Chrif and his Books
When day dawned, Chrif was walking over a wide plain. On the far side of the plain stood a ruined house. Between a row of poplar-trees a path led to the door.
Chrif knocked, but no one came. Then he pushed open the door and entered. An old man sat at a table. The table was covered with great books and many papers. Overhead a lamp burned dimly.
The old man was bent over the books. He seemed to study busily, but when Chrif went near, he saw that the old man was dead.
There were two doors to this room. One was the door by which Chrif had entered. The other was opposite. This door was of stone. On it was written: "Behind this door is the Pot of Gold. To open you must first read the words written below."
The words written below were strange; the letters too were strange.
"These books may help me read the writing," thought Chrif. "This old man has spent his life in the search. Shall I be more successful I wonder?"
Then he buried the old man, lighted the lamp, and read the books. Weeks passed and even months. Chrif ate little and slept less.
At last, one day, he lifted a shining face. "I have found the secret!" he cried, "the letters are plain."
Then stepping to the door, he read: "Knock and this door will open."
Chrif knocked once, and the door flew open. One shining spot he saw in the darkness. It was the pot of gold.
Chrif put out his hand to take it, when lo! burning words shone on its side. And Chrif read:
"I am the Pot of Gold; I can give thee all things save one. If thou hast me, thou canst not have that. Close thine eyes. Then, if thou choosest me, open them again."
Chrif closed his eyes. He saw the old red house dark and cold. No one lived there now. The boat-garden was hidden under the snow. Someone in white passed him by. She was weeping bitterly. "Rhoda!" he cried and followed in her steps.
Suddenly a warm hand fell upon his shoulder.
"Chrif, dear Chrif!"
He opened his eyes, and O joy! Rhoda stood beside him.
"I have come to look for you," said Rhoda. "Why, Chrif, you have been gone three years!"
"Three years!" gasped Chrif.
"When grandmother died, last winter, I was so lonely, I said, 'When spring comes I will find Chrif.'"
"Grandmother dead! Why, it was but yesterday that I left home!"
"Ah, no," answered Rhoda. And she looked at Chrif and smiled.
And so they came again to the old red house. There was the dear old boat-garden. Sweet-peas were in bloom and morning-glories climbed up the side of the house. It was very pleasant.
As they stood by the boat-garden, a voice called to them. The old broom-woman stood in the road.
"Have ye found the pot of gold?" she asked.
"No; but I have found something else far better!" said Chrif, "I have found home."
R. NESBIT BAIN
In a certain kingdom, in a certain Empire, there lived a Tsar with his Tsaritsa, and he had three sons, all of them young, valiant, and unwedded, the like of whom is not to be told in tales nor written by pens, and the youngest of them was called the Tsarevich Ivan.
[Footnote 16: From Russian Fairy Tales [Adapted]. (London: George G. Harrap and Company.)]
And the Tsar spoke these words to them: "My dear children, take unto you your darts, gird on your well-spanned bows, and go hence in different directions, and in whatsoever courts your arrows fall, there choose ye your brides!"
The elder brother discharged his arrow and it fell into a boyar's court, right in front of the terem of the maidens. The second brother discharged his arrow and it flew into the court of a merchant and remained sticking in a beautiful balcony, and on this balcony was standing a lovely young maiden soul, the merchant's daughter. The youngest brother discharged his arrow, and the arrow fell into a muddy swamp, and a quacking-frog seized hold of it.
[Footnote 17: Nobleman.]
[Footnote 18: The women's apartments.]
The Tsarevich Ivan said to his father: "How can I ever take this quacker to wife? A quacker is not my equal!"
"Take her!" replied his father, "'tis thy fate to have her!"
So the Tsareviches all got married—the eldest to the boyar's daughter, the second to the merchant's daughter, and the youngest to the quacking-frog. And the Tsar called them to him and said: "Let your wives, to-morrow morning, bake me soft white bread."
Ivan returned home, and he was not happy, and his impetuous head hung down lower than his shoulders. "Qua! qua! Ivan Tsarevich! wherefore art thou so sad?" asked the Frog. "Or hast thou heard unpleasant words from thy father the Tsar?"
"Why should I not be sad? My father and sovereign lord hath commanded thee to bake soft white bread to-morrow."
"Do not afflict thyself, O Tsarevich! lie down and rest. The morning is wiser than the evening."
She made the Tsarevich lie down and rest, then, casting her frog-skin, she turned into a maiden soul, went out upon her beautiful balcony, and cried with a piercing voice: "Nurseys—nurseys! assemble, set to work and make me soft white bread such as I myself used to eat at my dear father's!"
In the morning Ivan awoke. The frog had got the bread ready long ago, and it was so splendid that the like of it is neither to be imagined nor guessed at, but is only to be told of in tales. The loaves were adorned with various cunning devices, royal cities were modelled on the sides thereof, with moats and ditches.
The Tsar praised Ivan greatly because of his bread, and gave this command to his three sons: "Let your wives weave me a carpet in a single night."
Ivan returned home, and he was sad, and his impetuous head hung lower than his shoulders. "Qua! qua! Tsarevich Ivan! wherefore art thou so sad? Or hast thou heard cruel, unfriendly words from thy father the Tsar?"
"Have I not cause to grieve? My father and sovereign lord commands thee to weave him a silk carpet in a single night!"
"Fret not, Tsarevich! come, lay thee down and sleep. The morning is wiser than the evening!" Then she made him lie down to sleep, and turning into the lovely maiden went forth upon her beautiful balcony, and cried with a piercing voice: "Nurseys—nurseys! assemble, set to work and weave me a silk carpet such as I was wont to sit upon at my dear father's!"
No sooner said than done. In the morning Ivan woke, and the frog had had the carpet ready long ago, and it was such a wondrous carpet that the like of it can only be told in tales, but may neither be imagined nor guessed at. The carpet was adorned with gold and silver and with divers bright embroiderings.
The Tsar greatly praised Ivan for his carpet, and there and then gave the new command that all three Tsareviches were to appear before him on the morrow to be inspected together with their wives.
Again Ivan returned home and he was not happy, and his impetuous head hung lower than his shoulders.
"Qua! qua! Tsarevich Ivan! wherefore art thou grieved? Or hast thou heard words unkind from thy father the Tsar?"
"Have I not cause to be sad? My father and sovereign lord has commanded me to appear before him with thee to-morrow! How can I show thee to people?"
"Fret not, Tsarevich! Go alone to the Tsar and pay thy visit, and I will come after thee. The moment you hear a rumbling, and a knocking, say: 'Hither comes my dear little Froggy in her little basket!'"
And behold! the elder brothers appeared, to be inspected with their richly attired and splendidly adorned consorts. There they stood and laughed at the Tsarevich Ivan and said: "Why, brother! Why hast thou come hither without thy wife? Why, thou mightest have brought her with thee in a kitchen clout. And where didst thou pick up such a beauty? I suppose thou didst search through all the swamps fairly?"
Suddenly there was a great rumbling and knocking, the whole palace shook. The guests were all terribly frightened and rushed from their places, and knew not what to do; but Ivan said: "Fear not, 'tis only my little Froggy coming in her little basket!"
And then a golden coach drawn by six horses flew up the steps of the Tsar's balcony, and out of it stepped such a beauty as is only to be told of in tales, but can neither be imagined nor guessed at. Ivan took her by the hand and led her behind the oaken table, behind the embroidered tablecloth. The guests began to eat and drink and make merry.
The lovely Tsarevna drank wine, but the dregs of her cup she poured behind her left sleeve; she ate also of the roast swan, but the bones thereof she concealed behind her right sleeve.
The wives of the elder brothers watched these devices, and took care to do the same.
Afterward, when Tsarevna began dancing with Ivan, she waved her left hand and a lake appeared; she waved her right hand and white swans were swimming in the water.
The Tsar and his guests were astonished.
And now the elder brides began dancing. They waved their left hands and all the guests were squirted with water; they waved their right hands and the bones flew right into the Tsar's eyes. The Tsar was wroth, and drove them from court with dishonour.
Now one day the Tsarevich waited his opportunity, ran off home, found the frog-skin and threw it into a great fire. Soon the Tsarevna missed her frog-skin, was sore troubled, fell a-weeping, and said to the Tsarevich: "Alas! Tsarevich Ivan! what hast thou done? If thou hadst but waited for a little, I should have been thine for ever more, but now farewell! Seek for me beyond lands thrice-nine, in the Empire of Thrice-ten, at the house of Koshchei." Then she turned into a white swan and flew out of the window.
[Footnote 19: Koshchei Bezsmertny, the deathless skeleton.]
Ivan wept bitterly, turned to all four points of the compass and prayed to God, and went straight before his eyes. He went on and on,—whether it was near or far, or long or short, matters not; when there met him an old, old man. "Hail, good youth!" said he, "what dost thou seek, and whither art thou going?"
The Tsarevich told him all his misfortune. "Alas! Tsarevich Ivan, why didst thou burn that frog-skin? Thou didst not make, nor shouldst thou therefore have done away with it. Vasilisa, thy wife, was born wiser and more cunning than her father; he was therefore angry with her, and bade her be a frog for three years. Here is a little ball for thee, follow it whithersoever it rolls."
Ivan thanked the old man, and followed after the ball. He went along the open plain, and there met him a bear. "Come now!" thought Ivan, "I will slay this beast." But the bear implored him: "Slay me not, Tsarevich Ivan, I may perchance be of service to thee somehow."
He went on farther, and lo! behind them came waddling a duck. The Tsarevich bent his bow; he would have shot the bird, when suddenly she greeted him with a human voice: "Slay me not, Ivan Tsarevich! I also will befriend thee!"
Ivan had pity upon her, and went on farther to the blue sea, and behold! on the beach lay gasping a pike. "Alas! Tsarevich Ivan!" sighed the pike, "have pity on me and cast me into the sea." And he cast it into the sea, and went on along the shore.
The ball rolled a short way, and it rolled a long way, and at last it came to a miserable hut; the hut was standing on hen's legs and turning round and round. Ivan said to it: "Little hut, little hut! stand the old way as thy mother placed thee, with thy front to me, and thy back to the sea!" And the little hut turned round with its front to him, and its back to the sea. The Tsarevich entered in, and saw the bony-legged Baba-Yaga lying on the stove, on nine bricks and grinding her teeth.
"Hillo! good youth, why dost thou visit me?" asked the Baba-Yaga.
"Fie, thou old hag! thou call'st me a good youth, but thou shouldst first feed and give me drink, and prepare me a bath, then only shouldst thou ask me questions."
The Baba-Yaga fed him and gave him to drink, and made ready a bath for him, and the Tsarevich told her he was seeking his wife, Vasilisa.
"I know," said the Baba-Yaga; "she is now with Koshchei. 'Tis hard to get thither, and it is not easy to settle accounts with Koshchei. His death depends upon the point of a needle. That needle is in a hare, that hare is in a coffer, that coffer is on the top of a high oak, and Koshchei guards that tree as the apple of his eye."
The Baba-Yaga then showed him in what place that oak grew: Ivan went thither, but did not know what to do to get at the coffer. Suddenly, how who can tell, the bear rushed at the tree and tore it up by the roots, the coffer fell and was smashed to pieces, the hare leaped out, and with one bound had taken cover.
But look! the other hare bounded off in pursuit, hunted him down and tore him to bits; out of the hare flew a duck and rose high, high in the air, but the other duck dashed after her, and struck her down, whereupon the duck laid an egg, and the egg fell into the sea.
Ivan, seeing the irreparable loss of the egg, burst into tears, when suddenly the pike came swimming ashore, holding the egg between its teeth. He took the egg, broke it, drew out the needle and broke off its little point. Then he attacked Koshchei, who struggled hard, but wriggle about as he might he had to die at last.
Then Ivan went into the house of Koshchei, took Vasilisa, and returned home. After that they lived together for a long, long time, and were very, very happy.
Oeyvind and Marit
Oeyvind was his name. A low, barren cliff overhung the house in which he was born; fir and birch looked down on the roof, and wild cherry strewed flowers over it. Upon this roof there walked about a little goat, which belonged to Oeyvind. He was kept there that he might not go astray; and Oeyvind carried leaves and grass up to him. One fine day the goat leaped down, and away to the cliff; he went straight up, and came where he never had been before.
[Footnote 20: From A Happy Boy in J. G. Whittier's Child Life in Prose.]
Oeyvind did not see him when he came out after dinner, and thought immediately of the fox. He grew hot all over, looked round about, and called, "Killy-killy-killy-goat!"
"Bay-ay-ay," said the goat, from the brow of the hill, as he cocked his head on one side and looked down.
But beside the goat there kneeled a little girl. "Is it yours—this goat?" she asked.
Oeyvind stood with eyes and mouth wide open, thrust both hands into the breeches he had on, and asked, "Who are you?"
"I am Marit, mother's little one, father's fiddle, the elf in the house, granddaughter of Ole Nordistuen of the Heide farms, four years old in the autumn, two days after the frost nights, I!"
"Are you really?" he said, and drew a long breath, which he had not dared to do so long as she was speaking.
"Is it yours, this goat?" asked the girl again.
"Ye-es," he said, and looked up.
"I have taken such a fancy to the goat. You will not give it to me?"
"No, that I won't."
She lay kicking her legs, and looking down at him, and then she said, "But if I give you a butter-cake for the goat, can I have him then?"
Oeyvind came of poor people, and had eaten butter-cake only once in his life; that was when grandpa came there, and anything like it he had never eaten before or since. He looked up at the girl. "Let me see the butter-cake first," said he.
She was not long about it, and took out a large cake, which she held in her hand. "Here it is," she said, and threw it down.
"Ow, it went to pieces," said the boy. He gathered up every bit with the utmost care; he could not help tasting the very smallest, and that was so good he had to taste another, and, before he knew it himself, he had eaten up the whole cake.
"Now the goat is mine," said the girl.
The boy stopped with the last bit in his mouth, the girl lay and laughed, and the goat stood by her side, with white breast and dark brown hair, looking sideways down.
"Could you not wait a little while?" begged the boy; his heart began to beat. Then the girl laughed still more, and got up quickly on her knees.
"No, the goat is mine," she said, and threw her arms round its neck, loosened one of her garters, and fastened it round. Oeyvind looked up. She got up, and began pulling at the goat. It would not follow, but twisted its neck downward to where Oeyvind stood.
"Bay-ay-ay," it said.
But she took hold of its hair with one hand, pulled the string with the other, and said gently, "Come, goat, and you shall go into the room and eat out of mother's dish and my apron." And then she sang:
"Come, boy's goat, Come, mother's calf, Come, mewing cat In snow-white shoes. Come, yellow ducks, Come out of your hiding-place; Come, little chickens, Who can hardly go; Come, my doves With soft feathers; See, the grass is wet, But the sun does you good; And early, early is it in summer, But call for the autumn, and it will come."
There stood the boy.
He had taken care of the goat since the winter before, when it was born, and he had never imagined he could lose it; but now it was done in a moment, and he would never see it again.
* * * * *
His mother came up humming from the beach, with wooden pans which she had scoured; she saw the boy sitting with his legs crossed under him on the grass, crying, and she went up to him.
"What are you crying about?"
"Oh, the goat, the goat!"
"Yes; where is the goat?" asked his mother, looking up at the roof.
"It will never come back again," said the boy.
"Dear me! How could that happen?"
He would not confess immediately.
"Has the fox taken it?"
"Ah, if it only were the fox!"
"Are you mad?" said his mother. "What has become of the goat?"
"Oh-h-h, I happened to—to—to sell it for a cake!"
As soon as he had uttered the word, he understood what it was to sell the goat for a cake; he had not thought of it before. His mother said:
"What do you suppose the little goat thinks of you, when you could sell him for a cake?"
And the boy thought about it, and felt sure that he could never again be happy in this world, and not even in heaven, he thought, afterwards. He felt so sorry, that he promised himself never again to do anything wrong, never to cut the thread on the spinning wheel, nor let the goats out, nor go down to the sea alone. He fell asleep where he lay, and dreamed about the goat, that he had gone to heaven; our Lord sat there with a great beard, as in the catechism, and the goat stood eating the leaves off a shining tree; but Oeyvind sat alone on the roof, and could not come up.
Suddenly there came something wet close up to his ear, and he started up. "Bay-ay-ay!" it said; and it was the goat, who had come back again.
"What! have you got back?"
He got up, took it by the two forelegs, and danced with it as if it were a brother; he pulled its beard, and he was just going in to his mother with it, when he heard someone behind him, and, looking, saw the girl sitting on the greensward by his side. Now he understood it all, and let go the goat.
"Is it you who have come with it?"
She sat tearing the grass up with her hands, and said:
"They would not let me keep it; grandfather is sitting up there, waiting."
While the boy stood looking at her, he heard a sharp voice from the road above call out, "Now!"
Then she remembered what she was to do; she rose, went over to Oeyvind, put one of her muddy hands into his, and, turning her face away, said:
"I beg your pardon!"
But then her courage was all gone; she threw herself over the goat, and wept.
"I think you had better keep the goat," said Oeyvind, looking the other way.
"Come, make haste!" said grandpapa, up on the hill; and Marit rose, and walked with reluctant feet upwards.
"You are not forgetting your garter?" Oeyvind cried after her. She turned around, and looked first at the garter and then at him. At last she came to a great resolution, and said, in a choked voice:
"You may keep that."
He went over to her, and, taking her hand, said:
"Oh, nothing to thank for!" she answered, but drew a long sigh, and walked on.
He sat down on the grass again. The goat walked about near him, but he was no longer so pleased with it as before.
* * * * *
The goat was fastened to the wall; but Oeyvind walked about, looking up at the cliff. His mother came out and sat down by his side; he wanted to hear stories about what was far away, for now the goat no longer satisfied him. So she told him how once everything could talk: the mountain talked to the stream, and the stream to the river, the river to the sea, and the sea to the sky; but then he asked if the sky did not talk to any one; and the sky talked to the clouds, the clouds to the trees, the trees to the grass, the grass to the flies, the flies to the animals, the animals to the children, the children to the grown-up people; and so it went on, until it had gone round, and no one could tell where it had begun.
Oeyvind looked at the mountain, the trees, the sky, and had never really seen them before. The cat came out at that moment, and lay down on the stone before the door in the sunshine.
"What does the cat say?" asked Oeyvind, pointing. His mother sang:
"'At evening softly shines the sun, The cat lies lazy on the stone. Two small mice, Cream, thick, and nice, Four bits of fish, I stole behind a dish, And am so lazy and tired, Because so well I have fared,'
says the cat."
But then came the cock, with all the hens. "What does the cock say?" asked Oeyvind, clapping his hands together. His mother sang:
"'The mother hen her wings doth sink, The cock stands on one leg to think: That grey goose Steers high her course; But sure am I that never she As clever as a cock can be. Run in, you hens, keep under the roof to-day, For the sun has got leave to stay away,'
says the cock."
But the little birds were sitting on the ridgepole, singing. "What do the birds say?" asked Oeyvind, laughing.
"'Dear Lord, how pleasant is life, For those who have neither toil nor strife,'
say the birds."
And she told him what they all said, down to the ant who crawled in the moss, and the worm who worked in the bark.
* * * * *
That same summer, one day, his mother came in and said to him, "To-morrow school begins and then you are going there with me."
Oeyvind had heard that school was a place where many children played together, and he had no objection. Indeed, he was much pleased, and he was so anxious to get there that he walked faster than his mother up over the hills.
When he came in there sat as many children around a table as he had ever seen at church. Others were sitting around the walls. They all looked up as Oeyvind and his mother entered, and as he was going to find a seat they all wanted to make room for him. He looked around a long time with his cap in his hand, and just as he was going to sit down he saw close beside him, sitting by the hearth-stone, Marit of the many names. She had covered her face with both hands, and sat peeping at him through her fingers.
"I shall sit here," said Oeyvind quickly, seating himself at her side, and then she laughed and he laughed too.
"Is it always like this here?" he whispered to Marit.
"Yes, just like this; I have a goat now," she said.
"Yes; but it is not so pretty as yours."
"Why don't you come oftener up on the cliff?" said he.
"Grandpapa is afraid I shall fall over."
"But it is not so very high."
"Grandpapa won't let me, for all that."
"Mother knows so many songs," said he.
"Grandpapa does too, you can believe."
"Yes, but he does not know what mother does."
"Grandpapa knows one about a dance. Would you like to hear it?"
"Yes, very much."
"Well, then, you must come farther over here, and I will tell it to you."
He changed his place, and then she recited a little piece of a song three or four times over so that the little boy learned it, and that was the first he learned at school.
Then the children sang, and Oeyvind stood with Marit by the door. All the children stood with folded hands and sang. Oeyvind and Marit also folded their hands, but they could not sing. And that was the first day at school.
The Emperor's New Clothes
There once lived an Emperor who was so fond of fine clothes that he spent great sums of money in order to be beautifully dressed. He cared little about his army or other affairs of State; he did not care for amusements; nothing pleased him so much as walking abroad to show off his new clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day; and as they often say of a king, "He is in the council chamber," here it would usually be, "The Emperor is at his toilet."
The great city in which he lived had always something fresh to show; every day many strangers came there. One day two men arrived who said that they were weavers, and knew how to manufacture the most beautiful cloth imaginable. Not only were the material and texture uncommonly beautiful, but clothes made of the stuff possessed this wonderful property that they were invisible to anyone who was not fit for his office, or who was very stupid.
"Those must indeed be splendid clothes," thought the Emperor. "Besides, if I had an outfit, I could find out which of my servants are unfit for the offices they hold; I should know the wise from the stupid! Yes, this cloth must be woven for me." And he gave the men much money that they might begin at once to weave their cloth.
Of course they were impostors, but they put together two looms, and began to move about as if they were working, though they had nothing whatever on the looms. They were also given quantities of the finest silk and the best gold, which they hid.
"I wonder how far they have got on with the cloth," thought the Emperor one day. He remembered that whoever was stupid or not fit for his office would be unable to see the material. He certainly believed that he had nothing to fear for himself, but he decided first to send a high official in order to see how he stood the test. Everybody in the whole town knew by this time what a wonderful power the cloth had, and all were curious to see what was to happen.
"I will send my prime minister to the weavers," thought the Emperor. "He can judge best what the cloth is like, for he is the wisest man in my kingdom."
Accordingly the old minister went to the hall where the impostors sat working at the empty looms. "Dear me!" thought the old man, opening his eyes wide, "I cannot see any cloth!" But he did not say so. "Dear, dear!" thought he, "can I be stupid? Can I be not fit for my office? No, I must certainly not admit that I cannot see the cloth!"
"Have you nothing to say?" asked one of the men.
"Oh, it is lovely, most lovely!" answered the old minister, looking through his spectacles. "What smooth texture! What glowing colours! Yes, I will tell the Emperor that it is certainly very fine."
"We are delighted to hear you say that," said both the weavers, and they proceeded to name the colours and describe the appearance of the texture.
The old minister listened with great attention, so that he could tell the Emperor all about it on his return.
The impostors now demanded more money, and more silk and gold to use in their weaving. They pocketed all, and went on as they had done before, working at the empty loom. The Emperor soon sent another official to report as to when the cloth would be finished. The minister looked and looked, but there was nothing on the empty loom and of course he could see nothing.
"Is it not a beautiful piece of cloth?" asked the impostors, and they appeared to display material which was not there.
"Stupid I am not!" thought the minister, "so it must be that I am not fitted for my office. It is strange certainly, but no one must be allowed to notice it." And he, too, praised the cloth and pretended delight at the beautiful colours and the splendid texture. "Yes, it is indeed beautiful," he reported to the Emperor.
Everybody in the town was talking of the magnificent cloth, and the Emperor decided to see it himself while it was still on the loom. With a great crowd of courtiers, among whom were both the ministers who had been there before, he went to the impostors, who were making believe to weave with all their might.
"Is it not splendid!" said both the old statesmen. "See, your Majesty, how fine is the texture! What remarkable colours!" And then they pointed to the empty loom, believing that all but themselves could see the cloth quite well.
"What is wrong?" thought the Emperor. "I can certainly see nothing! This is indeed horrible! I must be stupid, or unfit to be Emperor! It will never do to let it be known! Yes, it is indeed very beautiful," he said. "It has my entire approval."
And then he nodded pleasantly, and examined the empty loom with an appearance of interest, for he would not admit that he could see nothing.
His courtiers, too, looked and looked, and saw no more than the others; but they said like the Emperor, "Oh! it is beautiful!" Everyone seemed so delighted that the Emperor gave to the impostors the title of Weavers to the Emperor.
Now there was to be a State procession the following week and throughout the night before and the morning of the day on which this was to take place the impostors were working by the light of many candles. The people could see that they appeared to be busy putting the finishing touches to the Emperor's new clothes. They pretended that they were taking the cloth from the loom; they cut nothing with huge scissors, sewed with needles without thread, and at last said, "The clothes are finished!"
The Emperor came himself with his favourites and each impostor held up his arms as if he were showing something and said, "See! here are the breeches! Here is the coat! Here the cloak!" and so on.
"Our clothes are so comfortable that one might imagine one had nothing on; that is the beauty of them!"
"Yes," nodded the courtiers, although they could see nothing, there being nothing there.
"Will it please your Majesty graciously to disrobe," said the impostors.
The Emperor took off all his clothes, and the men busied themselves as if they were putting on various garments, while meantime the Emperor surveyed himself in the mirror.
"How beautifully they fit! How well they suit his Majesty!" said everybody.
"If it please your Majesty, the procession is ready," announced the Master of the Ceremonies.
"I am ready," said the Emperor. And he turned again to the mirror as if to take a last admiring view of his finery.
The courtiers whose duty it was to bear the Emperor's train put their hands near the floor as if to lift the train; then they acted as if they were holding it up. They would not have it known that they could see nothing.
So the Emperor strutted forward in the procession under a splendid canopy, and the people in the streets and at the windows said, "How grand are the Emperor's new clothes! What beautiful silk, how it shines!"
No one would admit that he could see nothing, for that would have proved him unfit for his office, or stupid. None of the Emperor's clothes had ever been so praised.
"But the Emperor has nothing on!" said a child at last.
"Listen to the innocent child!" said the father, and each one whispered to his neighbour what the child had said.
"The Emperor has nothing on!" the people began to call out at last.
This seemed to the Emperor to be true; but he thought to himself, "I must not stop now." And the courtiers walked behind him with pompous air, gravely holding up the train which was not there.
FANNY E. COE
Long ago there lived a Grecian youth named Rhoecus. Just outside the city where Rhoecus dwelt was a wood. This wood was very old. Some said there were oaks in the forest that had been growing for a thousand years.
[Footnote 21: Based upon the story of James Russell Lowell's poem of the same name.]
One day Rhoecus was passing through the wood. Before him he saw a noble oak about to fall. He ran and propped its mossy trunk with great branches that he took from the ground.
As he was turning away, he heard a soft voice say, "Rhoecus." There beside the tree stood a beautiful dryad.
"I am the spirit of this tree," she said. "As long as it lives, I live. When it falls, I die. You, Rhoecus, have just saved my life. Ask what you will and it is yours."
Rhoecus gazed at the dryad with wonder and awe. "You are the fairest being I have ever seen. Give me your love," he cried.
"You shall have it, Rhoecus," replied the dryad sadly. "Meet me here an hour before the sunset."
With a happy heart and a gay step Rhoecus went on his way to the town. He had won a most beautiful bride. To celebrate his joy, he thought he would play a game of dice with his friends.
The game took all his thought, for he was most unlucky. He lost once, twice, and even a third time. He forgot all about the dryad. The sun sank lower and lower and still he played on.
At last a bee entered the window and brushed against his forehead. Rhoecus shook it off. Again and again the bee returned. At last Rhoecus, in anger, struck the little creature and wounded it. Away flew the bee and Rhoecus, looking after it, saw the red sun setting over the trees of the thousand-year-old forest. He was too late!
Through the city and out of its gates he rushed. He sped across the plain and entered the wood. At the tree no fair dryad awaited him. But he heard a voice saying sadly, "Ah, Rhoecus, you forgot your promise to me. You drove away with a cruel blow my little messenger who sought to remind you of me. Because you have been harsh to the little bee, your punishment is this: You shall never see me again."
"Ah, no! sweet spirit," cried Rhoecus. "Forgive me this once. I will never sin again."
"Alas! it cannot be. Farewell," sighed the dryad. And Rhoecus saw her no more.
In that hour he changed from a happy youth to a sad and lonely man. All his life he longed to see the dryad whom he had lost for ever.
King Solomon and the Ants
FLORA J. COOKE
One morning the Queen of Sheba started back to her home in the South. King Solomon and all his court went with her to the gates of the city.
It was a glorious sight. The King and Queen rode upon white horses. The purple and scarlet coverings of their followers glittered with silver and gold.
The King looked down and saw an ant hill in the path before them.
"See yonder little people," he said; "do you hear what they are saying as they run about so wildly?
"They say, 'Here comes the King men call wise, and good, and great. He will trample us under his cruel feet.'"
"They should be proud to die under the feet of such a King," said the Queen. "How dare they complain!"
"Not so, great Queen," replied the King.
He turned his horse aside and all his followers did the same.
When the great company had passed, there was the ant hill unharmed in the path.
The Queen said, "Happy, indeed, must be your people, wise King. I shall remember the lesson. He only is noble and great who cares for the helpless and weak."
The Story of Pegasus
FANNY E. COE
Long ago in Greece there lived a young man named Bellerophon. Bellerophon was brave; he was handsome; he was kind-hearted.
Nearly everyone loved Bellerophon; but there was one man who did not like him. This was the King of the country in which Bellerophon lived. The King was jealous. He saw how everyone, rich and poor, high and low, loved Bellerophon. He feared that they might want to have Bellerophon for their King. So he thought, "I must send this young man away."
He wrote letters to his wife's father, the King of Lycia. These letters he sent by Bellerophon.
The King of Lycia welcomed Bellerophon to his court. For nine days there was feasting, and Bellerophon won everyone's heart by his wit and grace.
On the tenth day he gave his letters to the King. The King opened them and read. Then his face changed. He went into the next room and bowed his head upon his hands. He was greatly troubled. His son-in-law had asked that Bellerophon should be killed.
"But he has just eaten my bread," said the King of Lycia. "He is my guest. I cannot kill him." He thought for some time and then spoke again: "I will not kill him myself. I will send him to fight the Chimaera."
Now the Chimaera was a terrible monster that roamed the fields of Lycia. It had the body of a lion and it had three heads. These heads were those of a lion, a goat, and a dragon. With its fiery breath the Chimaera burned up everything that came near it.
Bellerophon was troubled when he heard the orders of the King of Lycia. He went to ask the advice of the wisest man of that country. The wise man said: "Bellerophon, if you can ride Pegasus, you will kill the Chimaera easily."
"What is Pegasus?" said Bellerophon.
"Pegasus is a winged horse. His home is on Mount Olympus. But no one has tamed him except Athene, the goddess of wisdom. I should ask her help."
Bellerophon prayed in the temple of Athene and then fell asleep. He dreamed that Athene herself stood by him. He saw her grey eyes, her golden hair, and her glistening armour. He thought she put a golden bridle into his hand.
When he awoke, he found it was no dream, for he held a golden bridle.
He hastened at once to a certain spring where Pegasus often came to drink. There stood the spirited steed. Bellerophon drew near. Pegasus spread his strong wings and was just about to fly when Bellerophon held out the bridle. Then the noble horse bent his head and walked up to the young man. He knew that the golden bridle came from his mistress.
Bellerophon slipped the bridle upon Pegasus and they soared high into the air. Pegasus was as swift as an eagle.
The next day Bellerophon fought with the ugly Chimaera. With the help of Pegasus he easily slew the monster.
Then the King of Lycia gave him other hard tasks. But he did them all easily, with the help of his winged horse. At last the King gave Bellerophon his daughter as a wife.
And now, just when he was happiest, trouble came to Bellerophon. He grew proud and vain. He thought that with his winged horse, he could do anything.
One day he said, "I should like to visit the gods on Mount Olympus. I can reach their home easily. I should like to see Jupiter and Mars face to face."
He mounted Pegasus and turned his head toward the highest heaven.
"This is too great daring," said Jupiter; "Bellerophon must be punished."
Jupiter sent a gadfly to sting Pegasus. The noble horse reared. He thought his master had struck him and was furious with pain and anger. Bellerophon lost his seat and fell to the earth.
All the rest of his days he went about a blind and lame old man.
Thus the gods punished his too great daring.
The Wolf-Mother of Saint Ailbe
ABBIE FARWELL BROWN
This is the story of a poor little Irish baby whose cruel father and mother did not care anything about him. But because they could not sell him nor give him away they tried to lose him. They wrapped him in a piece of cloth and took him up on the mountain-side, and there they left him lying all alone on a bush of heather.
Now an old mother-wolf was out taking her evening walk on the mountain after tending her cubs in the den all day. And as she was passing the heather bush she heard a faint, funny little cry. She pricked up her pointed ears and said, "What's that!" And lo and behold, when she came to sniff out the mystery with her keen nose, it led her straight to the spot where the little pink baby lay, crying with cold and hunger.
The heart of the mother-wolf was touched, for she thought of her own little ones at home, and how sad it would be to see them so helpless and lonely and forgotten. So she picked the baby up in her mouth carefully and ran with him to her den in the rocks at the foot of the mountain. Here the little one, whose name was Ailbe, lived with the baby wolves sharing their breakfast and dinner and supper, playing and quarrelling and growing up with them. The wolf-mother took good care of him and saw that he had the best of everything, for she loved him dearly, indeed. And Ailbe grew stronger and stronger, taller and taller, handsomer and handsomer every day, living his happy life in the wild woods of green Ireland.
Ailbe leaves his Forest Home
Now one day, a year or two after this, a hunter came riding over the mountain on his way home from the chase, and he happened to pass near the cave where Ailbe and the wolves lived. As he was riding under the trees he saw a little white creature run across the path in front of him. At first he thought it was a rabbit; but it was too big for a rabbit, and besides, it did not hop. The hunter jumped down from his horse and ran after the funny animal to find out what it was. His long legs soon overtook it in a clump of bushes where it was hiding, and imagine the hunter's surprise when he found that it had neither fur nor horns nor four feet nor a tail, but that it was a beautiful child who could not stand upright, and whose little, bare body ran on all-fours like a baby wolf! It was little Ailbe, the wolf-mother's pet, who had grown so fast that he was almost able to take care of himself. But he was not quite able, the hunter thought; and he said to himself that he would carry the poor little thing home to his kind wife, that she might take care of him. So he caught Ailbe up in his arms, kicking and squealing and biting like the wild little animal he was, and wrapped him in a corner of his great cloak. Then he jumped on his horse with a chirrup and galloped away out of the woods toward his village.
But Ailbe did not want to leave his forest home, the wolf-den, and his little wolf-brothers. Especially he did not want to leave his dear foster mother. So he screamed and struggled to get away from the big hunter, and he called to the wolves in their own language to come and help him. Then out of the forest came bounding the great mother-wolf with her four children, now grown to be nearly as big as herself. She chased the fleeting horse and snapped at the loose end of the huntsman's cloak, howling with grief and anger. But she could not get the thief, nor get back her adopted son, the little smooth-skinned foundling. So after following them for miles, the five wolves gradually dropped farther and farther behind. And at last, as he stretched out his little arms to them over the hunter's velvet shoulder, Ailbe saw them stop in the road panting, with one last howl of farewell. They had given up the hopeless chase. And with their tails between their legs and their heads drooping low, they slunk back to their lonely den where they would never see their little boy playmate any more. It was a sad day for the wolf-mother.
But the hunter carried little Ailbe home with him on the horse's back. And he found a new mother there to receive him. Ailbe never knew who his first mother was, but she must have been a bad, cruel woman. His second mother was the kind wolf. And this one, the third, was a beautiful Princess. For the hunter who had found the child was a Prince, and he lived in a grand castle by a lake near Tipperary, with hundreds of servants and horses and dogs and little pages for Ailbe to play with. And here he lived and was very happy; and here he learned all the things which in those days made a little boy grow up into a wise and great man. He grew so wise and great that he was made a Bishop and had a palace of his own in the town of Emly. People came to see him from far and near, who made him presents, and asked him questions, and ate his dinners.
But though he had grown so great and famous, Ailbe had never forgotten his second mother, the good wolf, nor his four-footed brothers in their coats of grey fur. And sometimes when his visitors were stupid and stayed a long time, or when they asked too many questions, or when they made him presents which he did not like, Ailbe longed to be back in the forest with the good beasts.
Ailbe finds the Wolf-Mother again
A great many years afterward there was one day a huge hunt in Emly. All the lords for miles around were out chasing the wild beasts, and among them was the Prince, Ailbe's foster father. But the Bishop himself was not with them. He did not see any sport in killing poor creatures. It was almost night, and the people of Emly were out watching for the hunters to return. The Bishop was coming down the village street on his way from church, when the sounds of horns came over the hills close by, and he knew the chase was nearing home.
Louder and louder came the tantaratara! of the horns, and then he could hear the thud of the horses' hoofs and the yelp of the hounds. But suddenly the Bishop's heart stood still. Among all the other noises of the chase he heard a sound which made him think—think—think. It was the long-drawn howl of a wolf, a sad howl of fear and weariness and pain. It spoke a language which he had almost forgotten. But hardly had he time to think again and remember before down the village street came a gaunt figure, flying in long leaps from the foremost dogs who were snapping at her heels. It was Ailbe's wolf-mother.
He recognized her as soon as he saw her green eyes and the patch of white on her right foreleg. And she recognized him too—how I cannot say, for he had changed greatly since she last saw him, a naked little sun-browned boy. But, at any rate, in his fine robes of purple and linen and rich lace, with the mitre on his head and the crozier in his hand, the wolf-mother knew her dear son. With a cry of joy she bounded up to him and laid her head upon his breast, as if she knew he would protect her from the growling dogs and the fierce-eyed hunters. And the good Bishop was true to her. For he drew his beautiful velvet cloak about her tired, panting body, and laid his hand lovingly on her head. Then in the other, he held up his crook warningly to keep back the ferocious dogs.
"I will protect thee, old mother," he said tenderly. "When I was little and young and feeble, thou didst nourish and cherish and protect me; and now that thou art old and grey and weak, shall I not render the same love and care to thee? None shall injure thee."
Then the hunters came tearing up on their foaming horses. Some were angry, and wanted even now to kill the poor wolf, just as the dogs did which were prowling about snarling with disappointment. But Ailbe would have none of it. He forbade them to touch the wolf. And he was so powerful and wise and holy that they dared not disobey him, but had to be content with seeing their prey taken out of their clutches.
But before the hunters and their dogs rode away, Saint Ailbe had something more to say to them. And he bade all the curious towns-folk who had gathered about him and the wolf listen. He repeated the promise which he had made to the wolf, and warned everyone henceforth not to hurt her or her children, either in the village or in the woods or on the mountain. And, turning to her once more, he said:
"See, mother, you need not fear. They dare not hurt you now you have found your son to protect you. Come every day with my brothers to my table, and you and yours shall share my food, as once I so often shared yours."
And so it was. Every day after that, so long as she lived, the old wolf-mother brought her four children to the Bishop's palace and howled at the gate for the porter to let them in. And every day he opened to them, and the steward showed the five into the great dining-hall where Ailbe sat at the head of the table, with five places set for the rest of the family. And there, with her five children about her in a happy circle, the kind wolf-mother sat and ate the good things which the Bishop's friends had sent him. But the child she loved best was none of those in furry coats and fine whiskers that looked like her; it was the blue-eyed Saint at the top of the table in his robes of purple and white.
But Saint Ailbe would look about him at his foster mother and his brothers and would laugh contentedly.
"What a handsome family we are!" he would say. And it was true.
Who was the Mightier?
FANNY E. COE
Glooskap, the Indian chief, had returned from the warpath. His foes were slain or scattered. No other tribe of red men dared to stand before him.
[Footnote 22: A Tale of the Penobscot Indians.]
Glooskap was very proud of what he had done. "My work is over," he often said to himself. "Whom else is there for me to conquer? No one."
One day he walked through the village. He was a tall fierce figure with brightly painted body and brilliant headdress of feathers.
He stopped to speak to an old squaw. He said aloud what he had often thought, "My work is over, my enemies are dead. Whom is there for me to conquer?"
The old squaw raised her hand and pointed toward the wigwam. "There sits one whom no man will ever conquer!" she said.
Glooskap took one stride to the wigwam and raised the canvas door. Within, seated on the floor, was a fat, happy baby. He was happy because he was sucking a bit of maple sugar. He opened his bright black eyes, and stared hard at the gay feathers of the chief.
"Who is he?" asked Glooskap.
"It is the mighty Wasis. But leave him in peace. Otherwise you will be in sore trouble."
Now the Indian chief had never married. He knew nothing of children and their ways. But he thought, as is the manner of such, that he knew everything.
So he knelt on one knee, held out a hand, and smiling sweetly, said, "Baby, come to me!"
Wasis smiled, but did not stir.
Again the chief smiled kindly and said in a coaxing tone, "Baby, come to me."
Wasis looked again at the chief. Then he took a bite of the maple sugar.
Glooskap then arose, frowning; he stamped his foot angrily, and he spoke savagely. "Baby, come to me."
Wasis dropped his maple sugar. "Goo, goo!" he said; "Goo, goo! Goo, goo, goo!"
"These must be his war-cries!" thought the chief. "I'll teach him who is master and must be obeyed."
So he sang his terrible war-songs; he drew his knife and leaped into the air; he roared his orders to Wasis again and again. "Come to me: come to me!"
This was too much for the baby. His little face puckered and grew red. Then he opened his mouth and uttered shrieks so ear-piercing that their like had never been heard before. At least so the chief thought. He rushed from the wigwam and fled a mile before he stopped to breathe deeply.
Meanwhile Wasis had found his maple sugar and was calm again. "Goo, goo!" he said; "Goo, goo! Goo, goo, goo!"
And to this day when you see a baby crowing and saying "Goo, goo!" remember he is thinking of the time when he overcame the Indian chief who had conquered all the world. For of all created things the Baby alone is master.
Hans the Shepherd Boy
ELLA LYMAN CABOT
Hans was a little shepherd boy who lived in Germany. One day he was keeping his sheep near a great wood when a hunter rode up to him.
"How far is it to the nearest village, my boy?" asked the hunter.
"It is six miles, sir," said Hans. "But the road is only a sheep-track. You might easily miss your way."
"My boy," said the hunter, "if you will show me the way, I will pay you well."
Hans shook his head. "I cannot leave the sheep, sir," he said. "They would stray into the wood, and the wolves might kill them."
"But if one or two sheep are eaten by the wolves, I will pay you for them. I will give you more than you can earn in a year."
"Sir, I cannot go," said Hans. "These sheep are my master's. If they are lost, I should be to blame."
"If you cannot show me the way, will you get me a guide? I will take care of your sheep while you are gone."
"No," said Hans, "I cannot do that. The sheep do not know your voice—and——" Then he stopped.
"Can't you trust me?" asked the hunter.
"No," said Hans. "You have tried to make me break my word to my master. How do I know that you would keep your word?"
The hunter laughed. "You are right," he said. "I wish I could trust my servants as your master can trust you. Show me the path. I will try to get to the village alone."
Just then several men rode out of the wood. They shouted for joy.
"Oh, sir!" cried one, "we thought you were lost."
Then Hans learned to his great surprise that the hunter was a Prince. He was afraid that the great man would be angry with him. But the Prince smiled and spoke in praise of him.
A few days later a servant came from the Prince and took Hans to the palace.
"Hans," said the Prince, "I want you to leave your sheep to come to serve me. I know you are a boy whom I can trust."
Hans was very happy over his good fortune. "If my master can find another boy to take my place, then I will come to serve you."
So Hans went back and tended the sheep until his master found another boy. After that he served the Prince many years.
Nathan and the Bear
M. A. L. LANE
Little Nathan King was driving home his father's cows.
It was a cold night in October. In the clear sky the stars shone bright.
The dry leaves fluttered down upon the road where they lay in drifts.
The air was sharp. Once a chestnut burr dropped at the boy's feet.
"Winter will soon be here," Nathan said to himself. He was thinking of the snug kitchen and the good warm supper that his mother would have ready for him.
It was dark. Nathan could just see the black shapes of the cows.
There were five of them. They were good, kind cows. Nathan liked to take care of them.
He liked to pat their sleek, smooth sides.
The cows were fond of Nathan. Sometimes the black cow would put out her rough tongue and touch his hand.
Now they were all in a hurry to reach the warm barn. They walked along the road as fast as they could.
"I think I will go by the wood path," said Nathan to himself. "It is only half as far, and I know every step of the way."
So he ran on before the cows, and let down the bars into the wood path.
The cows went on after him. They, too, knew every step of the path. Nathan often took them home that way. The end of the wood path was near the door of the barn.
It was very still in the woods. The dry leaves rustled as the cows walked through them. There was no other sound. The trees looked big and black.
Nathan whistled as he walked. He had never been in the woods after dark before. He was glad that he was not far from home.
Once the black cow stepped on a long, dry branch. The other end of the branch flew up in Nathan's face and made him jump.
"What a baby I am!" said he. "There is nothing to be afraid of. I can see the lamp in our kitchen now."
Nathan was now on the top of the hill. The trees were cut down on one side of the path. He could look across a cornfield to his home.
He whistled more loudly than ever and walked bravely on.
"I wonder if there are any bears in these woods," he was thinking. "Tom Shaw's father saw a bear on the mountain last week. Tom says he would like to meet one. I should run if I heard a bear coming."
Nathan stopped a moment to listen. His heart beat fast. He could feel it thump, thump, thump against his jacket. But there was no sound except the breaking of twigs and the rustling of leaves under the heavy step of the cows.
"Home at last!" said Nathan.
His father heard him open the great gate, and came out with a light.
Nathan stood aside to let the cows go through the gateway. He always counted them as they went through.
One, two, three, four, five—one, two, three, four, five—Nathan rubbed his eyes. Then he counted again. One, two, three, four, five, six! Where did the sixth cow come from? Was it a cow? It looked more like a dog.
"Father!" cried Nathan. "Here's a bear with the cows!"
Mr King laughed. He had opened the barn door. The cows were going in, one by one.
"What a boy you are!" he said. "You and Tom Shaw—why, it is a bear!"
Yes, it really was a bear. Mr King swung the lantern close, to make sure.
When the bear saw the bright light, he turned slowly; then he went back through the gateway across the road, into the wood path.
"Let me get my gun!" cried Mr King. "Take the lantern, Nathan!"
"Oh, don't shoot him, father!" begged Nathan. "Please don't shoot him. He came all the way through the woods with me, and he did not hurt me at all."
The boy was almost crying. He was holding his father's arm with both hands.
"Please don't shoot him!" he said again.
"Well," said Mr King, "I don't like to let a bear go like that. He seems gentle enough, but he might do some harm. Where did you find him, Nathan?"
"I did not find him," said the boy, still holding fast his father's arm. "He must have been in the woods. I was counting the cows just now, and there he was! I wish you would let him go. He was good to me when he might have hurt me. I think it would be mean to shoot him now."
"It is strange that the cows were not frightened," said Mr King. "I suppose the old fellow was cold. He thought you looked as if you were a kind boy, Nathan."
Nathan knew that his father would not go after the bear now. He laughed gaily as he went into the barn.
"I wish Tom Shaw had been here," said he. "I think I shall come home by the road to-morrow night. I am not very fond of bears, after all."
The Man on the Chimney
FANNY E. COE
Once upon a time some workmen were repairing the tall chimney of a factory. It was so tall that no ladder could reach its top, so the men went up and down on a rope. The rope passed through a pulley which was firmly fixed to the top of the chimney.
At last the work was ended. The workmen came down quickly, glad to be safe on the ground once more.
When the next to the last man reached the ground, by mistake he pulled the rope from the pulley. Then he looked back and saw another man standing alone on the chimney.
"Oh! what have I done!" he cried. "Poor fellow, what will become of him? He cannot get down! He will die!"
The workmen were so alarmed that they could think of no way to help their comrade. They stood helpless, looking first at the coil of rope at their feet and then at their friend high in the air.
"He will starve if he stays there, and he will be killed if he tries to climb down," they said sadly.
Just then the wife of the man appeared. She did not cry, scold, or fret. Instead, she said to herself, "What can I do to save him? There must be some way."
Soon a bright idea came to her, and she shouted to her husband:
"John! John! Unravel your stocking! Begin at the toe!"
John understood at once. He took off the coarse yarn stocking that she had knitted for him, cut off the toe, and began to unravel the yarn.
When he had pulled out a long piece, he tied the end around a small piece of brick. This he very carefully let down to the ground.
How eagerly the men below seized upon it. They fastened the yarn to a ball of twine which John's wife had fetched. Then they shouted:
"Pull up the yarn till you get the twine."
Soon John called to them:
"I have it."
They next fastened the twine to the heavy rope and shouted:
"Pull up the twine till you get the rope."
"All right," said John, and in a very few minutes he held the stout rope in his hand. With its aid, he let himself safely down to the ground. How they all cheered as his foot touched the earth!
Do you think he left the remnant of his stocking on the chimney-top? No, indeed. He brought it down, buttoned under his coat. It was a precious keepsake. He often showed it to his children, as he told them the wonderful story of how his life had been saved by their mother.
E. A. AND M. F. BLAISDELL
Pocahontas was a beautiful Indian maiden, the daughter of the great chief, Powhatan, and she was so good and kind that she was loved by all the tribe over which her father ruled.
She lived in the forests of Virginia, with the birds and squirrels for her companions.
She was an Indian princess, but she learned to cook and to sew and to weave mats, just like the other Indian girls. She liked to embroider, too, and spent many happy hours decorating her dresses with the pretty-coloured shells and beads that were given to her father.
One day, when she was twelve years old, an Indian came to Powhatan and told him a white man had been captured and brought to the village.
"He is a wonderful man," said the scout. "He can talk to his friends by making marks on paper, and he can make a fire without a flint."
"Bring him here," said the chief, and Captain John Smith was brought before Powhatan.
The chief received the prisoner in his wigwam, and talked with him, asking him many questions.
Captain Smith told the Indians that the earth was round, and that the sun chased the night around it. He said that the sun that set in the west at night was the same sun that rose in the east in the morning. He showed them his compass and told them how it guided him through the forest.
At last the Indians began to fear him, thinking that so wise and powerful a man might do them some harm. So, after holding him as a prisoner for many days, they decided to put him to death.
In the meantime Captain Smith and Pocahontas had become the best of friends. He told her many stories of his childhood in a land across the sea—of the blue-eyed, fair-haired boys and girls, of their toys and games, their homes and schools, and how they learned to read and write.
So when Pocahontas learned that her dear friend must die, she felt very sad, and tried to think of some way of saving his life.
And she did save his life, for just as Captain Smith was to be killed, the child threw her arms about his neck, and begged her father to spare the white man's life, for her sake.
Powhatan loved his little daughter, and wished to please her in everything, so he promised to set the prisoner free, and to send him at once to his friends.
Pocahontas often visited Captain Smith, and learned to know and love his friends. In later years she went to England to see the fair-haired boys and girls and the homes and schools he had told her about during his captivity.
The Day Kit and Kat went Fishing
LUCY FITCH PERKINS
This is a story of Kit and Kat, twins who lived in Holland. Their real names were Christopher and Katrina, but their mother, Vrouw Vedder, says that they are not to be called Christopher and Katrina until they are four and a half feet high. So they are Kit and Kat while they are on the way to four and a half feet. Kit is the boy and Kat is the girl. Here is the story of the day they went fishing.
One summer morning, very early, Vrouw Vedder opened the door of her little Dutch kitchen and stepped out.
She looked across the road which ran by the house, across the canal on the other side, across the level green fields that lay beyond, clear to the blue rim of the world, where the sky touches the earth. The sky was very blue; and the great, round, shining face of the sun was just peering over the tops of the trees, as she looked out.
Vrouw Vedder listened. The roosters in the barnyard were crowing, the ducks in the canal were quacking, and all the little birds in the fields were singing for joy. Vrouw Vedder hummed a slow little tune of her own, as she went back into her kitchen.
Kit and Kat were still asleep in their little cupboard bed. She gave them each a kiss. The twins opened their eyes and sat up.
"Oh, Kit and Kat," said Vrouw Vedder, "the sun is up, the birds are all awake and singing, and grandfather is going fishing to-day. If you will hurry you may go with him! He is coming at six o'clock; so pop out of bed and get dressed. I will put up some lunch for you in the yellow basket, and you may dig worms for bait in the garden. Only be sure not to step on the young cabbages that father planted."
Kit and Kat bounced out of bed in a minute. Their mother helped them to put on their clothes and new wooden shoes. Then she gave them each a bowl of bread and milk for their breakfast. They ate it sitting on the kitchen doorstep.
Soon Kit and Kat were digging for worms. They did just as their mother said, and did not step on the young cabbages. They sat on them, instead. But that was an accident.
Kit dug the worms, and Kat put them into a basket, with some earth in it to make them feel at home.
When grandfather came, he brought a large fishing-rod for himself and two little ones for the twins. There was a little hook on the end of each line.
Vrouw Vedder kissed Kit and Kat good-bye.
"Mind grandfather, and don't fall into the water," she said.
Grandfather and the twins started off together down the long road beside the canal.
The house where the twins lived was right beside the canal. Their father was a gardener, and his beautiful rows of cabbages and beets and onions stretched in long lines across the level fields by the roadside.
Grandfather lived in a large town, a little way beyond the farm where the twins lived. He did not often have a holiday, because he carried milk to the doors of the people in the town, every morning early. Some time I will tell you how he did it; but I must not tell you now, because if I do, I can't tell you about their going fishing.
This morning, grandfather carried his rod and the lunch-basket. Kit and Kat carried the basket of worms between them, and their rods over their shoulders, and they were all three very happy.
On the Dyke
They walked along ever so far, beside the canal. Then they turned to the left and walked along a path that ran from the canal across the green fields to what looked like a hill.
But it wasn't a hill at all, really, because there aren't any hills in Holland. It was a long, long wall of earth, very high—oh, as high as a house, or even higher! And it had sloping sides.
There is such a wall of earth all round the country of Holland, where the twins live. There has to be a wall, because the sea is higher than the land. If there were no walls to shut out the sea, the whole country would be covered with water; and if that were so, then there wouldn't be any Holland, or any Holland twins, or any story. So you see that it was very lucky that the wall was there. They called it a dyke.
Grandfather and Kit and Kat climbed the dyke. When they reached the top, they sat down a few minutes to rest and look at the great blue sea. Grandfather sat in the middle, with Kit on one side, and Kat on the other; and the basket of worms and the basket of lunch were there, too.
They saw a great ship sail slowly by, making a cloud of smoke.
"Where do the ships go, grandfather?" asked Kit.
"To England, and America, and China, and all over the world," said grandfather.
"Why?" asked Kat. Kat almost always said "Why?" and when she didn't, Kit did.
"To take flax and linen from the mills of Holland to make dresses for little girls in other countries," said grandfather.
"Is that all?" asked Kit.
"They take cheese and herring, bulbs and butter, and lots of other things besides, and bring back to us wheat and meal and all sorts of good things from the lands across the sea."
"I think I'll be a sea captain when I'm big," said Kit.
"So will I," said Kat.
"Girls can't," said Kit.
But grandfather shook his head and said:
"You can't tell what a girl may be by the time she's four feet and a half high and is called Katrina. There's no telling what girls will do, anyway. But, children, if we stay here we shall not catch any fish."
On the Pier
They went down the other side of the dyke and out upon a little pier that ran from the sandy beach into the water.
Grandfather showed them how to bait their hooks. Kit baited Kat's for her, because Kat said it made her all wriggly inside to do it. She did not like it. Neither did the worm!
They all sat down on the end of the pier. Grandfather sat on the very end and let his wooden shoes hang down over the water; but he made Kit and Kat sit with their feet stuck straight out in front of them, so that they just reached to the edge—"So that you can't fall in," said grandfather.
They dropped their hooks into the water and sat very still, waiting for a bite. The sun climbed higher and higher in the sky, and it grew hotter and hotter on the pier. The flies tickled Kat's nose and made her sneeze.
"Keep still, can't you?" said Kit crossly. "You'll scare the fish. Girls don't know how to fish."
Pretty soon Kat felt a queer little jerk on her line. She was perfectly sure she did.
Kat squealed and jerked her rod. She jerked it so hard that one foot flew right up in the air, and one of her new wooden shoes went—splash!—right into the water!
But that wasn't the worst of it! Before you could say Jack Robinson, Kat's hook flew around and caught in Kit's clothes and pricked him.
Kit jumped and said, "Ow!" And then—no one could tell how it happened—there was Kit in the water, too, splashing like a young whale, with Kat's hook still holding fast to his clothes in the back!
Grandfather jumped then, too, you may be sure. He caught hold of Kat's rod and pulled hard and called out, "Steady, there, steady!"
And in one minute there was Kit in the shallow water beside the pier, puffing and blowing like a grampus!
Grandfather reached down and pulled him up.
When Kit was safely on the pier, Kat threw her arms around his neck, though the water was running down in streams from his hair and eyes and ears.
"Oh, Kit," she said, "I truly thought it was a fish on my line when I jumped!"
"Just like a g-g-girl," said Kit. "They don't know how to f-f-fish!" You see his teeth were chattering, because the water was cold.
"Well, anyway," said Kat, "I caught more than you did. I caught you!"
Then Kat thought of something else. She shook her finger at Kit.
"Oh, Kit," she said, "mother told you not to fall into the water!"
"'T-t-t-was all your fault," roared Kit. "Y-y-you began it! Anyway, where is your new wooden shoe?"
"Where are both of yours?" screamed Kat.
Sure enough, where were they? No one had thought about shoes, because they were thinking so hard about Kit.
They ran to the end of the pier and looked. There was Kat's shoe sailing away toward England like a little boat! Kit's were still bobbing about in the water near the pier.
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" shrieked Kat; but the tide was going out and carrying her shoe farther away every minute. They could not get it; but grandfather reached down with his rod and fished out both of Kit's shoes. Then Kat took off her other one and her stockings, and they all three went back to the beach.
On the Beach
Grandfather and Kat covered Kit up with sand to keep him warm while his clothes were drying. Then grandfather stuck the twins' fish-poles up in the sand and tied the two lines together for a clothes-line, and hung Kit's clothes up on it, and Kat put their three wooden shoes in a row beside Kit.
Then they ate their luncheon of bread and butter, cheese and milk, with some radishes from father's garden. It tasted good even if it was sandy. After lunch grandfather said:
"It will never do to go home without any fish at all."
So by-and-by he went back to the pier and caught one while the twins played in the sand. He put it in the lunch-basket to carry home.
Kat brought shells and pebbles to Kit, because he had to stay covered up in the sand, and Kit built a play dyke all around himself with them, and Kat dug a canal outside the dyke. Then she made sand-pies in clam-shells and set them in a row in the sun to bake.
They played until the shadows of the dyke grew very long across the sandy beach, and then grandfather said it was time to go home.
He helped Kit to dress, but Kit's clothes were still a little wet in the thick parts. And Kat had to go barefooted and carry her one wooden shoe.
They climbed the dyke and crossed the fields, and walked along the road by the canal. The road shone, like a strip of yellow ribbon across the green field. They walked quite slowly, for they were tired and sleepy.
By-and-by Kit said, "I see our house"; and Kat said, "I see mother at the gate."
Grandfather gave the fish he caught to Kit and Kat, and Vrouw Vedder cooked it for their supper; and though it was not a very big fish, they all had some.
Grandfather must have told Vrouw Vedder something about what had happened; for that night, when she put Kit to bed, she felt his clothes very carefully—but she didn't say a word about their being damp. And she said to Kat: "To-morrow we will see the shoemaker and get him to make you another shoe."
Then Kit and Kat hugged her and said good-night, and popped off to sleep before you could wink your eyes.
The Honest Farmer
ELLA LYMAN CABOT
There was a war in Germany long ago and thousands of soldiers were scattered over the country. A captain of cavalry, who had a great many men and horses to feed, was told by his colonel that he must get food from the farmers near by. The captain walked for some time through the lonely valley, and at last knocked at the door of a small cottage. The man who opened it looked old and lame. He leaned on a stick.
"Good-day, sir," said the captain. "Will you kindly show me a field where my soldiers can cut the grain and carry it off for our army?"
The old man led the soldiers through the valley for about a mile, and in the distance they saw a field of barley waving in the breeze.
"This is just what we want. We'll stop here," exclaimed the captain.
"No, not yet," said the old man. "You must follow me a little farther."
After another mile or two they came to a second field of barley. The soldiers alighted, cut down the grain, tied it in sheaves, and rode away with it.
Then the captain said to the old farmer: "Why did you make us walk so far? The first field of barley was better than this one."
"That is true, sir," answered the honest old man; "but it was not mine."
Damon and Pythias
ELLA LYMAN CABOT
More than two thousand years ago two young men who were intimate friends lived in Sicily. Their names were Damon and Pythias.
The ruler of the country, named Dionysius, was a cruel man. He put Pythias in prison and fixed a day for his death. Pythias had done nothing wrong, but he had angered Dionysius.
The father and mother of Pythias lived far away. "May I go home to bid my father and mother good-bye, and to arrange my affairs before I die?" asked Pythias.
The ruler laughed. "That is a strange request," said he. "Of course you would escape and you would never come back."
At that moment Damon stepped forward. "I am his friend," he said. "I will stay in prison till Pythias returns."
Then the ruler asked: "What will happen if Pythias does not return?"
"I will die for him," said Damon.
This surprised Dionysius very much. He put Damon in prison and Pythias went home. Weeks went by and Pythias did not return. At last the day of execution came, and Damon was led out to be put to death. He said: "Pythias will come if he is alive. I can trust him absolutely."
Just then soldiers ran up shouting: "Here he comes! Here he comes!"
Yes, there was Pythias, breathless with haste. He had been shipwrecked on his journey and had been cast ashore many miles away.
Dionysius was greatly moved. "You are both free," said he. "I would give all I have for one such friend. Will you let me become a friend to you both?"
Lincoln's Unvarying Kindness
FANNY E. COE
Abraham Lincoln, the great President of the United States, loved not only men, women and children, but animals as well. If he saw an animal in trouble of any sort he always stopped to aid it. Even in the most crowded day he found time to be merciful.
When Abraham was twenty-one he helped his father to move to the West. Other friends went, too. They packed their goods in large waggons drawn by oxen. It was quite a little company.
They started on their journey in February. The roads were heavy with frost and mud. There were no bridges, and so the streams must be forded. Again and again they had to break the ice to let the wheels pass.
At one of these fords a little dog was left behind on the farther shore. He ran up and down the bank and howled pitifully, but no one seemed to notice him. At last tall, bony Abe Lincoln turned.
The dog looked pleadingly at him. "Am I to be left behind to die in this wilderness?" his soft dark eyes seemed to say.
Lincoln hesitated. The water of the river was icy cold. However, he took off his shoes, turned up his trousers, and waded across. He caught up the shivering little animal, which licked his hands and face in a very passion of gratitude.
When Lincoln set him down on the right side of the river, the little dog showed his gladness by leaping upon everyone and barking wildly.
"His frantic leaps of joy repaid me for what I had done," said Lincoln.
Years afterward, when Lincoln was a busy lawyer, he was one day riding to court on horseback. With him were some friends of his who were also lawyers.
The small party had some distance to go. The day was warm and the roadsides were soft with spring mud.
Suddenly their gay talk was interrupted. "Cheep! cheep! cheep!" they heard. On the ground, not far from the roadside, two little birds lay in the grass. They had fallen from the nest in the tree above them. Their mother fluttered about, uttering pitiful cries.
"See those young robins that have fallen from their nest," said one man.
"That's too bad," said another. "They are sure to die down there."
"Some cat will get them," said a third.
On they went, but soon they missed Abraham Lincoln. They looked behind, but a turn of the road hid him from sight. "We can guess what kept him," laughed the leader. "He has stopped to put those robins back into their nest."
They were right. Abraham Lincoln was even then climbing the tree to the nest with the tiny birds cuddled tenderly in one big kind hand.
Soon he rejoined his friends. One of them raised his riding-whip and pointed at Lincoln's muddy boots. "Confess now, old Abe," he said, "wasn't it those young robins that kept you?"
"We know you, old fellow!" said another.
"Yes, boys, you are right," Lincoln replied. "But if I hadn't put those birds back into the nest I shouldn't have slept a wink all night."
Here is another story of the great-hearted Lincoln. He passed a beetle one day that was sprawling upon its back. It was kicking hard in its efforts to turn over. Lincoln stooped and set it right. "Do you know," he said to the friend beside him, "I shouldn't have felt just right if I'd left that insect struggling there. I wanted to put him on his feet and give him a chance with all the other beetles."
Another time Lincoln and a party of lawyers were riding from one town to another to attend court. Each lawyer wore his best clothes. Lincoln was most careful of his well-worn suit.
On the road the party passed a small pig that had fallen into a ditch. The poor little creature cried in a most pitiful fashion. At a bend of the road Lincoln drew rein. His friends rode on, but he returned. He jumped into the muddy ditch, lifted up the helpless pig, and placed him again on solid ground. Then he galloped after the others.
The splashes of mud told their own story. His friends laughed at the big man with the tender heart. "I could not do otherwise," said Lincoln.
How Molly spent her Sixpence
ELIZA ORNE WHITE (Adapted)
Molly and Priscilla were two little cousins. They had been spending a week together at their grandmother's.
When Molly was going home, the two little girls exchanged silver sixpences. Each wished to have a remembrance of the other.
Molly meant to keep Priscilla's sixpence always, but she had not been at home many days before she received a letter from her cousin that altered her intentions. Molly's mamma read it aloud.
* * * * *
"DEAR MOLLY,—I miss you very much. I cried the day you went, for it was so lonely. I have spent your sixpence. I meant to get pink and blue and yellow tissue paper, but Guy Fawkes Day came and I got fireworks instead. They are all gone now, but it was fun while they lasted. They made a splendid noise. I like crackers.
"Please get something to remember me by on my birthday. As I have spent your sixpence, I want you to spend mine, and then we shall be even. My birthday is the eighth of December. I wish you were my sister. Your loving cousin,
* * * * *
"It is the eighth of December to-day, Molly dear," said Mrs Benson.
"Then I think I had better go and look round the shops."
"You will find a great variety of things at Fletcher's," said her mamma; "and if you like, you may go there all by yourself like a grown-up person."
This pleased Molly, and she put on her brown hat and started out with a little shopping bag that her Aunt Ruth had given her last Christmas. Her small purse was in the bottom holding her silver sixpence. Just as she reached the gate, she saw Julia Harding coming out of the big house opposite.
"Where are you going, Molly?" Julia asked. "I was coming over to play with you."
"I am going to do some shopping," said Molly.
"What are you going to buy?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know what you are going to buy?"
"It may be tissue paper, or it may be paper dolls' furniture, or it may be a new dress for Sylvia or Jane, but whatever it is, it must cost just sixpence."
Then Molly told Julia the story of the exchange of the silver sixpences.
"I should get sweets if it were mine," said Julia, "and then we could eat some."
"But I don't want to eat up my lovely present," said Molly.
Fletcher's was a delightful shop. It had almost everything in it that anyone could want. In fact it was so full of charming things that it was hard to make a choice.
Molly's eyes were fascinated by a card full of paper-doll patterns, and their pretty blue, red, and white dresses. There was a back and a front view of each little girl, to be cut out and pasted together so as to make a complete person. There were also on the same card a tennis racket and a hoop and a dear little doll's carriage for the rag-doll children to play with, and a shopping-bag and a green watering-pot. Molly was afraid that these children and their outfit would cost a great deal of money, and that she could not afford to buy them.
"How much are they?" she shyly asked the girl behind the counter.
"Sixpence-halfpenny a card. They are very cheap, for they came from Germany. Would you like one?"
Molly shook her head. "I only have sixpence," she answered with a sigh.
"I will let you have it for sixpence seeing that it is you," the girl said.
She was very pleasant, with kind, grey eyes. "Sixpence is very cheap for two children and their entire wardrobe, not to mention play-things," she added.
"Yes, it is cheap," said Molly.
Julia, meanwhile, had discovered some paper doll furniture. One card was full of kitchen things, and another was devoted to parlour furniture, while a third displayed a bedroom set.
"How perfectly beautiful!" Molly said, as she looked at the little brown dressing-table with white-and-red cover and the red pin-cushion full of pins.
"What a dear little rug!" said Julia, pointing to a charming brown skin rug.
"And look at the towels and the little towel-rack," said Molly.
"And the bed and washstand and the pretty blue screen," added Julia.
"See the brown chairs and the dear little brown clock. What fun it would be to cut them out, Julia!"
"Look at the parlour set," said Julia. "See the piano, and the red sofa and chairs, and the tall piano-lamp with its red shade."
"The kitchen is a dear place," said Molly. "See the table with a lobster on it in a dish, and the sweet little cooking-stove, and the pretty blue dishes in the cupboard; they all seem so real."
"See the spice-box," said Julia. "Pepper, nutmeg, c-i-n-n-a-m-o-n, cinnamon."
"Oh, look at that dear little pussy cat in the kitchen!" said Molly. "How much are these cards?" she asked.
"Only sixpence! I don't know which I want the most."
"I should choose the parlour set," said Julia.
"I like the kitchen and the bedroom set the best, because we could have more fun with them."
"We have the same things at threepence a card in a smaller size," the assistant said.
"At threepence a card! Then I can have two of them, Julia! and I can send one of them to Priscilla, for poor Priscilla has spent all her money on fireworks, and hasn't anything to remember me by."
"I should keep them both," said Julia. "If she chose to spend her money on fireworks, that is her lookout. We could have more fun if you had the kitchen and parlour furniture, too."
"Yes, we could," said Molly. "I must look round a little more before I decide," she added prudently. "Oh, Julia, see that pretty pink stuff with white spots on it! How becoming that would be to Sylvia! It takes only half-a-yard for her dress. How much is it for half-a-yard?"
"It is one shilling and a halfpenny a yard," the assistant replied.
"How much would that be for half-a-yard, Julia?"
"I don't know."
"We don't know how much it would be for half-a-yard," said Molly appealingly.
"Well, we would charge you sixpence."
"Sixpence!" said Molly. She was almost sorry, for if it had cost more she could not have bought it, and it would have been a little easier to choose.
"Look at this sweet doll, Molly," said Julia, from the other end of the shop. "A tiny doll and yet so prettily dressed. How much is it?"
"Everything is sixpence in this shop," said Molly, in despair. "I can't ever decide; but I have so many dolls that I don't really need any more."
"Oh, Molly, see this!" and Julia paused before a tall round basket. A white card hung above it, and on this card was printed in large black letters:
THE LUCKY DIP
3d. a Dip
EACH ARTICLE FULLY WORTH DOUBLE
Julia pushed up the cover of the basket, and she and Molly peeped in over the top. There were flat parcels to be seen and three-cornered parcels, and long ones and square ones, and they were all done up in tissue paper. There was something very interesting and mysterious about the dip. Those paper packages might have something in them even rarer and more beautiful than the paper dolls, or the furniture, or the pink stuff.
"You could have two dips for sixpence," Julia suggested. "You could dip and I could dip, and I could give you what I get."
She was longing to know the contents of a certain interesting irregular parcel.
"The furniture is so sweet," said Molly, "and I am sure I want it."
"The paper dolls are sweet, too," said Julia.
"Yes, and so is the pink stuff. I shall have to take a dip to decide it."