mouth, like a dog.
The great thing, after all, was that they had had dinner; and now everyone felt more courage to prepare for the attack that was to be delivered before sunset. Robert, as captain, insisted on climbing to the top of one of the towers to reconnoitre, so up they all went. And now they could see all round the castle, and could see, too, that beyond the moat, on every side, tents of the besieging party were pitched. Rather uncomfortable shivers ran down the children's backs as they saw that all the men were very busy cleaning or sharpening their arms, re-stringing their bows, and polishing their shields. A large party came along the road, with horses dragging along the great trunk of a tree; and Cyril felt quite pale, because he knew this was for a battering-ram.
"What a good thing we've got a moat," he said; "and what a good thing the drawbridge is up—I should never have known how to work it."
"Of course it would be up in a besieged castle."
"You'd think there ought to have been soldiers in it, wouldn't you?" said Robert.
"You see you don't know how long it's been besieged," said Cyril darkly; "perhaps most of the brave defenders were killed early in the siege and all the provisions eaten, and now there are only a few intrepid survivors,—that's us, and we are going to defend it to the death."
"How do you begin—defending to the death, I mean?" asked Anthea.
"We ought to be heavily armed—and then shoot at them when they advance to the attack."
"They used to pour boiling lead down on besiegers when they got too close," said Anthea. "Father showed me the holes on purpose for pouring it down through at Bodiam Castle. And there are holes like it in the gate-tower here."
"I think I'm glad it's only a game; it is only a game, isn't it?" said Jane.
But no one answered.
The children found plenty of strange weapons in the castle, and if they were armed at all it was soon plain that they would be, as Cyril said, "armed heavily"—for these swords and lances and crossbows were far too weighty even for Cyril's manly strength; and as for the longbows, none of the children could even begin to bend them. The daggers were better; but Jane hoped that the besiegers would not come close enough for daggers to be of any use.
"Never mind, we can hurl them like javelins," said Cyril, "or drop them on people's heads. I say—there are lots of stones on the other side of the courtyard. If we took some of those up? Just to drop on their heads if they were to try swimming the moat."
So a heap of stones grew apace, up in the room above the gate; and another heap, a shiny spiky dangerous-looking heap, of daggers and knives.
As Anthea was crossing the courtyard for more stones, a sudden and valuable idea came to her.
She went to Martha and said, "May we have just biscuits for tea? We're going to play at besieged castles, and we'd like the biscuits to provision the garrison. Put mine in my pocket, please, my hands are so dirty. And I'll tell the others to fetch theirs."
This was indeed a happy thought, for now with four generous handfuls of air, which turned to biscuits as Martha crammed it into their pockets, the garrison was well provisioned till sundown.
They brought up some iron pots of cold water to pour on the besiegers instead of hot lead, with which the castle did not seem to be provided.
The afternoon passed with wonderful quickness. It was very exciting; but none of them, except Robert, could feel all the time that this was real deadly dangerous work. To the others, who had only seen the camp and the besiegers from a distance, the whole thing seemed half a game of make-believe, and half a splendidly distinct and perfectly safe dream. But it was only now and then that Robert could feel this.
When it seemed to be tea-time the biscuits were eaten, with water from the deep well in the courtyard, drunk out of horns. Cyril insisted on putting by eight of the biscuits, in case anyone should feel faint in stress of battle.
Just as he was putting away the reserve biscuits in a sort of little stone cupboard without a door, a sudden sound made him drop three. It was the loud fierce cry of a trumpet.
"You see it is real," said Robert, "and they are going to attack."
All rushed to the narrow windows.
"Yes," said Robert, "they're all coming out of their tents and moving about like ants. There's that Jakin dancing about where the bridge joins on. I wish he could see me put my tongue out at him! Yah!"
The others were far too pale to wish to put their tongues out at
anybody. They looked at Robert with surprised respect. Anthea
"You really are brave, Robert."
"Rot!" Cyril's pallor turned to redness now, all in a minute. "He's been getting ready to be brave all the afternoon. And I wasn't ready, that's all. I shall be braver than he is in half a jiffy."
"Oh dear!" said Jane, "what does it matter which of you is the bravest? I think Cyril was a perfect silly to wish for a castle, and I don't want to play."
"It isn't"— Robert was beginning sternly, but Anthea
"Oh yes, you do," she said coaxingly; "it's a very nice game, really, because they can't possibly get in, and if they do the women and children are always spared by civilised armies."
"But are you quite, quite sure they are civilised?" asked Jane, panting. "They seem to be such a long time ago."
"Of course they are." Anthea pointed cheerfully through the narrow window. "Why, look at the little flags on their lances, how bright they are—and how fine the leader is! Look, that's him—isn't it, Robert?—on the gray horse."
Jane consented to look, and the scene was almost too pretty to be alarming. The green turf, the white tents, the flash of pennoned lances, the gleam of armour, and the bright colours of scarf and tunic—it was just like a splendid coloured picture. The trumpets were sounding, and when the trumpeters stopped for breath the children could hear the cling-clang of armour and the murmur of voices.
A trumpeter came forward to the edge of the moat, which now seemed very
much narrower than at first, and blew the longest and loudest blast they
had yet heard. When the blaring noise had died away, a man who was with
"What ho, within there!" and his voice came plainly to the garrison in the gate-house.
"Hullo there!" Robert bellowed back at once.
"In the name of our Lord the King, and of our good lord and trusty leader Sir Wulfric de Talbot, we summon this castle to surrender—on pain of fire and sword and no quarter. Do ye surrender?"
"No," bawled Robert; "of course we don't! Never, Never, NEVER!"
The man answered
"Then your fate be on your own heads."
"Cheer," said Robert in a fierce whisper. "Cheer to show them we aren't afraid, and rattle the daggers to make more noise. One, two, three! Hip, hip, hooray! Again—Hip, hip, hooray! One more—Hip, hip, hooray!" The cheers were rather high and weak, but the rattle of the daggers lent them strength and depth.
There was another shout from the camp across the moat—and then the beleaguered fortress felt that the attack had indeed begun.
It was getting rather dark in the room above the great gate, and Jane took a very little courage as she remembered that sunset couldn't be far off now.
"The moat is dreadfully thin," said Anthea.
"But they can't get into the castle even if they do swim over," said Robert. And as he spoke he heard feet on the stair outside—heavy feet and the clang of steel. No one breathed for a moment. The steel and the feet went on up the turret stairs. Then Robert sprang softly to the door. He pulled off his shoes.
"Wait here," he whispered, and stole quickly and softly after the boots and the spur-clank. He peeped into the upper room. The man was there—and it was Jakin, all dripping with moat-water, and he was fiddling about with the machinery which Robert felt sure worked the drawbridge. Robert banged the door suddenly, and turned the great key in the lock, just as Jakin sprang to the inside of the door. Then he tore downstairs and into the little turret at the foot of the tower where the biggest window was.
"We ought to have defended this!" he cried to the others as they followed him. He was just in time. Another man had swum over, and his fingers were on the window-ledge. Robert never knew how the man had managed to climb up out of the water. But he saw the clinging fingers, and hit them as hard as he could with an iron bar that he caught up from the floor. The man fell with a splash into the moat-water. In another moment Robert was outside the little room, had banged its door and was shooting home the enormous bolts, and calling to Cyril to lend a hand.
The man fell with a splash into the moat-water.
Then they stood in the arched gate-house, breathing hard and looking at each other.
Jane's mouth was open.
"Cheer up, Jenny," said Robert,—"it won't last much longer."
There was a creaking above, and something rattled and shook. The pavement they stood on seemed to tremble. Then a crash told them that the drawbridge had been lowered to its place.
"That's that beast Jakin," said Robert. "There's still the portcullis; I'm almost certain that's worked from lower down."
And now the drawbridge rang and echoed hollowly to the hoofs of horses and the tramp of armed men.
"Up—quick!" cried Robert,—"let's drop things on them."
Even the girls were feeling almost brave now. They followed Robert quickly, and under his directions began to drop stones out through the long narrow windows. There was a confused noise below, and some groans.
"Oh dear!" said Anthea, putting down the stone she was just going to drop out, "I'm afraid we've hurt somebody!"
Robert caught up the stone in a fury.
"I should hope we had!" he said; "I'd give something for a jolly good boiling kettle of lead. Surrender, indeed!"
And now came more tramping and a pause, and then the thundering thump of the battering-ram. And the little room was almost pitch dark.
"We've held it," cried Robert, "we won't surrender! The sun must set in a minute. Here—they're all jawing underneath again. Pity there's no time to get more stones! Here, pour that water down on them. It's no good, of course, but they'll hate it."
"Oh dear!" said Jane, "don't you think we'd better surrender?"
"Never!" said Robert; "we'll have a parley if you like, but we'll never surrender. Oh, I'll be a soldier when I grow up—you just see if I don't. I won't go into the Civil Service, whatever anyone says."
"Let's wave a handkerchief and ask for a parley," Jane pleaded. "I don't believe the sun's going to set to-night at all."
"Give them the water first—the brutes!" said the bloodthirsty Robert. So Anthea tilted the pot over the nearest lead-hole, and poured. They heard a splash below, but no one below seemed to have felt it. And again the ram battered the great door. Anthea paused.
Anthea tilted the pot over the nearest lead-hole.
"How idiotic," said Robert, lying flat on the floor and putting one eye to the lead-hole. "Of course the holes go straight down into the gate-house—that's for when the enemy has got past the door and the portcullis, and almost all is lost. Here, hand me the pot." He crawled on to the three-cornered window-ledge in the middle of the wall, and, taking the pot from Anthea, poured the water out through the arrow-slit.
And as he began to pour, the noise of the battering-ram and the trampling of the foe and the shouts of "Surrender!" and "De Talbot for ever!" all suddenly stopped and went out like the snuff of a candle; the little dark room seemed to whirl round and turn topsy-turvy, and when the children came to themselves there they were, safe and sound, in the big front bedroom of their own house—the house with the ornamental nightmare iron-top to the roof.
They all crowded to the window and looked out. The moat and the tents and the besieging force were all gone—and there was the garden with its tangle of dahlias and marigolds and asters and later roses, and the spiky iron railings and the quiet white road.
Everyone drew a deep breath.
"And that's all right!" said Robert. "I told you so! And, I say, we didn't surrender, did we?"
"Aren't you glad now I wished for a castle?" asked Cyril.
"I think I am now," said Anthea slowly. "But I wouldn't wish for it again, I think, Squirrel dear!"
"Oh, it was simply splendid!" said Jane unexpectedly. "I wasn't frightened a bit."
"Oh, I say!" Cyril was beginning, but Anthea stopped him.
"Look here," she said, "it's just come into my head. This is the very first thing we've wished for that hasn't got us into a row. And there hasn't been the least little scrap of a row about this. Nobody's raging downstairs, we're safe and sound, we've had an awfully jolly day—at least, not jolly exactly, but you know what I mean. And we know now how brave Robert is—and Cyril too, of course," she added hastily, "and Jane as well. And we haven't got into a row with a single grown-up."
The door was opened suddenly and fiercely.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourselves," said the voice of Martha, and they could tell by her voice that she was very angry indeed. "I thought you couldn't last through the day without getting up to some mischief! A person can't take a breath of air on the front doorstep but you must be emptying the water jug on their heads! Off you go to bed, the lot of you, and try to get up better children in the morning. Now then—don't let me have to tell you twice. If I find any of you not in bed in ten minutes I'll let you know it, that's all! A new cap, and everything!"
She flounced out amid a disregarded chorus of regrets and apologies. The children were very sorry, but really it was not their faults.
You can't help it if you are pouring water on a besieging foe, and your castle suddenly changes into your house—and everything changes with it except the water, and that happens to fall on somebody else's clean cap.
"I don't know why the water didn't change into nothing, though," said Cyril.
"Why should it?" asked Robert. "Water's water all the world over."
"I expect the castle well was the same as ours in the stable-yard," said Jane. And that was really the case.
"I thought we couldn't get through a wish-day without a row," said Cyril; "it was much too good to be true. Come on, Bobs, my military hero. If we lick into bed sharp she won't be so furious, and perhaps she'll bring us up some supper. I'm jolly hungry! Good-night, kids."
"Good-night. I hope the castle won't come creeping back in the night," said Jane.
"Of course it won't," said Anthea briskly, "but Martha will—not in the night, but in a minute. Here, turn round, I'll get that knot out of your pinafore strings."
"Wouldn't it have been degrading for Sir Wulfric de Talbot," said Jane dreamily, "if he could have known that half the besieged garrison wore pinafores?"
"And the other half knickerbockers. Yes—frightfully. Do stand still—you're only tightening the knot," said Anthea.
The lights from the parlour and kitchen shone out
Through the blinds and the windows and bars;
And high overhead and all moving about,
There were thousands of millions of stars.
There ne'er were such thousands of leaves on a tree,
Nor of people in church or the Park,
As the crowds of the stars that looked down upon me,
And that glittered and winked in the dark.
The Dog, and the Plough, and the Hunter, and all,
And the star of the sailor, and Mars,
These shone in the sky, and the pail by the wall
Would be half full of water and stars.
They saw me at last, and they chased me with cries,
And they soon had me packed into bed;
But the glory kept shining and bright in my eyes,
And the stars going round in my head.