How To Tell Stories To Children And Some Stories To Tell
Sara Cone Bryant
Part 4 out of 5
stared at Wylie, and then they cried out, "Why,
THAT'S THE DOG! That's the wee fell yin!" And
so it was. The little strange dog who helped
with the sheep was Wylie.
Her masters, of course, didn't know what the
farmers meant, till they were told all about what
I have been telling you. But when they heard
about the pretty strange dog who came to
market all alone, they knew at last where Wylie
went, every Tuesday night. And they loved
her better than ever
Wasn't it wise of the dear little dog to go and
work for other people when her own work was
taken away? I fancy she knew that the best
people and the best dogs always work hard at
something. Any way she did that same thing
as long as she lived, and she was always just as
gentle, and silky-haired, and loving as at first.
 Adapted from At the Back of the North Wind, by George
Once there was a beautiful palace, which had
a great wood at one side. The king and his
courtiers hunted in the wood near the palace,
and there it was kept open, free from underbrush.
But farther away it grew wilder and wilder, till
at last it was so thick that nobody knew what
was there. It was a very great wood indeed.
In the wood lived eight fairies. Seven of
them were good fairies, who had lived there
always; the eighth was a bad fairy, who had
just come. And the worst of it was that nobody
but the other fairies knew she WAS a fairy;
people thought she was just an ugly old witch.
The good fairies lived in the dearest little houses!
One lived in a hollow silver birch, one in a little
moss cottage, and so on. But the bad fairy lived
in a horrid mud house in the middle of a dark
Now when the first baby was born to the king
and queen, her father and mother decided to
name her "Daylight," because she was so bright
and sweet. And of course they had a christening
party. And of COURSE they invited the fairies,
because the good fairies had always been at
the christening party when a princess was born
in the palace, and everybody knew that they
brought good gifts.
But, alas, no one knew about the swamp fairy,
and she was not invited,--which really pleased
her, because it gave her an excuse for doing
The good fairies came to the christening party,
and, one after another, five of them gave little
Daylight good gifts. The other two stood among
the guests, so that no one noticed them. The
swamp fairy thought there were no more of them;
so she stepped forward, just as the archbishop
was handing the baby back to the lady-in-waiting.
"I am just a little deaf," she said, mumbling
a laugh with her toothless gums. "Will your
reverence tell me the baby's name again?"
"Certainly, my good woman," said the bishop;
"the infant is little Daylight."
"And little Daylight it shall be, forsooth,"
cried the bad fairy. "I decree that she shall
sleep all day." Then she laughed a horrid
shrieking laugh, "He, he, hi, hi!"
Everyone looked at everyone else in despair,
but out stepped the sixth good fairy, who by
arrangement with her sisters had remained in
the background to undo what she could of any
evil that the swamp fairy might decree.
"Then at least she shall wake all night," she
"Ah!" screamed the swamp fairy, "you spoke
before I had finished, which is against the law,
and gives me another chance." All the fairies
started at once to say, "I beg your pardon!"
But the bad fairy said, "I had only laughed `he,
he!' and `hi, hi!' I had still `ho, ho!' and `hu,
hu!' to laugh."
The fairies could not gainsay this, and the
bad fairy had her other chance. She said,--
"Since she is to wake all night, I decree that
she shall wax and wane with the moon! Ho,
ho, hu, hu!"
Out stepped the seventh good fairy. "Until
a prince shall kiss her without knowing who
she is," she said, quickly.
The swamp fairy had been prepared for the
trick of keeping back one good fairy, but she
had not suspected it of two, and she could not
say a word, for she had laughed "ho, ho!" and
The poor king and queen looked sad enough.
"We don't know what you mean," they said to
the good fairy who had spoken last. But the
good fairy smiled. "The meaning of the thing
will come with the thing," she said.
That was the end of the party, but it was
only the beginning of the trouble. Can you
imagine what a queer household it would be,
where the baby laughed and crowed all night,
and slept all day? Little Daylight was as
merry and bright all night as any baby in the
world, but with the first sign of dawn she fell
asleep, and slept like a little dormouse till dark.
Nothing could waken her while day lasted.
Still, the royal family got used to this; but the
rest of the bad fairy's gift was a great deal
worse,--that about waxing and waning with
the moon. You know how the moon grows
bigger and brighter each night, from the time
it is a curly silver thread low in the sky till it
is round and golden, flooding the whole sky
with light? That is the waxing moon. Then,
you know, it wanes; it grows smaller and
paler again, night by night, till at last it
disappears for a while, altogether. Well, poor
little Daylight waxed and waned with it. She
was the rosiest, plumpest, merriest baby in the
world when the moon was at the full; but as
it began to wane her little cheeks grew paler,
her tiny hands thinner, with every night, till
she lay in her cradle like a shadow-baby, without
sound or motion. At first they thought
she was dead, when the moon disappeared, but
after some months they got used to this too,
and only waited eagerly for the new moon, to
see her revive. When it shone again, faint and
silver, on the horizon, the baby stirred weakly,
and then they fed her gently; each night she
grew a little better, and when the moon was
near the full again, she was again a lively, rosy,
So it went on till she grew up. She grew
to be the most beautiful maiden the moon ever
shone on, and everyone loved her so much, for
her sweet ways and her merry heart, that someone
was always planning to stay up at night, to
be near her. But she did not like to be watched,
especially when she felt the bad time of waning
coming on; so her ladies-in-waiting had to be
very careful. When the moon waned she became
shrunken and pale and bent, like an old,
old woman, worn out with sorrow. Only her
golden hair and her blue eyes remained
unchanged, and this gave her a terribly strange
look. At last, as the moon disappeared, she
faded away to a little, bowed, old creature,
asleep and helpless.
No wonder she liked best to be alone! She
got in the way of wandering by herself in the
beautiful wood, playing in the moonlight when
she was well, stealing away in the shadows
when she was fading with the moon. Her
father had a lovely little house of roses and
vines built for her, there. It stood at the edge
of a most beautiful open glade, inside the wood,
where the moon shone best. There the princess
lived with her ladies. And there she danced
when the moon was full. But when the moon
waned, her ladies often lost her altogether, so
far did she wander; and sometimes they found
her sleeping under a great tree, and brought her
home in their arms.
When the princess was about seventeen years
old, there was a rebellion in a kingdom not far
from her father's. Wicked nobles murdered
the king of the country and stole his throne,
and would have murdered the young prince,
too, if he had not escaped, dressed in peasant's
Dressed in his poor rags, the prince wandered
about a long time, till one day he got into a
great wood, and lost his way. It was the wood
where the Princess Daylight lived, but of course
he did not know anything about that nor about
her. He wandered till night, and then he came
to a queer little house. One of the good fairies
lived there, and the minute she saw him she
knew all about everything; but to him she
looked only like a kind old woman. She gave
him a good supper and a bed for the night, and
told him to come back to her if he found no
better place for the next night. But the prince
said he must get out of the wood at once; so in
the morning he took leave of the fairy.
All day long he walked, and walked; but at
nightfall he had not found his way out of the
wood, so he lay down to rest till the moon
should rise and light his path.
When he woke the moon was glorious; it
was three days from the full, and bright as
silver. By its light he saw what he thought
to be the edge of the wood, and he hastened
toward it. But when he came to it, it was
only an open space, surrounded with trees. It
was so very lovely, in the white moonlight, that
the prince stood a minute to look. And as he
looked, something white moved out of the trees
on the far side of the open space. It was
something slim and white, that swayed in the dim
light like a young birch.
"It must be a moon fairy," thought the
prince; and he stepped into the shadow.
The moon fairy came nearer and nearer,
dancing and swaying in the moonlight. And
as she came, she began to sing a soft, gay little
But when she was quite close, the prince saw
that she was not a fairy after all, but a real
human maiden,--the loveliest maiden he had
ever seen. Her hair was like yellow corn, and
her smile made all the place merry. Her white
gown fluttered as she danced, and her little
song sounded like a bird note.
The prince watched her till she danced out
of sight, and then until she once more came
toward him; and she seemed so like a moon-
beam herself, as she lifted her face to the sky,
that he was almost afraid to breathe. He had
never seen anything so lovely. By the time
she had danced twice round the circle, he could
think of nothing in the world except the hope
of finding out who she was, and staying near her.
But while he was waiting for her to appear
the third time, his weariness overcame him, and
he fell asleep. And when he awoke, it was
broad day, and the beautiful maiden had
He hunted about, hoping to find where she
lived, and on the other side of the glade he
came upon a lovely little house, covered with
moss and climbing roses. He thought she
must live there, so he went round to the
kitchen door and asked the kind cook for a
drink of water, and while he was drinking it
he asked who lived there. She told him it was
the house of the Princess Daylight, but she told
him nothing else about her, because she was not
allowed to talk about her mistress. But she
gave him a very good meal and told him other
He did not go back to the little old woman
who had been so kind to him first, but
wandered all day in the wood, waiting for the
moontime. Again he waited at the edge of
the dell, and when the white moon was high
in the heavens, once more he saw the glimmering
in the distance, and once more the lovely
maiden floated toward him. He knew her
name was the Princess Daylight, but this time
she seemed to him much lovelier than before.
She was all in blue like the blue of the sky
in summer. (She really was more lovely, you
know, because the moon was almost at the
full.) All night he watched her, quite forgetting
that he ought not to be doing it, till she
disappeared on the opposite side of the glade.
Then, very tired, he found his way to the little
old woman's house, had breakfast with her, and
fell fast asleep in the bed she gave him.
The fairy knew well enough by his face that
he had seen Daylight, and when he woke up in
the evening and started off again she gave him
a strange little flask and told him to use it if
ever he needed it.
This night the princess did not appear in
the dell until midnight, at the very full of the
moon. But when she came, she was so lovely
that she took the prince's breath away. Just
think!--she was dressed in a gown that looked
as if it were made of fireflies' wings, em-
broidered in gold. She danced around and
around, singing, swaying, and flitting like a
beam of sunlight, till the prince grew quite
But while he had been watching her, he had
not noticed that the sky was growing dark
and the wind was rising. Suddenly there was
a clap of thunder. The princess danced on.
But another clap came louder, and then a
sudden great flash of lightning that lit up the
sky from end to end. The prince couldn't help
shutting his eyes, but he opened them quickly
to see if Daylight was hurt. Alas, she was
lying on the ground. The prince ran to her,
but she was already up again.
"Who are you?" she said.
"I thought," stammered the prince, "you
might be hurt."
"There is nothing the matter. Go away."
The prince went sadly.
"Come back," said the princess. The prince
came. "I like you, you do as you are told.
Are you good?"
"Not so good as I should like to be," said
"Then go and grow better," said the princess.
The prince went, more sadly.
"Come back," said the princess. The prince
came. "I think you must be a prince," she
"Why?" said the prince.
"Because you do as you are told, and you
tell the truth. Will you tell me what the sun
"Why, everybody knows that," said the
"I am different from everybody," said the
princess,--"I don't know."
"But," said the prince, "do you not look
when you wake up in the morning?"
"That's just it," said the princess, "I never
do wake up in the morning. I never can wake
up until----" Then the princess remembered
that she was talking to a prince, and putting
her hands over her face she walked swiftly
away. The prince followed her, but she turned
and put up her hand to tell him not to. And
like the gentleman prince that he was, he
obeyed her at once.
Now all this time, the wicked swamp fairy
had not known a word about what was going
on. But now she found out, and she was
furious, for fear that little Daylight should be
delivered from her spell. So she cast her
spells to keep the prince from finding Daylight
again. Night after night the poor prince
wandered and wandered, and never could find
the little dell. And when daytime came, of
course, there was no princess to be seen.
Finally, at the time that the moon was almost
gone, the swamp fairy stopped her spells,
because she knew that by this time Daylight
would be so changed and ugly that the prince
would never know her if he did see her. She
said to herself with a wicked laugh:--
"No fear of his wanting to kiss her now!"
That night the prince did find the dell, but
no princess came. A little after midnight he
passed near the lovely little house where she
lived, and there he overheard her waiting-
women talking about her. They seemed in
great distress. They were saying that the
princess had wandered into the woods and
was lost. The prince didn't know, of course,
what it meant, but he did understand that the
princess was lost somewhere, and he started
off to find her. After he had gone a long
way without finding her, he came to a big
old tree, and there he thought he would light
a fire to show her the way if she should happen
to see it.
As the blaze flared up, he suddenly saw a
little black heap on the other side of the tree.
Somebody was lying there. He ran to the
spot, his heart beating with hope. But when
he lifted the cloak which was huddled about
the form, he saw at once that it was not
Daylight. A pinched, withered, white, little old
woman's face shone out at him. The hood was
drawn close down over her forehead, the eyes
were closed, and as the prince lifted the cloak,
the old woman's lips moaned faintly.
"Oh, poor mother," said the prince, "what
is the matter?" The old woman only moaned
again. The prince lifted her and carried her
over to the warm fire, and rubbed her hands,
trying to find out what was the matter. But
she only moaned, and her face was so terribly
strange and white that the prince's tender heart
ached for her. Remembering his little flask,
he poured some of his liquid between her lips,
and then he thought the best thing he could do
was to carry her to the princess's house, where
she could be taken care of.
As he lifted the poor little form in his arms,
two great tears stole out from the old woman's
closed eyes and ran down her wrinkled cheeks.
"Oh, poor, poor mother," said the prince
pityingly; and he stooped and kissed her
As he walked through the forest with the
old woman in his arms, it seemed to him that
she grew heavier and heavier; he could hardly
carry her at all; and then she stirred, and at
last he was obliged to set her down, to rest.
He meant to lay her on the ground. But the
old woman stood upon her feet.
And then the hood fell back from her face.
As she looked up at the prince, the first, long,
yellow ray of the rising sun struck full upon
her,--and it was the Princess Daylight! Her
hair was golden as the sun itself, and her eyes
as blue as the flower that grows in the corn.
The prince fell on his knees before her. But
she gave him her hand and made him rise.
"You kissed me when I was an old woman,"
said the princess, "I'll kiss you now that I am
a young princess." And she did.
And then she turned her face toward the
"Dear Prince," she said, "is that the sun?"
THE SAILOR MAN
 From The Golden Windows, by Laura E. Richards.
(H. R. Allenson Ltd. 2s. 6d. net.)
Once upon a time, two children came to the
house of a sailor man, who lived beside the
salt sea; and they found the sailor man sitting
in his doorway knotting ropes.
"How do you do?" asked the sailor man.
"We are very well, thank you," said the
children, who had learned manners, "and we
hope you are the same. We heard that you
had a boat, and we thought that perhaps you
would take us out in her, and teach us how to
sail, for that is what we most wish to know."
"All in good time," said the sailor man. "I
am busy now, but by-and-by, when my work
is done, I may perhaps take one of you if you
are ready to learn. Meantime here are some
ropes that need knotting; you might be doing
that, since it has to be done." And he showed
them how the knots should be tied, and went
away and left them.
When he was gone the first child ran to the
window and looked out.
"There is the sea," he said. "The waves
come up on the beach, almost to the door of
the house. They run up all white, like prancing
horses, and then they go dragging back. Come
"I cannot," said the second child. "I am
tying a knot."
"Oh!" cried the first child, "I see the boat.
She is dancing like a lady at a ball; I never
saw such a beauty. Come and look!"
"I cannot," said the second child. "I am
tying a knot."
"I shall have a delightful sail in that boat,"
said the first child. "I expect that the sailor
man will take me, because I am the eldest and
I know more about it. There was no need of
my watching when he showed you the knots,
because I knew how already."
Just then the sailor man came in.
"Well," he said, "my work is over. What
have you been doing in the meantime?"
"I have been looking at the boat," said the
first child. "What a beauty she is! I shall
have the best time in her that ever I had in
"I have been tying knots," said the second
"Come, then," said the sailor man, and he
held out his hand to the second child. "I will
take you out in the boat, and teach you to sail
"But I am the eldest," cried the first child,
"and I know a great deal more than she does."
"That may be," said the sailor man; "but
a person must learn to tie a knot before he can
learn to sail a boat."
"But I have learned to tie a knot," cried the
child. "I know all about it!"
"How can I tell that?" asked the sailor man.
THE STORY OF JAIRUS'S DAUGHTER
 This should usually be prefaced by a brief statement
of Jesus habit of healing and comforting all with whom He
came in close contact. The exact form of the preface must
depend on how much of His life has already been given in
Once, while Jesus was journeying about, He
passed near a town where a man named Jairus
lived. This man was a ruler in the synagogue,
and he had just one little daughter about twelve
years of age. At the time that Jesus was there
the little daughter was very sick, and at last
she lay a-dying.
Her father heard that there was a wonderful
man near the town, who was healing sick people
whom no one else could help, and in his despair
he ran out into the streets to search for Him.
He found Jesus walking in the midst of a
crowd of people, and when he saw Him he fell
down at Jesus feet and besought Him to come
into his house, to heal his daughter. And
Jesus said, Yes, he would go with him. But
there were so many people begging to be
healed, and so many looking to see what
happened, that the crowd thronged them, and
kept them from moving fast. And before they
reached the house one of the man's servants
came to meet them, and said, "Thy daughter
is dead; trouble not the Master to come
But instantly Jesus turned to the father and
said, "Fear not; only believe, and she shall be
made whole." And He went on with Jairus, to
When they came to the house, they heard the
sound of weeping and lamentation; the household
was mourning for the little daughter, who
was dead. Jesus sent all the strangers away
from the door, and only three of His disciples
and the father and mother of the child went in
with Him. And when He was within, He said
to the mourning people, "Weep not; she is
not dead; she sleepeth."
When He had passed, they laughed Him to
scorn, for they knew that she was dead.
Then Jesus left them all, and went alone
into the chamber where the little daughter lay.
And when He was there, alone, He went up to
the bed where she was, and bent over her, and
took her by the hand. And He said, "Maiden,
And her spirit came unto her again! And
she lived, and grew up in her father's house.
ESPECIALLY FOR CLASSES IV. AND V.
ARTHUR AND THE SWORD
 Adapted from Sir Thomas Malory.
Once there was a great king in Britain named
Uther, and when he died the other kings and
princes disputed over the kingdom, each wanting
it for himself. But King Uther had a son
named Arthur, the rightful heir to the throne,
of whom no one knew, for he had been taken
away secretly while he was still a baby by a
wise old man called Merlin, who had him
brought up in the family of a certain Sir Ector,
for fear of the malice of wicked knights. Even
the boy himself thought Sir Ector was his
father, and he loved Sir Ector's son, Sir Kay,
with the love of a brother.
When the kings and princes could not be
kept in check any longer, and something had
to be done to determine who was to be king,
Merlin made the Archbishop of Canterbury send
for them all to come to London. It was
Christmas time, and in the great cathedral a
solemn service was held, and prayer was made
that some sign should be given, to show who
was the rightful king. When the service was
over, there appeared a strange stone in the
churchyard, against the high altar. It was a
great white stone, like marble, with something
sunk in it that looked like a steel anvil; and
in the anvil was driven a great glistening sword.
The sword had letters of gold written on it,
which read: "Whoso pulleth out this sword of
this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of
All wondered at the strange sword and its
strange writing; and when the archbishop himself
came out and gave permission, many of the
knights tried to pull the sword from the stone,
hoping to be king. But no one could move it
a hair's breadth.
"He is not here," said the archbishop, "that
shall achieve the sword; but doubt not, God
will make him known."
Then they set a guard of ten knights to keep
the stone, and the archbishop appointed a day
when all should come together to try at the
stone,--kings from far and near. In the meantime,
splendid jousts were held, outside London,
and both knights and commons were bidden.
Sir Ector came up to the jousts, with others,
and with him rode Kay and Arthur. Kay
had been made a knight at Allhallowmas, and
when he found there was to be so fine a joust
he wanted a sword, to join it. But he had left
his sword behind, where his father and he had
slept the night before. So he asked young
Arthur to ride for it.
"I will well," said Arthur, and rode back for
it. But when he came to the castle, the lady
and all her household were at the jousting, and
there was none to let him in.
Thereat Arthur said to himself, "My brother
Sir Kay shall not be without a sword this day."
And he remembered the sword he had seen in
the churchyard. "I will to the churchyard,"
he said, "and take that sword with me." So he
rode into the churchyard, tied his horse to the
stile, and went up to the stone. The guards
were away to the tourney, and the sword was
Going up to the stone, young Arthur took the
great sword by the hilt, and lightly and fiercely
he drew it out of the anvil.
Then he rode straight to Sir Kay, and gave it
Sir Kay knew instantly that it was the sword
of the stone, and he rode off at once to his father
and said, "Sir, lo, here is the sword of the
stone; I must be king of the land." But Sir
Ector asked him where he got the sword. And
when Sir Kay said, "From my brother," he
asked Arthur how he got it. When Arthur
told him, Sir Ector bowed his head before him.
"Now I understand ye must be king of this
land," he said to Arthur.
"Wherefore I?" said Arthur.
"For God will have it so," said Ector;
"never man should have drawn out this sword
but he that shall be rightwise king of this land.
Now let me see whether ye can put the sword
as it was in the stone, and pull it out again."
Straightway Arthur put the sword back.
Then Sir Ector tried to pull it out, and after
him Sir Kay; but neither could stir it. Then
Arthur pulled it out. Thereupon, Sir Ector
and Sir Kay kneeled upon the ground before him.
"Alas," said Arthur, "mine own dear father
and brother, why kneel ye to me?"
Sir Ector told him, then, all about his royal
birth, and how he had been taken privily away
by Merlin. But when Arthur found Sir Ector
was not truly his father, he was so sad at heart
that he cared not greatly to be king. And he
begged his father and brother to love him still.
Sir Ector asked that Sir Kay might be seneschal
when Arthur was king. Arthur promised with
all his heart.
Then they went to the archbishop and told
him that the sword had found its master. The
archbishop appointed a day for the trial to be
made in the sight of all men, and on that day
the princes and knights came together, and each
tried to draw out the sword, as before. But as
before, none could so much as stir it.
Then came Arthur, and pulled it easily from
The knights and kings were terribly angry
that a boy from nowhere in particular had beaten
them, and they refused to acknowledge him king.
They appointed another day, for another great
Three times they did this, and every time the
same thing happened.
At last, at the feast of Pentecost, Arthur
again pulled out the sword before all the knights
and the commons. And then the commons
rose up and cried that he should be king, and
that they would slay any who denied him.
So Arthur became king of Britain, and all
gave him allegiance.
There was once a girl named Tarpeia, whose
father was guard of the outer gate of the citadel
of Rome. It was a time of war,--the Sabines
were besieging the city. Their camp was close
outside the city wall.
Tarpeia used to see the Sabine soldiers when
she went to draw water from the public well,
for that was outside the gate. And sometimes
she stayed about and let the strange men talk
with her, because she liked to look at their
bright silver ornaments. The Sabine soldiers
wore heavy silver rings and bracelets on their
left arms,--some wore as many as four or five.
The soldiers knew she was the daughter of the
keeper of the citadel, and they saw that she had
greedy eyes for their ornaments. So day by
day they talked with her, and showed her their
silver rings, and tempted her. And at last Tarpeia
made a bargain, to betray her city to them.
She said she would unlock the great gate and
let them in, IF THEY WOULD GIVE HER WHAT THEY WORE
ON THEIR LEFT ARMS.
The night came. When it was perfectly dark
and still, Tarpeia stole from her bed, took the
great key from its place, and silently unlocked
the gate which protected the city. Outside, in
the dark, stood the soldiers of the enemy, waiting.
As she opened the gate, the long shadowy files
pressed forward silently, and the Sabines
entered the citadel.
As the first man came inside, Tarpeia stretched
forth her hand for her price. The soldier lifted
high his left arm. "Take thy reward!" he said,
and as he spoke he hurled upon her that which
he wore upon it. Down upon her head crashed
--not the silver rings of the soldier, but the
great brass shield he carried in battle!
She sank beneath it, to the ground.
"Take thy reward," said the next; and his
shield rang against the first.
"Thy reward," said the next--and the next--
and the next--and the next; every man wore
his shield on his left arm.
So Tarpeia lay buried beneath the reward
she had claimed, and the Sabines marched past
her dead body, into the city she had betrayed.
 Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen.
Down by the river were fields of barley and
rye and golden oats. Wheat grew there, too,
and the heaviest and richest ears bent lowest,
in humility. Opposite the corn was a field of
buckwheat, but the buckwheat never bent; it
held its head proud and stiff on the stem.
The wise old willow-tree by the river looked
down on the fields, and thought his thoughts.
One day a dreadful storm came. The field-
flowers folded their leaves together, and bowed
their heads. But the buckwheat stood straight
"Bend your head, as we do," called the field-
"I have no need to," said the buckwheat.
"Bend your head, as we do!" warned the
golden wheat-ears; "the angel of the storm is
coming; he will strike you down."
"I will not bend my head," said the buckwheat.
Then the old willow-tree spoke: "Close your
flowers and bend your leaves. Do not look at
the lightning when the cloud bursts. Even men
cannot do that; the sight of heaven would strike
them blind. Much less can we who are so
inferior to them!"
"`Inferior,' indeed!" said the buckwheat.
"Now I WILL look!" And he looked straight
up, while the lightning flashed across the sky.
When the dreadful storm had passed, the
flowers and the wheat raised their drooping
heads, clean and refreshed in the pure, sweet
air. The willow-tree shook the gentle drops
from its leaves.
But the buckwheat lay like a weed in the
field, scorched black by the lightning.
THE JUDGMENT OF MIDAS
 Adapted from Old Greek Folk-Stories, by Josephine Preston
Peabody. (Harrap & Co. 9d.)
The Greek God Pan, the god of the open air,
was a great musician. He played on a pipe of
reeds. And the sound of his reed-pipe was so
sweet that he grew proud, and believed himself
greater than the chief musician of the gods,
Apollo, the son-god. So he challenged great
Apollo to make better music than he.
Apollo consented to the test, for he wished to
punish Pan's vanity, and they chose the mountain
Tmolus for judge, since no one is so old and
wise as the hills.
When Pan and Apollo came before Tmolus,
to play, their followers came with them, to hear,
and one of those who came with Pan was a
mortal named Midas.
First Pan played; he blew on his reed-pipe,
and out came a tune so wild and yet so coaxing
that the birds hopped from the trees to get near;
the squirrels came running from their holes;
and the very trees swayed as if they wanted to
dance. The fauns laughed aloud for joy as the
melody tickled their furry little ears. And
Midas thought it the sweetest music in the
Then Apollo rose. His hair shook drops of
light from its curls; his robes were like the
edge of the sunset cloud; in his hands he held
a golden lyre. And when he touched the
strings of the lyre, such music stole upon the
air as never god nor mortal heard before. The
wild creatures of the wood crouched still as
stone; the trees kept every leaf from rustling;
earth and air were silent as a dream. To hear
such music cease was like bidding farewell to
father and mother.
When the charm was broken, the hearers
fell at Apollo's feet and proclaimed the victory
his. All but Midas. He alone would not
admit that the music was better than Pan's.
"If thine ears are so dull, mortal," said
Apollo, "they shall take the shape that suits
them." And he touched the ears of Midas.
And straightway the dull ears grew long,
pointed, and furry, and they turned this way
and that. They were the ears of an ass!
For a long time Midas managed to hide
the tell-tale ears from everyone; but at last a
servant discovered the secret. He knew he
must not tell, yet he could not bear not to;
so one day he went into the meadow, scooped
a little hollow in the turf, and whispered the
secret into the earth. Then he covered it up
again, and went away. But, alas, a bed of
reeds sprang up from the spot, and whispered
the secret to the grass. The grass told it to
the tree-tops, the tree-tops to the little birds,
and they cried it all abroad.
And to this day, when the wind sets the
reeds nodding together, they whisper, laughing,
"Midas has the ears of an ass! Oh, hush,
WHY THE SEA IS SALT
 There are many versions of this tale, in different
collections. This one is the story which grew up in my mind,
about the bare outline related to me by one of Mrs Rutan's
hearers. What the original teller said, I never knew, but
what the listener felt was clear. And in this form I have
told it a great many times.
Once there were two brothers. One was
rich, and one was poor; the rich one was
rather mean. When the Poor Brother used
to come to ask for things it annoyed him, and
finally one day he said, "There, I'll give it to
you this time, but the next time you want
anything, you can go Below for it!"
Presently the Poor Brother did want something,
and he knew it wasn't any use to go to
his brother; he must go Below for it. So he
went, and he went, and he went, till he came
It was the queerest place! There were red
and yellow fires burning all around, and kettles
of boiling oil hanging over them, and a queer
sort of men standing round, poking the fires.
There was a Chief Man; he had a long curly
tail that curled up behind, and two ugly little
horns just over his ears; and one foot was very
queer indeed. And as soon as anyone came
in the door, these men would catch him up
and put him over one of the fires, and turn
him on a spit. And then the Chief Man, who
was the worst of all, would come and say,
"Eh, how do you feel now? How do you
feel now?" And of course the poor people
screamed and screeched and said, "Let us out!
Let us out!" That was just what the Chief
When the Poor Brother came in, they picked
him up at once, and put him over one of the
hottest fires, and began to turn him round and
round like the rest; and of course the Chief
Man came up to him and said, "Eh, how do
you feel now? How do you feel now?" But
the Poor Brother did not say, "Let me out!
Let me out!" He said, "Pretty well, thank
The Chief Man grunted and said to the
other men, "Make the fire hotter." But the
next time he asked the Poor Brother how he
felt, the Poor Brother smiled and said. "Much
better now, thank you." The Chief Man did
not like this at all, because, of course, the whole
object in life of the people Below was to make
their victims uncomfortable. So he piled on
more fuel and made the fire hotter still. But
every time he asked the Poor Brother how he
felt, the Poor Brother would say, "Very much
better"; and at last he said, "Perfectly
comfortable, thank you; couldn't be better."
You see when the Poor Brother was on
earth he had never once had money enough
to buy coal enough to keep him warm; so he
liked the heat.
At last the Chief Man could stand it no
"Oh, look here," he said, "you can go
"Oh no, thank you," said the Poor Brother,
"I like it here."
"You MUST go home," said the Chief Man
"But I won't go home," said the Poor
The Chief Man went away and talked with
the other men; but no matter what they did
they could not make the Poor Brother uncomfortable;
so at last the Chief Man came back
"What'll you take to go home?"
"What have you got?" said the Poor
"Well," said the Chief Man, "if you'll go
home quietly I'll give you the Little Mill that
stands behind my door."
"What's the good of it?" said the Poor
"It is the most wonderful mill in the world,"
said the Chief Man. "Anything at all that you
want, you have only to name it, and say, `Grind
this, Little Mill, and grind quickly,' and the
Mill will grind that thing until you say the
magic word, to stop it."
"That sounds nice," said the Poor Brother.
"I'll take it." And he took the Little Mill
under his arm, and went up, and up, and up,
till he came to his own house.
When he was in front of his little old hut, he
put the Little Mill down on the ground and
said to it, "Grind a fine house, Little Mill, and
grind quickly." And the Little Mill ground,
and ground, and ground the finest house that
ever was seen. It had fine big chimneys, and
gable windows, and broad piazzas; and just as
the Little Mill ground the last step of the last
flight of steps, the Poor Brother said the magic
word, and it stopped.
Then he took it round to where the barn was,
and said, "Grind cattle, Little Mill, and grind
quickly." And the Little Mill ground, and
ground, and ground, and out came great fat
cows, and little woolly lambs, and fine little
pigs; and just as the Little Mill ground the
last curl on the tail of the last little pig, the
Poor Brother said the magic word, and it
He did the same thing with crops for his
cattle, pretty clothes for his daughters, and
everything else they wanted. At last he had
everything he wanted, and so he stood the
Little Mill behind his door.
All this time the Rich Brother had been
getting more and more jealous, and at last he
came to ask the Poor Brother how he had
grown so rich. The Poor Brother told him all
about it. He said, "It all comes from that
Little Mill behind my door. All I have to do
when I want anything is to name it to the
Little Mill, and say, `Grind that, Little Mill,
and grind quickly,' and the Little Mill will
grind that thing until----"
But the Rich Brother didn't wait to hear any
more. "Will you lend me the Little Mill?" he
"Why, yes," said the Poor Brother, "I will."
So the Rich Brother took the Little Mill
under his arm and started across the fields to
his house. When he got near home he saw the
farm-hands coming in from the fields for their
luncheon. Now, you remember, he was rather
mean. He thought to himself, "It is a waste
of good time for them to come into the house;
they shall have their porridge where they are."
He called all the men to him, and made
them bring their porridge-bowls. Then he set
the Little Mill down on the ground, and said
to it, "Grind oatmeal porridge, Little Mill, and
grind quickly!" The Little Mill ground, and
ground, and ground, and out came delicious
oatmeal porridge. Each man held his bowl
under the spout. When the last bowl was
filled, the porridge ran over on the ground.
"That's enough, Little Mill," said the Rich
Brother. "You may stop, and stop quickly."
But this was not the magic word, and the
Little Mill did not stop. It ground, and ground,
and ground, and the porridge ran all round and
made a little pool. The Rich Brother said,
"No, no, Little Mill, I said, `Stop grinding, and
stop quickly.'" But the Little Mill ground, and
ground, faster than ever; and presently there
was a regular pond of porridge, almost up to
their knees. The Rich Brother said, "Stop
grinding," in every kind of way; he called the
Little Mill names; but nothing did any good.
The Little Mill ground porridge just the same.
At last the men said, "Go and get your brother
to stop the Little Mill, or we shall be drowned
So the Rich Brother started for his brother's
house. He had to swim before he got there,
and the porridge went up his sleeves, and down
his neck, and it was horrid and sticky. His
brother laughed when he heard the story, but
he came with him, and they took a boat and
rowed across the lake of porridge to where the
Little Mill was grinding. And then the Poor
Brother whispered the magic word, and the
Little Mill stopped.
But the porridge was a long time soaking into
the ground, and nothing would ever grow there
afterwards except oatmeal.
The Rich Brother didn't seem to care much
about the Little Mill after this, so the Poor
Brother took it home again and put it behind
the door; and there it stayed a long, long while.
Years afterwards a Sea Captain came there on
a visit. He told such big stories that the Poor
Brother said, "Oh, I daresay you have seen
wonderful things, but I don't believe you ever
saw anything more wonderful than the Little
Mill that stands behind my door."
"What is wonderful about that?" said the
"Why," said the Poor Brother, "anything in
the world you want,--you have only to name it
to the Little Mill and say, `Grind that, Little
Mill, and grind quickly,' and it will grind that
The Sea Captain didn't wait to hear another
word. "Will you lend me that Little Mill?"
he said eagerly.
The Poor Brother smiled a little, but he said,
"Yes," and the Sea Captain took the Little Mill
under his arm, and went on board his ship and
They had head-winds and storms, and they
were so long at sea that some of the food gave
out. Worst of all, the salt gave out. It was
dreadful, being without salt. But the Captain
happened to remember the Little Mill.
"Bring up the salt box!" he said to the cook.
"We will have salt enough."
He set the Little Mill on deck, put the salt
box under the spout, and said,--
"Grind salt, Little Mill, and grind quickly!"
And the Little Mill ground beautiful, white,
powdery salt. When they had enough, the
Captain said, "Now you may stop, Little Mill,
and stop quickly." The Little Mill kept on
grinding; and the salt began to pile up in little
heaps on the deck. "I said, `Stop,'" said the
Captain. But the Little Mill ground, and ground,
faster than ever, and the salt was soon thick on
the deck like snow. The Captain called the
Little Mill names and told it to stop, in every
language he knew, but the Little Mill went on
grinding. The salt covered all the decks and
poured down into the hold, and at last the ship
began to settle in the water; salt is very heavy.
But just before the ship sank to the water-line,
the Captain had a bright thought: he threw the
Little Mill overboard!
It fell right down to the bottom of the sea.
AND IT HAS BEAN GRINDING SALT EVER SINCE.
BILLY BEG AND HIS BULL
 Adapted from In Chimney Corners, by Seumas McManus.
I have ventured to give this in the somewhat Hibernian
phraseology suggested by the original, because I have found
that the humour of the manner of it appeals quite as readily
to the boys and girls of my acquaintance as to maturer friends,
and they distinguish as quickly between the savour of it and
any unintentional crudeness of diction.
Once upon a time, there was a king and a
queen, and they had one son, whose name was
Billy. And Billy had a bull he was very fond
of, and the bull was just as fond of him. And
when the queen came to die, she put it as her
last request to the king, that come what might,
come what may, he'd not part Billy and the bull.
And the king promised that, come what might,
come what may, he would not. Then the good
queen died, and was buried.
After a time, the king married again, and the
new queen could not abide Billy; no more could
she stand the bull, seeing him and Billy so thick.
So she asked the king to have the bull killed.
But the king said he had promised, come what
might, come what may, he'd not part Billy Beg
and his bull, so he could not.
Then the queen sent for the Hen-Wife, and
asked what she should do. "What will you
give me," said the Hen-Wife, "and I'll very soon
"Anything at all," said the queen.
"Then do you take to your bed, very sick with
a complaint," said the Hen-Wife, "and I'll do
So the queen took to her bed, very sick with
a complaint, and the king came to see what
could be done for her. "I shall never be better
of this," she said, "till I have the medicine the
"What is that?" said the king.
"A mouthful of the blood of Billy Beg's bull."
"I can't give you that," said the king, and
went away, sorrowful.
Then the queen got sicker and sicker, and
each time the king asked what would cure her she
said, "A mouthful of the blood of Billy Beg's
bull." And at last it looked as if she were going
to die. So the king finally set a day for the bull
to be killed. At that the queen was so happy
that she laid plans to get up and see the grand
sight. All the people were to be at the killing,
and it was to be a great affair.
When Billy Beg heard all this, he was very
sorrowful, and the bull noticed his looks. "What
are you doitherin' about?" said the bull to him.
So Billy told him. "Don't fret yourself about
me," said the bull, "it's not I that'll be killed!"
The day came, when Billy Beg's bull was to
be killed; all the people were there, and the
queen, and Billy. And the bull was led out, to
be seen. When he was led past Billy he bent
his head. "Jump on my back, Billy, my boy,"
says he, "till I see what kind of a horseman you
are!" Billy jumped on his back, and with that
the bull leaped nine miles high and nine miles
broad and came down with Billy sticking between
his horns. Then away he rushed, over the head
of the queen, killing her dead, where you
wouldn't know day by night or night by day,
over high hills, low hills, sheep walks and
bullock traces, the Cove o' Cork, and old Tom
Fox with his bugle horn.
When at last he stopped he said, "Now,
Billy, my boy, you and I must undergo great
scenery; there's a mighty great bull of the forest
I must fight, here, and he'll be hard to fight,
but I'll be able for him. But first we must have
dinner. Put your hand in my left ear and pull
out the napkin you'll find there, and when you've
spread it, it will be covered with eating and
drinking fit for a king."
So Billy put his hand in the bull's left ear,
and drew out the napkin, and spread it; and,
sure enough, it was spread with all kinds of
eating and drinking, fit for a king. And Billy
Beg ate well.
But just as he finished he heard a great roar,
and out of the forest came a mighty bull, snorting
And the two bulls at it and fought. They
knocked the hard ground into soft, the soft into
hard, the rocks into spring wells, and the spring
wells into rocks. It was a terrible fight. But
in the end, Billy Beg's bull was too much for
the other bull, and he killed him, and drank his
Then Billy jumped on the bull's back, and the
bull off and away, where you wouldn't know day
from night or night from day, over high hills,
low hills, sheep walks and bullock traces, the
Cove o' Cork, and old Tom Fox with his bugle
horn. And when he stopped he told Billy to
put his hand in his left ear and pull out the
napkin, because he'd to fight another great bull
of the forest. So Billy pulled out the napkin
and spread it, and it was covered with all kinds
of eating and drinking, fit for a king.
And, sure enough, just as Billy finished eating,
there was a frightful roar, and a mighty great
bull, greater than the first, rushed out of the
forest. And the two bulls at it and fought.
It was a terrible fight! They knocked the hard
ground into soft, the soft into hard, the rocks
into spring wells, and the spring wells into rocks.
But in the end, Billy Beg's bull killed the other
bull, and drank his blood.
Then he off and away, with Billy.
But when he came down, he told Billy Beg
that he was to fight another bull, the brother of
the other two, and that this time the other bull
would be too much for him, and would kill him
and drink his blood.
"When I am dead, Billy, my boy," he said,
"put your hand in my left ear and draw out the
napkin, and you'll never want for eating or
drinking; and put your hand in my right ear,
and you'll find a stick there, that will turn into
a sword if you wave it three times round your
head, and give you the strength of a thousand
men beside your own. Keep that; then cut a
strip of my hide, for a belt, for when you buckle
it on, there's nothing can kill you."
Billy Beg was very sad to hear that his friend
must die. And very soon he heard a more
dreadful roar than ever he heard, and a tremendous
bull rushed out of the forest. Then came
the worst fight of all. In the end, the other
bull was too much for Billy Beg's bull, and he
killed him and drank his blood.
Billy Beg sat down and cried for three days
and three nights. After that he was hungry;
so he put his hand in the bull's left ear, and
drew out the napkin, and ate all kinds of eating
and drinking. Then he put his hand in the
right ear and pulled out the stick which was to
turn into a sword if waved round his head three
times, and to give him the strength of a thousand
men beside his own. And he cut a strip of the
hide for a belt, and started off on his adventures.
Presently he came to a fine place; an old
gentleman lived there. So Billy went up and
knocked, and the old gentleman came to the
"Are you wanting a boy?" says Billy.
"I am wanting a herd-boy," says the gentleman,
"to take my six cows, six horses, six
donkeys, and six goats to pasture every morning,
and bring them back at night. Maybe you'd do."
"What are the wages?" says Billy.
"Oh, well," says the gentleman, "it's no use
to talk of that now; there's three giants live
in the wood by the pasture, and every day they
drink up all the milk and kill the boy that looks
after the cattle; so we'll wait to talk about
wages till we see if you come back alive."
"All right," says Billy, and he entered service
with the old gentleman.
The first day, he drove the six cows, six
horses, six donkeys, and six goats to pasture,
and sat down by them. About noon he heard
a kind of roaring from the wood; and out
rushed a giant with two heads, spitting fire
out of his two mouths.
"Oh! my fine fellow," says he to Billy, "you
are too big for one swallow and not big enough
for two; how would you like to die, then?
By a cut with the sword, a blow with the fist
or a swing by the back?"
"That is as may be," says Billy, "but I'll
fight you." And he buckled on his hide belt
and swung his stick three times round his
head, to give him the strength of a thousand
men besides his own, and went for the giant.
And at the first grapple Billy Beg lifted the giant
up and sunk him in the ground, to his armpits.
"Oh, mercy! mercy! Spare my life!" cried
"I think not," said Billy; and he cut off his
That night, when the cows and the goats
were driven home, they gave so much milk
that all the dishes in the house were filled
and the milk ran over and made a little brook
in the yard.
"This is very queer," said the old gentleman;
"they never gave any milk before. Did you see
nothing in the pasture?"
"Nothing worse than myself," said Billy.
And next morning he drove the six cows, six
horses, six donkeys, and six goats to pasture
Just before noon he heard a terrific roar; and
out of the wood came a giant with six heads.
"You killed my brother," he roared, fire
coming out of his six mouths, "and I'll very
soon have your blood! Will you die by a cut
of the sword, or a swing by the back?"
"I'll fight you," said Billy. And buckling
on his belt and swinging his stick three times
round his head, he ran in and grappled the
giant. At the first hold, he sunk the giant up
to the shoulders in the ground.
"Mercy, mercy, kind gentleman!" cried the
giant. "Spare my life!"
"I think not," said Billy, and cut off his heads.
That night the cattle gave so much milk that
it ran out of the house and made a stream, and
turned a mill wheel which had not been turned
for seven years!
"It's certainly very queer," said the old
gentleman; "did you see nothing in the
"Nothing worse than myself," said Billy.
And the next morning the gentleman said,
"Billy, do you know, I only heard one of the
giants roaring in the night, and the night before
only two. What can ail them, at all?"
"Oh, maybe they are sick or something,"
says Billy; and with that he drove the six
cows, six horses, six donkeys, and six goats
At about ten o'clock there was a roar like a
dozen bulls, and the brother of the two giants
came out of the wood, with twelve heads on
him, and fire spouting from every one of them.
"I'll have you, my fine boy," cries he; "how
will you die, then?"
"We'll see," says Billy; "come on!"
And swinging his stick round his head, he
made for the giant, and drove him up to his
twelve necks in the ground. All twelve of the
heads began begging for mercy, but Billy soon
out them short. Then he drove the beasts
And that night the milk overflowed the mill-
stream and made a lake, nine miles long, nine
miles broad, and nine miles deep; and there are
salmon and whitefish there to this day.
"You are a fine boy," said the gentleman,
"and I'll give you wages."
So Billy was herd.
The next day, his master told him to look
after the house while he went up to the king's
town, to see a great sight. "What will it
be?" said Billy. "The king's daughter is to
be eaten by a fiery dragon," said his master,
"unless the champion fighter they've been feed-
ing for six weeks on purpose kills the dragon."
"Oh," said Billy.
After he was left alone, there were people
passing on horses and afoot, in coaches and
chaises, in carriages and in wheelbarrows, all
going to see the great sight. And all asked
Billy why he was not on his way. But Billy
said he didn't care about going.
When the last passer-by was out of sight,
Billy ran and dressed himself in his master's
best suit of clothes, took the brown mare from
the stable, and was off to the king's town.
When he came there, he saw a big round
place with great high seats built up around it,
and all the people sitting there. Down in the
midst was the champion, walking up and down
proudly, with two men behind him to carry
his heavy sword. And up in the centre of the
seats was the princess, with her maidens; she
was looking very pretty, but nervous.
The fight was about to begin when Billy got
there, and the herald was crying out how the
champion would fight the dragon for the princess's
sake, when suddenly there was heard a
fearsome great roaring, and the people shouted,
"Here he is now, the dragon!"
The dragon had more heads than the biggest
of the giants, and fire and smoke came from
every one of them. And when the champion
saw the creature, he never waited even to take
his sword,--he turned and ran; and he never
stopped till he came to a deep well, where he
jumped in and hid himself, up to the neck.
When the princess saw that her champion
was gone, she began wringing her hands, and
crying, "Oh, please, kind gentlemen, fight the
dragon, some of you, and keep me from being
eaten! Will no one fight the dragon for me?"
But no one stepped up, at all. And the dragon
made to eat the princess.
Just then, out stepped Billy from the crowd,
with his fine suit of clothes and his hide belt
on him. "I'll fight the beast," he says, and
swinging his stick three times round his head,
to give him the strength of a thousand men
besides his own, he walked up to the dragon,
with easy gait. The princess and all the people
were looking, you may be sure, and the dragon
raged at Billy with all his mouths, and they
at it and fought. It was a terrible fight, but
in the end Billy Beg had the dragon down, and
he cut off his heads with the sword.
There was great shouting, then, and crying
that the strange champion must come to the
king to be made prince, and to the princess,
to be seen. But in the midst of the hullabaloo
Billy Begs slips on the brown mare and is off
and away before anyone has seen his face. But,
quick as he was, he was not so quick but that
the princess caught hold of him as he jumped
on his horse, and he got away with one shoe
left in her hand. And home he rode, to his
master's house, and had his old clothes on and
the mare in the stable before his master came
When his master came back, he had a great
tale for Billy, how the princess's champion had
run from the dragon, and a strange knight had
come out of the clouds and killed the dragon,
and before anyone could stop him had
disappeared in the sky. "Wasn't it wonderful?"
said the old gentleman to Billy. "I should say
so," said Billy to him.
Soon there was proclamation made that the
man who killed the dragon was to be found,
and to be made son of the king and husband
of the princess; for that, everyone should come
up to the king's town and try on the shoe which
the princess had pulled from off the foot of the
strange champion, that he whom it fitted should
be known to be the man. On the day set, there
was passing of coaches and chaises, of carriages
and wheelbarrows, people on horseback and
afoot, and Billy's master was the first to go.
While Billy was watching, at last came along
a raggedy man.
"Will you change clothes with me, and I'll
give you boot?" said Billy to him.
"Shame to you to mock a poor raggedy
man!" said the raggedy man to Billy.
"It's no mock," said Billy, and he changed
clothes with the raggedy man, and gave him
When Billy came to the king's town, in his
dreadful old clothes, no one knew him for the
champion at all, and none would let him come
forward to try the shoe. But after all had tried,
Billy spoke up that he wanted to try. They
laughed at him, and pushed him back, with
his rags. But the princess would have it that
he should try. "I like his face," said she; "let
him try, now."
So up stepped Billy, and put on the shoe, and
it fitted him like his own skin.
Then Billy confessed that it was he that
killed the dragon. And that he was a king's
son. And they put a velvet suit on him, and
hung a gold chain round his neck, and everyone
said a finer-looking boy they'd never seen.
So Billy married the princess, and was the
prince of that place.
THE LITTLE HERO OF HAARLEM
 Told from memory of the story told me when a child.
A long way off, across the ocean, there is a
little country where the ground is lower than
the level of the sea, instead of higher, as it is
here. Of course the water would run in and
cover the land and houses, if something were
not done to keep it out. But something is done.
The people build great, thick walls all round
the country, and the walls keep the sea out.
You see how much depends on those walls,--
the good crops, the houses, and even the safety
of the people. Even the small children in that
country know that an accident to one of the
walls is a terrible thing. These walls are really
great banks, as wide as roads, and they are
Once there was a little boy who lived in that
country, whose name was Hans. One day, he
took his little brother out to play. They went
a long way out of the town, and came to where
there were no houses, but ever so many flowers
and green fields. By-and-by, Hans climbed up
on the dike, and sat down; the little brother
was playing about at the foot of the bank.
Suddenly the little brother called out, "Oh,
what a funny little hole! It bubbles!"
"Hole? Where?" said Hans.
"Here in the bank," said the little brother;
"water's in it."
"What!" said Hans, and he slid down as
fast as he could to where his brother was playing.
There was the tiniest little hole in the bank.
Just an air-hole. A drop of water bubbled
"It is a hole in the dike!" cried Hans. "What
shall we do?"
He looked all round; not a person or a house
in sight. He looked at the hole; the little
drops oozed steadily through; he knew that
the water would soon break a great gap,
because that tiny hole gave it a chance. The
town was so far away--if they ran for help it
would be too late; what should he do? Once
more he looked; the hole was larger, now, and
the water was trickling.
Suddenly a thought came to Hans. He stuck
his little forefinger right into the hole, where it
fitted tight; and he said to his little brother,
"Run, Dieting! Go to the town and tell the
men there's a hole in the dike. Tell them I will
keep it stopped till they get here."
The little brother knew by Hans' face that
something very serious was the matter, and he
started for the town, as fast as his legs could
run. Hans, kneeling with his finger in the hole,
watched him grow smaller and smaller as he got
Soon he was as small as a chicken; then he
was only a speck; then he was out of sight.
Hans was alone, his finger tight in the bank.
He could hear the water, slap, slap, slap, on
the stones; and deep down under the slapping
was a gurgling, rumbling sound. It seemed
By-and-by, his hand began to feel numb. He
rubbed it with the other hand; but it got colder
and more numb, colder and more numb, every
minute. He looked to see if the men were
coming; the road was bare as far as he could
see. Then the cold began creeping, creeping,
up his arm; first his wrist, then his arm to the
elbow, then his arm to the shoulder; how cold
it was! And soon it began to ache. Ugly
little cramp-pains streamed up his finger, up
his palm, up his arm, till they reached into his
shoulder, and down the back of his neck. It
seemed hours since the little brother went away.
He felt very lonely, and the hurt in his arm
grew and grew. He watched the road with all
his eyes, but no one came in sight. Then he
leaned his head against the dike, to rest his
As his ear touched the dike, he heard the
voice of the great sea, murmuring. The sound
seemed to say,--
"I am the great sea. No one can stand
against me. What are you, a little child, that
you try to keep me out? Beware! Beware!"
Hans' heart beat in heavy knocks. Would
they never come? He was frightened.
And the water went on beating at the wall,
and murmuring, "I will come through, I will
come through, I will get you, I will get you,
run--run--before I come through!"
Hans started to pull out his finger; he was so
frightened that he felt as if he must run for ever.
But that minute he remembered how much
depended on him; if he pulled out his finger, the
water would surely make the hole bigger, and
at last break down the dike, and the sea would
come in on all the land and houses. He set his
teeth, and stuck his finger tighter than ever.
"You shall NOT come through!" he whispered,
"I will NOT run!"
At that moment, he heard a far-off shout.
Far in the distance he saw a black something on
the road, and dust. The men were coming! At
last, they were coming. They came nearer, fast,
and he could make out his own father, and the
neighbours. They had pickaxes and shovels,
and they were running. And as they ran they
shouted, "We're coming; take heart, we're
The next minute, it seemed, they were there.
And when they saw Hans, with his pale face,
and his hand tight in the dike, they gave a great
cheer,--just as people do for soldiers back from
war; and they lifted him up and rubbed his
aching arm with tender hands, and they told him
that he was a real hero and that he had saved
When the men had mended the dike, they
marched home like an army, and Hans was
carried high on their shoulders, because he was
a hero. And to this day the people of Haarlem
tell the story of how a little boy saved the dike.
THE LAST LESSON
 Adapted from the French of Alphonse Daudet.
Little Franz didn't want to go to school, that
morning. He would much rather have played
truant. The air was so warm and still,--you
could hear the blackbird singing at the edge of
the wood, and the sound of the Prussians drilling,
down in the meadow behind the old sawmill.
He would SO much rather have played truant!
Besides, this was the day for the lesson in the
rule of participles; and the rule of participles in
French is very, very long, and very hard, and it
has more exceptions than rule. Little Franz
did not know it at all. He did not want to go
But, somehow, he went. His legs carried him
reluctantly into the village and along the street.
As he passed the official bulletin-board before
the town hall, he noticed a little crowd round it,
looking at it. That was the place where the
news of lost battles, the requisition for more
troops, the demands for new taxes were posted.
Small as he was, little Franz had seen enough to
make him think, "What NOW, I wonder?" But
he could not stop to see; he was afraid of being
When he came to the school-yard his heart
beat very fast; he was afraid he WAS late, after
all, for the windows were all open, and yet he
heard no noise,--the schoolroom was perfectly
quiet. He had been counting on the noise and
confusion before school,--the slamming of desk
covers, the banging of books, the tapping of the
master's cane and his "A little less noise, please,"
--to let him slip quietly into his seat unnoticed.
But no; he had to open the door and walk up
the long aisle, in the midst of a silent room, with
the master looking straight at him. Oh, how hot
his cheeks felt, and how hard his heart beat!
But to his great surprise the master didn't scold
at all. All he said was, "Come quickly to your
place, my little Franz; we were just going to
begin without you!"
Little Franz could hardly believe his ears;
that wasn't at all the way the master was accustomed
to speak. It was very strange! Somehow--
everything was very strange. The room
looked queer. Everybody was sitting so still, so
straight--as if it were an exhibition day, or
something very particular. And the master--
he looked strange, too; why, he had on his fine
lace jabot and his best coat, that he wore only
on holidays, and his gold snuff-box in his hand.
Certainly it was very odd. Little Franz looked
all round, wondering. And there in the back of
the room was the oddest thing of all. There, on
a bench, sat VISITORS. Visitors! He could not
make it out; people never came except on great
occasions,--examination days and such. And it
was not a holiday. Yet there were the agent,
the old blacksmith, the farmer, sitting quiet and
still. It was very, very strange.
Just then the master stood up and opened
school. He said, "My children, this is the last
time I shall ever teach you. The order has come
from Berlin that henceforth nothing but German
shall be taught in the schools of Alsace and
Lorraine. This is your last lesson in French.
I beg you, be very attentive."
HIS LAST LESSON IN FRENCH! Little Franz could
not believe his ears; his last lesson--ah, THAT
was what was on the bulletin-board! It flashed
across him in an instant. That was it! His
last lesson in French--and he scarcely knew
how to read and write--why, then, he should
never know how! He looked down at his
books, all battered and torn at the corners; and
suddenly his books seemed quite different to
him, they seemed--somehow--like friends. He
looked at the master, and he seemed different,
too,--like a very good friend. Little Franz
began to feel strange himself. Just as he was
thinking about it, he heard his name called, and
he stood up to recite.
It was the rule of participles.
Oh, what wouldn't he have given to be able
to say it of from beginning to end, exceptions
and all, without a blunder! But he could only
stand and hang his head; he did not know a
word of it. Then through the hot pounding in
his ears he heard the master's voice; it was
quite gentle; not at all the scolding voice he
expected. And it said, "I'm not going to punish
you, little Franz. Perhaps you are punished
enough. And you are not alone in your fault.
We all do the same thing,--we all put off our
tasks till to-morrow. And--sometimes--to-
morrow never comes. That is what it has been
with us. We Alsatians have been always putting
off our education till the morrow; and now they
have a right, those people down there, to say to
us, `What! You call yourselves French, and
cannot even read and write the French language?
Learn German, then!'"
And then the master spoke to them of the
French language. He told them how beautiful
it was, how clear and musical and reasonable,
and he said that no people could be hopelessly
conquered so long as it kept its language, for
the language was the key to its prison-house.
And then he said he was going to tell them a
little about that beautiful language, and he
explained the rule of participles.
And do you know, it was just as simple as
A B C! Little Franz understood every word.
It was just the same with the rest of the grammar
lesson. I don't know whether little Franz
listened harder, or whether the master explained
better; but it was all quite clear, and simple.
But as they went on with it, and little Franz
listened and looked, it seemed to him that the
master was trying to put the whole French
language into their heads in that one hour.
It seemed as if he wanted to teach them all he
knew, before he went,--to give them all he had,
--in this last lesson.
From the grammar he went on to the writing
lesson. And for this, quite new copies had
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