WEEK 34 |
 ON the night of April 18, 1775, in a suburb of Charlestown, just outside of Boston, stood a strong and keen-eyed man beside a restless horse, ready at a moment's notice to mount and ride hard upon some secret mission. His eye was fixed upon the distant steeple of a church, scarcely to be seen in the darkness, as if he expected some signal to make him spring into instant action.
He had not long to wait. Into the night there suddenly flashed the rays from two lanterns; as soon as he saw them, he grasped the reins of the bridle, leaped into the saddle, and rode swiftly away. The man's name was Paul Revere. The signal was from the steeple of the Old North Church, in Boston, and it had been placed there by a friendly hand to let Revere know that the British troops were moving silently out of Boston to capture the military stores which the Patriots of the Revolution had at Concord, about nineteen miles away.
Swiftly his horse bore Revere past Charlestown Neck. Suddenly two British officers appeared in his path.
 "Halt! who goes there?" was the stern command.
Revere made no answer, but turned his horse's head, and went flying back to seek another road. The officers started in swift pursuit, calling out, "Halt, or we fire!"
Revere paid no attention to them, but, spurring his horse onward, turned into Medford Road. One of the officers tried to intercept him by a short cut across the field, but, in the darkness, he fell into a clay-pit, where Revere left him as he went thundering by.
On he went, mile after mile, intent upon arousing the people. At every house he stopped, rapped furiously on the door, or called out from the road-side, "Get up, and arm yourselves. The Regulars are marching to Concord!" And then he would dash away, leaving the occupants to rise and hastily dress themselves.
The British marched out of Boston about midnight. Just at that hour, Revere rode into Lexington with a great clatter of hoofs upon the streets. He galloped up to the house of the Rev. Mr. Clarke, where Samuel Adams and John Hancock, two leading Patriots, were asleep.
"Don't make so much noise," called out the guard in front of the house, "you will awake the inmates."
 "Noise!" exclaimed Revere. "You'll have noise enough before long. The Regulars are coming!"
At that moment, a window was thrown open, and John Hancock, looking out, inquired what was the matter. Recognizing Revere, he directed the guard to open the door, and admit the messenger, who soon told his startling tale. Hancock and Adams quickly dressed, and, while Revere set out again on his journey, these two Patriots left Lexington to avoid capture.
Revere was now joined by another rider, named Dawes, who had left Boston at the same time by a different route. Upon these two was put the responsibility of arousing the people. From every house the good men of the countryside rushed out when they heard the news. The Minute Men began to gather, with such guns as they had, and by two o'clock in the morning over a hundred of them had met upon the green in Lexington. As no foe was in sight, and as the air was cold, they disbanded to assemble again at the sound of the drum.
Meanwhile, Revere and Dawes rode toward Concord, six miles off. On their way, they fell in with Dr. Samuel Prescott, to whom they told their story as the three rode along. Suddenly, a group of British officers appeared in the road before  them, and laid their hands upon Revere and Dawes, who were a little in advance. This occurred so unexpectedly that escape was impossible for those two. But Dr. Prescott urged his horse over a stone wall, and was well away before he could be stopped. He alone bore the news to the people of Concord.
When Prescott arrived, at about two in the morning, he at once gave the alarm. The bells were rung, and the people rushed toward the center square where Dr. Prescott addressed them.
"The Regulars are on their way to capture the stores in the warehouse," he declared. "They may now be in Lexington, and it is certain they will be here before long. Revere and Dawes brought me word. We must remove the stores before the British arrive."
This was enough. It did not take the people of Concord many hours to put the precious stores in a place of safety.
Meantime, the British had come to the outskirts of Lexington. It was about daybreak, and the drum-beat called the Colonists together on the village green. There were about one hundred stern and determined Patriots, facing five or six hundred British troops. The moment was one of intense excitement, for both sides knew it meant war if a  shot was fired. Captain John Parker, in command of the militia, said to his men:
"Stand your ground; don't fire unless fired upon; but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
The British Commander, Major Pitcairn, drew his pistol, and, pointing at the Patriots, cried out:
"Disperse, you villains! Lay down your arms, you rebels, and disperse!"
The Patriots did not move. The British came nearer, as if to surround Parker's men. A shot, fired from the British line, was answered immediately by the Patriots. Then Major Pitcairn drew his pistol, and discharged it, calling out, "Fire." The British then fired upon the Minute Men, killing four of them, after which the others retreated. This was the opening shot of the Revolution, and we shall see how England paid dearly for it.
The British moved on to Concord, reaching there about seven, o'clock. They were too late, however, for most of the stores had been removed. They did what damage they could, by knocking open, sixty barrels of flour, injuring three cannon and setting fire to the court-house.
About midday, the British began their retreat. The Patriots had gathered in haste from the neighboring towns, and were preparing to harass the  enemy along the road. Concealing themselves behind houses, barns, roadside walls, and trees, they poured a galling fire into the retreating British. The Red Coats, as the British were called, began to run in order to escape the deadly fire of the farmers, with their rifles and shotguns. The six miles from Concord to Boston were one dreadful ambush. Reaching Lexington, a number of the British fell exhausted on the ground, their tongues parched from fatigue and thirst.
Here they were joined by a large number of fresh British troops, and the whole force proceeded to Boston, pursued by the Patriots up to the very entrance of the city. Altogether, they lost about three hundred men, while the Americans lost only one hundred.
Such was the beginning of the American Revolution. The midnight ride of Paul Revere was a very good beginning for the cause of American freedom.
 PETER RABBIT'S intentions were of the best. Once safely away from that lonesome part of the Green Forest where was the home of Redtail the Hawk, he intended to go straight back to the dear Old Briar-patch. But he was not halfway there when from another direction in the Green Forest there came a sound that caused him to stop short and quite forget all about home. It was a sound very like distant thunder. It began slowly at first and then went faster and faster. Boom—Boom—Boom—Boom-Boom-Boom Boo-Boo-B-B-B-B-b-b-b-b-boom! It was like the long roll on a bass drum.
Peter laughed right out. "That's Strutter the Ruffed Grouse!" he cried joyously. "I had forgotten all about him. I certainly must go over and pay him a call and find out where Mrs. Grouse is. My, how Strutter can drum!"
Peter promptly headed towards that distant thunder. As he drew nearer to it, it sounded louder and louder. Presently Peter stopped to try to locate exactly the place where that sound,  which now was more than ever like thunder, was coming from. Suddenly Peter remembered something. "I know just where he is," said he to himself. "There's a big, mossy, hollow log over yonder, and I remember that Mrs. Grouse once told me that that is Strutter's thunder log."
Very, very carefully Peter stole forward, making no sound at all. At last he reached a place where he could peep out and see that big, mossy, hollow log. Sure enough, there was Strutter the Ruffed Grouse. When Peter first saw him he was crouched on one end of the log, a fluffy ball of reddish-brown, black and gray feathers. He was resting. Suddenly he straightened up to his full height, raised his tail and spread it until it was like an open fan above his back. The outer edge was gray, then came a broad band of black, followed by bands of gray, brown and black. Around his neck was a wonderful ruff of black. His reddish-brown wings were dropped until the tips nearly touched the log. His full breast rounded out and was buff color with black markings. He was of about the size of the little Bantam hens Peter had seen in Farmer Brown's henyard.
STRUTTER THE RUFFED GROUSE
The black ruff around his neck gives him his name.
In the most stately way you can imagine Strutter walked the length of that mossy log. He was a perfect picture of pride as he strutted very much like Tom Gobbler the big Turkey cock.  When he reached the end of the log he suddenly dropped his tail, stretched himself to his full height and his wings began to beat, first slowly then faster and faster, until they were just a blur. They seemed to touch above his back but when they came down they didn't quite strike his sides. It was those fast moving wings that made the thunder. It was so loud that Peter almost wanted to stop his ears. When it ended Strutter settled down to rest and once more appeared like a ball of fluffy feathers. His ruff was laid flat.
Peter watched him thunder several times and then ventured to show himself. "Strutter, you are wonderful! simply wonderful!" cried Peter, and he meant just what he said.
Strutter threw out his chest proudly. "That is just what Mrs. Grouse says," he replied. "I don't know of any better thunderer if I do say it myself."
"Speaking of Mrs. Grouse, where is she?" asked Peter eagerly.
"Attending to her household affairs, as a good housewife should," retorted Strutter promptly.
"Do you mean she has a nest and eggs?" asked Peter.
Strutter nodded. "She has twelve eggs," he added proudly.
 "I suppose," said Peter artfully, "her nest is somewhere near here on the ground."
"It's on the ground, Peter, but as to where it is I am not saying a word. It may or it may not be near here. Do you want to hear me thunder again?"
Of course Peter said he did, and that was sufficient excuse for Strutter to show off. Peter stayed a while longer to gossip, but finding Strutter more interested in thundering than in talking, he once more started for home.
"I really would like to know where that nest is," said he to himself as he scampered along. "I suppose Mrs. Grouse has hidden it so cleverly that it is quite useless to look for it."
On his way he passed a certain big tree. All around the ground was carpeted with brown, dead leaves. There were no bushes or young trees there. Peter never once thought of looking for a nest. It was the last place in the world he would expect to find one. When he was well past the big tree there was a soft chuckle and from among the brown leaves right at the foot of that big tree a head with a pair of the brightest eyes was raised a little. Those eyes twinkled as they watched Peter out of sight.
"He didn't see me at all," chuckled Mrs. Grouse, as she settled down once more. "That  is what comes of having a cloak so like the color of these nice brown leaves. He isn't the first one who has passed me without seeing me at all. It is better than trying to hide a nest, and I certainly am thankful to Old Mother Nature for the cloak she gave me. I wonder if every one of these twelve eggs will hatch. If they do, I certainly will have a family to be proud of."
Meanwhile Peter hurried on in his usual happy-go-lucky fashion until he came to the edge of the Green Forest. Out on the Green Meadows just beyond he caught sight of a black form walking about in a stately way and now and then picking up something. It reminded him of Blacky the Crow, but he knew right away that it wasn't Blacky, because it was so much smaller, being not more than half as big.
"It's Creaker the Grackle. He was one of the first to arrive this spring and I'm ashamed of myself for not having called on him," thought Peter, as he hopped out and started across the Green Meadows towards Creaker. "What a splendid long tail he has. I believe Jenny Wren told me that he belongs to the Blackbird family. He looks so much like Blacky the Crow that I suppose this is why they call him Crow Blackbird."
Just then Creaker turned in such a way that the sun fell full on his head and back. "Why!  Why-ee!" exclaimed Peter, rubbing his eyes with astonishment. "He isn't just black! He's beautiful, simply beautiful, and I've always supposed he was just plain, homely black."
It was true. Creaker the Grackle with the sun shining on him was truly beautiful. His head and neck, his throat and upper breast, were a shining blue-black, while his back was a rich, shining brassy-green. His wings and tail were much like his head and neck. As Peter watched it seemed as if the colors were constantly changing. This changing of colors is called iridescence. One other thing Peter noticed and this was that Creaker's eyes were yellow. Just at the moment Peter couldn't remember any other bird with yellow eyes.
"Creaker," cried Peter, "I wonder if you know how handsome you are!"
"I'm glad you think so," replied Creaker. "I'm not at all vain, but there are mighty few birds I would change coats with."
"Is—is—Mrs. Creaker dressed as handsomely as you are?" asked Peter rather timidly.
Creaker shook his head. "Not quite," said he. "She likes plain black better. Some of the feathers on her back shine like mine, but she says that she has no time to show off in the sun and to take care of fine feathers."
 "Where is she now?" asked Peter.
"Over home," replied Creaker, pulling a white grub out of the roots of the grass. "We've got a nest over there in one of those pine-trees on the edge of the Green Forest and I expect any day now we will have four hungry babies to feed. I shall have to get busy then. You know I am one of those who believe that every father should do his full share in taking care of his family."
"I'm glad to hear you say it," declared Peter, nodding his head with approval quite as if he was himself the best of fathers, which he isn't at all. "May I ask you a very personal question, Creaker?"
"Ask as many questions as you like. I don't have to answer them unless I want to," retorted Creaker.
"Is it true that you steal the eggs of other birds?" Peter blurted the question out rather hurriedly.
Creaker's yellow eyes began to twinkle. "That is a very personal question," said he. "I won't go so far as to say I steal eggs, but I've found that eggs are very good for my constitution and if I find a nest with nobody around I sometimes help myself to the eggs. You see the owner might not come back and then those eggs would spoil, and that would be a pity."
 "That's no excuse at all," declared Peter. "I believe you're no better than Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow."
Creaker chuckled, but he did not seem to be at all offended. Just then he heard Mrs. Creaker calling him and with a hasty farewell he spread his wings and headed for the Green Forest. Once in the air he seemed just plain black. Peter watched him out of sight and then once more headed for the dear Old Briar-patch.
Dark brown is the river,
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.
Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating—
Where will all come home?
On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.
Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.
WEEK 34 |
 EVERY nation has its own patron saint whom the people love to honour, and who is looked upon not only as their protector in war and peace, but as a model of all that is best and highest and most worthy to be copied in their own lives.
Ever since the days of the Crusades, when our lion-hearted King Richard went to fight the infidels in the Holy Land, the special saint whom England has delighted to honour has been Saint George. "For Saint George and Merrie England" rang out the old battle-cry; and the greatest honour which our kings can bestow—the Order of the Garter—is really the Order of Saint George, and bears upon it the picture of his great adventure. And when you have heard the story of Saint George you will not wonder that England took him for her special saint, and as an example for all her sons to follow.
Saint George was born far away in Cappadocia, in the year 303 A.D. His father and mother were nobles of that country and were also Christians, although they lived under the rule of the heathen Emperor Diocletian.
Saint George's father, who was a soldier, was often away in the service of the emperor. So it  was the mother who had most to do with the care and training of their only son. It must have been, then, from her that the boy learned that gentle reverence towards all women, which made him their protector and champion all his life.
When he was seventeen, he too became a soldier like his father, and the shining sword, which he then buckled on, was kept all his life as stainless as his honour. He never drew it in a wrong cause, but held it as a trust given to him to defend the right and protect the weak and helpless.
Now in the same country there was a city called Selem, whose people had once been as happy and prosperous as any in the land, but which was now the most miserable spot in all the world.
The city itself was beautiful with splendid palaces and gay gardens, and the king who ruled there was wise and good. But outside the city wall stretched a grey, sullen-looking lake, half marsh and half stagnant water, and in this gloomy bog there lived a dreadful monster called a dragon. No one knew exactly what he was like, for those who were so unfortunate as to have been near enough to see him plainly had been killed by his fiery breath, which came rolling out from his great yawning throat. He did not seem to walk nor to fly, although he had what looked like wings and huge flat feet, but always moved along with a crawling motion most horribly swift.
Nothing was safe from this terrible monster. One by one the sheep and oxen belonging to the city were devoured by him, and when the people  had no more food to give him, he crawled towards the city, and his dreadful fiery breath warned them that he was coming closer and that they would soon be carried off, one by one, and devoured.
In their despair and terror, the king and all the people agreed to cast lots each day; and it was settled that the one on whom the lot fell should be put outside the gates to feed the monster, so that the rest might live in safety. This was done for many days, and the grief and suffering in that city was terrible to behold. But the darkest day of all was when the lot fell upon Cleodolinda, the king's only daughter. She was very beautiful, and the king loved her more than all else beside, so in his anguish he called his people together, and in a trembling voice, his grey head bowed with grief, he spoke to them:
"She is my only child—I cannot give her up. Take rather all my gold and jewels, even the half of my kingdom; only spare my daughter, the one treasure of my heart."
But the people were very angry, and would not listen to the king, for they too had lost their children, and it made them savage and cruel.
"We will not spare the princess," they growled in low threatening tones; "we have given up our own children, and why shouldst thou withhold thine? Didst thou not agree with us to cast the lots? Why shouldst thou make one law for us and another for thyself?"
And they threatened to burn down the palace and  kill both the king and Cleodolinda if she was not given up to them at once. Then the king saw there was no hope of deliverance, and he promised that in eight days the princess should be ready for the sacrifice. Those were eight sad days at the palace, for all was dark and hopeless there, and the only person who did not give way to despair was the Princess Cleodolinda herself. She spent her time trying to comfort her father, and told him she had no fear, but rather that she was glad to think she was to die to save his people.
So the fatal day arrived when the monster was to be fed, and the princess came out to meet the crowd stately and calm, dressed in her royal robes as befitted a king's daughter. And when she bade farewell to her father, she went forth alone, and the gates of the city were shut behind her.
Now it happened that at the very time that Cleodolinda went out to meet the dragon, and just as she heard the city gates clang heavily behind her, Saint George came riding past on his way to join his soldiers. His shining armour and great spear were the only bright things in that gloomy place; but the princess did not see him, for her eyes were blinded with tears, and even when he galloped up close to her she did not hear him, for the ground was soft and marshy, and his horse's hoofs made scarcely a sound as he rode past.
Slowly the princess walked along the desolate way towards the sullen grey lake, where the monster was waiting for his meal. The path was strewn with bones, and no grass grew for miles around, for  the fiery blast of the dragon's breath withered everything it passed over. Cleodolinda never dreamed that help was near, and started in amazement when she heard a kind voice speaking to her, and looking up, saw through her tears a young knight on horse-back, gazing at her with pitying eyes. She thought that he had the handsomest, kindest face she had ever seen, and the gentlest and most courteous manner, as he leaned towards her, and asked her why she wept, and wherefore she was wandering alone in this dismal place.
Cleodolinda told him in a few words the whole sad story, and pointed with trembling hand towards the distant marsh, where already a dark form might be seen crawling slowly out of the grey water.
"See, there he comes!" she cried, in sudden terror. "Ride fast, kind knight, and escape while there is time, for if the monster finds thee here, he will kill thee."
"And dost thou think I would ride off in safety, and leave thee to perish?" asked Saint George.
"Thou canst do nothing," answered the princess, wringing her hands; "for nought can prevail against this terrible dragon. Thou wilt but perish needlessly in trying to save me, so, I pray thee, fly while there is time."
"God forbid that I should act in so cowardly a manner," answered Saint George. "I will fight this hideous creature, and, by God's help and the strength of my good sword, I will conquer him and deliver thee."
And while he was still speaking, the air was filled  with a horrible choking smoke, and the dragon came swiftly towards them, half-crawling and half-flying, his eyes gleaming, and his mouth opened wide to devour them.
With a swift prayer for help, Saint George made the sign of the cross, and grasping his great spear firmly, spurred his horse and rode straight at the monster. The combat was a long and terrible one, and the princess, as she watched from behind a sheltering tree, trembled for the safety of the brave knight, and gave up all for lost.
But at last Saint George made a swift forward rush, and drove his spear right down the great throat of the monster, and out at the back of his head, pinning him securely to the ground. Then he called to the princess to give him her girdle, and this he tied to each end of the spear, so that it seemed like a great bridle, and with it Cleodolinda led the vanquished dragon back towards the city.
Inside the city gates all the people had been weeping and wailing over the fate of the princess, which they feared might any day be their own, and they dared not look out or open the gates until the monster had had time to carry off his victim. So their terror and dismay was great indeed when the news spread like wildfire that some one had seen the great monster come crawling towards the town, instead of returning to his home in the dismal swamp.
They all crowded, trembling with fear, around the watch-tower upon the walls, to see if the dragon was really on his way to attack the city; and when they saw the great dark mass moving slowly towards  them they thought that the end was come, for they could not see Saint George nor the princess, and did not know that she was leading the dragon a vanquished prisoner.
So it was all in vain for a long time that Saint George thundered at the city gates, and demanded that they should be opened. Even when the people saw that the princess was safe and that a knight was with her, while the monster lay quiet at their feet as if half-dead, they still hesitated to open the gates, so great was their terror and astonishment.
But when they were quite sure that the dragon was bound and could do them no harm, they threw open the gates, and every one crowded to see the wonderful sight, still half-doubting if it could be true, and looking with fear upon the great beast which the princess led by her girdle fastened to the spear of Saint George.
Then the king came in haste from his palace to meet his daughter, and never was a morning of sorrow turned into such a day of joy.
Saint George and the Princess Cleodolinda led the dragon into the market-place, followed by the wondering crowd; and there Saint George drew his sword and cut off the head of the hideous monster. Then were the people sure that they were indeed delivered from their great enemy for ever, and they burst forth into wild rejoicings. They would have given all they possessed to Saint George in their joy and gratitude; but he told them that the only reward he desired was that they should believe in the true God, and be baptized Christians. It was  not difficult to believe in the God who had helped Saint George to do this great deed, and very soon the king and the princess and all the people were baptized as Saint George desired.
Then the king presented the brave knight with great treasures of gold and jewels, but all these Saint George gave to the poor and went his way; keeping nought for himself but his own good sword and spear, ready to defend the right and protect the weak as he had served the princess in her need.
But when he returned to his own city he found that the emperor had written a proclamation against the Christians, and it was put up in all the market-places and upon the doors of the temples, and all who were Christians were hiding in terror, and dared not show themselves openly.
Then Saint George was filled with righteous anger, and tore down the proclamations in all the public places, and trampled them under foot. He was seized immediately by the guards and carried before the proconsul, who ordered him to be tortured and then put to death.
But nothing could shake the courage of this brave knight, and through all the tortures he bore himself as a gallant Christian should, and met his death with such bravery and calm joy that even his enemies were amazed at his courage.
And so through the many dark ages that followed, when the weak were oppressed and women needed a knight's strong arm to protect them, men remembered Saint George, and the very thought of him nerved their arms and made their courage firm. And  boys learned from him that it was a knightly thing to protect the weak, and to guard all maidens from harm; and that a pure heart, a firm trust in good and true courage could meet and overcome any monster, however terrible and strong.
And of all nations it befits us most that our men and boys should be brave and courteous; for Saint George is our own patron saint, the model of all that an English knight should be.
"I must go back to the North Wind,"
said the lad.
And away he went.
He walked and walked.
At last he came
to the North Wind's house.
"Good-day, North Wind," said the lad.
"Good-day, lad," said the North Wind.
"Thank you for coming to see me.
What do you want now?"
"I want my meal," said the lad.
"This cloth is not worth a penny."
"I have no meal," said the North Wind.
"But you may have this ram.
You have only to say,
'Ram, ram, make money!'
And he will make all the money you want."
"Thank you, North Wind," said he.
And he set off for home.
It was a long way.
So he stopped at the inn.
He wanted some money.
So he said to the ram,
"Ram, ram, make money."
And the ram did as it was bid.
The landlord saw the money.
"That is a fine ram," he said.
Soon the lad went to bed.
The landlord took the ram,
and he put another in its place.
Next morning the lad took the ram
and went home.
"Mother," he said,
"I have been to the North Wind.
He is a fine fellow.
He gave me this ram.
I have only to say,
'Ram, ram, make money.'
And he makes all the money I want."
"That may be true," said his mother.
"But let me see it.
Then I shall believe it."
"Ram, ram, make money,"
said the lad.
But not a penny did he make.
"I must go back to the North Wind,"
said the lad.
And off he went.
It was a long way.
He walked and walked.
At last he came to the North Wind's house.
"Good-day, North Wind," said the lad.
"Good-day, lad," said the North Wind.
"What do you want now?"
"I want my meal," said the lad.
"This ram is not worth a penny."
"I have no meal," said the North Wind.
"But I will give you this stick.
You have only to say,
'Stick, stick, lay on.'
And it will lay on till you say,
'Stick, stick, stop.' "
The lad took the stick.
"Thank you, North Wind," said he.
And he set off for home.
He stopped at the same inn.
After supper he shut his eyes
and began to snore.
The landlord saw the stick.
"That must be a fine stick," he said.
He thought the lad was asleep.
He reached for the stick.
Just then the lad cried out,
"Stick, stick, lay on."
So the stick laid on.
The landlord jumped over tables and chairs.
He yelled and he roared.
"Lad, lad, stop the stick," he cried.
"You shall have your cloth
and your ram again."
So the lad said,
"Stick, stick, stop."
He took the cloth and the ram
and the stick.
Then he set off for home.
So the North Wind gave the lad
the worth of his meal.
— Norse Folk Tale
Good-by, good-by to Summer!
For Summer's nearly done;
The garden smiling faintly,
Cool breezes in the sun:
Our Thrushes now are silent,
Our Swallows flown away,—
But Robin's here, in coat of brown,
With ruddy breast-knot gay.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
Robin singing sweetly
In the falling of the year.
Bright yellow, red, and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian Princes,
But soon they'll turn to Ghosts;
The scanty pears and apples
Hang russet on the bough,
It's Autumn, Autumn, Autumn late,
'Twill soon be Winter now.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And welaway! my Robin,
For pinching times are near.
The fireside for the Cricket,
The wheatstack for the Mouse,
When trembling night-winds whistle
And moan all round the house;
The frosty ways like iron,
The branches plumed with snow,
Alas! in Winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.
WEEK 34 |
A GOOD many years ago there lived in Italy a little boy whose name was Antonio Canova. He lived with his grandfather, for his own father was dead. His grandfather was a stonecutter, and he was very poor.
Antonio was a puny lad, and not strong enough to work. He did not care to play with the other boys of the town. But he liked to go with his grandfather to the stoneyard. While the old man was busy, cutting, and trimming the great blocks of stone, the lad would play among the chips. Sometimes he would make a little statue of soft clay; sometimes he would take hammer and chisel, and try to  cut a statue from a piece of rock. He showed so much skill that his grandfather was delighted.
"The boy will be a sculptor some day," he said.
Then when they went home in the evening, the grandmother would say, "What have you been doing to-day, my little sculptor?"
And she would take him upon her lap and sing to him, or tell him stories that filled his mind with pictures of wonderful and beautiful things. And the next day, when he went back to the stoneyard, he would try to make some of those pictures in stone or clay.
There lived in the same town a rich man who was called the Count. Sometimes the Count would have a grand dinner, and his rich friends from other towns would come to visit him. Then Antonio's grandfather would go up to the Count's house to help with the work in the kitchen; for he was a fine cook as well as a good stonecutter.
It happened one day that Antonio went with his grandfather to the Count's great house. Some people from the city were coming, and there was to be a grand feast. The boy could not cook, and he was not old enough to wait on the table; but he could wash the pans and kettles, and as he was smart and quick, he could help in many other ways.
 All went well until it was time to spread the table for dinner. Then there was a crash in the dining room, and a man rushed into the kitchen with some pieces of marble in his hands. He was pale, and trembling with fright.
"What shall I do? What shall I do?" he cried. "I have broken the statue that was to stand at the center of the table. I cannot make the table look pretty without the statue. What will the Count say?"
And now all the other servants were in trouble. Was the dinner to be a failure after all? For everything depended on having the table nicely arranged. The Count would be very angry.
"Ah, what shall we do?" they all asked.
Then little Antonio Canova left his pans and kettles, and went up to the man who had caused the trouble.
"If you had another statue, could you arrange the table?" he asked.
"Certainly," said the man; "that is, if the statue were of the right length and height."
"Will you let me try to make one?" asked Antonio. "Perhaps I can make something that will do."
The man laughed.
"Nonsense!" he cried. "Who are you, that you talk of making statues on an hour's notice?"
 "I am Antonio Canova," said the lad.
"Let the boy try what he can do," said the servants, who knew him.
And so, since nothing else could be done, the man allowed him to try.
On the kitchen table there was a large square lump of yellow butter. Two hundred pounds the lump weighed, and it had just come in, fresh and clean, from the dairy on the mountain. With a kitchen knife in his hand, Antonio began to cut and carve this butter. In a few minutes he had molded it into the shape of a crouching lion; and all the servants crowded around to see it.
"How beautiful!" they cried. "It is a great deal prettier than the statue that was broken."
When it was finished, the man carried it to its place.
"The table will be handsomer by half than I ever hoped to make it," he said.
When the Count and his friends came in to dinner, the first thing they saw was the yellow lion.
"What a beautiful work of art!" they cried. "None but a very great artist could ever carve such a figure; and how odd that he should choose to make it of butter!" And then they asked the Count to tell them the name of the artist.
"The servants crowded around to see it."
 "Truly, my friends," he said, "this is as much of a surprise to me as to you." And then he called to his head servant, and asked him where he had found so wonderful a statue.
"It was carved only an hour ago by a little boy in the kitchen," said the servant.
This made the Count's friends wonder still more; and the Count bade the servant call the boy into the room.
"My lad," he said, "you have done a piece of work of which the greatest artists would be proud. What is your name, and who is your teacher?"
"My name is Antonio Canova," said the boy, "and I have had no teacher but my grandfather the stonecutter."
By this time all the guests had crowded around Antonio. There were famous artists among them, and they knew that the lad was a genius. They could not say enough in praise of his work; and when at last they sat down at the table, nothing would please them but that Antonio should have a seat with them; and the dinner was made a feast in his honor.
The very next day the Count sent for Antonio to come and live with him. The best artists in the land were employed to teach him the art in which he had shown so much skill; but now, instead  of carving butter, he chiseled marble. In a few years, Antonio Canova became known as one of the greatest sculptors in the world.
T ARO and Take loved their birthdays the best of all the days in the year.
They had two of them. Most twins have only one birthday between them, but Japanese twins have two.
That is because all the boys in Japan celebrate their birthdays together on one day, and all the girls celebrate theirs together on another day.
So, you see, though they were twins, Taro and Take didn't have the same birthday at all.
Take's birthday came first. She knew days beforehand that it was coming, for every once in a while she would say to her Mother, "How many days is it now?" and her Mother always knew she meant, "How many days is it to my birthday?"
 One morning when she woke up, Take said, "Only six days more."
The next morning she said, "Only five days more." One morning she
jumped out of bed very early and said,
Taro didn't get up early that day. When he heard Take singing, "It's to-day," he just buried his nose under the bedclothes and pretended to be asleep!
He remembered Take's last birthday, and he remembered that boys seemed to be in the way that day. They weren't asked to play with the girls, and they wouldn't have done it anyway, because the girls spent the whole day playing with dolls! Taro didn't think much of dolls.
Before breakfast, her Father took Take out to the Kura. He reached up to the high shelf and brought down the big red box that held the dolls. It was as big as a trunk. Then he reached down another box and carried them both into the house.
Although it was so early in the morning,  the Mother had already put fresh flowers in the vase, in honor of Take's birthday.
The bedding had been put away, and on one side of the room there were five shelves, like steps against the wall. Take knew what they were for.
"Oh," said Take, "everything is all ready to begin! May I open the boxes right now?"
Her Mother said, "Yes." She even got down on her knees beside the boxes and  helped Take open them. They opened the red box first. It was full of dolls! A whole trunkful of dolls. Thirty-five of them!
The first doll Take took out was a very grand lady doll, dressed in stiff silk robes, embroidered with chrysanthemums.
"Here's the Empress," she cried; she set the Empress doll up against the trunk. Then she ran to get her dear everyday doll. She called her everyday doll "Morning Glory," and sometimes just "Glory" for short. Glory was still asleep in Take's bed.
"Why, you sleepy head!" Take said. "Don't you know you are going
to have company
She took Glory to the trunk and put her down on her knees before the Empress. "Make your bow," she said. Glory bowed so low that she fell over on her nose!
"Oh, my dear child!" said Take. "I must take more pains with you! Your manners are frightful! You will wear out your nose if you bow like that!"
 She reached into the box and carefully lifted out the Emperor doll. He was dressed in stiff silk, too. He sat up very straight against the trunk beside the Empress.
Take made Morning Glory bow to the Emperor, too. This time Glory didn't fall on her nose.
These dolls had belonged to Take's Grandmother. She had played with them on her birthdays, and then Take's Mother had played with them on her birthdays, and still they were not broken or torn; they had been so well cared for.
They were taken out only once in the  whole year, and that time was called the "Feast of Dolls."
Take's Mother had covered the five steps with a beautiful piece of silk. Take placed the Emperor and Empress in the middle of the top step. Then she ran back to the trunk to get more dolls.
There were girl dolls and boy dolls and lady dolls in beautiful dresses, and baby dolls in little kimonos, strapped to the backs of bigger dolls.
 Take took each one to the steps. She made each one bow very low before the Emperor and Empress before she put him in his own place. All the shelves were filled so full that one baby doll spilled over the edge and fell on the floor! Take picked her up and strapped her on Glory's back. "I know you won't let her fall," she said to Glory. Glory looked pleased and sat up very straight and responsible.
Then Take opened the other box. She  took out a little stove and some blue-and-white doll dishes and two tiny lacquered tables.
While she was taking out these things, her Father brought in a new box that she had never seen before. He put it down on the floor before the steps. Take was so busy she didn't see it at first. When she did, she shouted, "Oh, Father, is it for me?"
"Yes, it is for you," the Father answered.
"Oh, thank you, whatever it is!" said Take.
She flew to the box and untied the string. She lifted the cover and there was a beautiful big toy house, made almost like the house the Twins lived in! It had a porch and sliding screens, and a cunning cupboard with doll bedding in it. It even had an alcove with a tiny kakemono, and a little vase in it! There was a flower in the vase! There were little straw mats on the floor!
Take lifted the mats and slid the screens  back and forth. She put her little stove in the kitchen. She was too happy for words. She ran to her Father and threw herself on her knees before him and hugged his feet. "Thank you, ten thousand times, dear honored Father," she said.
When her own breakfast-time came, Take was very busy getting breakfast for the Emperor and Empress. She was so busy she couldn't stop. "It wouldn't be polite for me to have my breakfast before the  Emperor and Empress have theirs," she explained.
Her Mother smiled. "Very well," she said, "You may get their breakfast first; we must be polite, whatever happens."
So Take had Morning Glory place the tiny lacquered tables before the Emperor and Empress. She put some rice in the little bowls on the tables. She placed some toy chop-sticks on the tables, too. Then she made Morning Glory bow and crawl away from the august presence on her hands and knees! "It wouldn't be at all right to stay to see them eat," she said.
Just then Taro came in, rubbing his eyes. He was still sleepy.
"Oh, Taro," cried Take, "look at my new house!"
Taro didn't think much of dolls, but he liked that house just as much as Take did. When he saw the little stove with its play kettles, he said: "Why don't you have a real fire in it?"
"Do you think we could?" Take said.
 Of course they were never, never allowed to play with fire, but because it was Take's birthday the Mother said, "Just this once I will sit here beside you and you may have three little charcoal-embers from the tobacco-ban to put in the stove."
The tobacco-ban is a little metal box with a place for a pipe and tobacco. It always had a few pieces of burning charcoal in it so that the Father could light his pipe any time he wanted to. The Mother sat down beside the tobacco-ban.
She let Taro take a pair of tongs, like sugar-tongs. He put three pieces of charcoal in the tiny stove. Take put water in the kettle. Soon the water began to boil! Real steam came out of the spout.
"I can make real tea!" cried Take.
She got some tea leaves and put some in each tiny cup. Then she poured the boiling water into the cups. She put the cups of tea before the Emperor and Empress.
"Now you'd better have your own  breakfast," the Mother said. She put the fire out in the little stove and the Twins sat down before their tiny breakfast-tables.
While they were eating, Taro had a splendid idea. "I know what I'll do. I'll make you a little garden for your house!" he said.
"Oh, that will be beautiful!" cried Take,
The moment they had finished eating, they ran into the garden. Out by the well the maids were drawing water.
"I need some water, too," Taro said.
They let Taro draw a pail of water himself. Here is a picture of him doing it.
Then he found a box-cover—not very deep—and filled it with sand. He set a little bowl in the sand and filled it with the water, for a pond. Then he broke off little bits of branches and twigs and stuck them up in the sand for trees. He made a tiny mountain like the one in their garden and put a little bridge over the pond. He put bright pebbles around the pond. When it was all done, they put the garden down  beside the toy house. They put Glory in the garden, beside the tiny pond.
But a horrible accident happened! Glory fell over again, and this time she fell into the pond! At least her head did. Her legs  were too long to go in. She might have been drowned if Take hadn't picked her out in a hurry.
Just as Take was wiping Morning Glory's face, her Mother came in dressed for the street. She had Bot'Chan on her back. He was awake and smiling.
Take ran and squeezed his fat legs. "You are the best doll of all," she said.
"You take your doll, and I'll take mine," the Mother said, "and let us go for a walk."
Take had put on one of her very gayest kimonos that morning because it was her birthday, so she was all ready to go. Her Mother helped her strap Glory on her back and the two started down the street.
There were other mothers and other little girls with dolls on their backs in the street, too. They were all going to one place,—the Doll Shop! Each little girl had some money to buy a new doll.
Such chattering and laughing and talking you never heard! And such gay butterfly  little dresses you never saw! nor such happy smiling faces, either.
At the Doll Shop there were rows and rows of dolls, and swarms and swarms of little girls looking at them. Take saw a roly-poly baby doll, with a funny tuft of black hair on his head. "This is the one I want, if you please," she said to the shopkeeper. She gave him her money. He gave her the doll.
"Glory," she said over her shoulder, "this is your new little brother!" Glory seemed pleased to have a little brother, and Take promised that she should wear him on her back whenever she wanted to. Take bought a little doll for Bot'Chan, too, with her own money. It was a funny little doll without any legs. He was fat, and when any one knocked him over, he sat up again right away. She called him a "Daruma."
Bot'Chan seemed to like the Daruma. He put its head in his mouth at once and licked it.
Just then Take saw
She ran to speak to Take. "Won't you come into my house on your way home?" she asked.
"May I, Mother?" said Take.
Her Mother said, "Yes," so the little girls ran together to O Kiku San's house.
Other little girls,came, too, to see
"Come home with me and see my new house, all of you," Take said
when the little girls had looked at
So they marched in a gay procession to the little house in the garden. All the other girls' brothers had had a very lonesome day, but Taro had had fun all the afternoon with the little garden. He had made a little  well, and a kura to put in the garden. He made them out of boxes. The little girls looked at Take's dolls. They thought the doll-house the most beautiful toy they had ever seen, and when they saw the garden, you can't think how happy they were!
"We wish our brothers would make gardens like that for us," they said.
Taro felt proud and pleased to have them like it so much, but all he said was, "It is very polite of you to praise my poor work!"
Then the Mother brought out some sweet rice-cakes. The maids brought out tiny tables and set them around. Take brought a doll teapot and placed it with toy cups on her little table. Then she made real tea, and they had a party! For candy they had sugared beans and peas. They gave some of everything to the dolls. It was nearly time for supper when the little girls bowed to Take and her Mother, said "Sayonara" very politely, and went home.
Take sat up just as late as she wanted to that night. It was eight o'clock when she  went to bed. She hugged each one of the thirty-five dolls when she said good night to them.
"Sayonara, Sayonara," she said to each one;
Then she took her dear old Glory and went happily to bed.
O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the east:
Shine, be increased;
O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the west:
Wane, be at rest.
WEEK 34 |
 Over and over again the Sheriff of Nottingham tried to catch Robin Hood. Over and over again he failed. Each time he failed he grew more angry, till wicked anger filled all his heart, and he could think of nothing else.
At last he said to himself, "I will go to the King, and ask him to give me a great many soldiers, so that I can fight, Robin and his men, and kill them all."
King Richard had come back from the Holy Land, because, even far off there, he had heard of the wicked things Prince John was doing.
So one fine day the Sheriff of Nottingham set out for London to visit the King. It took him many days to reach London, for as there were no trains, he had to ride all  the way. He took a great many servants with him, and soldiers too, in case they should meet any robbers on the road.
Late one evening he arrived in London, very tired indeed with his long journey.
Next day, after he had rested a little, he put on his best clothes. He put a thick gold chain round his neck and a lovely red cloak over his shoulders. He looked very fine indeed. Then he set off to visit the King in his palace.
There he told all his tale—how Robin robbed the rich and haughty Norman nobles, helped the poor Saxons, and, above all, how he killed and ate the King's deer in Sherwood Forest.
"Why, and what shall I do?" said the King. "Are you not Sheriff? Are there no laws? If you cannot make people keep the laws or punish them when they break them, you are no good Sheriff. Go back to Nottingham, and if, when I come, I find that you have not kept good order, and acted justly, I will take away your office and give it to a better man."
 So the Sheriff returned home very sad indeed. Instead of giving him any help the King had been angry with him. What made him saddest was the thought of all the money he had spent in going to London. For the Sheriff of Nottingham was a greedy old man. He loved money almost as much as he hated Robin Hood.
All the long way home he kept thinking and thinking how he might get Robin into his power. At last he fell upon a plan.
He thought he would have a beautiful silver arrow made with a golden head. This arrow he would offer as a prize to the man who could shoot best. He knew Robin and his men would hear about this shooting-match, and would come to try to win the prize. He meant to have a great many soldiers ready, and, as soon as Robin and his men came into the town, the soldiers would seize them and put them into prison.
Long ago when people went to battle they had no guns or cannons. Instead, they fought with swords and spears, or bows and arrows. The English archers, as the men  who used bows and arrows were called, were the best in all the world. They could shoot further and straighter than any one else. And of all the English archers Robin Hood was the best. He could shoot further and straighter than any one in the whole world.
As soon as the Sheriff arrived home he sent for a man who made arrows. He told him to make the most beautiful arrow that had ever been seen, as he was going to have a grand shooting-match, and must have a very splendid prize.
Then he sent messengers into the towns and villages round to tell all the archers about it. Next he sent for the captain of his soldiers. He told him that he hoped to seize Robin Hood at the shooting-match, and that he must gather together as many soldiers as he could. "We must have two for every one of Robin Hood's men," he said. "There must be no mistake this time."
Everything was arranged and the day fixed.
Among Robin's men there was a brave  young man called David of Doncaster. He had not been very long with Robin, and had a sister who lived in Nottingham, and who was a servant in the Sheriff's house.
David often used to disguise himself and go into Nottingham to see his sister. One day she met him with a pale face. "David," she said, "you must not come here any more. Go, tell your master Robin Hood that the Sheriff means to kill him and all his men at the great shooting-match."
"What shooting-match?" asked David.
"Oh, have you not heard?" said his sister. "There is to be a great shooting-match next Tuesday. The prize is a silver arrow tipped with gold. But it is all a trick of the Sheriff's to get hold of Robin Hood. I heard him talking about it to the captain of the soldiers last night."
"Good-bye," said David, "I must go back to the forest to warn Robin as quickly as possible."
When he got back to the Green Wood he found that the news of the match had reached Robin. The men were all gathered  together talking it over, and already preparing their bows and arrows.
"With that stepped forth the brave young man,
David of Doncaster:
Master, he said, be ruled by me,
From the Green Wood we'll not stir;
To tell the truth, I'm well informed
This match it is a wile;
The Sheriff, I wiss, devises this,
Us archers to beguile."
"You talk like a coward," said Robin. "If you are afraid, stay home with the women. As for me, I intend to try for this prize." Robin was so brave, that it made him careless of danger, and often led him into doing foolish things.
David was hurt that Robin should call him a coward, so he turned away without another word.
But in a minute Robin was sorry for what he had said. "Ho there! David," he called out. "I didn't mean it, my lad. Come back and tell us what you have heard."
 When David had told them all he knew, they agreed that it would never do to walk straight into the trap which the Sheriff had prepared for them.
"Yet I should dearly like to go," said Robin.
"Well I don't see why we should not," said Little John. "Of course it would be very foolish to go as we are, dressed in Lincoln green. But why should we not all leave off our Lincoln green for one day, and dress ourselves each as differently as possible? No one would notice us then. We could go and come quite safely.
"One shall wear white, another red,
One yellow, another blue,
Thus in disguise, to the exercise
We'll gang, whate'er ensue."
"That is a very good plan," said Robin. "Do you not think so, David?" he added, laying a hand upon his shoulder, for he wanted to make David forget his unkind words.
"Why, yes, master, I think it will be very  good fun," replied David, laughing, for he was very good tempered as well as brave, and had quite forgiven Robin already. "May I come too?"
"Yes, lad," said Robin. "You shall come with me. For we must not go all together," he continued, turning to the men. "We must go in twos and threes, and mix with the other people, or the Sheriff will soon guess who we are in spite of our clothes."
So it was all settled. The men had a merry time dressing up and arranging what they were to wear. Early on Tuesday morning they set off in twos and threes, going to Nottingham by different roads. They were soon lost among the crowds, who were all making their way to the place where the match was to be. All sorts of people were hurrying along, some to try for the prize, others to look on. Men, women, and children, old and young, rich and poor, were there. Every one had a holiday, even the schoolgirls and boys, and dressed in their best, they were all crowding along towards Nottingham.
 From a window in his house the Sheriff kept looking and looking for Robin and his men, but no Lincoln green could he see. He was dreadfully disappointed. He kept saying to himself, "Surely he will come yet. Surely he will come."
The man who kept order and arranged everything about the match, and who was called the Master of the Lists, came to him and said, "Will you come now please, your honour, for it is time the match began? Every one is waiting for you and your lady."
"How many men have come to try for the prize?" asked the Sheriff.
"About eight hundred," replied the Master of the Lists.
"Is Robin Hood there, and any of his men, think you?"
"Nay," said the Master of the Lists, shaking his head, "not a man of his. There are many strangers, and a good number of King's foresters, but not a man in the Lincoln green of Robin Hood."
The Sheriff sighed. "He will surely come," he said. "Wait but a few minutes yet."
 So the Master of the Lists waited for a few minutes. Then he came again to the Sheriff, and said, "We must indeed begin now. The people grow impatient. There are so many men to try for the prize, that if we do not begin at once, we cannot finish to-day."
"I suppose we must begin," sighed the Sheriff. "But I thought he would surely come."
He gave his wife his arm, and they took the seats of honour prepared for them, just behind where the archers stood to shoot their arrows.
Then the match began. It was a fine sight. The open space where it took place was like a great plain. At one end were set up fifty targets for the men to shoot at. These were painted different colours. The very middle of the target was painted white. Then came a red ring, then a black one, and last a yellow one.
At the opposite end of the plain, or lists as it was called, stood the archers. They had to try to send their arrows right into  the middle of the target, and hit the white spot.
It was very exciting. All round, the people stood or sat, watching. Whenever any one hit the white, they cheered loudly. If any one missed the target altogether, they groaned. Those who missed the target were not allowed to shoot any more. The man who hit the white most often won the prize.
Robin and his men shot splendidly. Every time, Robin sent his arrow right into the very middle of the white part. His men sometimes hit the white, sometimes the red, but never got so far away from the middle of the target as the black or yellow.
"Some said, if Robin Hood was here,
And all his men to boot,
Sure none of them could pass these men,
So bravely they do shoot.
Ay, quoth the Sheriff, and scratched his head,
I thought he would have been here;
I thought he would, but though he's bold
He durst not now appear."
 Robin had just been shooting. He was standing very close to where the Sheriff and his wife were sitting, and heard what the Sheriff said. It made him quite angry to think that any one would believe that he and his men had been frightened away. He longed to tell the Sheriff there and then that Robin Hood was standing beside him. He made up his mind to win the prize, and to let the Sheriff know somehow or other that he had done so.
The shooting went on, and the people grew more and more excited.
"Some cried Blue jacket, another cried Brown,
And the third cried Brave Yellow,
But the fourth man said, Yon man in Red
In this place has no fellow."
The man in red was Robin Hood himself. The man they called Brave Yellow was no other than brave David of Doncaster, who had shot nearly as well as Robin Hood.
At last the shooting came to an end. Of course Robin had won the prize. The  people cheered loudly when he went up to the Sheriff's wife, who presented him with the arrow. She made a pretty little speech to him, and he thanked her politely, as he always did.
The Sheriff's wife, who presented him with the arrow
Then every one went home again. Robin and his men went back as they had come, by twos and threes, and by different roads, so no one suspected who they were, least of all the Sheriff.
That night the Sheriff's wife said to him, "What a nice-looking man that was who won the prize to-day. How well he shot too! I have never seen anything like it. Do you know, he reminded me very much of that pleasant young butcher you brought to see me some time ago."
"Eh! What!" said the Sheriff, "I hope not. I most sincerely hope not." The Sheriff had never dared to tell his wife that the pleasant butcher man was really Robin Hood.
When Robin and his men were all met again under the Green Wood Tree, they had a merry time. There was a grand supper waiting for them. Such laughing and talk-  ing there was; they had so many adventures to relate, such jokes to tell. The beautiful silver arrow was passed round, and every one admired it very much.
"Says Robin Hood, All my care is
How that yon Sheriff may
Know certainly that it was I
That bore his arrow away."
Then Little John said, "You took my advice about going to the match, perhaps you will let me give you a little more."
"Speak on, speak on, said Robin Hood,
Thy wit's both quick and sound;
I know no man amongst us can
For wit like thee be found."
"I advise you then," said Little John, "to write a letter to the Sheriff. Tell him that we were all there, and that you were the man in red who carried off the prize. Then when you have written the letter, send it to Nottingham."
"Very good advice," replied Robin; "but how are we going to send it? Our mes-  senger could not get out of the town before the Sheriff had read the letter. He would certainly send after him to seize him and shut him up in prison. I cannot allow any of my men to put himself in danger for a mere whim of mine."
In those days, you see, there were no posts, or postmen. If you wanted to send a letter to any one, you had to pay a special messenger to carry it for you. It cost a great deal, so people hardly ever wrote letters at all. Indeed, very many people could neither read nor write them.
"Pugh!" said Little John, in answer to Robin, "it is easy enough. Write your letter, address it to the Sheriff, and I will stick it on to the end of an arrow, and shoot it into the town."
"Bravo! Bravo!" shouted every one. "Hurrah for Little John, clever Little John."
"The project it was well performed:
The Sheriff the letter had,
Which, when he read, he scratched his head,
And raved like one that's mad."
 JUST out of curiosity, and because he possesses what is called the wandering foot, which means that he delights to roam about, Peter Rabbit had run over to the bank of the Big River. There were plenty of bushes, clumps of tall grass, weeds and tangles of vines along the bank of the Big River, so that Peter felt quite safe there. He liked to sit gazing out over the water and wonder where it all came from and where it was going and what kept it moving.
He was doing this very thing on this particular morning when he happened to glance up in the blue, blue sky. There he saw a broad-winged bird sailing in wide, graceful circles. Instantly Peter crouched a little lower in his hiding-place, for he knew this for a member of the Hawk family and Peter has learned by experience that the only way to keep perfectly safe when one of these hook-clawed, hook-billed birds is about is to keep out of sight.
So now he crouched very close to the ground and kept his eyes fixed on the big bird sailing so  gracefully high up in the blue, blue sky over the Big River. Suddenly the stranger paused in his flight and for a moment appeared to remain in one place, his great wings beating rapidly to hold him there. Then those wings were closed and with a rush he shot down straight for the water, disappearing with a great splash. Instantly Peter sat up to his full height that he might see better.
"It's Plunger the Osprey fishing, and I've nothing to fear from him," he cried happily.
Out of the water, his great wings flapping, rose Plunger. Peter looked eagerly to see if he had caught a fish, but there was nothing in Plunger's great, curved claws. Either that fish had been too deep or had seen Plunger and darted away just in the nick of time. Peter had a splendid view of Plunger. He was just a little bigger than Redtail the Hawk. Above he was dark brown, his head and neck marked with white. His tail was grayish, crossed by several narrow dark bands and tipped with white. His under parts were white with some light brown spots on his breast. Peter could see clearly the great, curved claws which are Plunger's fishhooks.
Up, up, up he rose, going round and round in a spiral. When he was well up in the blue, blue sky, he began to sail again in wide circles as when Peter had first seen him. It wasn't long  before he again paused and then shot down towards the water. This time he abruptly spread his great wings just before reaching the water so that he no more than wet his feet. Once more a fish had escaped him. But Plunger seemed not in the least discouraged. He is a true fisherman and every true fisherman possesses patience. Up again he spiraled until he was so high that Peter wondered how he could possibly see a fish so far below. You see, Peter didn't know that it is easier to see down into the water from high above it than from close to it. Then, too, there are no more wonderful eyes than those possessed by the members of the Hawk family. And Plunger the Osprey is a Hawk, usually called Fish Hawk.
A third time Plunger shot down and this time, as in his first attempt, he struck the water with a great splash and disappeared. In an instant he reappeared, shaking the water from him in a silver spray and flapping heavily. This time Peter could see a great shining fish in his claws. It was heavy, as Peter could tell by the way in which Plunger flew. He headed towards a tall tree on the other bank of the Big River, there to enjoy his breakfast. He was not more than halfway there when Peter was startled by a harsh scream.
 He looked up to see a great bird, with wonderful broad wings, swinging in short circles about Plunger. His body and wings were dark brown, and his head was snowy white, as was his tail. His great hooked beak was yellow and his legs were yellow. Peter knew in an instant who it was. There could be no mistake. It was King Eagle, commonly known as Bald Head, though his head isn't bald at all.
The bald or whiteheaded Eagle. His head, neck and tail are snowy white.
PLUNGER THE OSPREY
One of our largest hawks, brown above and white beneath.
Peter's eyes looked as if they would pop out of his head, for it was quite plain to him that King Eagle was after Plunger, and Peter didn't understand this at all. You see, he didn't understand what King Eagle was screaming. But Plunger did. King Eagle was screaming, "Drop that fish! Drop that fish!"
Plunger didn't intend to drop that fish if he could help himself. It was his fish. Hadn't he caught it himself? He didn't intend to give it up to any robber of the air, even though that robber was King Eagle himself, unless he was actually forced to. So Plunger began to dodge and twist and turn in the air, all the time mounting higher and higher, and all the time screaming harshly, "Robber! Thief! I won't drop this fish! It's mine! It's mine!"
Now the fish was heavy, so of course Plunger couldn't fly as easily and swiftly as if he were  carrying nothing. Up, up he went, but all the time King Eagle went up with him, circling round him, screaming harshly, and threatening to strike him with those great, cruel, curved claws. Peter watched them, so excited that he fairly danced. "O, I do hope Plunger will get away from that big robber," cried Peter. "He may be king of the air, but he is a robber just the same."
Plunger and King Eagle were now high in the air above the Big River. Suddenly King Eagle swung above Plunger and for an instant seemed to hold himself still there, just as Plunger had done before he had shot down into the water after that fish. There was a still harsher note in King Eagle's scream. If Peter had been near enough he would have seen a look of anger and determination in King Eagle's fierce, yellow eyes. Plunger saw it and knew what it meant. He knew that King Eagle would stand for no more fooling. With a cry of bitter disappointment and anger he let go of the big fish.
Down, down, dropped the fish, shining in the sun like a bar of silver. King Eagle's wings half closed and he shot down like a thunderbolt. Just before the fish reached the water King Eagle struck it with his great claws, checked himself by spreading his broad wings and tail, and then in triumph flew over to the very tree towards which  Plunger had started when he had caught the fish. There he Hisurely made his breakfast, apparently enjoying it as much as if he had come by it honestly.
As for poor Plunger, he shook himself, screamed angrily once or twice, then appeared to think that it was wisest to make the best of a bad matter and that there were more fish where that one had come from, for he once more began to sail in circles over the Big River, searching for a fish near the surface. Peter watched him until he saw him catch another fish and fly away with it in triumph. King Eagle watched him, too, but having had a good breakfast he was quite willing to let Plunger enjoy his catch in peace.
Late that afternoon Peter visited the Old Orchard, for he just had to tell Jenny Wren all about what he had seen that morning.
"King Eagle is king simply because he is so big and fierce and strong," sputtered Jenny. "He isn't kingly in his habits, not the least bit. He never hesitates to rob those smaller than himself, just as you saw him rob Plunger. He is very fond of fish, and once in a while he catches one for himself when Plunger isn't around to be robbed, but he isn't a very good fisherman, and he isn't the least bit fussy about his fish. Plunger eats only fresh fish which he catches himself, but King Eagle will eat dead fish which he finds on the  shore. He doesn't seem to care how long they have been dead either."
"Doesn't he eat anything but fish?" asked Peter innocently.
"Well," retorted Jenny Wren, her eyes twinkling, "I wouldn't advise you to run across the Green Meadows in sight of King Eagle. I am told he is very fond of Rabbit. In fact he is very fond of fresh meat of any kind. He even catches the babies of Lightfoot the Deer when he gets a chance. He is so swift of wing that even the members of the Duck family fear him, for he is especially fond of fat Duck. Even Honker the Goose is not safe from him. King he may be, but he rules only through fear. He is a white-headed old robber. The best thing I can say of him is that he takes a mate for life and is loyal and true to her as long as she lives, and that is a great many years. By the way, Peter, did you know that she is bigger than he is, and that the young during the first year after leaving their nest, are bigger than their parents and do not have white heads? By the time they get white heads they are the same size as their parents."
"That's queer and its hard to believe," said Peter.
"It is queer, but it is true just the same, whether you believe it or not," retorted Jenny Wren, and whisked out of sight into her home.
My bed is like a little boat;
Nurse helps me in when I embark;
She girds me in my sailor's coat
And starts me in the dark.
At night I go on board and say
"Good night" to all my friends on shore;
I shut my eyes and sail away
And see and hear no more.
And sometimes things to bed I take,
As prudent sailors have to do;
Perhaps a slice of wedding-cake,
Perhaps a toy or two.
All night across the dark we steer:
But when the day returns at last,
Safe in my room beside the pier,
I find my vessel fast.
WEEK 34 |
HORACE GREELEY was the son of a poor farmer. He was always fond of books. He learned to read almost as soon as he could talk. He could read easy books when he was three years old. When he was four, he could read any book that he could get.
He went to an old-fashioned school. Twice a day all the children stood up to spell. They were in two classes. Little Horace was in the class with the grown-up young people. He was the best speller in the class. It was funny to see the little midget at the head of this class of older people.
 But he was only a little boy in his feelings. If he missed a word, he would cry. The one that spelled a word that he missed would have a right to take the head of the class. Sometimes when he missed, the big boys would not take the head. They did not like to make the little fellow cry. He was the pet of all the school.
People in that day were fond of spelling. They used to hold meetings at night to spell. They called these "spelling schools."
At a spelling school two captains were picked out. These chose their spellers. Then they tried to see which side could beat the other at spelling.
Little Horace was always chosen first. The side that got him got the best speller in the school. Sometimes the little fellow would go to sleep. When it came his turn to spell, somebody would wake him up. He would rub his eyes, and spell the word. He would spell it right, too.
When he was four or five years old, he would lie under a tree, and read. He would lie there, and forget all about his dinner or his supper. He would not move until somebody stumbled over him or called him.
People had not found out how to burn kerosene oil in lamps then. They used candles. But poor people like the Greeleys could not afford to burn  many candles. Horace gathered pine knots to read by at night.
He would light a pine knot. Then he would throw it on top of the large log at the back of the fire. This would make a bright flickering light.
Horace would lay all the books he wanted on the hearth. Then he would lie down by them. His head was toward the fire. His feet were drawn up out of the way.
The first thing that he did was to study all his lessons for the next day. Then he would read other books. He never seemed to know when anybody came or went. He kept on with his reading.
 His father did not want him to read too late. He was afraid that he would hurt his eyes. And he wanted to have him get up early in the morning to help with the work. So when nine o'clock came, he would call, "Horace, Horace, Horace!" But it took many callings to rouse him.
When he got to bed, he would say his lessons over to his brother. He would tell his brother what he had been reading. But his brother would fall asleep while Horace was talking.
Horace liked to read better than he liked to work. But when he had a task to do, he did it faithfully. His brother would say, "Let us go fishing." But Horace would answer, "Let us get our work done first."
Horace Greeley's father grew poorer and poorer. When Horace was ten years old, his land was sold. The family were now very poor. They moved from New Hampshire. They settled in Vermont. They lived in a poor little cabin.
Horace had to work hard like all the rest of the family. But he borrowed all the books he could get. Sometimes he walked seven miles to borrow a book.
A rich man who lived near the Greeleys used to lend books to Horace. Horace had grown tall. His hair was white. He was poorly dressed. He was a strange-looking boy.
 One day he went to the house of the rich man to borrow books. Someone said to the owner of the house, "Do you lend books to such a fellow as that?"
But the gentleman said, "That boy will be a great man some day."
This made all the company laugh. It seemed funny that anybody should think of this poor boy becoming a great man. But it came true. The poor white-headed boy came to be a great man.
Horace Greeley learned all that he could learn in the
country schools. When he was thirteen, one teacher said
"Mr. Greeley, Horace knows more than I do. It is not of any use to send him to school any more."
HORACE GREELEY had always wanted to be a printer. He liked books and papers. He thought it would be a fine thing to learn to make them.
One day he heard that the newspaper at East Poultney wanted a boy to learn the printer's trade. He walked many long miles to see about it. He went to see Mr. Bliss. Mr. Bliss was one of the owners of the paper. Horace found him working in his garden.
 Mr. Bliss looked up. He saw a big boy coming toward him. The boy had on a white felt hat with a narrow brim. It looked like a half-peck measure. His hair was white. His trousers were too short for him. All his clothes were coarse and poor. He was such a strange-looking boy, that Mr. Bliss wanted to laugh.
"I heard that you wanted a boy," Horace said.
"Do you want to learn to print?" Mr. Bliss said.
"Yes," said Horace.
"But a printer ought to know a good many things," said Mr. Bliss. "Have you been to school much?"
"No," said Horace. "I have not had much chance at school. But I have read some."
"What have you read?" asked Mr. Bliss.
"Well, I have read some history, and some travels, and a little of everything."
Mr. Bliss had examined a great many schoolteachers. He liked to puzzle teachers with hard questions. He thought he would try Horace with these. But the gawky boy answered them all. This tow-headed boy seemed to know everything.
Mr. Bliss took a piece of paper from his pocket. He wrote on it, "Guess we'd better try him."
He gave this paper to Horace, and told him to  take it to the printing office. Horace, with his little white hat and strange ways, went into the printing office. The boys in the office laughed at him. But the foreman said he would try him.
That night the boys in the office said to Mr. Bliss, "You are not going to take that towhead, are you?"
Mr. Bliss said, "There is something in that towhead. You boys will find it out soon."
Greeley setting Type
A few days after this, Horace came to East Poultney to begin his work. He carried a little bundle of clothes tied up in a handkerchief.
The fore-man showed him how to begin. From that time he did not once look around. All day he worked at his type. He learned more in a day than some boys do in a month.
Day after day he worked, and said nothing. The other boys joked him. But he did not seem  to hear them. He only kept on at his work. They threw type at him. But he did not look up.
The largest boy in the office thought he could find a way to tease him. One day he said that Horace's hair was too white. He went and got the ink ball. He stained Horace's hair black in four places. This ink stain would not wash out. But Horace did not once look up.
After that, the boys did not try to tease him any more. They all liked the good-hearted Horace. And everybody in the town wondered that the boy knew so much.
Horace's father had moved away to Pennsylvania. Horace sent him all the money he could spare. He soon became a good printer. He started a paper of his own. He became a famous newspaper man.
O NCE upon a time a king had a son named Prince Wicked. He was fierce and cruel, and he spoke to nobody without abuse, or blows. Like grit in the eye, was Prince Wicked to every one, both in the palace and out of it.
His people said to one another, "If he acts this way while he is a prince, how will he act when he is king?"
One day when the prince was swimming in the river, suddenly a great storm came on, and it grew very dark.
In the darkness the servants who were with the prince swam from him, saying to themselves, "Let us leave him alone in the river, and he may drown."
When they reached the shore, some of the servants who had not gone into the river said, "Where is Prince Wicked?"
"Isn't he here?" they asked. "Perhaps he came out of the river in the darkness and went home." Then the servants all went back to the palace.
 The king asked where his son was, and again the servants said: "Isn't he here, O King? A great storm came on soon after we went into the water. It grew very dark. When we came out of the water the prince was not with us."
At once the king had the gates thrown open. He and all his men searched up and down the banks of the river for the missing prince. But no trace of him could be found.
In the darkness the prince had been swept down the river. He was crying for fear he would drown when he came across a log. He climbed upon the log, and floated farther down the river.
When the great storm arose, the water rushed into the homes of a Rat and a Snake who lived on the river bank. The Rat and the Snake swam out into the river and found the same log the prince had found. The Snake climbed upon one end of the log, and the Rat climbed upon the other.
On the river's bank a cottonwood-tree grew, and a young Parrot lived in its branches. The storm pulled up this tree, and it fell into the river. The heavy rain beat down the Parrot when it tried to fly, and it could not go far. Looking down it saw the log and flew down to rest. Now there were four on the log floating down stream together.
Just around the bend in the river a certain poor man had built himself a hut. As he walked to and fro late at night  listening to the storm, he heard the loud cries of the prince. The poor man said to himself: "I must get that man out of the water. I must save his life." So he shouted: "I will save you! I will save you!" as he swam out in the river.
Soon he reached the log, and pushing it by one end, he soon pushed it into the bank. The prince jumped up and down, he was so glad to be safe and sound on dry land.
Then the poor man saw the Snake, the Rat, and the Parrot, and carried them to his hut. He built a fire, putting the animals near it so they could get dry. He took care of them first, because they were the weaker, and afterwards he looked after the comfort of the prince.
 Then the poor man brought food and set it before them, looking after the animals first and the prince afterwards. This made the young prince angry, and he said to himself: "This poor man does not treat me like a prince. He takes care of the animals before taking care of me." Then the prince began to hate the poor man.
A few days later, when the prince, and the Snake, the Rat, and the Parrot were rested, and the storm was all over, the Snake said good-by to the poor man with these words:  "Father, you have been very kind to me. I know where there is some buried gold. If ever you want gold, you have only to come to my home and call, 'Snake!' and I will show you the buried gold. It shall all be yours."
Next the Rat said good-by to the poor man. "If ever you want money," said the Rat, "come to my home, and call out, 'Rat!' and I will show you where a great deal of money is buried near my home. It shall all be yours."
Then the Parrot came, saying: "Father, silver and gold have I none, but if you ever want choice rice, come to where I live and call, 'Parrot!' and I will call all my family and friends together, and we will gather the choicest rice in the fields for you."
Last came the prince. In his heart he hated the poor man who had saved his life. But he pretended to be as thankful as the animals had been, saying, "Come to me when I am king, and I will give you great riches." So saying, he went away.
Not long after this the prince's father died, and Prince Wicked was made king. He was then very rich.
By and by the poor man said to himself: "Each of the four whose lives I saved made a promise to me. I will see if they will keep their promises."
 First of all he went to the Snake, and standing near his hole, the poor man called out, "Snake!"
At once the Snake darted forth, and with every mark of respect he said: "Father, in this place there is much gold. Dig it up and take it all."
"Very well," said the poor man. "When I need it, I will not forget."
After visiting for a while, the poor man said good-by to the Snake, and went to where the Rat lived, calling out, "Rat!"
The Rat came at once, and did as the Snake had done, showing the poor man where the money was buried.
"When I need it, I will come for it," said the poor man.
Going next to the Parrot, he called out, "Parrot!" and the bird flew down from the tree-top as soon as he heard the call.
"O Father," said the Parrot, "shall I call together all my family and friends to gather choice rice for you?"
The poor man, seeing that the Parrot was willing and ready to keep his promise, said: "I do not need rice now. If ever I do, I will not forget your offer."
Last of all, the poor man went into the city where the king lived. The king, seated on his great white elephant,  was riding through the city. The king saw the poor man, and said to himself: "That poor man has come to ask me for the great riches I promised to give him. I must have his head cut off before he can tell the people how he saved my life when I was the prince."
So the king called his servants to him and said: "You see that poor man over there? Seize him and bind him, beat him at every corner of the street as you march him out of the city, and then chop off his head."
The servants had to obey their king. So they seized and bound the poor man. They beat him at every corner of the street. The poor man did not cry out, but he said, over and over again, "It is better to save poor, weak animals than to save a prince."
At last some wise men among the crowds along the street asked the poor man what prince he had saved. Then the poor man told the whole story, ending with the words, "By saving your king, I brought all this pain upon myself."
The wise men and all the rest of the crowd cried out: "This poor man saved the life of our king, and now the king has ordered him to be killed. How can we be sure that he will not have any, or all, of us killed? Let us kill him." And in their anger they rushed from every side upon  the king as he rode on his elephant, and with arrows and stones they killed him then and there.
Then they made the poor man king, and set him to rule over them.
The poor man ruled his people well. One day he decided once more to try the Snake, the Rat, and the Parrot. So, followed by many servants, the king went to where the Snake lived.
At the call of "Snake!" out came the Snake from his hole saying, "Here, O King, is your treasure; take it."
"I will," said the king. "And I want you to come with me."
Then the king had his servants dig up the gold.
Going to where the Rat lived, the king called, "Rat!" Out came the Rat, and bowing low to the king, the Rat said, "Take all the money buried here and have your servants carry it away."
"I will," said the king, and he asked the Rat to go with him and the Snake.
Then the king went to where the Parrot lived, and called, "Parrot!" The Parrot flew down to the king's feet and said, "O King, shall I and my family and my friends gather choice rice for you?"
 "Not now, not until rice is needed," said the king. "Will you come with us?" The Parrot was glad to join them.
So with the gold, and the money, and with the Snake, the Rat, and the Parrot as well, the king went back to the city.
The king had the gold and the money hidden away in the palace. He had a tube of gold made for the Snake to live  in. He had a glass box made for the Rat's home, and a cage of gold for the Parrot. Each had the food he liked best of all to eat every day, and so these four lived happily all their lives.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star;
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky!
When the blazing sun is set,
And the grass with dew is wet,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye
Till the sun is in the sky.
Then if I were in the dark,
I would thank you for your spark;
I could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.