WEEK 21 |
LONG before the Revolutionary War, Israel Putnam was a farmer in Connecticut. He was very busy building houses and barns, felling trees, making fences, sowing grain, planting orchards, and taking care of his stock. We may be sure he had all the worries of the farmer of to-day, but, in addition, the wolves came and killed his sheep. In one night he lost seventy-five sheep and goats, killed by an old she-wolf which, for several years, had wrought havoc among the cattle of the neighborhood.
Putnam and five of his neighbors resolved to hunt down the wolf, and put an end to her depredations. This particular beast was known to have lost the toes from one foot in a steel trap; therefore, her tracks in the snow were easily recognized. The men and the clogs started in pursuit one day, tracking the wolf to a den about three miles from Putnam's house. She was a vicious old beast, cunning and fierce, and even the dogs were afraid to follow her into her hiding-place.
The people from nearby came with fire, straw, sulphur, and everything else they could think of, to smoke the wolf out; and their guns were held ready to fire when she appeared at the mouth of the den. The dogs were at last sent into the cave, but they clambered out, wounded and howling, and could not be persuaded to go back. Blazing straw and wood had no effect. The wolf refused to be driven out, either by the dogs or by the smoke of the fire.
Putnam proposed to his negro servant that he should go down after the wolf; but the negro flatly refused. Whereupon Putnam declared that he would go in after the beast himself. His neighbors tried to dissuade him from the perilous task, but Putnam was man of his word. He took off his coat, tied a rope around one foot, so he could be dragged out, seized a firebrand, and crawled into the cave. He went in, head foremost, on his hands and knees, waving the torch before him.
The opening was small. Then the cave descended a depth of fifteen feet, and ran horizontally for ten feet more. In no place was it large enough for Putnam to stand up; so he slid down the incline until he reached the bottom. It was very dark and very still. Cautiously crawling along, he saw the glaring eyeballs of the wolf at the end of the cave.
He then kicked the rope as a signal to his friends that he had met his prey. Thinking he was being attacked and in great danger, they pulled on the rope so fast that they dragged him out of the cave, tearing his shirt, and skinning his back badly. Putnam had found the wolf, however, and, after rubbing his bruises a little, he loaded his gun, lighted a fresh torch, and was again lowered into the den.
When he drew near the old wolf, she gnashed her teeth, growled, and, uttering a long and terrible howl, sprang at the brave man in front of her. Putnam, however, was quick with his gun. By the light of the torch he saw the wolf's eyes, and fired as she sprang. Again his friends dragged him up the incline, for they had heard the howl of the wolf and the report of the gun. After the smoke cleared away, Putnam went down the third time, and, when he came near, the wolf lay very still. He put the lighted torch to her nose, but she did not move. He knew then that she was dead. He kicked the rope, and the people outside for the last time drew Putnam out, holding on to the great body of his prize.
HE old Bee tree was becoming very crowded and the
The Workers, however, knew that there must be young
Queens growing up all the time. Supposing something
should happen to the
After the Larvæ were five or six days old, the Workers shut them up in their cells and stopped feeding them. That was because the Larvæ had other things to do than eat. They had to spin their cocoons, and lie in them until they were grown and ready to come out among the older Bees. When a Larva, or Bee baby, has finished its cocoon, and is lying inside, it is called a Pupa, and when a Pupa is full grown and has torn its way out of the cocoon and wax, it is called a Drone, or a Worker, or a Queen.
This made the
At last the
Ah, then the
So she flew off by herself and was talking rather airily to a Butterfly when two of the Workers came after her.
"You may return to the rest," she said in a queenly way, as she motioned to them with her feelers. "I will come by and by."
"No," said they, "you must come at once or we shall all go back to the Bee tree. You must stay with us. You must do your part as it should be done." And she had to go, for she knew in her heart that Queens have to obey the law as well as other people.
After she had hung with the Workers on the bush for
some time, the ones who had gone ahead to find a new
home for the swarm came back and gave the signal for
the rest to follow. They went to an old log near the
"If there is anything I do like," said a Worker, as she
dropped a splinter of rotten wood outside the door, "it
"So do I," said her sister. "But what a fuss the
Drones always make when we
try to do anything of
the sort! A
"I'm glad none of them came with us to this place," said the first Worker. "I guess they knew they were not wanted."
"There, there!" said the
Next they got varnish from the buds of poplar trees and varnished over all the cracks and little holes in the walls of their home, leaving open only the place where they were to go in and out. They also covered with varnish a few heavy fragments of wood that lay on the floor of their home, and when this task was done it was all in order and ready for the furniture, that is, the comb.
You know how the comb looks, and you know how they get
the wax from which to make it, but unless you are
acquainted with the Bees, and have seen them at work,
you have no idea what busy creatures they are. The
One day, when she was walking around a corner of the
comb, she ran against a sad and
"No," answered the Worker. "I'm not sick and I'm not tired, only I want to get through."
"Through with what?" asked the Queen.
"With work! It is clean house, varnish the walls, make wax, build combs, get honey, make bread and jelly, and feed the babies. And when they get old enough they'll have to clean house, varnish the walls, make wax, build combs, get honey, make bread and jelly, and feed the babies. I want to know when it is going to stop, and Bees can spend their time in play."
"Never," said the
"Don't you ever get tired of your eggs?" asked the Worker.
"No," answered the
"Perhaps that is the matter with me," said the Worker, raising her drooping head. "I have been careless lately when I thought nobody was looking. I will try your way."
When she had gone, the
It was an old, old, old, old lady,
And a boy that was half-past three;
And the way that they played together
Was beautiful to see.
She couldn't go running and jumping,
And the boy, no more could he;
For he was a thin little fellow,
With a thin little twisted knee.
They sat in the yellow sunlight,
Out under the maple tree;
And the game that was played I'll tell you,
Just as it was told to me.
It was Hide-and-Go-Seek they were playing,
Though you'd never have known it to be—
With an old, old, old, old lady,
And a boy with a twisted knee.
The boy would bend his face down
On his little sound right knee,
And he guessed where she was hiding,
In guesses One, Two, Three!
"You are in the china closet!"
He would cry, and laugh with glee—
It wasn't the china closet;
But he still had Two and Three.
"You are up in papa's big bedroom,
In the chest with the queer old key!"
And she said: "You are warm and warmer;
But you're not quite right," said she.
"It can't be the little cupboard
Where Mamma's things used to be—
So it must be the clothespress, Gran'ma!"
And he found her with his Three.
Then she covered her face with her fingers,
That were wrinkled and white and wee,
And she guessed where the boy was hiding,
With a One and a Two and a Three.
And they never had stirred from their places,
Right under the maple tree—
This old, old, old, old lady,
And the boy with the lame little knee—
This dear, dear, dear old lady,
And the boy who was half-past three.
WEEK 21 |
IT was in the year of our Lord 540 that Saint Benedict was born at Spoleto in Italy, and he was only a boy of sixteen on the night when our story begins.
Such a cold night it was. Piercing wind swept over the mountains, whistling through the pine-trees, and hurrying on to the great city of Rome that lay in the plains below. It was cold enough in the city where the people could take shelter in their houses, and sit warming their hands over their little pots of fire, but out on the bare hillside it was even worse. For the icy breath of the winter wind, which had come far over the snow, swept into every nook and corner as if determined to search out any summer warmth that might be lingering in a sheltered corner.
And there in a cave high up among the rocks, a boy sat listening to the wind, and thinking of many things, as he tried to wrap his worn old cloak closer round him.
He was a tall thin lad, with sad dreaming eyes, and a face already sharpened by want and suffering. The cave in which he sat had little in it, except a heap of dried leaves which served him for a bed, and it was difficult to imagine how any one could live in so dreary and comfortless a place, so far from any other human being.
But he was thinking of a very different home, as he sat shivering in the cold that night. Only a year ago he had lived in a beautiful palace, where everything was pleasant and warm and bright. His father was the lord of the country around, and he, the only son of the house, had everything that he could want. They were all proud of him, he was so clever and brilliant, and as soon as he was old enough he was sent to study in Rome, that he might become a great lawyer.
There the boy's eyes saw a different scene—the great city of Rome, where all was gaiety and pleasure, where all pleased the eye, the ear, and the taste, but where, alas, so much wickedness dwelt as well. He had tried to shut his eyes to things he did not wish to see, but day by day the sights and sounds around him, the talk of his companions, and the things they thought so pleasant had become hateful to him. And one day he had stolen secretly away from Rome, leaving everything behind, determined to go away into a desert place and live alone. This it seemed to him was the only way of truly serving God, to learn to deny himself in everything and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
A tender smile came over the boy's face as the next picture rose before his eyes. True he had left all and gone into the wilderness, but love could not so easily be left behind, and his old nurse had found out a way of following him, and would not be denied the pleasure of serving him and caring for his wants; even begging food, from door to door, that she might prepare a dainty meal for him. It had been very pleasant, but its very pleasantness had warned him that he must deny himself still further. So he had once more stolen away, when his old nurse was asleep and had hidden himself in the cave among the rocks of Subiaco. Here he was indeed alone, and the only food he had was a little bread which a kind old hermit gave him daily, and his only drink the clear water of the mountain streams.
And here he seemed to live with God alone, seeing no one but the kind old hermit who brought him his daily bread. He was happy and peaceful, never ceasing to pray for those who in the busy world might forget to pray for themselves.
But this night the thoughts of past days were troubling him. And as he sat there listening to the wind he began to long for the things he had left behind. One beautiful face especially grew clearer than the rest, and smiling upon him beckoned him back to the pleasures and comforts and earthly joys he had put away from him.
With a cry he sprang to his feet and rushed out of the cave. For a moment he felt as if his feet must carry him down the steep mountain-side, over the plain and back to the beautiful city; and then he stood still, and with a prayer for help to overcome this temptation of the Evil One, he threw himself into a thicket of thorny briars that grew by the side of the cave. There he rolled over and over until he was torn and bleeding; then slowly returning to the cave he lay down upon his bed of leaves, peaceful and contented. The evil thoughts had fled, the face that tempted him had vanished, and Satan was conquered. So Benedict began his life of self-denial and solitary prayer. Years passed by and in spite of the loneliness of the place and the few people who ever passed by that way, it began to be known that one of God's saints lived in the mountain cave. The shepherds who fed their flocks on the lower hills would bring him little offerings of milk or cheese and ask his blessing, or perhaps a prayer for one who was sick. And gradually people began to call him their saint of the mountain, and to come to him for help in all their troubles. Thus the fame of his goodness spread wider and wider, until a company of monks who lived some way off sent and besought him to come and live with them and be their head.
Benedict was grieved to think of leaving his little cell which he had grown to love, and the simple mountain people, who so often came to him in their need. But he thought this was a call he ought to obey, so he sorrowfully set out and journeyed many miles till he came to the convent of the brothers.
It was all very strange to him after the stillness of his mountain cell, and he could not accustom himself to hearing voices all day long and to seeing so many faces. Still he strove to do his duty and soon made many changes in the convent life. He told the brothers plainly that there were many comforts they must put away, and above all that they must eat less and work more.
Now the brothers did not like this at all, and they began to repent that they had asked so great a saint to come and rule over them, for he made their rule so hard and strict, that few of them cared to keep it.
Then one day a strange thing happened. The brothers were all dining together, and Benedict was silently eating his portion, his thoughts far away in the little mountain cell at Subiaco, when some one touched his arm and offered him a cup of wine. Benedict turned and looked searchingly into the brother's face, and then with upraised hand made the sign of the cross over the cup. Instantly it fell broken to the ground, and the wine was spilt upon the floor, for there had been poison in the cup, which the holy sign had destroyed.
Then Benedict looked round at the company of brothers, who sat with downcast eyes, ashamed and silent, and, without a word, he rose and left them. He returned, alone as he had come, back to his mountain home, where instead of human voices there was the song of the birds, where the wild flowers looked at him with pure, friendly faces, and even the wild animals did not count him their enemy and would do him no harm.
Here he hoped once more to live quite alone, but one by one men came and built huts close to his cave, that they might be near so great a saint, and before long there was a great company living around him.
Benedict's fame had spread even to Rome, and two of the Roman nobles sent their sons to be taught by him. One was only five years old and the other twelve, and it seemed a hard life for such children. But Benedict cared for them and watched over them, and they loved him as if he had been their own father.
And after all life was very pleasant on the mountain-side, when the sun shone and lessons and prayers were over. They could play among the pine-trees and chase the goats over the rocks, and when the sun grew too hot creep back into the cave to rest. In spring there were the first flowers to hunt for, and they would come back with eager hands filled with violets and mountain anemones. And in autumn there were nuts and berries to be gathered, which they laid up like young squirrels for their winter store.
And among the daily duties there was nothing they liked so well as to go down to the lake to fetch water, when the mountain springs had run dry. One day it was the little one's turn to do this, and as he was leaning over, his foot slipped, and he fell into the lake, and before he could utter a cry the water closed over his head.
At that very moment Benedict, who was kneeling in prayer on the hill above, saw a vision of the boy's danger, and hastily sent the elder lad down to the lake to help the child.
He never stayed to question why he was sent, but sped down the mountain-side, and without a moment's delay threw himself into the lake, hoping to be able to reach the little dark head that had risen above the water for the last time. And lo! he found that the water grew firm beneath his feet, and he walked as if he was on dry land, and lifting the child, carried him safely ashore.
When Benedict saw that so many other hermits had taken up their abode on the mountain, he determined to form them into a company of brothers, and give them a rule to live by, and by and by they built a little chapel where they could meet for daily service.
Now, strangely enough, every evening at the hour of prayer, one young monk became restless and uneasy, and would steal silently out of the chapel and disappear down the hillside. None of the brothers could think what made him do this; but night after night the same thing happened just when prayers were about to begin. All were troubled and disturbed, till at last they went to Benedict, and asked him what it could mean. Then the saint promised to watch, and that very evening he saw what no other eyes had seen.
Into the chapel came a little demon black as coal, and he seized the robe of the poor young monk, and dragged him out of the door. And though the demon was so tiny he was stronger than the monk, and easily led him swiftly away out of sound of the chapel bell.
Then Benedict followed, and touching the monk with his rod, bade the demon begone and trouble him no longer. And after that the young monk stayed in the chapel with the rest, and the demon was seen no more.
It seemed as if Benedict must always suffer from the malice of evil brothers, who disliked his strict rule; and even in his own mountain home the danger followed him. This time the poison was put into a loaf of bread; but Benedict knew that it was there, and while the wicked monk who offered it to him watched with evil eye, hoping to see him eat it, he turned to a wood near by, where a young raven sat. "Come hither," said Benedict, holding out the loaf towards the raven, "come hither, and take this bread and carry it where the poison that is hidden within can do no harm."
And the story tells us that the raven instantly obeyed, and carried off the loaf. And ere long Death, more powerful than the raven, carried off that wicked monk, so that the poison which lurked in his evil heart could no longer do harm to any one.
It troubled Benedict greatly about this time to hear that not very far off on Monte Cassino there was a heathen temple where the people worshipped false gods, and were living in darkness and sin.
It seemed terrible that such a thing should be suffered in a Christian land, so Benedict made up his mind to go himself and force the people to listen to him.
It was a strange contrast to see him in his coarse, poor robe and thin wan face standing preaching among the crowd of gay pleasure-seekers, who cared for nothing but eating and drinking and making merry. They could not understand why any one should choose to be poor, and suffer pain and hunger for the sake of any god.
But as Benedict taught them day by day, the majesty of his face and the solemn notes in his voice forced them to listen half unwillingly. Then, as they began to learn about the true God, they saw that the gods they had worshipped were false, and they pulled down their temple, and built two chapels on the place where it had stood.
Here, too, Benedict built the first great monastery which was called after him; and after this the brothers began to be known by his name, and were called Benedictines.
But the Evil One saw with great rage that Benedict was taking away his servants and destroying his temples, and he tried in every way to hinder the work. Once when the workmen were trying to raise a stone they found it impossible to move it, though they worked hard all day. At last, in despair, they besought Benedict to come to help them.
As soon as he came he saw at once what was the matter, for on the stone sat a little black demon laughing at the efforts of the workmen, knowing they could never move the stone while he chose to sit there.
"Get you gone, messenger of Satan," cried Benedict.
And with a howl of rage the imp fled, and the stone was lifted easily into its place.
Upon a certain day, not long after the monastery was built, as Benedict was praying in the chapel of the convent, one of the brothers came to tell him that a great company of soldiers were coming up the hill, and at their head was Totila, king of the Goths, who had sent a messenger to ask the saint to receive him.
Benedict, who cared little for earthly kings, was yet too courteous to refuse any such request, so he went out to where the company was gathered on the mountain-side.
The rough soldiers stood with heads uncovered, and from their midst came one who wore a crown and sandals of gold and a kingly robe. He knelt before the saint, and said in a loud, clear voice:
"I, Totila, king of the Goths, have come to crave thy blessing, father, for thy fame hath spread even to the wild north country where I reign."
The brothers, crowding behind Benedict, eager to see these curious strangers, were surprised to hear no answering words of welcome fall from the lips of the saint. And still more surprised were they when Benedict pointed an accusing finger at the glittering crown that shone on the king's head, and said:
"Why dost thou bear upon thy head the sign of royalty which belongs not to thy station? And why have thy lips framed this deceit? Go to thy master, and bid him come to me in truth, and think not that I could mistake a servant for a king."
And to the amazement of all, the real king, who had disguised his armour-bearer to test the power of the saint, came quickly forward, and with no royal robe or golden crown, knelt low before the saint, confessing all, and praying to be forgiven. He was sure now that this was indeed a servant of God, and he listened humbly while Benedict reproved him for his many sins, and warned him of the fate that awaited him.
And so the years passed on, bringing much honour and earthly renown to him who had once lived a lonely boy upon the wild mountain-side.
Things had changed since those early days. He could no longer live quite alone as he had once loved to do, for the world had followed him even into the wilderness. But his heart was as pure and his purpose as strong as when he was a lonely boy seeking only to serve God.
Perhaps the one great pleasure of his earthly life was the yearly visit he paid to his sister Scholastica, who had for many years come to live near him. She had formed a little company of nuns, who strove to live as the brothers were living, working and praying and denying themselves all earthly pleasures.
And as it was a great delight to Benedict to visit his sister, so to Scholastica the day of his coming was the happiest day of all the year. The only thing that grieved her was that the golden hours of that bright day seemed to fly faster than any other, while she listened to his words of counsel and advice, and told him all her troubles.
As it drew near the time for one of these yearly visits, Scholastica began to long for her brother as she had never longed before. Something told her that these bright summer days were to be the last she should spend on earth; and the longing to see and talk to her brother grew almost more than she could bear.
And when he came the hours slipped past even faster than was their wont, and before she could realise it the time had come for him to go. There was so much still to say, and she needed his help so sorely, that she prayed him to wait a few hours longer. But Benedict was persuaded that it was his duty to set off, and duty to him ever came before all else. He gently told her it could not be; that he must return to the brothers that night.
But while he spoke, Scholastica was not listening to his words, nor heeding what he said. With her whole heart she was praying God that He would grant her this one request, and prevent her brother from leaving her so soon.
And as she prayed the light suddenly died out of the sky, great clouds arose and, before Benedict could set out, a terrible storm began to rage. The thunder pealed overhead, the hail came down in a blinding shower, and it was impossible for any one to leave the shelter of the house.
Thus God answered the prayer of Scholastica, filling her heart with thankfulness. And afterwards the heart of Benedict was also filled with gratitude, for not many days later he saw in a vision the soul of his sister flying like a white dove up to heaven's gate, and he knew he should see her on earth no more.
Benedict had lived a long, hard life, eating but little, suffering cold, and denying himself in all things. But though his spirit only grew stronger and brighter as time went on, his body was worn out, and at last he prepared to lay it aside, as men lay aside the worn-out robe which has grown thread-bare. And as he had longed to live alone, so, when death came, he prayed to be carried to the little chapel, and there to be left before the altar alone with God. Thus Benedict the Blessed went home at last, leaving his tired body in God's house, while his spirit returned to God who gave it.
Soon a wolf came out of the woods.
He ran at the ox and said,
"Who are you? Speak and tell me."
"I am an ox, I am.
I am made of straw
and smeared with tar, I am."
"Oh, you are made of straw
and smeared with tar, are you?"
said the wolf.
"Give me some of your tar.
Then I can smear my coat,
and the dogs can not tear me."
"You may take some," said the ox.
The wolf ran at the ox.
He began to tear away the tar,
and he stuck fast.
He pulled and pulled,
but he could not get away.
Then the ox brought the wolf home.
The old woman awoke.
"Where is my ox?" she cried.
"I will go home to see."
So she got up and went home,
There stood the ox and the wolf.
She ran to the old man.
"Look," she cried,
"the ox has brought us a wolf."
The old man came out
and threw the wolf into the cellar.
The next morning the old woman caught
a fox in the same way.
And the next morning she caught a hare.
The old man put them into the cellar.
Then he sat down by the cellar door
and began to sharpen his knife.
The bear said,
"Daddy, why do you sharpen your knife?"
"I am going to take your skin off.
I want a warm jacket for winter,
and the old woman wants a coat."
"Do not take away my skin, Daddy.
Let me go and I will bring you some honey."
"See that you do," said the old man.
And he let the bear go.
Then he sat down again,
and he began to sharpen his knife.
"Why do you sharpen your knife, Daddy?"
said the wolf.
"I am going to take your skin off.
I want a fur cap for winter."
"Do not take away my skin, Daddy.
Let me go, and I will bring you
a flock of sheep."
"See that you do," said the old man,
and he let the wolf go.
Then he sat down again
and began to sharpen his knife.
"Why do you sharpen your knife, Daddy?"
said the fox.
"I am going to take your skin off.
I want a fur collar for winter."
"Do not take away my skin, Daddy.
Let me go and I will bring you
a flock of geese."
"See that you do," said the old man,
and he let the fox go.
Then the old man began to sharpen
his knife again.
The little hare said,
"Daddy, why do you sharpen your knife?"
"I am going to take your skin off.
Little hares have warm fur.
I want some mittens for winter."
"Do not take away my skin, Daddy.
Let me go, and I will bring you
"See that you do," said the old man,
and he let the hare go.
The next morning the old woman said,
"Some one is at the door.
Let us go to see who it is."
They went to the door.
There stood the bear with the honey.
There stood the wolf with the sheep.
There stood the fox with the geese.
And there stood the hare with the turnips.
Now the old man and the old woman
have all they need.
And the straw ox stands in the sun.
— Russian Folk Tale.
The Rock-a-By Lady from Hushaby Street
Comes stealing; comes creeping;
The poppies they hang from her head to her feet,
And each hath a dream that is tiny and fleet—
She bringeth her poppies to you, my sweet,
When she findeth you sleeping!
There is one little dream of a beautiful drum—
"Rub-a-dub!" it goeth;
There is one little dream of a big sugarplum,
And lo! thick and fast the other dreams come
Of popguns that bang, and tin tops that hum,
And a trumpet that bloweth!
And dollies peep out of those wee little dreams
With laughter and singing;
And boats go a-floating on silvery streams,
And the stars peek-a-boo with their own misty gleams,
And up, up, and up, where the Mother Moon beams,
The fairies go winging!
Would you dream all these dreams that are tiny and fleet?
They'll come to you sleeping;
So shut the two eyes that are weary, my sweet,
For the Rock-a-By Lady from Hushaby Street,
With poppies that hang from her head to her feet,
Comes stealing; comes creeping.
WEEK 21 |
NEARLY two thousand years ago there lived
in Rome a man whose name was Julius
Why was he so great?
He was a brave warrior, and had
At last he made himself the ruler of Rome. Some said that he wished to become its king. But the Romans at that time did not believe in kings.
These simple people stood by the roadside
and watched Cæsar
Some of the fine
"Laugh as you will," said Cæsar, "he has reason to be proud. I would rather be the head man of a village than the second man in Rome!"
It seemed every minute as though the boat would sink. The captain was in great fright. He had crossed the sea many times, but never in such a storm as this. He trembled with fear; he could not guide the boat; he fell down upon his knees; he moaned, "All is lost! all is lost!"
But Cæsar was not afraid. He bade the man get up and take his oars again.
"Why should you be afraid?" he said. "The boat will not be lost; for you have Cæsar on board."
THERE was once a king whose name was
But he was very rich, and he lived in a fine palace where
there were many beautiful and costly things, and he was
waited upon by a host of servants who were always ready to
do his bidding. One day a friend of his, whose name was
"How happy you must be! You have here everything that any man could wish."
"Perhaps you would like to change places with me," said the tyrant.
"No, not that, O king!" said
"Very well," said the tyrant. "You shall have them."
And so, the next day, Damocles was led into the palace, and
all the servants were bidden to treat him as their master. He
sat down at a table in the banquet hall, and rich foods were
placed before him. Nothing was wanting that could give him
pleasure. There were costly wines, and beautiful flowers,
and rare perfumes, and
Then he chanced to raise his eyes toward the ceiling. What was it that was dangling above him, with its point almost touching his head? It was a sharp sword, and it was hung by only a single horse-hair. What if the hair should break? There was danger every moment that it would do so.
The Sword of Damocles
The smile faded from the lips of Damocles. His face became ashy pale. His hands trembled. He wanted no more food; he could drink no more wine; he took no more delight in the music. He longed to be out of the palace, and away, he cared not where.
"What is the matter?" said the tyrant.
"That sword! that sword!" cried Damocles. He was so badly frightened that he dared not move.
"Let me go," said Damocles. "I now see that I was
And so long as he lived, he never again wanted to be rich, or to change places, even for a moment, with the king.
We built a ship upon the stairs
All made of the back-bedroom chairs,
And filled it full of sofa pillows
To go a-sailing on the billows.
We took a saw and several nails,
And water in the nursery pails;
And Tom said, "Let us also take
An apple and a slice of cake;"—
Which was enough for Tom and me
To go a-sailing on, till tea.
We sailed along for days and days,
And had the very best of plays;
But Tom fell out and hurt his knee,
So there was no one left but me.
WEEK 21 |
As Ganelon and Blancandrin rode along together beneath the olive-trees and through the fruitful vineyards of sunny Spain, the heathen began to talk cunningly. "What a wonderful knight is thy Emperor," he said. "He hath conquered the world from sea to sea. But why cometh he within our borders? Why left he us not in peace?"
"It was his will," replied Ganelon. "There is no man in all the world so great as he. None may stand against him."
"You Franks are gallant men indeed," said Blancandrin, "but your dukes and counts deserve blame when they counsel the Emperor to fight with us now."
"There is none deserveth that blame save Roland," said Ganelon. "Such pride as his ought to be punished. Oh, that some one would slay him!" he cried fiercely. "Then should we have peace."
"This Roland is very cruel," said Blancandrin, "to wish to conquer all the world as he does. But in whom does he trust for help?"
"In the Franks," said Ganelon. "They love him with such a great love that they think he can do no wrong. He giveth them gold and silver, jewels and armour, so they serve him. Even to the Emperor himself he maketh rich presents. He will not rest until he hath conquered all the world, from east to west."
The Saracen looked at Ganelon out of the corner of his eye. He was a right noble knight, but now that his face was dark with wrath and jealousy, he looked like a felon.
"Listen thou to me," said Blancandrin softly. "Dost wish to be avenged upon Roland? Then by Mahomet deliver him into our hands. King Marsil is very generous; for such a kindness he will willingly give unto thee of his countless treasure."
Ganelon heard the tempter's voice, but he rode onward as if unheeding, his chin sunken upon his breast, his eyes dark with hatred.
But long ere the ride was ended and Saragossa reached, the heathen lord and Christian knight had plotted together for the ruin of Roland.
At length the journey was over, and Ganelon lighted down before King Marsil, who awaited him beneath the shadow of his orchard trees, seated upon a marble throne covered with rich silken rugs. Around him crowded his nobles, silent and eager to learn how Blancandrin had fared upon his errand.
Bowing low, Blancandrin approached the throne, leading Ganelon by the hand. "Greeting," he said, "in the name of Mahomet. Well, O Marsil, have I done thy behest to the mighty Christian King. But save that he raised his hands to heaven and gave thanks to his God, no answer did he render to me. But unto thee he sendeth one of his nobles, a very powerful man in France. From him shalt thou learn if thou shalt have peace or war."
"Let him speak," said King Marsil. "We will listen."
"Greeting," said Ganelon, "in the name of God—the God of glory whom we ought all to adore. Listen ye to the command of Charlemagne:—Thou, O king, shalt receive the Christian faith, then half of Spain will he leave to thee to hold in fief. The other half shall be given to Count Roland—a haughty companion thou wilt have there. If thou wilt not agree to this, Charlemagne will besiege Saragossa, and thou shalt be led captive to Aix, there to die a vile and shameful death."
King Marsil shook with anger and turned pale. In his hand he held an arrow fledged with gold. Now, springing from his throne, he raised his arm as if he would strike Ganelon. But the knight laid his hand upon his sword and drew it half out of the scabbard. "Sword," he cried, "thou art bright and beautiful; oft have I carried thee at the court of my king. It shall never be said of me that I died alone in a foreign land, among fierce foes, ere thou wert dipped in the blood of their bravest and best."
For a few moments the heathen king and the Christian knight eyed each other in deep silence. Then the air was filled with shouts. "Part them, part them," cried the Saracens.
The noblest of the Saracens rushed between their king and Ganelon. "It was a foolish trick to raise thy hand against the Christian knight," said Marsil's Calif, seating him once more upon his throne. " 'Twere well to listen to what he hath to say."
"Sir," said Ganelon proudly, "thinkest thou for all the threats in the wide world I will be silent and not speak the message which the mighty Charlemagne sendeth to his mortal enemy? Nay, I would speak, if ye were all against me." And keeping his right hand still upon the golden pommel of his sword, with his left he unclasped his cloak of fur and silk and cast it upon the steps of the throne. There, in his strength and splendour, he stood defying them all.
" 'Tis a noble knight!" cried the heathen in admiration.
Then once more turning to King Marsil, Ganelon gave him the Emperor's letter. As he broke the seal and read, Marsil's brow grew black with anger. "Listen, my lords," he cried; "because I slew yonder insolent Christian knights, the Emperor Charlemagne bids me beware his wrath. He commands that I shall send unto him as hostage mine uncle the Calif."
"This is some madness of Ganelon!" cried a heathen knight. "He is only worthy of death. Give him unto me, and I will see that justice is done upon him." So saying, he laid his hand upon his sword.
Like a flash of lightning Ganelon's good blade Murglies sprang from its sheath, and with his back against a tree, the Christian knight prepared to defend himself to the last. But once again the fight was stopped, and this time Blancandrin led Ganelon away.
Then, walking alone with the king, Blancandrin told of all that he had done, and of how even upon the way hither, Ganelon had promised to betray Roland, who was Charlemagne's greatest warrior. "And if he die," said Blancandrin, "then is our peace sure."
"Bring hither the Christian knight to me," cried King Marsil.
So Blancandrin went, and once more leading Ganelon by the hand, brought him before the king.
"Fair Sir Ganelon," said the wily heathen, "I did a rash and foolish thing when in anger I raised my hand to strike at thee. As a token that thou wilt forget it, accept this cloak of sable. It is worth five hundred pounds in gold." And lifting a rich cloak, he clasped it about the neck of Ganelon.
"I may not refuse it," said the knight, looking down. "May Heaven reward thee!"
"Trust me, Sir Ganelon," said King Marsil, "I love thee well. But keep thou our counsels secret. I would hear thee talk of Charlemagne. He is very old, is he not?—more than two hundred years old. He must be worn out and weary, for he hath fought so many battles and humbled so many kings in the dust. He ought to rest now from his labours in his city of Aix."
Ganelon shook his head. "Nay," he said, "such is not Charlemagne. All those who have seen him know that our Emperor is a true warrior. I know not how to praise him enough before you, for there is nowhere a man so full of valour and of goodness. I would rather die than leave his service."
"In truth," said Marsil, "I marvel greatly. I had thought that Charlemagne had been old and worn. Then if it is not so, when will he cease his wars?"
"Ah," said Ganelon, "that he will never do so long as his nephew Roland lives. Under the arch of heaven there bides no baron so splendid or so proud. Oliver, his friend, also is full of prowess and of valour. With them and his peers beside him, Charlemagne feareth no man."
"Fair Sir Ganelon," said King Marsil boldly, knowing his hatred, "tell me, how shall I slay Roland?"
"That I can tell thee," said Ganelon. "Promise thou the Emperor all that he asketh of thee. Send hostages and presents to him. He will then return to France. His army will pass through the valley of Roncesvalles. I will see to it that Roland and his friend Oliver lead the rear-guard. They will lag behind the rest of the army, then there shalt thou fall upon them with all thy mighty men. I say not but that thou shalt lose many a knight, for Roland and his Peers will fight right manfully. But in the end, being so many more than they, thou shalt conquer. Roland shall lie dead, and slaying him thou wilt cut off the right arm of Charlemagne. Then farewell to the wondrous army of France. Never again shall Charlemagne gather such a company, and within the borders of Spain there shall be peace for evermore."
When Ganelon had finished speaking, the king threw his arms about his neck and kissed him. Then turning to his slaves, he commanded them to bring great treasure of gold, and silver and precious stones, and lay it at the feet of the knight.
"But swear to me," said Marsil, "that Roland shall be in the rear-guard, and swear to me his death."
And Ganelon, laying his hand upon his sword Murglies, swore by the holy relics therein, that he would bring Roland to death.
Then came a heathen knight who gave to Ganelon a sword, the hilt of which glittered with gems so that the eyes were dazzled in looking upon it. "Let but Roland be in the rear-guard," he said, "and it is thine." Then he kissed Ganelon on both cheeks.
Soon another heathen knight followed him, laughing joyfully. "Here is my helmet," he cried. "It is the richest and best ever beaten out of steel. It is thine so that thou truly bring Roland to death and shame." And he, too, kissed Ganelon.
Next came Bramimonde, Marsil's queen. She was very beautiful. Her dark hair was strung with pearls, and her robes of silk and gold swept the ground. Her hands were full of glittering gems. Bracelets and necklaces of gold, rubies and sapphires fell from her white fingers. "Take these," she said, "to thy fair lady. Tell her that Queen Bramimonde sends them to her because of the great service thou hast done." And bowing low, she poured the sparkling jewels into Ganelon's hands. Thus did the heathen reward Ganelon for his treachery.
"Ho there!" called King Marsil to his treasurer, "are my gifts for the Emperor ready?"
"Yea, Sire," answered the treasurer, "seven hundred camels' load of silver and gold and twenty hostages, the noblest of the land; all are ready."
Then King Marsil leant his hand on Ganelon's shoulder. "Wise art thou and brave," he said, "but in the name of all thou holdest sacred, forget not thy promise unto me. See, I give thee ten mules laden with richest treasure, and every year I will send to thee as much again. Now take the keys of my city gates, take the treasure and the hostages made ready for thine Emperor. Give them all to him, tell him that I yield to him all that he asks, but forget not thy promise that Roland shall ride in the rearguard."
Impatient to be gone, Ganelon shook the King's hand from his shoulder. "Let me tarry no longer," he cried. Then springing to horse he rode swiftly away.
Meanwhile Charlemagne lay encamped, awaiting Marsil's answer. And as one morning he sat beside his tent, with his lords and mighty men around him, a great cavalcade appeared in the distance. And presently Ganelon, the traitor, drew rein before him. Softly and smoothly he began his treacherous tale. "God keep you," he cried; "here I bring the keys of Saragossa, with treasure rich and rare, seven hundred camels' load of silver and gold and twenty hostages of the noblest of the heathen host. And King Marsil bids me say, thou shalt not blame him that his uncle the Calif comes not too, for he is dead. I myself saw him as he set forth with three hundred thousand armed men upon the sea. Their vessels sank ere they had gone far from the land, and he and they were swallowed in the waves." Thus Ganelon told his lying tale.
"Now praised be Heaven!" cried Charlemagne. "And thanks, my trusty Ganelon, for well hast thou sped. At length my wars are done, and home to gentle France we ride."
So the trumpets were sounded, and soon the great army, with pennons waving and armour glittering in the sunshine, was rolling onward through the land, like a gleaming mighty river.
But following the Christian army, through valleys deep and dark, by pathways secret and unknown, crept the heathen host. They were clad in shining steel from head to foot, swords were by their sides, lances were in their hands, and bitter hatred in their hearts. Four hundred thousand strong they marched in stealthy silence. And, alas! the Franks knew it not.
When night came the Franks encamped upon the plain. And high upon the mountain sides, in a dark forest the heathen kept watch upon them.
In the midst of his army King Charlemagne lay, and as he slept he dreamed he stood alone in the valley of Roncesvalles, spear in hand. There to him came Ganelon who seized his spear and broke it in pieces before his eyes, and the noise of the breaking was as the noise of thunder. In his sleep Charlemagne stirred uneasily, but he did not wake. The vision passed, and again he dreamed. It seemed to him that he was now in his own city of Aix. Suddenly from out a forest a leopard sprang upon him. But even as its fangs closed upon his arm, a faithful hound came bounding from his hall and fell upon the savage beast with fury. Fiercely the hound grappled with the leopard. Snarling and growling they rolled over and over. Now the hound was uppermost, now the leopard. " 'Tis a splendid fight," cried the Franks who watched. But who should win the Emperor knew not, for the vision faded, and still he slept.
Fiercely the hound grappled with the leopard
The night passed and dawn came. A thousand trumpets sounded, the camp was all astir, and the Franks made ready once more to march.
But Charlemagne was grave and thoughtful, musing on the dream that he had dreamed. "My knights and barons," he said, "mark well the country through which we pass. These valleys are steep and straight. It would go ill with us did the false Saracen forget his oath, and fall upon us as we pass. To whom therefore shall I trust the rear-guard that we may march in surety?"
"Give the command to my step-son, Roland, there is none so brave as he," said Ganelon.
As Charlemagne listened he looked at Ganelon darkly. "Thou art a very demon," he said. "What rage possesseth thee? And if I give command of the rear to Roland, who, then, shall lead the van?"
"There is Ogier the Dane," said Ganelon quickly, "who better?"
Still Charlemagne looked darkly at him. He would not that Roland should hear, for well he knew his adventurous spirit.
But already Roland had heard. "I ought to love thee well, Sir Step-sire," he cried, "for this day hast thou named me for honour. I will take good heed that our Emperor lose not the least of his men, nor charger, palfrey, nor mule that is not paid for by stroke of sword."
"That know I right well," replied Ganelon, "therefore have I named thee."
Then to Charlemagne Roland turned, "Give me the bow of office, Sire, and let me take command," he said.
But the Emperor sat with bowed head. In and out of his long white beard he twisted his fingers. Tears stood in his eyes, and he kept silence. Such was his love for Roland and fear lest evil should befall him.
Then spoke Duke Naimes, "Give the command unto Roland, Sire; there is none better."
So, silently, Charlemagne held out the bow of office, and kneeling, Roland took it.
Then was Ganelon's wicked heart glad.
"Nephew," said Charlemagne, "half my host I leave with thee."
"Nay, Sire," answered Roland proudly, "twenty thousand only shall remain with me. The rest of ye may pass onward in all surety, for while I live ye have naught to fear."
Then in his heart Ganelon laughed.
So the mighty army passed onward through the vale of Roncesvalles without doubt or dread, for did not Roland the brave guard the rear? With him remained Oliver his friend, Turpin the bold Archbishop of Rheims, all the peers, and twenty thousand more of the bravest knights of France.
As the great army wound along, the hearts of the men were glad. For seven long years they had been far from home, and now soon they would see their dear ones again. But the Emperor rode among them sadly with bowed head. His fingers again twined themselves in his long white beard, tears once more stood in his eyes. Beside him rode Duke Naimes. "Tell me, Sire," he said, "what grief oppresseth thee?"
"Alas," said Charlemagne, "by Ganelon France is betrayed. This night I dreamed I saw him break my lance in twain. And this same Ganelon it is that puts my nephew in the rear-guard. And I, I have left him in a strange land. If he die, where shall I find such another?"
It was in vain that Duke Naimes tried to comfort the Emperor. He would not be comforted, and all the hearts of that great company were filled with fearful, boding dread for Roland.
OT far from the home of the Rabbits was another burrow
They were a
Perhaps if the
However that may have been, the
It was not very long after this that he told the
wondering young Rabbits about his grandfather. When
"Perhaps you may have heard me speak of my grandfather.
Ah, he was a
Just here, a
"You were telling how well your grandfather sat up on his haunches," said the smallest little Rabbit.
"So I was! So I was! I must tell you how my
grandfather came to know the world so well. When he
was only a young fellow, he made his home for a time
by a Hen house, and so heard the talk of the
"The Hens treated my grandfather with great politeness,
and the Black Brahma Cock showed plainly how honored
they felt to have him there. They said that they were
so glad my grandfather stayed out of his burrow awhile
on this winter day when the farmer was watching,
because they were in a hurry for warm weather. My
grandfather did not know what they meant by that, but
he was too
wise to say so, and he found out by
asking questions, that if a
"You see now, children, how important our family is; and yet we are so modest that we had not even known that we made the weather until the Hens told my grandfather. But that is the way! Really great people often think the least of themselves."
"And do you make the weather?" asked the smallest little Rabbit.
"I suppose we do," said the
"And how do you know when the day comes for you to make the weather?" said the smallest little rabbit.
The little Rabbits sat very still, wishing that they
had known their grandfather, when suddenly the biggest
one said: "If you should stay out of your burrow when
that day comes, and another
"Children," said the old
The seven little Rabbits scampered
their mother was not calling them. She
there, and when they went back they
couldn't find the
Ground Hog. They wondered how he happened to make such
a mistake. The
Shy little pansies
Tucked away to sleep,
Wrapped in brown blankets
Piled snug and deep,
Heard in a day dream
A bird singing clear:
"Wake, little sweethearts;
The springtime is here!"
Glad little pansies,
Stirring from their sleep,
Shook their brown blankets
Off for a peep,
Put on their velvet hoods,
Purple and gold,
And stood all a-tremble
Abroad in the cold.
Snowflakes were flying,
Skies were grim and gray,
Bluebird and robin
Had scurried away;
Only the cruel wind
Laughed as it said,
"Poor little April fools,
Hurry back to bed!"
Soft chins a-quiver,
Dark eyes full of tears,
Brave little pansies,
Spite of their fears,
Said "Let us wait for
The sunshiny weather;
Take hold of hands, dears,
And cuddle up together."
WEEK 21 |
ROBERT FULTON was the man who set
When he was a boy, he lived in the town of
Fulton went to the gun shops a great deal. He liked to see how things were made. He tried to make a small air gun for himself.
He was always trying to make things. He got some
He was so much
One morning he came to school late.
"What makes you so late?" asked the teacher.
"I went to one of the shops to make myself a lead pencil," said little Bob. "Here it is. It is the best one I ever had."
The teacher tried it, and found it very good. Lead pencils in that day were made of a long piece of lead sharpened at the end.
"Sir," said the boy, "I came here to have something beaten into my head, not into my knuckles."
In that day people used to light candles and stand them in the window on the Fourth of July. These candles in every window lighted up the whole town. But one year candles were scarce and high. The city asked the people not to light up their windows on the Fourth.
Bob did not like to miss the fun of his Fourth of July. He went to
work to make something like rockets or Roman candles. It was a very
"What are you doing, Bob?" some one asked him.
"The city does not want us to burn our candles on the Fourth," he said. "I am going to shoot mine into the air."
He used to go fishing with a boy named Chris Gumpf. The father of Chris went with them. They fished from a flat boat. The two boys had to push the boat to the fishing place with poles.
"I am tired of poling that boat," said Robert to Chris one day when they came home.
So he set to work to think out a plan to move the boat in an easier way than by poles. He whittled out the model of a tiny paddle wheel. Then he went to work with Chris Gumpf, and they made a larger paddle wheel. This they set up in the fishing boat. The wheel was turned by the boys with a crank. They did not use the poles any more.
THE first good
The time came for Fulton to start his boat. A crowd of people were
standing on the shore. The black smoke was coming out of the
At last the boat's wheels began to turn round. Then the boat began to move. There were no oars. There were no sails. But still the boat kept moving. Faster and faster she went. All the people now saw that she could go by steam. They did not laugh any more. They began to cheer.
Seeing the First Steamboat
There were many sailing vessels on the river. Fulton's boat passed
some of these in the night.
The sailors were afraid when they saw
the fire and smoke. The sound of the steam seemed dreadful to them.
Some of them went
But soon there were
O NCE upon a time a Deer lived in a forest near a lake. Not far from the same lake, a Woodpecker had a nest in the top of a tree; and in the lake lived a Turtle. The three were friends, and lived together happily.
A hunter, wandering about in the wood, saw the foot-prints of the Deer near the edge of the lake. "I must trap the Deer, going down into the water," he said, and setting a strong trap of leather, he went his way.
Early that night when the Deer went down to drink, he was caught in the trap, and he cried the cry of capture.
At once the Woodpecker flew down from her tree-top, and the Turtle came out of the water to see what could be done.
Said the Woodpecker to the Turtle: "Friend, you have teeth; you gnaw through the leather trap. I will go and see to it that the hunter keeps away. If we both do our best our friend will not lose his life."
So the Turtle began to gnaw the leather, and the Woodpecker flew to the hunter's house.
At dawn the hunter came, knife in hand, to the front door of his house.
The Woodpecker, flapping her wings, flew at the hunter and struck him in the face.
The hunter turned back into the house and lay down for a little while. Then he rose up again, and took his knife. He said to himself: "When I went out by the front door, a Bird flew in my face; now I will go out by the back door." So he did.
The Woodpecker thought: "The hunter went out by the front door before, so now he will leave by the back door." So the Woodpecker sat in a tree near the back door.
When the hunter came out the bird flew at him again, flapping her wings in the hunter's face.
Then the hunter turned back and lay down again. When the sun arose, he took his knife, and started out once more.
This time the Woodpecker flew back as fast as she could fly to her friends, crying, "Here comes the hunter!"
By this time the Turtle had gnawed through all the pieces of the trap but one. The leather was so hard that it made his teeth feel as if they would fall out. His mouth was all covered with blood. The Deer heard the Woodpecker, and saw the hunter, knife in hand, coming on. With a strong pull the Deer broke this last piece of the trap, and ran into the woods.
The Woodpecker flew up to her nest in the tree-top.
But the Turtle was so weak he could not get away. He lay where he was. The hunter picked him up and threw him into a bag, tying it to a tree.
The Deer saw that the Turtle was taken, and made up his mind to save his friend's life. So the Deer let the hunter see him.
The hunter seized his knife and started after the Deer. The Deer, keeping just out of his reach, led the hunter into the forest.
When the Deer saw that they had gone far into the forest he slipped away from the hunter, and swift as the wind, he went by another way to where he had left the Turtle.
But the Turtle was not there. The Deer called, "Turtle, Turtle!"; and the Turtle called out, "Here I am in a bag hanging on this tree."
Then the Deer lifted the bag with his horns, and throwing it upon the ground, he tore the bag open, and let the Turtle out.
The Woodpecker flew down from her nest, and the Deer said to them: "You two friends saved my life, but if we stay here talking, the hunter will find us, and we may not get away. So do you, Friend Woodpecker, fly away. And you, Friend Turtle, dive into the water. I will hide in the forest."
The hunter did come back, but neither the Deer, nor the Turtle, nor the Woodpecker was to be seen. He found his torn bag, and picking that up he went back to his home.
The three friends lived together all the rest of their lives.
Here's a fly;
Let us watch him, you and I.
How he crawls
Up the walls,
Yet he never falls!
I believe with six such legs
You and I could walk on eggs.
There he goes,
On his toes,
Tickling baby's nose.
Spots of red
Dot his head;
Rainbows on his back are spread;
That small speck
Is his neck;
See him nod and beck.
I can show you, if you choose,
Where to find his shoes,—
Three small pairs,
Made of hairs;
These he always wears.
Black and brown
Is his gown;
He can wear it upside down;
It is laced
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