"You say I am a rogue—I say I am not; but at any rate, I ought not to be hanged—for if I am not, I don't deserve it; and if I am, you should give me time to repent! I have him now," thought the fox; "let him. get out if he can."
"Why, what would you have me do with you?" said the man.
"My notion is that you should let me go, and give me a lamb, or goose or two, every month, and then I could live without stealing; but perhaps you know better; my education may have been neglected; you should shut me up, and take care of me, and teach me. Who knows but I may turn into a dog? Stranger things than this have happened."
"Very pretty," said the farmer; "we have dogs enough, and more, too, than we can take care of, without you. No, no, Master Fox, I have caught you, and I am determined that you shall swing. There will be one rogue less in the world, anyhow."
"It is mere hate and unchristian vengeance," said the fox.
"No, friend," the farmer answered; "I don't hate you, and I don't want to revenge myself on you; but you and I can't get on together, and I think I am of more importance in this world than you. If nettles and thistles grow in my cabbage garden, I don't try to persuade them to grow into cabbages. I just dig them up.
"I don't hate them; on the contrary, I feel a sense of pity for them. But I feel somehow that they mustn't hinder me with my cabbages, and that I must put them away; and so, my poor friend, I am sorry for you, but I am afraid you must swing."
BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the moon, Nokomis. Dark behind it rose the forest, Rose the black and gloomy pine trees, Rose the firs with cones upon them. Bright before it beat the water, Beat the clear and sunny water, Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis Nursed the little Hiawatha, Rocked him in his linden cradle, Bedded soft in moss and rushes, Safely bound with reindeer sinews; Stilled his fretful wail by saying, "Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!" Lulled him into slumber, singing, "Ewa-yea! my little owlet! Who is this that lights the wigwam? With his great eyes lights the wigwam? Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"
Many things Nokomis taught him Of the stars that shine in heaven; Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet, Ishkoodah with fiery tresses; Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits, Warriors with their plumes and war clubs, Flaring far away to northward In the frosty nights of winter; Showed the broad white road in heaven, Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows, Running straight across the heavens, Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
At the door on summer evenings Sat the little Hiawatha; Heard the whispering of the pine trees, Heard the lapping of the waters, Sounds of music, words of wonder; "Minne-wawa" said the pine trees, "Mudway-ashka!" said the water.
Saw the firefly, Wah-wah-taysee, Flitting through the dusk of evening, With the twinkle of its candle Lighting up the brakes and bushes, And he sang the song of children, Sang the song Nokomis taught him: "Wah-wah-taysee, little firefly, Little, flitting, white-fire insect, Little, dancing, white-fire creature, Light me with your little candle, Ere upon my bed I lay me, Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!"
Saw the moon rise from the water, Rippling, rounding from the water, Saw the flecks and shadows on it, Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "Once a warrior, very angry, Seized his grandmother and threw her Up into the sky at midnight; Right against the moon he threw her. 'Tis her body that you see there."
Saw the rainbow in the heaven, In the eastern sky, the rainbow, Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "'Tis the heaven of flowers you see there; All the wild flowers of the forest, All the lilies of the prairie, When on earth they fade and perish, Blossom in that heaven above us."
When he heard the owls at midnight, Hooting, laughing, in the forest, "What is that?" he cried in terror, "What is that," he said, "Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered. "That is but the owl and owlet, Talking in their native language, Talking, scolding, at each other."
Then the little Hiawatha Learned of every bird its language, Learned their names and all their secrets, How they built their nests in summer, Where they hid themselves in winter, Talked with them whene'er he met them, Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens."
Of all beasts he learned the language, Learned their names and all their secrets, How the beavers built their lodges. Where the squirrels hid their acorns, How the reindeer ran so swiftly, Why the rabbit was so timid, Talked with them whene'er he met them, Called them "Hiawatha's Brothers."
Then Iagoo the great boaster, He the marvelous story-teller, He the traveler and the talker, He the friend of old Nokomis, Made a bow for Hiawatha; From a branch of ash he made it, From an oak bough made the arrows, Tipped with flint, and winged with feathers, And the cord he made of deerskin.
Then he said to Hiawatha: "Go, my son, into the forest, Where the red deer herd together, Kill for us a famous roebuck, Kill for us a deer with antlers!"
Forth into the forest straightway All alone walked Hiawatha Proudly, with his bow and arrows; And the birds sang round him, o'er him "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!" Sang the robin, sang the bluebird, "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"
And the rabbit from his pathway Leaped aside, and at a distance Sat erect upon his haunches, Half in fear and half in frolic, Saying to the little hunter, "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
But he heeded not, nor heard them, For his thoughts were with the red deer; On their tracks his eyes were fastened, Leading downward to the river, To the ford across the river, And as one in slumber walked he.
Hidden in the alder bushes, There he waited till the deer came, Till he saw two antlers lifted, Saw two eyes look from the thicket, Saw two nostrils point to windward, And a deer came down the pathway, Flecked with leafy light and shadow. And his heart within him fluttered Trembled like the leaves above him, Like the birch-leaf palpitated, As the deer came down the pathway.
Then, upon one knee uprising, Hiawatha aimed an arrow; Scarce a twig moved with his motion, Scarce a leaf was stirred or rustled, But the wary roebuck darted, Stamped with all his hoofs together, Listened with one foot uplifted, Leaped as if to meet the arrow; Ah! the singing, fatal arrow, Like a wasp it buzzed, and stung him.
Dead he lay there in the forest, By the ford across the river; Beat his timid heart no longer; But the heart of Hiawatha Throbbed and shouted and exulted, As he bore the red deer homeward.
DEFINITIONS:—Sinews, tendons. Tresses, long, flowing hair. Ghosts, spirits. Lodges, huts, dwellings. Wigwam, an Indian hut or dwelling. Antlers, the horns of the deer. Palpitated, fluttered, trembled. Fatal, causing death.
AT RUGBY SCHOOL.
BY THOMAS HUGHES.
The little schoolboys went quietly to their own beds, and began undressing and talking to one another in whispers: while the elder, amongst whom was Tom, sat chatting about on one another's beds, with their jackets and waistcoats off.
Poor little Arthur was overwhelmed with the novelty of his position. The idea of sleeping in the room with strange boys had clearly never crossed his mind before, and was as painful as it was strange to him. He could hardly bear to take his jacket off; however, presently, with an effort, off it came, and then he paused and looked at Tom, who was sitting at the bottom of his bed, talking and laughing.
"Please, Brown," he whispered, "may I wash my face and hands?"
"Of course, if you like," said Tom, staring: "that's your wash-hand stand under the window, second from your bed. You'll have to go down for more water in the morning if you use it all."
And on he went with his talk, while Arthur stole timidly from between the beds out to his wash-hand stand, and began his ablutions, thereby drawing for a moment on himself the attention of the room.
On went the talk and laughter. Arthur finished his washing and undressing, and put on his nightgown. He then looked round more nervously than ever. Two or three of the little boys were already in bed, sitting up with their chins on their knees. The light burned clear, the noise went on.
It was a trying moment for the poor, little, lonely boy; however, this time he did not ask Tom what he might or might not do, but dropped on his knees by his bedside, as he had done every day from his childhood, to open his heart to Him who heareth the cry and beareth the sorrows of the tender child, and the strong man in agony.
Tom was sitting at the bottom of his bed unlacing his boots, so that his back was toward Arthur, and he did not see what had happened, and looked up in wonder at the sudden silence. Then two or three boys laughed and sneered, and a big, brutal fellow, who was standing in the middle of the room, picked up a slipper and shied it at the kneeling boy, calling him a sniveling young shaver.
Then Tom saw the whole, and the next moment the boot he had just pulled off flew straight at the head of the bully, who had just time to throw up his arm and catch it on his elbow. "Brown, you rascal! What do you mean by that?" roared he, stamping with pain."
"Never mind what I mean," said Tom, stepping on to the floor, every drop of blood in his body tingling: "if any fellow wants the other boot, he knows how to get it."
What would have been the result is doubtful, for at this moment the sixth-form boy came in, and not another word could be said. Tom and the rest rushed into bed and finished their unrobing there, and the old janitor had put out the candle in another minute, and toddled on to the next room, shutting the door with his usual, "Good night, gen'l'm'n."
There were many boys in the room by whom that little scene was taken to heart before they slept. But sleep seemed to have deserted the pillow of poor Tom. For some time his excitement and the flood of memories which chased one another through his brain, kept him from thinking or resolving. His head throbbed, his heart leapt, and he could hardly keep himself from springing out of bed and rushing about the room.
Then the thought of his own mother came across him, and the promise he had made at her knee, years ago, never to forget to kneel by his bedside and give himself up to his Father before he laid his head on the pillow, from which it might never rise; and he lay down gently, and cried as if his heart would break. He was only fourteen years old.
It was no light act of courage in those days for a little fellow to say his prayers publicly, even at Rugby. A few years later, when Arnold's manly piety had begun to leaven the school, the tables turned; before he died, in the Schoolhouse at least, and I believe in the other houses, the rule was the other way.
But poor Tom had come to school in other times. The first few nights after he came he did not kneel down because of the noise, but sat up in bed till the candle was out, and then stole out and said his prayers, in fear lest some one should find him out. So did many another poor little fellow.
Then he began to think that he might just as well say his prayers in bed, and then that is did not matter whether he was kneeling, or sitting, or lying down. And so it had come to pass with Tom, as with all who will not confess their Lord before men; and for the last year he had probably not said his prayers in earnest a dozen times.
Poor Tom! the first and bitterest feeling, which was like to break his heart, was the sense of his own cowardice. The vice of all others which he loathed was brought in and burned in on his own soul. He had lied to his mother, to his conscience, to his God. How could he bear it? And then the poor, little, weak boy, whom he had pitied and almost scorned for his weakness, had done that which he, braggart as he was, dared not do.
The first dawn of comfort came to him in vowing to himself that he would stand by that boy through thick and thin, and cheer him, and help him, and bear his burdens, for the good deed done that night. Then he resolved to write home next day and tell his mother all, and what a coward her son had been. And then peace came to him as he resolved, lastly, to bear his testimony next morning.
The morning would be harder than the night to begin with, but he felt that he could not afford to let one chance slip. Several times he faltered, for the Devil showed him, first, all his old friends calling him "Saint," and "Squaretoes," and a dozen hard names, and whispered to him that his motives would be misunderstood, and he would be left alone with the new boy; whereas, it was his duty to keep all means of influence, that he might do good to the largest number.
And then came the more subtle temptation, "shall I not be showing myself braver than others by doing this? Have I any right to begin it now? Ought I not rather to pray in my own study, letting other boys know that I do so, and trying to lead them to it, while in public, at least, I should go on as I have done?" However, his good angel was too strong that night, and he turned on his side and slept, tired of trying to reason, but resolved to follow the impulse which had been so strong, and in which he had found peace.
Next morning he was up and washed and dressed, all but his jacket and waistcoat, just as the ten minutes' bell began to ring, and then in the face of the whole room he knelt down to pray. Not five words could he say,—the bell mocked him; he was listening for every whisper in the room,—what were they all thinking of him?
He was ashamed to go on kneeling, ashamed to rise from his knees. At last, as it were from his inmost heart, a still, small voice seemed to breathe forth the words of the publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" He repeated them over and over, and rose from his knees comforted and humbled, and ready to face the whole world.
It was not needed: two other boys besides Arthur had already followed his example, and he went down to the great school with a glimmering of another lesson in his heart,—the lesson that he who has conquered his own coward spirit has conquered the whole outward world; and also that however we may fancy ourselves alone on the side of good, the King and Lord of men is nowhere without his witnesses.
He found, too, how greatly he had exaggerated the effect to be produced by his act. For a few nights there was a sneer or a laugh when he knelt down, but this passed off soon, and one by one all the other boys but three or four followed the lead.
—Adapted from "School Days at Rugby."
DEFINITIONS:—Waistcoat, a vest. Overwhelmed, overcome, cast down. Novelty, newness. Ablution, the act of washing. Sneered, showed contempt. Bully, a noisy, blustering fellow, more insolent than courageous. Tingling, having a thrilling feeling. Leaven, to make a general change, to imbue. Loathed, hated, detested. Braggart, a boaster. Vowing, making a solemn promise to God. Testimony, open declaration. Faltered, hesitated. Motive, that which causes action, cause, reason. Subtle, artful, cunning.
NOTES.—"Rugby" the scene of this story, is a celebrated grammar school which was established at the town of Rugby, England, in 1667.
Sixth-form boy. The school was graded into six classes or "forms," and the boys of the highest, or sixth, form were expected to keep the smaller boys under them in order.
BY MARIA LA COSTE.
Into a ward of the whitewashed halls, Where the dead and dying lay, Wounded by bayonets, shells, and balls, Somebody's darling was borne one day;
Somebody's darling, so young and brave, Wearing yet on his pale, sweet face, Soon to be hid by the dust of the grave,
The lingering light of his boyhood's grace.
Matted and damp are the curls of gold, Kissing the snow of that fair young brow; Pale are the lips of delicate mold Somebody's darling is dying now.
Back from his beautiful, blue-veined brow, Brush all the wandering waves of gold; Cross his hands, on his bosom now; Somebody's darling is still and cold.
Kiss him once for somebody's sake, Murmur a prayer soft and low; One bright curl from its fair mates take; They were somebody's pride, you know;
Somebody's hand has rested there; Was it a mother's, soft and white? And have the lips of a sister fair Been baptized in the waves of light?
God knows best! he was somebody's love. Somebody's heart enshrined him there; Somebody wafted his name above, Night and morn, on the wings of prayer.
Somebody wept when he marched away, Looking so handsome, brave, and grand; Somebody's kiss on his forehead lay; Somebody clung to his parting hand.
Somebody's watching and waiting for him, Yearning to hold him again to her heart; And there he lies, with his blue eyes dim, And the smiling, childlike lips apart.
Tenderly bury the fair young dead, Pausing to drop on his grave a tear; Carve on the wooden slab at his head, "Somebody's darling slumbers here."
DEFINITIONS:—Bayonet, a short, pointed iron weapon, fitted to the muzzle of a gun. Darling, one dearly loved. Lingering, protracted. Matted, twisted together. Delicate, soft and fair. Mold, shape. Wandering, straying. Enshrined, cherished. Wafted, caused to float. Yearning, being eager, longing. Tenderly, gently, kindly.
BY JOHN R. MUSICK.
There is no more beautiful and thrilling tale of early pioneer days than the story of Helen Patterson. She was born in Kentucky; but while she was still a child her parents removed to St. Louis County, Missouri, and lived for a time in a settlement called Cold Water, which is in St. Ferdinand township. About the year 1808 or 1809, her father took his family to the St. Charles district, and settled only a few miles from the home of the veteran backwoodsman, Daniel Boone.
At the time of this last removal, Helen was about eighteen years of age. She was a very religious girl, and had been taught to believe that whatever she prayed for would be granted.
Shortly after the family had settled in their new home, bands of prowling savages began to roam about the neighborhood. The Indians would plunder the cabins of the settlers during their absence, and drive away their cattle, horses, and hogs.
One day business called all the Patterson family to the village, except Helen. She was busily engaged in spinning, when the house was surrounded by nine Indians. Resistance was useless. She did not attempt to escape or even cry out for help; for one of the savages who spoke English gave her to understand that she would be killed if she did so.
She was told that she must follow the Indians. They took such things as they could conveniently carry, and with their captive set off on foot through the forest, in a northwestern direction. The shrewd girl had brought a ball of yarn with her, and from this she occasionally broke off a bit and dropped it at the side of the path, as a guide to her father and friends, who she knew would soon be in pursuit.
This came very near being fatal to Helen, for one of the Indians observed what she was doing, and raised his hatchet to brain her. The others interceded, but the ball of yarn was taken from her, and she was closely watched lest she might resort to some other device for marking a trail.
It was early in the morning when Helen was captured. Her parents were expected to return to the cabin by noon, and she reasoned that they would be in pursuit before the Indians had gone very far. As the savages were on foot, and her father would no doubt follow them on horseback, he might overtake them before dark. The uneasiness expressed by her captors during the afternoon encouraged her in the belief that her friends were in pursuit.
A little before sunset, two of the Indians went back to reconnoiter, and the other seven, with the captive, continued on in the forest. Shortly after sunset, the two Indians who had fallen behind joined the others, and all held a short consultation, which the white girl could not understand.
The conference lasted but a few moments, and then the savages hastened forward with Helen to a creek, where the banks were sloping, and the water shallow enough for them to wade the stream. By the time they had crossed, it was quite dark. The night was cloudy, and distant thunder could occasionally be heard.
The Indians hurried their captive to a place half a mile from the ford, and there tied her with strips of deerskin to one of the low branches of an elm. Her hands were extended above her head, and her wrists were crossed and tied so tightly that she found it impossible to release them. When they had secured her to their own satisfaction, the Indians left her, assuring her that they were going back to the ford to shoot her father and his companions as they crossed it.
Helen was almost frantic with fear and grief. Added to the uncertainty of her own fate was the knowledge that her father and friends were marching right into an Indian ambuscade.
In the midst of her trouble, she did not forget her pious teaching. She prayed God to send down his angels and release her. But no angel came. In her distress, the rumbling thunders in the distance were unheard, and she hardly noticed the shower until she was drenched to the skin.
The rain thoroughly wet the strips of deerskin with which she was tied, and as they stretched she almost unconsciously slipped her hands from them. Her prayer had been answered by the rain. She hastily untied her feet, and sped away toward the creek. Guided by the lightning's friendly glare, she crossed the stream half a mile above the ford, and hastened to meet her father and friends.
At every flash of lightning she strained her eyes, hoping to catch sight of them. At last moving forms were seen in the distance, but they were too far away for her to determine whether they were white men or Indians. Crouching down at the root of a tree by the path, she waited until they were within a few rods of her, and then cried in a low voice,"Father! Father!"
"That is Helen," said Mr. Patterson.
She bounded to her feet, and in a moment was at his side, telling him how she had escaped. The rescuing party was composed of her father and two brothers, a neighbor named Shultz, and Nathan and Daniel M. Boone, sons of the great pioneer, Daniel Boone.
She told them where the Indians were lying in ambush, and the frontiersmen decided to surprise them. They crossed the creek on a log, and stole down to the ford, but the Indians were gone. No doubt the savages had discovered the escape of the prisoner, and, knowing that their plan to surprise the white men had failed, became frightened and fled.
Helen Patterson always believed it was her prayers that saved her father, her brothers, and herself in that trying hour. —From "Stories of Missouri."
DEFINITIONS:—Thrilling, exciting. Veteran, long experienced. Shrewd, artful, cunning. Interceded, stepped in between, prevented. Trail, pathway.
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER.
BY FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro'the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore dimly seen through the mist of the deep, Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream: 'Tis the star-spangled banner: oh, long may wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion, A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of night or the gloom of the grave: And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Oh, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and wild war's desolation; Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!" And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
DEFINITIONS:—Hailed, greeted. Perilous, full of danger. Ramparts, the walls of a fortification. Bombs, shells fired from mortars. Haughty, overbearing. Fitfully, by starts. Discloses, reveals to sight. Havoc, destruction.
NOTE.—This song was composed in September, 1814, at the time of the bombardment of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, by the British.
OUR NATIONAL BANNER.
BY EDWARD EVERETT.
All hail to our glorious ensign! courage to the heart and strength to the hand, to which, in all time, it shall be intrusted! May it ever wave first in honor, in unsullied glory and patriotic hope, on the dome of the Capitol, on the country's stronghold, on the tented plain, on the wave-rocked topmast.
Wheresoever, on the earth's surface, the eye of the American shall behold it, may he have reason to bless it! On whatsoever spot it is planted, there may freedom have a foothold, humanity a brave champion, and religion an altar. Though stained with blood in a righteous cause, may it never, in any cause, be stained with shame.
Alike when its gorgeous folds shall wanton in lazy holiday triumphs on the summer breeze, and its tattered fragments be dimly seen through the clouds of war, may it be the joy and pride of the American heart. First raised in the cause of right and liberty, in that cause alone may it forever spread out its streaming blazonry to the battle and the storm. Having been borne victoriously across a mighty continent, and floating in triumph on every sea, may virtue, and freedom, and peace, forever follow where it leads the way!
BURNING THE FALLOW.
BY SUSANNA MOODIE.
The day was sultry, and toward 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!"
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 toward us.
"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?"
"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."
"What is the danger?"
"Oh, I'm afraid that we shall all be burnt up," said John, beginning to whimper. "What shall we do?"
"Why, we must get out of it as fast as we can, and leave the house to its fate."
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I turned to young Thomas, and asked him how long he thought that would be. "When the fire clears this little ridge in front, ma'am. The Lord have mercy on us then, or we must all go."
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.
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 were gaining so fast upon us that I felt their scorching breath in my face.
"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."
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.
In a few minutes the chipyard 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.
—Prom "Roughing it in the Bush."
BY CELIA LEIGHTON THAXTER.
Poor, sweet Piccola! Did you hear What happened to Piccola, children dear? 'Tis seldom Fortune such favor grants As fell to this little maid of France.
'Twas Christmas time, and her parents poor Could hardly drive the wolf from the door, Striving with poverty's patient pain Only to live till summer again.
No gift for Piccola! sad were they When dawned the morning of Christmas day! Their little darling no joy might stir; St. Nicholas nothing would bring to her!
But Piccola never doubted at all That something beautiful must befall Every child upon Christmas day, And so she slept till the dawn was gray.
And full of faith, when at last she woke, She stole to her shoe as the morning broke; Such sounds of gladness filled all the air, 'Twas plain St. Nicholas had been there.
In rushed Piccola, sweet, half wild— Never was seen such a joyful child— "See what the good saint brought!" she cried, And mother and father must peep inside.
Now such a story I never heard! There was a little shivering bird! A sparrow, that in at the window flew, Had crept into Piccola's tiny shoe!
"How good poor Piccola must have been!" She cried, as happy as any queen, While the starving sparrow she fed and warmed, And danced with rapture, she was so charmed.
Children, this story I tell to you, Of Piccola sweet and her bird, is true. In the far-off land of France, they say, Still do they live to this very day.
DEFINITIONS:—Dawned, began to grow light. Befall, happen. Shivering, trembling from cold. Tiny, very small.
THE MOUNTAIN AND THE SQUIRREL.
BY RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
The mountain and the squirrel Had a quarrel, And the former called the latter "Little Prig"; Bun replied: "You are doubtless very big; But all sorts of things and weather Must be taken in together To make up a year And a sphere. And I think it no disgrace To occupy my place. If I'm not so large as you, You are not so small as I, And not half so spry. I'll not deny you make A very pretty squirrel track; Talents differ; all is well and wisely put; If I cannot carry forests on my back, Neither can you crack a nut."
STRANGE STORIES OF ANTS.
I. WHITE ANTS.
BY HENRY DIAMOND.
The white ant is a small insect, the body being of a yellowish white color, and repulsive in appearance. This tiny earth-dweller lives almost entirely on wood. When a tree is cut down, white ants immediately swarm toward the food thus unwittingly provided for them by man.
You might reside in Africa for many years and never see one of these ants, for they live underground; but their ravages confront the explorer at almost every step. You build a house in Uganda. For a short time you fancy that you have pitched upon the only spot in the country where there are no white ants. But one day the doorposts totter, and lintel and rafters come down with a crash. You look at a section of any one of the wrecked timbers, and find that the whole inside has been eaten away.
The apparently solid logs of the whole house are now all mere cylinders of bark, and through the thickest of them you could push your little finger. The household furniture—in fact everything made of wood—has been attacked and utterly ruined. Indeed, the ants will gnaw through most substances except earthenware, glass, iron, and tin. So greatly are these tiny creatures feared in certain parts of Africa that, in those districts, wooden trunks are never carried by experienced travelers.
The white ant is never visible. Why it should not show itself is strange—it is stone blind. But its modesty is really due to a desire for self-protection; for the moment it shows itself above ground it finds a dozen enemies waiting to devour it. Still, the white ant can never procure food until it does come above the surface of the soil.
Night is the great feeding time in the tropics, but it is clear that darkness is no protection to the ant, and yet without coming out of the ground it cannot live. The difficulty is solved thus: It takes earth up with it. White ants may have reached the top of a tree, and yet they were underground not long ago. They took up soil with them, building it into tunnel-huts as they moved upward; and in these huts they lived securely, feasting on the wood of the tree, around which they had built solid walls of earth.
Millions of trees, in some districts, are plastered over with mud tubes, galleries, and chambers. It is not unusual to find a tree having thousands of pounds of earth packed around it. The earth is conveyed by the insects up a central pipe, with which all the various galleries communicate, and which, at the downward end, connects with passages running deep into the ground.
The white ant's method of working is as follows: At the foot of a tree the tiniest hole cautiously opens in the soil close to the bark. A small head appears with a tiny grain of earth clasped in its jaws. Against the tree trunk this grain is deposited and the head is withdrawn. Again the little creature returns with another grain, which is laid beside the first, tight against it, and the builder once more disappears underground in search of more of these unquarried building stones.
A third grain is not placed against the tree, but against the former grains; a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth grain follow, and the plan of a foundation begins to suggest itself. The grains are formed into a semicircular wall, and the work is pushed forward by many thousands of the little masons. As the wall grows higher and higher, it takes the shape of a long perpendicular tunnel running up the side of the tree—a marvel of architectural skill.
The way in which the building is done is extremely curious. Each grain or stone, as it is brought to the top, is covered with mortar. Without this precaution the wall would crumble into dust before reaching half an inch in height; but the insect pours over the earthen grains a sticky secretion, turning each grain round and round until it has been overspread with the gluelike liquid. Then the stone is placed with great care in the proper position, and is worked about vigorously for a moment or two until it is well set.
To every hundred workers in a white-ant colony, which numbers many thousands of individuals, there are, perhaps, two soldiers. These are larger in build than the laborers, and never perform any other work than sentry duty; yet they go about with a certain air of business, as if one were the architect and the other the superintendent of the structure being built.
They are stationed at the mouth of the tunnel. Sometimes enemies—other species of ants—draw near, and then the working white ants, being but poor, defenseless creatures, blind and unarmed, would be in danger of death were not their big fighting comrades on guard. The soldiers rush to the rescue and, with a few sweeps of their scythe-like jaws, clear the field. While the attacking party is carrying off its dead, the builders, unconscious of the fray, quietly continue at their work.
It is not only a tree here and there that exhibits the work of the white ant, but in many places the whole forest is so colored with dull red columns as to give a distinct tone to the landscape. The earth tubes crumble into dust in the summer, the clay is scattered over the country by the wind, and in this way tends to increase and refresh the soil.
Again, during the rains, this ant-raised earth is washed into the rivulets and borne away to fertilize distant valleys, or is carried to the ocean, where, along the coast line, it "sows the dust of continents to be."
II. RED ANTS.
BY JULES MICHELET.
Peter Huber, walking one day in a field near Geneva, saw on the ground a strong detachment of reddish colored ants on the march, and bethought himself of following them. On the flanks of the column, as if to dress its ranks, a few sped to and fro in eager haste. After marching for about a quarter of an hour, they halted before an ant-hill belonging to some small black ants, and a desperate struggle took place at its gates.
A small number of blacks offered a brave resistance; but the great majority of the people thus assailed fled through the gates remotest from the scene of combat, carrying away their young. It was just these which were the cause of the strife—what the blacks most feared being the theft of their offspring. And soon the assailants, who had succeeded in penetrating into the city, might be seen emerging from it, loaded with the young black progeny.
The red ants, encumbered with their living booty, left the unfortunate city in the desolation of its great loss, and resumed the road to their own habitation, whither their astonished observer followed them. But how was his astonishment augmented when at the threshold of the red ants' community, a small population of black ants came forward to receive the plunder, welcoming with visible joy these children of their own race, which would perpetuate it in foreign lands!
This, then, was a mixed city, where the strong warrior ants lived on a perfectly good understanding with the little blacks. But what of the latter? Huber soon discovered that they were the workers of the community. It was they alone who did all the building. They alone took care of the young red ants and the captives of their own species. They alone administered the affairs of the city, provided its supplies of food, and waited upon their red masters who, like great infant giants, allowed their little attendants to feed them at the mouth.
The only occupations of the red masters were war, theft, and kidnaping. Nothing did they do in the intervals but wander about lazily, and bask in the sunshine at the doors of their barracks.
Huber made an experiment. He wanted to see what would be the result if the great red ants found themselves without servants. He put a few into a glass case, and put some honey for them in a corner, so that they had nothing to do but take it. Miserable the degradation, cruel the punishment with which slavery afflicts the enslavers! They did not touch it; they seemed to know nothing; they had become so grossly ignorant that they could no longer feed themselves. Some of them died from starvation, with food before them.
To complete the experiment, Huber then introduced into the case one black ant. The presence of this sagacious slave changed the face of things, and reestablished life and order. He went straight to the honey, and fed the dying simpletons.
The little blacks in many things carry a moral authority whose signs are very visible. They do not, for example, permit the great red ants to go out alone on useless expeditions, but compel them to return into the city. Nor are they even at liberty to go out in a body if their wise little slaves do not think the weather favorable, if they fear a storm, or if the day is far advanced. When an excursion proves unsuccessful, and they return without children, the little blacks are stationed at the gates of the city to forbid their ingress, and send them back to the combat; nay more, you may see them take the cowards by the collar, and force them to retrace their route.
These are astounding facts; but they were seen by Huber, as here described. Not being able to trust his eyes, he summoned one of the greatest naturalists of Sweden, Jurine, to his side, to make new investigations and decide whether he had been deceived. This witness, and others who made similar observations, found that his discoveries were just as he had described them. Yet, after all these weighty testimonies, I still doubted, until on a certain occasion in the park of Fontainebleau, I saw it with my own eyes.
It was half past four in the afternoon of a very warm day. From a pile of stones emerged a column of from four to five hundred red or reddish ants. They marched rapidly toward a piece of turf, kept in order by their sergeants, whom I saw on the flanks and who would not permit any one to straggle.
Suddenly the mass seemed to sink and disappear. There was no sign of ant-hills in the turf; but after a while I detected an almost imperceptible orifice, through which we saw them vanish in less time than it takes to write these words. I supposed that probably this was the entrance to their own home; but in less than a minute they showed me that I was mistaken. Out they thronged, each carrying a young captive in its mandibles.
From the short time they had taken, it was evident that they had a previous knowledge of the place, and knew where the infant blacks were kept. Perhaps it was no+ their first journey. The black ants whose home had been invaded sallied out in considerable numbers. They did not attempt to fight. They seemed frightened and stunned. They endeavored only to delay the red ants by clinging to them. A red ant was thus stopped; but another red one, who was free, relieved him of his burden, and thereupon the black ant relaxed his grasp.
It was, in fact, a pitiful sight. The blacks offered no serious resistance. The five hundred reds succeeded in carrying off fully three hundred young ants. At two or three feet from the hole, the blacks ceased to pursue them, and returned slowly to their home.
DEFINITIONS:—Repulsive, disagreeable. Tropics, the warm regions near the equator. Precaution, care taken beforehand. Fray, fight. Augmented, made greater. Astounding, overwhelming. Mandibles, the mouth organs of insects. Sallied, rushed forth.
DEAR COUNTRY MINE.
BY RICHARD WATSON GILDER.
Dear country mine! far in that viewless west, And ocean-warded, strife thou too hast known; But may thy sun hereafter bloodless shine, And may thy way be onward without wrath, And upward on no carcass of the slain; And if thou smitest let it be for peace And justice—not in hate, or pride, or lust Of empire. Mayst thou ever be, O land, Noble and pure as thou art free and strong; So shalt thou lift a light for all the world And for all time, and bring the Age of Peace.
—By permission, From "Five Books of Song."
I love my country's vine-clad hills, Her thousand bright and gushing rills, Her sunshine and her storms; Her rough and rugged rocks that rear Their hoary heads high in the air, In wild fantastic forms.
I love her rivers deep and wide, Those mighty streams that seaward glide, To seek the ocean's breast; Her smiling fields, her pleasant vales, Her shady dells, her flowery dales— Abodes of peaceful rest.
I love her forests, dark and lone, For there the wild-bird's merry tone I hear from morn till night; And lovelier flowers are there, I ween, Than e'er in Eastern lands were seen In varied colors bright.
Her forests and her valleys fair, Her flowers that scent the morning air, All have their charms for me; But more I love my country's name, Those words that echo deathless fame— The Land of Liberty.
THE FOUR MacNICOLS.
BY WILLIAM BLACK.
This is the true story of how four lads in a fishing village in the North of Scotland, being left orphans by the drowning of their father, learned the great lesson of self-help.
They were the four MacNicols,—Robert, an active, stout-sinewed, black-eyed lad of seventeen; his two younger brothers, Duncan and Nicol; and his cousin Neil.
It was a sad evening for Rob MacNicol when the body of his father was brought home to their poor lodgings. It was his first introduction to the hard facts of life.
"Neil," said Rob to his cousin, "we'll have to think about things now. We have just about as much left as will pay the lodgings this week, and Nicol must go three nights a week to the night school. What we get for stripping the nets will not do now."—"It will not," said Neil.
"Neil," said he, "if we had only a net; do you not think we could trawl for cuddies?" And again he said, "Neil, do you not think we could make a net for ourselves out of the old rags lying about the shed?" And again he said, "Do you think that Peter the tailor would let us have his old boat for a shilling a week?"
It was clear that Rob had been carefully considering the details of this plan. And it was eagerly welcomed, not only by Neil, but also by the brothers, Duncan and Nicol.
It was agreed, under Rob's direction, to set to work at once. So Rob bade his brothers and cousin get their rude fishing rods, and hie away down to the rocks at the mouth of the harbor, and see what fish they could get for him during the afternoon.
Meanwhile he himself went along to a shed which was used as a sort of storage house by some of the fishermen; and here he found lying about plenty of pieces of net that had been cast aside as worthless.
Rob was allowed to pick out a number of pieces that he thought might serve his purpose; and these he carried home. But then came the question of floats and sinkers. Enough pieces of cork to form the floats might in time be found about the beach; but the sinkers had all been removed from the castaway netting.
Rob was a quick-witted lad, and soon formed the plan of rigging up a couple of guy poles, as the salmon fishers call them, one for each end of the small seine he had in view. These guy poles, with a lump of lead at the lower end, would keep the net vertical while it was being dragged through the water.
All this took up the best part of the afternoon; for he had to hunt about before he could get a couple of stout poles; and he had to bargain with the blacksmith for a lump of lead. Then he walked along to the point where the other MacNicols were busy fishing.
They had been lucky with their lines and bait. On the rocks beside them lay two or three small codfish, a large flounder, two good-sized lythe, and nearly a dozen saithe. Rob washed them clean, put a string through their gills, and marched off with them to the village.
He felt no shame in trying to sell fish: was it not the whole trade of the village? So he walked into the grocer's shop.
"Will you buy some fish?" said he; "they're fresh."
The grocer looked at them.
"What do you want?"
"A ball of twine."
"Let me tell you this, Rob," said the grocer severely, "that a lad in your place should be thinking of something else than flying a kite."
"I don't want to fly a kite," said Rob, "I want to mend a net."
"Oh, that is quite different," said the grocer. So Rob had his ball of twine—and a very large one it was. Off he set to his companions. "Come away, boys, I have other work for you."
Well, it took them several days of very hard and constant work before they rigged up something resembling a small seine. Then Rob fixed his guy poles to it; and the lads went to the grocer, and got from him a lot of old rope, on the promise to give him a few fresh fish whenever they happened to have a good haul. Then Rob proceeded to his interview with Peter the tailor, who, after a good deal of grumbling, agreed to let them have his boat for a shilling a week.
Rob went back eager and joyous. Forthwith a thorough inspection of the boat was set about by the lads: they tested the oars, they tested the thole pins, they had a new piece of cork put into the bottom. For that evening, when it grew a little more toward dusk, they would make their first cast with their net.
Yes; and that evening, when it had quite turned to dusk, the people of Erisaig were startled with a new proclamation. It was Neil MacNicol, standing in front of the cottages, and boldly calling forth these words:—
"IS THERE ANY ONE WANTING CUDDIES? THERE ARE CUDDIES TO BE SOLD AT THE WEST SLIP, FOR SIXPENCE A HUNDRED!"
The sale of the cuddies went on briskly. Indeed, when the people had gone away there was not a fish left except a dozen that Rob had put into a can of water, to be given to the grocer as part payment for the loan of the ropes.
"What do you make it altogether?" said Neil to Rob, who was counting the money.
"Three shillings and ninepence."
"Three shillings and ninepence! Man, that's a lot! Will you put it in the savings bank?"
"No, I will not," said Rob. "I'm not satisfied with the net, Neil. We must have better ropes all the way round; and sinkers, too."
One afternoon, about ten days afterward, they set out as usual. They had earned more than enough to pay their landlady, the tailor, and the schoolmaster; and every farthing beyond these expenses they had spent on the net.
Well, on this afternoon, Duncan and Nicol were pulling away to one of the small, quiet bays, and Rob was idly looking around him, when he saw something on the surface of the sea at some distance off that excited a sudden interest. It was what the fishermen call "broken water,"—a seething produced by a shoal of fish.
"Look, look, Neil!" he cried. "It's either mackerel or herring: shall we try for them?"
The greatest excitement now prevailed on board. The younger brothers pulled their hardest for that rough patch on the water.
They came nearer and nearer that strange hissing of the water. They kept rather away from it; and Rob quietly dropped the guy pole over, paying out the net rapidly, so that it should not be dragged after the boat.
Then the three lads pulled hard, and in a circle, so that at last they were sending the bow of the boat straight toward the floating guy pole. The other guy pole was near the stern of the boat, the rope made fast to one of the thwarts. In a few minutes Rob had caught this first guy pole: they were now possessed of the two ends of the net.
But the water had grown suddenly quiet. Had the fish dived, and escaped them? There was not the motion of a fin anywhere, and yet the net seemed heavy to haul.
"Rob," said Neil, almost in a whisper, "we've got them!"
"We haven't got them, but they're in the net. Man, I wonder if it'll hold out?"
Then it was that the diligent patching and the strong tackle told; for they had succeeded in inclosing a goodly portion of a large shoal of mackerel, and the weight seemed more than they could get into the boat.
But even the strength of the younger lads seemed to grow into the strength of giants when they saw through the clear water a great moving mass like quicksilver. And then the wild excitement of hauling in; the difficulty of it; the danger of the fish escaping; the warning cries of Rob; the possibility of swamping the boat, as all the four were straining their utmost at one side!
When that heaving, sparkling mass of quicksilver at last was captured, the young lads sat down quite exhausted, wet through, but happy.
"Man! Rob, what do you think of that?" said Neil, in amazement.
"What do I think?" said Rob. "I think, that, if we could get two or three more hauls like that, I would soon buy a share in Coll MacDougall's boat, and go after the herring."
They had no more thought that afternoon of "cuddy" fishing after this famous "take," but rowed back to Erisaig; then Rob left the boat at the slip, and walked up to the office of the fish salesman.
"What will you give me for mackerel?" he said. The salesman laughed at him, thinking he had caught a few with rods and flies.
"I'm not buying mackerel," said he; "not by the half-dozen."
"I have half a boat load," said Rob.
The salesman glanced toward the slip, and saw the tailor's boat pretty low in the water.
"I'll go down to the slip with you."
So he and Rob together walked down to the slip, and the salesman had a look at the mackeral.
"Well, I will buy the mackerel from you," he said. "I will give you half a crown the hundred for them."
"Half a crown!" said Rob. "I will take three and sixpence the hundred for them."
"I will not give it to you. But I will give you three shillings the hundred, and a good price too."—"Very well, then," said Rob.
So the MacNicols got altogether two pounds and eight shillings for that load of mackerel; and out of that Rob spent the eight shillings on still further improving the net, the two pounds going into the savings hank.
As time went on, by dint of hard and constant work, the sum in the savings bank slowly increased; and at last Rob announced to his companions that they had saved enough to enable him to purchase a share in Coll MacDougall's boat.
These MacNicol boys had grown to be very much respected in Erisaig; and one day, as Rob was going along the main street, the banker called him into his office. "Rob," said he, "have you seen the yacht at the building yard?"
"Yes," said Rob, rather wistfully, for many a time he had stood and looked at the beautiful lines of the new craft; "she's a splendid boat."
"Well, you see, Rob," continued Mr. Bailie, regarding him with a good-natured look, "I had the boat built as a kind of speculation. Now, I have been hearing a good deal about you, Rob, from the neighbors. They say that you and your brothers and cousin are good, careful seamen. Now, do you think you could manage that new boat?"
Rob was quite bewildered. All he could say was, "I am obliged to you, sir. Will you wait for a minute till I see Neil?" And very soon the wild rumor ran through Erisaig, that Rob MacNicol had been appointed master of the new yacht the Mary of Argyle and that he had taken his brothers and cousin as a crew.
Rob sold out his share in MacDougall's boat, and bought jerseys and black boots and yellow oilskins for his companions; so that the new crew, if they were rather slightly built, looked spruce enough as they went down to the slip to overhaul the Mary of Argyle.
Then came the afternoon on which they were to set out for the first time after the herring. All Erisaig came out to see; and Rob was a proud lad as he stepped on board, and took his seat as stroke oar.
It was not until they were at the mouth of the harbor that something occurred which seemed likely to turn this fine setting out into ridicule. This was Daft Sandy (a half-witted old man to whom Robert MacNicol had been kind), who rowed his boat right across the course of the Mary of Argyle, and, as she came up, called to Rob.
"What do you want?" cried Rob.
"I want to come on board, Rob," the old man said, as he now rowed his boat up to the stern of the yacht. "Rob," said he, in a whisper, as he fastened the painter of his boat, "I promised I would tell you something. I'll show you how to find the herring."
"You!" said Rob.
"Yes, Rob," said Daft Sandy; "I'll make a rich man of you. I will tell you something about the herring that no one in Erisaig knows,—that no one in all Scotland knows."
Then he begged Rob to take him for that night's fishing. He had discovered a sure sign of the presence of herring, unknown to any of the fishermen: it was the appearance, on the surface of the water, of small air-bubbles.
Rob MacNicol was doubtful, for he had never heard of this thing before; but at last he could not resist the pleading of the old man. So they pulled in, and anchored the boats until toward sunset. Then, taking poor Sandy on board of the Mary of Argyle, they set forth again, rowing slowly as the light faded out of the sky, and keeping watch all around on the almost glassy sea.
The night was coming on, and they were far away from home; but old Sandy kept up his watch, studying the water as though he expected to find pearls floating in it. At last, in great excitement, he grasped Rob's arm. Leaning over the side of the boat, they could just make out in the dusk a great quantity of air-bubbles rising to the surface.
"Put some stones along with the sinkers, Rob," the old man said, in a whisper, as though he were afraid of the herring hearing. "Go deep, deep, deep!"
To let out a long drift-net, which sometimes goes as deep as fifteen fathoms, is an easy affair: but to haul it in again is a hard task; and when it happens to be laden, and heavily laden, with silver gleaming fish, that is a breakback business for four young lads.
But if you are hauling in yard after yard of a dripping net, only to find the brown meshes starred at every point with the shining silver of the herring, then even young lads can work like men. Sandy was laughing all the while.
"Rob, my man, what think you of the air-bubbles now? Maybe Daft Sandy is not so daft after all. And do you think I would go and tell any one but yourself, Rob?"
Rob could not speak; he was breathless. Nor was their work nearly done when they had got in the net, with all its splendid silver treasure. For as there was not a breath of wind, they had to set to work to pull the heavy boat back to Erisaig. The gray dawn gave way to a glowing sunrise; and when they at length reached the quay, tired out with work and want of sleep, the people were all about.
Mr. Bailie came along and shook hands with Rob, and congratulated him; for it turned out that, while not another Erisaig boat had that night got more than from two to three crans, the Mary Of Argyle had ten crans—as good herring as ever were got out of Loch Scrone.
Well, the MacNicol lads were now in a fair way of earning an independent and honorable living. And the last that the present writer heard of them was this: that they had bought outright the Mary of Argyle and her nets, from the banker; and that they were building for themselves a small stone cottage on the slope of the hill above Erisaig; and that Daft Sandy was to become a sort of major-domo,—cook, gardener, and mender of nets.
DEFINITIONS:—Details, particulars. Lythe, saithe, cuddies, kinds of fish. Thole pins, pins to keep the oars in place. Trawl, to fish with a net. Vertical, upright. Dint, means. Interest, attention. Prevailed, existed. Seething, a stir, a boiling. Told, had a great effect. Thwarts, benches. Crans, barrels. Daft, weak- minded. Major-domo, steward.
THE BLUE AND THE GRAY.
BY ELLEN H. FLAGG.
Two soldiers, lying where 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.
"Our time is short," one faint voice said: "To-day we've done our best On different sides. What matters now? To-morrow we're at 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.
"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 no longer be repressed,— "O God! my wife and child!"
"And," said the other dying man, "Across the Georgia plain There watch and wait for me loved ones I'll never see again. A little girl with dark bright eyes Each day waits at the door; The father's step, the father's kiss, Will never meet her more.
"To-day we sought each other's lives; Death levels all that now, For soon before God's mercy seat Together shall we 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." 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:—Anguish, great sorrow or distress. Sought, looked for, tried to destroy. Levels, makes all equal or of the same height. Repressed, held back, restrained. Foes, enemies. Fatherless, without a living father.
EXERCISE.—In what war did the incident here narrated occur? Where is New Hampshire? Where is Georgia? Where did this battle probably take place? What is meant by "hair like golden light"?
THE CAPTAIN'S FEATHER.
BY SAMUEL MINTURN PECK.
The dew is on the heather, The moon is in the sky, And the captain's waving feather Proclaims the hour is nigh When some upon their horses Shall through the battle ride, And some with bleeding corses Must on the heather bide.
The dust is on the heather, The moon is in the sky, And about the captain's feather The bolts of battle fly. But hark! What sudden wonder Breaks forth upon the gloom? It is the cannon's thunder,— It is the voice of doom.
The blood is on the heather, The night is in the sky, And the gallant captain's feather Shall wave no more on high. The grave and holy brother To God is saying mass; But who shall tell his mother, And who shall tell his lass?
THE RIDE TO LONDON.
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
When the coach came round with "London" blazoned in letters of gold upon the boot, it gave Tom such a turn, that he was half disposed to run away. But he didn't do it; for he took his seat upon the box instead, and looking down upon the four grays felt as if he were another gray himself, or at all events, a part of the turn-out; and was quite confused by the novelty and splendor of his situation.
And really it might have confused a less modest man than Tom to find himself sitting next to that coachman; for of all the swells that ever flourished a whip professionally, he might have been elected Emperor. He didn't handle the gloves like another man, but put them on—even when he was standing on the pavement, quite detached from the coach—as if the four grays were, somehow or other, at the ends of the fingers. It was the same with his hat. He did things with his hat, which nothing but an unlimited knowledge of horses and the wildest freedom of the road could ever have made him perfect in. Valuable little parcels were brought to him with particular instructions, and he pitched them into his hat, and stuck it on again, as if the laws of gravity did not admit of such an event as its being knocked off or blown off, and nothing like an accident could befall it.
The guard, too! Seventy breezy miles a day were written in his very whiskers. His manners were a canter; his conversation a round trot. He was a fast coach upon a downhill turnpike road; he was all pace. A wagon couldn't have moved slowly, with that guard and his key bugle on top of it.
These were all foreshadowings of London, Tom thought, as he sat upon the box and looked about it. Such a coachman, and such a guard, never could have existed between Salisbury and any other place. The coach was none of your steady-going yokel coaches, but a swaggering, rakish London coach; up all night, and lying by all day, and leading a wild, dissipated life. It cared no more for Salisbury than if it had been a hamlet.
It rattled noisily through the best streets, defied the Cathedral, took the worst corners sharpest, went cutting in everywhere, making everything get out of its way; and spun along the open country road, blowing a lively defiance out of its key bugle, as its last glad parting legacy.
It was a charming evening, mild and bright. And even with the weight upon his mind which arose out of the immensity and uncertainty of London, Tom could not resist the captivating sense of rapid motion through the pleasant air.
The four dappled steeds skimmed along, as if they liked it quite as well as Tom did; the bugle was in as high spirits as the horses themselves; the coachman chimed in sometimes with his voice; the wheels hummed cheerfully in unison; the brasswork on the harness was an orchestra of little bells; and thus they went clinking, jingling, rattling smoothly on; the whole concern, from the buckles of the leaders' coupling reins to the handle of the hind boot, was one great instrument of music.
Yoho, past hedges, gates, and trees; past cottages and burns, and people going home from work. Yoho, past donkey chaises, drawn aside into the ditch, and empty carts with rampant horses, whipped up at a bound upon the little watercourse, and held by struggling carters close to the five-barred gate, until the coach had passed the narrow turning on the road. Yoho, by churches dropped down by themselves in quiet nooks, with rustic burial grounds about them, where the graves are green and daisies sleep—for it is evening—on the bosoms of the dead.
Yoho, past streams, in which the cattle cool their feet, and where the rushes grow; past paddock-fences, farms, and rickyards.; past last year's stacks, cut, slice by slice, away, and showing, in the waning light, like ruined gables, odd and brown. Yoho, down the pebbly dip, and through the merry watersplash, and up at a canter to the level road again. Yoho! Yoho!
Yoho, among the gathering shades; making of no account the deep reflections of the trees, but scampering on through light and darkness, all the same, as if the light of London fifty miles away were quite enough to travel by, and some to spare. Yoho, beside the village green, where cricket players linger yet, and every little indentation made in the fresh grass by bat or wicket, ball or player's foot, sheds out its perfume on the night. And then a sudden brief halt at the door of a strange inn—the "Bald-faced Stag"—an exchange of greetings, a new passenger, a change of teams.
Away with four fresh horses from the Bald-faced Stag, where the village idlers congregate about the door admiring; and the last team, with traces hanging loose, go roaming off toward the pond, until observed and shouted after by a dozen throats, while volunteering boys pursue them. Now, with a clattering of hoofs and striking out of fiery sparks, across the old stone bridge, and down again into the shadowy road, and through the open gate, and far away, away, into the word. Yoho!
See the bright moon! High up before we know it: making the earth reflect the objects on its breast like water. Hedges, trees, low cottages, church steeples, blighted stumps, and flourishing young slips, have all grown vain upon the sudden, and mean to contemplate their own fair images till morning.
The poplars yonder rustle, that their quivering leaves may see themselves upon the ground. Not so the oak; trembling does not become him; and he watches himself in his stout old burly steadfastness, without the motion of a twig. But, leaving oaks and poplars to their own devices, the stage moves swiftly on, while the moon keeps even pace with it, gliding over ditch and brake, upon the plowed land and the smooth, along the steep hillside and steeper wall, as if it were a phantom Hunter.
Clouds too! And a mist upon the hollow! Not a dull fog that hides it, but a light airy gauzelike mist, which in our eyes of modest admiration gives a new charm to the beauties it is spread before. Yoho! Why now we travel like the moon herself. Hiding this minute in a grove of trees; next minute in a patch of vapor; emerging now upon our clear broad course; withdrawing now, but always dashing on, our journey is a counterpart of hers. Yoho! A match against the moon!
The beauty of the night is hardly felt, when Day comes leaping up. Yoho! Two stages, and the country roads are almost changed to a continuous street. Yoho, past market gardens, rows of houses, villas, crescents, terraces, and squares; past wagons, coaches, carts; past early workmen, late stragglers, and sober carriers of loads; past brick and mortar in its every shape; and in among the rattling pavements, where a jaunty seat upon a coach is not so easy to preserve! Yoho, down countless turnings, and through countless mazy ways, until an old innyard is gained, and Tom Pinch, getting down, quite stunned and giddy, is in London!
—Adapted from "Martin Chuzzlewit."
DEFINITIONS:—Swells, self-important personages. Guard, conductor. Legacy, something left by will. Boot, a place for baggage at either end of a stagecoach. Dip, slope. Dowager, an English title for widow.
THE PLANTING OF THE APPLE TREE.
BY WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
Come, let us plant the apple tree. Cleave the tough greensward with the spade; Wide let its hollow bed be made; There gently lay the roots, and there Sift the dark mold with kindly care, And press it o'er them tenderly, As round the sleeping infant's feet We softly fold the cradle sheet; So plant we the apple tree.
What plant we in this apple tree? Buds, which the breath of summer days Shall lengthen into leafy sprays; Boughs where the thrush, with crimson breast, Shall haunt, and sing, and hide her nest; We plant, upon the sunny lea, A shadow for the noontide hour, A shelter from the summer shower, When we plant the apple tree.
What plant we in this apple tree? Sweets for a hundred flowery springs, To load the May wind's restless wings, When, from the orchard row, he pours Its fragrance through our open doors; A world of blossoms for the bee, Flowers for the sick girl's silent room, For the glad infant sprigs of bloom, We plant with the apple tree.
What plant we in this apple tree? Fruits that shall swell in sunny June, And redden in the August noon, And drop, when gentle airs come by, That fan the blue September sky, While children come, with cries of glee, And seek them where the fragrant grass Betrays their bed to those who pass, At the foot of the apple tree.
And when, above this apple tree, The winter stars are quivering bright, The winds go howling through the night, Girls, whose young eyes o'erflow with mirth, Shall peel its fruit by cottage hearth, And guests in prouder homes shall see, Heaped with the grape of Cintra's vine, And golden orange of the line, The fruit of the apple tree.
The fruitage of this apple tree, Winds and our flag of stripe and star Shall bear to coasts that lie afar, Where men shall wonder at the view, And ask in what fair groves they grew; And sojourners beyond the sea Shall think of childhood's careless day, And long, long hours of summer play, In the shade of the apple tree.
Each year shall give this apple tree A broader flush of roseate bloom, A deeper maze of verdurous gloom, And loosen, when the frost-clouds lower, The crisp brown leaves in thicker shower. The years shall come and pass, but we Shall hear no longer, where we lie, The summer's songs, the autumn's sigh, In the boughs of the apple tree.
And time shall waste this apple tree. Oh, when its aged branches throw Thin shadows on the ground below, Shall fraud and force and iron will Oppress the weak and helpless still? What shall the tasks of mercy be, Amid the toils, the strifes, the tears Of those who live when length of years Is wasting this apple tree?
"Who planted this old apple tree?" The children of that distant day Thus to some aged man shall say; And, gazing on its mossy stem, The gray-haired man shall answer them: "A poet of the land was he, Born in the rude but good old times; 'Tis said he made some quaint old rhymes On planting the apple tree."
DEFINITIONS:—Greensward, turf or sod green with grass. Mold, crumbling earth. Lea, a grassy field. Cintra, a town in Portugal noted for its fine climate and its delicious grapes. Line, the equator. Roseate, rose-colored. Verdurous, greenish.
BY JOHN BORROUGHS.
The apple is the commonest and yet the most varied and beautiful of fruits. A dish of them is as becoming to the center table in winter as is the vase of flowers in summer—a bouquet of Spitzenbergs and Greenings and Northern Spies.
A rose when it blooms, the apple is a rose when it ripens. It pleases every sense to which it can be addressed,—the touch, the smell, the sight, the taste; and when it falls in the still October days it pleases the ear. It is a call to a banquet,—it is a signal that the feast is ready. The bough would fain hold it, but it can now assert its independence; it can now live a life of its own.
Daily the stem relaxes its hold, till finally it lets go completely, and down comes the painted sphere with a mellow thump to the earth, toward which it has been nodding so long.
It will now take time to meditate and ripen! What delicious thoughts it has there, nestled with its fellows under the fence, turning acid into sugar, and sugar into wine!
How pleasing to the touch. I love to stroke its polished rondure with my hand, to carry it in my pocket on my tramp over the winter hills, or through the early spring woods. You are company, you redcheek Spitz or you salmon-fleshed Greening! I toy with you, press your face to mine, toss you in the air, roll you on the ground, see you shine out where you lie amid the moss and dry leaves and sticks.
You are so alive! You glow like a ruddy flower. You look so animated I almost expect to see you move! I postpone the eating of you, you are so beautiful! How compact, how exquisitely tinted! Stained by the sun and varnished against the rains. An independent vegetable existence, alive and vascular as my own flesh; capable of being wounded, bleeding, wasting away, or almost repairing damages!
How they resist the cold! holding out almost as long as the red cheeks of the boys do. A frost that destroys the potatoes and other roots only makes the apple more crisp and vigorous; they peep out from the chance November snows unscathed.
When I see the fruit vender on the street corner stamping his feet and beating his hands to keep them warm, and his naked apples lying exposed to the blasts, I wonder if they do not ache, too, to clap their hands and enliven their circulation. But they can stand it nearly as long as the vender can.
Noble common fruit, best friend of man and most loved by him, following him like his dog or his cow, wherever he goes! His homestead is not planted till you are planted; your roots intertwine with his; thriving best where he thrives best, loving the limestone and the frost, the plow and the pruning knife, you are indeed suggestive of hardy, cheerful industry, and a healthy life in the open air.
Do you remember the apple hole in the garden or back of the house, Ben Bolt? In the fall, after the bins in the cellar had been well stocked, we excavated a circular pit in the warm, mellow earth, and covering the bottom with clean rye straw, emptied in basketful after basketful of hardy choice varieties, till there was a tent-shaped mound several feet high, of shining, variegated fruit.
Then wrapping it about with a thick layer of long rye straw, and tucking it up snug and warm, the mound was covered with a thin coating of earth, a flat stone on top holding down the straw. As winter set in, another coating of earth was put upon it, with perhaps an overcoat of coarse, dry stable manure, and the precious pile was left in silence and darkness till spring. How the earth tempers and flavors the apples! It draws out all the acrid, unripe qualities, and infuses into them a subtile, refreshing taste of the soil.
As the supply in the bins and barrels gets low, and spring approaches, the buried treasures in the garden are remembered. With spade and ax we go out, and penetrate through the snow and frozen earth till the inner dressing of straw is laid bare. It is not quite as clear and bright as when we placed it there last fall, but the fruit beneath, which the hand soon exposes, is just as bright and far more luscious.
Then, as day after day you resort to the hole, and removing the straw and earth from the opening, thrust your arm into the fragrant pit, you have a better chance than ever before to become acquainted with your favorites by the sense of touch. How you feel for them reaching to the right and left.
When you were a schoolboy you stowed them away in your pockets, and ate them along the road and at recess, and again at noon time; and they, in a measure, corrected the effects of the cake and pie with which your mother filled your lunch basket.
—Adapted "Winter Sunshine."
DEFINITIONS:—Meditate, to reflect. Rondure, state of being round. Exquisitely, with great perfection. Vascular, made up of small vessels. Unscathed, not injured. Vender, seller.
THE BUGLE SONG.
BY ALFRED TENNYSON.
The splendor falls on castle walls And snowy summits old in story: The long light shakes across the lakes, And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow; set the wild echoes flying! Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
Oh hark! oh hear! how thin and clear, And thinner, clearer, farther going! Oh sweet and far, from cliff and scar The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying; Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
Oh love, they die in yon rich sky, They faint on hill, or field, or rivers Our echoes roll from soul to soul, And grow forever and forever.
Blow, bugle, blow; set the wild echoes flying, And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
DEFINITIONS:—Splendor, light, glory. Summits, mountain, tops, lofty mountains. Cataract, a waterfall. Scar, a bare place on a mountain side. Elfland, fairyland.
THE STORY OF CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH.
BY JOHN ESTEN COOKE.
Captain Smith was born at Willoughby, in England, in the month of January, 1579. His parents died when he was a mere child, and he was left alone in the world without any one to take care of him. Yet he was a brave and independent boy, and he soon showed that he was well able to make his own way in the world. He was fond of adventure, as most boys are; and while he was still a youth he wandered away to Holland, and spent some time with the English army which was there.
When he came back to England, he began to train himself for the life of a soldier. Instead of passing his time in idleness with other young men of WilloughLy, he went out to the woods near by and built a sort of house for himself of the boughs of trees. Here he intended to stay; and as for food, he meant to shoot deer, and live on the venison. In this "Bower," as he called it, he got together as many books on warlike matters as he could find; and he spent the greater part of his time in studying them.
Young John Smith had a horse and lance with which he practiced every day, riding swiftly and trying to strike a ring or other object from the bough of a tree to which it had been hung. He also practiced with his sword to make his eye keen and his wrist tough; and he fired at trees with his pistol, to become a good marksman. By such means as these he fitted himself for the life of a soldier; and then he set out in search of adventures.
He crossed the English Channel and landed in France; but three Frenchmen who had come over with him in the ship treated him very badly. They saw that he was but a mere boy, and stole the trunk in which were all his clothing and his money. They left him in great trouble, for he was in a strange country without friends. But he kept a brave heart, and soon showed that he could take care of himself. He wandered on through France, meeting many kind persons on the way who helped him, until at last he came to the city of Marseilles on the Mediterranean Sea.
As his plan was to go and fight the Turks, he went on board a ship bound for Rome, which was on his way. The ship set sail, but soon a great storm arose, and the vessel was tossed about, and in danger of being wrecked. Some of the men on board said that Smith, being a stranger, had brought them bad luck, and that the only way to escape the storm was to get rid of him; so they seized him and threw him into the sea.
The waves were running very high at the time, and there was great danger of his being drowned. But he was a good swimmer, and struck out for the nearest land. This was a small island, called the Isle of St. Mary's, not far from the coast of Nice, and here he was thrown on shore by the waves. The weather was very cold, and he had nothing to eat. But soon another ship came in sight; he was seen by the crew; and a boat was sent to take him off of the island. As he went on board the ship he was overjoyed to find that the captain was an old friend of his.
The ship was bound for Egypt; but as Smith was in search of adventures, he cared nothing for that. He agreed to go to Egypt, and as usual something happened to him on the way. They met with an enemy's ship; a sharp fight took place, and the enemy's ship was taken. As young Smith had fought bravely, he received about two thousand dollars in gold as his share of the prize money.
This made him quite rich, and he resolved to go on in search of further adventures. The captain of the ship put him ashore, and he set out for Transylvania, east of Austria, where there was fighting between the Christians and the Turks. He had to pass through a rough, wild country, but he did so safely, and at last reached the Christian army, and was enrolled as a soldier in it. He soon proved to his friends that he was no common soldier.
The Turks had shut themselves up in a strong castle, where they were closely besieged by the Christians. From the castle a Turkish lord sent word to the Christian camp that he was ready to fight any soldier that might be sent against him. The Christians accepted the offer, and drew lots to see who should meet him. The lot fell on John Smith, and when the day came he rode forward to meet his enemy.
The Turk was ready. The two enemies rushed upon each other, but the fight was soon over. Smith's lance struck the Turk in the forehead and hurled him dead to the ground. Smith then leaped from his horse and cut off the Turk's head, and the whole Christian army shouted with joy.
Very soon a second Turk came out to avenge his friend, and he and Smith rode at each other. Both their lances were shivered in pieces, but Smith fired his pistol and broke his enemy's arm. He fell from his horse, and Smith, leaping down, struck off his head, as he had struck off that of the first Turk.
The young soldier was now in high spirits, and he sent a challenge to the Turks. The challenge was accepted by a famous Turk called Bonnymulgro. It was agreed that they were to fight hand to hand with swords, pistols, and battle-axes. They rushed at full gallop toward each other. After firing their pistols they began to use their battle-axes.
Bonnymulgro was a strong man and a dangerous enemy. He struck Smith so heavy a blow on the head that he reeled in his saddle and dropped his ax. At this a loud shout rose from the Turks on the walls, and they shouted louder still, as they saw Smith wheel his horse and fly, with the big Turk after him. But this was only a part of Smith's plan. As soon as the Turk caught up with him and raised his ax, the young soldier quickly wheeled his horse and ran his sword through Bonnymulgro's breast. The Turk fell from the saddle, still trying to fight. But Smith struck him down and cut off his head, which he held up to show that the fight was ended.
John Smith was now a distinguished soldier, but he was soon to find that war is not entirely made up of brave deeds and rich rewards. A day came when ill-fortune befell him. In a great battle in which the Christians were beaten, John Smith was wounded and left on the field. He lay there until night, when some thieves, who had come to rob the dead bodies of whatever they could find upon them, heard him groaning from the pain of his wound, and stopped. He had on a very rich suit of armor, and from this they supposed that he was some great lord. Hence they did not kill him, but resolved to carry him away and keep him prisoner until he paid a large price for his freedom.
John Smith did not tell them that they were mistaken in this, as his life depended on his saying nothing. They carried him to a city called Axiopolis, and here they found that he was only a poor soldier. He was, therefore, sold in the slave market as a common slave, and was sent to a Turkish officer called a tymor, who lived near the Sea of Azov.
The tymor was a very hard master. He stripped off Smith's clothes and ordered him to put on coarse sheepskins. He next shaved his head and put an iron ring round his neck, after which he ordered him to go to work with the rest of his slaves. Smith's life was now very miserable. He therefore made up his mind to escape as soon as possible.
His work sometimes took him to a lonely barn on the tymor's estate, where his business was to thresh out grain with a flail. One day while he was at this labor the tymor came to the barn. He was in a very bad humor, and when he saw Smith he began to offer him every insult. This made the young soldier very angry. He looked around him. No one was in sight, and he had in his hands his heavy flail. At last the tymor struck him with his riding whip, at which John Smith returned a deadly blow with his flail.
The great thing now was to get away, and the young fellow did not stop long to think. He took off his coarse sheepskins and clothed himself in the tymor's suit, then he leaped on that officer's horse and rode off at full gallop. He meant to make his way to Russia where he was sure that he would be safe; but he did not know the road.
After wandering about for many days, he came at last to a Russian fortress. There he was received with the greatest kindness; the iron ring was struck from his neck, and not long afterward he went on his way toward England, "drowned in joy," as he said, at his escape.
Young John Smith soon found that London was no place for a man like himself. He could not remain idle, and he began to long for new adventures. He had seen life in Europe and Asia, and now his thoughts were turned toward America. But little was then known of that country, and many strange and exciting stories were told about it. Now and then sailors had visited it; and when they came back they reported that the earth was full of gold and precious stones, and that the rivers ran over golden sands.
James I., who was King of England at that time, gave the right to Sir Thomas Gates and others to form a settlement in the New World; and in December, 1606, three small vessels set sail for the shores of America. John Smith was on board one of the vessels. The ships, with one hundred and five men in them, crossed the ocean in safety, and reached the West India Islands. They then sailed northward along the coast of Florida and the Carolinas, looking for a good harbor.