When they reached the mouth of Chesapeake Bay they were tossed by a terrible storm' but managed to sail into a harbor without being wrecked. This was in April, 1607, and some time was spent in looking for a place to make a settlement. Before them was a broad river, which was called Powhatan by the Indians, and this they sailed up, delighted with the beautiful prospect before them.
Some Indians came down to the shore and stared at the ships as they sailed by, but the settlers went on up the broad current until they reached a sort of island close to the shore. Here, on the 13th of May, 1607, the ships cast anchor, and here a settlement was made, and was called, in honor of the king, Jamestown. To-day there is nothing to mark the spot, except an old ruined church.
King James had not told any one the names of the men who were to rule over the settlement. The paper containing their names was sealed up in a box which was not to be opened until the ships reached the end of their voyage. But the time had now come: the box was opened, and the name of John Smith was found among those who were to be councilors.
The colonists soon saw that Smith had more sense and energy than all the rest. He was the real leader. Nobody had any respect for the councilors, who were a poor set at the best. They passed their time in eating and drinking and idleness. They had seen little of the Indians, and very foolishly seemed to care nothing about them. Besides this, but very little was done toward raising corn for food. Smith knew that the woods were full of Indians, and also that the food in the ships would not last always. He, therefore, set out with a few men to visit the king of the Indian tribes, who lived some distance farther up the river.
The name of the Indian king was Powhatan, and he ruled over all the Indians in eastern Virginia. He received Captain Smith with great show of kindness, and the two talked together by means of signs; but Smith saw at once that he had a cunning enemy to deal with.
Having finished his visit, Captain Smith and his men rowed back down the river; but when they reached Jamestown they found that some Indians had made an attack upon the place. No doubt but that Powhatan had sent them as soon as he knew that Smith was not there. One of the settlers had been killed by an arrow, and several had been wounded. But a cannon shot had been fired from one of the ships, and as it crashed through the woods the frightened Indians fled and did not return.
King James had ordered that the country of Virginia should be explored, and in the fall, Smith, with a few men, set out for this purpose. As they were rowing up the Chickehominy River some Indians came down to the bank and made signs of friendship. They told Smith that if he wanted a smaller boat to go up higher they would give him one, and also guides to show him the way.
Smith accepted the offer, and the canoe was brought. He got into it with one of his men and some Indians; and then, ordering the rest of his men not to leave the big boat nor to go ashore during his absence, he set off in his canoe to explore the river higher up. He was hardly out of sight when the men disobeyed him and went on shore. The Indians attacked them suddenly, driving them back to the boat, and taking one of them prisoner. Then they hastened up the river after Smith.
They soon overtook him; for, after going some distance, he had stopped and landed, and, taking one of the Indian guides with him, he had set out on foot to look at the country.
He was going through the woods with his guide when a flight of arrows came from behind some trees, and the Indians rushed upon him. He was, indeed, in great danger. He fired his gun at the Indians, and this frightened them so much that he might have escaped had he not run into a swamp. The ground was so soft that before he knew it he sank to his waist. The Indians then rushed quickly upon him and took him prisoner.
Things now seemed hopeless. He was in the hands of his enemies, and had very little doubt that they would put him to death. He tried what he could do with their chief. It chanced that he had a small pocket compass with him, and this he explained to the chief, and made a present of it to him. By this means he gained some time, and also the favor of the chief. When, at last, the warriors bound him to a tree and bent their bows to shoot him, the chief came forward, waving the compass, and ordered them to stop.
After this he was carried through many Indian villages, and was at last led before Powhatan, their king. His case was soon decided. The Indians hated the whites, and now that they had their leader in their hands they resolved to put him to death. A large stone was brought in and Smith's head was laid upon it. Then, at an order from the king, a tall savage raised a club to beat out his brains. In a moment the club would have fallen, and Smith would have died; but a kind Providence watched over him.
An Indian girl, twelve or thirteen years old, sprang toward him. From her dress, it was plain that she was a princess. The large feather in her black hair was like that worn by Powhatan, and her moccasins were embroidered like the old king's. On her arms were bracelets of shells, and from her shoulders fell a robe of doeskin, covered with the feathers of birds, and lined with down from the breasts of wild pigeons.
This girl was Pocahontas, the favorite daughter of the old king. She was filled with pity for the poor prisoner, and ran and threw her arms about him, looking up to her father as she did so. The heavy club did not fall. The blow would have killed Pocahontas, as Smith's head was clasped to her breast; and Powhatan ordered that the prisoner's life should be spared. He was, therefore, unbound, and Powhatan soon showed him that he had nothing to fear. In a few days he was allowed to go back to Jamestown.
Captain Smith had many other adventures while he was in Virginia, but at last a painful accident changed all his plans. As he was rowing down James River one day some powder in his boat took fire, and he was terribly burned. His clothes were all in flames, and he jumped into the water in order to put out the fire. But he was so overcome by the pain that he could not swim, and he was almost drowned before his men could help him back into the boat.
There was no surgeon in Jamestown to dress his wounds, and he made up his mind to go to England and find one. A ship was about ready to sail, and he at once took passage for home.
That was the last that was seen of John Smith in Virginia. He had come over in the spring of 1607, and he went back in the autumn of 1609. It seems a very short time—not three years in all; but in this time he had laid, broad and deep, the foundations of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
—From "Stories of the Old Dominion."
DEFINITIONS:—Venison, the flesh of deer. Ducats, gold coins worth nearly seven dollars each. Tymor, a Turkish officer. Flail, a wooden club used for beating out grains
EXERCISE.—On the map trace John Smith's various journeys in Europe. Find England, Holland, the English Channel, France, Marseilles, the Mediterranean Sea, Rome, Nice, Egypt, Austria, Transylvania, Turkey, Constantinople, Sea of Azov, Russia, Paris, Spain, London. Trace the course of John Smith's first voyage to America. Find the West Indies, Florida, the Carolinas, Chesapeake Bay, James River, Chickahominy River.
ON THE BANKS OF THE TENNESSEE.
BY WILLIAM D. GALLAGHER.
I sit by the open window, And look to the hills away, Over beautiful undulations That glow with the flowers of May; And as the lights and the shadows With the passing moments change, Comes many a scene of beauty Within my vision's range. But there is not one among them That is half so dear to me As an old log cabin I think of, On the banks of the Tennessee.
Now up from the rolling meadows, And down from the hilltops now, Fresh breezes steal in at my window, And sweetly fan my brow; And the sounds that they gather and bring me. From rivulet, meadow, and hill, Come in with a touching cadence, And my throbbing bosom fill; But the dearest thoughts thus wakened, And in tears brought back to me, Cluster 'round that old log cabin On the banks of the Tennessee.
To many a fond remembrance My thoughts are backward cast, As I sit by the open window And recall the faded past; For all along the windings Of the ever moving years Lie wrecks of hope and of purpose, That I now behold through tears; And, of all of them, the saddest That is thus brought back to me Makes holy that old log cabin On the banks of the Tennessee.
Glad voices now greet me daily, Sweet faces I oft behold, Yet I sit by the open window, And dream of the times of old— Of a voice that on earth is silent, Of a face that is seen no more, Of a spirit that faltered not ever In the struggles of days now o'er; And a beautiful grave comes pictured For ever and ever to me, From a knoll near that old log cabin On the banks of the Tennessee.
DEFINITIONS:—Undulations, wavelike motion. Rivulet, a small stream. Knoll, a round-topped hill of medium height.
EXERCISE.—On the map, trace the course of the Tennessee River.
BY JOHN TOWNSEND TROWBRIDGE.
I suppose you all, my boys, are looking for some sort of success in life; it is right that you should; but what are your notions of success? To get rich as soon as possible, without regard to the means by which your wealth is acquired?
There is no true success in that: when you have gained millions, you may yet be poorer than when you had nothing; and it is that same reckless ambition which has brought many a bright and capable boy, not to great estate at last, but to miserable failure and disgrace; not to a palace, but to a prison.
Wealth rightly got and rightly used, rational enjoyment, power, fame,—these are all worthy objects of ambition; but they are not the highest objects, and you may acquire them all without achieving true success. But if, whatever you seek, you put good will into all your actions, you are sure of the best success at last; for whatever else you gain or miss, you are building up a noble and beautiful character, which is not only the best of possessions in this world, but also is about all you can expect to take with you into the next.
I say, good will in all your actions. You are not simply to be kind and helpful to others; but, whatever you do, give honest, earnest purpose to it. Thomas is put by his parents to learn a business. But Thomas does not like to apply himself very closely. "What's the use?" he says. "I'm not paid much, and I'm not going to work much. I'll get along just as easily as I can, and have as good times as I can."
So he shirks his tasks; and instead of thinking about his employer's interests, or his own self-improvement, gives his mind to trifles,—often to evil things, which in their ruinous effects upon his life are not trifles. As soon as he is free from his daily duties, he is off with his companions, having what they call a good time; his heart is with them even while his hands are employed in the shop or store.
He does nothing thoroughly well,—not at all for want of talent, but solely for lack of good will. He is not preparing himself to be one of those efficient clerks or workmen who are always in demand, and who receive the highest wages.
There is a class of people who are the pest of every community—workmen who do not know their trade, men of business ignorant of the first principles of business. They can never be relied upon to do well anything they undertake. They are always making blunders which other people have to suffer for, and which react upon themselves. They are always getting out of employment, and failing in business.
To make up for what they lack in knowledge and thoroughness, they often resort to trick and fraud, and become not merely contemptible, but criminal. Thomas is preparing himself to be one of this class. You cannot, boys, expect to raise a good crop from evil seed.
By Thomas's side works another boy, whom we will call James,—a lad of only ordinary capacity, very likely. If Thomas and all the other boys did their best, there would be but small chance for James ever to become eminent. But he has something better than talent: he brings good will to his work. Whatever he learns, he learns so well that it becomes a part of himself.
His employers find that they can depend upon him. Customers soon learn to like and trust him. By diligence, self-culture, good habits, cheerful and kindly conduct, he is laying the foundation of a generous manhood and a genuine success.
In short, boys, by slighting your tasks you hurt yourself more than you wrong your employer. By honest service you benefit yourself more than you help him. If you were aiming at mere worldly advancement only, I should still say that good will was the very best investment you could make in business.
By cheating a customer, you gain only a temporary and unreal advantage. By serving him with right good will,—doing by him as you would be done by,—you not only secure his confidence, but also his good will in return. But this is a sordid consideration conspired with the inward satisfaction, the glow and expansion of soul which attend a good action done for itself alone. If I were to sum up all I have to say to you in one last word of love and counsel, that one word should be—Good will.
DEFINITIONS:—Character, the sum of qualities which distinguishes one person from another. Purpose, intention, aim. Principles, fixed rules. Capacity, ability, the power of receiving ideas. Sordid, base, meanly avaricious.
EXERCISE.—What is meant by the phrase "to apply himself," in the fourth paragraph? What is meant by "a generous manhood," tenth paragraph? By "expansion of soul," twelfth paragraph? Tell what is meant by "good will," as taught by this lesson.
THE GOOD READER.
It is told of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, that, as he was seated one day in his private room, a written petition was brought to him with the request that it should be immediately read. The king had just returned from hunting, and the glare of the sun, or some other cause, had so dazzled his eyes that he found it difficult to make out a single word of the writing.
His private secretary happened to be absent, and the soldier who brought the petition could not read. There was a page, or favorite boy-servant, waiting in the hall, and upon him the king called. The page was a son of one of the noblemen of the court, but proved to be a very poor reader.
In the first place, he did not articulate distinctly. He huddled his words together in the utterance, as if they were syllables of one long word, which he must get through with as speedily as possible. His pronunciation was bad, and he did not modulate his voice so as to bring out the meaning of what he read. Every sentence was uttered with a dismal monotony of voice, as if it did not differ in any respect from that which preceded it.
"Stop!" said the king, impatiently. "Is it an auctioneer's list of goods to be sold that you are hurrying over? Send your companion to me." Another page who stood at the door now entered, and to him the king gave the petition. The second page began by hemming and clearing his throat in such an affected manner that the king jokingly asked him if he had not slept in the public garden, with the gate open, the night before.
The second page had a good share of self-conceit, however, and so was not greatly confused by the king's jest. He determined that he would avoid the mistake which his comrade had made. So he commenced reading the petition slowly and with great formality, emphasizing every word, and prolonging the articulation of every syllable. But his manner was so tedious that the king cried out, "Stop! are you reciting a lesson in the elementary sounds? Out of the room! But no—stay! Send me that little girl who is sitting there by the fountain."
The girl thus pointed out by the king was a daughter of one of the laborers employed by the royal gardener; and she had come to help her father weed the flower beds. It chanced that, like many of the poor people in Prussia, she had received a good education. She was somewhat alarmed when she found herself in the king's presence, but took courage when the king told her that he only wanted her to read for him, as his eyes were weak.
Now, Ernestine (for this was the name of the little girl) was fond of reading aloud, and often many of the neighbors would assemble at her father's house to hear her; those who could not read themselves would come to her, also, with their letters from distant friends or children, and she thus formed the habit of reading various sorts of handwriting promptly and well.
The king gave her the petition, and she rapidly glanced through the opening lines to get some idea of what it was about. As she read, her eyes began to glisten and her breast to heave. "What is the matter?" asked the king; "don't you know how to read?" "Oh, yes, sire" she replied, addressing him with the title usually applied to him; "I will now read it, if you please."
The two pages were about to leave the room. "Remain," said the king. The little girl began to read the petition. It was from a poor widow, whose only son had been drafted to serve in the army, although his health was delicate and his pursuits had been such as to unfit him for military life. His father had been killed in battle, and the son had a strong desire to become a portrait painter.
The writer told her story in a simple, concise manner, that carried to the heart a belief of its truth: and Ernestine read it with so much feeling, and with an articulation so just, in tones so pure and distinct, that when she had finished, the king, into whose eyes the tears had started, exclaimed, "Oh! now I understand what it is all about; but I might never have known, certainly I never should have felt, its meaning had I trusted to these young gentlemen, whom I now dismiss from my service for one year, advising them to occupy the time in learning to read."
"As for you, my young lady," continued the king, "I know you will ask no better reward for your trouble than the pleasure of carrying to this poor widow my order for her son's immediate discharge. Let me see if you can write as well as you can read. Take this pen, and write as I dictate." He then dictated an order, which Ernestine wrote, and he signed. Calling one of his guards, he bade him go with the girl and see that the order was obeyed.
How much happiness was Ernestine the means of bestowing through her good elocution, united to the happy circumstance that brought it to the knowledge of the king! First there were her poor neighbors, to whom she could give instruction and entertainment. Then there was the poor widow who sent the petition, and who not only regained her son, but received through Ernestine an order for him to paint the king's likeness; so that the poor boy soon rose to great distinction, and had more orders than he could attend to. Words could not express his gratitude, and that of his mother, to the little girl.
And Ernestine had, moreover, the satisfaction of aiding her father to rise in the world, so that he became the king's chief gardener. The king did not forget her, but had her well educated at his own expense. As for the two pages, she was indirectly the means of doing them good, also; for, ashamed of their bad reading, they commenced studying in earnest, till they overcame the faults that had offended the king. Both finally rose to distinction; and they owed their advancement in life chiefly to their good elocution.
DEFINITIONS:—Petition, a formal request. Articulate, to utter the elementary sounds. Modulate, to vary or inflect. Monotony, lack of variety. Affected, unnatural and silly.
A LEGEND OF BREGENZ.
BY ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER.
Girt round with rugged mountains The fair Lake Constance lies; In her blue heart reflected, Shine back the starry skies;
And, watching each white cloudlet Float silently and slow, You think a piece of Heaven Lies on our earth below!
Midnight is there: and Silence, Enthroned in Heaven, looks down Upon her own calm mirror, Upon a sleeping town:
For Bregenz, that quaint city Upon the Tyrol shore, Has stood above Lake Constance A thousand years and more.
Her battlements and towers, From off their rocky steep, Have cast their trembling shadow For ages on the deep.
Mountain and lake and valley A sacred legend know, Of how the town was saved one night Three hundred years ago.
Far from her home and kindred A Tyrol maid had fled, To serve in the Swiss valleys, And toil for daily bread;
And every year that fleeted So silently and fast Seemed to bear farther from her The memory of the Past.
She spoke no more of Bregenz With longing and with tears; Her Tyrol home seemed faded In a deep mist of years;
Yet, when her master's children Would clustering round her stand She sang them ancient ballads Of her own native land;
And when at morn and evening She knelt before God's throne, The accents of her childhood Rose to her lips alone.
And so she dwelt: the valley More peaceful year by year; When suddenly strange portents Of some great deed seemed near.
One day, out in the meadow, With strangers from the town Some secret plan discussing, The men walked up and down.
At eve they all assembled; Then care and doubt were fled; With jovial laugh they feasted: The board was nobly spread.
The elder of the village Rose up, his glass in hand, And cried, "We drink the downfall Of an accursed land!
"The night is growing darker; Ere one more day is flown, Bregenz, our foeman's stronghold, Bregenz shall be our own!"
The women shrank in terror (Yet Pride, too, had her part), But one poor Tyrol maiden Felt death within her heart.
Nothing she heard around her (Though shouts rang forth again); Gone were the green Swiss valleys, The pasture and the plain;
Before her eyes one vision, And in her heart one cry That said, "Go forth! save Bregenz, And then, if need be, die!"
With trembling haste and breathless, With noiseless step she sped; Horses and weary cattle Were standing in the shed;
She loosed the strong white charger That fed from out her hand; She mounted, and she turned his head Toward her native land.
Out—out into the darkness— Faster, and still more fast;— The smooth grass flies behind her, The chestnut wood is past;
She looks up; clouds are heavy; Why is her steed so slow?— Scarcely the wind beside them Can pass them as they go.
"Faster!" she cries, "oh, faster!" Eleven the church bells chime; "O God," she cries, "help Bregenz, And bring me there in time!"
But louder than bells' ringing, Or lowing of the kine, Grows nearer in the midnight The rushing of the Rhine.
She strives to pierce the blackness, And looser throws the rein; Her steed must breast the waters That dash above his mane.
How gallantly, how nobly, He struggles through the foam! And see—in the far distance Shine out the lights of home!
Up the steep bank he bears her, And now they rush again Toward the heights of Bregenz That tower above the plain.
They reach the gates of Bregenz Just as the midnight rings, And out come serf and soldier To meet the news she brings.
Bregenz is saved! Ere daylight Her battlements are manned; Defiance greets the army That marches on the land.
Three hundred years are vanished, And yet upon the hill An old stone gateway rises To do her honor still.
And there, when Bregenz women Sit spinning in the shade, They see in quaint old carving The Charger and the Maid.
And when, to guard old Bregenz By gateway, street, and tower, The warder paces all night long And calls each passing hour,
"Nine," "ten," "eleven," he cries aloud, And then (oh, crown of fame!), When midnight pauses in the skies, He calls the maiden's name!
DEFINITIONS:—Fleeted, passed quickly. Portents, signs, indications. Jovial, joyful, gladsome. Board, dinner table. Charger, a horse for battle or parade. Serf, slave, serving man.
EXERCISE.—On the map of Europe, find Lake Constance, Tyrol, Bregenz. What are the mountains called which surround Lake Constance? Where is the Rhine?
THE GOLDEN TOUCH.
BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
Once upon a time, there lived a very rich man, and a king besides, whose name was Midas; and he had a little daughter, whom nobody but myself ever heard of, and whose name I either never knew, or have entirely forgotten. So, because I love odd names for little girls, I choose to call her Marygold.
This King Midas was fonder of gold than of anything else in the world. He valued his royal crown chiefly because it was composed of that precious metal. If he loved anything better, or half so well, it was the one little maiden who played so merrily around her father's footstool. But the more Midas loved his daughter, the more did he desire and seek for wealth. He thought, foolish man! that the best thing he could possibly do for this dear child would be to bequeath her the largest pile of glistening coin that had ever been heaped together since the world was made.
Thus he gave all his thoughts and all his time to this one purpose. If ever he happened to gaze for an instant at the gold-tinted clouds of sunset, he wished that they were real gold, and that they could be squeezed safely into his strong box. When little Marygold ran to meet him, with a bunch of buttercups and dandelions, he used to say, "Pooh, pooh, child! If these flowers were as golden as they look, they would be worth the plucking!"
At length (as people always grow more and more foolish, unless they take care to grow wiser and wiser) Midas had got to be so exceedingly unreasonable, that he could scarcely bear to see or touch any object that was not gold. He made it his custom, therefore, to pass a large portion of every day in a dark and dreary apartment, under ground, at the basement of his palace. It was here that he kept his wealth. To this dismal hole—for it was little better than a dungeon—Midas betook himself, whenever he wanted to be particularly happy.
Here, after carefully locking the door, he would take a bag of gold coin, or a gold cup as big as a washbowl, or a heavy golden bar, or a peck measure of gold dust, and bring them from the obscure corners of the room into the one bright and narrow sunbeam that fell from the dungeonlike window. He valued the sunbeam for no other reason but that his treasure would not shine without its help.
And then would he reckon over the coins in the bag; toss up the bar, and catch it as it came down; sift the gold dust through his fingers;' look at the funny image of his own face, as reflected in the burnished circumference of the cup; and whisper to himself, "O Midas, rich King Midas, what a happy man art thou!"
Midas was enjoying himself in his treasure room, one day, as usual, when he perceived a shadow fall over the heaps of gold; and, looking up, he beheld the figure of a stranger, standing in the bright and narrow sunbeam! It was a young man, with a cheerful and ruddy face.
Whether it was that the imagination of King Midas threw a yellow tinge over everything, or whatever the cause might be, he could not help fancying that the smile with which the stranger regarded him had a kind of golden brightness in it. Certainly, there was now a brighter gleam upon all the piled-up treasures than before. Even the remotest corners had their share of it, and were lighted up, when the stranger smiled, as with tips of flame and sparkles of fire.
As Midas knew that he had carefully turned the key in the lock, and that no mortal strength could possibly break into his treasure room, he, of course, concluded that his visitor must be something more than mortal.
Midas had met such beings before now, and was not sorry to meet one of them again. The stranger's aspect, indeed, was so good-humored and kindly, if not beneficent, that it would have been unreasonable to suspect him of intending any mischief. It was far more probable that he came to do Midas a favor. And what could that favor be, unless to multiply his heaps of treasure?
The stranger gazed about the room; and, when his lustrous smile had glistened upon all the golden objects that were there, he turned again to Midas.
"You are a wealthy man, friend Midas!" he observed. "I doubt whether any other four walls on earth contain so much gold as you have contrived to pile up in this room."
"I have done pretty well,—pretty well," answered Midas, in a discontented tone. "But, after all, it is but a trifle, when you consider that it has taken me my whole lifetime to get it together. If one could live a thousand years, he might have time to grow rich!"
"What!" exclaimed the stranger. "Then you are not satisfied?"
Midas shook his head.
"And pray, what would satisfy you?" asked the stranger. "Merely for the curiosity of the thing, I should be glad to know."
Why did the stranger ask this question? Did he have it in his power to gratify the king's wishes? It was an odd question, to say the least.
Midas paused and meditated. He felt sure that this stranger, with such a golden luster in his good-humored smile, had come hither with both the power and the purpose of gratifying his utmost wishes. Now, therefore, was the fortunate moment, when he had but to speak, and obtain whatever possible, or seemingly impossible thing, it might come into his head to ask. So he thought, and thought, and thought, and heaped up one golden mountain upon another, in his imagination, without being able to imagine them big enough.
At last a bright idea occurred to King Midas.
Raising his head, he looked the lustrous stranger in the face.
"Well, Midas," observed his visitor, "I see that you have at length hit upon something that will satisfy you. Tell me your wish."
"It is only this," replied Midas. "I am weary of collecting my treasures with so much trouble, and beholding the heap so diminutive, after I have done my best. I wish everything that I touch to be changed to gold!"
The stranger's smile grew so bright and radiant, that it seemed to fill the room like an outburst of the sun, gleaming into a shadowy dell, where the yellow autumnal leaves—for so looked the lumps and particles of gold—lie strewn in the glow of light.
"The Golden Touch!" exclaimed he. "You certainly deserve credit, friend Midas, for striking out so brilliant a fancy. But are you quite sure that this will satisfy you?"
"How could it fail?" said Midas.
"And will you never regret the possession of it?"
"What could induce me?" asked Midas. "I ask nothing else, to render me perfectly happy."
"Be it as you wish, then," replied the stranger, waving his hand in token of farewell. "To-morrow, at sunrise, you will find yourself gifted with the Golden Touch."
The figure of the stranger then became exceedingly bright, and Midas involuntarily closed his eyes. On opening them again, he beheld only one yellow sunbeam in the room, and, all around him, the glistening of the precious metal which he had spent his life in hoarding up.
Whether Midas slept as usual that night, the story does not say. But when the earliest sunbeam shone through the window, and gilded the ceiling over his head, it seemed to him that this bright yellow sunbeam was reflected in rather a singular way on the white coverimg of the bed. Looking more closely, what was his astonishment and delight, when he found that this linen fabric had been transmuted to what seemed a woven texture of the purest and brightest gold! The Golden Touch had come to him with the first sunbeam!
Midas started up, in a kind of joyful frenzy, and ran about the room, grasping at everything that happened to be in his way. He seized one of the bedposts, and it became immediately a fluted golden pillar. He pulled aside a window curtain in order to admit a clear spectacle of the wonders which he was performing, and the tassel grew heavy in his hand, a mass of gold. He took up a book from the table; at his first touch, it assumed the appearance of such a splendidly bound and gilt-edged volume as one often meets with nowadays; but on running his fingers through the leaves, behold! it was a bundle of thin golden plates, in which all the wisdom of the book had grown illegible.
He hurriedly put on his clothes, and was enraptured to see himself in a magnificent suit of gold cloth, which retained its flexibility and softness,although it burdened him a little with its weight. He drew out his handkerchief, which little Marygold had hemmed for him; that was likewise gold, with the dear child's neat and pretty stitches running all along the border, in gold thread!
Somehow or other, this last transformation did not quite please King Midas. He would rather that his little daughter's handiwork should have remained just the same as when she climbed his knee and put it into his hand.
But it was not worth while to vex himself about a trifle. Midas took his spectacles from his pocket, and put them on his nose, in order that he might see more distinctly what he was about. In those days, spectacles for common people had not been invented, but were already worn by kings; else, how could Midas have had any? To his great perplexity; however, excellent as the glasses were, he discovered that he could not possibly see through them. But this was the most natural thing in the world; for, on taking them off, the transparent crystals turned out to be plates of yellow metal, and, of course, were worthless as spectacles, though valuable as gold. It struck Midas as rather inconvenient, that, with all his wealth, he could never again be rich enough to own a pair of serviceable spectacles.
"It is no great matter, nevertheless," said he to himself, very philosophically. "We cannot expect any great good, without its being accompanied with some small inconvenience. The Golden Touch is worth the sacrifice of a pair of spectacles at least, if not of one's very eyesight. My own eyes will serve for ordinary purposes, and little Marygold will soon be old enough to read to me."
Wise King Midas was so exalted by his good fortune, that the palace seemed not sufficiently spacious to contain him. He therefore went downstairs, and smiled on observing that the balustrade of the staircase became a bar of burnished gold, as his hand passed over it, in his descent. He lifted the door-latch (it was brass only a moment ago, but golden when his fingers quitted it), and emerged into the garden. Here, as it happened, he found a great number of beautiful roses in full bloom, and others in all the stages of lovely bud and blossom. Very delicious was their fragrance in the morning breeze. Their delicate blush was one of the fairest sights in the world; so gentle, so modest, and so full of sweet soothing, did these roses seem to be.
But Midas knew a way to make them far more precious, according to his way of thinking, than roses had ever been before. So he took great pains in going from bush to bush, and exercised his magic touch most untiringly; until every individual flower and bud, and even the worms at the heart of some of them, were changed to gold. By the time this good work was completed, King Midas was summoned to breakfast; and as the morning air had given him an excellent appetite, he made haste back to the palace.
What was usually a king's breakfast in the days of Midas, I really do not know, and cannot stop now to investigate. To the best of my knowledge, however, on this particular morning, the breakfast consisted of hot cakes, some nice little brook trout, roasted potatoes, fresh boiled eggs, and coffee for King Midas himself, and a bowl of bread and milk for his daughter Marygold.
Little Marygold had not yet made her appearance. Her father ordered her to be called, and seating himself at table, awaited the child's coming, in order to begin his own breakfast. To do Midas justice, he really loved his daughter, and loved her so much the more this morning, on account of the good fortune which had befallen him. It was not a great while before he heard her coming along the passage, crying bitterly. This circumstance surprised him, because Marygold was one of the most cheerful little people whom you would see in a summer's day, and hardly shed a tear in a twelvemonth.
When Midas heard her sobs, he determined to put little Marygold into better spirits by an agreeable surprise; so, leaning across the table, he touched his danghter's bowl (which was a china one, with pretty figures all around it), and changed it into gleaming gold.
Meanwhile, Marygold slowly and sadly opened the door, and showed herself with her apron at her eyes, still sobbing as if her heart would break.
"How now, my little lady!" cried Midas. "Pray, what is the matter with you, this bright morning?"
Marygold, without taking the apron from her eyes, held out her hand, in which was one of the roses which Midas had so recently changed into gold.
"Beautiful!" exclaimed her father. "And what is there in this magnificent golden rose to make you cry?"
"Ah, dear father!" answered the child, between her sobs, "it is not beautiful, but the ugliest flower that ever grew! As soon as I was dressed, I ran into the garden to gather some roses for you; because I know you like them, and like them the better when gathered by your little daughter. But oh, dear, dear me! What do you think has happened? Such a sad thing! All the beautiful roses, that smelled so sweetly, and had so many lovely blushes, are blighted and spoilt! They are grown quite yellow, as you see this one, and have no longer any fragrance! What can have been the matter with them?"
"Pooh, my dear little girl,—pray don't cry about it!" said Midas, who was ashamed to confess that he himself had wrought the change which so greatly afflicted her. "Sit down, and eat your bread and milk. You will find it easy enough to exchange a golden rose like that (which will last hundreds of years), for an ordinary one which would wither in a day."
"I don't care for such roses as this!" cried Marygold, tossing it contemptuously away. "It has no smell, and the hard petals prick my nose!"
The child now sat down to table, but was so occupied with her grief for blighted roses that she did not even notice the wonderful change in her china bowl. Perhaps this was all the better; for Marygold was accustomed to take pleasure in looking at the queer figures and strange trees and houses that were painted on the outside of the bowl; and those ornaments were now entirely lost in the yellow hue of the metal.
Midas, meanwhile, had poured out a cup of coffee; and, as a matter of course, the coffeepot, whatever metal it may have been when he took it up, was gold when he set it down. He thought to himself that it was rather an extravagant style of splendor, in a king of his simple habits, to breakfast off a service of gold, and began to be puzzled with the difficulty of keeping his treasures safe. The cupboard and the kitchen would no longer be a secure place of deposit for articles so valuable as golden bowls and golden coffeepots.
Amid these thoughts, he lifted a spoonful of coffee to his lips, and, sipping it, was astonished to perceive that the instant his lips touched the liquid it became molten gold, and the next moment, hardened into a lump!
"Ha!" exclaimed Midas, rather aghast.
"What is the matter, father?" asked little Marygold, gazing at him, with the tears still standing in her eyes.
"Nothing, child, nothing!" said Midas. "Take your milk before it gets quite cold."
He took one of the nice little trouts on his plate, and touched its tail with his finger. To his horror, it was immediately changed from a brook trout into a gold fish, and looked as if it had been very cunningly made by the nicest goldsmith in the world. Its little bones were now golden wires; its fins and tail were thin plates of gold; and there were the marks of the fork in it, and all the delicate, frothy appearance of a nicely fried fish, exactly imitated in metal.
"I don't quite see," thought he to himself, "how I am to get any breakfast!"
He took one of the smoking-hot cakes, and had scarcely broken it, when, to his cruel mortification, though a moment before, it had been of the whitest wheat, it assumed the yellow hue of Indian meal. Its solidity and increased weight made him too bitterly sensible that it was gold. Almost in despair, he helped himself to a boiled egg, which immediately underwent a change similar to that of the trout and the cake.
"Well, this is terrible!" thought he, leaning back in his chair, and looking quite enviously at little Marygold, who was now eating her bread and milk with great satisfaction. "Such a costly breakfast before me, and nothing that can be eaten!"
Hoping that, by dint of great dispatch, he might avoid what he now felt to be a considerable inconvenience, King Midas next snatched a hot potato, and attempted to cram it into his mouth, and swallow it in a hurry. But the Golden Touch was too nimble for him. He found his mouth full, not of mealy potato, but of solid metal, which so burnt his tongue that he roared aloud, and, jumping up from the table, began to dance and stamp about the room, both with pain and affright.
"Father, dear father!" cried little Marygold, who was a very affectionate child, "pray what is the matter? Have you burnt your mouth?"
"Ah, dear child," groaned Midas, dolefully, "I don't know what is to become of your poor father!"
And, truly, did you ever hear of such a pitiable case, in all your lives? Here was literally the richest breakfast that could be set before a king, and its very richness made it absolutely good for nothing. The poorest laborer, sitting down to his crust of bread and cup of water, was far better off than King Midas, whose delicate food was really worth its weight in gold.
And what was to be done? Already, at breakfast, Midas was excessively hungry. Would he be less so by dinner time? And how ravenous would be his appetite for supper, which must undoubtedly consist of the same sort of indigestible dishes as those now before him! How many days, think you, would he survive a continuance of this rich fare?
These reflections so troubled wise King Midas, that he began to doubt whether, after all, riches are the one desirable thing in the world, or even the most desirable. But this was only a passing thought. So fascinated was Midas with the glitter of the yellow metal, that he would still have refused to give up the Golden Touch for so paltry a consideration as a breakfast. Just imagine what a price for one meal's victuals! It would have been the same as paying millions and millions of money for some fried trout, an egg, a potato, a hot cake, and a cup of coffee!
"It would be much too dear," thought Midas.
Nevertheless, so great was his hunger, and the perplexity of his situation, that he again groaned aloud, and very grievously too. Our pretty Marygold could endure it no longer. She sat a moment gazing at her father, and trying, with all the might of her little wits, to find out what was the matter with him. Then, with a sweet and sorrowful impulse to comfort him, she started from her chair, and, running to Midas, threw her arms affectionately about his knees. He bent down and kissed her. He felt that his little daughter's love was worth a thousand times more than he had gained by the Golden Touch.
"My precious, precious Marygold!" cried he.
But Marygold made no answer.
Alas, what had King Midas done? How fatal was the gift which the stranger had bestowed! The moment the lips of Midas touched Marygold's forehead, a change had taken place. Her sweet, rosy face, so full of affection as it had been, assumed a glittering yellow color, with yellow tear-drops congealing on her cheeks. Her beautiful brown ringlets took the same tint. Her soft and tender little form grew hard and inflexible within her father's encircling arms. O terrible misfortune! The victim of his insatiable desire for wealth, little Marygold was a human child no longer, but a golden statue!
Yes, there she was, with the questioning look of love, grief, and pity, hardened into her face. It was the prettiest and most woeful sight that ever mortal saw. All the features and tokens of Marygold were there; even the beloved little dimple remained in her golden chin. But, the more perfect was the resemblance, the greater was the father's agony at beholding this golden image, which was all that was left him of a daughter.
It had been a favorite phrase of Midas, whenever he felt particularly fond of the child, to say that she was worth her weight in gold. And now the phrase had become literally true. And, now, at last, when it was too late, he felt how infinitely a warm and tender heart, that loved him, exceeded in value all the wealth that could be piled up betwixt the earth and sky!
It would be too sad a story, if I were to tell you how Midas, in the fullness of all his gratified desires, began to wring his hands and bemoan himself; and how he could neither bear to look at Marygold, nor yet to look away from her. Except when his eyes were fixed on the image, he could not possibly believe that she was changed to gold. But, stealing another glance, there was the precious little figure, with a yellow tear-drop on its yellow cheek, and a look so piteous and tender, that it seemed as if that very expression must needs soften the gold, and make it flesh again. This, however, could not be. So Midas had only to wring his hands, and to wish that he were the poorest man in the wide world, if the loss of all his wealth might bring back the faintest rose-color to his dear child's face.
While he was in this tumult of despair, he suddenly beheld a stranger, standing near the door. Midas bent down his head, without speaking; for he recognized the same figure which had appeared to him the day before in the treasure room, and had bestowed on him this disastrous power of the Golden Touch. The stranger's countenance still wore a smile, which seemed to shed a yellow luster all about the room, and gleamed on little Marygold's image, and on the other objects that had been transmuted by the touch of Midas.
"Well, friend Midas," said the stranger, "pray, how do you succeed with the Golden Touch?"
Midas shook his head.
"I am very miserable," said he.
"Very miserable! indeed!" exclaimed the stranger; "and how happens that? Have I not faithfully kept my promise with you? Have you not everything that your heart desired?"
"Gold is not everything," answered Midas. "And I have lost all that my heart really cared for."
"Ah! So you have made a discovery, since yesterday?" observed the stranger. "Let us see, then. Which of these two things do you think is really worth the most,—the gift of the Golden Touch, or one cup of clear cold water?"
"O blessed water!" exclaimed Midas. "It will never moisten my parched throat again!"
"The Golden Touch," continued the stranger, "or a crust of bread?"
"A piece of bread," answered Midas, "is worth all the gold on earth!"
"The Golden Touch," asked the stranger, "or your own little Marygold, warm, soft, and loving, as she was an hour ago?"
"O my child, my dear child!" cried poor King Midas, wringing his hands. "I would not have given that one small dimple in her chin for the power of changing this whole big earth into a solid lump of gold!"
"You are wiser than you were, King Midas?" said the stranger, looking seriously at him. "Your own heart, I perceive, has not been entirely changed from flesh to gold. Were it so, your case would indeed be desperate. But you appear to be still capable of understanding that the commonest things, such as lie within everybody's grasp, are more valuable than the riches which so many mortals sigh and struggle after. Tell me, now, do you sincerely desire to rid yourself of this Golden Touch?"
"It is hateful to me!" replied Midas.
A fly settled on his nose, but immediately fell to the floor; for it, too, had become gold. Midas shuddered.
"Go, then," said the stranger, "and plunge into the river that glides past the bottom of your garden. Take likewise a vase of the same water, and sprinkle it over any object that you may desire to change back again from gold into its former substance. If you do this in earnestness and sincerity, it may possibly repair the mischief which your avarice has occasioned."
King Midas bowed low; and when he lifted his head, the lustrous stranger had vanished.
You will easily believe that Midas lost no time in snatching up a great earthen pitcher (but, alas me! it was no longer earthen after he touched it), and in hastening to the riverside. As he ran along, and forced his way through the shrubbery, it was positively marvelous to see how the foliage turned yellow behind him, as if the autumn had been there, and nowhere else. On reaching the river's brink, he plunged headlong in, without waiting so much as to pull off his shoes.
"Poof! poof! poof!" gasped King Midas, as his head emerged out of the water. "Well; this is really a refreshing bath, and I think it must have quite washed away the Golden Touch. And now for filling my pitcher!"
As he dipped the pitcher into the water, it gladdened his very heart to see it change from gold into the same good, honest, earthen vessel which it had been before he touched it. He was conscious, also, of a change within himself. A cold, hard, and heavy weight seemed to have gone out of his bosom. No doubt his heart had been gradually losing its human substance, and been changing into insensible metal, but had now been softened back again into flesh. Perceiving a violet, that grew on the bank of the river, Midas touched it with his finger, and was overjoyed to find that the delicate flower retained its purple hue, instead of undergoing a yellow blight. The curse of the Golden Touch had, therefore, really been removed from him.
King Midas hastened back to the palace; and, I suppose, the servants knew not what to make of it when they saw their royal master so carefully bringing home an earthen pitcher of water. But that water, which was to undo all the mischief that his folly had wrought, was more precious to Midas than an ocean of molten gold could have been. The first thing he did, as you need hardly be told, was to sprinkle it by handfuls over the golden figure of little Marygold.
No sooner did it fall on her than you would have laughed to see how the rosy color came back to the dear child's cheek!—and how astonished she was to find herself dripping wet, and her father still throwing more water over her!
"Pray do not, dear father!" cried she. "See how you have wet my nice frock, which I put on only this morning!"
For Marygold did not know that she had been a little golden statue; nor could she remember anything that had happened since the moment when she ran with outstretched arms to comfort her father.
Her father did not think it necessary to tell his beloved child how very foolish he had been, but contented himself with showing how much wiser he had now grown. For this purpose, he led little Marygold into the garden, where he sprinkled all the remainder of the water over the rosebushes, and with such good effect that above five thousand roses recovered their beautiful bloom. There were two circumstances, however, which, as long as he lived, used to remind King Midas of the Golden Touch. One was, that the sands of the river in which he had bathed, sparkled like gold; the other, that little Marygold's hair had now a golden tinge, which he had never observed in it before she had been changed by the effect of his kiss. This change of hue was really an improvement, and made Marygold's hair richer than in her babyhood.
When King Midas had grown quite an old man, and used to take Marygold's children on his knee, he was fond of telling them this marvelous story. And then would he stroke their glossy ringlets, and tell them that their hair, likewise, had a rich shade of gold, which they had inherited from their mother.
"And, to tell you the truth, my precious little folks," said King Midas, "ever since that morning, I have hated the very sight of all other gold, save this!"
—From "A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls."
BY ALFRED TENNISON.
I come from haunts of coot and hern, I make a sudden sally, And sparkle out among the fern, To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down, Or slip between the ridges, By twenty thorps, a little town, And half a hundred bridges.
Till last by Philip's farm I flow To join the brimming river; For men may come, and men may go, But I go on forever.
I chatter over stony ways, In little sharps and trebles; I bubble into eddying bays, I babble on the pebbles.
With many a curve my banks I fret By many a field and fallow, And many a fairy foreland set With willow-weed and mallow.
I chatter, chatter, as I flow To join the brimming river; For men may come; and men may go, But I go on forever.
I wind about, and in and out, With here a blossom sailing, And here and there a lusty trout, And here and there a grayling,
And here and there a foamy flake Upon me, as I travel, With many a silvery waterbreak Above the golden gravel,
And draw them all along, and flow To join the brimming river; For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.
I steal by lawns and grassy plots, I slide by hazel covers; I move the sweet forget-me-nots That grow for happy lovers.
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance, Among my skimming swallows; I make the netted sunbeam dance Against my sandy shallows.
I murmur under moon and stars In brambly wildernesses; I linger by my shingly bars, I loiter round my cresses;
And out again I curve and flow To join the brimming river; For men may come, and men may go, But I go on forever.
DEFINITIONS:—Coot, a kind of wild duck. Hern, a wading bird, heron. Bicker, run with a quivering, tremulous motion. Thorps, small villages. Foreland, headland. Shingly, gravelly.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.... Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother bath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift....
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell....
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it bath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
—Matthew, Chapter V.
DEFINITIONS:—Revile, reproach, abuse. Tittle, the smallest part. Scribes, those among the Jews who read and explained the law to the people. Pharisees, a Jewish sect noted for its strict observance of the law.
EXERCISE.—Point out on the map, Galilee, Jerusalem, Judea, Jordan, Capernaum. The mountain referred to in the first paragraph was near Capernaum. Which paragraphs in this extract are called "The Beatitudes"? Why? Look in the dictionary for the meaning of the word "beatitude."
THE SONG OF STEAM.
Harness me down with your iron bands, Be sure of your curb and rein, For I scorn the strength of your puny hands As a tempest scorns a chain. How I laughed as I lay concealed from sight, For many a countless hour, At the childish boasts of human might, And the pride of human power!
When I saw an army upon the land, A navy upon the seas, Creeping along, a snail-like band, Or waiting the wayward breeze; When I saw the peasant faintly reel, With the toil which he faintly bore, As constant he turned at the tardy wheel, Or tugged at the weary oar;
When I measured the panting courser's speed, The flight of the carrier dove, As they bore a law a king decreed, Or the lines of impatient love; I could not but think how the world would feel, As these were outstripped far, When I should be bound to the rushing keel, Or chained to the flying car.
Ha ha! ha ha! they found me at last, They invited me forth at length; And I rushed to my throne with a thunder-blast, And laughed in my iron strength. Oh then you saw a wonderous change On earth and ocean wide, Where now my fiery armies range, Nor wait for wind nor tide.
Hurrah! hurrah! the waters o'er The mountain's steep declines Time, space, have yielded to my power, The world, the world is mine! The rivers the sun has earliest blessed, And those where his beams decline, The giant streams of the queenly West, And the Orient floods divine.
In the darksome depths of the fathomless mine My tireless arm doth play; Where the rocks ne'er saw the sun's decline, Or the dawn of the glorious day. I bring earth's glittering jewels up From the hidden cave below; And I make the fountain's granite cup With a crystal gush o'erflow.
I blow the bellows, I forge the steel, In all the shops of trade; I hammer the ore, and turn the wheel Where my arms of strength are made; I manage the furnace, the mill, the mint; I carry, I spin, I weave; And all my doings I put into print, On every Saturday eve.
I've no muscle to weary, no frame to decay, No bones to be laid on the shelf; And soon I intend you shall go and play, While I manage the world myself. But harness me down with your iron bands, Be sure of your curb and rein, For I scorn the strength of your puny hands, As the tempest scorns a chain.
—G. W. CUTTER
THE GENTLE HAND.
BY TIMOTHY S. ARTHUR.
When and where, it matters not now to relate—but once upon a time, as I was passing through a thinly peopled district of country, night came down upon me almost unawares. Being on foot, I could not hope to gain the village toward which my steps were directed until a late hour; and I therefore preferred seeking shelter and a night's lodging at the first humble dwelling that presented itself.
Dusky twilight was giving place to deeper shadows, when I found myself in the vicinity of a dwelling, from the small uncurtained windows of which the light shone with a pleasant promise of good cheer and comfort. The house stood within an inclosure, and a short distance from the road along which I was moving with wearied feet.
Turning aside, and passing through the ill-hung gate, I approached the dwelling. Slowly the gate swung on its wooden hinges, and the rattle of its latch, in closing, did not disturb the air until I had nearly reached the porch in front of the house, in which a slender girl, who had noticed my entrance, stood awaiting my arrival.
A deep, quick bark answered, almost like an echo, the sound of the shutting gate, and, sudden as an apparition, the form of an immense dog loomed in the doorway. At the instant when he was about to spring, a light hand was laid upon his shaggy neck, and a low word spoken.
"Go in, Tiger," said the girl, not in a voice of authority, yet in her gentle tones was the consciousness that she would be obeyed; and, as she spoke, she lightly bore upon the animal with her hand, and he turned away and disappeared within the dwelling.
"Who's that?" A rough voice asked the question; and now a heavy looking man took the dog's place in the door.
"How far is it to G——?" I asked, not deeming it best to say, in the beginning, that I sought a resting-place for the night.
"To G——!" growled the man, but not so harshly as at first. "It's good six miles from here."
"A long distance; and I'm a stranger, and on foot," said I. "If you can make room for me until morning, I will be very thankful."
I saw the girl's hand move quickly up his arm, until it rested on his shoulder, and now she leaned to him still closer.
"Come in. We'll try what can be done for you." There was a change in the man's voice that made me wonder. I entered a large room, in which blazed a brisk fire. Before the fire sat two stout lads, who turned upon me their heavy eyes, with no very welcome greeting. A middle-aged woman was standing at a table, and two children were amusing themselves with a kitten on the floor.
"A stranger, mother," said the man who had given me so rude a greeting at the door; "and he wants us to let him stay all night."
The woman looked at me doubtingly for a few moments, and then replied coldly, "We don't keep a public house."
"I'm aware of that, ma'am," said I; "but night has overtaken me, and it's a long way yet to G——."
"Too far for a tired man to go on foot," said the master of the house, kindly, "so it's no use talking about it, mother; we must give him a bed."
So unobtrusively that I scarce noticed the movement, the girl had drawn to her mother's side. What she said to her I did not hear, for the brief words were uttered in a low voice; but I noticed, as she spoke, one small; fair hand rested on the woman's hand.
Was there magic in that touch? The woman's repulsive aspect changed into one of kindly welcome, and she said: "Yes, it's a long way to G——. I guess we can find a place for him."
Many times more during that evening, did I observe the magic power of that hand and voice—the one gentle yet potent as the other. On the next morning, breakfast being over, I was preparing to take my departure when my host informed me that if I would wait for half an hour he would give me a ride in his wagon to G— —, as business required him to go there. I was very well pleased to accept of the invitation.
In due time the farmer's wagon was driven into the road before the house, and I was invited to get in. I noticed the horse as a rough-looking Canadian pony, with a certain air of stubborn endurance. As the farmer took his seat by my side, the family came to the door to see us off.
"Dick!" said the farmer in a peremptory voice, giving the rein a quick jerk as he spoke. But Dick moved not a step. "Dick! you vagabond! get up." And the farmer's whip cracked sharply by the pony's ear.
It availed not, however, this second appeal. Dick stood firmly disobedient. Next the whip was brought down upon him with an impatient hand; but the pony only reared up a little. Fast and sharp the strokes were next dealt to the number of half a dozen. The man might as well have beaten the wagon, for all his end was gained.
A stout lad now came out into the road, and, catching Dick by the bridle, jerked him forward, using, at the same time, the customary language on such occasions, but Dick met this new ally with increased stubbornness, planting his fore feet more firmly and at a sharper angle with the ground.
The impatient boy now struck the pony on the side of the head with his clenched hand, and jerked cruelly at its bridle. It availed nothing, however; Dick was not to be wrought upon by any such arguments.
"Don't do so, John!" I turned my head as the maiden's sweet voice reached my ear. She was passing through the gate into the road, and, in the next moment, had taken hold of the lad and drawn him away from the animal. No strength was exerted in this; she took hold of his arm, and he obeyed her wish as readily as if he had no thought beyond her gratification.
And now that soft hand was laid gently on the pony's neck, and a single low word spoken. How instantly were the tense muscles relaxed—how quickly the stubborn air vanished.
"Poor Dick!" said the maiden, as she stroked his neck lightly; or softly patted it with a childlike hand. "Now, go along, you provoking fellow!" she added, in a half-chiding, yet affectionate voice, as she drew up the bridle.
The pony turned toward her, and rubbed his head against her arm for an instant or two; then, pricking up his ears, he started off at a light, cheerful trot, and went on his way as freely as if no silly crotchet had ever entered his stubborn brain.
"What a wonderful power that hand possesses!" said I, speaking to my companion, as we rode away.
He looked at me for a moment, as if my remark had occasioned surprise. Then a light came into his countenance, and he said briefly, "She's good! Everybody and everything loves her."
Was that, indeed, the secret of her power? Was the quality of her soul perceived in the impression of her hand, even by brute beasts? The father's explanation was doubtless the true one. Yet have I ever since wondered, and still do wonder, at the potency which lay in that maiden's magic touch. I have seen something of the same power, showing itself in the loving and the good, but never to the extent as instanced in her, whom, for want of a better name, I must still call "Gentle Hand."
DEFINITIONS:—Vicinity, neighborhood. Unobtrusively, not noticeably, modestly. Repulsive, repelling, forbidding. Potent, powerful, effective. Host, one from whom another receives food, lodging, or entertainment. Peremptory, commanding, decisive. Availed, was of use, had effect. Ally, a confederate, one who unites with another in some purpose. Tense, strained to stiffness, rigid. Relaxed, loosened. Chiding, scolding, rebuking. Crochet, a perverse fancy, a whim. Instanced, mentioned as an example.
BY HARRY TIMROD.
Spring, with that nameless pathos in the air Which dwells with all things fair— Spring, with her golden sun and silver rain, Is with us once again!
Out in the woods the jasmine burns Its fragrant lamps, and turns Into a royal court, with green festoons, The banks of dark lagoons: In the deep heart of every forest tree The blood is all a-glee; And there's a look about the leafless bowers As if they dreamed of flowers.
Already, here and there, on frailest stems Appear some azure gems, Small as might deck, upon a gala day, The forehead of a fay. In gardens you may note amid the dearth, The crocus breaking earth, And, near the snowdrop's tender white and green, The violet in its screen.
But many gleams and shadows needs must pass Along the budding grass, And weeks go by before the enamored South Shall kiss the rose's mouth; Still there's a sense of blossoms yet unborn In the sweet air of morn: One almost to see the very street Grow purple at his feet.
At times a fragrant breeze comes floating by, And brings, you know not why, A feeling as when eager crowds await Before a palace gate Some wondrous pageant; and you scarce would start If, from a beech's heart, A blue-eyed Dryad, stepping forth, should say, "Behold me! I am May!"
BY WILLIAM GILMORE SIMMS.
The partisan had managed admirably, but he was now compelled to fly. The advantage of the ground was no longer with him. Tarleton, with his entire force, had now passed through the avenue, and had appeared in the open court in front. The necessity of rapid flight became apparent to Singleton, and the wild, lively notes of his trumpet were accordingly heard stirring the air at not more than rifle distance from the gathering troop of Tarleton. Bitterly aroused by this seeming audacity,—an audacity to which Tarleton, waging a war hitherto of continual successes, had never been accustomed,—his ire grew into fury.
"What, men! shall these rebels carry it so?" he cried aloud.—"Advance, Captain Barsfield! Advance to the right of the fence with twenty men, and stop not to mark your steps. Advance, sir, and charge forward. You should know the ground by this time. Away!—Captain Kearney, to you wood! Sweep it, sir, with your sabers; and meet in the rear of the garden."
The officers thus commanded moved to the execution of their charges with sufficient celerity. The commands and movements of Major Singleton were much more cool, and not less prompt. He hurried along by his scattered men as they lay here and there covered by this or that bush or tree: "Carry off no bullets that you can spare them, men. Fire as soon as they reach the garden; and when your pieces are clear, take down the hill and mount."
Three minutes did not elapse before the rifles had each poured forth its treasured death; and without pausing to behold the effects of their discharge, each partisan, duly obedient, was on his way, leaping off from cover to cover through the thick woods to the hollow where their horses had been fastened.
The furious Tarleton meanwhile led the way through the garden, the palings of which were torn away to give his cavalry free passage. With a soldier's rage, he hurried forward the pursuit, in a line tolerably direct, after the flying partisans. But Singleton was too good a soldier, and too familiar with the ground, to keep his men in mass in a wild flight through woods becoming denser at every step.
When they had reached a knoll at some little distance beyond the place where his horses had been fastened, he addressed his troop as follows: "We must break here, my men. Each man will take his own path, and we will all scatter as far apart as possible. Make your way, all of you, for the swamp, however, where in a couple of hours you may all be safe.—Lance Frampton, you will ride with me."
Each trooper knew the country, and, accustomed to individual enterprise and the duties of the scout, there was no hardship to the men of Marion in such a separation. On all hands they glided off, and at a far freer pace than when they rode together in a body. A thousand tracks they found in the woods about them, in pursuing which there was now no obstruction, no jostling of brother-horsemen pressing upon the same route. Singleton and his youthful companion darted away at an easy pace into the woods, in which they had scarcely shrouded themselves before they heard the rushing and fierce cries of Tarleton's dragoons.
"Do you remember, Lance," said Singleton to the boy,—"do you remember the chase we had from the Oaks when Proctor pursued us?"
"Yes, sir; and a narrow chance it was when your horse tumbled. I thought they would have caught and killed you then, sir; but I didn't know anything of fighting in the woods then."
"Keep cool, and there's little danger anywhere," responded Singleton. "Men in a hurry are always in danger. To be safe, be steady. But hark! do you not hear them now? Some of them have got upon our track."
"I do hear a noise, sir: there was a dry bush that cracked then."
"And a voice,—that was a shout. Let us stop for a moment and reload. A shot may be wanted."
Coolly dismounting, Singleton proceeded to charge his rifle, which had been slung across his shoulder. His companion did the same. While loading, the former felt a slight pain and stiffness in his left arm: "I am hurt, Lance, I do believe. Look here at my shoulder."
"There's blood, sir; and the coat's cut with a bullet. The bullet's in your arm, sir."
"No, not now. It has been there, I believe, though the wound is slight. There! now mount; we have no time to see to it now."
"That's true, sir, for I hear the horses. And look now, major! There's two of the dragoons coming through the bush, and straight toward us."
"Two only?" said Singleton, again unslinging his rifle. The boy readily understood the movement, and proceeded to do likewise; but he was too late. The shot of Singleton was immediate, and the foremost trooper fell forward from his horse. His companion fled.
"Don't 'light, Lance: keep on. There's only one now, and he won't trouble us. Away, sir!" It was time to speed. The report of the shot and the fall of the dragoon gave a direction to the whole force of the pursuers, whose shouts and cries might now be heard ringing in all directions through the forest behind them.
"They can't reach us, Lance," said Singleton, as they hastened forward. "We shall round that bay in a few seconds, and they will be sure to boggle into it. On, boy, and waste no eyesight in looking behind you. Push on; the bay is before us."
Thus speaking, guiding and encouraging the boy, the fearless partisan kept on. In a few minutes they had rounded the thick bay, and were deeply sheltered in a dense wood well known at that period by a romantic title, which doubtless had its story. "My Lady's Fancy. We are safe now, Lance, and a little rest will do no harm."
The partisan, as he spoke, drew up his horse, threw himself from his back, fastened him to a hanging branch, and, passing down to a hollow where a little brooklet ran trickling along with a gentle murmur, drank deeply of its sweet and quiet waters, which he scooped up with a calabash that hung on a bough above.
Then, throwing himself down under the shadow of the tree, he lay as quietly as if there had been no danger tracking his footsteps, and no deadly enemy still prowling in the neighborhood and hungering for his blood.
DEFINITIONS:—Partisan, any one of a body of light troops, designed to carry on a desultory warfare. Audacity, daring spirit. Knoll, a little round hill. Shrouded, hidden. Calabash, a dry gourd scooped out.
NOTES.—Marion's Men. During the Revolution, General Francis Marion was in command of a body of partisan soldiers known by the above title. They were for the most part poorly clad and equipped, but their bravery, self-denial, and patriotism enabled them to do good service in the cause of freedom. Their deeds have been commemorated in Bryant's well-known poem, the first stanza of which is as follows:— "Our band is few, but true and tried, Our leader frank and bold; The British soldier trembles When Marion's name is told."
Tarleton. Colonel Tarleton was in command of a portion of the British forces in South Carolina during the Revolution. He was an able, brave, but merciless soldier.
THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN.
A CHILD'S STORY.
BY ROBERT BROWNING.
Hamelin town's in Brunswick, By famous Hanover city; The river Weser, deep and wide, Washes its wall on the southern side A pleasanter spot you never spied; But when begins my ditty, Almost five hundred years ago, To see the townsfolk suffer so From vermin, what a pity!
Rats! They fought the dogs and killed the cats, And bit the babies in the cradles, And ate the cheeses out of the vats, And licked the soup from the cook's own ladles. Split open the kegs of salted sprats, Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, And even spoiled the women's chats By drowning their speaking With shrieking and squeaking In fifty different sharps and flats.
At last the people in a body To the town hall came flocking: "'Tis clear," cried they, "our mayor's a noddy; And as for our corporation—shocking To think we buy gowns lined with ermine For dolts that can't or won't determine What's best to rid us of our vermin! Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking To find the remedy we're lacking, Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!" At this the mayor and corporation Quaked with a mighty consternation.
An hour they sat in council; At length the mayor broke silence "For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell; I wish I were a mile hence! It's easy to bid one rack one's brain— I'm sure my poor head aches again, I've scratched it so, and all in vain. Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!" Just as he said this, what should hap At the chamber door but a gentle tap! "Bless us," cried the mayor, "what's that?" (With the corporation as he sat Looking little though wondrous fat; Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister Than a too-long-opened oyster, Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous For a plate of turtle green and glutinous), "Only a scraping of shoes on the mat Anything like the sound of a rat Slakes my heart go pit-a-pat!"
"Come in!"—the mayor cried, looking bigger: And in did come the strangest figure! His queer long coat from heel to head Was half of yellow and half of red, And he himself was tall and thin, With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin, And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin, No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin, But lips where smiles went out and in; There was no guessing his kith and kin: And nobody could enough admire The tall man and his quaint attire. Quoth one: "It's as my great-grandsire, Starting up at the trump of doom's tone, Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!"
He advanced to the council table: And, "Please your honors," said he, "I'm able, By means of a secret charm, to draw All creatures living beneath the sun, That creep or swim or fly or run, After me so as you never saw! And I chiefly use my charm On creatures that do people harm, The mole and toad and newt and viper; And people call me the Pied Piper." (And here they noticed round his neck A scarf of red and yellow stripe, To match with his coat of the selfsame check; And at the scarf's end hung a pipe; And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying As if impatient to be playing Upon this pipe, as low it dangled Over his vesture so old-fangled.) "Yet," said he, "poor piper as I am, In Tartary I freed the Cham, Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats; I eased in Asia the Nizam Of a monstrous brood of vampire bats: And as for what your brain bewilders, If I can rid your town of rats Will you give me a thousand guilders?" "One? fifty thousand!"—was the exclamation Of the astonished mayor and corporation.
Into the street the piper stepped Smiling first a little smile, As if he knew what magic slept In his quiet pipe the while; Then, like a musical adept, To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled, And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled, Like a candle flame where salt is sprinkled; And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered, You heard as if an army muttered; And the muttering grew to a grumbling; And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling; And out of the houses the rats came tumbling. Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats, Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats, Grave old plodders, gay young friskers, Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, Cocking tails and pricking whiskers, Families by tens and dozens, Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives— Followed the piper for their lives. From street to street he piped advancing, And step for step they followed dancing, Until they came to the river Weser, Wherein all plunged and perished! —Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar, Swam across and lived to carry To rat-land home his commentary: Which was, "At the first shrill notes of the pipe, I heard a sound as of scraping tripe, And putting apples, wondrous ripe, Into a cider-press's gripe: And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards, And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards, And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks, And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks: And it seemed as if a voice (Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery Is breathed) called out, 'Oh rats, rejoice! The world is grown to one vast drysaltery! So munch on, crunch on, take your nunchion, Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!' And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon, All ready staved, like a great sun shone Glorious scarce an inch before me, Just as methought it said, 'Come, bore me!' —I found the Weser rolling o'er me."
You should have heard the Hamelin people Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple. "Go, cried the mayor, "and get long poles, Poke out the nests and block up the holes! Consult with carpenters and builders, And leave in our town not even a trace Of the rats!" when suddenly, up the face Of the piper perked in the market place, With a "First, if you please, my thousand guilders!"
A thousand guilders! The mayor looked blue; So did the corporation too. To pay this sum to a wandering fellow With a gypsy coat of red and yellow! "Beside," quoth the mayor with a knowing wink. "Our business was done at the river's brink; We saw with our eyes the vermin sink, And what's dead can't come to life, I think. So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink From the duty of giving you something for drink, And a matter of money to put in your poke; But as for the guilders, what we spoke Of them, as you very well know, was in joke. Beside, our losses have made us thrifty. A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!"
The piper's face fell, and he cried, "No trifling! I can't wait. Beside, I've promised to visit by dinner time Bagdat, and accept the prime Of the head cook's pottage, all he's rich in, For having left, in the caliph's kitchen, Of a nest of scorpions no survivor: With him I proved no bargain driver, With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver! And folks who put me in a passion May find me pipe after another fashion."
"How?" cried the mayor, "d'ye think I brook Being worse treated than a cook? Insulted by a lazy ribald With idle pipe and vesture piebald? You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst, Blow your pipe there till you burst!"
Once more he stepped into the street And to his lips again Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane; And ere he blew three notes (such sweet Soft notes as yet musician's cunning Never gave the enraptured air) There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling, Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering, And, like fowls in a farmyard when barley is scattering Out came the children running. All the little boys and girls, With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls, And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls, Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.
The mayor was dumb, and the council stood As if they were changed into blocks of wood, Unable to move a step, or cry To the children merrily skipping by, —Could only follow with the eye That joyous crowd at the piper's back. But how the mayor was on the rack, And the wretched council's bosoms beat, As the piper turned from the High Street To where the Weser rolled its waters Right in the way of their sons and daughters However he turned from South to West, And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed, And after him the children pressed; Great was the joy in every breast. "He never can cross that mighty top! He's forced to let the piping drop, And we shall see our children stop!" When, lo, as they reached the mountain side, A wonderous portal opened wide, As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed; And the piper advanced and the children followed, And when all were in to the very last, The door in the mountain side shut fast. Did I say, all? No! One was lame, And could not dance the whole of the way; And in after years, if you would blame His sadness, he was used to say,— "It's dull in our town since my playmates left! I can't forget that I'm bereft Of all the pleasant sights they see, Which the piper also promised me. For he led us, he said, to a joyous land, Joining the town and just at hand, Where waters gushed and fruit trees grew, And flowers put forth a fairer hue, And everything was strange and new; The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here, And their dogs outrun our fallow deer, And honeybees had lost their stings, And horses were born with eagles' wings: And just as I became assured My lame foot would be speedily cured, The music stopped and I stood still, And found myself outside the hill, Left alone against my will, To go now limping as before, And never hear of that country more!"
Also, alas, for Hamelin! There came into many a burgher's pate A text which says that heaven's gate Opes to the rich at as easy rate As the needle's eye takes a camel in! The mayor sent East, West, North, and South, To offer the piper, by word of mouth, Whatever it was men's lot to find him, Silver and gold to his heart's content, If he'd only return the way he went, And bring the children behind him. But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavor, And piper and dancers were gone forever, They made a decree that lawyers never Should think their records dated duly If, after the day of the month and year, These words did not as well appear, "And so long after what happened here On the twenty-second of July, Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:" And the better in memory to fix The place of the children's last retreat, They called it the Pied Piper's Street, Where any one playing on pipe or tabor Was sure for the future to lose his labor. Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern To shock with mirth a street so solemn; But opposite the place of the cavern They wrote the story on a column, And on the great church window painted The same, to make the world acquainted How their children were stolen away, And there it stands to this very day. And I must not omit to say That in Transylvania there's a tribe Of alien people who ascribe The outlandish ways and dress On which their neighbors lay such stress, To their fathers and mothers having risen Out of some subterranean prison Into which they were trepanned Long time ago in a mighty band Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land, But how or why, they don't understand.
So, Willy, let me and you be wipers Of scores out with all men—especially pipers! And whether they pipe us FROM rats or FROM mice, If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise.
DEFINITIONS:—Corporation, city government. Ermine, furs used for lining the robes of mayors and other high officials. Guilder, a silver coin worth about 40 cents. Adept, one fully skilled in anything. Nunchion, the same as luncheon. Puncheon, a cask containing 84 gallons. Poke, pocket. Caliph, a Mohammedan ruler. Stiver, a Dutch coin worth about two cents. Burgher, a citizen of the town.
EXERCISE. In your geographies find all the places named in this poem.
LIST OF AUTHORS.
Arthur, Timothy S. An American writer, born near Newburgh, New York, in 1809. Most of his life was passed in Baltimore and Philadelphia. He wrote more than a hundred volumes, nearly all of which are now forgotten. His best-known work is a temperance tale entitled "Ten Nights in a Bar-room." He died in 1885.
Browning, Robert. An English poet, born near London in 1812. He was educated at London University, and spent most of his life in Italy. He was the author of many volumes of poetry. He died at Venice in 1889.
Bryant, William Cullen. An American poet, born at Cummington, Massachusetts, in 1794; died in New York in 1878. His poems relate for the most part to subjects connected with the woods and fields and the beauties of nature. For fifty years he was the editor of the New York Evening Post.