Part 7 out of 8
hand the clods of earth opened, and I saw two
small leaves coming forth. But scarcely had I
beheld them, when they joined together and became
a small stem wrapped in bark; and the stem grew
before my eyes,--and it grew thicker and higher
and became covered with branches.
``I marveled, but the Man of God motioned me
to be silent. `Behold,' said he, `new creations
``Then he took water in the palm of his hand,
and sprinkled the branches three times, and, lo!
the branches were covered with green leaves, so
that a cool shade spread above us, and the air
was fined with perfume.
`` `From whence come this perfume and this
shade?' cried I.
`` `Dost thou not see,' he answered, `these
crimson flowers bursting from among the leaves, and
hanging in clusters?'
``I was about to speak, but a gentle breeze
moved the leaves, scattering the petals of the
flowers around us. Scarcely had the falling flowers
reached the ground when I saw ruddy pomegranates
hanging beneath the leaves of the tree,
like almonds on Aaron's rod. Then the Man of
God left me, and I was lost in amazement.''
``Where is he, this Man of God?'' asked Prince
Solomon eagerly. ``What is his name? Is he
``Son of David,'' answered Nathan, ``I have
spoken to thee of a vision.''
When the Prince heard this he was grieved to
the heart. ``How couldst thou deceive me thus?''
But the Prophet replied: ``Behold in thy father's
gardens thou mayest daily see the unfolding
of wonder trees. Doth not this same miracle happen
to the fig, the date, and the pomegranate?
They spring from the earth, they put out branches
and leaves, they flower, they fruit,--not in a
moment, perhaps, but in months and years,--
but canst thou tell the difference betwixt a
minute, a month, or a year in the eyes of Him with
whom one day is as a thousand years, and a
thousand years as one day?''
THE PROUD OAK TREE
 From Deutsches Drittes Lesebuch, by W. H. Weick and C.
Grebner. Copyright, 1886, by Van Antwerp, Bragg & Co.
American Book Company, publishers.
The oak said to the reed that grew by the river:
``It is no wonder that you make such a sorrowful
moaning, for you are so weak that the little wren
is a burden for you, and the lightest breeze must
seem like a storm-wind. Now look at me! No
storm has ever been able to bow my head. You
will be much safer if you grow close to my side so
that I may shelter you from the wind that is now
playing with my leaves.''
``Do not worry about me,'' said the reed; ``I
have less reason to fear the wind than you have.
I bow myself, but I never break. He who laughs
last, laughs best!''
That night there came a fearful hurricane. The
oak stood erect. The reed bowed itself before the
blast. The wind grew more furious, and, uprooting
the proud oak, flung it on the ground.
When the morning came there stood the slender
reed, glittering with dewdrops, and softly
swaying in the breeze.
BAUCIS AND PHILEMON
ADAPTED FROM H. P. MASKEL'S RENDERING
OF THE GREEK MYTH
On the slopes of the Phrygian hills, there once
dwelt a pious old couple named Baucis and
Philemon. They had lived all their lives in a tiny
cottage of wattles, thatched with straw, cheerful and
content in spite of their poverty.
As this worthy couple sat dozing by the fireside
one evening in the late autumn, two strangers
came and begged a shelter for the night. They
had to stoop to enter the humble doorway, where
the old man welcomed them heartily and bade
them rest their weary limbs on the settle before
Meanwhile Baucis stirred the embers, blowing
them into a flame with dry leaves, and heaped on
the fagots to boil the stew-pot. Hanging from the
blackened beams was a rusty side of bacon. Philemon
cut off a rasher to roast, and, while his
guests refreshed themselves with a wash at the
rustic trough, he gathered pot-herbs from his
patch of garden. Then the old woman, her hands
trembling with age, laid the cloth and spread the
It was a frugal meal, but one that hungry
wayfarers could well relish. The first course was an
omelette of curdled milk and eggs, garnished with
radishes and served on rude oaken platters. The
cups of turned beechwood were filled with homemade
wine from an earthen jug. The second
course consisted of dried figs and dates, plums,
sweet-smelling apples, and grapes, with a piece
of clear, white honeycomb. What made the meal
more grateful to the guests was the hearty spirit
in which it was offered. Their hosts gave all they
had without stint or grudging.
But all at once something happened which
startled and amazed Baucis and Philemon. They
poured out wine for their guests, and, lo! each
time the pitcher filled itself again to the brim.
The old couple then knew that their guests were
not mere mortals; indeed, they were no other
than Jupiter and Mercury come down to earth
in the disguise of poor travelers. Being ashamed
of their humble entertainment, Philemon hurried
out and gave chase to his only goose, intending
to kill and roast it. But his guests forbade him,
``In mortal shape we have come down, and at a
hundred houses asked for lodging and rest. For
answer a hundred doors were shut and locked
against us. You alone, the poorest of all, have
received us gladly and given us of your best. Now
it is for us to punish these impious people who
treat strangers so churlishly, but you two shall be
spared. Only leave your cottage and follow us to
So saying, Jupiter and Mercury led the way,
and the two old folks hobbled after them. Presently
they reached the top of the mountain, and
Baucis and Philemon saw all the country round,
with villages and people, sinking into a marsh;
while their own cottage alone was left standing.
And while they gazed, their cottage was
changed into a white temple. The doorway became
a porch with marble columns. The thatch
grew into a roof of golden tiles. The little garden
about their home became a park.
Then Jupiter, regarding Baucis and Philemon
with kindly eyes, said: ``Tell me, O good old man
and you good wife, what may we do in return for
Philemon whispered for a moment with Baucis,
and she nodded her approval. ``We desire,'' he
replied, ``to be your servants, and to have the
care of this temple. One other favor we would
ask. From boyhood I have loved only Baucis,
and she has lived only for me. Let the selfsame
hour take us both away together. Let me never
see the tomb of my wife, nor let her suffer the
misery of mourning my death.''
Jupiter and Mercury, pleased with these
requests, willingly granted both, and endowed
Baucis and Philemon with youth and strength as
well. The gods then vanished from their sight,
but as long as their lives lasted Baucis and
Philemon were the guardians of the white temple that
once had been their home.
And when again old age overtook them, they
were standing one day in front of the sacred
porch, and Baucis, turning her gaze upon her
husband, saw him slowly changing into a gnarled
oak tree. And Philemon, as he felt himself rooted
to the ground, saw Baucis at the same time turning
into a leafy linden.
And as their faces disappeared behind the green
foliage, each cried unto the other, ``Farewell,
dearest love!'' and again, ``Dearest love,
farewell!'' And their human forms were changed to
trees and branches.
And still, if you visit the spot, you may see an
oak and a linden tree with branches intertwined.
THE UNFRUITFUL TREE
BY FRIEDRICH ADOLPH KRUMMACHER
A farmer had a brother in town who was a gardener,
and who possessed a magnificent orchard
full of the finest fruit trees, so that his skill and his
beautiful trees were famous everywhere.
One day the farmer went into town to visit his
brother, and was astonished at the rows of trees
that grew slender and smooth as wax tapers.
``Look, my brother,'' said the gardener; ``I will
give you an apple tree, the best from my garden,
and you, and your children, and your children's
children shall enjoy it.''
Then the gardener called his workmen and
ordered them to take up the tree and carry it to
his brother's farm. They did so, and the next
morning the farmer began to wonder where he
should plant it.
``If I plant it on the hill,'' said he to himself,
``the wind might catch it and shake down the
delicious fruit before it is ripe; if I plant it close to the
road, passers-by will see it and rob me of its luscious
apples; but if I plant it too near the door of
my house, my servants or the children may pick
So, after he had thought the matter over, he
planted the tree behind his barn, saying to himself:
``Prying thieves will not think to look for it
But behold, the tree bore neither fruit nor
blossoms the first year nor the second; then the
farmer sent for his brother the gardener, and
reproached him angrily, saying:--
``You have deceived me, and given me a barren
tree instead of a fruitful one. For, behold, this is
the third year and still it brings forth nothing but
The gardener, when he saw where the tree was
planted, laughed and said:--
``You have planted the tree where it is exposed
to cold winds, and has neither sun nor warmth.
How, then, could you expect flowers and fruit?
You have planted the tree with a greedy and
suspicious heart; how, then, could you expect to
reap a rich and generous harvest?''
THE DRYAD OF THE OLD OAK
BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL (ADAPTED)
In olden times there was a youth named Rhoecus.
One day as he wandered through the wood he saw
an ancient oak tree, trembling and about to fall.
Full of pity for so fair a tree, Rhoecus carefully
propped up its trunk, and as he did so he heard a
soft voice murmur:--
It sounded like the gentle sighing of the wind
through the leaves; and while Rhoecus paused
bewildered to listen, again he heard the murmur
like a soft breeze:--
And there stood before him, in the green glooms
of the shadowy oak, a wonderful maiden.
``Rhoecus,'' said she, in low-toned words, serene
and full, and as clear as drops of dew, ``I am the
Dryad of this tree, and with it I am doomed to
live and die. Thou hadst compassion on my oak,
and in saving it thou hast saved my life. Now,
ask me what thou wilt that I can give, and it
shall be thine.''
``Beauteous nymph,'' answered Rhoecus, with a
flutter at the heart, ``surely nothing will satisfy
the craving of my soul save to be with thee forever.
Give to me thy love!''
``I give it, Rhoecus,'' answered she with sadness
in her voice, ``though it be a perilous gift. An hour
before sunset meet me here.''
And straightway she vanished, and Rhoecus
could see nothing but the green glooms beneath
the shadowy oak. Not a sound came to his straining
ears but the low, trickling rustle of the leaves,
and, from far away on the emerald slope, the
sweet sound of an idle shepherd's pipe.
Filled with wonder and joy Rhoecus turned his
steps homeward. The earth seemed to spring
beneath him as he walked. The clear, broad sky
looked bluer than its wont, and so full of joy was
he that he could scarce believe that he had not
Impatient for the trysting-time, he sought some
companions, and to while away the tedious hours,
he played at dice, and soon forgot all else.
The dice were rattling their merriest, and Rhoecus
had just laughed in triumph at a happy throw,
when through the open window of the room there
hummed a yellow bee. It buzzed about his ears,
and seemed ready to alight upon his head. At this
Rhoecus laughed, and with a rough, impatient
hand he brushed it off and cried:--
``The silly insect! does it take me for a rose?''
But still the bee came back. Three times it
buzzed about his head, and three times he rudely
beat it back. Then straight through the window
flew the wounded bee, while Rhoecus watched its
fight with angry eyes.
And as he looked--O sorrow!--the red disk
of the setting sun descended behind the sharp
mountain peak of Thessaly.
Then instantly the blood sank from his heart, as
if its very walls had caved in, for he remembered
the trysting-hour-now gone by! Without a word
he turned and rushed forth madly through the city
and the gate, over the fields into the wood.
Spent of breath he reached the tree, and,
listening fearfully, he heard once more the low voice
But as he looked he could see nothing but the
deepening glooms beneath the oak.
Then the voice sighed: ``O Rhoecus, nevermore
shalt thou behold me by day or night! Why didst
thou fail to come ere sunset? Why didst thou
scorn my humble messenger, and send it back to
me with bruised wings? We spirits only show ourselves
to gentle eyes! And he who scorns the
smallest thing alive is forever shut away from all
that is beautiful in woods and fields. Farewell!
for thou canst see me no more!''
Then Rhoecus beat his breast and groaned aloud.
``Be pitiful,'' he cried. ``Forgive me yet this
``Alas,'' the voice replied, ``I am not unmerciful!
I can forgive! But I have no skill to heal thy
spirit's eyes, nor can I change the temper of thy
heart.'' And then again she murmured, ``Nevermore!''
And after that Rhoecus heard no other sound,
save the rustling of the oak's crisp leaves, like
surf upon a distant shore.
BY OVID (ADAPTED)
In ancient times, when Apollo, the god of the
shining sun, roamed the earth, he met Cupid, who
with bended bow and drawn string was seeking
human beings to wound with the arrows of love.
``Silly boy,'' said Apollo, ``what dost thou with
the warlike bow? Such burden best befits my
shoulders, for did I not slay the fierce serpent, the
Python, whose baleful breath destroyed all that
came nigh him? Warlike arms are for the mighty,
not for boys like thee! Do thou carry a torch with
which to kindle love in human hearts, but no
longer lay claim to my weapon, the bow!''
But Cupid replied in anger: ``Let thy bow
shoot what it will, Apollo, but my bow shall shoot
THEE!'' And the god of love rose up, and beating
the air with his wings, he drew two magic arrows
from his quiver. One was of shining gold and with
its barbed point could Cupid inflict wounds of
love; the other arrow was of dull silver and its
wound had the power to engender hate.
The silver arrow Cupid fixed in the breast of
Daphne, the daughter of the river-god Peneus;
and forthwith she fled away from the homes of
men, and hunted beasts in the forest.
With the golden arrow Cupid grievously
wounded Apollo, who fleeing to the woods saw
there the Nymph Daphne pursuing the deer; and
straightway the sun-god fell in love with her
beauty. Her golden locks hung down upon her
neck, her eyes were like stars, her form was slender
and graceful and clothed in clinging white.
Swifter than the light wind she flew, and Apollo
``O Nymph! daughter of Peneus,'' he cried,
``stay, I entreat thee! Why dost thou fly as a
lamb from the wolf, as a deer from the lion, or as a
dove with trembling wings Bees from the eagle! I
am no common man! I am no shepherd! Thou
knowest not, rash maid, from whom thou art flying!
The priests of Delphi and Tenedos pay their
service to me. Jupiter is my sire. Mine own
arrow is unerring, but Cupid's aim is truer, for he
has made this wound in my heart! Alas! wretched
me! though I am that great one who discovered
the art of healing, yet this love may not be healed
by my herbs nor my skill!''
But Daphne stopped not at these words, she
flew from him with timid step. The winds fluttered
her garments, the light breezes spread her
flowing locks behind her. Swiftly Apollo drew
near even as the keen greyhound draws near to
the frightened hare he is pursuing. With trembling
limbs Daphne sought the river, the home of
her father, Peneus. Close behind her was Apollo,
the sun-god. She felt his breath on her hair and
his hand on her shoulder. Her strength was spent,
she grew pale, and in faint accents she implored
``O save me, my father, save me from Apollo,
Scarcely had she thus spoken before a heaviness
seized her limbs. Her breast was covered with
bark, her hair grew into green leaves, and her
arms into branches. Her feet, a moment before so
swift, became rooted to the ground. And Daphne
was no longer a Nymph, but a green laurel tree.
When Apollo beheld this change he cried out
and embraced the tree, and kissed its leaves.
``Beautiful Daphne,'' he said, ``since thou cannot
be my bride, yet shalt thou be my tree. Henceforth
my hair, my lyre, and my quiver shall be
adorned with laurel. Thy wreaths shall be given
to conquering chiefs, to winners of fame and joy;
and as my head has never been shorn of its locks,
so shalt thou wear thy green leaves, winter and
Apollo ceased speaking and the laurel bent its
new-made boughs in assent, and its stem seemed
to shake and its leaves gently to murmur.
THE OLD WOMAN WHO BECAME A
BY PHOEBE CARY (ADAPTED)
Afar in the Northland, where the winter days are
so short and the nights so long, and where they
harness the reindeer to sledges, and where the
children look like bear's cubs in their funny, furry
clothes, there, long ago, wandered a good Saint on
the snowy roads.
He came one day to the door of a cottage, and
looking in saw a little old woman making cakes,
and baking them on the hearth.
Now, the good Saint was faint with fasting, and
he asked if she would give him one small cake
wherewith to stay his hunger.
So the little old woman made a VERY SMALL
cake and placed it on the hearth; but as it lay
baking she looked at it and thought: ``That is
a big cake, indeed, quite too big for me to give
Then she kneaded another cake, much smaller,
and laid that on the hearth to cook, but when she
turned it over it looked larger than the first.
So she took a tiny scrap of dough, and rolled it
out, and rolled it out, and baked it as thin as a
wafer; but when it was done it looked so large that
she could not bear to part with it; and she said:
``My cakes are much too big to give away,''--
and she put them on the shelf.
Then the good Saint grew angry, for he was
hungry and faint. ``You are too selfish to have a
human form,'' said he. ``You are too greedy to
deserve food, shelter, and a warm fire. Instead,
henceforth, you shall build as the birds do, and
get your scanty living by picking up nuts and
berries and by boring, boring all the day long, in
the bark of trees.''
Hardly had the good Saint said this when the
little old woman went straight up the chimney,
and came out at the top changed into a red-
headed woodpecker with coal-black feathers.
And now every country boy may see her in the
woods, where she lives in trees boring, boring,
boring for her food.
THE BOY WHO BECAME A ROBIN
AN OJIBBEWAY LEGEND
BY HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT (ADAPTED)
Once upon a time there was an old Indian who
had an only son, whose name was Opeechee. The
boy had come to the age when every Indian lad
makes a long fast, in order to secure a Spirit to be
his guardian for life.
Now, the old man was very proud, and he
wished his son to fast longer than other boys, and
to become a greater warrior than all others. So he
directed him to prepare with solemn ceremonies
for the fast.
After the boy had been in the sweating lodge
and bath several times, his father commanded
him to lie down upon a clean mat, in a little
lodge apart from the rest.
``My son,'' said he, ``endure your hunger like a
man, and at the end of TWELVE DAYS, you shall
receive food and a blessing from my hands.''
The boy carefully did all that his father
commanded, and lay quietly with his face covered,
awaiting the arrival of his guardian Spirit who
was to bring him good or bad dreams.
His father visited him every day, encouraging
him to endure with patience the pangs of hunger
and thirst. He told him of the honor and renown
that would be his if he continued his fast to the
end of the twelve days.
To all this the boy replied not, but lay on his
mat without a murmur of discontent, until the
ninth day; when he said:--
``My father, the dreams tell me of evil. May I
break my fast now, and at a better time make a
``My son,'' replied the old man, ``you know not
what you ask. If you get up now, all your glory
will depart. Wait patiently a little longer. You
have but three days more to fast, then glory and
honor will be yours.''
The boy said nothing more, but, covering
himself closer, he lay until the eleventh day, when he
``My father,'' said he, ``the dreams forebode
evil. May I break my fast now, and at a better
time make a new one?''
``My son,'' replied the old man again, ``you know
not what you ask. Wait patiently a little longer.
You have but one more day to fast. To-morrow I
will myself prepare a meal and bring it to you.''
The boy remained silent, beneath his covering,
and motionless except for the gentle heaving of
Early the next morning his father, overjoyed at
having gained his end, prepared some food. He
took it and hastened to the lodge intending to set
it before his son.
On coming to the door of the lodge what was his
surprise to hear the boy talking to some one. He
lifted the curtain hanging before the doorway,
and looking in saw his son painting his breast with
vermilion. And as the lad laid on the bright color
as far back on his shoulders as he could reach, he
was saying to himself:--
``My father has destroyed my fortune as a
man. He would not listen to my requests. I shall
be happy forever, because I was obedient to my
parent; but he shall suffer. My guardian Spirit
has given me a new form, and now I must go!''
At this his father rushed into the lodge, crying:
``My son! my son! I pray you leave me not!''
But the boy, with the quickness of a bird, flew
to the top of the lodge, and perching upon the
highest pole, was instantly changed into a most
beautiful robin redbreast.
He looked down on his father with pity in his
eyes, and said:--
``Do not sorrow, O my father, I am no longer
your boy, but Opeechee the robin. I shall always
be a friend to men, and live near their dwellings.
I shall ever be happy and content. Every day will
I sing you songs of joy. The mountains and fields
yield me food. My pathway is in the bright air.''
Then Opeechee the robin stretched himself as
if delighting in his new wings, and caroling his
sweetest song, he flew away to the near-by trees.
THE TONGUE-CUT SPARROW
BY A. B. MITFORD (ADAPTED)
Once upon a time there lived a little old man and
a little old woman. The little old man had a kind
heart, and he kept a young sparrow, which he
cared for tenderly. Every morning it used to sing
at the door of his house.
Now, the little old woman was a cross old thing,
and one day when she was going to starch her
linen, the sparrow pecked at her paste. Then she
flew into a great rage and cut the sparrow's tongue
and let the bird fly away.
When the little old man came home from the
hills, where he had been chopping wood, he found
the sparrow gone.
``Where is my little sparrow?'' asked he.
``It pecked at my starching-paste,'' answered
the little old woman, ``so I cut its evil tongue and
let it fly away.''
``Alas! Alas!'' cried the little old man. ``Poor
thing! Poor thing! Poor little tongue-cut sparrow!
Where is your home now?''
And then he wandered far and wide seeking his
pet and crying:--
``Mr. Sparrow, Mr. Sparrow, where are you
And he wandered on and on, over mountain
and valley, and dale and river, until one day at
the foot of a certain mountain he met the lost bird.
The little old man was filled with joy and the
sparrow welcomed him with its sweetest song.
It led the little old man to its nest-house,
introduced him to its wife and small sparrows, and set
before him all sorts of good things to eat and
``Please partake of our humble fare,'' sang the
sparrow; ``poor as it is, you are welcome.''
``What a polite sparrow,'' answered the little
old man, and he stayed for a long time as the
bird's guest. At last one day the little old man
said that he must take his leave and return home.
``Wait a bit,'' said the sparrow.
And it went into the house and brought out
two wicker baskets. One was very heavy and the
``Take the one you wish,'' said the sparrow,
``and good fortune go with you.''
``I am very feeble,'' answered the little old man,
``so I will take the light one.''
He thanked the sparrow, and, shouldering the
basket, said good-bye. Then he trudged off
leaving the sparrow family sad and lonely.
When he reached home the little old woman
was very angry, and began to scold him, saying:--
``Well, and pray where have you been all these
days? A pretty thing, indeed, for you to be
gadding about like this!''
``Oh,'' he replied, ``I have been on a visit to the
tongue-cut sparrow, and when I came away it
gave me this wicker basket as a parting gift.''
Then they opened the basket to see what was
inside, and lo and behold! it was full of gold,
silver, and other precious things!
The little old woman was as greedy as she was
cross, and when she saw all the riches spread
before her, she could not contain herself for joy.
``Ho! Ho!'' cried she. ``Now I'll go and call on
the sparrow, and get a pretty present, too!''
She asked the old man the way to the sparrow's
house and set forth on her journey. And she
wandered on and on over mountain and valley,
and dale and river, until at last she saw the
``Well met, well met, Mr. Sparrow,'' cried she.
``I have been looking forward with much pleasure
to seeing you.'' And then she tried to flatter it
with soft, sweet words.
So the bird had to invite her to its nest-house,
but it did not feast her nor say anything about a
parting gift. At last the little old woman had to
go, and she asked for something to carry with her
to remember the visit by. The sparrow, as before,
brought out two wicker baskets. One was very
heavy and the other light.
The greedy little old woman, choosing the
heavy one, carried it off with her.
She hurried home as fast as she was able, and
closing her doors and windows so that no one
might see, opened the basket. And, lo and behold!
out jumped all sorts of wicked hobgoblins
and imps, and they scratched and pinched her to
As for the little old man he adopted a son, and
his family grew rich and prosperous.
A LEGEND OF THE JATAKA
FROM THE RIVERSIDE FOURTH READER
Ages ago a flock of more than a thousand quails
lived together in a forest in India. They would
have been happy, but that they were in great
dread of their enemy, the quail-catcher. He used
to imitate the call of the quail; and when they
gathered together in answer to it, he would throw
a great net over them, stuff them into his basket,
and carry them away to be sold.
Now, one of the quails was very wise, and he
``Brothers! I've thought of a good plan. In
future, as soon as the fowler throws his net over
us, let each one put his head through a mesh in
the net and then all lift it up together and fly
away with it. When we have flown far enough,
we can let the net drop on a thorn bush and escape
from under it.''
All agreed to the plan; and next day when the
fowler threw his net, the birds all lifted it together
in the very way that the wise quail had
told them, threw it on a thorn bush and escaped.
While the fowler tried to free his net from the
thorns, it grew dark, and he had to go home.
This happened many days, till at last the
fowler's wife grew angry and asked her husband:--
``Why is it that you never catch any more
Then the fowler said: ``The trouble is that all
the birds work together and help one another. If
they would only quarrel, I could catch them fast
A few days later, one of the quails accidentally
trod on the head of one of his brothers, as they
alighted on the feeding-ground.
``Who trod on my head?'' angrily inquired the
quail who was hurt.
``Don't be angry, I didn't mean to tread on
you,'' said the first quail.
But the brother quail went on quarreling.
``I lifted all the weight of the net; you didn't
help at all,'' he cried.
That made the first quail angry, and before long
all were drawn into the dispute. Then the fowler
saw his chance. He imitated the cry of the quail
and cast his net over those who came together.
They were still boasting and quarreling, and they
did not help one another lift the net. So the
hunter lifted the net himself and crammed them
into his basket. But the wise quail gathered his
friends together and flew far away, for he knew
that quarrels are the root of misfortune.
THE MAGPIE'S NEST
BY JOSEPH JACOBS
All the birds of the air came to the magpie and
asked her to teach them how to build nests. For
the magpie is the cleverest bird of all at building
nests. So she put all the birds round her and
began to show them how to do it. First of all she
took some mud and made a sort of round cake
``Oh, that's how it's done!'' said the thrush,
and away it flew; and so that's how thrushes build
Then the magpie took some twigs and arranged
them round in the mud.
``Now I know all about it!'' said the blackbird,
and off it flew; and that's how the blackbirds
make their nests to this very day.
Then the magpie put another layer of mud over
``Oh, that 's quite obvious!'' said the wise owl,
and away it flew; and owls have never made
better nests since.
After this the magpie took some twigs and
twined them round the outside.
``The very thing!'' said the sparrow, and off he
went; so sparrows make rather slovenly nests to
Well, then Madge magpie took some feathers
and stuff, and lined the nest very comfortably
``That suits me!'' cried the starling, and off it
flew; and very comfortable nests have starlings.
So it went on, every bird taking away some
knowledge of how to build nests, but none of them
waiting to the end.
Meanwhile Madge magpie went on working
and working without looking up, till the only bird
that remained was the turtle-dove, and that
hadn't paid any attention all along, but only
kept on saying its silly cry: ``Take two, Taffy,
At last the magpie heard this just as she was
putting a twig across, so she said: ``One's enough.''
But the turtle-dove kept on saying: ``Take
two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o!''
Then the magpie got angry and said: ``One's
enough, I tell you!''
Still the turtle-dove cried: ``Take two, Taffy,
At last, and at last, the magpie looked up and
saw nobody near her but the silly turtle-dove,
and then she got rarely angry and flew away and
refused to tell the birds how to build nests again.
And that is why different birds build their nests
THE GREEDY GEESE
FROM IL LIBRO D'ORO (ADAPTED)
Many years ago there was near the sea a convent
famed for the rich crops of grain that grew on its
farm. On a certain year a large flock of wild geese
descended on its fields and devoured first the
corn, and then the green blades.
The superintendent of the farm hastened to
the convent and called the lady abbess.
``Holy mother,'' said he, ``this year the nuns will
have to fast continually, for there will be no food.''
``Why is that?'' asked the abbess.
``Because,'' answered the superintendent, ``a
flood of wild geese has rained upon the land, and
they have eaten up the corn, nor have they left a
single green blade.''
``Is it possible,'' said the abbess, ``that these
wicked birds have no respect for the property of
the convent! They shall do penance for their
misdeeds. Return at once to the fields, and order
the geese from me to come without delay to the
convent door, so that they may receive just punishment
for their greediness.''
``But, mother,'' said the superintendent, ``this
is not a time for jesting! These are not sheep to
be guided into the fold, but birds with long, strong
wings, to fly away with.''
``Do you understand me!'' answered the abbess.
``Go at once, and bid them come to me
without delay, and render an account of their
The superintendent ran back to the farm, and
found the flock of evildoers still there. He raised
his voice and clapping his hands, cried:--
``Come, come, ye greedy geese! The lady abbess
commands you to hasten to the convent
Wonderful sight! Hardly had he uttered these
words than the geese raised their necks as if to
listen, then, without spreading their wings, they
placed themselves in single file, and in regular
order began to march toward the convent. As
they proceeded they bowed their heads as if confessing
their fault and as though about to receive
Arriving at the convent, they entered the
courtyard in exact order, one behind the other,
and there awaited the coming of the abbess. All
night they stood thus without making a sound, as
if struck dumb by their guilty consciences. But
when morning came, they uttered the most pitiful
cries as though asking pardon and permission to
Then the lady abbess, taking compassion on
the repentant birds, appeared with some nuns
upon a balcony. Long she talked to the geese,
asking them why they had stolen the convent
grain. She threatened them with a long fast, and
then, softening, began to offer them pardon if
they would never again attack her lands, nor eat
her corn. To which the geese bowed their heads
low in assent. Then the abbess gave them her
blessing and permission to depart.
Hardly had she done so when the geese, spreading
their wings, made a joyous circle above the
convent towers, and flew away. Alighting at some
distance they counted their number and found
one missing. For, alas! in the night, when they
had been shut in the courtyard, the convent cook,
seeing how fat they were, had stolen one bird and
had killed, roasted, and eaten it.
When the birds discovered that one of their
number was missing, they again took wing and,
hovering over the convent, they uttered mournful
cries, complaining of the loss of their comrade,
and imploring the abbess to return him to the
Now, when the lady abbess heard these
melancholy pleas, she assembled her household, and
inquired of each member where the bird might be.
The cook, fearing that it might be already known
to her, confessed the theft, and begged for pardon.
``You have been very audacious,'' said the
abbess, ``but at least collect the bones and bring
them to me.''
The cook did as directed, and the abbess at a
word caused the bones to come together and to
assume flesh, and afterwards feathers, and, lo! the
original bird rose up.
The geese, having received their lost companion,
rejoiced loudly, and, beating their wings
gratefully, made many circles over the sacred
cloister, before they flew away. Neither did they
in future ever dare to place a foot on the lands of
the convent, nor to touch one blade of grass.
THE KING OF THE BIRDS
BY THE BROTHERS GRIMM (TRANSLATED)
One day the birds took it into their heads that
they would like a master, and that one of their
number must be chosen king. A meeting of all the
birds was called, and on a beautiful May morning
they assembled from woods and fields and meadows.
The eagle, the robin, the bluebird, the owl,
the lark, the sparrow were all there. The cuckoo
came, and the lapwing, and so did all the other
birds, too numerous to mention. There also came
a very little bird that had no name at all.
There was great confusion and noise. There
was piping, hissing, chattering and clacking, and
finally it was decided that the bird that could fly
the highest should be king.
The signal was given and all the birds flew in a
great flock into the air. There was a loud rustling
and whirring and beating of wings. The air was
full of dust, and it seemed as if a black cloud were
floating over the field.
The little birds soon grew tired and fell back
quickly to earth. The larger ones held out longer,
and flew higher and higher, but the eagle flew
highest of any. He rose, and rose, until he seemed
to be flying straight into the sun.
The other birds gave out and one by one they
fell back to earth; and when the eagle saw this
he thought, ``What is the use of flying any higher?
It is settled: I am king!''
Then the birds below called in one voice:
``Come back, come back! You must be our king!
No one can fly as high as you.''
``Except me!'' cried a shrill, shrill voice, and
the little bird without a name rose from the eagle's
back, where he had lain hidden in the feathers,
and he flew into the air. Higher and higher he
mounted till he was lost to sight, then, folding his
wings together, he sank to earth crying shrilly: ``I
am king! I am king!''
``You, our king!'' the birds cried in anger;
``you have done this by trickery and cunning. We
will not have you to reign over us.''
Then the birds gathered together again and
made another condition, that he should be king
who could go the deepest into the earth.
How the goose wallowed in the sand, and the
duck strove to dig a hole! All the other birds, too,
tried to hide themselves in the ground. The little
bird without a name found a mouse's hole, and
creeping in cried:--
``I am king! I am king!''
``You, our king!'' all the birds cried again,
more angrily than before. ``Do you think that we
would reward your cunning in this way? No, no!
You shall stay in the earth till you die of hunger!''
So they shut up the little bird in the mouse's
hole, and bade the owl watch him carefully night
and day. Then all the birds went home to bed,
for they were very tired; but the owl found it
lonely and wearisome sitting alone staring at the
``I can close one eye and watch with the other,''
he thought. So he closed one eye and stared
steadfastly with the other; but before he knew it
he forgot to keep that one open, and both eyes
were fast asleep.
Then the little bird without a name peeped out,
and when he saw Master Owl's two eyes tight
shut, he slipped from the hole and flew away.
From this time on the owl has not dared to
show himself by day lest the birds should pull him
to pieces. He flies about only at night-time, hating
and pursuing the mouse for having made the
hole into which the little bird crept.
And the little bird also keeps out of sight, for he
fears lest the other birds should punish him for
his cunning. He hides in the hedges, and when he
thinks himself quite safe, he sings out: ``I am
king! I am king!''
And the other birds in mockery call out: ``Yes,
yes, the hedge-king! the hedge-king!''
THE DOVE WHO SPOKE TRUTH
BY ABBIE FARWELL BROWN
The dove and the wrinkled little bat once went on
a journey together. When it came toward night
a storm arose, and the two companions sought
everywhere for a shelter. But all the birds were
sound asleep in their nests and the animals in their
holes and dens. They could find no welcome
anywhere until they came to the hollow tree
where old Master Owl lived, wide awake in the
``Let us knock here,'' said the shrewd bat; ``I
know the old fellow is not asleep. This is his
prowling hour, and but that it is a stormy night
he would be abroad hunting.--What ho, Master
Owl!'' he squeaked, ``will you let in two storm-
tossed travelers for a night's lodging?''
Gruffly the selfish old owl bade them enter, and
grudgingly invited them to share his supper. The
poor dove was so tired that she could scarcely eat,
but the greedy bat's spirits rose as soon as he saw
the viands spread before him. He was a sly fellow,
and immediately began to flatter his host into
good humor. He praised the owl's wisdom and his
courage, his gallantry and his generosity; though
every one knew that however wise old Master Owl
might be, he was neither brave nor gallant. As for
his generosity--both the dove and the bat well
remembered his selfishness toward the poor wren,
when the owl alone of all the birds refused to give
the little fire-bringer a feather to help cover his
scorched and shivering body.
All this flattery pleased the owl. He puffed and
ruffled himself, trying to look as wise, gallant, and
brave as possible. He pressed the bat to help
himself more generously to the viands, which
invitation the sly fellow was not slow to accept.
During this time the dove had not uttered a
word. She sat quite still staring at the bat, and
wondering to hear such insincere speeches of
flattery. Suddenly the owl turned to her.
``As for you, Miss Pink-Eyes,'' he said gruffly,
``you keep careful silence. You are a dull table-
companion. Pray, have you nothing to say for
``Yes,'' exclaimed the mischievous bat; ``have
you no words of praise for our kind host? Methinks
he deserves some return for this wonderfully
generous, agreeable, tasteful, well-appointed,
luxurious, elegant, and altogether acceptable
banquet. What have you to say, O little dove?''
But the dove hung her head, ashamed of her
companion, and said very simply: ``O Master
Owl, I can only thank you with all my heart for
the hospitality and shelter which you have given
me this night. I was beaten by the storm, and
you took me in. I was hungry, and you gave me
your best to eat. I cannot flatter nor make pretty
speeches like the bat. I never learned such
manners. But I thank you.''
``What!'' cried the bat, pretending to be
shocked, ``is that all you have to say to our
obliging host? Is he not the wisest, bravest, most
gallant and generous of gentlemen? Have you no
praise for his noble character as well as for his
goodness to us? I am ashamed of you! You do
not deserve such hospitality. You do not deserve
The dove remained silent. Like Cordelia in the
play she could not speak untruths even for her
``Truly, you are an unamiable guest,'' snarled
the owl, his yellow eyes growing keen and fierce
with anger and mortified pride. ``You are an
ungrateful bird, Miss, and the bat is right. You
do not deserve this generous hospitality which I
have offered, this goodly shelter which you asked.
Away with you! Leave my dwelling! Pack off
into the storm and see whether or not your silence
will soothe the rain and the wind. Be off, I say!''
``Yes, away with her!'' echoed the bat, flapping
his leathery wings.
And the two heartless creatures fell upon the
poor little dove and drove her out into the dark
and stormy night.
Poor little dove! All night she was tossed and
beaten about shelterless in the storm, because she
had been too truthful to flatter the vain old owl.
But when the bright morning dawned, draggled
and weary as she was, she flew to the court of
King Eagle and told him all her trouble. Great
was the indignation of that noble bird.
``For his flattery and his cruelty let the bat
never presume to fly abroad until the sun goes
down,'' he cried. ``As for the owl, I have already
doomed him to this punishment for his treatment
of the wren. But henceforth let no bird have anything
to do with either of them, the bat or the owl.
Let them be outcasts and night-prowlers, enemies
to be attacked and punished if they appear
among us, to be avoided by all in their loneliness.
Flattery and inhospitality, deceit and cruelty,--
what are more hideous than these? Let them
cover themselves in darkness and shun the happy
light of day.
``As for you, little dove, let this be a lesson to
you to shun the company of flatterers, who are
sure to get you into trouble. But you shall
always be loved for your simplicity and truth. And
as a token of our affection your name shall be
used by poets as long as the world shall last to
rhyme with LOVE.''
THE BUSY BLUE JAY
BY OLIVE THORNE MILLER (ADAPTED)
One of the most interesting birds who ever lived
in my Bird Room was a blue jay named Jakie.
He was full of business from morning till night,
scarcely ever a moment still.
Poor little fellow! He had been stolen from the
nest before he could fly, and reared in a house,
long before he was given to me. Of course he
could not be set free, for he did not know how to
take care of himself.
Jays are very active birds, and being shut up in
a room, my blue jay had to find things to do, to
keep himself busy. If he had been allowed to
grow up out of doors, he would have found plenty
to do, planting acorns and nuts, nesting, and
bringing up families.
Sometimes the things he did in the house were
what we call mischief because they annoy us, such
as hammering the woodwork to pieces, tearing
bits out of the leaves of books, working holes
in chair seats, or pounding a cardboard box to
pieces. But how is a poor little bird to know what
Many things which Jakie did were very funny.
For instance, he made it his business to clear up
the room. When he had more food than he could
eat at the moment, he did not leave it around, but
put it away carefully,--not in the garbage pail,
for that was not in the room, but in some safe
nook where it did not offend the eye. Sometimes
it was behind the tray in his cage, or among the
books on the shelf. The places he liked best were
about me,--in the fold of a ruffle or the loop of a
bow on my dress, and sometimes in the side of my
slipper. The very choicest place of all was in my
loosely bound hair. That, of course, I could not
allow, and I had to keep very close watch of him,
for fear I might have a bit of bread or meat thrust
among my locks.
In his clearing up he always went carefully over
the floor, picking up pins, or any little thing he
could find, and I often dropped burnt matches,
buttons, and other small things to give him something
to do. These he would pick up and put
Pins Jakie took lengthwise in his beak, and at
first I thought he had swallowed them, till I saw
him hunt up a proper place to hide them. The
place he chose was between the leaves of a book.
He would push a pin far in out of sight, and then
go after another. A match he always tried to put
in a crack, under the baseboard, between the
breadths of matting, or under my rockers. He
first placed it, and then tried to hammer it in out
of sight. He could seldom get it in far enough to
suit him, and this worried him. Then he would
take it out and try another place.
Once the blue jay found a good match, of the
parlor match variety. He put it between the
breadths of matting, and then began to pound on
it as usual. Pretty soon he hit the unburnt end
and it went off with a loud crack, as parlor
matches do. Poor Jakie jumped two feet into the
air, nearly frightened out of his wits; and I was
frightened, too, for I feared he might set the
house on fire.
Often when I got up from my chair a shower of
the bird's playthings would fall from his various
hiding-places about my dress,--nails, matches,
shoe-buttons, bread-crumbs, and other things.
Then he had to begin his work all over again.
Jakie liked a small ball or a marble. His game
was to give it a hard peck and see it roll. If it
rolled away from him, he ran after it and pecked
again; but sometimes it rolled toward him, and
then he bounded into the air as if he thought it
would bite. And what was funny, he was always
offended at this conduct of the ball, and went off
sulky for a while.
He was a timid little fellow. Wind or storm
outside the windows made him wild. He would
fly around the room, squawking at the top of his
voice; and the horrible tin horns the boys liked to
blow at Thanksgiving and Christmas drove him
Once I brought a Christmas tree into the room
to please the birds, and all were delighted with it
except my poor little blue jay, who was much
afraid of it. Think of the sadness of a bird being
afraid of a tree!
Jakie had decided opinions about people who
came into the room to see me, or to see the birds.
At some persons he would squawk every moment.
Others he saluted with a queer cry like ``Ob-ble!
ob-ble! ob-ble!'' Once when a lady came in with a
baby, he fixed his eyes on that infant with a savage
look as if he would like to peck it, and jumped
back and forth in his cage, panting but perfectly
Jakie was very devoted to me. He always
greeted me with a low, sweet chatter, with wings
quivering, and, if he were out of the cage, he
would come on the back of my chair and touch
my cheek or lips very gently with his beak, or
offer me a bit of food if he had any; and to me
alone when no one else was near, he sang a low,
exquisite song. I afterwards heard a similar song
sung by a wild blue jay to his mate while she was
sitting, and so I knew that my dear little captive
had given me his sweetest--his love-song.
One of Jakie's amusements was dancing across
the back of a tall chair, taking funny little steps,
coming down hard, ``jouncing'' his body, and
whistling as loud as he could. He would keep up
this funny performance as long as anybody would
stand before him and pretend to dance too.
My jay was fond of a sensation. One of his
dearest bits of fun was to drive the birds into a
panic. This he did by flying furiously around the
room, feathers rustling, and squawking as loud as
he could. He usually managed to fly just over the
head of each bird, and as he came like a catapult,
every one flew before him, so that in a minute the
room was full of birds flying madly about, trying
to get out of his way. This gave him great
Once a grasshopper got into the Bird Room,
probably brought in clinging to some one's dress
in the way grasshoppers do. Jakie was in his cage,
but he noticed the stranger instantly, and I
opened the door for him. He went at once to look
at the grasshopper, and when it hopped he was so
startled that he hopped too. Then he picked the
insect up, but he did not know what to do with it,
so he dropped it again. Again the grasshopper
jumped directly up, and again the jay did the
same. This they did over and over, till every one
was tired laughing at them. It looked as if they
were trying to see who could jump the highest.
There was another bird in the room, however,
who knew what grasshoppers were good for. He
was an orchard oriole, and after looking on awhile,
he came down and carried off the hopper to eat.
The jay did not like to lose his plaything; he ran
after the thief, and stood on the floor giving low
cries and looking on while the oriole on a chair
was eating the dead grasshopper. When the oriole
happened to drop it, Jakie,--who had got a new
idea what to do with grasshoppers,--snatched it
up and carried it under a chair and finished it.
I could tell many more stories about my bird,
but I have told them before in one of my ``grown-up''
books, so I will not repeat them here.
BABES IN THE WOODS
BY JOHN BURROUGHS
One day in early May, Ted and I made an expedition
to the Shattega, a still, dark, deep stream
that loiters silently through the woods not far
from my cabin. As we paddled along, we were on
the alert for any bit of wild life of bird or beast
that might turn up.
There were so many abandoned woodpecker
chambers in the small dead trees as we went along
that I determined to secure the section of a tree
containing a good one to take home and put up
for the bluebirds. ``Why don't the bluebirds occupy
them here?'' inquired Ted. ``Oh,'' I replied,
``blue birds do not come so far into the woods as
this. They prefer nesting-places in the open, and
near human habitations.'' After carefully scrutinizing
several of the trees, we at last saw one that
seemed to fill the bill. It was a small dead tree-
trunk seven or eight inches in diameter, that
leaned out over the water, and from which the top
had been broken. The hole, round and firm, was
ten or twelve feet above us. After considerable
effort I succeeded in breaking the stub off near
the ground, and brought it down into the boat.
``Just the thing,'' I said; ``surely the bluebirds
will prefer this to an artificial box.'' But, lo and
behold, it already had bluebirds in it! We had not
heard a sound or seen a feather till the trunk was
in our hands, when, on peering into the cavity, we
discovered two young bluebirds about half grown.
This was a predicament indeed!
Well, the only thing we could do was to stand
the tree-trunk up again as well as we could, and
as near as we could to where it had stood before.
This was no easy thing. But after a time we had
it fairly well replaced, one end standing in the
mud of the shallow water and the other resting
against a tree. This left the hole to the nest about
ten feet below and to one side of its former position.
Just then we heard the voice of one of the
parent birds, and we quickly paddled to the other
side of the stream, fifty feet away, to watch her
proceedings, saying to each other, ``Too bad! too
bad!'' The mother bird had a large beetle in her
beak. She alighted upon a limb a few feet above
the former site of her nest, looked down upon us,
uttered a note or two, and then dropped down
confidently to the point in the vacant air where
the entrance to her nest had been but a few
moments before. Here she hovered on the wing a
second or two, looking for something that was not
there, and then returned to the perch she had just
left, apparently not a little disturbed. She hammered
the beetle rather excitedly upon the limb
a few times, as if it were in some way at fault,
then dropped down to try for her nest again.
Only vacant air there! She hovers and hovers,
her blue wings flickering in the checkered light;
surely that precious hole MUST be there; but no,
again she is baffled, and again she returns to her
perch, and mauls the poor beetle till it must be
reduced to a pulp. Then she makes a third
attempt, then a fourth, and a fifth, and a sixth,
till she becomes very much excited. ``What could
have happened? Am I dreaming? Has that beetle
hoodooed me?'' she seems to say, and in her dismay
she lets the bug drop, and looks bewilderedly
about her. Then she flies away through the
woods, calling. ``Going for her mate,'' I said to
Ted. ``She is in deep trouble, and she wants
sympathy and help.''
In a few minutes we heard her mate answer,
and presently the two birds came hurrying to the
spot, both with loaded beaks. They perched upon
the familiar limb above the site of the nest, and
the mate seemed to say, ``My dear, what has
happened to you? I can find that nest.'' And he
dived down, and brought up in the empty air just
as the mother had done. How he winnowed it
with his eager wings! How he seemed to bear on
to that blank space! His mate sat regarding him
intently, confident, I think, that he would find
the clue. But he did not. Baffled and excited, he
returned to the perch beside her. Then she tried
again, then he rushed down once more, then they
both assaulted the place, but it would not give up
its secret. They talked, they encouraged each
other, and they kept up the search, now one, now
the other, now both together. Sometimes they
dropped down to within a few feet of the entrance
to the nest, and we thought they would surely
find it. No, their minds and eyes were intent only
upon that square foot of space where the nest had
been. Soon they withdrew to a large limb many
feet higher up, and seemed to say to themselves,
``Well, it is not there, but it must be here
somewhere; let us look about.'' A few minutes elapsed,
when we saw the mother bird spring from her
perch and go straight as an arrow to the nest. Her
maternal eye had proved the quicker. She had
found her young. Something like reason and
common sense had come to her rescue; she had
taken time to look about, and behold! there was
that precious doorway. She thrust her head into
it, then sent back a call to her mate, then went
farther in, then withdrew. ``Yes, it is true, they
are here, they are here!'' Then she went in again,
gave them the food in her beak, and then gave
place to her mate, who, after similar demonstrations
of joy, also gave them his morsel.
Ted and I breathed freer. A burden had been
taken from our minds and hearts, and we went
cheerfully on our way. We had learned something,
too; we had learned that when in the deep
woods you think of bluebirds, bluebirds may be
nearer you than you think.
THE PRIDE OF THE REGIMENT
BY HARRY M. KIEFFER (ADAPTED)
``Old Abe'' was the war-eagle of the Eighth
Wisconsin Volunteers. Whoever it may have
been that first conceived the idea, it was certainly
a happy thought to make a pet of an eagle. For
the eagle is our national bird, and to carry an
eagle along with the colors of a regiment on the
march, and in battle, and all through the whole
war, was surely very appropriate, indeed.
``Old Abe's'' perch was on a shield, which was
carried by a soldier, to whom, and to whom alone,
he looked as to a master. He would not allow any
one to carry or even to handle him, except this
soldier, nor would he ever receive his food from
any other person's hands. He seemed to have
sense enough to know that he was sometimes a
burden to his master on the march, however, and,
as if to relieve him, would occasionally spread his
wings and soar aloft to a great height, the men of
all regiments along the line of march cheering him
as he went up.
He regularly received his rations from the
commissary, like any enlisted man. Whenever
fresh meat was scarce, and none could be found
for him by foraging parties, he would take things
into his own claws, as it were, and go out on a
foraging expedition himself. On some such
occasions he would be gone two or three days at a
time, during which nothing whatever was seen of
him; but he would invariably return, and seldom
would come back without a young lamb or a
chicken in his talons. His long absences occasioned
his regiment not the slightest concern, for the men
knew that, though he might fly many miles away
in quest of food, he would be quite sure to find
In what way he distinguished the two hostile
armies so accurately that he was never once
known to mistake the gray for the blue, no one
can tell. But so it was, that he was never known
to alight save in his own camp, and amongst his
At Jackson, Mississippi, during the hottest part
of the battle before that city, ``Old Abe'' soared
up into the air, and remained there from early
morning until the fight closed at night, no doubt
greatly enjoying his bird's-eye view of the battle.
He did the same at Mission Ridge. He was, I
believe, struck by Confederate bullets two or
three times, but his feathers were so thick that
his body was not much hurt. The shield on which
he was carried, however, showed so many marks
of Confederate balls that it looked on top as if a
groove plane had been run over it.
At the Centenial celebration held in
Philadelphia, in 1876, ``Old Abe'' occupied a prominent
place on his perch on the west side of the nave
in the Agricultural Building. He was evidently
growing old, and was the observed of all
observers. Thousands of visitors, from all sections
of the country, paid their respects to the grand
old bird, who, apparently conscious of the honors
conferred upon him, overlooked the sale of his
biography and photographs going on beneath his
perch with entire satisfaction.
As was but just and right, the soldier who had
carried him during the war continued to have
charge of him after the war was over, until the
day of his death, which occurred at the capital of
Wisconsin, in 1881.
THE MOTHER MURRE
BY DALLAS LORE SHARP
One of the most striking cases of mother-love
which has ever come under my observation, I saw
in the summer of 1912 on the bird rookeries of
the Three-Arch Rocks Reservation off the coast
We were making our slow way toward the top
of the outer rock. Through rookery after rookery
of birds, we climbed until we reached the edge of
the summit. Scrambling over this edge, we found
ourselves in the midst of a great colony of nesting
murres--hundreds of them--covering this steep
rocky part of the top.
As our heads appeared above the rim, many of
the colony took wing and whirred over us out to
sea, but most of them sat close, each bird upon its
egg or over its chick, loath to leave, and so expose
to us the hidden treasure.
The top of the rock was somewhat cone-shaped,
and in order to reach the peak and the colonies on
the west side we had to make our way through
this rookery of the murres. The first step among
them, and the whole colony was gone, with a rush
of wings and feet that sent several of the top-
shaped eggs rolling, and several of the young birds
toppling over the cliff to the pounding waves and
ledges far below.
We stopped, but the colony, almost to a bird,
had bolted, leaving scores of eggs, and scores of
downy young squealing and running together for
shelter, like so many beetles under a lifted board.
But the birds had not every one bolted, for here
sat two of the colony among the broken rocks.
These two had not been frightened off. That both
of them were greatly alarmed, any one could see
from their open beaks, their rolling eyes, their
tense bodies on tiptoe for flight. Yet here they
sat, their wings out like props, or more like gripping
hands, as if they were trying to hold themselves
down to the rocks against their wild desire
And so they were, in truth, for under their
extended wings I saw little black feet moving.
Those two mother murres were not going to
forsake their babies! No, not even for these
approaching monsters, such as they had never
before seen, clambering over their rocks.
What was different about these two? They had
their young ones to protect. Yes, but so had
every bird in the great colony its young one, or its
egg, to protect, yet all the others had gone. Did
these two have more mother-love than the
others? And hence, more courage, more intelligence?
We took another step toward them, and one of
the two birds sprang into the air, knocking her
baby over and over with the stroke of her wing,
and coming within an inch of hurling it across the
rim to be battered on the ledges below. The other
bird raised her wings to follow, then clapped them
back over her baby. Fear is the most contagious
thing in the world; and that flap of fear by the
other bird thrilled her, too, but as she had
withstood the stampede of the colony, so she caught
herself again and held on.
She was now alone on the bare top of the rock,
with ten thousand circling birds screaming to her
in the air above, and with two men creeping up to
her with a big black camera that clicked ominously.
She let the multitude scream, and with
threatening beak watched the two men come on.
A motherless baby, spying her, ran down the rock
squealing for his life. She spread a wing, put her
bill behind him and shoved him quickly in out of
sight with her own baby. The man with the
camera saw the act, for I heard his machine click,
and I heard him say something under his breath
that you would hardly expect a mere man and a
game-warden to say. But most men have a good
deal of the mother in them; and the old bird
had acted with such decision, such courage, such
swift, compelling instinct, that any man, short
of the wildest savage, would have felt his heart
quicken at the sight.
``Just how compelling might that mother-
instinct be?'' I wondered. ``Just how much
would that mother-love stand?'' I had dropped
to my knees, and on all fours had crept up within
about three feet of the bird. She still had chance
for flight. Would she allow me to crawl any
nearer? Slowly, very slowly, I stretched forward
on my hands, like a measuring-worm, until my
body lay flat on the rocks, and my fingers were
within three INCHES of her. But her wings were
twitching, a wild light danced in her eyes, and her
head turned toward the sea.
For a whole minute I did not stir. I was
watching--and the wings again began to tighten about
the babies, the wild light in the eyes died down,
the long, sharp beak turned once more toward me.
Then slowly, very slowly, I raised my hand,
touched her feathers with the tip of one finger--
with two fingers--with my whole hand, while
the loud camera click-clacked, click-clacked
hardly four feet away!
It was a thrilling moment. I was not killing
anything. I had no long-range rifle in my hands,
coming up against the wind toward an unsuspecting
creature hundreds of yards away. This was no
wounded leopard charging me; no mother-bear
defending with her giant might a captured cub. It
was only a mother-bird, the size of a wild duck,
with swift wings at her command, hiding under
those wings her own and another's young, and
her own boundless fear!
For the second time in my life I had taken
captive with my bare hands a free wild bird. No,
I had not taken her captive. She had made herself
a captive; she had taken herself in the strong net
of her mother-love.
And now her terror seemed quite gone. At the
first touch of my hand I think she felt the love
restraining it, and without fear or fret she let me
reach under her and pull out the babies. But she
reached after them with her bill to tuck them
back out of sight, and when I did not let them go,
she sidled toward me, quacking softly, a language
that I perfectly understood, and was quick to
respond to. I gave them back, fuzzy and black
and white. She got them under her, stood up over
them, pushed her wings down hard around them,
her stout tail down hard behind them, and
together with them pushed in an abandoned egg
that was close at hand. Her own baby, some one
else's baby, and some one else's forsaken egg! She
could cover no more; she had not feathers enough.
But she had heart enough; and into her mother's
heart she had already tucked every motherless
egg and nestling of the thousands of frightened
birds, screaming and wheeling in the air high over
FOR STORY-TELLING AND COLLATERAL
FOR STORY-TELLING AND COLLATERAL
(The grades assigned are merely suggestive, as some of the stories
may be used in higher or lower grades than here indicated.)
NEW YEAR'S DAY
For grades 1-4.
An All-the-Year-Round Story, in Poulsson, In the Child's
World; Peter the Stone-Cutter, in Macdonell, Italian
Fairy Book; The Forest Full of Friends, in Alden, Why the
For grades 5-8.
A Chinese New Year's in California, in Our Holidays
Retold from St. Nicholas; A New Year's Talk, in Stevenson,
Days and Deeds (prose); Story of the Year, in Andersen,
Stories and Tales; The Animals' New Year's Eve, in Lagerlof,
Further Adventures of Nils.
For grades 1-4.
A Westfield Incident, in Moores, Abraham Lincoln, page
87; Lincoln and the Little Horse, in Werner's Readings, no.
46; Lincoln and the Pig, in Gross, Lincoln's Own Stories;
Lincoln and the Small Dog, in Moores, Aoraham Lincoln,
For grades 5-6.
A Backwoods Boyhood, in Moores, Abraham Lincoln;
Choosing Abe Lincoln Captain, in Schauffler, Lincoln's
Birthday; Following the Surveyor's Chain, in Baldwin,
Abraham Lincoln; His Good Memory of Names, in Gallaher,
Best Lincoln Stories; Lincoln and the Doorkeeper, in Gross,
Lincoln's Own Stories, page 78, Lincoln and the Unjust Client,
in Moores, Abraham Lincoln, page 46; Lincoln's Kindness to
a Disabled Soldier, in Gallaher, Best Lincoln Stories; The
Clary's Grove Boys, in Noah Brooks, Abraham Lincoln page
51; The Snow Boys, in Noah Brooks, Abraham Lincoln page
For grades 7-8.
Counsel Assigned, Andrews; He Knew lincoln, Tarbell;
Lincoln and the Sleeping Senhnel, Chittenden; Lincoln
Remembered Him, in Gallaher, Best Lincoln Stories; Lincoln's
Springfield Farewell, in Moores, Abraham lincoln, page 82;
Perfect Tribute, Andrews.
SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY
For grades 1-4.
A Sunday Valentine, in White, When Molly was Six;
Beauty and the Beast, in Lang, Blue Fairy Book, East of the
Sun and West of the Moon, in Lang, Blue Fairy Book; The
Fair One With Golden Locks, in Scudder, Children's Book;
The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, in Scudder, Children's
Book; The Valentine (poem), in Brown, Fresh Posies.
For grades 5-6.
Gracieuse and Percinet, in D'Aulnoy, Fairy Tales; Jorinda
and Joringel, in Grimm, German Household Tales; The Day-
Dream, Tennyson (poem), in Story-Telling Poems; The
Singing, Soaring Lark, in Grimm, German Household Tales
William and the Werewolf, in Darton, Wonder Book of Old
For grades 7-8.
As You Like It, Shakespeare; Brunhild, in Baldwin, Story
of Siegfried; Floris and Blanchefleur, in Darton, Wonder
Book of Old Romance; Palamon and Arcita, in Darton, Tales
of the Canterbury Pilgrims; The Fair Maid of Perth, Scott,
chapters 2-6; The Singing Leaves, Lowell (poem); The
For grades 1-4.
Little George Washington, and Great George Washington,
in Wiggin and Smith, Story Hour; The Virginia Boy, in
Wilson, Nature Study, Second Reader.
For grades 54.
A Christmas Surprise, in Tappan, American Hero Stories
Dolly Madison, in Tappan, American Hero Stories; Going
to Sea, in Scudder, George Washinyton, page 33; How George
Washington was Made Commander-in-Chief, in Tomlinson,
War for Independence; The Home of Washington, and
The Appearance of the Enemy, in Madison, Peggy Owen at
Yorktown; Young Washington in the Woods, in Eggleston,
Strange Stories from History.
For grades 7-8.
Anecdotes and Stories, in Schauffler, Washington's Birthday;
He Resigns his Commission, in Lodge, George Washington,
vol. I, page 338; The British at Mount Vernon, in Lodge,
George Washington, vol. I, page 295; The Young Surveyor,
in Scudder, George Washington; Washington Offered the
Supreme Power, in Lodge, George Washington, vol. I, page 328;
Washington's Farewell to His Officers, in Lodge, George
Washington, vol. I, page 387.
RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)
For grades 1-4.
Easter Eggs, von Schmid; The Boy Who Discovered the
Spring, in Alden, Why the Chimes Rang; Herr Oster Hase,
in Bailey and Lewis, For the Children's Hour; The Legend
of Easter Eggs, O'Brien (poem), in Story-Telling Poems; The
Rabbit's Ransom, Vawter; The White Hare, in Stevenson,
Days and Deeds (prose).
For grades 5-8.
Easter, Gilder (poem); The General's Easter Box, in Our
Holidays Retold from St. Nicholas; The Trinity Flower,
Ewing; What Easter is, in Stevenson, Days and Deeds (prose).
For grades 1-4.
A Story of the Springtime, in Kupfer, Legends of Greeee
and Rome; How the Water Lily Came, in Judd, Wigwam
Stories; The Brook in the King's Garden, in Alden, Why the
Chimes Rang; The Legend of the Dandelion, in Bailey and
Lewis, For the Children's Hour; The Lilac Bush, in Riverside
Fourth Reader; The Maple Leaf and the Violet, in
Wiggin and Smith, Story Flour; The Story of the Anemone
in Coe, First Book of Stories for the Story-Teller; The Story
of the First Butterflies, in Holbrook, Book of Nature Myths;
The Story of the First Snowdrops, in Holbrook, Book of Nature
Myths; The Story of the Rainbow, in Coe, First Book
of Stories for the Story-Teller; Two Little Seeds, in MacDonald,
David Elginbrod, chapter, ``The Cave in the Straw;
``Why the Morning-Glory Climbs, in Bryant, How to Tell
Stories to Children.