WEEK 1 |
O NE cold rainy day when my father was a little boy, he met an old alley cat on his street. The cat was very drippy and uncomfortable so my father said, "Wouldn't you like to come home with me?"
This surprised the cat—she had never before met anyone who cared about old alley cats—but she said, "I'd be very much obliged if I could sit by a warm furnace, and perhaps have a saucer of milk."
"We have a very nice furnace to sit by," said my father, "and I'm sure my mother has an extra saucer of milk."
My father and the cat became good friends but my father's mother was very upset about the cat. She hated cats, particularly ugly old alley cats. "Elmer Elevator," she said to my father, "if you think I'm going to give that cat a saucer of milk, you're very wrong. Once you start feeding stray alley cats you might as well expect to feed every stray in town, and I am not going to do it!"
This made my father very sad, and he apologized to the cat because his mother had been so rude. He told the cat to stay anyway, and that somehow he would bring her a saucer of milk each day. My father fed the cat for three weeks, but one day his mother found the cat's saucer in the cellar and she was extremely angry. She whipped my father and threw the cat out the door, but later on my father sneaked out and found the cat. Together they went for a walk in the park and tried to think of nice things to talk about. My father said, "When I grow up I'm going to have an airplane. Wouldn't it be wonderful to fly just anywhere you might think of!"
"Would you like to fly very, very much?" asked the cat.
"I certainly would. I'd do anything if I could fly."
"Well," said the cat, "If you'd really like to fly that much, I think I know of a sort of a way you might get to fly while you're still a little boy."
"You mean you know where I could get an airplane?"
"Well, not exactly an airplane, but something even better. As you can see, I'm an old cat now, but in my younger days I was quite a traveler. My traveling days are over but last spring I took just one more trip and sailed to the Island of Tangerina, stopping at the port of Cranberry. Well, it just so happened that I missed the boat, and while waiting for the next I thought I'd look around a bit. I was particularly interested in a place called Wild Island, which we had passed on our way to Tangerina. Wild Island and Tangerina are joined together by a long string of rocks, but people never go to Wild Island because it's mostly jungle and inhabited by very wild animals. So, I decided to go across the rocks and explore it for myself. It certainly is an interesting place, but I saw something there that made me want to weep."
The Man in the Moon as he sails the sky
Is a very remarkable skipper,
But he made a mistake when he tried to take
A drink of milk from the Dipper.
He dipped right out of the Milky Way,
And slowly and carefully filled it,
The Big Bear growled, and the Little Bear howled
And frightened him so that he spilled it!
WEEK 1 |
B EFORE the white people came, there were no houses in this country but the little huts of the Indians. The Indian houses were made of bark, or mats, or skins, spread over poles.
Some people came to one part of the country. Others started settlements in other places. When more people came, some of these settlements grew into towns. The woods were cut down. Farms were planted. Roads were made. But it took many years for the country to fill with people.
The first white people that came to live in the woods where Boston is now, settled there a long time ago. They had a governor over them. He was a good man, and did much for the people. His name was John Winthrop.
The first thing the people had to do was to cut down the trees. After that they could plant corn. But at first they could not raise anything to eat. They had brought flour and oatmeal from England. But they found that it was not enough to last till they could raise corn on their new ground.
sent a ship to get more food for them. The ship was gone a
long time. The people ate up all their food. They were hungry. They
went to the
At last they set a day for everybody to fast and pray for food. The governor had a little flour left. Nearly all of this was made into bread, and put into the oven to bake. He did not know when he would get any more.
Soon after this a poor man came along. His flour was all gone. His bread had all been eaten up. His family were hungry. The governor gave the poor man the very last flour that he had in the barrel.
Just then a ship was seen. It sailed up toward Boston. It was loaded with food for all the people.
The time for the fast day came. But there was now plenty of food. The fast day was turned into a thanksgiving day.
One day a man sent a very cross letter to Governor Winthrop. Winthrop sent it back to him. He said, "I cannot keep a letter that might make me angry." Then the man that had written the cross letter wrote to Winthrop, "By conquering yourself, you have conquered me."
Down by the corner of the street,
Where the three roads meet,
And the feet
Of the people as they pass go "Tweet-tweet-
Who comes tripping round the corner of the street?
One pair of shoes which are Nurse's;
One pair of slippers which are Percy's . . .
Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!
WEEK 1 |
HE Mice who lived in the barn and around the granaries had
many cousins living on
the farm who were pleasant people to know. Any one
could tell by looking at them
that they were related, yet there were differences in
size, in the coloring of their
fur, in their voices, and most of all in their ways of
living. Some of these
cousins would come to visit at the barn in winter, when
there was little to eat in
the fields. The
When the Cows are in the meadow, they watch for these tiny people, and stop short if they hear their voices from the grass near by. Of course the Horses are careful, for Horses will never step on any person, large or small, if they can help it. They are very particular about this.
All through the meadow you can see, if you look
sharply, shallow winding paths among
the grasses, and these paths are worn by the running to
and fro of the
There is no danger of their being lonely, even when their mother is away, for the Meadow Mice have large families, and where there are ten babies of the same age, or even only six, which is thought a small family among their people, it is not possible for one to feel alone.
There were two fine Meadow Mice who
nest in the bank of a ditch and
were much liked by all their relatives. They had
raised many children to
The brown fur of the upper part of their bodies and the
Now this pair of Mice had eight Mouse babies in their nest. The babies were no larger than Bumble Bees at first and very pink. This was not because their fur was pink, but only because it was so very short that through it and their thin skin one saw the glow of the red blood in their veins.
"Did you ever see such beautiful babies?" said their mother proudly to her neighbors. "They are certainly the finest I ever had." Her friends smiled, for she always said the same thing whenever she had little ones. Yet they understood, for they had children of their own, and knew that although mothers love all alike, there is always a time when the youngest seems the most promising. That is before they are old enough to be naughty.
The days passed, and the eight baby Meadow Mice ate and slept and pushed each other around, and talked in their sweet, squeaky little voices. They were less pink every day and more the color of their father and mother. They grew, too, so fast that the nest was hardly large enough for them, and the teeth were showing in their tiny pink mouths. Their mother saw that they would soon be ready to go out into the world, and she began to teach them the things they needed to know. She took them outside the nest each pleasant day and gave them lessons in running and gnawing, and showed them how to crouch down on the brown earth and lie still until danger was past. After she had told them many things, she would ask them short questions to make sure that they remembered.
"How many great dangers are there?" she said.
"Five," answered the little Mice.
"What are they?"
"Hawks, Owls, Weasels, Cats, and men."
"Tell me about Hawks."
"Hawks are big birds who seem to float in the air. They have very sharp eyes, and when they see a Mouse they drop suddenly down and catch him. They fly in the daytime."
"Tell me about Owls."
"They are big birds who fly by night without making any noise. They can see from far away, and they catch Mice."
"Tell me about Weasels."
"They are slender little animals, nearly twice as long as a Mouse. They have small heads, four short legs, and sharp claws; have brown fur on their backs and white underneath, and sometimes, when the weather is very cold, they turn white all over."
"Tell me about Cats."
"Cats are very much bigger than Weasels, and are of many colors. They have long tails and whiskers, and dreadful great eyes. They walk on four legs, but make no noise because they have cushions on their feet."
"Tell me about men."
"Men are very big,
"And what are you to do when you see these dangers coming?"
"We are to run away as fast as we can from Hawks, Weasels, Owls, and Cats. If a man comes near us, we are to lie perfectly still and watch him, and are not to move unless we are sure that he sees us or is likely to step on us. Men do not know so much about Mice as the other dangers do."
"And what if you are not sure that the creature is a Hawk, an Owl, a Weasel or a Cat?"
"If we even think it may be, we are to run."
"When are you to run?"
"Say that again."
"We are to run at once."
"Very good. That is all for
You can see how well the Meadow Mouse mother brought up her children, and how carefully she taught them about life. If they had been wise and always minded her, they would have saved themselves much trouble.
Seven of them were dutiful and obedient, but the
largest of the eight, and the
One sunshiny day, when all the eight children were playing and feeding together in the short grass, one of them saw a great black bird in the air. "Oh, look!" she cried. "That may be a Hawk. We'd better run."
"Pooh!" said the biggest little Meadow Mouse. "Who's afraid?"
"Mother said to run," they squeaked, and seven long bare tails whisked out of sight under a stump.
"Ho-ho!" said the biggest little Meadow Mouse. "Before
I'd be so scared! I dare
you to come back! I dare you
Just then the Hawk swooped down. And that is the end of the story, for after that, there was no foolish little Meadow Mouse to tell about.
Who comes dancing over the snow,
His soft little feet all bare and rosy?
Open the door though the wild winds blow,
Take the child in and make him cozy.
Take him in and hold him dear,
For he is the wonderful glad New Year.
WEEK 1 |
HERE was once a miller who was poor, but he had one beautiful daughter. It happened one day that he came to speak with the king, and, to give himself consequence, he told him that he had a daughter who could spin gold out of straw. The king said to the miller,
"That is an art that pleases me well; if thy daughter is as clever as you say, bring her to my castle to-morrow, that I may put her to the proof."
When the girl was brought to him, he led her into a room that was quite full of straw, and gave her a wheel and spindle, and said,
"Now set to work, and if by the early morning thou hast not spun this straw to gold thou shalt die." And he shut the door himself, and left her there alone.
And so the poor miller's daughter was left there sitting, and could not think what to do for her life; she had no notion how to set to work to spin gold from straw, and her distress grew so great that she began to weep.
Then all at once the door opened, and in came a little man, who said,
"Good evening, miller's daughter; why are you crying?"
"Oh!" answered the girl, "I have got to spin gold out of straw, and I don't understand the business."
Then the little man said,
"What will you give me if I spin it for you?"
"My necklace," said the girl.
The little man took the necklace, seated himself before the wheel, and whirr, whirr, whirr! three times round and the bobbin was full; then he took up another, and whirr, whirr, whirr! three times round, and that was full; and so he went on till the morning, when all the straw had been spun, and all the bobbins were full of gold. At sunrise came the king, and when he saw the gold he was astonished and very much rejoiced, for he was very avaricious. He had the miller's daughter taken into another room filled with straw, much bigger than the last, and told her that as she valued her life she must spin it all in one night. The girl did not know what to do, so she began to cry, and then the door opened, and the little man appeared and said,
"What will you give me if I spin all this straw into gold?"
"The ring from my finger," answered the girl.
So the little man took the ring, and began again to send the wheel whirring round, and by the next morning all the straw was spun into glistening gold. The king was rejoiced beyond measure at the sight, but as he could never have enough of gold, he had the miller's daughter taken into a still larger room full of straw, and said,
"This, too, must be spun in one night, and if you accomplish it you shall be my wife." For he thought, "Although she is but a miller's daughter, I am not likely to find any one richer in the whole world."
As soon as the girl was left alone, the little man appeared for the third time and said,
"What will you give me if I spin the straw for you this time?"
"I have nothing left to give," answered the girl.
"Then you must promise me the first child you have after you are queen," said the little man.
"But who knows whether that will happen?" thought the girl; but as she did not know what else to do in her necessity, she promised the little man what he desired, upon which he began to spin, until all the straw was gold. And when in the morning the king came and found all done according to his wish, he caused the wedding to be held at once, and the miller's pretty daughter became a queen.
In a year's time she brought a fine child into the world, and thought no more of the little man; but one day he came suddenly into her room, and said,
"Now give me what you promised me."
The queen was terrified greatly, and offered the little man all the riches of the kingdom if he would only leave the child; but the little man said,
"No, I would rather have something living than all the treasures of the world."
Then the queen began to lament and to weep, so that the little man had pity upon her.
"I will give you three days," said he, "and if at the end of that time you cannot tell my name, you must give up the child to me."
Then the queen spent the whole night in thinking over all the names that she had ever heard, and sent a messenger through the land to ask far and wide for all the names that could be found. And when the little man came next day, (beginning with Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar) she repeated all she knew, and went through the whole list, but after each the little man said,
"That is not my name."
The second day the queen sent to inquire of all the neighbours what the servants were called, and told the little man all the most unusual and singular names, saying,
"Perhaps you are called Roast-ribs, or Sheepshanks, or Spindleshanks?" But he answered nothing but
"That is not my name."
The third day the messenger came back again, and said,
"I have not been able to find one single new name; but as I passed through the woods I came to a high hill, and near it was a little house, and before the house burned a fire, and round the fire danced a comical little man, and he hopped on one leg and cried,
"To-day do I bake, to-morrow I brew,
The day after that the queen's child comes in;
And oh! I am glad that nobody knew
That the name I am called is Rumpelstiltskin!"
You cannot think how pleased the queen was to hear that name, and soon afterwards, when the little man walked in and said, "Now, Mrs. Queen, what is my name?" she said at first,
"Are you called Jack?"
"No," answered he.
"Are you called Harry?" she asked again.
"No," answered he. And then she said,
"Then perhaps your name is Rumpelstiltskin!"
"The devil told you that! the devil told you that!" cried the little man, and in his anger he stamped with his right foot so hard that it went into the ground above his knee; then he seized his left foot with both his hands in such a fury that he split in two, and there was an end of him.
My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky.
It's time to take the window to see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.
Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa's a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I'm to do,
O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you!
For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And oh! before you hurry by with ladder and with light;
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!
WEEK 1 |
"In the faith of little children, we went on our ways."
T is strange to think of a very old world, when men knew nothing of the great salt sea that washed their shores,
and nothing of the wonderful lands, that lay beyond. Each day the sun rose and set as it does
These men of old, knew one great fact. They knew that they must live in a land, where there was plenty of water. How else could their sheep and oxen stay their thirst? how else should they and their children get food and drink? and how should the grain grow to save the land from famine?
So wherever a man settled down with his family in the old days, he chose some place near a river or spring. Perhaps others would wander over the land till they came to the same river, and there they would settle too, until there would be quite a little colony of families all attracted to the same spot by the fact that fresh, clean water, was flowing through the land.
And so it was that, long ago, the old stories tell us of a group of men, women, and children, who came and settled around a great river, called the Euphrates, away in the far East. It was one of the four rivers that watered the garden of Eden—a very beautiful and fertile spot.
This little group of settlers—known as the Chaldeans—grew corn in their rich country and became very prosperous, while other men were wandering about the trackless land with no fixed abode or calling.
These Chaldeans taught themselves many things. They made bricks and built houses to live in, they looked at the deep blue sky over their heads and learnt about the sun; they wandered about by night and learnt about the moon and the stars, they divided their time into seven days and called the days after seven stars, they taught themselves arithmetic and geometry. Of course they had no paper and pens to write with, but they scratched simple pictures on stones and tablets. For instance, a little drawing of one nail meant the figure I., two nails meant II., three nails in a row meant III., and so on.
The Chaldeans knew a great deal, but they knew nothing beyond their own country, for how should they? There were no carts, no trains, no bridges over the rivers, no ships, in those early days. Travelling was very slow and difficult. On the backs of camels or asses the journeys must be made, under the burning sun and over the trackless desert land: food must be carted, and even water; for how could they tell where rivers ran in those unknown, unexplored regions?
But the day was at hand when one man with his whole family should travel from this land beyond the Euphrates, travel away from the busy life of the Chaldean cities into a new and unknown country.
That man was known as Abraham.
He was a great man in the far East; he was well read in the stars, and had learnt much about the rising and setting of the sun and moon. Why he was called to leave his native land is not known. "Get thee out of thine own country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee."
These were Abraham's orders.
And one day he rose up, and taking his old father Terah, his wife Sarai, and his fatherless young nephew Lot, with camels and asses bearing all his possessions, he left Chaldea.
The little party journeyed for a day, perhaps more, until they came to the frontier fortress of their own country, and here the old father Terah died before ever he had crossed that river that bounded the land of his birth.
And Abraham started off again to travel into the unknown land. The great river Euphrates rolled its vast volume of waters between him and the country to which his steps were bent. Two days' journey would bring him to the high chalk cliffs, from which he could overlook the wide western desert. Broad and strong lay the great stream below. He crossed it, probably near the same point where it is still forded. He crossed it and became known as the Hebrew—the man who had crossed the river flood—the man who came from beyond the Euphrates.
January snowy, February flowy, March blowy;
April showery, May flowery, June bowery;
July moppy, August croppy, September poppy;
October breezy, November wheezy, December freezy.
WEEK 1 |
H IGH on the kitchen wall of an old farm-house on a mountain-side in Switzerland there hangs a tiny wooden clock. In the tiny wooden clock there lives a tiny wooden cuckoo, and every hour he hops out of his tiny wooden door, takes a look about to see what is going on in the world, shouts out the time of day, and pops back again into his little dark house, there to wait and tick away the minutes until it is time once more to tell the hour.
Late one spring afternoon, just as the sun was sinking out of sight, lighting up the snow-capped mountains with beautiful colors and sending long shafts of golden light across the valleys, the cuckoo woke with a start.
"Bless me!" he said to himself, "Here it is six o'clock and not a sound in the kitchen! It's high time for Mother Adolf to be getting supper. What in the world this family would do without me I really cannot think! They'd never know it was supper time if I didn't tell them, and would starve to death as likely as not. It is lucky for them I am such a responsible bird." The tiny wooden door flew open and he stuck out his tiny wooden head. There was not a sound in the kitchen but the loud ticking of the clock.
"Just as I thought," said the cuckoo. "Not a soul here."
There stood the table against the kitchen wall, with a little gray mouse on it nibbling a crumb of cheese. A long finger of sunlight streamed through the western window and touched the great stone stove, as if trying to waken the fire within. A beam fell upon a pan of water standing on the floor and sent gay sparkles of light dancing over the shining tins in the cupboard. The cuckoo saw it all at a glance. "This will never do," he ticked indignantly. There was a queer rumbling sound in his insides as if his feelings were getting quite too much for him, and then suddenly he sent a loud "cuckoo" ringing through the silent room. Instantly the little gray mouse leaped down from the table and scampered away to his hole in the wall, the golden sunbeam flickered and was gone, and shadows began to creep into the corners. "Cuckoo, cuckoo," he shouted at the top of his voice, "cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo,"—six times in all,—and then, his duty done, he popped back again into his little dark house, and the door clicked behind him.
Out in the garden Mother Adolf heard him and, raising her head from the onion-bed, where she was pulling weeds, she counted on her fingers, "One, two, three, four, five, six! Bless my soul, six o'clock and the sun already out of sight behind old Pilatus," she said, and, rising from her knees a little stiffly, she stood for a moment looking down the green slopes toward the valley.
Far, far below, the blue waters of Lake Lucerne mirrored the glowing colors of the mountain-peaks beyond its farther shore, and nearer, among the foothills of old Pilatus itself, a little village nestled among green trees, its roofs clustered about a white church-spire. Now the bells in the steeple began to ring, and the sound floated out across the green fields spangled with yellow daffodils, and reached Mother Adolf where she stood. Bells from more distant villages soon joined in the clamor, until all the air was filled with music and a hundred echoes woke in the mountains.
The tiny wooden cuckoo heard them and ticked loudly with satisfaction. "Everybody follows me," he said to himself proudly. "I wake all the bells in the world."
"Where can the children be?" said Mother Adolf aloud to herself, looking about the garden. "I haven't heard a sound from either the baby or the Twins for over an hour," and, making a hollow between her hands, she added her own bit of music to the chorus of the hills.
she sang, and immediately from behind the willows which fringed the brook at the end of the garden two childish voices gave back an answering strain.
A moment later two sunburned, towheaded, blue-eyed children, a boy and girl of ten, appeared, dragging after them a box mounted on rough wooden wheels in which there sat a round, pink, blue-eyed cherub of a baby. Shouting with laughter, they came tearing up the garden path to their mother's side.
"Hush, my children," said Mother Adolf, laying her finger on her lips. "It is the Angelus."
The shouts were instantly silenced, and the two children stood beside the mother with clasped hands and bowed heads until the echoes of the bells died away in the distance.
Far down on the long path to the village a man, bending under the weight of a huge basket, also stood still for a moment in silent prayer, then toiled again up the steep slope.
"See," cried Mother Adolf as she lifted her head, "there comes Father from the village with bread for our supper in his basket. Run, Seppi, and help him bring the bundles home. Our Fritz will soon be coming with the goats, too, and he and Father will both be as hungry as wolves and in a hurry for their supper. Hark!" she paused to listen.
Far away from out the blue shadows of the mountain came the sound of a horn playing a merry little tune.
"There's Fritz now," cried Mother Adolf. "Hurry, Seppi, and you, Leneli, come with me to the kitchen. You can give little Roseli her supper, while I spread the table and set the soup to boil before the goats get here to be milked." She lifted the baby in her arms as she spoke, and set off at a smart pace toward the house, followed by Leneli dragging the cart and playing peek-a-boo with the baby over her mother's shoulder.
When they reached the door, Leneli sat down on the step, and Mother Adolf put the baby in her arms and went at once into the quiet house. Then there was a sound of quick steps about the kitchen, a rattling of the stove, and a clatter of tins which must have pleased the cuckoo, and soon she reappeared in the door with a bowl and spoon in her hands.
The bowl she gave to Leneli, and little Roseli, crowing with delight, seized the spoon and stuck it first into an eye, and then into her tiny pink button of a nose, in a frantic effort to find her mouth. It was astonishing to Baby Roseli how that rosebud mouth of hers managed to hide itself, even though she was careful to keep it wide open while she searched for it. When she had explored her whole face with the spoon in vain, Leneli took the tiny hand in hers and guided each mouthful down the little red lane.
Over their heads the robin in the cherry tree by the door sat high up on a twig and chirped a good-night song to his nestlings. "Cherries are ripe, cherries are ripe, cherries are ripe in June," sang the robin. At least that is what Leneli told the baby he said, and surely she ought to know.
Before Baby Roseli had finished the last mouthful of her supper, Father and Seppi appeared with the bundles, and then there was the clatter of many little hoofs on the hard earth of the door-yard, and round the corner of the old gray farm-house came big brother Fritz with the goats.
With Fritz came Bello, his faithful dog, barking and wagging his tail for joy at getting home again. Bello ran at once to Leneli and licked her hand, nearly upsetting the bowl of milk in his noisy greeting, and the baby crowed with delight and seized him by his long, silky ears.
"Down, Bello, down," cried Leneli, holding the bowl high out of reach; "you'll spill the baby's supper!" And Bello, thinking she meant that he should beg for it, sat up on his hind legs with his front paws crossed and barked three times, as Fritz had taught him to do.
"He must have a bite or he'll forget his manners," laughed Fritz, and Leneli broke off a crumb of bread and tossed it to him. Bello caught it before it fell, swallowed it at one gulp, and begged for more.
"No, no," said Leneli, "good old Bello, go now with Fritz and help him drive the goats to the milking-shed, and by and by you shall have your supper."
Fritz whistled, and instantly Bello was off like a shot after Nanni, the brown goat, who was already on her way to the garden to eat the young green carrot-tops she saw peeping out of the ground.
"It's time that child was in bed," said the cuckoo to himself, and out he came from his little house and called "cuckoo" seven times so reproachfully that Leneli hastened upstairs with the baby and put her down in her crib at once.
Baby Roseli did not agree with the cuckoo. She wanted to stay up and play with Bello, and hear the robin sing, but Leneli sat down beside the crib, and while Mother Adolf milked the goats she sang over and over again an old song.
"Sleep, baby, sleep!
Thy father watches the sheep,
Thy mother is shaking the dreamland tree
And down falls a little dream on thee.
Sleep, baby, sleep!"
"Sleep, baby, sleep!
The large stars are the sheep,
The little stars are the lambs, I guess,
And the silver moon is the shepherdess.
Sleep, baby, sleep!"
Over and over she sang it, until at last the heavy lids closed over the blue eyes. Then she crept quietly down the creaking stairs in the dark, and ate her bread and cheese and drank her soup by candle-light with her father and mother, Seppi and Fritz, all seated about the kitchen table.
By nine o'clock the room was once more silent and deserted, the little mouse was creeping quietly from his hole in the wall, and Bello lay by the door asleep with his nose on his paws. High over Mt. Pilatus the moon sailed through the star-lit sky, bathing the old gray farm-house in silver light and playing hide and seek with shadows on the snow-capped peaks.
"Cuckoo," called the tiny wooden cuckoo nine times, and at once
the bells in the village steeple answered him. "That's as it
should be," ticked the cuckoo. "That church-bell is really very
intelligent. Let me see;
Animal crackers and cocoa to drink,
That is the finest of suppers I think;
When I'm grown up and can have what I please
I think I shall always insist upon these.
What do you choose when you're offered a treat?
When Mother says, "What would you like best to eat?"
Is it waffles and syrup, or cinnamon toast?
It's cocoa and animals that I love most!
The kitchen's the cosiest place that I know;
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see
The cocoa and animals waiting for me.
Daddy and Mother dine later in state,
With Mary to cook for them, Susan to wait;
But they don't have nearly as much fun as I
Who eat in the kitchen with Nurse standing by;
And Daddy once said, he would like to be me
Having cocoa and animals once more for tea.
WEEK 1 |
The night was dark, and never a star shone in the blackness of the sky. The wind howled as it swept across the troubled waters of the Firth of Forth, and there was no light on sea or land to guide any belated fishing-boat to a safe haven. It would have been a difficult and dangerous task for any sailor to steer his boat on such a night, and yet the one frail little barque that was tossing about in the stormy waters made its way surely and steadily towards the land.
It was indeed but a frail little boat that so gallantly held its way. Over the framework of wooden laths was stretched a covering of hides, scarcely strong enough to withstand the lash of the waves. There were no oars and no rudder, and the boat seemed empty save for a dark form that crouched at the bottom with white upturned face.
But though there was no one to guide the boat, still it went steadily onward, rising like a cork over the crests of the threatening waves, so that scarce a drop of their spray fell upon the dark figure that clung there so desperately.
Presently there was a grating sound, and then a wild sweep upward, as the boat was lifted on the crest of a wave and dashed high and dry upon a sandy shore, while the sea sank sullenly back. Then the dark figure rose quickly, and tried to peer with her wild sad eyes into the blackness around. She was but a maiden yet, and very beautiful, but her beauty was dimmed by the look of suffering and weariness that had paled her cheek and dulled her eyes. A king's daughter this, driven out by cruel hands, but carried by the pitiful waves to a safe haven.
All was very black and very still as the maiden gazed around, but presently a tiny glow of light showed through the darkness, and, stumbling as she went, she managed to reach the place where a few dying embers in a circle of rude stones marked the spot where some shepherds had left their fire to die out.
With a sob of thankfulness the tired traveller knelt and, with trembling breath, coaxed the ashes into a glow, and gathered some of the sticks that were scattered around to lay upon the embers. How good it was to feel the warmth stealing through her stiff frozen limbs; how comforting to see the merry little red tongues of flame lighting up the darkness that was so lonely and so terrible!
But another light had now begun to melt the darkness of the night. Far away in the east the long-looked-for dawn was lifting with its rosy finger the grey curtain of morning twilight. And with the light there came to the lonely maiden by the little fire, the light and joy of her life—her baby son, sent by God to comfort her. Poor little wailing child, he had but a cold welcome to this world of ours. There was no roof to cover him, no soft garments to enfold him; only his mother's arms to wrap him round, only the little red fire to warm him and bid him welcome.
It was thus that another Baby had come to earth in the stable at Bethlehem long ago, and this little one too, like the King of Heaven, found friends among the kindly shepherd folk. Not far off from the sandy beach the shepherds had been herding their flocks, and as they looked seaward in the dim light of dawn, they saw a thin curl of blue smoke rising from the shore. Surely, then, their fire had not died out, and it would be good to warm themselves in the chill morning air. They were rough strong men these shepherds, accustomed to a rough rude life, but when they came to the sandy beach and saw the poor young mother with her little newborn son, like the shepherds of old they too knelt down in reverence and with tender hands wrapped their warm coats about the mother and child, and brought out their poor breakfast, offering all that they had.
"We must away and tell the good Saint Servanus," said one. "He will care for these poor strangers."
"Hasten, then," cried another, "and we will follow on and gently bear the mother and her little one to the dwelling of the saint."
So it was arranged, and two of the younger shepherds started in hot haste to tell the good saint of the adventure that had befallen them. They knew that they would find him ready to listen to their story, for he ever rose with the dawn to offer his daily service to God.
"Father, father," they cried, as the old man came forth from the little church to meet them. "We have a strange thing to tell thee. On the shore of Culross we have but now found a fair young maiden with her newborn son. The child was born at dawn of day, and we would know if we may bring them both hither to thee."
A wonderful light shone on the face of the old man as he listened to the words. A child born at the dawn of day! Why, that must have been the meaning of the angel's song which had fallen on his wondering ears as he knelt before the altar! His heart had been lifted up in prayer when the song "Gloria in Excelsis" came floating down, and he waited for some sign to show what it all should mean.
Scarcely had the breathless shepherds finished their tale when the others followed on, one gently bearing the weary mother, while the other tenderly held the tiny babe in a fold of his cloak.
The old saint hurried forward with eager steps and held out his trembling hands to take the child.
"My dear one, my dear one," he cried, "blessed art thou that hast come in the name of the Lord."
So the old saint took the child to his heart. The echo of the heavenly voices still rang in his ears, and he felt sure that this little child sent to earth at the dawn of light would be one of the heralds of the True Light that had come into the world.
When a few days had passed and the poor mother had poured her sad tale into his kindly ears, Saint Servanus brought the maiden and her child to the font of the little church, and baptized the mother by the name of Thenew. Then he took the baby in his arms and poured the water over its little downy head, giving him the name of Kentigern. But there was another name by which the child was often called, Mungo, or "dear one," the name used by the old man that early morning when he took the little one into his arms and into his heart.
Under the care of the good saint the child grew into a strong brave boy. He had no lack of companions, for many boys were gathered at the monastery to be taught and trained by the learned Saint Servanus. With them he learned his lessons and played his games, but, although he was kind and generous, the boys did not greatly love him. It was not so much that they envied his quickness at lessons, or his beautiful voice which soared above all the rest in the daily hymn of praise: this they might have suffered, but they felt sure that the master loved him best, and this was more than they could bear. They began to wish with all their hearts that Kentigern would be tempted to do some mean evil deed and thus lose favour in the eyes of the old man, who took such a pride in his goodness and cleverness.
The saints of God have always had a special love for His dumb creatures, and have treated both birds and beasts with tender care. The blessed Saint Francis was never so happy as when among his "little sisters the birds," while all animals came to him at his call as if to a friend. Saint Servanus too had his favourite "little sister," a tiny robin-redbreast, so tame that it would come and perch on the old man's shoulder, hop upon his hand, and at matins would cheerfully chirp its little hymn of praise with the rest. It was so small and trustful, so sure of its welcome when it came hopping down, cocking its head on one side and looking at him with its bright eye, that the saint would smile and call it his spoilt child. Before eating his own meals the "little sister" had first her share.
Now the boys who were so jealous of Kentigern were inclined to hate the poor little robin too. Many a time had the master bade them take a lesson from his little favourite, mark its prompt obedience in coming at once when it was called, watch its busy ways, and note how cheerful was its song of praise. They answered never a word, but in their hearts they thought it was by no means pleasant to be sent to learn lessons from a silly little bird.
So the evil feeling grew until at last one night, when the saint had gone into the church alone, they found the redbreast chirping away on a branch outside the door, and, as it was so tame, they caught it with the greatest ease. At first they did not mean to harm it, only to frighten it a little, but their ways were rough, and ere long they took to quarrelling as to who should hold it, and began to snatch it from each other's grasp. Then before they half realised what they had done, the poor little bird lay dead in their hands, its feathers all torn and ruffled, its bright eyes closed, its head hanging limp and still. A dreadful hush fell on the noisy throng as they looked at their work.
"Oh! what will the master say?" cried one.
"We dare not tell him," said another.
"He will know without any telling," said a third.
"Oh! how we shall be whipped," wailed all the rest in chorus.
A shiver went round at the words. Each one knew exactly how that whipping would smart, and almost felt it already.
"Here comes the good boy Kentigern," cried another; "he of course is safe from blame, just as he always is."
The boys looked at one another. The same thought had struck them all. Why not put the blame on Kentigern and say that he had killed the bird? Would that not serve two good ends? They would be saved from the master's wrath and that most certain whipping, and Kentigern would be humbled and cast out of favour.
Even as they hurriedly agreed to this plan, the church door opened and the saint came forth. His keen eye saw at once that something was wrong. The crowd of silent boys were all looking expectantly towards him, and in their midst stood Kentigern bending over something which he held in his hand.
"What mishap has befallen?" asked the old man, gazing at the eager faces.
"It is Kentigern," they cried with one voice all together. "He has killed thy little bird."
The master said nothing, but looked at the silent figure bending over the little bunch of ruffled feathers. Kentigern did not seem to hear or to heed the loud accusation. Very gently he stroked the feathers and laid his cheek against the tiny body that was still warm. Then he knelt down, and, raising one hand, made the sign of the cross over the bird.
"Lord Jesus Christ," he prayed, "in whose hands is the breath of every creature, give back to this bird the breath of life, that Thy blessed name may be glorified for ever." And as he prayed there was a faint stirring among the feathers, a ruffling of the wings, and the robin flew to its safe shelter on the shoulder of the master. Now the old chronicle which tells this tale does not add whether the boys received the whipping which they had feared, but we trust that their forebodings were smartly realised. If so, it may have taught them to treat God's creatures more gently, but it certainly did not cure them of the sin of envy and jealousy, for Kentigern continued to have but a hard time amongst them.
It was the rule of Saint Servanus that each of the boys should in turn take charge of the lighting of the sanctuary lamps. Thus the boy whose turn it was to see that the lamps were trimmed and lighted was obliged to keep up the fires while all the rest were in bed, so that there should not fail to be a spark ready to kindle light for the early service. When it fell to Kentigern's turn, the boys thought of a fresh plan to bring disgrace upon his head.
As soon as all the fires had been carefully made up, and Kentigern had gone to rest, the other boys crept silently out of bed and went the round of the monastery, raking out every fire. Not a spark did they leave that could light a single lamp, and then they went joyfully back to bed, feeling well satisfied with their work.
At cockcrow Kentigern rose as usual to go and make ready for the early service, but he found every fire black and dead. Search as he might, there was no means of kindling a light, although he had built up each fire carefully to last until morning.
Then the boy's heart was full of anger. All the wrongs he had suffered patiently, all the unkind tricks of the other boys rose up in his memory, and he felt that he could bear it no longer. It was all so mean and underhand. They did not dare stand up and openly defy him, for they knew he was brave and fearless, but in the dark they plotted and planned how they might punish and disgrace him. No; he would stand it no longer; he would leave the monastery and make his own way in the world.
So forth he went, swinging along with great angry strides until he came to the hedge that bounded the monastery lands. By this time his anger had begun to cool and leave room for other thoughts. After all it was rather cowardly to run away, even from injustice and persecution, for it meant also running away from duty and the good old man who was like a father to him. What would the master say when he entered the church and found it in darkness, the altar lights unlit, the lamps untended?
Very slowly, then, Kentigern retraced his steps, holding in his hand the hazel twig which he had broken off from the hedge when he stood debating which road to take. He was thinking deeply as he walked, and it suddenly flashed across his mind that there was a way of obtaining the light he needed which as yet he had not tried. Surely God would not fail to help him. So, just as he had prayed in faith over the dead bird, he knelt down on the dewy grass and, making the holy sign over the little twig, prayed God to kindle in it a living spark that might light the lamps for His service. The legend tells us that as he prayed God did indeed send down fire that lit into a tiny torch the hazel twig, and that it burnt steadily until all the lamps in the church were lit, one by one.
Again there is no mention of the whipping which those boys deserved, but Kentigern was no tale-bearer, and this his enemies knew full well.
A diamond or a coal?
A diamond, if you please:
Who cares about a clumsy coal
Beneath the summer trees?
A diamond or a coal?
A coal, sir, if you please:
One comes to care about the coal
What time the waters freeze.