Text of Plan #426
  WEEK 16  

  Monday  


Lawton B. Evans

The Charter Oak

WHEN James II became King of England, he made a determined effort to overthrow the liberties of the American colonies. He was a bigoted tyrant, who tried to work hardships upon his own people in England, and to discipline the colonists abroad. His idea was to take away the charters of the New England colonies, with all the rights granted them by former kings, and to make them submit to the arbitrary rule of governors whom he should appoint. Sometimes it seemed that the [68] kings of England did everything they could to destroy the affection of the people of America.

King James sent one of his adherents, Sir Edmund Andros, to New England to be Governor-general of those colonies, with authority to take away their charters and to rule them according to his own and the King's will. Some of the colonies submitted, but those of Connecticut absolutely refused to surrender the precious document. Andros lived in Boston in the most arrogant style, and for a while Connecticut was left undisturbed.

After nearly a year had passed, and the charter of Connecticut still remained unsurrendered, Andros resolved to go after it. Therefore he made his appearance in Hartford with a body-guard of sixty soldiers, and marched up to the Chamber where the Assembly was in session, declaring boldly, "I have come by the King's command to order you to surrender the charter of Connecticut. I am henceforth to be the Governor of this colony, and to give you such laws as it pleases the King to grant. You will at once place the charter in my hands. It is the will of His Majesty, King James II."

Now, the charter allowed the people of Connecticut to elect their own Governor, and to have their own Assembly, and to make their own laws. Consequently, they did not wish to surrender it. [69] Nor were they willing to displease the King if it could be avoided. Therefore they showed much respect to the blustering Andros, and began to explain, entering upon a long and calm debate of why they could not place the charter in his hands.

Governor Treat, who was presiding, addressed Andros with respect and remonstrance. He said:

"Sir, the people of this country have been at great expense and hardship in planting this colony. Their blood and treasure have been freely poured out in defending it against savages and all others who tried to drive them from their possessions. We came here by consent of the King, and His Majesty, Charles II., the brother of our most gracious King, granted us our liberties only fifteen years ago in a charter which we greatly prize. We beg you, therefore, to represent to the King that we are his loyal subjects and will remain faithful to him, but we earnestly desire to keep in our possession the rights and privileges granted us."

Thus the Governor spoke at great length, while Andros grew more and more impatient. He had not come to hear arguments; he had come to get the charter, and words were wasted on him. Night was drawing on, and still the members spoke, as if they would wear out the tyrant with their argument. At length Andros thundered forth,

[70] "No more of this; I am weary of your words. Bring in the charter, or I shall arrest the Assembly."

Reluctantly, the box containing the charter was brought in and laid on the table. Candles were lighted and placed beside it so that it could be seen. It was opened, exposing to view the document the tyrant sought. Andros rose from his seat and advanced to the table to seize the precious papers, and thus end the whole matter, when suddenly someone threw a cloak upon the candles, completely extinguishing them, and leaving the room in darkness.

Amidst the confusion there was a sound of papers being rolled and of feet rushing from the hall. When the candles were re-lighted the charter had disappeared. It was nowhere to be found, and to all the threats and ravings of Andros the members returned a blank stare. No one knew what had become of it. It had disappeared as completely as if it had sunk into the earth.

What had happened? In the Chamber, a brave young militiaman, Captain Joseph Wadsworth, had thrown his cloak over the candles. He had then made a rush for the table, seized the charter and leaped out of a window. To the crowd assembled without he cried: "Make way for me. I have the charter, and it shall not be surrendered to a [71] tyrant." The crowd cheered, and let him through. He disappeared in the darkness, just as the candles were being re-lighted inside the Chamber and Andros was raving in his disappointment.

Wadsworth sped onward, looking for a safe place in which to conceal the document. He came to a great oak tree, standing in front of the house of one of the colonial magistrates. There was a hollow in the tree, ample inside, but with an opening not larger than a man's hand. Into this Wadsworth thrust the charter, and concealed the opening with leaves and rubbish.

"Now, let Sir Edmund rave!" he said to himself. "This oak will keep its secret." And so the oak did. It became known as "The Charter Oak." It stood the storms of many winters, and was pointed out, for one hundred and sixty-nine years afterwards, as the place of refuge of the Connecticut charter. A tempest felled it to the ground in 1856.

As for Andros, he assumed control of Connecticut, charter or no charter, and ruled for a short while with an iron hand. The next year, however, the royal tyrant of England was driven from his throne, and Andros lost his power. He was thrown into prison in Boston, and shipped back to England. Then the precious charter was brought out [72] of its hiding-place by Wadsworth and a few others, who knew where it was, and Connecticut again had her rights and liberty.

 



Clara Dillingham Pierson

The Swaggering Crow

[Illustration]

[31]

W HEN the Crows who have been away for the winter return to the forest, all their relatives gather on the tree-tops to welcome them and tell the news. Those who have been away have also much to say, and it sometimes seems as though they were all talking at once. They spend many days in visiting before they begin nest-building. Perhaps if they would [32] take turns and not interrupt each other, they would get the news more quickly, for when people are interrupted they can never talk well. Sometimes, too, one hungry fellow will fly off for a few mouthfuls of grain, and get back just in time to hear the end of a story. Then he will want to hear the first part of it, and make such a fuss that they have to tell it all over again just for him.

At this time in the spring, you can hear their chatter and laughter, even when you are far away; and the song-birds of the forest look at each other and say, "Dear me! The Crows are back." They have very good reasons for disliking the Crows, as any Robin will tell you.

There was one great shining black Crow who had the loudest voice of all, and who was not at all afraid to use it. This spring he looked very lean and lank, for it had been a long, cold winter, and he had found but little to eat, acorns, the seeds of [33] the wild plants, and once in a great while a frozen apple that hung from its branch in some lonely orchard.

He said that he felt as though he could reach around his body with one claw, and when a Crow says that he feels exceedingly thin. But now spring was here, and his sisters and his cousins and his aunts, yes, and his brothers and his uncles, too, had returned to the forest to live. He had found two good dinners already, all that he could eat and more too, and he began to feel happy and bold. The purple gloss on his feathers grew brighter every day, and he was glad to see this. He wanted to look so handsome that a certain Miss Crow, a sister of one of his friends, would like him better than she did any of the others.

That was all very well, if he had been at all polite about it. But one day he saw her visiting with another Crow, and he lost his temper, and flew at him, and pecked [34] him about the head and shoulders, and tore the long fourth feather from one of his wings, besides rumpling the rest of his coat. Then he went away. He had beaten him by coming upon him from behind, like the sneak that he was, and he was afraid that if he waited he might yet get the drubbing he deserved. So he flew off to the top of a hemlock-tree where the other Crows were, and told them how he had fought and beaten. You should have seen him swagger around when he told it. Each time it was a bigger story, until at last he made them think that the other Crow hadn't a tail feather left.

The next day, a number of Crows went to a farm not far from the forest. Miss Crow was in the party. On their way they stopped in a field where there stood a figure of a man with a dreadful stick in his hand. Everybody was frightened except Mr. Crow. He wanted to show how much courage he had, so he flew right up to it. [35] They all thought him very brave. They didn't know that down in his heart he was a great coward. He wasn't afraid of this figure because he knew all about it. He had seen it put up the day before, and he knew that there was no man under the big straw hat and the flapping coat. He knew that, instead of a thinking, breathing person, there was only a stick nailed to a pole. He knew that, instead of having two good legs with which to run, this figure had only the end of a pole stuck into the ground.

Of course, he might have told them all, and then they could have gathered corn from the broken ground around, but he didn't want to do that. Instead, he said, "Do you see that terrible great creature with a stick in his hand? He is here just to drive us away, but he dares not touch me. He knows I would beat him if he did." Then he flew down, and ate corn close beside the figure, while the other [36] Crows stood back and cawed with wonder.

When he went back to them, he said to Miss Crow, "You see how brave I am. If I were taking care of anybody, nothing could ever harm her." And he looked tenderly at her with his little round eyes. But she pretended not to understand what he meant, for she did not wish to give up her pleasant life with the flock and begin nest-building just yet.

When they reached the barn-yard, there was rich picking, and Mr. Crow made such a clatter that you would have thought he owned it all and that the others were only his guests. He flew down on the fence beside a couple of harmless Hens, and he flapped his wings and swaggered around until they began to sidle away. Then he grew bolder (you know bullies always do if they find that people are scared), and edged up to them until they fluttered off, squawking with alarm.

[37] Next he walked into the Hen-house, saying to the other Crows, "You might have a good time, too, if you were not such cowards." He had no more than gotten the words out of his bill, when the door of the Hen-house blew shut and caught there. It was a grated door and he scrambled wildly to get through the openings. While he was trying, he heard the hoarse voice of the Crow whom he had beaten the day before, saying, "Thank you, we are having a fairly good time as it is"; and he saw Miss Crow picking daintily at some corn which the speaker had scratched up for her.

At that minute the great Black Brahma Cock came up behind Mr. Crow. He had heard from the Hens how rude Mr. Crow had been, and he thought that as the head of the house he ought to see about it. Well! one cannot say very much about what happened next, but the Black Brahma Cock did see about it quite thoroughly, [38] and when the Hen-house door swung open, it was a limp, ragged, and meek-looking Crow who came out, leaving many of his feathers inside.

The next morning Mr. Crow flew over the forest and far away. He did not want to go back there again. He heard voices as he passed a tall tree by the edge of the forest. Miss Crow was out with the Crow whom he had beaten, and they were looking for a good place in which to build. "I don't think they will know me if they see me," said Mr. Crow, "and I am sure that I don't want them to."

 



Olive A. Wadsworth

Over in the Meadow

Over in the meadow,

In a nest built of sticks,

Lived a black mother crow

And her little crows six.

"Caw," said the mother;

"We caw," said the six—

So they cawed and they cawed

In their nest built of sticks.


Over in the meadow,

Where the grass is so even,

Lived a gay mother cricket

And her little crickets seven.

"Chirp!" said the mother;

"We chirp," said the seven—

So they chirped cheery notes

In the grass soft and even.


Over in the meadow,

By an old mossy gate,

Lived a brown mother lizard,

And her little lizards eight.

"Bask!" said the mother;

"We bask," said the eight—

So they basked in the sun

By the old mossy gate.


Over in the meadow,

Where the quiet pools shine,

Lived a green mother frog

And her little froggies nine.

"Croak," said the mother;

"We croak," said the nine—

So they croaked and they splashed

Where the quiet pools shine.


Over in the meadow

In a dark little den,

Lived a gray mother spider

And her little spiders ten.

"Spin," said the mother;

"We spin," said the ten—

So they spun lace webs

In their dark little den.


Over in the meadow,

In the soft summer even,

Lived a mother firefly

And her little flies eleven.

"Glow," said the mother;

"We glow," said the eleven—

So they glowed like stars

In the soft summer even.


Over in the meadow,

Where the men dig and delve

Lived a wise mother ant,

And her little ants twelve.

"Toil," said the mother;

"We toil," said the twelve—

So they toiled and were wise

Where the men dig and delve.

 


  WEEK 16  

  Tuesday  


Amy Steedman

Saint Margaret of Scotland

Part 2 of 2

It was not only with money, her own or the King's, that Margaret helped the poor. She served them with her own hands as well. Early each morning the Queen, in her dainty robes, as fair as the dew-washed flowers that were just lifting their faces to the morning sun, came forth from her room, where she too had been lifting her face to heaven. It was her way to begin her daily work by caring for the little children who had no one else to care for them. Nine baby orphans were gathered there, poor and destitute, and it always seemed to her as if her Master was so close that she could almost hear His voice as He bade her "Feed My lambs." How joyfully the babies stretched out their hands towards her, clutching at the bonny coloured robe she wore with their little eager hands. All children love fair colours, but it was not only the green embroidered kirtle, no, nor the steaming breakfast which she brought, that made them stretch out their arms to her. There was a kind mother smile in her eyes which drew them to her as if by magic, and as she gathered them by turns into her loving arms, they were perfectly happy. Then the bowl of soft warm food was placed at her side, and one by one she fed each little orphan baby with her own golden spoon.

Later on each day there were gathered three hundred poor hungry people in the royal hall, and there the King, as well as the Queen, fed them and waited on them, giving to each the help they needed. [151] Margaret never wearied of her work, for in helping the poor was she not waiting upon her Master? And as she knelt to wash the feet of some poor beggar, was she not washing the dust-stained weary feet of Him who had said—"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me."

But there was other work besides caring for the poor that filled Margaret's days. As time went on, God sent her children of her own to care for—six brave strong boys and two fair little maidens. Very carefully and very strictly were the children trained. Just because they were princes and princesses, they needed even more than others to learn to be obedient, gentle, brave and true. No one knew better than Margaret the truth of the old motto—"noblesse oblige." There is no denying that the children were sometimes naughty, as all children will be; and then indeed there was no sparing the rod, for the governor of the nursery was charged that they should be well whipped when they needed it.

There was an old castle not far from the royal palace, called in those days the Castle of Gloom, which the royal children knew well. Its name was fitly chosen, for well might it have been the dwelling of Giant Despair. High hills frowned down upon it, almost shutting out the light of the sun. At the foot of the steep precipice on which it was built two raging streams, called Dolor and Gryff, roared their way along, and helped to make the place more gloomy. It was to this castle that the child who had behaved ill and needed punishment was sent, [152] that in dismal solitude he might learn to be sorry for his naughty ways. Not only the boys, but the little maidens too, learnt their lesson at the Castle of Gloom. It seemed strange and perhaps unkind that their gentle mother should have them whipped and sent away to the dark castle of punishment, but as they grew older and wiser, the children found that, strange as it had seemed, it was her very kindness and love that had made her punish them. Just as the hand of the gardener, who loves his garden, pulls up and destroys all the weeds, and prunes away everything that hinders the growth of his flowers, so the wise Queen tended her children, her special flowers. Thus it was that as her boys grew tall and strong and handsome, and her two little maidens became fair graceful women, it was not only the outward appearance that made such a brave show. In the garden of their hearts there were no evil weeds of selfishness, self-will and pride, but only the flowers of generosity, pity, self-forgetfulness, and the sovereign herb of obedience.

The gracious influence of the Queen was felt outside her household too, and the people around the court began to try and introduce the Queen's ways into their homes, and even to clothe themselves in gayer colours than their dull grey homespuns.

They were a hardy warlike people, as strong and rugged as their own grim grey mountain rocks, as wild and fearless as the mountain streams that came dashing down through the moorland waste.

But there are times when the mountains are no longer grim and grey, but tender and soft, in the [153] blue haze that shows each peak against a primrose sky; when the mountain torrents sink into merry murmuring burns dancing along between the banks of fern and heather; when the bare moorlands are a glory of purple and gold as the heather merges into the autumn-tinted bracken. So these rugged northern folk had also their softer side, and deep in their hearts they felt the charm of fair colours and all things gracious and beautiful.

The merchants that came from all lands, bringing their wares at the bidding of the Queen, found the people eager and willing to buy. Indeed, it is said by some that it was this love of colour, introduced by Margaret, which was the origin of the Scottish tartans.

"But why," asked the Queen, "should we buy foreign wares? Why not weave these softer fairer stuffs ourselves?"

"The people know not the art of weaving such stuffs," replied her courtiers.

"Then they shall learn," replied the Queen. "They have as good brains and as deft hands as any of these foreigners, why should they not weave as well as others? I will see that my people are taught the art."

The Queen was as good as her word, and sent abroad for workers to teach her people at Dunfermline how to weave the fair white linen, giving them thus an industry which has lasted to this day.

But into this peaceful life of tending the poor, watching over her children and her people, sewing her wondrous embroideries and founding many churches to the glory of God, there came many a dreary time of anxiety and distress. Malcolm the [154] King loved his peaceful home, but his strong brave arm was often needed to defend his country and protect his people, and many an anxious hour did Margaret spend while he went forth to fight the enemy. Her two elder boys, Edward and Edgar, went with their father now, and that made the anxiety even harder to bear.

Then came a time when it was more difficult than ever for Margaret to be brave and fearless. She was weak and ill, and the fear of some calamity seemed to hang around her like a thick cloud. It was in the month of June, when tardy Spring was in no haste to make room for her sister Summer, that the Queen sat alone in the castle of Edinburgh praying for the safe return of her dear King and their two brave sons. But yesterday they had set out with blare of trumpets and roll of drums to punish the invader who had dared to seize their castle of Alnwick, but already it seemed as if she had waited and watched for months.

Margaret did not greatly love the rugged castle of Scotland's capital. It was but a gloomy place compared to the dear home at Dunfermline, but still she made it homelike too. Its old name, the Maydyn or Maiden Castle, with its legend of Sir Galahad, pleased the Queen's fancy even if the place was somewhat rough. Often, as she sat gazing from the rocky height over the mist-wrapped town to where the line of the Forth showed like a silver thread, and across to where the great lion of Arthur's Seat and the Crags stood guard on one side of the city, she pictured the coming of the [155] perfect knight. She saw him ride up the steep hillside and enter the ruined chapel there. She watched him as he knelt beside the altar praying for guidance, and heard too the voice that bade him ride on until he came to a great castle where many gentle maidens were imprisoned.

"There too thou shalt find a company of wicked knights," continued the voice. "Them thou shalt slay, and set the Maydyn Castle free."

The Maydyn Castle was but a rough home for Queen Margaret, but even there there were marks of her gracious presence. A little stone chapel was built upon the rock, and amidst the clang of weapons and sounds of war, the peaceful prayers of the Queen rose like sweet incense to heaven.

It was with difficulty that the Queen had managed to walk with feeble steps to the little chapel that sad June day; and as she prayed for the safety of her dear ones, who had ridden forth to meet danger and death, something seemed to tell her that they would never return. She felt as if even now misfortune was descending like a thick cloud upon the smiling land.

Her friend and counsellor Turgot, who writes the story of his Queen, tells how, when she had left the chapel, she turned to him and said with sad conviction: "Perhaps on this very day such a heavy calamity may befall the realm of Scotland as has not been for ages past."

It was while she was speaking these very words of sad foreboding that at the castle of Alnwick the heavy calamity had indeed fallen.

[156] The gallant Malcolm with his two sons riding at the head of his men had reached the castle and called upon the garrison to surrender. The Scottish army was encamped below the castle, waiting to make the attack should the garrison refuse to yield. While they waited, a single unarmed knight rode out from the castle gate, carrying only his long spear, on the point of which hung the heavy keys of the castle stronghold.

"I come to surrender," he cried as he reached the camp. "Let your King come forth to receive at our hands the keys of his fortress."

There was no thought of treachery, and Malcolm with his visor up came out to meet the knight. As the King advanced the knight rode forward, and with a sudden swift movement, lowered his spear and drove its point straight into the eye of the King, piercing to his brain and killing him on the spot.

Then all was uproar and confusion. The infuriated Scots charged upon the enemy. Edward, the eldest son, rushing forward to avenge his father's death, was also slain. Little wonder that the heart that loved them both so dearly should feel the stroke, although far away.

With their King killed and their leaders gone, the Scottish soldiers lost heart, and were at last beaten back and utterly routed. There was no one left even to seek for the King's body, and it was left to two poor peasants to find it, and to carry it away in a cart to Tynemouth.

Four days passed before the news slowly travelled to the Maydyn Castle at Edinburgh, and it was [157] Edgar, the second son, who brought the tidings to his dying mother.

She was lying peaceful and untroubled now, clasping in her hand that wonderful "Black Cross" which she loved so dearly. It was the cross which she had brought with her from England when she came a poor fugitive. Made of pure gold and set with great diamonds, it held in its heart something more precious still—a tiny splinter of her Lord's true Cross. It was her dearest possession, the most precious heirloom which she left to her sons, the youngest of whom, when he became King, "built a magnificent church for it near the city, called Holy-Rood."

The poor boy Edgar was almost heart-broken as he stood by his mother's bed. His father and brother were slain, enemies were already gathering round the castle, and his beloved mother lay here, sick unto death. He dared not tell her the direful news, lest it should snap the silver cord of life which already was worn so frail.

But his mother's eyes sought his, and he bent down to catch her feeble words.

"Is it well with thy father? Is it well with thy brother?"

"It is well," replied the boy bravely.

"I know it, my boy," she whispered with a sigh, "I know it. By this holy cross, by the bond of our blood, I adjure thee to tell me the truth."

Then the boy knelt by her side and very gently and tenderly told her the sad tidings. He need not have feared that the news would greatly [158] trouble her. The veil had grown so thin that she could almost see into the glory beyond, and she knew that whatever her Master did was "well." A little while, and with a smile of great peace she welcomed the coming of the messenger of death, and to those who stood by it seemed as if they could feel the presence of God's angels as they stooped to bear away the soul of His faithful servant.

They robed the dead queen in the fairest of her royal robes, and there, in the rugged castle hall, she lay in state. Close around the castle thronged the enemies of the dead King, and those who greedily sought to snatch the crown from the fatherless boy.

It was well known that it had been the Queen's wish that her body should be laid to rest in the church she had built at Dunfermline, but every gate, every door of the castle was guarded and watched by the enemy, and it seemed as if the Queen's desire must remain unfulfilled. But men's strength is as nought when matched against Heaven's will.

Slowly there rolled up from the valley a dense grey fog, so thick that it blotted out everything in its heavy folds. The guards redoubled their watch at the gates, but there was one small postern door which they knew not of; and shrouded in the kindly mist, a little procession stole secretly through it, bearing the body of the Queen. Through the very midst of the enemy's lines the company passed in silence, unmolested and unseen. Behind them as they passed the mist closed in, and ere long they reached the banks of the Forth, at the landing-place called [159] after Margaret, the Queen's Ferry. Then the friendly mist, no longer needed, lifted and rolled away, and the little company was able to cross the ferry and land at the bay of Margaret's Hope, the same little haven which had sheltered her, a fair young maiden, who now was carried home a loved and honoured Queen.

As the procession moved in haste towards Dunfermline many a poor peasant stole out and stood bareheaded to see her pass, many a voice was lifted in sorrowful wail to think those gentle hands which had so often cared for them were still for ever.

At last Dunfermline was reached in safety, and there, in her own beloved church, they laid the saint to rest.

Long years have passed since that sad June day when they brought Queen Margaret's body home, but in the old churchyard, in what was once the Lady's Chapel, her tomb may still be seen, open now to the winds of heaven.

It is said that for many years after they laid her there to rest, flashes of light were seen glancing round the sacred spot, and that a sweet perfume as of flowers hung around the place, while those who were ill or in trouble were healed and helped by touching any relic of Saint Margaret. Whether that is but a legend we cannot tell, but this we know, that down the ages the light of her example and holy life has shone clear and steadily on, that the sweet perfume of her gentle deeds still lingers in the grey northern land which she so nobly helped to brighten and to beautify.

 



Harriette Taylor Treadwell

Group of Mother Goose Rhymes


[Illustration]

[16]

Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn,

The sheep's in the meadow,

the cow's in the corn.

Where's the boy

that looks after the sheep?

He's under the haystack, fast asleep.

Will you wake him? No, not I;

For if I do, he'll be sure to cry.


— Mother Goose

[17]

Baa, baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes, I have, sir,

Three bags full.

One for my master,

And one for my dame,

And one for the little boy

Who lives in the lane.


— Mother Goose

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?

I have been to London to see the queen.

Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?

I frightened a little mouse under her chair.


— Mother Goose

[18]

Blow, wind, blow!

and go, mill, go!

That the miller may

grind his corn;

That the baker may take it,

And into rolls make it,

And send us some hot

in the morn.


— Mother Goose

If all the world were apple-pie,

And all the sea were ink,

And all the trees were bread and cheese,

What should we have to drink?


— Mother Goose


[Illustration]

[19]

Once I saw a little bird

Come hop, hop, hop;

So I cried, "Little bird,

Will you stop, stop, stop?"


I went to the window

To say, "How do you do?"

But he shook his little tail,

And far away he flew.


— Mother Goose

[20]

I have a little sister;

they call her Peep, Peep.

She wades in the water

deep, deep, deep;

She climbs the mountains,

high, high, high—

Poor little thing!

She has but one eye.


— Mother Goose

There was an old woman

lived under a hill;

And if she's not gone,

she lives there still.


— Mother Goose


[Illustration]

[21]

Some little mice sat in a barn to spin,

Pussy came by, and put her head in;

"Shall I come in and cut your threads?"

"No, Miss Puss, you will bite off our heads."


— Mother Goose

Hush-a-bye, baby, on the tree top,

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.

Down will come baby, cradle, and all.


— Mother Goose


[Illustration]

[22]

The north wind doth blow,

And we shall have snow,

And what will the robin do then,

poor thing?


He'll sit in a barn,

And keep himself warm,

And hide his head under his wing,

poor thing!


[23]

The north wind doth blow,

And we shall have snow,

And what will the bee do then,

poor thing?


In his hive he will stay,

Till the cold's passed away,

And then he'll come out in the spring,

poor thing!


The north wind doth blow,

And we shall have snow,

And what will the dormouse do then,

poor thing?

Rolled up in a ball,

In his nest snug and small,

He'll sleep till warm weather comes back,

poor thing!


— Mother Goose

 



Oliver Herford

Elf and Dormouse

Under a toadstool

Crept a wee Elf,

Out of the rain

To shelter himself.


Under the toadstool,

Sound asleep,

Sat a big Dormouse

All in a heap.


Trembled the wee Elf

Frightened, and yet

Fearing to fly away

Lest he get wet.


To the next shelter

Maybe a mile

Sudden the wee Elf

Smiled a wee smile.


Tugged till the toadstool

Toppled in two

Holding it over him

Gayly he flew.


Soon he was safe home,

Dry as could be.

Soon woke the Dormouse

"Good gracious me!


Where is my toadstool!"

Loud he lamented,

And that's how umbrellas

First were invented.

 


  WEEK 16  

  Wednesday  


James Baldwin

How Napoleon Crossed the Alps

ABOUT a hundred years ago there lived a great general whose name was Napoleon Bonaparte. He was the leader of the French army; and France was at war with nearly all the countries around. He wanted very much to take his soldiers into Italy; but between France and Italy there are high mountains called the Alps, the tops of which are covered with snow.

"Is it possible to cross the Alps?" said Napoleon.

[76] The men who had been sent to look at the passes over the mountains shook their heads. Then one of them said, "It may be possible, but"—

"Let me hear no more," said Napoleon. "Forward to Italy!"

People laughed at the thought of an army of sixty thousand men crossing the Alps where there was no road. But Napoleon waited only to see that everything was in good order, and then he gave the order to march.

The long line of soldiers and horses and cannon stretched for twenty miles. When they came to a steep place where there seemed to be no way to go farther, the trumpets sounded "Charge!" Then every man did his best, and the whole army moved right onward.

Soon they were safe over the Alps. In four days they were marching on the plains of Italy.

"The man who has made up his mind to win," said Napoleon, "will never say 'Impossible.' "

 



Lucy Fitch Perkins

The Twins Go Fishing

I

[48]

W HEN the people had all gone away, Menie and Monnie sat down on the side of the sledge. Nip and Tup were busy burying bones in the snow. The other dogs had eaten all they wanted to and were now lying down asleep in the sun, with their noses on their paws.


[Illustration]

Everything was still and cold. It was so still you could almost hear the silence, and so bright that the twins had to squint their eyes. In the air there was a faint smell of cooking meat.

Menie sniffed. "I'm so hungry I could eat my boots," he said.

"There are better things to eat than boots," Monnie answered. "What would you like best of everything in the world if you could have it?"

[49] "A nice piece of blubber from a walrus or some reindeer tallow," said Menie.

"Oh, no," Monnie cried. "That isn't half as good as reindeer's stomach, or fishes' eyes! Um-m how I love fishes' eyes! I tell you, Menie, let's get something to eat and then go fishing, before the sun goes down!"

"All right," said Menie. "Let's see if Mother won't give us a piece of bear's fat! That is almost as good as blubber or fishes' eyes."

II

[50] They dived into the igloo. Their mother was standing beside the oil lamp, putting strands of dried moss into the oil. This lamp was their only stove and their only light. It didn't look much like our stoves. It was just a piece of soapstone, shaped something like a clamshell. It was all lowed out so it would hold the oil. All along the shallow side of the pan there were little tendrils of dried moss, like threads. These were the wicks.

Over the fire pan there was a rack, and from the rack a stone pan hung down over the lamp flame. It was tied by leather thongs to the rack. In the pan a piece of bear's meat was simmering. The fire was not big enough to cook it very well, but there was a little steam rising from it, and it made a very good smell for hungry noses.

"We're hungry enough to eat our boots," Menie said to his mother.

"You must never  eat your boots; you have but one pair!" his mother answered. [51] She pinched Menie's cheek and laughed at him.

Then she cut two chunks of fat from a piece of bear's meat which lay on the bench. She gave one to each of the twins. "Eat this, and soon you can have some cooked meat," she said. "It isn't quite done yet."

"We don't want to wait for the cooked meat," cried Monnie. "We want to go fishing before the sun is gone. Give us more fat and we'll eat it outside."

"You may go fishing if your father will go with you and cut holes for you in the ice," said her mother.

Koolee cut off two more pieces of fat. The twins took a piece in each hand. Then their mother reached down their own little fishing rods, which were stuck in the walls of the igloo. The twins had bear's meat in both hands. They didn't see how they could manage the fishing rods too.

But Menie thought of a way. "I'll show you how," he said to Monnie. He held one chunk of meat in his teeth! In his [52] left hand he held the fishing rod, in his right he carried the other piece of meat!


[Illustration]

Monnie did exactly what Menie did, and then they crawled down into the tunnel.

III

The twins had some trouble getting out of the tunnel because both their hands were full. And besides the fishing rods kept [53] getting between their legs. When they got outside they both took great bites of the bear's fat.

Kesshoo was hanging the dogs' harnesses up on a tall pole, where the dogs could not get them. The pole was eight feet long, and it was made of the tusk of a narwhal. The harnesses were made of walrus thongs and the dogs would eat them if they had a chance. That was the reason Kesshoo hung them out of reach. The twins ran to their father at once. They began to tell him that they wanted to go fishing right away before the sun went down but their mouths were so full they couldn't get the words out!


[Illustration]

"Mm-m-m-m," Menie began, chewing with all his might!

Then Monnie did a shocking thing! She swallowed her meat whole, she was in such hurry! It made a great lump going down her throat! It almost choked her. But she shut her eyes, jerked her head forward, and got it down!

"Will you make two holes in the ice [54] for us to fish through?" she said. She got the words out first! Then she took another bite of meat.

"Have you got your lines ready, and anything for bait?" asked their father.

By this time Menie had swallowed his mouthful too. He said, "We can take a piece of bear's meat for bait. The lines and hooks are ready."

Kesshoo looked at the lines. The rods were very short. They were made of driftwood with a piece of bone bound to the end by tough thongs.

There was a hole in the end of the bone, and through this hole the line was threaded. The line was made of braided reindeer thongs. On the end of the line was a hook carved out of bone.

"Your lines are all right," said Kesshoo. "Come along."

He led the way down to the beach. The twins came tumbling after him, and I am sorry to tell you they gobbled their meat all the way! After the twins came Nip and Tup. The ice was very thick. Kesshoo [55] and the twins and the pups walked out on it quite a distance from the shore.

Kesshoo cut two round holes in the ice. One was for Menie and one for Monnie. The holes were not big enough for them to fall into.

By this time the twins had eaten all their meat except some small pieces which they saved for bait. They each put a piece of meat on the hook. Then they squatted down on their heels and dropped the hooks into the holes.


[Illustration]

[56] Kesshoo went back to the village, and left them there. "Don't stay out too long," he called back to them.

IV

The twins sat perfectly still for a long time. Nip sat beside Menie, and Tup sat beside Monnie. It grew colder and colder. The sun began to drop down toward the sea again. At last it rested like a great round red wheel right on the Edge of the World!

Slowly, slowly it sank until only a little bit of the red rim showed; then that too was gone. Great splashes of red color came up in the sky over the place where it had been.

Still the twins sat patiently by their holes. It grew darker and darker. The colors faded. The stars began to twinkle, but the twins did not move. Nip and Tup ran races on the ice, and rolled over each other and barked.

At last—all of a sudden—there was a fearful jerk on Monnie's line! It took her [57] by surprise. The little rod flew right out of her hands! Monnie flung herself on her stomach on the ice and caught the rod just as it was going down the hole! She held on hard and pulled like everything.


[Illustration]

"I believe I've caught a whale,"  she panted.

But she never let go! She got herself right side up on the ice, somehow, and pulled and pulled on her line.

"Let me pull him in!" cried Menie. He tried to take her rod.

"Get away," screamed Monnie. "I'll pull in my own fish."

Menie danced up and down with excite- [58] ment, still holding his own rod. The pups danced and barked too. Monnie never looked at any of them. She kept her eyes fixed on the hole and pulled.

At last she shrieked, "I've got him, I've got him!" And up through the hole came a great big codfish!

My! how he did flop around on the ice! Nip and Tup were scared. They ran for home at the first flop.

"Let's go home now," said Monnie. "I want to show my fine big fish to Mother."

But Menie said, "Wait a little longer till I catch one! I'll give you one eye out of my fish if you will."

Monnie waited. She put another piece of meat on her hook and dropped it again into the hole. After a while she said, "You can keep your old eye if you get it. It's so dark the fish can't see to get themselves caught anyway. I'm cold. I'm going home."

Menie got up very slowly and pulled up his line.

[59] As they turned toward the shore, Monnie cried out, "Look, look! The sky is on fire!" It looked like it, truly!

Great white streamers were flashing from the Edge of the World, clear up into the sky! They danced like flames. Sometimes they shot long banners of blue or green fire up to the very stars. Overhead the sky shone red as blood. The stars seemed blotted out.

[60] The twins had seen many wonderful things in the sky, but never such color as this. Their eyes grew as round and big and popping as those of Monnie's codfish, while they watched the long banners join themselves into a great waving curtain of color that hung clear across the heavens.


[Illustration]

"What is it? Oh, what is it?" they gasped. They were too astonished to move, and they were a good deal frightened, too. They never knew the sky could act like that.

Monnie felt her black hair rise under her little fur hood. She seized Menie's coat. "Do you suppose the world is going to be burned up?" she said.

Just then they heard a voice calling, "Menie, Monnie, where are you?"

"Here we are," they answered. Their teeth were chattering with cold and fright, and they ran up the slope and flung themselves into their mother's arms.

"Oh, Mother, what is the matter with the sky?" they gasped.

Then Koolee looked up too. The long [61] streamers were still flinging themselves up toward the red dome overhead.

We call this the "aurora," or "northern lights," and know that electricity causes it, but the twins' mother couldn't know that. She told them just what had been told her when she was a little girl.

She said, "That is the dance of the Spirits of the Dead! Haven't you ever seen it before?"

"Not like this," said the twins. "This is so big, and so red!"

"The sky is not often so bright," said Koolee. "Some say it is the spirits of little children dancing and playing together in the sky! They will not hurt you. You need not be afraid. See how they dance in a ring all around the Edge of the World! They look as if they were having fun."

"It goes around the Edge of the World just like the flames around our lamp," said Menie. "Maybe it's the Giants' lamp!"

Menie and Monnie believed in Giants. So did their mother. They thought the Giants [62] lived in the middle of the Great White World, where the snow never melts.

The thought of the Giants scared them all. The twins gave the fish to their mother, and then they all three scuttled up the snowy slope toward the bright window of their igloo just as fast as they could go. When they got inside they found some hot bear's meat waiting for them, and Monnie had both the eyes from her fish to eat. But she gave one to Menie.

When they were warmed and fed, they pulled off their little fur suits, crawled into the piles of warm skins on the sleeping bench, and in two minutes were sound asleep.


[Illustration]

 



Anonymous

Old Dame Cricket

Old Dame Cricket, down in a thicket,

Brought up her children nine,—

Queer little chaps, in glossy black caps

And brown little suits so fine.


"My children," she said,

"The birds are abed:

Go and make the dark earth glad!

Chirp while you can!"

And then she began,—

Till, oh, what a concert they had!


They hopped with delight,

They chirped all night,

Singing, "Cheer up! cheer up! cheer!"

Old Dame Cricket,

Down in the thicket,

Sat awake till dawn to hear.


"Nice children," she said,

"And very well bred.

My darlings have done their best.

Their naps they must take:

The birds are awake;

And they can sing all the rest."

 


  WEEK 16  

  Thursday  


H. E. Marshall

How the Fire Dragon Warred with the Goth Folk

[76] And now when many years had come and gone and the realm had long time been at peace, sorrow came upon the people of the Goths. And thus it was that the evil came.

It fell upon a time that a slave by his misdeeds roused his master's wrath, and when his lord would have punished him he fled in terror. And as he fled trembling to hide himself, he came by chance into a great cave.

There the slave hid, thankful for refuge. But soon he had cause to tremble in worse fear than before, for in the darkness of [77] the cave he saw that a fearful dragon lay asleep. Then as the slave gazed in terror at the awful beast, he saw that it lay guarding a mighty treasure.

Never had he seen such a mass of wealth. Swords and armour inlaid with gold, cups and vessels of gold and silver set with precious stones, rings and bracelets lay piled around in glittering heaps.

For hundreds of years this treasure had lain there in secret. A great prince had buried it in sorrow for his dead warriors. In his land there had been much fighting until he alone of all his people was left. Then in bitter grief he gathered all his treasure and hid it in this cave.

"Take, O earth," he cried, "what the heroes might not keep. Lo! good men and true once before earned it from thee. Now a warlike death hath taken away [78] every man of my people. There is none now to bear the sword or receive the cup. There is no more joy in the battlefield or in the hall of peace. So here shall the gold-adorned helmet moulder, here the coat of mail rust and the wine-cup lie empty."

Thus the sad prince mourned. Beside his treasure he sat weeping both day and night until death took him also, and of all his people there was none left.

So the treasure lay hidden and secret for many a day.

Then upon a time it happened that a great Dragon, fiery-eyed and fearful, as it flew by night and prowled seeking mischief, came upon the buried hoard.

As men well know, a dragon ever loveth gold. So to guard his new-found wealth lest any should come to rob him of it, he laid him down there and the cave became [79] his dwelling. Thus for three hundred years he lay gloating over his treasure, no man disturbing him.

But now at length it chanced that the fleeing slave lighted upon the hoard. His eyes were dazzled by the shining heap. Upon it lay a cup of gold, wondrously chased and adorned.

"If I can but gain that cup," said the slave to himself, "I will return with it to my master, and for the sake of the gold he will surely forgive me."

So while the Dragon slept, trembling and fearful the slave crept nearer and nearer to the glittering mass. When he came quite near he reached forth his hand and seized the cup. Then with it he fled back to his master.


[Illustration]

The slave crept nearer and nearer to the glittering mass

It befell then as the slave had foreseen. For the sake of the wondrous cup his misdeeds were forgiven him.

[80] But when the Dragon awoke his fury was great. Well knew he that mortal man had trod his cave and stolen of his hoard.

Round and round about he sniffed and searched until he discovered the footprints of his foe. Eagerly then all over the ground he sought to find the man who, while he slept, had done him this ill. Hot and fierce of mood he went backwards and forwards round about his treasure-heaps. All within the cave he searched in vain. Then coming forth he searched without. All round the hill in which his cave was he prowled, but no man could he find, nor in all the wilds around was there any man.

Again the old Dragon returned, again he searched among his treasure-heaps for the precious cup. Nowhere was it to be found. It was too surely gone.

[81] But the Dragon, as well as loving gold, loved war. So now in angry mood he lay couched in his lair. Scarce could he wait until darkness fell, such was his wrath. With fire he was resolved to repay the loss of his dear drinking-cup.

At last, to the joy of the great winged beast, the sun sank. Then forth from his cave he came, flaming fire.

Spreading his mighty wings, he flew through the air until he came to the houses of men. Then spitting forth flame, he set fire to many a happy homestead. Wherever the lightning of his tongue struck, there fire flamed forth, until where the fair homes of men had been there was nought but blackened ruins. Here and there, this way and that, through all the land he sped, and wherever he passed fire flamed aloft.

The warfare of the Dragon was seen [82] from far. The malice of the Worm was known from north to south, from east to west. All men knew how the fearful foe hated and ruined the Goth folk.

Then having worked mischief and desolation all night through, the Fire-Dragon turned back; to his secret cave he slunk again ere break of day. Behind him he left the land wasted and desolate.

The Dragon had no fear of the revenge of man. In his fiery warfare he trusted to find shelter in his hill, and in his secret cave. But in that trust he was misled.

Speedily to King Beowulf were the tidings of the Dragon and his spoiling carried. For alas! even his own fair palace was wrapped in flame. Before his eyes he saw the fiery tongues lick up his treasures. Even the Gift-seat of the Goths melted in fire.

[83] Then was the good king sorrowful. His heart boiled within him with angry thoughts. The Fire-Dragon had utterly destroyed the pleasant homes of his people. For this the war-prince greatly desired to punish him.

Therefore did Beowulf command that a great shield should be made for him, all of iron. He knew well that a shield of wood could not help him in this need. Wood against fire! Nay, that were useless. His shield must be all of iron.

Too proud, too, was Beowulf, the hero of old time, to seek the winged beast with a troop of soldiers. Not thus would he overcome him. He feared not for himself, nor did he dread the Dragon's war-craft. For with his valour and his skill Beowulf had succeeded many a time. He had been victorious in many a tumult of battle since that day when a young man [84] and a warrior prosperous in victory, he had cleansed Hart Hall by grappling with Grendel and his kin.

And now when the great iron shield was ready, he chose eleven of his best thanes and set out to seek the Dragon. Very wrathful was the old king, very desirous that death should take his fiery foe. He hoped, too, to win the great treasure of gold which the fell beast guarded. For already Beowulf had learned whence the feud arose, whence came the anger which had been so hurtful to his people. And the precious cup, the cause of all the quarrel, had been brought to him.

With the band of warriors went the slave who had stolen the cup. He it was who must be their guide to the cave, for he alone of all men living knew the way thither. Loth he was to be their guide. [85] But captive and bound he was forced to lead the way over the plain to the Dragon's hill.

Unwillingly he went with lagging footsteps until at length he came to the cave hard by the sea-shore. There by the sounding waves lay the savage guardian of the treasure. Ready for war and fierce was he. It was no easy battle that was there prepared for any man, brave though he might be.

And now on the rocky point above the sea King Beowulf sat himself down. Here he would bid farewell to all his thanes ere he began the combat. For what man might tell which from that fight should come forth victorious?

Beowulf's mind was sad. He was now old. His hair was white, his face was wrinkled and grey. But still his arm was strong as that of a young man. Yet [86] something within him warned him that death was not far off.

So upon the rocky point he sat and bade farewell to his dear comrades.

"In my youth," said the aged king, "many battles have I dared, and yet must I, the guardian of my people, though I be full of years, seek still another feud. And again will I win glory if the wicked spoiler of my land will but come forth from his lair."

Much he spoke. With loving words he bade farewell to each one of his men, greeting his dear comrades for the last time.

"I would not bear a sword or weapon against the winged beast," he said at length, "if I knew how else I might grapple with the wretch, as of old I did with Grendel. But I ween this war-fire is hot, fierce, and poisonous. Therefore I [87] have clad me in a coat of mail, and bear this shield all of iron. I will not flee a single step from the guardian of the treasure. But to us upon this rampart it shall be as fate will.

"Now let me make no more vaunting speech. Ready to fight am I. Let me forth against the winged beast. Await ye here on the mount, clad in your coats of mail, your arms ready. Abide ye here until ye see which of us twain in safety cometh forth from the clash of battle.

"It is no enterprise for you, or for any common man. It is mine alone. Alone I needs must go against the wretch and prove myself a warrior. I must with courage win the gold, or else deadly, baleful war shall fiercely snatch me, your lord, from life."

Then Beowulf arose. He was all clad in shining armour, his gold-decked helmet [88] was upon his head, and taking his shield in hand he strode under the stony cliffs towards the cavern's mouth. In the strength of his single arm he trusted against the fiery Dragon.

No enterprise this for a coward.

 



Clara Dillingham Pierson

The Red-Headed Woodpecker Children

[Illustration]

[39]

M RS. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER bent her handsome head down and listened. "Yes, it is! It certainly is!" she cried, as she heard for a second time the faint "tap-tap-tap" of a tiny beak rapping on the inside of an egg shell. She hopped to one side of her nest and stood looking at the four white eggs that lay there. Soon the rapping was heard again and she saw one of them move a bit on its bed of chips.

[40] "So it is that one," she cried. "I thought it would be. I was certain that I laid that one first." And she arched her neck proudly, as the beak of her eldest child came through a crack in the shell. Now nobody else could have told one egg from another, but mothers have a way of remembering such things, and it may be because they love their children so that sometimes their sight is a little sharper, and their hearing a little keener than anybody else's.

However that may be, she stood watching while the tiny bird chipped away the shell and squeezed out of the opening he had made. She did not even touch a piece of the shell until he was well out of it, for she knew that it is always better for children to help themselves when they can. It makes them strong and fits them for life. When the little Red-headed Woodpecker had struggled free, she took the broken pieces in her beak and carried [41] them far from the nest before dropping them to the ground. If she had done the easiest thing and let them fall by the foot of the hollow tree where she lived, any prowling Weasel or Blue Jay might have seen them and watched for a chance to reach her babies. And that would have been very sad for the babies.

The newly hatched bird was a tired little fellow, and the first thing he did was to take a nap. He was cold, too, although the weather was fine and sunshiny. His down was all wet from the moisture inside the egg, and you can imagine how he felt, after growing for so long inside a warm, snug shell, to suddenly be without it and know that he could never again have it around him. Even if it had been whole once more, he could not have been packed into it, for he had been stretching and growing every minute since he left it. It is for this reason that the barn-yard people have a wise saying: "A [42] hatched chicken never returns to his shell."

When Mrs. Red-headed Woodpecker came back, she covered her shivering little one with her downy breast, and there he slept, while she watched for her husband's coming, and thought how pleased and proud he would be to see the baby. They were a young couple, and this was their first child.

But who can tell what the other three children, who had not cracked the shell, were thinking? Could they remember the time when they began to be? Could they dream of what would happen after they were hatched? Could they think at all? They were tiny, weak creatures, curled up within their shells, with food packed all around them. There had been a time when they were only streaks in the yellow liquid of the eggs. Now they were almost ready to leave this for a fuller, freer life, where they could open their bills [43] and flutter their wings, and stretch their legs and necks. It had been a quiet, sheltered time in the shell; why should they leave it? Ah, but they must leave it, for they were healthy and growing, and when they had done so, they would forget all about it. By the time they could talk, and that would be very soon, they would have forgotten all that happened before they were hatched. That is why you can never get a bird to tell you what he thought about while in an egg.

After the young Woodpecker's three sisters reached the outside world, the father and mother were kept busy hunting food for them, and they were alone much of the time. It was not long before they knew their parents' voices, although, once in a while, before they got their eyes open, they mistook the call of the Tree Frog below for that of the Woodpeckers. And this was not strange, for each says, "Ker-r-ruck! Ker-r-ruck!" and when the [44] Tree Frog was singing in his home at the foot of the tree, the four Woodpecker children, in their nest-hollow far above his head, would be opening their bills and stretching their necks, and wondering why no juicy and delicious morsel was dropped down their throats.

When they had their eyes open there was much to be seen. At least, they thought so. Was there not the hollow in their dear, dry old tree, a hollow four or five times as high as they could reach? Their mother had told them how their father and she had dug it out with their sharp, strong bills, making it roomy at the bottom, and leaving a doorway at the top just large enough for them to pass through. Part of the chips they had taken away, as the mother had taken the broken shells, and part had been left in the bottom of the hollow for the children to lie on. "I don't believe in grass, hair, and down, as a bed for children," their [45] father had said. "Nice soft chips are far better."

And the Woodpecker children liked the chips, and played with them, and pretended that they were grubs to be caught with their long and bony tongues; only of course they never swallowed them.

It was an exciting time when their feathers began to grow. Until then they had been clothed in down; but now the tiny quills came pricking through their skin, and it was not so pleasant to snuggle up to each other as it had once been. Now, too, the eldest of the family began to show a great fault. He was very vain. You can imagine how sorry his parents were.

Every morning when he awakened he looked first of all at his feathers. Those on his breast were white, and he had a white band on his wings. His tail and back and nearly the whole of his wings were blue-black. His head, neck, and throat were crimson. To be sure, while [46] the feathers were growing, the colors were not very bright, for the down was mixed with them, and the quills showed so plainly that the young birds looked rather streaked.

The sisters were getting their new suits at the same time, and there was just as much reason why they should be vain, but they were not. They were glad (as who would not be?) and they often said to each other: "How pretty you are growing!" They looked exactly like their brother, for it is not with the Woodpeckers as with many other birds,—the sons and daughters are dressed in precisely the same way.

As for the vain young Woodpecker, he had many troubles. He was not contented to let his feathers grow as the grass and the leaves grow, without watching. No indeed! He looked at each one every day and a great many times every day. Then, if he thought they were not grow- [47] ing as fast as they should, he worried about it. He wanted to hurry them along, and sometimes, when his sisters did not seem to be looking, he took hold of them with his bill and pulled. Of course this did not make them grow any faster and it did make his skin very sore, but how was he to know? He had not been out of the shell long enough to be wise.

It troubled him, too, because he could not see his red feathers. He twisted his head this way and that, and strained his eyes until they ached, trying to see his own head and neck. It was very annoying. He thought it would have been much nicer to have the brightest feathers in a fellow's tail, where he could see them, or at any rate on his breast; and he asked his mother why it couldn't be so.

"I once knew a young Woodpecker," she said, "who thought of very little but his own beauty. I am afraid that if he had been allowed to wear his red feathers in [48] his tail, he would never have seen anything else in this wonderful great world, but just his own poor little tail." She looked out of the doorway as she spoke, but he knew that she meant him.

Things went on in this way until the children were ready to fly. Then there were daily lessons in flying, alighting, clinging to branches, and tapping for food on the bark of trees. They learned, too, how to support themselves with their stiff tails when they were walking up trees or stopping to eat with their claws hooked into the bark. Then Mrs. Red-headed Woodpecker taught them how to tell the ripest and sweetest fruit on the trees before they tasted it. That is something many people would like to know, but it is a forest secret, and no bird will tell anyone who cannot fly.

It was on his way back from an orchard one day, that the vain young Woodpecker stopped to talk with an old Gray Squirrel. [49] It may be that the Gray Squirrel's sight was not good, and so he mistook the Woodpecker for quite another fellow. He was speaking of an old tree where he had spent the last winter. "I believe a family of Red-headed Woodpeckers live there now," he said. "I have met them once or twice. The father and mother are fine people, and they have charming daughters, but their son must be a great trial to them. He is one of these silly fellows who see the world through their own feathers."

As the young Red-headed Woodpecker flew away, he repeated this to himself: "A silly fellow, a silly fellow, who sees the world through his own feathers." And he said to his father, "Whose feathers must I look through?"

This puzzled his father. "Whose feathers should you look through?" said he. "What do you mean?"

"Well," answered the son, "somebody said that I saw the world through my own [50] feathers, and I don't see how I can get anybody else's."

How his father did laugh! "I don't see why you should look through any feathers," said he. "What he meant was that you thought so much of your own plumage that you did not care for anything else; and it is so. If it were intended you should look at yourself all the time, your eyes would have been one under your chin and the other in the back of your head. No! They are placed right for you to look at other people, and are where they help you hunt for food."

"How often may I look at my own feathers?" asked the young Woodpecker. He was wondering at that minute how his tail looked, but he was determined not to turn his head.

The old Woodpecker's eyes twinkled. "I should think," he said, "that since you are young and have no family to look after, you might preen your feathers in the [51] morning and in the afternoon and when you go to sleep. Then, of course, when it is stormy, you will have to take your waterproof out of the pocket under your tail, and put it on one feather at a time, as all birds do. That would be often enough unless something happened to rumple them."

"I will not look at them any oftener," said the young Red-headed Woodpecker, firmly. "I will not  be called a silly fellow." And he was as good as his word.

His mother sighed when she heard of the change. "I am very glad," said she. "But isn't that always the way? His father and I have talked and talked, and it made no difference; but let somebody else say he is silly and vain, and behold!"

 



John Kendrick Bangs

The Little Elf-Man

I met a little Elf-man, once,

Down where the lilies blow.

I asked him why he was so small

And why he didn't grow.


He slightly frowned, and with his eye

He looked me through and through.

"I'm quite as big for me," said he,

"As you are big for you."

 


  WEEK 16  

  Friday  


Edward Eggleston

Daniel Boone and His Grapevine Swing

DANIEL BOONE was the first settler of Kentucky. He knew all about living in the woods. He knew how to hunt the wild animals. He knew how to fight Indians, and how to get away from them.

Nearly all the men that came with him to Kentucky the first time were killed. One was eaten by wolves. Some of them were killed by Indians. Some of them went into the woods and never came back. Nobody knows what killed them.

Only Boone and his brother were left alive. They needed some powder and some bullets. They wanted some horses. Boone's brother went back across the mountains to get these things. Boone staid in his little cabin all alone.

Boone could hear the wolves howl near his cabin at night. He heard the panthers scream in the woods. But he did not mind being left all alone in these dark forests. [77] The Indians came to his cabin when he was away. He did not want to see these visitors. He did not dare to sleep in his cabin all the time. Sometimes he slept under a rocky cliff. Sometimes he slept in a cane-brake. A cane-brake is a large patch of growing canes such as fishing rods are made of.

Once a mother bear tried to kill him. He fired his gun at her, but the bullet did not kill her. The bear ran at him. He held his long knife out in his hand. The bear ran against it and was killed.

He made long journeys alone in the woods. One day he looked back through the trees and saw four Indians. They were following Boone's tracks. They did not see him. He turned this way and that. But the Indians still followed his tracks.

He went over a little hill. Here he found a wild grapevine. It was a very long vine, reaching to the top of a high tree. There are many such vines in the Southern woods. Children cut such vines off near the roots. Then they use them for swings.

Boone had swung on grapevines when he was a boy. He now thought of a way to break his tracks. He cut the wild grapevine off near the root. Then he took hold of it. He sprang out into the air with all his might. The great swing carried him far out as it swung. Then he let go. He fell [78] to the ground, and then he ran away in a different direction from that in which he had been going.

When the Indians came to the place, they could not find his tracks. They could not tell which way he had gone. He got to his cabin in safety.

Boone had now been alone for many months. His brother did not get back at the time he had set for coming. Boone thought that his brother might have been killed. Boone had not tasted anything but meat since he left home. He had to get his food by shooting animals in the woods. By this time he had hardly any powder or bullets left.


[Illustration]

Boone on the Grapevine Swing

One evening he sat by his cabin. He heard some one coming. He thought that it might be Indians. He heard the steps of horses. He looked through the trees. He saw his brother riding on one horse, and leading another. The other horse was loaded with powder and bullets and clothes, and other things that Boone needed.

 



Ellen C. Babbitt

Grannie's Blackie

[77]

O NCE upon a time a rich man gave a baby Elephant to a woman.

She took the best of care of this great baby and soon became very fond of him.

The children in the village called her Granny, and they called the Elephant "Granny's Blackie."

The Elephant carried the children on his back all over the village. They shared their goodies with him and he played with them.

"Please, Blackie, give us a swing," they said to him almost every day.

"Come on! Who is first?" Blackie answered and picked them up with his trunk, swung them high in the air, and then put them down again, carefully.


[Illustration]

Blackie swung them high in the air.

But Blackie never did any work.

He ate and slept, played with the children, and visited with Granny.

One day Blackie wanted Granny to go off to the woods with him.

[78] "I can't go, Blackie, dear. I have too much work to do."

Then Blackie looked at her and saw that she was growing old and feeble.

"I am young and strong," he thought. "I'll see if I cannot find some work to do. If I could bring some money home to her, she would not have to work so hard."

So next morning, bright and early, he started down to the river bank.

There he found a man who was in great trouble. There was a long line of wagons so heavily loaded that the oxen could not draw them through the shallow water.

When the man saw Blackie standing on the bank he asked, "Who owns this Elephant? I want to hire him to help my Oxen pull these wagons across the river."

A child standing near by said, "That is Granny's Blackie."

"Very well," said the man, "I'll pay two pieces of silver for each wagon this Elephant draws across the river."

Blackie was glad to hear this promise. He went [80] into the river, and drew one wagon after another across to the other side.

Then he went up to the man for the money.

The man counted out one piece of silver for each wagon.

When Blackie saw that the man had counted out but one piece of silver for each wagon, instead of two, he would not touch the money at all. He stood in the road and would not let the wagons pass him.


[Illustration]

He would not touch the money at all.

The man tried to get Blackie out of the way, but not one step would he move.

Then the man went back and counted out another piece of silver for each of the wagons and put the silver in a bag tied around Blackie's neck.

Then Blackie started for home, proud to think that he had a present for Granny.

The children had missed Blackie and had asked Granny where he was, but she said she did not know where he had gone.

They all looked for him but it was nearly night before they heard him coming.

"Where have you been, Blackie? And what is that around your neck?" the children cried, running to meet their playmate.

[83] But Blackie would not stop to talk with his playmates. He ran straight home to Granny.

"Oh, Blackie!" she said, "Where have you been? What is in that bag?" And she took the bag off his neck.

Blackie told her that he had earned some money for her.


[Illustration]

Blackie told her that he had earned some money for her.

"Oh, Blackie, Blackie," said Granny, "how hard you must have worked to earn these pieces of silver! What a good Blackie you are!"

And after that Blackie did all the hard work and Granny rested, and they were both very happy.

 



Anonymous

Little Jack Frost

Little Jack Frost went up the hill,

Watching the stars and the moon so still—

Watching the stars and the moon so bright

And laughing aloud with all his might.

Little Jack Frost ran down the hill,

Late in the night when the winds were still,

Late in the fall when the leaves fell down

Red and yellow and faded brown.


Little Jack Frost walked through the trees;

"Ah," sighed the flowers, "we freeze, we freeze!"

"Ah," sighed the grasses, "we die, we die!"

Said little Jack Frost, "Good-by, good-by."

Little Jack Frost tripped 'round and 'round

Spreading much snow on the frozen ground,

Nipping the breezes, icing the streams,

Chilling the warmth of the sun's bright beams.


But when Dame Nature brought back the spring,

Brought back the birds that chirp and sing,

Melted the snow and warmed the sky,

Little Jack Frost went pouting by.

The flowers opened their eyes of blue,

Green buds peeped out and grasses grew;

It was so warm and scorched him so,

Little Jack Frost was glad to go.