WEEK 24 |
IT was during the French and Indian war, in the month of August, 1758, that Major Israel Putnam and a body of Patriots pursued a straggling party of the enemy, in the hope of capturing some of them. But, as Putnam was discovered by the French scouts, he feared an attack in force, and thought it best to return to headquarters.
The route was a difficult one, and the Patriots were proceeding with caution, when one of the officers foolishly fired his pistol at a mark, thereby  betraying their presence to the French and Indians. Molang, the noted French partisan, was the leader of the enemy, who, having located Israel and his party, laid an ambuscade for their capture.
Onward through the woods advanced the Patriots, not suspecting any danger. Hardly had they gone a mile, when yells broke forth from the bushes on both sides, and a shower of arrows was poured into their ranks. Putnam was in the lead, and ordered his men to return the fire; at the same time he sent back word for the others to hasten to the rescue. The fight soon became hand-to-hand. The Indians dashed from tree to tree, the Patriots engaging them whenever possible.
Putnam, himself, was met in fierce struggle by a gigantic Indian. Putting his gun to the breast of the savage, he pulled the trigger, but missed fire. At once the Indian dashed the weapon aside, drew his tomahawk, and, with the aid of other savages, overcame the brave woodsman. Putnam was disarmed and his hands were tied behind him. He was securely bound to a tree, while his antagonist returned to the conflict.
Fiercely the battle raged around the captive. Bullets and arrows flew past him, some of them striking the tree to which he was tied, and some even piercing his clothing. A young Indian hurled  a tomahawk at his head, but the keen weapon missed its mark, and buried its edge in the bark. A French officer leveled his musket at his breast, but it failed to fire; whereupon he struck his captive a cruel blow on the jaw. In the end, the savages were driven back, but not before they had time to unbind their prisoner, and take him with them for a death by slow torture.
After marching a short distance, Putnam was deprived of his coat, vest, shoes, and stockings, and his shoulders were loaded down with a heavy pack. His wrists were tied as tightly as the cords could be drawn, and, in this condition, he was made to walk through the woods until the party came to a halt. His hands began to bleed from the bands; his feet were swollen and cut, and he was in a pitiable condition. He begged the Indians, by signs, to knock him on the head, or to end his misery by burning him then and there. A French officer heard his piteous appeal, ordered his cords to be loosed, and the burden removed from his back. Shortly afterwards, the Indian who had captured him saw the way he was treated, and, claiming him a prisoner, gave him moccasins to wear and seemed kindly disposed to him. But this Indian was suddenly obliged to go elsewhere, and Putnam was again left to his fate.
 It was the purpose of the savages to burn their captive alive. When they reached their camping-ground, they took him into the forest, removed all his clothing, tied him to a stake, and heaped dry fuel around him. While doing this, they rent the air with the most dreadful yells, describing the torture they intended to inflict upon him. When the pile was ready, it was set on fire, and the flames caught the dry brush quickly.
By a miracle, a heavy downpour of rain put the fire out, and wet the fuel so thoroughly that it would not burn. The Indians yelled with chagrin, and waited until the rain was over. In a short while, the sky cleared, and again the savages returned to their cruel sport. By degrees, another fire was kindled, and, slowly, its scorching breath came nearer and nearer to the agonized prisoner. His last moments indeed seemed to have come.
"For the sake of heaven," cried the unhappy victim, "strike me dead and end this torture." He gave vent to a terrible cry of pain as the fire began to scorch his flesh. The Indians danced and yelled with ever-increasing delight; the agony of a victim always gave them the keenest pleasure.
At this moment, a French officer, who had heard the noise made by time savages, rushed through the bushes, pushed the howling band aside,  and began to stamp the fire out. It was Molang, himself, who, though Putnam's bitter foe, would never allow his prisoners to be tortured. It took but a moment to free the almost fainting Putnam from his bonds, and to turn him over to the gigantic Indian who had first captured him and who was far more humane than the others of his tribe.
The savage regarded Putnam with some feeling of consideration. He fed him with soft biscuits, and gave him clothing, at the same time taking care that he should not escape. The long march to Montreal began, for Putnam was but one of several hundred prisoners, mostly Indians, on their way to the French forts in Canada. On reaching Montreal, Putnam was in a frightful condition. His clothing was almost gone; he was dirty; his beard and hair were long and tangled, his body torn by thorns and briers, and his face blood-stained and swollen.
He was such a forlorn object to look at that the Indians thought it hardly worth while to keep him; so, when the time came to exchange prisoners, he was cheerfully released to his friends in New England. We, who read history, know that Putnam recovered his full strength and was afterwards able to give a good account of himself as a daring American soldier.
T HE Ruffed Grouse cocked his crested head on one side and looked up through the bare branches to the sky. It was a soft gray, and in the west were banks of bluish clouds. "I think it will snow very soon," said he. "Mrs.  Grouse, are the children all ready for cold weather?"
"All ready," answered his cheerful little wife. "They have had their thickest feathers on for quite a while. The Rabbits were saying the other day that they had never seen a plumper or better clothed flock than ours." And her beautiful golden-brown eyes shone with pride as she spoke.
Indeed, the young Ruffed Grouse were a family of whom she might well be proud. Twelve healthy and obedient children do not fall to the lot of every Forest mother, and she wished with a sad little sigh that her other two eggs had hatched. She often thought of them with longing. How lovely it would have been to have fourteen children! But at that moment her brood came crowding around her in fright.
"Some cold white things," they said, "came tumbling down upon us and scared us. The white things didn't say a word,  but they came so fast that we think they must be alive. Tell us what to do. Must we hide?"
"Why, that is snow!" exclaimed their mother. "It drops from the clouds up yonder quite as the leaves drop from the trees in the fall. It will not hurt you, but we must find shelter."
"What did I tell you, Mrs. Grouse?" asked her husband. "I was certain that it would snow before night. I felt it in my quills." And Mr. Grouse strutted with importance. It always makes one feel so very knowing when he has told his wife exactly what will happen.
"How did you feel it in your quills?" asked one of his children. "Shall I feel it in my quills when I am as old as you are?"
"Perhaps," was the answer. "But until you do feel it you can never understand it, for it is not like any other feeling that there is."
 Then they all started for a low clump of bushes to find shelter from the storm. Once they were frightened by seeing a great creature come tramping through the woods towards them. "A man!" said Mr. Grouse. "Hide!" said Mrs. Grouse, and each little Grouse hid under the leaves so quickly that nobody could see how it was done. One might almost think that a strong wind had blown them away. The mother pretended that she had a broken wing, and hopped away, making such pitiful sounds that the man followed to pick her up. When she had led him far from her children, she, too, made a quick run and hid herself; and although the man hunted everywhere, he could not find a single bird.
You know that is always the way in Grouse families, and even if the man's foot had stirred the leaves under which a little one was hiding, the Grouse would not have moved or made a sound. The  children are brought up to mind without asking any questions. When their mother says, "Hide!" they do it, and never once ask "Why?" or answer, "As soon as I have swallowed this berry." It is no wonder that the older ones are proud of their children. Any mother would be made happy by having one child obey like that, and think of having twelve!
At last, the whole family reached the bushes where they were to stay, and then they began to feed near by. "Eat all you can," said Mr. Grouse, "before the snow gets deep. You may not have another such good chance for many days." So they ate until their little stomachs would not hold one more seed or evergreen bud.
All this time the snowflakes were falling, but the Grouse children were no longer afraid of them. Sometimes they even chased and snapped at them as they would at a fly in summer-time. It  was then, too, that they learned to use snow-shoes. The oldest child had made a great fuss when he found a fringe of hard points growing around his toes in the fall, and had run peeping to his mother to ask her what was the matter. She had shown him her own feet, and had told him how all the Ruffed Grouse have snow-shoes of that kind grow on their feet every winter.
"We do not have to bother about them at all," she said. "They put themselves on when the weather gets cold in the fall, and they take themselves off when spring comes. We each have a new pair every year, and when they are grown we can walk easily over the soft snow. Without them we should sink through and flounder."
When night came they all huddled under the bushes, lying close together to keep each other warm. The next day they burrowed into a snow-drift and made a snug place there which was even better  than the one they left; the soft white coverlet kept the wind out so well. It was hard for the little ones to keep quiet long, and to amuse them Mr. Grouse told how he first met their mother in the spring.
"It was a fine, sunshiny day," he said, "and everybody was happy. I had for some time been learning to drum, and now I felt that I was as good a drummer as there was in the forest. So I found a log (every Ruffed Grouse has to have his own place, you know) and I jumped up on it and strutted back and forth with my head high in the air. It was a dusky part of the forest and I could not see far, yet I knew that a beautiful young Grouse was somewhere near, and I hoped that if I drummed very well she might come to me."
"I know!" interrupted one of the little Grouse. "It was our mother."
"Well, it wasn't your mother then, my chick," said Mr. Grouse, "for that was long, long before you were hatched."
 "She was our mother afterwards, anyway," cried the young Grouse. "I just know she was!"
Mr. Grouse's eyes twinkled, but he went gravely on. "At last I flapped my wings hard and fast, and the soft drumming sound could be heard far and near. 'Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump; thump-thump-rup-rup-rup-rup-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.' I waited, but nobody came. Then I drummed again, and after that I was sure that I heard a rustling in the leaves. I drummed a third time, and then, children, there came the beautiful young Grouse, breaking her way through the thicket and trying to look as though she didn't know that I was there."
"Did she know?" cried the little Grouse.
"You must ask your mother that," he answered, "for it was she who came. Ah, what happy days we had together all spring! We wandered all through this  great Forest and even made some journeys into the edge of the Meadow. Still, there was no place we loved as we did the dusky hollow by the old log where we first met. One day your mother told me that she must begin housekeeping and that I must keep out of the way while she was busy. So I had to go off with a crowd of other Ruffed Grouse while she fixed her nest, laid her eggs, and hatched out you youngsters. It was rather hard to be driven off in that way, but you know it is the custom among Grouse. We poor fellows had to amuse ourselves and each other until our wives called us home to help take care of the children. We've been at that work ever since."
"Oh!" said one of the young Grouse. "Oh, I am so glad that you drummed, and that she came when she heard you. Who would we have had to take care of us if it hadn't happened just so?"
That made them all feel very solemn,  and Mr. Grouse couldn't answer, and Mrs. Grouse couldn't answer, and none of the little Grouse could answer because, you see, it is one of the questions that hasn't any answer. Still, they were all there and happy, so they didn't bother their crested heads about it very long.
Over in the meadow,
In the sand, in the sun,
Lived an old mother-toad
And her little toadie one,
"Wink!" said the mother;
"I wink," said the one:
So she winked and she blinked,
In the sand, in the sun.
Over in the meadow,
Where the stream runs blue;
Lived an old mother-fish
And her little fishes two.
"Swim!" said the mother;
"We swim," said the two:
So they swam and they leaped,
Where the stream runs blue.
Over in the meadow,
In a hole in a tree,
Lived a mother-bluebird
And her little bluebirds three.
"Sing!" said the mother;
"We sing," said the three:
So they sang and were glad,
In the hole in the tree.
Over in the meadow,
In the reeds on the shore;
Lived a mother-muskrat
And her little muskrats four.
"Dive!" said the mother;
"We dive," said the four:
So they dived and they burrowed,
In the reeds on the shore.
Over in the meadow,
In a snug beehive,
Lived a mother-honeybee
And her little honeys five.
"Buzz!" said the mother;
"We buzz," said the five:
So they buzzed and they hummed,
In the snug beehive.
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 called,
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 the 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,
On the old mossy gate,
Over in the meadow,
Where the clear 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 plashed,
Where the clear pools shine.
Over in the meadow,
In a sly 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 sly 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 24 |
 AS the years pass by Father Time makes many changes in the busy town and quiet country, but there are some places he seems to have forgotten or passed over so lightly that they look very much the same to-day as they did hundreds of years ago.
One of these places, which Time has dealt so gently with, is in the heart of Italy, built high upon a hill. It is a town whose towers and palaces and steep, narrow streets are little changed from what they were five hundred and more years ago, when Catherine, the saint of Siena, was born there.
To-day if you climb the steep winding road that leads up to the city, and make your way through the gates and along the steepest of the narrow streets, you will come to a house with a motto written over the door in golden letters—"Sposæ Christi Katharinæ domus," which means "The house of Katherine, the bride of Christ." And if you go in you will see the very room where Saint Catherine used to live, the bed of planks on which she slept, her little chapel, and the rooms which her brothers and sisters used.
It all looks just as it did when Benincasa, the dyer of Siena, lived there with his wife Lapa. They had more than twenty children, but each one was  welcome, and when at last Catherine and a twin sister were born, there still did not seem one too many. The little sister lived only a few days, and perhaps that made the parents love Catherine all the more, and it was not only her own family who loved her. She was the favourite of all the neighbours, and however busy they were they would always find time to stop and talk to her as they passed. It was not that she was very beautiful, or even very clever, but she had a way of making every one feel happy when she was near them, and she had the sunniest smile that ever dimpled a baby's face. It was like a sunbeam, lighting up everything near it, and it shone in her eyes as well, so that ere long the people found a new name for her, and called her "Joy" instead of Catherine.
As soon as she could walk alone, Catherine would wander away, sure of a welcome at every house, and though at first when the other children cried, "The baby is lost again!" the mother would be anxious, she soon ceased to mind, and only said, "She is sure to be safe somewhere."
And safe she always was, for every one would stop work to look after her as she toddled along, and wherever she went Joy carried the sunshine with her.
It happened that one afternoon when Catherine was about six years old, her mother sent her and an elder brother, Stephen, to carry a message to a house some way off. It was a beautiful evening, and as the children went hand in hand down the steep street and up the hill towards the great church of Saint Dominic, Catherine stopped a moment to look at the  sunset. She always loved beautiful colours, and to-night the little fleecy clouds were all touched with crimson and gold, like fairy islands in a pale green sea, more beautiful than anything she had ever seen.
Stephen did not care for sunsets. He was much more anxious to be home in time for supper, so he ran on alone, calling to Catherine to follow quickly.
Catherine did not seem to hear his voice or to notice that he was gone, but stood there with eyes fixed on the sunset, her face shining, and her hair like a halo of gold round her head.
It was not the evening sky she was looking at, but a vision of heavenly beauty. For there among the rose-pink clouds she saw the Madonna seated upon a throne and holding in her arms the infant Christ. It was no longer the poor Madonna of the stable, but the Queen of Heaven, her dazzling robe blue as the summer sky, and a jewelled crown upon her head. Only the same sweet mother-look was there as when she bent over the manger-bed. There are no words to tell of the beauty of the Christ-child's face. Catherine only knew that as He looked at her He smiled and held up His little hand as if in blessing, and that smile drew her heart to His feet.
Then suddenly Catherine's arm was roughly shaken and her brother asked her impatiently at what she was gazing.
"O Stephen," she cried, "did you not see it too? Look!"
But the vision had faded, and the grey twilight  closed in upon the two little figures as they went slowly home, the boy vexed with his loitering sister, and she sobbing with disappointment to think that the window in heaven was shut, and that she might never again look within.
As Catherine grew older, she never forgot the vision she had seen, or how the hand of the Christ-child had been stretched out to bless her. And it made her think often how she could best please Him, so that some day He might smile on her again.
Catherine had heard a great deal about the good men who went to live in deserts to be alone with God,—how they lived in caves and had scarcely anything to eat, and how God would sometimes send the ravens to bring them food. Now she was always fond of wandering, and the idea of living in a desert seemed a beautiful way of serving Christ. She had never gone beyond the walls of the town, and all outside was a new world to her; so she was sure if only she could pass through the city gates, she would soon find her way to the desert, where there would certainly be a cave ready for her to live in.
So one day Catherine set out very early in the morning, carrying in her pocket a small loaf of bread, just in case the ravens should forget to come to a little girl-hermit.
In those days it was not safe to live outside the city walls, and there were no farms nor houses to be seen as Catherine slipped through the gates and began to find her way down the hillside, among tangled briars and over rough stones. Soon her  feet grew very tired, and everything looked so forlorn and wild that she was sure this must be the desert at last, and there, too, was a little cave in the rocks waiting all ready for her.
It was very nice to creep in and out of the hot sunshine into the cool shade, and to rest until the sun went down. But as night came on and she knelt to say her evening prayer, she began to think of home, and the kind mother waiting there, and she knew she had done wrong to come away, even though she had meant to serve God.
Very quickly she left her cave, and as she ran home her feet seemed to fly over the ground. The desert had not been so very far away after all, and she reached the house before her mother had begun to grow anxious, but she never again wandered away to live a hermit's life.
As Catherine grew older she loved to listen to the stories of the saints, and there was one she was never tired of hearing. It was the life of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the saint whose name she bore.
This young queen was said to be the wisest and noblest of all the saints, and when her courtiers wished her to marry, she said she would only marry a prince who was perfect in every way. Such a prince was of course impossible to find, but one night a poor old hermit had a vision in which the Madonna came to him and told him that our Blessed Lord, the only perfect Man, would accept the love of the young queen's heart and the service of her hands. And when the queen knew this her  joy was great, and that very night the Virgin mother came to her in a cloud of glory surrounded by angels bearing crowns of lilies, and in her arms was the Holy Child, who smiled on the queen and placed a ring upon her finger, as a sign that she belonged to Him.
The more Catherine thought about this story the more she longed that Christ would accept her heart and service too. And one night in a dream He seemed to come to her, just as He had come to the other Catherine, placing a ring upon her finger and bidding her remember that now she had given her heart to Him.
Thus it was a great trouble to Catherine when she was told by her parents soon after this that she was old enough to begin to think of marriage. She said she did not wish to marry at all. But this only made her parents angry with her, especially when one day they found she had cut off all her beautiful golden hair, thinking to make herself so ugly that no one would want her for his wife.
"Very well," said her father, "if thou wilt not marry as I bid thee, then shalt thou do the housework and be our servant."
He expected this would be a great punishment, but Catherine was glad to have hard work to do, and did it so well and cheerfully that her father began to feel his anger melt away. Then it happened one day that in passing her room he looked in, and there he saw her kneeling with clasped hands and upturned face, and eyes in which the peace of heaven shone, while around her head was  a bright light that took the form of a snow-white dove resting there.
From that moment he ceased to be angry with Catherine, and said all should be as she wished, for surely the dove was a sign that God accepted her prayers and approved of what she did.
So she was allowed to have a little room which she made into a chapel where she could be alone to think and to pray. She wanted to learn to conquer herself before she could serve Christ in the world, and for three years she lived almost entirely alone, praying in the little chapel, struggling to overcome her faults and to grow strong to resist temptation.
But in spite of all her struggles evil thoughts would come into her heart, and it seemed impossible to keep them out. It was easy to do right things, but so terribly difficult to think only pure and good thoughts. She knew that Satan sent the wicked thoughts into her heart, but the hardest trial of all was that Christ seemed to have left her to fight alone—He seemed so very far away.
At last one night, as she lay sobbing in despair, suddenly the evil thoughts left her, and instead she felt that Christ was near and that He bent tenderly over her.
"Why, oh why didst Thou leave me so long, dear Lord?" she cried.
"I never left thee," His voice said quietly.
"But where wert Thou, Lord, when all was so dark and evil?" she humbly asked.
"I was in thy heart," replied the voice; "didst  thou not hate the evil thoughts? if I had not been there thou wouldst not have felt how black they were, but because I was in the midst they seemed to thee most evil, and thus I gave thee strength to cast them out."
So Catherine's heart was filled with peace, and she learned to love Christ more and more, and to deny herself in every way, sleeping on bare planks with a log for her pillow, and eating the things she cared for least.
It was not that she thought these things good in themselves, but she felt she must use every means to make her heart pure and fit to serve her Master.
And before very long Christ spoke to her again in the stillness of the night, and told her she had lived long enough alone, that it was time now to go out into the world and help other people to grow good too.
When Catherine thought of the busy, noisy life which other people led, compared to the quiet peacefulness of her little cell and chapel, she was very sad, and thought she had offended God that He was sending her away from Him to mix with the world again. But His voice sounded in her ears once more, and told her it was not to separate her from Himself that He sent her out, but that she should learn to help others.
"Thou knowest that love giveth two commandments—to love Me, and to love thy neighbour. I desire that thou shouldst walk not on one but two feet, and fly to heaven on two wings."
 So Christ spoke to her, and Catherine with fearful heart prepared to obey, only praying that He would give her strength to do His will. And after that her life was spent in doing good to others.
The smile that used to lighten her face when she was a little child had still the power of bringing peace and gladness to all, as she went amongst the poor, nursing the sick, helping every one in trouble, and teaching people more by her life than her words to love God.
And as, when she was a baby, they called her Joy, so now again they found a new name for her, and she was known as "the child of the people." In every kind of trouble they came to her, even asking her to settle their quarrels, so that she was the peacemaker as well as the helper of the whole town.
There was one special reason why people loved Catherine, and that was because she always saw the best that was in them. She knew there was good in every one, no matter how it was dimmed or hidden by the evil that wrapped it round. Where other eyes saw only evil temper or wicked spite, she looked beyond until she found some good that she could love. Every day she prayed to God that He would help her to see the beauty in each soul, so that she might help it to get rid of the sin that dimmed its beauty. And so, because she looked for good in every one, all showed her what was best in themselves, and for very shame would strive to be all that she thought them.
 Catherine had joined the Dominican sisterhood and wore the white robe and black veil, but she did not live in a convent as other sisters did. Every morning when the sun began to gild the towers and roofs of the city, passers-by would see her leave her home and walk up the steep street towards the church of Saint Dominic where she always went to early mass.
Strangers must have wondered when they saw the men uncover their heads as she passed, as if she had been a queen instead of a poor sister clad in a coarse white robe and black veil. But if they had caught sight of her face perhaps they would have understood, for her eyes seemed as if they were looking into heaven, and the holy peace that shone in her smile made men feel that she lived in the very presence of God.
One morning as she was going to church as usual in the first light of dawn, her thoughts far away and her lips moving in prayer, she was startled by the touch of a hand upon her robe and the sound of a voice asking for help. She turned to look and saw a poor man leaning against the wall, haggard and pale, and so weak that he could scarcely stand.
"What dost thou want of me?" asked Catherine pitifully.
"I only ask a little help for my journey," the poor man said; "my home is far from here, and the fever laid its hand upon me as I worked to provide bread for those I love. So I pray thee, lady, give me a little money that I may buy food to strengthen me before I start."
 "I would gladly help thee," answered Catherine most sorrowfully, "but I am not a lady, only a poor sister, and I have no money of my own to give."
She turned as if to go on, but the eager hand still held her cloak and the man begged once more.
"For Christ's sake help me, for indeed I need thy help most sorely."
Then Catherine stood still. She felt she could not leave him so. There was nothing at home she could part with, for that very morning she had given away all the food that was in the house. Her father and mother were good and kind, but she must not give away the things they needed. Sorrowful and perplexed, her hand felt for the rosary which hung at her side, for in every trouble she ever turned in prayer to her dear Lord. Then as her fingers touched the beads, she suddenly remembered that here was at least one thing which was her very own—a small silver crucifix which she had had since she was a child, and which she had touched so often as she prayed that it was worn smooth and thin.
Still it was silver and would buy the sick man a meal, and she quickly unfastened it from the rosary and put it into his hand. The man's blessings followed her as she went, and though she had parted with the thing she loved best, she counted the blessings more precious than the gift.
And as she knelt in the dim church, after the mass was over, God sent a heavenly vision to reward His servant.
Catherine thought she stood in a great hall filled with things more beautiful than words can tell, and  in the midst stood our Blessed Lord, holding in His hand the most beautiful thing of all—a cross of beaten gold, set with jewels of every hue sparkling so brightly that it almost dazzled Catherine's eyes as she looked.
"Dost thou see these shining gifts," He asked, "and wouldst thou know whence they came? They are the noble deeds which men have done for My sake."
And Catherine kneeling there with her empty hands could only bow her head and say: "Lord, I am only a poor sister, as Thou knowest, and have nought to give Thee. The service I can offer could not find a place among these glorious gifts."
Then it seemed as if Christ smiled upon her, and holding out the golden cross He asked: "Hast thou not seen this cross before, Catherine?"
"No, Lord," she answered, wondering, "never before have mine eyes beheld anything so lovely."
But as she gazed upon it, her heart was filled with a sudden gladness, for in the midst of the gold and jewels, in the heart of the glorious light, she saw the little worn silver crucifix which she had given to the poor man that morning for the love of Christ.
And as the vision faded there rang in her ears the words she knew so well: "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it unto Me."
As time went on the fame of Catherine spread to other towns, outside Siena, and when there were disputes between the great cities of Italy they would  send for Catherine, and beg her to act as peacemaker, and she helped them all just as she did her own poor people of Siena. Even the Pope came to her for advice.
In the midst of all this busy life Catherine fell ill. Her love for Christ was so real, and her sorrow for His sufferings so great, that she prayed that she might bear the pain that He had borne. We do not know how our Lord granted her request, but in her hands and feet and side appeared the marks of nails and spear.
All her sufferings she bore most patiently, but her heart was glad when the end came.
The same vision that had smiled on her that summer evening when she was a child, appeared in the sunset sky again, this time never to fade away, as Catherine, the bride of Christ, was led by the white-robed angels up to the throne of our Lord.
A town mouse met a country mouse
in a forest.
The country mouse was getting nuts.
"Are you getting nuts for food?"
asked the town mouse.
"Yes," said the country mouse,
"I am getting nuts for winter.
The woods are full of nuts.
It is a fine place to live."
"I have a fine place to live too,"
said the town mouse.
"I do not get nuts for winter,
but I have all I want to eat.
You must come to see me."
"Yes, I will," said the country mouse.
"But you come to see me first.
You can come on Christmas."
So the town mouse went to see the
country mouse on Christmas.
It was a long way.
And there was snow on the ground.
So when the town mouse got there
he was very hungry.
The country mouse had nuts to eat,
and she had good water to drink.
The country mouse ate a big dinner.
But the town mouse said,
"I can not eat this food.
It is not good.
Now you come to see me,
and eat some of my food."
So the town mouse went home.
And the country mouse went with him.
It was a long way.
They were very hungry.
The town mouse had bread and cheese and
crumbs from the Christmas dinner.
The food was very good.
The country mouse ate and ate.
Then she said to the town mouse,
"How rich you must be."
Soon a door opened, and a woman came in.
The town mouse ran to his hole.
The woman went out
and left the door open.
A big, hungry cat came running in.
The town mouse ran far into his hole.
The country mouse ran after him.
But the old cat caught the country mouse
by the tail.
Then the door shut with a bang.
This frightened the cat,
and she let go of the mouse.
The country mouse jumped
far into the hole.
"Do you call this a happy home?
Do you call this riches?" said she.
"I do not want such riches.
I only got away with my life.
I am happy in my country home.
There I have nuts and good water.
And I do not have to run for my life.
Good day, I am going home."
And the country mouse ran home
as fast as she could.
— Norse Folk Tale
"Where is my little basket gone?
Said Charlie boy one day.
"I guess some little boy or girl
Has taken it away.
"And kitty, too, I can't find her.
Oh, dear, what shall I do?
I wish I could my basket find,
And little kitty, too.
"I'll go to mother's room and look;
Perhaps she may be there,
For kitty loves to take a nap
In mother's easy-chair.
"O mother! mother! come and look!
See what a little heap!
My kitty's in the basket here,
All cuddled down to sleep."
He took the basket carefully,
And brought it in a minute,
And showed it to his mother dear,
With little kitty in it.
WEEK 24 |
 AT Corinth, in Greece, there lived a very wise man whose name was Diogenes. Men came from all parts of the land to see him and hear him talk.
But wise as he was, he had some very queer ways. He did not believe that any man ought to have more things than he really needed; and he said that no man needed much. And so he did not live in a house, but slept in a tub or barrel, which he rolled about from place to place. He spent his days sitting in the sun, and saying wise things to those who were around him.
At noon one day, Diogenes was seen walking through the streets with a lighted lantern, and looking all around as if in search of something.
"Why do you carry a lantern when the sun is shining?" some one said.
"I am looking for an honest man," answered Diogenes.
When Alexander the Great went to Corinth, all the foremost men in the city came out to see him and to praise him. But Diogenes did not come; and he was the only man for whose opinions Alexander cared.
And so, since the wise man wonld not come to  see the king, the king went to see the wise man. He found Diogenes in an out-of-the-way place, lying on the ground by his tub. He was enjoying the heat and the light of the sun.
Diogenes and Alexander
When he saw the king and a great many people coming, he sat up and looked at Alexander. Alexander greeted him and said,—
"Diogenes, I have heard a great deal about your wisdom. Is there anything that I can do for you?"
"Yes," said Diogenes. "You can stand a little on one side, so as not to keep the sunshine from me."
This answer was so different from what he expected, that the king was much surprised. But it did not make him angry; it only made him admire the strange man all the more. When he turned to ride back, he said to his officers,—
"Say what you will; if I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes."
ALL Greece was in danger. A mighty army, led by the great King of Persia, had come from the east. It was marching along the seashore, and in a few days would be in Greece. The great king  had sent messengers into every city and state, bidding them give him water and earth in token that the land and the sea were his. But they said,—
"No: we will be free."
And so there was a great stir throughout all the land. The men armed themselves, and made haste to go out and drive back their foe; and the women staid at home, weeping and waiting, and trembling with fear.
There was only one way by which the Persian army could go into Greece on that side, and that was by a narrow pass between the mountains and the sea. This pass was guarded by Leonidas, the King of the Spartans, with three hundred Spartan soldiers.
Soon the Persian soldiers were seen coming. There were so many of them that no man could count them. How could a handful of men hope to stand against so great a host?
And yet Leonidas and his Spartans held their ground. They had made up their minds to die at their post. Some one brought them word that there were so many Persians that their arrows darkened the sun.
"So much the better," said the Spartans; "we shall fight in the shade."
 Bravely they stood in the narrow pass. Bravely they faced their foes. To Spartans there was no such thing as fear. The Persians came forward, only to meet death at the points of their spears.
But one by one the Spartans fell. At last their spears were broken; yet still they stood side by side, fighting to the last. Some fought with swords, some with daggers, and some with only their fists and teeth.
All day long the army of the Persians was kept at bay. But when the sun went down, there was not one Spartan left alive. Where they had stood there was only a heap of the slain, all bristled over with spears and arrows.
Twenty thousand Persian soldiers had fallen before that handful of men. And Greece was saved.
Thousands of years have passed since then; but men still like to tell the story of Leonidas and the brave three hundred who died for their country's sake.
W HEN the twins awoke, the sun was shining as brightly as ever, and Nip and Tup were barking at them through the hole in the roof.
Kesshoo and Koolee were gone!
Menie and Monnie were frightened. They were afraid they were left behind. They sat up in bed and howled!
In a moment Koolee's face looked down at them through the roof.
"What's the matter?" she said.
"We thought we were left," wailed Monnie!
"As if I could leave you behind!" cried Koolee.
She laughed at them. "Hand up the skins to me," she said. She reached her arm down the hole and pulled out all the  skins from the bed as fast as the twins gave them to her.
Then she put her head down into the opening and looked all around. "We haven't left a thing," she said; "come along."
The twins couldn't climb out through the roof, though they wanted to, so they went out by the tunnel, and helped their mother carry the skins to the beach.
All the people in the village and all the dogs were there before them. The great woman boats were packed, the kyaks of the men waited beside them in a row on the beach, with their noses in the water.
The dogs barked and raced up and down the beach, the babies crowed, and the children shouted for joy. Even the grown people were gay. They talked in loud tones and laughed and made jokes.
At last Kesshoo shouted, "All ready! In you go!" He told each person where to sit.
 He put the Angakok in one boat to steer. He put Koko's father in the other.
In Koko's father's boat he placed Koko and his mother and the baby, Koolee and the twins, the pups, all three dogs, and four of the women who lived in the other igloos. So you see it was quite a large boat.
In the Angakok's boat he placed his two wives, and all the rest of the women and children and dogs. The women took up the paddles. One end of the boat was partly in  the water when they got in. The men gently pushed it farther out until it floated.
Then the men got into their kyaks at the water's edge, fastened their skin coats over the rims, and paddled out into deep water.
At last, when all the boats, big and little, were afloat, Kesshoo called out, "We are going north. Follow me."
The women obeyed the signal of Koko's father and the Angakok. The paddles dipped together into the water. The great boats moved! They were off!
The children all sat together in the bottom of the boat, but the twins and Koko were big enough to see over the sides. While the babies played with the dogs, they were busy watching the things that passed on the shores. Soon they passed the Big Rock with little auks and puffins flying about it. They could see the red feet of the puffins, and a blue fox sitting on the top of the rock, waiting for a chance to catch a bird.
Then the Big Rock hid the village from sight.
 Beyond the Big Rock the country was all new to the twins and Koko. They looked into narrow bays and inlets as the boat moved along, and saw green moss carpeting the sunny slopes in sheltered places.
They could even see bright flowers growing in the warm spots which faced the sun. The sky was blue overhead. The water was blue below.
Beyond the green slopes they could see the bare hillsides crowned with the white ice cap which never melts, and streams of water dashing down the hillsides and pouring themselves into the waters of the bay.
When they had gone a good many miles up the coast, Kesshoo waved his hand and pointed to a strange sight on the shore.
There was a great river of ice! They could see where it came out of a hollow place between two hills. It looked just like a river, only it was frozen solid, and the end of it, where it came into the sea, was broken off like a great wall of ice, and there were cakes of ice floating about in the water.
 Suddenly there was a cracking sound. Menie had heard that sound before. It was the same sound that he had heard when he went seal-hole hunting and got carried away on the ice raft. Menie didn't like the sound anymore. It scared him!
Right after the cracking noise Kesshoo's voice shouted, "Row farther out! Follow me!"
He turned his kyak straight out to sea. All the other boats followed.
They had gone only about half a mile when suddenly. there was a loud crick-crick- CRACK as if a piece of the world had broken off, and then there was a splash that could be heard for miles, if there had been any one to hear it.
The end of the glacier, or ice river, had broken off and fallen down into the water! It had made an iceberg!
The splash was so great that in a moment the waves it made reached the boats. The boats rocked up and down on the water and bounced about like corks.
The twins and Koko thought this was  great fun, but the Angakok didn't like it a bit. One wave splashed over him, and some of the water went down his neck.
All the grown people knew that if they hadn't rowed quickly away from shore when Kesshoo called they might have been upset and drowned.
What does little birdie say,
In her nest at peep of day?
"Let me fly," says little birdie;
"Mother, let me fly away."
"Birdie, rest a little longer,
Till the little wings are stronger."
So she rests a little longer,
Then she flies away.
What does little baby say,
In her bed at peep of day?
Baby says, like little birdie,
"Let me rise and fly away."
"Baby, sleep a little longer,
Till the little limbs are stronger."
If she sleeps a little longer,
Baby, too, shall fly away.
WEEK 24 |
 In the dawning of the day Roland looked to the mountain and looked to the plain. Everywhere the Franks lay dead around him. Then, like a noble cavalier, he wept for them. "My lords and barons," he sighed, "may God have mercy on you. May your souls reach paradise and rest among the holy flowers for ever. Better vassals than ye were never seen. Well have ye served me these many years. Oh land of France! oh my loved country! to-day thou mournest thy best barons. And it is for me they die. Oliver, my brother Oliver, let us on again and strike the heathen. If they slay me not, I die of grief and shame."
So once again Roland the Terrible arose and swung his sword Durindal, until, as deer before the hounds, the heathen fled before him.
 "Good," cried Archbishop Turpin, " 'tis ever thus a knight should fight, else he had better be a monk, praying in some lonely cell, that our sins may be forgiven us."
"Strike, strike!" cried Roland, "strike and do not spare."
So once again the clash and clang of battle rang out upon the still morning air. But now the Christian knights were wondrous few, the heathen many. Through the thickest of the fight rode King Marsil, slaying many a knight. "Cursed be thou," cried Roland, "full many a comrade hast thou slain before my face. Yet ere we part thou shalt know the name of my good sword." Then with one stroke he cut off the King's right hand, and with another laid his son dead at his feet.
Then in terror Marsil fled. "Mahomet avenge us," he cried, "upon these felon Franks whom Charlemagne hath left in our fair Spain."
But although Marsil fled, the Calif, his uncle, still remained. It was that same  Calif of whom Ganelon had lied, saying he had seen him drown before his eyes. Now with savage war-cry he threw himself upon the dwindling Christian company.
"Now," cried Roland, "the end hath come. Now, no longer have we to live. But strike, my lords, strike. Sell your lives as dearly as may be. Strike, so that France be not dishonoured, and when Charlemagne shall come and shall find fifteen heathen dead for one of us, he will bless us even while he mourns."
"Shame, shame to the laggard!" cried Oliver, dashing into the fray. But the traitor Calif struck him from behind, full in the middle of his back. Through silken cloak and coat of steel drove the lance until it pierced the breast of the gallant knight.
"Aha!" cried the Calif, "now hast thou thy death-blow. In thee alone have I avenged all our host."
Oliver was indeed sorely wounded, but, wheeling quickly, he lifted his good sword high in the air, and brought it crashing down upon the Calif's golden helmet. The spark-  ling gems with which it was set were scattered upon the grass. From crown to chin his head was cloven, and without a groan the heathen sank upon the earth.
Still wielding his sword right manfully, Oliver called to Roland. "Roland, Roland, come to me. Be thou near me at the end, for to-day is the day of our last farewell."
Through the battle Roland spurred his horse to Oliver's side. With mournful eyes he looked upon his ashen face, and upon the red stream which trickled from his wound. "Alas, my gentle friend," he cried, "alas, is this the end of all thy prowess, all thy fame? Now is the Emperor's loss complete indeed." And saying these words, from grief and pain he fainted, sitting upon his horse.
As Roland fainted he reeled against Oliver, and he, his eyes already dark in death, knew not his friend. Only feeling that he was struck, he returned the blow. Striking heavily upon Roland's helmet, he clove it in two. But his sword went no further, and Roland was unwounded.
 The blow brought Roland to his senses once again, and he, marvelling at it, turned to look upon his friend. "Was it thou, comrade, who struck me?" he whispered softly and tenderly. "Thou hast not done it knowingly? I am thy friend Roland, who loveth thee. Thou hast no anger against me in thine heart?"
"I hear thee," replied Oliver, "but I cannot see thee, friend. God seeth thee. Have I struck thee, brother? I did it not knowingly. Forgive it me."
"I am not hurt," said Roland, "and before God I forgive it thee." Then these two in perfect love and trust leaned each on the other to say a last farewell.
Now Oliver's eyes were dark, his ears were stopped in death. Dismounting from his horse he knelt upon the ground. Joining his hands he confessed his sins and prayed God to bless fair France and Charlemagne his king, and above all men his comrade Roland. Then he bowed his head, and stretching himself upon the battle-field, he died.
 When Roland saw Oliver lie still, very softly he mourned. "Dear my friend," he sighed, "to what sorrow hath thy valour brought thee! Many the day, many the year we two have been together, thou and I. Never hast thou done me wrong, nor I thee. Now that thou art gone it is but pain to live." And for very grief Roland swooned again as he sat upon his horse.
Once again Roland opened his eyes and looked around upon the utter ruin of all his knights. Of all the Christian host but two remained with him alive. These were Turpin, the brave Archbishop, and Gautier of Hum, a right noble count.
With lances broken, shields pierced and armour shattered, the valiant three still fought the heathen throng. Saracen after Saracen fell beneath their blows. "What fearsome men!" cried they, "but they shall not escape alive. Craven is he who attacketh them not. More craven he who letteth them escape."
But soon, such was the might of the  dauntless three that the heathen dared no more attack them. A thousand foot and forty thousand horse there still remained of the Saracen host. Yet afar they stood, hurling lance and spear and javelin at the three who faced them side by side.
Soon Gautier fell dead, pierced by a flying dart. Next the Archbishop's horse was killed beneath him, and Turpin was carried to the ground. But in a moment he sprang up again. "I am not vanquished yet!" he cried to Roland. "As long as a good warrior hath breath, he fights." And dashing upon the heathen, sorely wounded though he was, he laid about him with such good will that, as it was told in after days, they found four hundred dead about him.
Roland too fought in deadly pain, and sorely he longed to know if Charlemagne were near. So now again he took his horn, and blew upon it a faint and feeble blast.
The pitiful soft notes floated through the air, and faint and feeble though they were, they reached the ear of Charlemagne. The  Emperor drew rein and bent his ear to listen. "My lords," he said, "it goeth ill with us. This day I ween my nephew is lost to me. So wearily he winds his horn, 'tis like a dying man. If ye would reach him ere it is too late, set spur to horse and let every trumpet in the army sound, that he may know we come."
Then at the command of the Emperor, sixty thousand trumpets sounded. Loudly the brazen clamour rose. The mountains echoed and the hills answered, until the heathen heard it where they fought, and they stood aghast. "It is Charlemagne who comes," they cried; "it is Charlemagne. The Emperor! the Emperor returns! These are French trumpets that we hear. If Charlemagne come, what disaster for us will betide. If Roland live, the battle is to fight again, and Spain, our fair broad Spain, is lost."
Then four hundred of the boldest of the heathen drew together, and marching in close rank, shoulder to shoulder they charged down upon Roland.
 As Roland saw them come he felt his strength return to him. While he had life he would never yield, and rather death than flight. So, striking spurs, he urged his wearied horse forward, and dashed alone against four hundred heathen. At his stirrup ran the Archbishop, and as the Saracens saw the dauntless heroes come, they were seized with terror and fled before them.
"Flee, flee!" they cried, "it is the trumpets of France we hear. Charlemagne the Mighty is upon us."
Roland was ever the bravest and most courteous of knights. Now he drew rein and turning to the Archbishop said, "I am on horseback, thou on foot; that should not be. For love of thee I will halt here. Good or ill we will share together, and for no man in the world will I forsake thee. Together we will await the heathen."
"Shame be to him who first stints his blows!" cried Turpin. "After this battle we will fight no more, truly. But Charlemagne is nigh, and he will avenge us."
 And now the heathen, gathered at a distance, talked among themselves. "We are born to misfortune," said they. "And this day is the blackest that ever we have seen. We have lost all our lords and leaders, and now dread Charlemagne returns with his great army. Already we can hear the trumpets call, already we can hear the cry, 'Montjoie, Montjoie.' And nothing equals the pride of this Count Roland. There is no man that can vanquish him. Let us flee, but ere we go let each man hurl at him lance and spear, so that he die."
So ere they fled, the heathen hurled their spears and lances at Roland. His shield was broken, his hauberk riven asunder, and beneath him sank his good horse pierced with thirty wounds. The Archbishop too lay silent on the ground. But the last heathen had fled, and on that ghastly field Roland stood alone.
I T had been a cold and windy winter. Day after day the storm-clouds had piled up in the northwest and spread slowly over the sky, dropping great ragged flakes of snow down to the shivering earth. Then the forest trees were clothed in fleecy white garments, and the branches of the evergreens drooped under their heavy cloak.
Then there had  been other days, when a strong wind stripped the trees of their covering, and brought with it thousands of small, hard flakes. These flakes were drier than the ragged ones had been, and did not cling so lovingly to everything they touched. They would rather frolic on the ground, rising again and again from their resting-places to dance around with the wind, and help make great drifts and overhanging ledges of snow in the edge of the Forest, where there was more open ground.
It is true that not all the winter had been cold and stormy. There were times when the drifts melted slowly into the earth, and the grass, which last summer had been so tender and green, showed brown and matted on the ground. Still the Great Horned Owl and his wife could not find enough to eat. "We do not mean to complain," said he with dignity, as he scratched one ear with his feathered  right foot, "but neither of us has had a meal hearty enough for a healthy Robin, since the first heavy snow came."
This was when he was talking to his cousin, the Screech Owl. "Hearty enough for a Robin!" exclaimed Mrs. Great Horned Owl. "I should say we hadn't. I don't think I have had enough for a Goldfinch, and that is pretty hard for a bird of my size. I am so thin that my feathers feel loose."
"Have you been so hungry that you dreamed about food?" asked the Screech Owl.
"N-no, I can't say that I have," said the Great Horned Owl, while his wife shook her head solemnly.
"Ah, that is dreadful," said the Screech Owl. "I have done that several times. Only yesterday, while I lay in my nest-hollow, I dreamed that I was hunting. There was food everywhere, but just as I flew down to eat, it turned into pieces of  ice. When I awakened I was almost starved and so cold that my beak chattered."
It was only a few days after the Screech Owl's call upon his cousins that he awakened one night to find the weather milder, and the ground covered with only a thin coating of soft snow. The beautiful round moon was shining down upon him, and in the western sky the clouds were still red from the rays of the setting sun.
Somewhere, far beyond the fields and forests of this part of the world, day-birds were beginning to stir, and thousands of downy heads were drawn from under sheltering wings, while in the barnyards the Cocks were calling their welcome to the sun. But the Screech Owl did not think of this. He aroused his wife and they went hunting. When they came back they did not dream about food. They had eaten all that they could, and the Great Horned Owl and his wife had  made a meal hearty enough for a dozen Robins, and a whole flock of Goldfinches. It was a good thing for the day-birds that this was so, for it is said that sometimes, when food is very scarce, Owls have been known to hunt by daylight.
When morning came and it was the moon's turn to sink out of sight in the west, the Owls went to bed in their hollow trees, and Crows, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Grouse, Quail, Squirrels, and Rabbits came out. The Goldfinches were there too, but you would never have known the husbands and fathers of the flock, unless you had seen them before in their winter clothing, which is like that worn by the wives and children. Here, too, were the winter visitors, the Snow Buntings and the Juncos, brimming over with happiness and news of their northern homes. This warm day made them think of the coming springtime, and they were already planning their flight.
 "I wish you would stay with us all summer," said a friendly Goldfinch, as he flirted the snow off from a tall brown weed and began to pick out and eat the seeds.
"Stay all summer!" exclaimed a jolly little Snow Bunting. "Why should we want to stay? Perhaps if you would promise to keep the snow and ice we might."
"Why not ask the Goldfinches to come north with us?" suggested a Junco. "That would be much more sensible, for they can stand the cold weather as well as we, but we cannot stand warm days, such as I hear they have in this part of the country after the ice melts."
Then the older people of the group began to talk of the cares of life and many other things which did not interest their children, so the younger ones wandered away from them.
"I say," called a young Junco to a young Snow Bunting, "wouldn't you like  to show some of these playmates of ours the countries where we were born?"
"Yes indeed," answered the Snow Bunting. "Wouldn't they open their eyes, though? I'd like to have them see the rocks up there."
"And the animals," said the Junco.
"Yes! Wouldn't they stare at the Bears, though!"
"Humph," said a Blue Jay. "I wouldn't care very much about seeing Bears, would you?" And he turned to a Crow near by.
"No," said the Crow. "I don't think very much of Bears anyway." He said this as though he had seen them all his life, but the Chickadees say that he never saw even a Cub.
"They haven't any big animals here," said the Junco to the Snow Bunting.
"Haven't we, though?" replied the Blue Jay. "Guess you wouldn't say that if you saw the Ground Hog. Would he say that?" he asked, turning to the young  Grouse, Quail, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Chickadees, Squirrels, and Rabbits who stood around listening.
"No indeed!" they answered, for they wanted their visitors to understand that the Forest was a most wonderful place, and they really thought the Ground Hog very large.
"I don't believe he is as big as a Bear," said the Snow Bunting, with his bill in the air.
"How big is he?" asked the Junco.
Now the Blue Jay was afraid that the birds from the north were getting the better of him, and he felt very sure that they would leave before the Ground Hog had finished his winter sleep, so he did what no honest bird would have even thought of doing. He held his crested head very high and said, "He is bigger than that rock, a great deal bigger."
The Crow looked at the rock and gave a hoarse chuckle, for it was a hundred  times larger than the Ground Hog. The Grouse, Quail, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Chickadees, Squirrels, and Rabbits looked at each other without saying a word. They knew how the Blue Jay had lied, and it made them ashamed. The Grouse pretended to fix their snow-shoes. They did not want to look at the birds from the north.
The Snow Buntings and Juncos felt that it would not do to talk about Bears to people who had such a great creature as the Ground Hog living among them. "He must be wonderful," they said. "Where does he sleep?"
"In the Bats' cave," answered the Blue Jay, who having told one lie, now had to tell another to cover it up. "He sleeps in the middle and there is just room left around the edges for the Bats."
Now at this very time the Ground Hog was awake in his burrow. He could feel that it was warmer and he wanted room  to stretch. He thought it would seem good to have an early spring after such a cold winter, so he decided to take a walk and make the weather, as his grandfather had done. When he came out of his burrow he heard a great chattering and went to see what was the matter. That was how it happened that soon after the Blue Jay had told about the Bats' cave, one wide-awake young Junco saw a reddish-brown animal trotting over the grass toward them. "Who is that?" he cried.
The Grouse, Quail, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Chickadees, Squirrels, and Rabbits gave one look. "Oh, there is the Ground Hog!" they cried. Then they remembered and were ashamed again because of what the Blue Jay had said.
"Oh!" said the Snow Buntings and the Juncos. "So that is the Ground Hog! Big as that rock, is he? And you don't think much of Bears?"
 The Crow pointed one claw at the Blue Jay. "I never said he was as big as that rock. He is the fellow that said it."
"I don't care," said the Blue Jay; "I was only fooling. I meant to tell you after a while. It's a good joke on you." But he had a sneaky look around the bill as he spoke, and nobody believed him. Before long, he and the Crow were glad enough to get away from the rest and go away together. Yet even then they were not happy, for each began to blame the other, and they had a most dreadful fight.
When the Ground Hog was told about it he said, "What foolishness it is to want to tell the biggest story! My grandfather told us once that a lie was always a lie, and that calling it a joke didn't make it any better. I think he was right."
And the Snow Buntings and Juncos, who are bright and honest, nodded their dainty little heads and said, "Nobody in our own  dear north country ever spoke a truer word than that." So they became firm friends of the Ground Hog, even if he were not so large as the rock.
"Stop, stop, pretty water!"
Said Mary one day,
To a frolicsome brook
That was running away.
"You run on so fast!
I wish you would stay;
My boat and my flowers
You will carry away.
"But I will run after;
Mother says that I may;
For I would know where
You are running away."
So Mary ran on;
But I have heard say,
That she never could find
Where the brook ran away.
WEEK 24 |
EVERYBODY in the United States has heard the song about the star-spangled banner. Nearly everybody has sung it. It was written by Francis Scott Key.
Key was a young lawyer. In the War of 1812  he fought with the American army. The British landed soldiers in Maryland. At Bladensburg they fought and beat the Americans. Key was in this battle on the American side.
After the battle the British army took Washington, and burned the public buildings. Key had a friend who was taken prisoner by the British. He was on one of the British ships. Key went to the ships with a flag of truce. A flag of truce is a white flag. It is carried in war when one side sends a message to the other.
When Key got to the British ships, they were sailing to Baltimore. They were going to try to take Baltimore. The British commander would not let Key go back. He was afraid that he would let the Americans know where the ships were going.
Key was kept a kind of prisoner while the ships attacked Baltimore. The ships tried to take the city by firing at it from the water. The British army tried to take the city on the land side.
The ships did their worst firing at night. They tried to take the little fort near the city.
Key could see the battle. He watched the little fort. He was afraid that the men in it would give up. He was afraid that the fort would be broken down by the cannon balls.
The British fired bomb-shells and rockets at the
 fort. When these
burst, they made a light. By this light Key could see that the little
fort was still standing. He could see the flag still waving over it.
He tells this in his song in these
"And the rocket's red glare,
the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there."
But after many hours of fighting the British became discouraged. They found that they could not take the city. The ships almost ceased to fire.
Key did not know whether the fort had been knocked down or not. He
could not see whether the flag was still flying or not. He thought
that the Americans might have given up. He felt what he wrote in
"Oh! say, does that star-
spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free,
and the home of the brave?"
When the break of day came, Key looked toward the fort. It was still
standing. There was a flag flying over it. It grew lighter. He could
 that it was the American flag. His feelings are told in two lines
" 'Tis the star spangled banner,
Oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free,
and the home of the brave!"
Key was full of joy. He took an old letter from his pocket. The back of this letter had no writing on it. Here he wrote the song about the star-spangled banner.
The British commander now let Key go ashore. When he got to Baltimore, he wrote out his song. He gave it to a friend. This friend took it to a printing office. But the printers had all turned soldiers. They had all gone to defend the city.
There was one boy left in the office. He knew how to print. He took the verses and printed them on a broad sheet of paper.
The printed song was soon in the hands of the soldiers around
Baltimore. It was sung in the
 streets. It was sung in the
theaters. It traveled all over the country. Everybody learned to
"Then conquer we must,
for our cause it is just;
And this be our
'In God is our
And the star-spangled banner
in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free,
and the home of the brave."
O NCE upon a time the king of a large and rich country gathered together his army to take a far-away little country.
The king and his soldiers marched all morning long and then went into camp in the forest.
When they fed the horses they gave them some peas to eat. One of the Monkeys living in the forest saw the peas and jumped down to get some of them. He filled his mouth and hands with them, and up into the tree he went again, and sat down to eat the peas.
As he sat there eating the peas, one pea fell from his hand to the ground. At once the greedy Monkey dropped all the peas he had in his hands, and ran down to hunt for the lost pea. But he could not find that one pea. He climbed up into his tree again, and sat still looking very glum. "To get more, I threw away what I had," he said to himself.
The king had watched the Monkey, and he said to him-  self: "I will not be like this foolish Monkey, who lost much to gain a little. I will go back to my own country and enjoy what I now have."
So he and his men marched back home.
Sway to and fro in the twilight gray;
This is the ferry of Shadow-town.
It always sails at the end of day,
Just as the darkness is coming down.
Rest, little head, on my shoulder, so—
A sleepy kiss is the only fare;
Drifting away from the world we go,
Baby and I, in the rocking-chair.
See, where the fire-logs glow and spark
Glitter the lights of the shadow-land!
The winter rains on the window—hark!—
Are ripples lapping up its strand.
Rock slow, more slow, in the dusky light,
Silently lower the anchor down;
Dear little passenger, say "Good-night!"
We have reached the harbor of Shadow-town.