2. That moss-covered vessel I hail as a treasure; For often, at noon, when returned from the field, I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure, The purest and sweetest that nature can yield. How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing, And quick to the white-pebble bottom it fell; Then soon, with the emblem of truth overflowing, And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well: The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket, The moss-covered bucket arose from the well.
3. How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it, As poised on the curb, it inclined to my lips! Not a full blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it, Though filled with the nectar which Jupiter sips; And now, far removed from thy loved situation, The tear of regret will intrusively swell, As fancy reverts to my father's plantation, And sighs for the bucket which hangs in the well: The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket, The moss-covered bucket, which hangs in the well.
DEFINITIONS.—l. Cat'a-ract, a great fall of water. 2. O-ver—flow'ing, running over. Ex'qui-site, exceeding, extreme. 3. Poised', balanced. Goblet, a kind of cup or drinking vessel. Nec'tar, the drink of the gods. In-tru'sive-ly, without right or welcome. Re-verts', returns.
EXERCISES.—Who was the author of "The Old Oaken Bucket"? What is said of this piece? What does the poem describe? and what feeling does it express?
LXXIII. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (204)
1. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him; and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying,
2. Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
3. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
4. Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
5. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven. * * *
6. Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
7. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
8. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
9. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
10. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. * * *
11. Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
12. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. * * *
13. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
14. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. * * *
15. Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.
16. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
17. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
DEFINITIONS.—l. Dis-ci'ple, one who receives instruction from another. 2. Bless'ed, happy. In-her'it, to come into possession of. 5. Re-vile', to speak against without cause. Per'se-cute, to punish on account of religion. 6. For-swear', to swear falsely. 9. De-spite'ful-ly, maliciously, cruelly. 10. Pub'li-cans, tax collectors (they were often oppressive and were hated by the Jews). 11. Mete, to measure. Mote, a small particle. 12. Hyp'o-crite, a false pretender. 17. Scribes, men among the Jews who read and explained the law to the people.
EXERCISES.—Who delivered this sermon? Who are blessed? and why? Is it right to swear? How should we treat our enemies? Should we judge others harshly? What does Jesus say of him who finds faults in his neighbor, but does not see his own? What is said about prayer? About our conduct to others?
LXXIV. THE YOUNG WITNESS. (207) By S. H. HAMMOND.
1. A little girl nine years of age was brought into court, and offered as a witness against a prisoner who was on trial for a crime committed in her father's house.
2. "Now, Emily," said the counsel for the prisoner, "I wish to know if you understand the nature of an oath?"
3. "I don't know what you mean," was the simple answer.
4. "Your Honor," said the counsel, addressing the judge, "it is evident that this witness should be rejected. She does not understand the nature of an oath."
5. "Let us see," said the judge. "Come here, my daughter."
6. Assured by the kind tone and manner of the judge, the child stepped toward him, and looked confidingly in his face, with a calm, clear eye, and in a manner so artless and frank that it went straight to the heart.
7. "Did you ever take an oath?" inquired the judge.
8. The little girl stepped back with a look of horror; and the red blood rose and spread in a blush all over her face and neck, as she answered, "No, sir." She thought he intended to ask if she had ever used profane language.
9. "I do not mean that," said the judge, who saw her mistake; "I mean were you ever a witness?"
10. "No, sir; I never was in court before," was the answer.
11. He handed her the Bible open. "Do you know that book, my daughter?"
12. She looked at it and answered, "Yes, sir; it is the Bible."
13. "Do you ever read in it?" he asked.
14. "Yes, sir; every evening."
15. "Can you tell me what the Bible is?" inquired the judge.
16. "It is the word of the great God," she answered.
17. "Well," said the judge, "place your hand upon this Bible, and listen to what I say;" and he repeated slowly and solemnly the following oath: "Do you swear that in the evidence which you shall give in this case, you will tell the truth, and nothing but the truth; and that you will ask God to help you?"
18. "I do," she replied.
19. "Now," said the judge, "you have been sworn as a witness; will you tell me what will befall you if you do not tell the truth?"
20. "I shall be shut up in the state prison," answered the child.
21. "Anything else?" asked the judge.
22. "I shall never go to heaven," she replied.
23. "How do you know this?" asked the judge again.
24. The child took the Bible, turned rapidly to the chapter containing the commandments, and, pointing to the one which reads, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," said, "I learned that before I could read."
25. "Has anyone talked with you about being a witness in court here against this man?" inquired the judge.
26. "Yes, sir," she replied, "my mother heard they wanted me to be a witness; and last night she called me to her room, and asked me to tell her the Ten Commandments; and then we kneeled down together, and she prayed that I might understand how wicked it was to bear false witness against my neighbor, and that God would help me, a little child, to tell the truth as it was before him.
27. "And when I came up here with father, she kissed me, and told me to remember the Ninth Commandment, and that God would hear every word that I said."
28. "Do you believe this?" asked the judge, while a tear glistened in his eye, and his lip quivered with emotion.
29. "Yes, sir," said the child, with a voice and manner which showed that her conviction of the truth was perfect.
30. "God bless you, my child," said the judge, "you have a good mother. The witness is competent," he continued. "Were I on trial for my life, and innocent of the charge against me, I would pray God for such a witness as this. Let her be examined."
31. She told her story with the simplicity of a child, as she was; but her voice and manner carried conviction of her truthfulness to every heart.
32. The lawyers asked her many perplexing questions, but she did not vary in the least from her first statement.
33. The truth, as spoken by a little child, was sublime. Falsehood and perjury had preceded her testimony; but before her testimony, falsehood was scattered like chaff.
34. The little child, for whom a mother had prayed for strength to be given her to speak the truth as it was before God, broke the cunning device of matured villainy to pieces, like a potter's vessel. The strength that her mother prayed for was given her; and the sublime and terrible simplicity,—terrible to the prisoner and his associates,—was like a revelation from God himself.
DEFINITIONS.—l. Wit'ness, one who gives testimony. Com—mit'ted, done, performed. 2. Coun'sel, a lawyer. 4. Re-ject'ed, refused. 6. As-sured', made bold. Con-fid'ing-ly, with trust. 8. Pro-fane', irreverent, taking the name of God in vain. 33. Per'ju-ry, the act of willfully making a false oath. Chaff, the light dry husk of grains or grasses. 34. Ma-tured', perfected, fully developed. Pot'ter, one whose occupation is to make earthen vessels. Rev—e-la'tion, the act of disclosing or showing what was before unknown.
EXERCISES.—What is this story about? Why did the counsel wish to have Emily refused as a witness? Was she a fit person to be a witness? How was this shown? Which commandment forbids us to bear false witness? What was the result of Emily's testimony?
LXXV. KING SOLOMON AND THE ANTS. (211)
By John Greenleaf Whittier, born near Haverhill, Mass., In 1807, and died at Hampton Falls, N. H., In 1892. Until he was eighteen years old he worked on the farm, and during that time learned the trade at a shoemaker. He afterwards became an editor and one of the first poets of America.
1. Out from Jerusalem The king rode with his great War chiefs and lords of state, And Sheba's queen with them.
2. Proud in the Syrian sun, In gold and purple sheen, The dusky Ethiop queen Smiled on King Solomon.
3. Wisest of men, he knew The languages of all The creatures great or small That trod the earth or flew.
4. Across an ant-hill led The king's path, and he heard Its small folk, and their word He thus interpreted:
5. "Here comes the king men greet As wise and good and just, To crush us in the dust Under his heedless feet."
6. The great king bowed his head, And saw the wide surprise Of the Queen of Sheba's eyes As he told her what they said.
7. "O king!" she whispered sweet, "Too happy fate have they Who perish in thy way Beneath thy gracious feet!
8. "Thou of the God-lent crown, Shall these vile creatures dare Murmur against thee where The knees of kings kneel down?"
9. "Nay," Solomon replied, "The wise and strong should seek The welfare of the weak;" And turned his horse aside.
10. His train, with quick alarm, Curved with their leader round The ant-hill's peopled mound, And left it free from harm.
11. The jeweled head bent low; "O king!" she said, "henceforth The secret of thy worth And wisdom well I know.
12. "Happy must be the State Whose ruler heedeth more The murmurs of the poor Than flatteries of the great."
DEFINITIONS.—4. In-ter'pret-ed, explained the meaning of. 5. Greet, Address, salute. 9. Wel'fare, happiness. 10. Train, a body of followers. 12. Flat'ter-ies, praises for the purpose of gratifying vanity or gaining favor.
LXXVI. RIVERMOUTH THEATER. (213)
From "The Story of a Bad Boy," by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. The author was born at Portsmouth, N. H., in 1836. When quite young his family moved to Louisiana, but he was sent back to New England to be educated, and later he located at New York. He is a well-known writer of both prose and poetry.
1. "Now, boys, what shall we do?" I asked, addressing a thoughtful conclave of seven, assembled in our barn one dismal, rainy afternoon. "Let's have a theater," suggested Binny Wallace.
2. The very thing! But where? The loft of the stable was ready to burst with hay provided for Gypsy, but the long room over the carriage house was unoccupied. The place of all places! My managerial eye saw at a glance its capabilities for a theater.
3. I had been to the play a great many times in New Orleans, and was wise in matters pertaining to the drama. So here, in due time, was set up some extraordinary scenery of my own painting. The curtain, I recollect, though it worked smoothly enough on other occasions, invariably hitched during the performances.
4. The theater, however, was a success, as far as it went. I retired from the business with no fewer than fifteen hundred pins, after deducting the headless, the pointless, and the crooked pins with which our doorkeeper frequently got "stuck." From first to last we took in a great deal of this counterfeit money. The price of admission to the "Rivermouth Theater" was twenty pins. I played all the principal characters myself—not that I was a finer actor than the other boys, but because I owned the establishment.
5. At the tenth representation, my dramatic career was brought to a close by an unfortunate circumstance. We were playing the drama of "William Tell, the Hero of Switzerland." Of course I was William Tell, in spite of Fred Langdon, who wanted to act that character himself. I wouldn't let him, so he withdrew from the company, taking the only bow and arrow we had.
6. I made a crossbow out of a piece of whalebone, and did very well without him. We had reached that exciting scene where Gesler, the Austrian tyrant, commands Tell to shoot the apple from his son's head. Pepper Whitcomb, who played all the juvenile and women parts, was my son.
7. To guard against mischance, a piece of pasteboard was fastened by a handkerchief over the upper portion of Whitcomb's face, while the arrow to be used was sewed up in a strip of flannel. I was a capital marksman, and the big apple, only two yards distant, turned its russet cheek fairly towards me.
8. I can see poor little Pepper now, as he stood without flinching, waiting for me to perform my great feat. I raised the crossbow amid the breathless silence of the crowded audience—consisting of seven boys and three girls, exclusive of Kitty Collins, who insisted on paying her way in with a clothespin. I raised the crossbow, I repeat. Twang! went the whipcord; but, alas! instead of hitting the apple, the arrow flew right into Pepper Whitcomb's mouth, which happened to be open at the time, and destroyed my aim.
9. I shall never be able to banish that awful moment from my memory. Pepper's roar, expressive of astonishment, indignation, and pain, is still ringing in my ears. I looked upon him as a corpse, and, glancing not far into the dreary future, pictured myself led forth to execution in the presence of the very same spectators then assembled.
10. Luckily, poor Pepper was not seriously hurt; but Grandfather Nutter, appearing in the midst of the confusion (attracted by the howls of young Tell), issued an injunction against all theatricals thereafter, and the place was closed; not, however, without a farewell speech from me, in which I said that this would have been the proudest moment of my life if I hadn't hit Pepper Whitcomb in the mouth. Whereupon the audience (assisted, I am glad to state, by Pepper) cried, "Hear! hear!"
11. I then attributed the accident to Pepper himself, whose mouth, being open at the instant I fired, acted upon the arrow much after the fashion of a whirlpool, and drew in the fatal shaft. I was about to explain how a comparatively small maelstrom could suck in the largest ship, when the curtain fell of its own accord, amid the shouts of the audience.
12. This was my last appearance on any stage. It was some time, though, before I heard the end of the William Tell business. Malicious little boys who hadn't been allowed to buy tickets to my theater used to cry out after me in the street,-"'Who killed Cock Robin?'"
DEFINITIONS.—l. Con'clave, a private meeting. 2. Man-a-ge'ri-al, of or pertaining to a manager. 4. De-duct'ing, taking away, subtracting. 5. Ca-reer', course of action. 8. Au'di-ence, an assembly of hearers. 9. Ex-e-cu'tion, a putting to death by law. 10. In-junc'tion, a command. 11. At-trib'ut-ed, assigned, charged. Mael'strom (pro, mal'strum), a whirlpool.
NOTE.—The Revised Fifth Reader of this Series contains the portion of "William Tell" probably alluded to. See McGuffey's Fifth Reader, pp. 207-216.
LXXVII. ALFRED THE GREAT. (217)
1. More than a thousand years ago, (in the year 849), a prince was born in England, who afterwards became one of the most celebrated and best loved kings in the world. His name was Alfred—afterwards called Alfred the Great—and he was the favorite son both of the king and queen.
2. In those days the common people were very ignorant; few of them could even read and write. There were no schools, and the monasteries, where almost the only teaching had been done, were nearly all destroyed in the wars which were continually going on. Only the higher classes had any chance to study, and even they paid much more attention to fighting than to studying.
3. But Alfred was different from most persons of his time. Even when a little boy, he delighted in listening to poems and to the ballads which harpers used to sing, and he learned many of them by heart. When he was twelve years old, his mother, the queen, offered to give a volume of poems to that one of her four sons who would first learn to read it. Alfred was the youngest of them all, yet he easily won the prize of which his brothers thought so little.
4. But, as has been said, these were stirring times, and Alfred was soon called on to show his great abilities as a soldier. The Danes, a warlike people, were continually swooping down in their vessels upon the coast of England. Often they spread over the entire country, plundering and burning the towns, and killing the people.
5. In the midst of these invasions Alfred became king, when he was only twenty-two years old. He proved as good a warrior as he was a student. He thought that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. He was generally successful against the Danes, but at one time they seemed to have the country entirely in their power, and Alfred was compelled to hide for his life.
6. For some time he dressed as a peasant, and lived in the cottage of a cowherd, who was so careful of his king's safety that he did not even tell his wife who he was. So she treated the king as a common peasant, and one day gave him a sharp scolding because he allowed some cakes to burn on the griddle, after she had left him to watch them. She told him he was clever enough at eating cakes though he managed so badly at baking them.
7. When the search for him grew less active, Alfred gradually collected some of his followers, with whom he encamped on a small spot of firm ground in the center of a bog. It was surrounded by almost impassable forests, and Alfred fortified the place so that it could not well be taken. Then he made frequent sudden and successful attacks on the enemy until his troops and the people became encouraged.
8. One victory in particular, when they captured a banner which the Danes thought enchanted, led Alfred to take bolder steps. He wished to find out the exact condition of the enemy, and, for this purpose, disguised himself as a harper and entered their camp. He was so successful in his disguise that he remained there some days, even being admitted to the tent of the Danish leader Guthrum.
9. He found their entire army living in careless security, and so he determined to make a sudden and bold attack on them, to try and rid his country once more of these cruel invaders. He summoned his people about him from far and wide. Many of them had long thought their beloved king dead, but now all eagerly obeyed his call.
10. He at once led them against that part of the camp which he had seen to be most unguarded. The attack was entirely unexpected; and, although the Danes were greater in numbers, they were defeated with great slaughter. Some of them, with their leader, fled to a fortified place, but were soon obliged to surrender.
11. Alfred granted them their lives, and settled them in a part of his kingdom where nearly all his own people had been destroyed. He hoped by this to change obstinate enemies into useful friends who would protect England from further attacks of their own countrymen. However, some years later, when the Danes made another invasion, these people joined them in fighting against Alfred, but he soon succeeded in driving them all out of the country.
12. Much as Alfred did for his people in war, he did more in time of peace. Above all else he gave careful attention to their education. He rebuilt the monasteries and aided the young University of Oxford. He also founded many schools, to which every owner of a certain portion of land was compelled to send his children.
13. But he did as much good by the example that he set as by these acts. His time was divided into three parts. One was given to business, one to refreshment by sleep and food, and the third to study and devotion. Clocks and watches, and probably even sundials, were then unknown, so these divisions were marked by burning candles of equal lengths.
14. Alfred did not study for his own pleasure merely, but translated and wrote many works for the good of his people, using the simple language which they could easily understand and enjoy. His person was handsome and dignified, full of grace and activity. But the more noble beauty was within, in the enlightened mind and virtuous heart of the king. After his name, which has its place on an ancient record of English kings, is written the noble title of "Truth Teller."
DEFINITIONS.—2. Mon'as-ter-y, a religious house where monks live. 5. In-va'sion, the warlike entrance of an army. 8. Dis-guised', hidden by an unusual dress and appearance. 12. U-ni—ver'si-ty, a school of the highest grade, in which are taught all branches of learning. 14. Trans-lat'ed, changed from one language to another. En-light'ened, well informed.
LXXVII. LIVING ON A FARM. (220)
1. How brightly through the mist of years, My quiet country home appears! My father busy all the day In plowing corn or raking hay; My mother moving with delight Among the milk pans, silver-bright; We children, just from school set free, Filling the garden with our glee. The blood of life was flowing warm When I was living on a farm.
2. I hear the sweet churchgoing bell, As o'er the fields its music fell, I see the country neighbors round Gathering beneath the pleasant sound; They stop awhile beside the door, To talk their homely matters o'er The springing corn, the ripening grain, And "how we need a little rain;" "A little sun would do no harm, We want good weather for the farm."
3. When autumn came, what joy to see The gathering of the husking bee, To hear the voices keeping tune, Of girls and boys beneath the moon, To mark the golden corn ears bright, More golden in the yellow light! Since I have learned the ways of men, I often turn to these again, And feel life wore its highest charm. When I was living on the farm.
LXXIX. HUGH IDLE AND MR. TOIL. (221)
Adapted from the story of "Little Daffydowndilly," by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The author was born at Salem, Mass., in 1804, and ranks among the first of American novelists. He died in 1864.
1. Hugh Idle loved to do only what was agreeable, and took no delight in labor of any kind. But while Hugh was yet a little boy, he was sent away from home, and put under the care of a very strict schoolmaster, who went by the name of Mr. Toil.
2. Those who knew him best, affirmed that Mr. Toil was a very worthy character, and that he had done more good, both to children and grown people, than anybody else in the world. He had, however, a severe and ugly countenance; his voice was harsh; and all his ways and customs were disagreeable to our young friend, Hugh Idle.
3. The whole day long this terrible old schoolmaster sulked about among his scholars, with a big cane in his hand; and unless a lad chose to attend constantly and quietly to his book, he had no chance of enjoying a single quiet moment. "This will never do for me," thought Hugh; "I'll run off, and try to find my way home."
4. So the very next morning off he started, with only some bread and cheese for his breakfast, and very little pocket money to pay his expenses. He had gone but a short distance, when he overtook a man of grave and sedate appearance trudging at a moderate pace along the road.
5. "Good morning, my fine lad!" said the stranger; and his voice seemed hard and severe, yet had a sort of kindness in it; "whence do you come so early, and whither are you going?"
6. Now Hugh was a boy of very frank disposition, and had never been known to tell a lie in all his life. Nor did he tell one now, but confessed that he had run away from school on account of his great dislike to Mr. Toil. "Oh, very well, my little friend!" answered the stranger; "then we will go together; for I likewise have had a good deal to do with Mr. Toil, and should be glad to find some place where he was never heard of." So they walked on very sociably side by side.
7. By and by their road led them past a field, where some haymakers were at work. Hugh could not help thinking how much pleasanter it must be to make hay in the sunshine, under the blue sky, than to learn lessons all day long, shut up in a dismal schoolroom, continually watched by Mr. Toil.
8. But in the midst of these thoughts, while he was stopping to peep over the stone wall, he started back and caught hold of his companion's hand. "Quick, quick!" cried he; "let us run away, or he will catch us!"
9. "Who will catch us?" asked the stranger.
10. "Mr. Toil, the old schoolmaster," answered Hugh; "don't you see him among the haymakers?" and Hugh pointed to an elderly man, who seemed to be the owner of the field.
11. He was busily at work in his shirt sleeves. The drops of sweat stood upon his brow; and he kept constantly crying out to his work people to make hay while the sun shone. Strange to say, the features of the old farmer were precisely the same as those of Mr. Toil, who at that very moment must have been just entering the schoolroom.
12. "Don't be afraid," said the stranger; "this is not Mr. Toil, the schoolmaster, but a brother of his, who was bred a farmer. He won't trouble you, unless you become a laborer on his farm."
13. Hugh believed what his companion said, but was glad when they were out of sight of the old farmer who bore such a singular resemblance to Mr. Toil. The two travelers came to a spot where some carpenters were building a house. Hugh begged his companion to stop awhile, for it was a pretty sight to see how neatly the carpenters did their work with their saws, planes, and hammers; and he was beginning to think he too should like to use the saw, and the plane, and the hammer, and be a carpenter himself. But suddenly he caught sight of something that made him seize his friend's hand, in a great fright.
14. "Make haste! quick, quick!" cried he; "there's old Mr. Toil again." The stranger cast his eyes where Hugh pointed his finger, and saw an elderly man, who seemed to be overseeing the carpenters, as he went to and fro about the unfinished house, marking out the work to be done, and urging the men to be diligent; and wherever he turned his hard and wrinkled visage, they sawed and hammered as if for dear life.
15. "Oh, no! this is not Mr. Toil, the schoolmaster," said the stranger; "it is another brother of his who follows the trade of carpenter."
16. "I am very glad to hear it," quoth Hugh; "but if you please, sir, I should like to get out of his way as soon as possible."
DEFINITIONS.—1. A-gree'a-ble, pleasing. 2. Af-firmed', declared. 4. Ex-pens'es, costs. Se-date', calm. Mod'er-ate, neither fast nor slow, Dis-po-si'tion, natural state of mind. Con-fessed', ac-knowledged. So'cia-bly, in a friendly way. 11. Fea'tures, the distinctive marks of the face. 13. Re-sem'blance, likeness. 14. Dil'i-gent, industrious. Vis'age, the face. 16. Quoth, said.
LXXX. HUGH IDLE AND MR. TOIL. (Concluded.) (224)
1. Now Hugh and the stranger had not gone much further, when they met a company of soldiers, gayly dressed, with feathers in their caps, and glittering muskets on their shoulders. In front marched the drummers and fifers, making such merry music that Hugh would gladly have followed them to the end of the world. If he were only a soldier, he said to himself, old Mr. Toil would never venture to look him in the face.
2. "Quickstep! forward! march!" shouted a gruff voice.
3. Little Hugh started in great dismay; for this voice sounded precisely like that which he had heard every day in Mr. Toil's schoolroom. And turning his eyes to the captain of the company, what should he see but the very image of old Mr. Toil himself, in an officer's dress, to be sure, but looking as ugly and disagreeable as ever.
4. "This is certainly old Mr. Toil," said Hugh, in a trembling voice. "Let us away, for fear he should make us enlist in his company."
5. "You are mistaken again, my little friend," replied the stranger very composedly. "This is only a brother of Mr. Toil's, who has served in the army all his life. You and I need not be afraid of him."
6. "Well, well," said Hugh, "if you please, sir, I don't want to see the soldiers any more." So the child and the stranger resumed their journey; and, after awhile, they came to a house by the roadside, where a number of young men and rosy-cheeked girls, with smiles on their faces, were dancing to the sound of a fiddle.
7. "Oh, let us stop here," cried Hugh; "Mr. Toil will never dare to show his face where there is a fiddler, and where people are dancing and making merry."
8. But the words had scarcely died away on the little boy's tongue, when, happening to cast his eyes on the fiddler, whom should he behold again but the likeness of Mr. Toil, armed with a fiddle bow this time, and flourishing it with as much ease and dexterity as if he had been a fiddler all his life.
9. "Oh, dear me!" whispered he, turning pale; "it seems as if there were nobody but Mr. Toil in the world."
10. "This is not your old schoolmaster," observed the stranger, "but another brother of his, who has learned to be a fiddler. He is ashamed of his family, and generally calls himself Master Pleasure; but his real name is Toil, and those who know him best think him still more disagreeable than his brothers."
11. "Pray, let us go on," said Hugh.
12. Well, thus the two went wandering along the highway and in shady lanes and through pleasant villages, and wherever they went, behold! there was the image of old Mr. Toil. If they entered a house, he sat in the parlor; if they peeped into the kitchen, he was there! He made himself at home in every cottage, and stole, under one disguise or another, into the most splendid mansions. Everywhere they stumbled on some of the old schoolmaster's innumerable brothers.
13. At length, little Hugh found himself completely worn out with running away from Mr. Toil. "Take me back! take me back!" cried the poor fellow, bursting into tears. "If there is nothing but Toil all the world over, I may just as well go back to the schoolhouse."
14. "Yonder it is; there is the schoolhouse!" said the stranger; for though he and little Hugh had taken a great many steps, they had traveled in a circle instead of a straight line. "Come, we will go back to the school together."
15. There was something in his companion's voice that little Hugh now remembered; and it is strange that he had not remembered it sooner. Looking up into his face, behold! there again was the likeness of old Mr. Toil, so that the poor child had been in company with Toil all day, even while he had been doing his best to run away from him.
16. Little Hugh Idle, however, had learned a good lesson, and from that time forward was diligent at his task, because he now knew that diligence is not a whit more toilsome than sport or idleness. And when he became better acquainted with Mr. Toil, he began to think his ways were not so disagreeable, and that the old schoolmaster's smile of approbation made his face sometimes appear almost as pleasant as even that of Hugh's mother.
DEFINITIONS.—l. Ven'ture, to dare, to risk. 3. Dis-may', fright, terror. Pre-cise'ly, exactly. 4. En-list', to put one's name on a roll, to join. 5. Com-pos'ed-ly, calmly, quietly. 6. Re—sumed', recommenced. 10. Ob-served', remarked. 12. In-nu'mer—a-ble, not to be counted. 16. Ap-pro-ba'tion, the act of regarding with pleasure.
EXERCISES.—To whose school was Hugh Idle sent? Why did he run away? Relate the adventures of Hugh and the stranger. What lesson is taught by this story?
LXXXI. BURNING THE FALLOW. (227)
Adapted from "Roughing it in the Bush," a story by Mrs. Susanna Moodie (sister of Agnes Strickland), who was born in Suffolk, England, in 1803. She died in 1885.
1. The day was sultry, and towards noon a strong wind sprang up that roared in the pine tops like the dashing of distant billows, but without in the least degree abating the heat. The children were lying listlessly upon the floor, and the girl and I were finishing sunbonnets, when Mary suddenly exclaimed, "Bless us, mistress, what a smoke!"
2. I ran immediately to the door, but was not able to distinguish ten yards before me. The swamp immediately below us was on fire, and the heavy wind was driving a dense black cloud of smoke directly towards us.
3. "What can this mean?" I cried. "Who can have set fire to the fallow?" As I ceased speaking, John Thomas stood pale and trembling before me. "John, what is the meaning of this fire?"
4. "Oh, ma'am, I hope you will forgive me; it was I set fire to it, and I would give all I have in the world if I had not done it."
5. "What is the danger?"
6. "Oh, I'm afraid that we shall all be burnt up," said John, beginning to whimper. "What shall we do?"
7. "Why, we must get out of it as fast as we can, and leave the house to its fate."
8. "We can't get out," said the man, in a low, hollow tone, which seemed the concentration of fear; "I would have got out of it if I could; but just step to the back door, ma'am, and see."
9. Behind, before, on every side, we were surrounded by a wall of fire, burning furiously within a hundred yards of us, and cutting off all possibility of retreat; for, could we have found an opening through the burning heaps, we could not have seen our way through the dense canopy of smoke; and, buried as we were in the heart of the forest, no one could discover our situation till we were beyond the reach of help.
10. I closed the door, and went back to the parlor. Fear was knocking loudly at my heart, for our utter helplessness destroyed all hope of our being able to effect our escape. The girl sat upon the floor by the children, who, unconscious of the peril that hung over them, had both fallen asleep. She was silently weeping; while the boy who had caused the mischief was crying aloud.
11. A strange calm succeeded my first alarm. I sat down upon the step of the door, and watched the awful scene in silence. The fire was raging in the cedar swamp immediately below the ridge on which the house stood, and it presented a spectacle truly appalling.
12. From out of the dense folds of a canopy of black smoke—the blackest I ever saw—leaped up red forks of lurid flame as high as the tree tops, igniting the branches of a group of tall pines that had been left for saw logs. A deep gloom blotted out the heavens from our sight. The air was filled with fiery particles, which floated even to the doorstep—while the crackling and roaring of the flames might have been heard at a great distance.
13. To reach the shore of the lake, we must pass through the burning swamp, and not a bird could pass over it with unscorched wings. The fierce wind drove the flames at the sides and back of the house up the clearing; and our passage to the road or to the forest, on the right and left, was entirely obstructed by a sea of flames. Our only ark of safety was the house, so long as it remained untouched by the fire.
14. I turned to young Thomas, and asked him how long he thought that would he. "When the fire clears this little ridge in front, ma'am. The Lord have mercy on us then, or we must all go."
15. I threw myself down on the floor beside my children, and pressed them to my heart, while inwardly I thanked God that they were asleep, unconscious of danger, and unable by their cries to distract our attention from adopting any plan which might offer to effect their escape.
16. The heat soon became suffocating. We were parched with thirst, and there was not a drop of water in the house, and none to be procured nearer than the lake. I turned once more to the door, hoping that a passage might have been burnt through to the water. I saw nothing but a dense cloud of fire and smoke—could hear nothing but the crackling and roaring of flames, which was gaining so fast upon us that I felt their scorching breath in my face.
17. "Ah," thought I—and it was a most bitter thought—"what will my beloved husband say when he returns and finds that his poor wife and his dear girls have perished in this miserable manner? But God can save us yet."
18. The thought had scarcely found a voice in my heart before the wind rose to a hurricane, scattering the flames on all sides into a tempest of burning billows. I buried my head in my apron, for I thought that all was lost, when a most terrific crash of thunder burst over our heads, and, like the breaking of a waterspout, down came the rushing torrent of rain which had been pent up for so many weeks.
19. In a few minutes the chip yard was all afloat, and the fire effectually checked. The storm which, unnoticed by us, had been gathering all day, and which was the only one of any note we had that summer, continued to rage all night, and before morning had quite subdued the cruel enemy whose approach we had viewed with such dread.
DEFINITIONS.-l. A-bat'ing, lessening. List'less-ly, not paying attention, heedlessly. 3. Fal'low, a new clearing usually covered with brush heaps. 8. Con-cen-tra'tion, bringing into a small space, the essence. 9. Can'o-py, a covering or curtain. 10. Ef-fect', to bring to pass. 11. Suc-ceed'ed, followed. Ap-pall'ing, terrifying. 12. Lu'rid, dull red. Ig-nit'ing, setting on fire. 15. Dis-tract', con-fuse, perplex. 16. Parched, made very dry. 18. Wa'ter-spout, a column of water caught up by a whirlwind.
LXXXII. THE DYING SOLDIERS. (230)
1. A waste of land, a sodden plain, A lurid sunset sky, With clouds that fled and faded fast In ghostly phantasy; A field upturned by trampling feet, A field uppiled with slain, With horse and rider blent in death Upon the battle plain.
2. The dying and the dead lie low; For them, no more shall rise The evening moon, nor midnight stars, Nor day light's soft surprise: They will not wake to tenderest call, Nor see again each home, Where waiting hearts shall throb and break, When this day's tidings come.
3. Two soldiers, lying as they fell Upon the reddened clay— In daytime, foes; at night, in peace Breathing their lives away! Brave hearts had stirred each manly breast; Fate only, made them foes; And lying, dying, side by side, A softened feeling rose.
4. "Our time is short," one faint voice said; "To-day we've done our best On different sides: what matters now? To-morrow we shall rest! Life lies behind. I might not care For only my own sake; But far away are other hearts, That this day's work will break.
5. "Among New Hampshire's snowy hills, There pray for me to-night A woman, and a little girl With hair like golden light;" And at the thought, broke forth, at last, The cry of anguish wild, That would not longer be repressed "O God, my wife, my child!"
6. "And," said the other dying man, "Across the Georgia plain, There watch and wait for me loved ones I ne'er shall see again: A little girl, with dark, bright eyes, Each day waits at the door; Her father's step, her father's kiss, Will never greet her more.
7. "To-day we sought each other's lives: Death levels all that now; For soon before God's mercy seat Together we shall bow. Forgive each other while we may; Life's but a weary game, And, right or wrong, the morning sun Will find us, dead, the same."
8. The dying lips the pardon breathe; The dying hands entwine; The last ray fades, and over all The stars from heaven shine; And the little girl with golden hair, And one with dark eyes bright, On Hampshire's hills, and Georgia's plain, Were fatherless that night!
DEFINITIONS.—l. Sod'den, soaked. Phan'ta-sy, specter-like ap-pearance. Blent, mingled together. 2. Ti'dings, news. 5. An'guish, deep distress. Re-pressed', kept back. 8. Par'don, forgiveness. En-twine', clasp together.
EXERCISE.—What do the first two stanzas describe? What does the third? What did one soldier say to the other? Where was his home? What friends had he there? Where was the home of the other soldier? Who waited for him? Did they forgive each other?
LXXXIII. THE ATTACK ON NYMWEGEN. (233)
From "The History of the United Netherlands," by John Lothrop Motley, who was born in 1814, at Dorchester, Mass. He graduated at Harvard in 1831, and afterwards lived many years In Europe, writing the histories which made him famous. He died in 1877.
1. On the evening of the 10th of August, 1589, there was a wedding feast in one of the splendid mansions of the stately city. The festivities were prolonged until deep in the midsummer's night, and harp and viol were still inspiring the feet of the dancers, when on a sudden, in the midst of the holiday groups, appeared the grim visage of Martin Schenk, the man who never smiled.
2. Clad in no wedding garment, but in armor of proof, with morion on head, and sword in hand, the great freebooter strode heavily through the ballroom, followed by a party of those terrible musketeers who never gave or asked for quarter, while the affrighted revelers fluttered away before them.
3. Taking advantage of a dark night, he had just dropped down the river from his castle, with five and twenty barges, had landed with his most trusted soldiers in the foremost vessels, had battered down the gate of St. Anthony, and surprised and slain the guard.
4. Without waiting for the rest of his boats, he had then stolen with his comrades through the silent streets, and torn away the latticework, and other slight defenses on the rear of the house which they had now entered, and through which they intended to possess themselves of the market place.
5. Martin had long since selected this mansion as a proper position for his enterprise, but he had not been bidden to the wedding, and was somewhat disconcerted when he found himself on the festive scene which he had so grimly interrupted.
6. Some of the merrymakers escaped from the house, and proceeded to alarm the town; while Schenk hastily fortified his position, and took possession of the square. But the burghers and garrison were soon on foot, and he was driven back into the house.
7. Three times he recovered the square by main strength of his own arm, seconded by the handful of men whom he had brought with him, and three times he was beaten back by overwhelming numbers into the wedding mansion.
8. The arrival of the greater part of his followers, with whose assistance he could easily have mastered the city in the first moments of surprise, was mysteriously delayed. He could not account for their prolonged absence, and was meanwhile supported only by those who had arrived with him in the foremost barges.
9. The truth—of which he was ignorant—was, that the remainder of the flotilla, borne along by the strong and deep current of the Waal, then in a state of freshet, had shot past the landing place, and had ever since been vainly struggling against wind and tide to force their way back to the necessary point.
10. Meantime Schenk and his followers fought desperately in the market place, and desperately in the house which he had seized. But a whole garrison, and a town full of citizens in arms proved too much for him, and he was now hotly besieged in the mansion, and at last driven forth into the streets.
11. By this time day was dawning, the whole population, soldiers and burghers, men, women, and children, were thronging about the little band of marauders, and assailing them with every weapon and every missile to be found. Schenk fought with his usual ferocity, but at last the musketeers, in spite of his indignant commands, began rapidly to retreat toward the quay.
12. In vain Martin stormed and cursed, in vain with his own hand he struck more than one of his soldiers dead. He was swept along with the panic-stricken band, and when, shouting and gnashing his teeth with frenzy, he reached the quay at last, he saw at a glance why his great enterprise had failed.
13. The few empty barges of his own party were moored at the steps; the rest were half a mile off, contending hopelessly against the swollen and rapid Waal. Schenk, desperately wounded, was left almost alone upon the wharf, for his routed followers had plunged helter-skelter into the boats, several of which, overladen in the panic, sank at once, leaving the soldiers to drown or struggle with the waves.
14. The game was lost. Nothing was left the freebooter but retreat. Reluctantly turning his back on his enemies, now in full cry close behind him, Schenk sprang into the last remaining boat just pushing from the quay. Already overladen, it foundered with his additional weight, and Martin Schenk, encumbered with his heavy armor, sank at once to the bottom of the Waal.
15. Some of the fugitives succeeded in swimming down the stream, and were picked up by their comrades in the barges below the town, and so made their escape. Many were drowned with their captain. A few days afterward, the inhabitants of Nymwegen fished up the body of the famous partisan. He was easily recognized by his armor, and by his truculent face, still wearing the scowl with which he had last rebuked his followers.
DEFINITIONS.—2. Mo'ri-on, a kind of helmet. Free'boot-er, one who plunders. Mus-ket-eer', a soldier armed with a musket. Quar'ter, mercy. 6. Burgh'ers, inhabitants of a town. Gar'ri-son, troops stationed in a fort or town. 9. Flo-til'la, a fleet of small vessels. 11. Ma-raud'ers, plunderers. Quay (pro. ke), a wharf 14. Foun'dered, sank. En-cum'bered, weighed down. 15. Par'ti-san, a commander of a body of roving troops. Tru'cu-lent, fierce.
LXXXIV. THE SEASONS. (237)
H. G. Adams, an English writer, has compiled two volumes of poetical quotations, and is the author of several volumes of original poems. The following is from the "Story of the Seasons."
A bursting into greenness; A waking as from sleep; A twitter and a warble That make the pulses leap: A watching, as in childhood, For the flowers that, one by one, Open their golden petals To woo the fitful sun. A gust, a flash, a gurgle, A wish to shout and sing, As, filled with hope and gladness, We hail the vernal Spring.
Now is the high tide of the year, And whatever of life hath ebbed away Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer, Into every bare inlet and creek and bay. We may shut our eyes, but we can not help knowing That skies are clear and grass is growing; The breeze comes whispering in our ear, That dandelions are blossoming near, That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing, That the river is bluer than the sky, That the robin is plastering his house hard by; And if the breeze kept the good news back For other couriers we should not lack; We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,— And hark! how clear bold chanticleer, Warmed with the new wine of the year, Tells all in his lusty crowing. —Lowell.
Thomas Hood, author of the following selection, was born in 1798, at London, where he was editor of the "London Magazine," and died in 1845. He is best known as a humorist, but some of his poems are full of tender feeling.
The autumn is old; The sear leaves are flying; He hath gathered up gold And now he is dying: Old age, begin sighing!
The year's in the wane; There is nothing adorning; The night has no eve, And the day has no morning; Cold winter gives warning.
Charles T. Brooks translated the following selection from the original by the German poet, Ludwig Holty. Mr. Brooks was born at Salem, Mass., in 1813. After graduation at Harvard he entered the ministry. He translated much from the German, both of poetry and prose. He died in 1883.
Now no plumed throng Charms the wood with song; Icebound trees are glittering; Merry snowbirds, twittering, Fondly strive to cheer Scenes so cold and drear.
Winter, still I see Many charms in thee, Love thy chilly greeting, Snowstorms fiercely beating, And the dear delights Of the long, long nights.
LXXXV. BRANDYWINE FORD. (239)
Bayard Taylor was born at Kennett Square, Penn., in 1825. He received a limited school education, but at an early age displayed great energy and talent. He was a great traveler, and a fluent, graceful writer, both of prose and verse. Mr. Taylor held high official positions under the government. The following selection is adapted from "The Story of Kennett," He died in 1878.
1. The black, dreary night, seemed interminable. He could only guess, here and there, at a landmark, and was forced to rely more upon Roger's instinct of the road than upon the guidance of his senses. Toward midnight, as he judged, by the solitary crow of a cock, the rain almost entirely ceased.
2. The wind began to blow sharp and keen, and the hard vault of the sky to lift a little. He fancied that the hills on his right had fallen away, and that the horizon was suddenly depressed towards the north. Roger's feet began to splash in constantly deepening water, and presently a roar, distinct from that of the wind, filled the air.
3. It was the Brandywine. The stream had overflowed its broad meadow bottoms, and was running high and fierce beyond its main channel. The turbid waters made a dim, dusky gleam around him; soon the fences disappeared, and the flood reached to his horse's body.
4. But he knew that the ford could be distinguished by the break in the fringe of timber; moreover, that the creek bank was a little higher than the meadows behind it, and so far, at least, he might venture. The ford was not more than twenty yards across, and he could trust Roger to swim that distance.
5. The faithful animal pressed bravely on, but Gilbert soon noticed that he seemed at fault. The swift water had forced him out of the road, and he stopped from time to time, as if anxious and uneasy. The timber could now be discerned, only a short distance in advance, and in a few minutes they would gain the bank.
6. What was that? A strange, rustling, hissing sound, as of cattle trampling through dry reeds,—a sound which quivered and shook, even in the breath of the hurrying wind! Roger snorted, stood still, and trembled in every limb; and a sensation of awe and terror struck a chill through Gilbert's heart. The sound drew swiftly nearer, and became a wild, seething roar, filling the whole breadth of the valley.
7. "The dam! the dam!" cried Gilbert, "the dam has given way!" He turned Roger's head, gave him the rein, struck, spurred, cheered, and shouted. The brave beast struggled through the impeding flood, but the advance wave of the coming inundation already touched his side. He staggered; a line of churning foam bore down upon them, the terrible roar was all around and over them, and horse and rider were whirled away.
8. What happened during the first few seconds, Gilbert could never distinctly recall. Now they were whelmed in the water, now riding its careering tide, torn through the tops of brushwood, jostled by floating logs and timbers of the dam, but always, as it seemed, remorselessly held in the heart of the tumult and the ruin.
[Transcriber's Footnote: careering—Path or course, as the moon through the sky.]
9. He saw at last that they had fallen behind the furious onset of the flood, but Roger was still swimming with it, desperately throwing up his head from time to time, and snorting the water from his nostrils. All his efforts to gain a foothold failed; his strength was nearly spent, and unless some help should come in a few minutes it would come in vain. And in the darkness, and the rapidity with which they were borne along, how should help come?
10. All at once Roger's course stopped. He became an obstacle to the flood, which pressed him against some other obstacle below, and rushed over horse and rider. Thrusting out his hand, Gilbert felt the rough bark of a tree. Leaning towards it, and clasping the log in his arms, he drew himself from the saddle, while Roger, freed from his burden, struggled into the current and instantly disappeared. 11. As nearly as Gilbert could ascertain, several timbers, thrown over each other, had lodged, probably upon a rocky islet in the stream, the uppermost one projecting slantingly out of the flood. It required all his strength to resist the current which sucked, and whirled, and tugged at his body, and to climb high enough to escape its force, without overbalancing his support. At last, though still half immerged, he found himself comparatively safe for a time, yet as far as ever from a final rescue.
12. Yet a new danger now assailed him, from the increasing cold. There was already a sting of frost, a breath of ice, in the wind. In another hour the sky was nearly swept bare of clouds, and he could note the lapse of the night by the sinking of the moon. But he was by this time hardly in a condition to note anything more.
DEFINITIONS.—1. In-ter'mi-na-ble, endless. 2. De-pressed', low-ered. 3. Tur'bid, muddy. 5. Dis-cerncd' (pro. diz-zerned'), made out, distinguished. 6. Seeth'ing, boiling, bubbling. 7. Im-ped'ing, hindering, obstucting. In-un-da'tion, a flood. 9. On'set, a rushing upon, attack. 11. Im-merged', plunged under a liquid. 12. Lapse, a gradual passing away.
LXXXVI. BRANDYWINE FORD. (Concluded.) (242)
1. The moon was low in the west, and there was a pale glimmer of the coming dawn in the sky, when Gilbert Potter suddenly raised his head. Above the noise of the water and the whistle of the wind, he heard a familiar sound,—the shrill, sharp neigh of a horse. Lifting himself with great exertion, to a sitting posture, he saw two men, on horseback, in the flooded meadow, a little below him. They stopped, seemed to consult, and presently drew nearer.
2. Gilbert tried to shout, but the muscles of his throat were stiff, and his lungs refused to act. The horse neighed again. This time there was no mistake; it was Roger that he heard! Voice came to him, and he cried aloud,—a hoarse, strange, unnatural cry.
The horsemen heard it, and rapidly pushed up the bank, until they reached a point directly opposite to him. The prospect of escape brought a thrill of life to his frame; he looked around and saw that the flood had indeed fallen.
3. "We have no rope," he heard one of the men say. "How shall we reach him?"
"There is no time to get one now," the other answered. "My horse is stronger than yours. I'll go into the creek just below, where it's broader and not so deep, and work my way up to him,"
"But one horse can't carry both."
"His will follow, be sure, when it sees me."
4. As the last speaker moved away, Gilbert saw a led horse plunging through the water beside the other. It was a difficult and dangerous undertaking. The horseman and the loose horse entered the main stream below, where its divided channel met and broadened, but it was still above the saddle girths, and very swift.
5. Sometimes the animals plunged, losing their foothold; nevertheless, they gallantly breasted the current, and inch by inch worked their way to a point about six feet below Gilbert. It seemed impossible to approach nearer.
"Can you swim?" asked the man.
Gilbert shook his head. "Throw me the end of Roger's bridle!" he then cried.
6. The man unbuckled the bridle and threw it, keeping the end of the rein in his hand. Gilbert tried to grasp it, but his hands were too numb. He managed, however, to get one arm and his head through the opening, and relaxed his hold on the log.
7. A plunge, and the man had him by the collar. He felt himself lifted by a strong arm and laid across Roger's saddle. With his failing strength and stiff limbs, it was no slight task to get into place; and the return, though less laborious to the horses, was equally dangerous, because Gilbert was scarcely able to support himself without help.
"You're safe now," said the man, when they reached the bank, "but it's a downright mercy of God that you're alive!"
8. The other horseman joined them, and they rode slowly across the flooded meadow. They had both thrown their cloaks around Gilbert, and carefully steadied him in the saddle, one on each side. He was too much exhausted to ask how they had found him, or whither they were taking him,—too numb for curiosity, almost for gratitude.
9. "Here's your savior!" said one of the men, patting Roger's shoulder. "It was through him that we found you. Do you wish to know how? Well—about three o'clock it was, maybe a little earlier, maybe a little later, my wife woke me up. 'Do you hear that?' she said.
10. "I listened and heard a horse in the lane before the door, neighing,—I can't tell you exactly how it was,—as though he would call up the house. It was rather queer, I thought, so I got up and looked out of the window, and it seemed to me he had a saddle on. He stamped, and pawed, and then he gave another neigh, and stamped again.
11. "Said I to my wife, 'There is something wrong here,' and I dressed and went out. When he saw me, he acted in the strangest way you ever saw; thought I, if ever an animal wanted to speak, that animal does. When I tried to catch him, he shot off, ran down the lane a bit, and then came back acting as strangely as ever.
12. "I went into the house and woke up my brother, here, and we saddled our horses and started. Away went yours ahead, stopping every minute to look around and see if we followed. When we came to the water I rather hesitated, but it was of no use; the horse would have us go on and on, till we found you. I never heard of such a thing before, in all my life." Gilbert did not speak, but two large tears slowly gathered in his eyes, and rolled down his cheeks. The men saw his emotion, and respected it.
13. In the light of the cold, keen dawn, they reached a snug farmhouse, a mile from the Brandywine. The men lifted Gilbert from the saddle, and would have carried him immediately into the house, but he first leaned upon Roger's neck, took the faithful creature's head in his arms, and kissed it.
DEFINITIONS.—2. Pros'pect, ground or reason for hoping, antic-ipation. 5. Breast'ed (pro. brest'ed), opposed courageously. 6. Numb, without the power of feeling or motion. Re-laxed', loosened. 12. E-mo'tion, excited feeling, agitation.
LXXXVII. THE BEST CAPITAL (245)
Louisa May Alcott was born at Germantown, Pa., in 1833, and, among other works, wrote many beautiful stories for children. During the Civil War she was a hospital nurse at Washington. The following selection is adapted from "Little Men." She died in 1888.
1. One would have said that modest John Brooke, in his busy, quiet, humble life, had had little time to make friends; but now they seemed to start up everywhere,—old and young, rich and poor, high and low; for all unconsciously his influence had made itself widely felt, his virtues were remembered, and his hidden charities rose up to bless him.
2. The group about his coffin was a far more eloquent eulogy than any that man could utter. There were the rich men whom he had served faithfully for years; the poor old women whom he cherished with his little store, in memory of his mother; the wife to whom he had given such happiness that death could not mar it utterly; the brothers and sisters in whose hearts he had made a place forever; the little son and daughter who already felt the loss of his strong arm and tender voice; the young children, sobbing for their kindest playmate, and the tall lads, watching with softened faces a scene which they never could forget.
3. That evening, as the Plumfield boys sat on the steps, as usual, in the mild September moonlight, they naturally fell to talking of the event of the day.
Emil began by breaking out in his impetuous way, "Uncle Fritz is the wisest, and Uncle Laurie the jolliest, but Uncle John was the best; and I'd rather be like him than any man I ever saw."
4. "So would I. Did you hear what those gentlemen said to Grandpa to-day? I would like to have that said of me when I was dead;" and Franz felt with regret that he had not appreciated Uncle John enough.
"What did they say?" asked Jack, who had been much impressed by the scenes of the day.
5. "Why, one of the partners of Mr. Laurence, where Uncle John has been ever so long, was saying that he was conscientious almost to a fault as a business man, and above reproach in all things. Another gentleman said no money could repay the fidelity and honesty with which Uncle John had served him, and then Grandpa told them the best of all.
6. "Uncle John once had a place in the office of a man who cheated, and when this man wanted uncle to help him do it, uncle wouldn't, though he was offered a big salary. The man was angry, and said, 'You will never get on in business with such strict principles;' and uncle answered back, 'I never will try to get on without them,' and left the place for a much harder and poorer one."
7. "Good !" cried several of the boys warmly, for they were in the mood to understand and value the little story as never before.
"He wasn't rich, was he?" asked Jack.
"He never did anything to make a stir in the world, did he?"
"He was only good?"
"That's all;" and Franz found himself wishing that Uncle John had done something to boast of, for it was evident that Jack was disappointed by his replies.
8. "Only good. That is all and everything," said Uncle Fritz, who had overheard the last few words, and guessed what was going on in the minds of the lads.
"Let me tell you a little about John Brooke, and you will see why men honor him, and why he was satisfied to be good rather than rich or famous. He simply did his duty in all things, and did it so cheerfully, so faithfully, that it kept him patient, brave, and happy, through poverty and loneliness and years of hard work.
9. "He was a good son, and gave up his own plans to stay and live with his mother while she needed him. He was a good friend, and taught your Uncle Laurie much beside his Greek and Latin, did it unconsciously, perhaps, by showing him an example of an upright man.
10. "He was a faithful servant, and made himself so valuable to those who employed him that they will find it hard to fill his place. He was a good husband and father, so tender, wise, and thoughtful, that Laurie and I learned much of him, and only knew how well he loved his family when we discovered all he had done for them, unsuspected and unassisted."
11. Uncle Fritz stopped a minute, and the boys sat like statues in the moonlight until he went on again, in a subdued and earnest voice: "As he lay dying, I said to him, 'Have no care for your wife and the little ones; I will see that they never want.' Then he smiled and pressed my hand, and answered, in his cheerful way, 'No need of that; I have cared for them.'
12. "And so he had, for when we looked among his papers, all was in order,—not a debt remained; and safely put away was enough to keep his wife comfortable and independent. Then we knew why he had lived so plainly, denied himself so many pleasures, except that of charity, and worked so hard that I fear he shortened his good life.
13. "He never asked help for himself, though often for others, but bore his own burden and worked out his own task bravely and quietly. No one can say a word of complaint against him, so just and generous and kind was he; and now, when he is gone, all find so much to love and praise and honor, that I am proud to have been his friend, and would rather leave my children the legacy he leaves his than the largest fortune ever made.
14. "Yes! simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us. Remember that, my boys; and, if you want to earn respect and confidence and love, follow in the footsteps of John Brooke."
DEFINITIONS.—2. Eu'lo-gy, a speech or writing in praise of the character of a person. Cher'ished, supported, nurtured with care. 4. Ap-pre'ci-at-ed (pro. ap-pre'shi-at-ed), valued justly. 5. Con—sci-en'tious (pro. kon-shi-en'shus), governed by a strict regard to the rules of right and wrong. 7. Mood, state of mind, disposition. 11. Sub-dued', reduced to tenderness, softened. 12. In-de-pend'ent, not relying on others. 13. Leg'a-cy, a gift by will, a bequest. 14. Cap'i-tal stock employed in any business.
LXXXVIII. THE INCHCAPE ROCK.
Robert Southey was a celebrated English poet, born 1774, who once held the honorable position of poet laureate. He wrote a great deal both in prose and verse. He died in 1843.
1. No stir in the air, no stir in the sea, The ship was as still as she could be, Her sails from heaven received no motion, Her keel was steady in the ocean.
2. Without either sign or sound of their shock The waves flowed over the Inchcape Rock; So little they rose, so little they fell, They did not move the Inchcape Bell.
3. The good old Abbot of Aberbrothok Had placed that bell on the lnchcape Rock; On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung, And over the waves its warning rung.
4. When the Rock was hid by the surges' swell, The mariners heard the warning bell; And then they knew the perilous Rock, And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok.
5. The sun in heaven was shining gay, All things were joyful on that day; The sea birds screamed as they wheeled round, And there was joyance in their sound.
6. The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen A darker speck on the ocean green; Sir Ralph the Rover walked his deck, And he fixed his eye on the darker speck.
7. He felt the cheering power of spring, It made him whistle, it made him sing; His heart was mirthful to excess, But the Rover's mirth was wickedness.
8. His eye was on the Inchcape float; Quoth he, "My men put out the boat, And row me to the Inchcape Rock, And I'll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok."
9. The boat is lowered, the boatmen row, And to the Inchcape Rock they go; Sir Ralph bent over from the boat, And he cut the bell from the Inchcape float.
10. Down sunk the bell, with a gurgling sound, The bubbles rose and burst around; Quoth Sir Ralph, "The next who comes to the Rock, Won't bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok."
11. Sir Ralph the Rover sailed away, He scoured the seas for many a day; And now grown rich with plundered store, He steers his course for Scotland's shore.
12. So thick a haze o'erspreads the sky They can not see the sun on high; The wind hath blown a gale all day, At evening it hath died away.
13. On the deck the Rover takes his stand, So dark it is they see no land. Quoth Sir Ralph, "It will be lighter soon, For there is the dawn of the rising moon."
14. "Canst hear," said one, "the breakers roar? For methinks we should be near the shore." "Now where we are I can not tell, But I wish I could hear the Inchcape Bell."
15. They hear no sound, the swell is strong; Though the wind hath fallen, they drift along, Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock: Cried they, "It is the Inchcape Rock!"
16. Sir Ralph the rover tore his hair, He curst himself in his despair; The waves rush in on every side, The ship is sinking beneath the tide.
17. But even in his dying fear One dreadful sound could the Rover hear, A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell The fiends below were ringing his knell.
DEFINITIONS.—l. Keel, the principal timber in a ship, extending from bow to stern, at the bottom. 3. Buoy (pro. bwoi) a float-ing mark to point out the position of rocks, etc., beneath the water. 4. Surge, a large wave. 6. Joy'ance, gayety. 11. Scoured, roved over, ranged about. Store, that which is massed together. 14. Me-thinks', it seems to me. 17. Fiends (pro. fends). evil spirits. Knell (pro. nel), the stroke of a bell rung at a funeral or at the death of a person.
NOTES.—The above poem was written at Bristol, England, in 1802, and recounts an old tradition. 2. The Inchcape Rock is at the entrance of the Frith of Tay, Scotland, about fifteen miles from shore.
LXXXIX. MY MOTHER'S GRAVE. (253)
1. It was thirteen years since my mother's death, when, after a long absence from my native village, I stood beside the sacred mound beneath which I had seen her buried. Since that mournful period, a great change had come over me. My childish years had passed away, and with them my youthful character. The world was altered, too; and as I stood at my mother's grave, I could hardly realize that I was the same thoughtless, happy creature, whose checks she so often kissed in an excess of tenderness.
2. But the varied events of thirteen years had not effaced the remembrance of that mother's smile. It seemed as if I had seen her but yesterday—as if the blessed sound of her well-remembered voice was in my ear. The gay dreams of my infancy and childhood were brought back so distinctly to my mind that, had it not been for one bitter recollection, the tears I shed would have been gentle and refreshing.
3. The circumstance may seem a trifling one, but the thought of it now pains my heart; and I relate it, that those children who have parents to love them may learn to value them as they ought. My mother had been ill a long time, and I had become so accustomed to her pale face and weak voice, that I was not frightened at them, as children usually are. At first, it is true, I sobbed violently; but when, day after day, I returned from school, and found her the same, I began to believe she would always be spared to me; but they told me she would die.
4. One day when I had lost my place in the class, I came home discouraged and fretful. I went to my mother's chamber. She was paler than usual, but she met me with the same affectionate smile that always welcomed my return. Alas! when I look back through the lapse of thirteen years, I think my heart must have been stone not to have been melted by it. She requested me to go downstairs and bring her a glass of water. I pettishly asked her why she did not call a domestic to do it. With a look of mild reproach, which I shall never forget if I live to be a hundred years old, she said, "Will not my daughter bring a glass of water for her poor, sick mother?"
5. I went and brought her the water, but I did not do it kindly. Instead of smiling, and kissing her as I had been wont to do, I set the glass down very quickly, and left the room. After playing a short time, I went to bed without bidding my mother good night; but when alone in my room, in darkness and silence, I remembered how pale she looked, and how her voice trembled when she said, "Will not my daughter bring a glass of water for her poor, sick mother?" I could not sleep. I stole into her chamber to ask forgiveness. She had sunk into an easy slumber, and they told me I must not waken her.
6. I did not tell anyone what troubled me, but stole back to my bed, resolved to rise early in the morning and tell her how sorry I was for my conduct. The sun was shining brightly when I awoke, and, hurrying on my clothes, I hastened to my mother's chamber. She was dead! She never spoke more—never smiled upon me again; and when I touched the hand that used to rest upon my head in blessing, it was so cold that it made me start.
7. I bowed down by her side, and sobbed in the bitterness of my heart. I then wished that I might die, and be buried with her; and, old as I now am, I would give worlds, were they mine to give, could my mother but have lived to tell me she forgave my childish ingratitude. But I can not call her back; and when I stand by her grave, and whenever I think of her manifold kindness, the memory of that reproachful look she gave me will bite like a serpent and sting like an adder.
XC. A MOTHER'S GIFT-THE BIBLE. (255)
1. Remember, love, who gave thee this, When other days shall come, When she who had thine earliest kiss, Sleeps in her narrow home. Remember! 'twas a mother gave The gift to one she'd die to save!
2. That mother sought a pledge of love, The holiest for her son, And from the gifts of God above, She chose a goodly one; She chose for her beloved boy, The source of light, and life, and joy.
3. She bade him keep the gift, that, when The parting hour should come, They might have hope to meet again In an eternal home. She said his faith in this would be Sweet incense to her memory.
4. And should the scoffer, in his pride, Laugh that fond faith to scorn, And bid him cast the pledge aside, That he from youth had borne, She bade him pause, and ask his breast If SHE or HE had loved him best.
5. A parent's blessing on her son Goes with this holy thing; The love that would retain the one, Must to the other cling. Remember! 'tis no idle toy: A mother's gift! remember, boy.
DEFINITIONS.—2. Pledge, proof, evidence. 3. In'cense, some-thing offered in honor of anyone. Faith, belief 4. Scoff'er, one who laughs at what is good.