Text of Plan #426
  WEEK 5  

  Monday  


Lawton B. Evans

De Soto Discovers the Mississippi

HERNANDO DE SOTO had been with Pizarro in Peru, and had seen there the temples all plated with gold. He was eager for conquests and wealth of his own, and called for volunteers to follow him into the unexplored lands which lay northward. Hundreds of warriors flocked to his standard, thirsting for gold and adventure. It was always so with the Spaniards of those days!

In May, 1539, De Soto, with six or seven hundred followers, landed at Tampa, in Florida. He carried blood-hounds to hunt the Indians and chains to fetter them. A drove of hogs was brought along for fresh meat. The men were provided with horses, fire-arms, cannon, and steel armor. It was a gay and cruel band, bent on war and on finding gold.

They had not gone far before out of the forests [19] there stepped a white man, named Juan Ortiz, who had been captive among the Indians for ten years. He knew the Indian language well, and joined the adventurers as guide and interpreter.

The band marched northward, everywhere robbing the villages of food, and terrifying the Indians. A year passed, and there was no gold. Fear alone made the Indians meet them with peace, but this was repaid by the Spaniards with many brutal deeds. At last they came to the banks of the Savannah River, where they were met by a beautiful Indian Princess. As they neared the village, she came out to meet them and welcome them, hoping thus to make friends with them. She was borne on a litter by four of her subjects. She alighted before De Soto, and made signs of peace and friendship. Taking a double string of pearls, which she wore, she hung it around the neck of De Soto and bade him follow her into the village.

Here the party rested for awhile, entertained by the Princess and her people. But De Soto ill repaid her kindness. On leaving, he and his men robbed the village of all the valuables they could find, and took the Princess captive. They made her follow them into the wilderness. But De Soto gained little by this cruelty, for, after a few days' [20] marching, the Princess escaped, taking with her a large box of pearls, which De Soto had prized very highly.

They now marched westward and then southward, until they came to the town of Mavila, where Mobile, Alabama, now stands. The Indian Chief met De Soto with a great show of friendship, and begged him and a few of his soldiers to enter the palisade which protected the village. No sooner had they done so than the Chief shouted a word of insult and ran into one of the houses. In a moment a cloud of arrows swept from the houses, and many of the Spaniards fell dead. Only De Soto and a few of them escaped. Enraged by this treatment, the Spaniards assaulted the town, and a terrible battle followed, lasting nine hours. In the end the Spaniards won, but they lost many men, and nearly all of their property was destroyed. The town was burned and hosts of Indians killed, but De Soto could ill afford to lose anything more, for his men were few and the natives were many.

A year and over had now passed, and the adventurers were tired of their journey. They had found no gold, but had experienced only hardship and battle and danger. They clamored to go home, but De Soto would not hear of it. He made [21] them again take up their journey northward and westward.

It was now a strange-looking army. The uniforms with which they had started had worn out, and were replaced by skins, and mats made of rushes and bark. Their hair and beards had grown until they looked like wild men. All the hogs had long since been eaten, or had died on the march. The Indians, forced to go along and carry the baggage, often escaped at night, taking with them or destroying before they left whatever they could. The remaining horses were gaunt and haggard. There was no longer any medicine, and but little ammunition for the guns. These men were sick at heart and sorely discouraged.

Onward they trudged, day by day, avoiding the Indians as much as they could. Two years passed, and again it was May. One morning they marched out of the thick undergrowth, and stood on the banks of a great river. It was the Mississippi, the Father of Waters, gazed upon for the first time by the eyes of a white man. It was a noble and imposing sight, as the vast volume of water rolled majestically before them on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Little, however, did De Soto care for the majesty or beauty of this river. In his heart still [22] burned the desire for gold. He cried to his men: "Let us hasten and build boats that we may cross. It was a hard task for his enfeebled followers, but they undertook the labor, that they and their few horses might get to the other side. Once over, they began the fruitless search, but always with the same result.

For another year they wandered over the country, west of the Mississippi. Sometimes they had to fight the Indians, always losing a few men and shortening their ammunition supply. Sometimes they were kindly treated, and rested in the villages. At one place the Indians thought De Soto was a god, and brought to him the sick to be healed and the blind to be cured. They were sorely disappointed at the result.

De Soto was now weary, emaciated and ill. He had at last lost his dreams, and the time had come for him to die. He had caught a fever from camping in a swampy place, and he knew his final hours were at hand. Calling his men around him, he begged their forgiveness for the perils and suffering he had made them endure, and appointed one among them to be his successor. The next day he died, and was buried near the camp.

His followers, however, feared the Indians would attack them, should they discover that De Soto [23] was dead, or find his body. For all along he had pretended that he was immortal and could neither die nor be slain. Therefore, at night, his body was taken up, wrapped in clothes filled with sand and stones, and carried to the middle of the river, where it was dropped into the keeping of the mighty current he had discovered.

What was left of the band of adventurers fashioned a few boats of rough material, and embarked on the river to make their way out of the wilderness. For many days and weeks they sailed and toiled, until at last a ragged remnant reached a settlement in Mexico, where they told the sad story of their wanderings and misfortunes.

 



Clara Dillingham Pierson

The Young Robin Who Was Afraid To Fly

[Illustration]

[61]

D URING the days when the four beautiful green-blue eggs lay in the nest, Mrs. Robin stayed quite closely at home. She said it was a very good place, for she could keep her eggs warm and still see all that was happening. The rail-end on which they had built was on the meadow side of the fence, over the tallest grasses and the graceful stalks of golden-rod. Here the Garter Snake drew his shining body through the tangled green, and here the Tree Frog often came for a quiet nap.

Just outside the fence the milkweeds grew, with every broad, pale green leaf slanting upward in their spring style. [62] Here the Milkweed Caterpillars fed, and here, too, when the great balls of tiny dull pink blossoms dangled from the stalks, the Milkweed Butterflies hung all day long. All the teams from the farmhouse passed along the quiet, grass-grown road, and those which were going to the farm as well. When Mrs. Robin saw a team coming, she always settled herself more deeply into her nest, so that not one of her brick-red breast feathers showed. Then she sat very still, only turning her head enough to watch the team as it came near, passed, and went out of sight down the road. Sometimes she did not even have to turn her head, for if she happened to be facing the road, she could with one eye watch the team come near, and with the other watch it go away. No bird, you know, ever has to look at anything with both eyes at once.

After the young Robins had outgrown their shells and broken and thrown them [63] off, they were naked and red and blind. They lay in a heap in the bottom of the nest, and became so tangled that nobody but a bird could tell which was which. If they heard their father or their mother flying toward them, they would stretch up their necks and open their mouths. Then each would have some food poked down his throat, and would lie still until another mouthful was brought to him.

When they got their eyes open and began to grow more down, they were good little Robins and did exactly as they were told. It was easy to be good then, for they were not strong enough to want to go elsewhere, and they had all they wanted to eat. At night their mother sat in the nest and covered them with her soft feathers. When it rained she also did this. She was a kind and very hard-working mother. Mr. Robin worked quite as hard as she, and was exceedingly proud of his family.

[64] But when their feathers began to grow, and each young Robin's sharp quills pricked his brothers and sisters if they pushed against him, then it was not so easy to be good. Four growing children in one little round bed sometimes found themselves rather crowded. One night Mrs. Robin said to her husband: "I am all tired out. I work as long as daylight lasts getting food for those children, and I cannot be here enough to teach them anything."

"Then they must learn to work for themselves," said Mr. Robin decidedly. "They are surely old enough."

"Why, they are just babies!" exclaimed his wife. "They have hardly any tails yet."

"They don't need tails to eat with," said he, "and they may as well begin now. I will not have you get so tired for this one brood."

Mrs. Robin said nothing more. In- [65] deed, there was nothing more to be said, for she knew perfectly well that her children would not eat with their tails if they had them. She loved her babies so that she almost disliked to see them grow up, yet she knew it was right for them to leave the nest. They were so large that they spread out over the edges of it already, and they must be taught to take care of themselves before it was time for her to rear her second brood.

The next morning all four children were made to hop out on to the rail. Their legs were not very strong and their toes sprawled weakly around. Sometimes they lurched and almost fell. Before leaving the nest they had felt big and very important; now they suddenly felt small and young and helpless. Once in a while one of them would hop feebly along the rail for a few steps. Then he would chirp in a frightened way, let his head settle down over his speckled breast, [66] slide his eyelids over his eyes, and wait for more food to be brought to him.

Whenever a team went by, the oldest child shut his eyes. He thought they couldn't see him if he did that. The other children kept theirs open and watched to see what happened. Their father and mother had told them to watch, but the timid young Robin always shut his eyes in spite of that.

"We shall have trouble with him," said Mrs. Robin, "but he must be made to do as he is told, even if he is afraid." She shut her bill very tightly as she spoke, and Mr. Robin knew that he could safely trust the bringing-up of his timid son to her.

Mrs. Robin talked and talked to him, and still he shut his eyes every time that he was frightened. "I can't keep them open," he would say, "because when I am frightened I am always afraid, and I can't be brave when I am afraid."

[67] "That is just when you must be brave," said his mother. "There is no use in being brave when there is nothing to fear, and it is a great deal braver to be brave when you are frightened than to be brave when you are not." You can see that she was a very wise Robin and a good mother. It would have been dreadful for her to let him grow up a coward.

At last the time came when the young birds were to fly to the ground and hop across the road. Both their father and their mother were there to show them how. "You must let go of the rail," they said. "You will never fly in the world unless you let go of the rail."

"Three of the children fluttered and lurched and flew down. The timid young Robin would not try it. His father ordered and his mother coaxed, yet he only clung more closely to his rail and said, "I can't! I'm afraid!"

At last his mother said: "Very well. [68] You shall stay there as long as you wish, but we cannot stay with you."

Then she chirped to her husband, and they and the three brave children went across the road, talking as they went. "Careful!" she would say. "Now another hop! That was fine! Now another!" And the father fluttered around and said: "Good! Good! You'll be grown-up before you know it." When they were across, the parents hunted food and fed their three brave children, tucking the mouthfuls far into their wide-open bills.

The timid little Robin on the fence felt very, very lonely. He was hungry, too. Whenever he saw his mother pick up a mouthful of food, he chirped loudly: "Me! Me! Me!" for he wanted her to bring it to him. She paid no attention to him for a long time. Then she called: "Do you think you can fly? Do you think you can fly? Do you think?"

The timid little Robin hopped a few [69] steps and chirped but never lifted a wing. Then his mother gave each of the other children a big mouthful.

The Robin on the fence huddled down into a miserable little bunch, and thought: "They don't care whether I ever have anything to eat. No, they don't!" Then he heard a rush of wings, and his mother stood before him with a bunch in her bill for him. He hopped toward her and she ran away. Then he sat down and cried. She hopped back and looked lovingly at him, but couldn't speak because her bill was so full. Across the road the Robin father stayed with his brave children and called out, "Earn it, my son, earn it!"

The young Robin stretched out his neck and opened his bill—but his mother flew to the ground. He was so hungry—so very, very hungry,—that for a minute he quite forgot to be afraid, and he leaned toward her and toppled over. He fluttered his wings without thinking, and the [70] first he knew he had flown to the ground. He was hardly there before his mother was feeding him and his father was singing: "Do you know what you did? Do you know what you did? Do you know?"

Before his tail was grown the timid Robin had become as brave as any of the children, for, you know, after you begin to be brave you always want to go on. But the Garter Snake says that Mrs. Robin is the bravest of the family.

 



Anonymous

The Clucking Hen

"Will you take a walk with me,

My little wife, to-day?

There's barley in the barley field,

And hayseed in the hay."


"Thank you;" said the clucking hen;

"I've something else to do;

I'm busy sitting on my eggs,

I cannot walk with you."


"Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck,"

Said the clucking hen;

"My little chicks will soon be hatched,

I'll think about it then."


The clucking hen sat on her nest,

She made it in the hay;

And warm and snug beneath her breast,

A dozen white eggs lay.


Crack, crack, went all the eggs,

Out dropped the chickens small!

"Cluck," said the clucking hen,

"Now I have you all."


"Come along, my little chicks,

I'll take a walk with you."

"Hallo!" said the barn-door cock,

"Cock-a-doodle-doo!"

 


  WEEK 5  

  Tuesday  


Amy Steedman

Saint Patrick

Part 1 of 2

[43] IT was a dark night of storm and wind, but the people in the little farm on the western coast of Scotland were accustomed to stormy winds and the sound of breakers dashing upon the rocky shore, and they paid little heed to the wintry weather. They were all tired out with their day's work, and thankful, when the darkness closed in, to bar the doors and shut out the wild night as they gathered round the fire within. A rough set of people they looked in the light of the great peat fire that burned on the hearth. Only one, a boy of sixteen, seemed different to the rest, and had a gentler, more civilised look, while he held himself as if accustomed to command.

This boy was Patrick, son of the master Calponius, who belonged to the Roman colony at Dumbarton, and he had been brought up with care and taught all that a young Roman citizen should know. His gentle mother, niece of the holy Saint Martin of Tours, had brought with her many a cherished memory of courtly manners from the sunny land of her birth, and she had taught the boy to be courteous and knightly in his bearing. So it was that Patrick learned many things which were as yet unknown in the savage northern land [44] where he dwelt, but chiefest among all was the faith of Christ, taught to him by his father and mother, who were both Christians.

But all these lessons seemed very dull and uninteresting to the restless boy. It was such a waste of the golden hours to sit indoors and learn those endless psalms. Prayers, too, took such a weary time, when he might be out on the hillside, as free as the happy birds and all the wild creatures that lived under the open sky. Sometimes in his heart he almost wondered whether it might not be pleasanter to be a heathen rather than a Christian. The heathen had no psalms to learn and could do just as they pleased.

"Some day thou wilt grow wiser," said his mother, "and what is but a dull lesson to thee now will be like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

But Patrick could not understand what she meant, and he was only too glad when lesson-time was over and he was allowed to go off to the little farm close to the sea, where he could work with his hands and not with his head. How he loved the rough free life there; the days spent in the fields and woods, the evenings when the peat was heaped high on the glowing hearth, and he listened to the stories of brave deeds and wild adventures which were told or sung in the flickering firelight! What cared he for shrieking winds and the roar of the breakers outside? It was fitting music to echo around the splendid tales that made his heart beat like a drum and his eyes glow like the fire.

[45] "It is a wild night," said one of the men, "and black as the pit. We must needs have a wild song to match the night and chase away the blackness."

So the rude chant of savage deeds and wild adventures was taken up one by one, until the roar of the storm was drowned in their ears and the wail of the wind became part of the mournful music.

But outside in the blackness the wind had sterner work to do than to act as chorus to idle tales. What were those mysterious long black boats that fought their way so stubbornly through the angry waves? They seemed like phantoms of the night, so silently they moved, showing never a glimmer of light from stem to stern. In vain the icy wind swept down upon them and strove to beat them back. Slowly but surely they crept on until they reached a sheltered bay where sand was smooth and it was safe to land.

Black and silent as their boats the pirate crew landed one by one, and, like the ghosts of sea-monsters, crawled stealthily over the rocks and up the hill towards the farm that nestled in a hollow there. The light from the peat fire shone through the little window; a burst of wild song came floating out into the dark night: there was no thought of lurking danger or surprise.

Closer and closer crept the black figures until they too could listen to the story that was chanted by the fireside, and they laughed aloud to hear such brave words coming from the lips of men who sat safe and warm within, little dreaming of the real danger that beset them without.

[46] "Hark!" cried one of the singers suddenly, "surely the wind hath a strange voice to-night. To me it soundeth like the laughter of demons."

With one accord the company started to their feet, for the sound they heard was no voice of the storm. The door was burst inwards with a tremendous crash, and well might the little company think for a moment that demons were abroad. Fearlessly and bravely they fought, but one by one they were overpowered, and either killed outright or bound hand and foot. The captain stood and looked at the row of sullen captives.

"Away with them to the boats," he cried. Then, pointing to Patrick, he added, "See that ye handle that one carefully, for he is a strong lad and will fetch a good price when we land on the other side."

There was nothing to be done, no rescue to hope for, and resistance only made matters worse. Patrick lay stunned and despairing in the bottom of the boat which was to carry him away from his home and his friends. It was all like a bad dream, the tossing of that stormy sea, the long dark night, the landing in a strange country, and the knowledge that he was now a slave to be sold to the highest bidder.

So Patrick came to Ireland, and was sold to a man whom they called Michu, and sent out into the fields to feed his master's swine.

Strong and hardy as the boy was, the life which he had now to lead taxed his endurance to the uttermost. There was little rest or leisure, for a [47] slave's work is never finished, and he was often so hungry and so bitterly cold that he felt half stunned with misery. Even when the snow was on the ground he had to drive out his herd of pigs to find food for them, and often he was out all night upon the hillside, sheltering in some rocky corner as best he could from the biting wind that swept over the mountains.

In those long dark nights there was plenty of time for thinking, and the boy's thoughts were always of the far-off home and all that he had lost. Strangely enough it was not of the happy careless hours that he dreamed, but rather of the times that had once seemed so tiresome and so long. He loved to think of his mother, and those dull lessons which had once made him so impatient. Little by little all that he had learned came back to him, but instead of being only tiresome lessons, the psalms and prayers held a curious comforting message, as if a friend were speaking to him. Then their meaning became clearer and clearer until he realised that they were indeed a message from a real Friend. Though he was alone, homeless and utterly friendless, God was still there.

"Our Father," said the boy to himself, and the very words seemed to change everything around. God was here in this terrible unknown country, and God was his Father. To be a slave lost half its bitterness when he could stand upright and know himself to be God's servant as well.

For six long years Patrick served his master, Michu, diligently and well, for all this time he was [48] learning also to serve God. With that love in his heart, he learned to care for all helpless things, and to see what was beautiful in common things around. Years afterwards, when he was a great teacher and the heathen priests scoffed at his teaching, and asked how he could explain the Trinity "Three Persons in One God," Patrick stooped down and plucked a leaf of the little green shamrock, which had taught him one of his lessons on the lonely hillside, and, showing its three leaves in one, gave a simple illustration of the great Mystery.

It was at the end of his sixth year of slavery, that one night Patrick drove his pigs to a distant hill overlooking his master's farm, and there, under the stars, in the shelter of a rock, he lay down to rest. It was not long before he fell asleep; but in his sleep he heard a voice close at hand speaking to him.

"Thy fasting is well," said the voice; "thou shalt soon return to thy country. Behold a ship is ready for thee, but thou must journey many miles."

Patrick started up, never doubting for a moment but that this was the message of an angel. He had lived so close to God that he was ever ready to receive His commands. In the story of his life, which he has written himself, he says, "I went in the power of the Lord, who directed my way for good, and I feared nothing until I arrived at that ship."

Weary, footsore, and worn after the long journey on foot, Patrick presented himself before the ship's captain, and prayed that he might be taken [49] aboard and carried over to Britain. It was perhaps small wonder that the captain looked with suspicion at the wild figure of the runaway slave, and bade him angrily begone.

It was a bitter ending to Patrick's hopes, and he turned very sorrowfully away. The journey had been so long, and he had felt so sure that all would be well at the end. Then, as ever, his first thought was to turn to his One Friend, and so he knelt down on the shore and prayed for help and guidance. The answer came even as he prayed, and he heard a shout from one of the sailors, who had followed him.

"Come along," he cried, "they are asking for thee."

Back went Patrick in all haste, and found that meanwhile the captain had changed his mind.

"Come, we will take thee on trust," he said, meaning that Patrick should work out his own passage, or repay him when they landed. "We are about to sail, and hope to reach land in three days."

Those were three days of great happiness to Patrick, as he saw Ireland growing fainter and fainter in the distance, and knew that before him lay freedom and home, and all that he had lost.

But although the ship reached land in three days, it was not the land he knew, and he was still far off from home. The crew of the ship landed somewhere on the coast of Brittany, and tried to find their way to some town, having to travel across a strange, desolate country where there were no [50] inhabitants and nothing to guide them. Day by day their store of food grew less, until they had nothing left to eat, and it seemed as if they must die of starvation.

Now the captain had found that Patrick was to be trusted, and had watched him often at his prayers, and came to think there must be some truth in a religion that made a man so honest and ready to do his duty. So now he called Patrick to him to ask his advice.

"Christian," he said, "thy God is powerful; pray for us, for we are starving."

"I will pray," answered Patrick, "but thou too must have faith in the Lord."

So just as a hungry child turns to his father and asks for bread, Patrick knelt and prayed to God, and suddenly there was a sound of rushing and tearing through the wood, and a herd of wild boars came sweeping along. The men gave chase, and soon captured and killed enough to provide food for many days.

After many adventures Patrick at last reached home, and for a while forgot all the hardships he had endured in the joy and happiness of that wonderful home-coming.

But the careless happy days of boyhood were over now, and a man's work was waiting for him.

"Only let the work be here," prayed his mother. "O my son, promise that thou wilt never leave us again, now that we have so wonderfully found thee."

For a while that too was Patrick's only wish, [51] never to leave the dear home and those he loved so well.

But, as he lay asleep one night, the heavenly messenger came once more to him and pointed out the path which God would have him tread. It seemed to Patrick that the angel held in his hand a bundle of letters, and on one was written "the voice of the Irish." This he gave to Patrick, who, as he read, seemed to hear the call of many voices echoing from the land where he had been a slave. Even the voices of little children rang in his ears, and all of them were calling to him and saying, "We entreat thee, come and walk still in the midst of us."

The thought of those poor untaught people who had never heard of God had often made him long to help them, and this call decided him. He would enter God's service as a priest, and then go back to the country of his captivity to carry the torch of God's love in his hand, and spread abroad the glorious light in every corner of the dark land.

After a long time of preparation and study, Patrick was at last consecrated bishop, and then set out at once to return to the country where he had suffered so much.

It was a very different coming this time to the arrival of the boy-slave many years before. With his train of clergy and helpers, the bishop, pastoral staff in hand, landed on the sandy shore of Strangford Lough, and he bore himself as a conqueror marching to victory.

Strangely enough, the first person to greet the band of strangers was a swineherd guarding his pigs, [52] just as Patrick had done in those long years of slavery. The lad was terrified when he saw these strange men, and although Patrick spoke kindly to him in his own tongue, the swineherd fled away to the woods. With all haste he returned to his master, Dichu, and told his news.

"There are pirates landing at the bay," he cried, "strange men who come to rob and kill."

Dichu in alarm immediately armed himself and his followers and set out to meet the enemy. But instead of the savage pirates he expected, he found a band of peaceful unarmed men, with one at their head whom it was easy to see was no robber.

Patrick came forward then to meet the chief, and the two men talked a while earnestly together.

"Put up your weapons," cried Dichu, turning to his followers, "these men are friends and not enemies."

As friends, then, Dichu led them to his house and made them welcome. The fearless bravery of Patrick and his strong kind face had won the chieftain's heart, and he prepared to entertain him royally. But Patrick could neither rest nor eat until his message was delivered, and as Dichu listened to his burning words, they seemed to seize him with a strange power and made him long to hear more. Gladly would he have kept Patrick with him, but there was much work to be done, and the bishop wished first of all to seek out his old master Michu, and pay the money due to him as the price of the runaway slave.

How well he knew every step of the way to the [53] old farm! It seemed as if he must be walking in a dream, that he must be still the barefooted, hungry, ill-clad boy of long ago. There were the woods through which he had so often driven his pigs, the banks where he had found the first spring flowers, the rocks which had so often sheltered him, the little green friendly shamrock which he had loved so dearly. Up the steep hillside he climbed, and at the top he paused and knelt in prayer, remembering the vision he had seen there and the message of the angel. Then, rising up, he looked eagerly towards the spot where his master's farm nestled in the hollow beneath.

Alas! he had come too late; nothing but a thin grey curl of smoke marked the place where the smouldering ashes of the farm lay, and, saddest of all, his master too had perished in the fire.

So there was naught to do but turn back and carry the message to others. But Patrick's heart was sad for his old master.

 



Harriette Taylor Treadwell

The Old Woman and the Pig

Part 1 of 2


[Illustration]



[Illustration]

[26] An old woman found a sixpence.

She wanted a pig.

She said, "I can get a pig. I can get a pig with the sixpence."

And she did.



[Illustration]

[27] The pig came to a stile.


The old woman said, "Pig, pig, get over the stile."


The pig said, "I won't get over the stile."

And he ran away.

He ran away from the old woman.



[Illustration]

[28] The old woman met a dog.


She said, "Dog, dog, bite pig. Pig won't get over the stile, And I can not get home to-night."


The dog said, "I won't bite pig."



[Illustration]

[29] The old woman met a stick.


She said, "Stick, stick, beat dog. Dog won't bite pig, Pig won't get over the stile, And I can not get home to-night."


The stick said, "I won't beat dog."



[Illustration]

[30] The old woman met a fire.


She said, "Fire, fire, burn stick. Stick won't beat dog, Dog won't bite pig, Pig won't get over the stile, And I can not get home to-night."


The fire said, "I won't burn stick."



[Illustration]

[31] The old woman met some water.


She said, "Water, water, quench fire. Fire won't burn stick, Stick won't beat dog, Dog won't bite pig, Pig won't get over the stile, And I can not get home to-night."


[32] The water said, "I won't quench fire."


 



Laura E. Richards

Little Brown Bobby

Little Brown Bobby sat on the barn floor,

Little Brown Bossy looked in at the door,

Little Brown Bobby said, "Lack-a-day!

Who'll drive me this little Brown Bossy away?"


Little Brown Bobby said, "Shoo, shoo, shoo!"

Little Brown Bossy said, "Moo, moo, moo!"

This frightened them so that they both of them cried,

And wished they were back at their mammy's side!

 


  WEEK 5  

  Wednesday  


James Baldwin

King John and the Abbott

I. THE THREE QUESTIONS

THERE was once a king of England whose name was John. He was a bad king; for he was harsh and cruel to his people, and so long as he could have his own way, he did not care what became of other folks. He was the worst king that England ever had.

Now, there was in the town of Canterbury a rich old abbot who lived in grand style in a great house called the Abbey. Every day a hundred noble men sat down with him to dine; and fifty brave knights, [22] in fine velvet coats and gold chains, waited upon him at his table.

When King John heard of the way in which the abbot lived, he made up his mind to put a stop to it. So he sent for the old man to come and see him.

"How now, my good abbot?" he said. "I hear that you keep a far better house than I. How dare you do such a thing? Don't you know that no man in the land ought to live better than the king? And I tell you that no man shall."

"O king!" said the abbot, "I beg to say that I am spending nothing but what is my own. I hope that you will not think ill of me for making things pleasant for my friends and the brave knights who are with me."

"Think ill of you?" said the king. "How can I help but think ill of you? All that there is in this broad land is mine by right; and how do you dare to put me to shame by living in grander style than I? One would think that you were trying to be king in my place."

"Oh, do not say so!" said the abbot. "For I"—

"Not another word!" cried the king. "Your fault is plain, and unless you can answer me three questions, your head shall be cut off, and all your riches shall be mine."

[23] "I will try to answer them, O king!" said the abbot.

"Well, then," said King John, "as I sit here with my crown of gold on my head, you must tell me to within a day just how long I shall live. Secondly, you must tell me how soon I shall ride round the whole world; and lastly, you shall tell me what I think."

"O king!" said the abbot, "these are deep, hard questions, and I cannot answer them just now. But if you will give me two weeks to think about them, I will do the best that I can."

"Two weeks you shall have," said the king; "but if then you fail to answer me, you shall lose your head, and all your lands shall be mine."

The abbot went away very sad and in great fear. He first rode to Oxford. Here was a great school, called a university, and he wanted to see if any of the wise professors could help him. But they shook their heads, and said that there was nothing about King John in any of their books.

Then the abbot rode down to Cambridge, where there was another university. But not one of the teachers in that great school could help him.

At last, sad and sorrowful, he rode toward home to bid his friends and his brave knights good-by. For now he had not a week to live.

II. THE THREE ANSWERS

[24] As the abbot was riding up the lane which led to his grand house, he met his shepherd going to the fields.

"Welcome home, good master!" cried the shepherd. "What news do you bring us from great King John?"

"Sad news, sad news," said the abbot; and then he told him all that had happened.

"Cheer up, cheer up, good master," said the shepherd. "Have you never yet heard that a fool may teach a wise man wit? I think I can help you out of your trouble."

"You help me!" cried the abbot. "How? how?"

"Well," answered the shepherd, "you know that everybody says that I look just like you, and that I have sometimes been mistaken for you. So, lend me your servants and your horse and your gown, and I will go up to London and see the king. If nothing else can be done, I can at least die in your place."

"My good shepherd," said the abbot, "you are very, very kind; and I have a mind to let you try your plan. But if the worst comes to the worst, you shall not die for me. I will die for myself."

So the shepherd got ready to go at once. He [25] dressed himself with great care. Over his shepherd's coat he threw the abbot's long gown, and he borrowed the abbot's cap and golden staff. When all was ready, no one in the world would have thought that he was not the great man himself. Then he mounted his horse, and with a great train of servants set out for London.

Of course the king did not know him.

"Welcome, Sir Abbot!" he said. "It is a good thing that you have come back. But, prompt as you are, if you fail to answer my three questions, you shall lose your head."

"I am ready to answer them, O king!" said the shepherd.

"Indeed, indeed!" said the king, and he laughed to himself. "Well, then, answer my first question: How long shall I live? Come, you must tell me to the very day."

"You shall live," said the shepherd, "until the day that you die, and not one day longer. And you shall die when you take your last breath, and not one moment before."

The king laughed.

"You are witty, I see," he said. "But we will let that pass, and say that your answer is right. And now tell me how soon I may ride round the world."


[Illustration]

"You shall live until the day that you die."

[27] "You must rise with the sun," said the shepherd, "and you must ride with the sun until it rises again the next morning. As soon as you do that, you will find that you have ridden round the world in twenty-four hours."

The king laughed again. "Indeed," he said, "I did not think that it could be done so soon. You are not only witty, but you are wise, and we will let this answer pass. And now comes my third and last question: What do I think?"

"That is an easy question," said the shepherd. "You think that I am the Abbot of Canterbury. But, to tell you the truth, I am only his poor shepherd, and I have come to beg your pardon for him and for me." And with that, he threw off his long gown.

The king laughed loud and long.

"A merry fellow you are," said he, "and you shall be the Abbot of Canterbury in your master's place."

"O king! that cannot be," said the shepherd; "for I can neither read nor write."

"Very well, then," said the king, "I will give you something else to pay you for this merry joke. I will give you four pieces of silver every week as long as you live. And when you get home, you may tell the old abbot that you have brought him a free pardon from King John."

 



Lucy Fitch Perkins

Mother's Day

Part 2 of 2

"Now it is time to cook the dinner," said Vrouw Vedder. "We will have pork and potatoes and some cabbage. Kit, run to the garden and bring a cabbage; and Kat, you may get the fire ready to cook it, when Kit brings it in."


[Illustration]

[71] Kat went to the stove—but it was such a funny stove! It wasn't a stove at all, really.

[72] There was a sort of table built up against the chimney. It was all covered with pretty blue tiles, with pictures of boats on them. Over this table, there was a shelf, like a mantel shelf. There were plates on it, and from the bottom of the shelf hung some chains with hooks on them. The coals were right out on the little table.

Kat took the bellows and—puff, puff, puff!—made the coals burn brighter. She peeped in the kettle to see that there was water in it. Then she put some more charcoal on the fire.

Kit brought in the cabbage, and Vrouw Vedder cut it up and put it into the pot of water hanging over the fire. She put the pork and potatoes in too.

In a little while the pot was bubbling away merrily; and Father Vedder, who was in the garden, sniffed the air and said,

"I know what we are going to have for dinner."

While the pot boiled, Vrouw Vedder scrubbed the floor and wiped the window. [73] Then she took her brooms and scrubbing-brush outside.

She scrubbed the door and the outside of the house. She scrubbed the little pig with soap. The little pig squealed, because she got some soap in its eyes. She scrubbed the steps—and even the trunk of the poplar tree in the yard! She scrubbed everything in sight, except Father Vedder and the Twins! By and by she came to the door and called,

"Come to dinner! Only be sure to leave your wooden shoes outside, when you come into my clean kitchen."

Here are the shoes, just as they left them, all in a row. And as it was Saturday, the shoes were scrubbed too, that night.


[Illustration]

When the dinner was cleared away, Vrouw Vedder said to the Twins,

[74] "It is almost time for Grandmother to come. Let's walk out to meet her."


[Illustration]

They walked clear to the edge of the town before they saw her coming. They walked on top of the dyke, so they could look right down into the street, and see all the houses in a row. Grandmother was coming up the street with a basket on her arm.

[75] "What do you think is in that basket?" Vrouw Vedder asked the Twins.

"Honey cake!" said Kit; and Kat said, "Candy!"

And Kit and Kat were both right. There was a large honey cake and anise candies, and some currant buns besides!


[Illustration]

Grandmother let them peep in and see. They were very polite and did not ask for any—Vrouw Vedder was proud of the Twins' good manners. Grandmother said,

[76] "This afternoon, when we have tea, you shall have some."

"I'm glad I ate such a lot of dinner," said Kit to Kat, as they walked along; "or else I'd just have to have a bun this minute!"

"Yes," said Kat, "it's much easier to be polite when you aren't hungry."

When they got home, Kit and Kat took their Grandmother to see the new goslings, and to see the ducklings too. And Vrouw Vedder showed her the butter that Kit and Kat had helped to churn; and Grandmother said,

"My, my! What helpers they are getting to be!" Then she said, "How clean the house is!" and then, "How the brasses shine!"

"Yes," said Vrouw Vedder; "the Twins helped me make everything clean and tidy to show to you."

"I guess it's time for honey cake," said Grandmother.

Then Vrouw Vedder stirred up the fire again and boiled the kettle and made tea. She took down her best china cups and put them out on the round table.


[Illustration]

[77] Then Grandmother opened her basket and took out the honey cake and buns and the candy; and Vrouw Vedder brought out her fresh butter.

"I can't stay polite much longer," said Kit to Kat.

Grandmother gave them each a thin slice of honey cake and a bun; and Vrouw Vedder spread some of the butter on the buns—and oh, how good they were!

[78]

"Some for a honey cake,

And some for a bun,"

sang Kat. It didn't take the Twins long to finish them.

When they had drunk their tea, Grandmother brought out her knitting, and Mother Vedder began to spin.

"How many rolls of linen have you ready for Kat when she marries?" Grandmother asked.

"I try to make at least one roll each year; so she has four now and I am working on the fifth one," said Vrouw Vedder. "She shall be as well-to-do as any farmer's daughter near here, when she marries. See, this is the last one," and Vrouw Vedder took from the press a roll of beautiful white linen tied with blue ribbons.

"Is that for me, Mother?" asked Kat.

"Yes," said Vrouw Vedder. "When you marry, we shall have a fine press full of linen for you."

"Isn't Kit going to have some too?" asked Kat.

[79] Grandmother laughed.

"The mother of the little girl who will some day marry Kit, is working now on her linen, no doubt; so Kit won't need any of yours."


[Illustration]

The Twins looked very solemn and went out into the yard. They sat down on the bench by the kitchen door together. Then Kat said,

"Kit, do you s'pose we've got  to be married?"

[80] "It looks like it," said Kit.

Things seemed very dark indeed to the Twins.

"Well," said Kat, "I just tell you I'm not going to do it. I'mgoing to stay at home with Mother and Father, and you and the ducks and everything!"

"What will they do with the linen then?" said Kit. "I guess you'll have  to be married."

Kat began to cry.

"I'll just go and ask Mother," she said.

"I'll go with you," said Kit. "I don't want to any more than you do."

So the Twins got down from the bench and went into the kitchen where Grandmother and Vrouw Vedder were.

Their mother was spinning flax to make linen thread.

"Mother," said the Twins, "will you please excuse us from being married."


[Illustration]

"O my soul!" said Vrouw Vedder. She seemed surprised.

"We don't want to at all," said Kat. [81] "We'd rather stay with you."

"You shan't be married until after you are four feet and a half high and are called Christopher and Katrina anyway," said Vrouw Vedder. "I promise you that."


The Twins were much relieved. They went out and fed their ducklings. They felt so much better that they gave them an extra [82] handful of grain, and they carried a bun to Father Vedder, who was hoeing in the farthest corner of the garden. He ate it, leaning on his hoe.


[Illustration]

When they went back to the house, it was late in the afternoon. Grandmother was rolling up her knitting.

"I must go home to Grandfather," she said. "He'll be wanting his supper."

The Twins walked down the road as far as the first bridge with Grandmother. There she kissed them good-bye and sent them home.

When their mother put them to bed that night, Kat said,

[83] "Has this been a short day, Mother?"

"Oh, very short!" said Vrouw Vedder, "because you helped me so much."

Then she kissed them good-night and went out to feed the pigs, and shut up the chickens for the night.


[Illustration]

When she was gone, Kit said,

"I don't see how they got along before we came. We help so much!"

"No," said Kat; "I don't think—" But what she didn't think, no one will ever know, because just then she popped off to sleep.

 



Anonymous

Whisky Frisky

Whisky Frisky,

Hippity hop,

Up he goes

To the tree-top!


Whirly, twirly,

Round and round,

Down he scampers

To the ground.


Furly, curly,

What a tail!

Tall as a feather,

Broad as a sail!


Where's his supper?

In the shell,

Snappy, cracky,

Out it fell!

 


  WEEK 5  

  Thursday  


Mary Macgregor

Siegfried Sees Kriemhild

[59] Queen Uté, the mother of Kriemhild, heard that a great festival was to be held, and she made up her mind that she and her daughter should grace it with their presence.

Then was there great glee among the handmaidens of the Queen, and they scarce slept at night for thinking of bright ribands and gay raiment.

But to Kriemhild more joyous than any hope of costly garments was the hope that at the great festival she would see, nay even speak with, her knight, Sir Siegfried.

Folded away in large chests Queen Uté had a store of rich raiment. Robes of white embroidered in gold, and sparkling with gems, she now brought forth, robes of purple and blue and many another colour she laid before the eyes of her bewildered maidens. These the [60] Queen herself had worked through the glad days of summer, and through the dark winter evenings.

The festival was to be held at Whitsuntide, and as the time drew near, noble guests were seen daily riding into Worms. Kings came from afar, thirty-two princes also had journeyed thither, and when Whitsun morning dawned, five thousand men and more had come to Rhineland, where free from care dwelt King Gunther.

When the knights had entered the lists, the King sent a hundred of his liegemen that they might bring Queen Uté and her gentle daughter to the great hall.

Clad in their rich robes of state, the Queen and her many maidens came, and among them all was none to compare with the peerless maiden Kriemhild.

When Siegfried saw the Princess he knew that she was indeed more radiant in her beauty than he had even dreamed, and the hero's heart grew heavy.

How could it ever be that he should wed so fair, so kind a maiden. He could see the [61] kindness shining in her bright eyes. Yet surely he had but dreamed a foolish dream, and thinking thus the knight grew pale and troubled.

Then King Gernot, whose eyes saw what other eyes were ofttimes too dull to heed, then King Gernot, seeing Siegfried's cheeks grow pale, said to his brother Gunther, "Bid the hero who hath served thee right nobly, bid him go greet our sister. For though she hath scorned full many a knight, him will she welcome with right good cheer."

King Gernot's words pleased his royal brother, and a messenger was sent to Siegfried, bidding him greet the Princess.

Swift then leaped the roses to Sir Siegfried's cheeks, as he hastened to where Kriemhild sat among her maidens.

"Be welcome here, Sir Siegfried, for thou art a good and noble knight," said the maiden softly. Then, as in reverence he bent low before his lady, she rose and took his right hand graciously in her own.

As they stood thus together the great bells of the Minster pealed, and lords and ladies [62] wended their way to the church of God to hear a Mass sung, and to give thanks for the great victory the Burgundian heroes had won. At the Minster door Siegfried must needs leave the Princess that she might sit among her maidens. But when the service was ended they walked together to the castle.

"Now God reward thee, Siegfried," said the maiden, "for right well hast thou served my royal brother."

"Thee I will serve for ever," cried the happy hero, "thee will I serve for ever, and thy wishes shall ever be my will!"

Then for twelve glad days were Siegfried and Kriemhild ofttimes side by side. And when he tilted in the tournament, he felt that the bright eyes of his lady were shining upon him, and his skill was greater even than it had used to be.

At length the merry Maytide games were over. Gifts of gold and silks did King Gunther bestow on all his guests ere they set out for their own lands. Queen Uté also and the Princess wished them Godspeed as they filed slowly past the royal throne.

[63] The festival was over, and it might be he would see the fair maiden Kriemhild no more, so thought the hero. Well, he would away, away to his own home in the Netherlands once more.

But Giselher, Kriemhild's youngest brother, heard that Siegfried was making ready to leave the royal city, and he begged him to stay.

"Tarry here a little longer," he said, "and each day, when toil or sport is over, thou shalt see my fair sister, Kriemhild."

"Bid my steed be taken back to its stall," then cried the happy knight, "and hang my shield upon the wall."

Thus in the gladsome summer days Siegfried and Kriemhild walked and talked together, and ever did the knight love the gentle maiden more.

 



Mary Macgregor

Siegfried Goes to Isenland

[64] Whitsuntide had come and gone when tidings from beyond the Rhine reached the court at Worms.

No dread tidings were these, but glad and good to hear, of a matchless Queen named Brunhild who dwelt in Isenland. King Gunther listened with right good-will to the tales of this warlike maiden, for if she were beautiful she was also strong as any warrior. Wayward, too, she was, yet Gunther would fain have her as his queen to sit beside him on his throne.

One day the King sent for Siegfried to tell him that he would fain journey to Isenland to wed Queen Brunhild.

Now Siegfried, as you know, had been in Isenland and knew some of the customs of this wayward Queen. So he answered the King right gravely that it would be a dangerous [65] journey across the sea to Isenland, nor would he win the Queen unless he were able to vanquish her great strength.

He told the King how Brunhild would challenge him to three contests or games, as she would call them. And if she were the victor, as indeed she had been over many a royal suitor, then his life would be forfeited.

At her own desire kings and princes had hurled the spear at the stalwart Queen, and it had but glanced harmless off her shield, while she would pierce the armour of these valiant knights with her first thrust. This was one of the Queen's games.

Then the knights would hasten to the ring and throw the stone from them as far as might be, yet ever Queen Brunhild threw it farther. For this was another game of the warrior Queen.

The third game was to leap beyond the stone which they had thrown, but ever to their dismay the knights saw this marvellous maiden far outleap them all.

These valorous knights, thus beaten in the three contests, had been beheaded, and there- [66] fore it was that Siegfried spoke so gravely to King Gunther.

But Gunther, so he said, was willing to risk his life to win so brave a bride.

Now Hagen had drawn near to the King, and as he listened to Siegfried's words, the grim warrior said, "Sire, since the Prince knows the customs of Isenland, let him go with thee on thy journey, to share thy dangers, and to aid thee in the presence of this warlike Queen."

And Hagen, for he hated the hero, hoped that he might never return alive from Isenland.

But the King was pleased with his counsellor's words. "Sir Siegfried," he said, "wilt thou help me to win the matchless maiden Brunhild for my queen?"

"That right gladly will I do," answered the Prince, "if thou wilt promise to give to me thy sister Kriemhild as my bride, should I bring thee back safe from Isenland, the bold Queen at thy side."

Then the King promised that on the same day that he wedded Brunhild, his sister should wed Prince Siegfried, and with this promise the hero was well content.

[67] "Thirty thousand warriors will I summon to go with us to Isenland," cried King Gunther gaily.

"Nay," said the Prince, "thy warriors would but be the victims of this haughty Queen. As plain knight-errants will we go, taking with us none, save Hagen the keen-eyed and his brother Dankwart."

Then King Gunther, his face aglow with pleasure, went with Sir Siegfried to his sister's bower, and begged her to provide rich garments in which he and his knights might appear before the beauteous Queen Brunhild.

"Thou shalt not beg this service from me," cried the gentle Princess, "rather shalt thou command that which thou dost wish. See, here have I silk in plenty. Send thou the gems from off thy bucklers, and I and my maidens will work them with gold embroideries into the silk."

Thus the sweet maiden dismissed her brother, and sending for her thirty maidens who were skilled in needlework she bade them sew their daintiest stitches, for here were robes to be made for the King and Sir Siegfried ere [68] they went to bring Queen Brunhild into Rhineland.

For seven weeks Kriemhild and her maidens were busy in their bower. Silk white as new-fallen snow, silk green as the leaves in spring did they shape into garments worthy to be worn by the King and Sir Siegfried, and amid the gold embroideries glittered many a radiant gem.

Meanwhile down by the banks of the Rhine a vessel was being built to carry the King across the sea to Isenland.

When all was ready the King and Sir Siegfried went to the bower of the Princess. They would put on the silken robes and the beautiful cloaks Kriemhild and her maidens had sewed to see that they were neither too long nor too short. But indeed the skilful hands of the Princess had not erred. No more graceful or more beautiful garments had ever before been seen by the King or the Prince.

"Sir Siegfried," said the gentle Kriemhild, "care for my royal brother lest danger befall him in the bold Queen's country. Bring him home both safe and sound I beseech thee."

[69] The hero bowed his head and promised to shield the King from danger, then they said farewell to the maiden, and embarked in the little ship that awaited them on the banks of the Rhine. Nor did Siegfried forget to take with him his Cloak of Darkness and his good sword Balmung.

Now none was there on the ship save King Gunther, Siegfried, Hagen, and Dankwart, but Siegfried with his Cloak of Darkness had the strength of twelve men as well as his own strong right hand.

Merrily sailed the little ship, steered by Sir Siegfried himself. Soon the Rhine river was left behind and they were out on the sea, a strong wind filling their sails. Ere evening, full twenty miles had the good ship made.

For twelve days they sailed onward, until before them rose the grim fortress that guarded Isenland.

"What towers are these?" cried King Gunther, as he gazed upon the turreted castle which looked as a grim sentinel guarding the land.

"These," answered the hero, "are Queen [70] Brunhild's towers and this is the country over which she rules."

Then turning to Hagen and Dankwart Siegfried begged them to let him be spokesman to the Queen, for he knew her wayward moods. "And King Gunther shall be my King," said the Prince, "and I but his vassal until we leave Isenland."

And Hagen and Dankwart, proud men though they were, obeyed in all things the words of the young Prince of the Netherlands.

 



Clara Dillingham Pierson

The Crickets' School

[Illustration]

[71]

I N one corner of the meadow lived a fat old Cricket, who thought a great deal of himself. He had such a big, shining body, and a way of chirping so very loudly, that nobody could ever forget where he lived. He was a very good sort of Cricket, too, ready to say the most pleasant things to everybody, yet, sad to relate, he had a dreadful habit of boasting. He had not always lived in the meadow, and he liked to tell of the wonderful things he had seen and done when he was younger and lived up near the white farm-house.

When he told these stories of what he had done, the big Crickets around him [72] would not say much, but just sit and look at each other. The little Crickets, however, loved to hear him talk, and would often come to the door of his house (which was a hole in the ground), to beg him to tell them more.

One evening he said he would teach them a few things that all little Crickets should know. He had them stand in a row, and then began: "With what part of your body do you eat?"

"With our mouths," all the little Crickets shouted.

"With what part of your body do you run and leap?"

"Our legs," they cried.

"Do you do anything else with your legs?"

"We clean ourselves with them," said one.

"We use them and our mouths to make our houses in the ground," said another.

[73] "Oh yes, and we hear with our two front legs," cried one bright little fellow.

"That is right," answered the fat old Cricket. "Some creatures hear with things called ears, that grow on the sides of their heads, but for my part, I think it much nicer to hear with one's legs, as we do."

"Why, how funny it must be not to hear with one's legs, as we do," cried all the little Crickets together.

"There are a great many queer things to be seen in the great world," said their teacher. "I have seen some terribly big creatures with only two legs and no wings whatever."

"How dreadful!" all the little Crickets cried. "We wouldn't think they could move about at all."

"It must be very hard to do so," said their teacher; "I was very sorry for them," and he spread out his own wings and stretched his six legs to show how he enjoyed them.

[74] "But how can they sing if they have no wings?" asked the bright little Cricket.

"They sing through their mouths, in much the same way that the birds have to. I am sure it must be much easier to sing by rubbing one's wings together, as we do," said the fat old teacher. "I could tell you many queer things about these two-legged creatures, and the houses in which they live, and perhaps some day I will. There are other large four-legged creatures around their homes that are very terrible, but, my children, I was never afraid of any of them. I am one of the truly brave people who are never frightened, no matter how terrible the sight. I hope, children, that you will always be brave, like me. If anything should scare you, do not jump or run away. Stay right where you are, and——"

But the little Crickets never heard the rest of what their teacher began to say, for at that minute Brown Bess, the Cow, came [75] through a broken fence toward the spot where the Crickets were. The teacher gave one shrill "chirp," and scrambled down his hole. The little Crickets fairly tumbled over each other in their hurry to get away, and the fat old Cricket, who had been out in the great world, never again talked to them about being brave.

 



Celia Thaxter

Jack Frost

Rustily creak the crickets.

Jack Frost came down last night.

He slid to the earth on a star beam,

Keen and sparkling and bright.

 


  WEEK 5  

  Friday  


Edward Eggleston

Franklin His Own Teacher

FEW people ever knew so many things as Franklin. Men said, "How did he ever learn so many things?" For he had been a poor boy who had to work for a living. He could not go to school at all after he was ten years old.

His father made soap and candles. Little Ben Franklin had to cut wicks for the candles. He also filled the candle molds. He also sold soap and candles, and ran on errands. But when he was not at work he spent his time in reading good books. What little money he got he used to buy books with.

He read the old story of Pilgrim's Progress, and liked it so well that he bought all the other stories by the same man. But as he wanted more books, and had not money to buy them, he sold [27] all of these books. The next he bought were some little history books. These were made to sell cheaply, and they were sold by peddlers. He managed to buy forty or fifty of these little books of history.

Another way he had of learning was by seeing things with his own eyes. His father took him to see carpenters at work with their saws and planes. He also saw masons laying bricks. And he went to see men making brass and copper kettles. And he saw a man with a turning lathe making the round legs of chairs. Other men were at work making knives. Some things people learn out of books, and some things they have to see for themselves. as

As he was fond of books, Ben's father thought that it would be a good plan to send him to learn to print them. So the boy went to work in his brother's printing office. Here he passed his spare time in reading. He borrowed some books out of the stores where books were sold. He would sit up a great part of the night sometimes to read one of these books. He wished to return it when the bookstore opened in the morning. One man who had many books lent to Ben such of his books as he wanted.


[Illustration]

Franklin at Study

It was part of the bargain that Ben's brother [28] should pay his board. The boy offered to board himself if his brother would give him half what it cost to pay for his board. His brother was glad to do this, and Ben saved part of the money and [29] bought books with it. He was a healthy boy, and it did not hurt him to live mostly on bread and butter. Sometimes he bought a little pie or a handful of raisins.

Long before he was a man, people said, "How much the boy knows!" This was because—

He did not waste his time.

He read good books.

He saw things for himself.

 



Edward Eggleston

How Franklin Found Out Things

FRANKLIN thought that ants know how to tell things to one another. He thought that they talk by some kind of signs. When an ant has found a dead fly too big for him to drag away, he will run off and get some other ant to help him. Franklin thought that ants have some way of telling other ants that there is work to do.

One day he found some ants eating molasses out of a little jar in a closet. He shook them out. Then he tied a string to the jar, and hung it on a nail in the ceiling. But he had not gotten all the ants out of the jar. One little ant liked sweet things so well that he stayed in the jar, and kept on eating like a greedy boy.


[Illustration]

Ants talking (magnified)

[30] At last when this greedy ant had eaten all that he could, he started to go home. Franklin saw him climb over the rim of the jar. Then the ant ran down the outside of the jar. But when he got to the bottom, he did not find any shelf there. He went all around the jar. There was no way to get down to the floor. The ant ran this way and that way, but he could not get down.


[Illustration]

An Ant's Feeler (magnified)

At last the greedy ant thought he would see if he could go up. He climbed up the string to the ceiling. Then he went down the wall. He came to his own hole at last, no doubt.

After a while he got hungry again, perhaps. [31] He thought about that jar of sweets at the end of a string. Then perhaps he told the other ants. Maybe he let them know that there was a string by which they could get down to the jar.

In about half an hour after the ant had gone up the string, Franklin saw a swarm of ants going down the string. They marched in a line, one after another. Soon there were two lines of ants on the string. The ants in one line were going down to get at the sweet food. The ants in the other line were marching up the other side of the string to go home. Do you think that the greedy ant told the other ants about the jar? And did he tell them that there was a string by which an ant could get there? And did he tell it by speaking, or by signs that he made with his feelers?


[Illustration]


If you watch two ants when they meet, you will see that they touch their feelers together, as if they were saying "Good morning!"

 



Ellen C. Babbitt

The Ox Who Won the Forfeit

[21]

L ONG ago a man owned a very strong Ox. The owner was so proud of his Ox, that he boasted to every man he met about how strong his Ox was.

One day the owner went into a village, and said to the men there: "I will pay a forfeit of a thousand pieces of silver if my strong Ox cannot draw a line of one hundred wagons."

The men laughed, and said: "Very well; bring your Ox, and we will tie a hundred wagons in a line and see your Ox draw them along."

So the man brought his Ox into the village. A crowd gathered to see the sight. The hundred carts were in line, and the strong Ox was yoked to the first wagon.

Then the owner whipped his Ox, and said: "Get up, you wretch! Get along, you rascal!"

[22] But the Ox had never been talked to in that way, and he stood still. Neither the blows nor the hard names could make him move.


[Illustration]

"Get along, you rascal."

At last the poor man paid his forfeit, and went sadly home. There he threw himself on his bed and cried: "Why did that strong Ox act so? Many a time he has moved heavier loads easily. Why did he shame me before all those people?"

At last he got up and went about his work. When [23] he went to feed the Ox that night, the Ox turned to him and said: "Why did you whip me to-day? You never whipped me before. Why did you call me 'wretch' and 'rascal'? You never called me hard names before."

Then the man said: "I will never treat you badly again. I am sorry I whipped you and called you names. I will never do so any more. Forgive me."

"Very well," said the Ox. "To-morrow I will go into the village and draw the one hundred carts for you. You have always been a kind master until to-day. To-morrow you shall gain what you lost."

The next morning the owner fed the Ox well, and hung a garland of flowers about his neck. When they went into the village the men laughed at the man again.

They said: "Did you come back to lose more money?"

"To-day I will pay a forfeit of two thousand pieces of silver if my Ox is not strong enough to pull the one hundred carts," said the owner.


[Illustration]

A garland of flowers about his neck.

So again the carts were placed in a line, and the Ox was yoked to the first. A crowd came to watch again. The owner said: "Good Ox, show how strong you [24] are! You fine, fine creature!" And he patted his neck and stroked his sides.

At once the Ox pulled with all his strength. The carts moved on until the last cart stood where the first had been.

Then the crowd shouted, and they paid back the forfeit the man had lost, saying: "Your Ox is the strongest Ox we ever saw."

And the Ox and the man went home, happy.

 



Anonymous

Sing, Little Bird

Sing, little bird, when the skies are blue,

Sing, for the world has need of you,

Sing when the skies are overcast,

Sing when the rain is falling fast.


Sing, happy heart, when the sun is warm,

Sing in the winter's coldest storm,

Sing little songs, O heart so true,

Sing, for the world has need of you.