By Abbie Farwell Brown
THE STAR JEWELS AND OTHER WONDERS. Illustrated. Square 12mo, $1.00.
THE FLOWER PRINCESS. Illustrated. Sq. 12mo, $1.00.
THE CURIOUS BOOK OF BIRDS. Illustrated. Square 12mo, $1.10, net. Postpaid, $1.21.
A POCKETFUL OF POSIES. Illustrated. 12mo, $1.00, net. Postpaid, $1.09.
IN THE DAYS OF GIANTS. Illustrated. 12mo, $1.10, net. Postpaid, $1.21. School edition, 50 cents, net, postpaid.
THE BOOK OF SAINTS AND FRIENDLY BEASTS. Illustrated, 12mo, $1.25.
THE LONESOMEST DOLL. Illustrated. Sq. 12mo, 85 cents, net. Postpaid, 95 cents.
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO. BOSTON AND NEW YORK
THE BOOK OF SAINTS AND FRIENDLY BEASTS
THE BOOK OF SAINTS AND FRIENDLY BEASTS BY ABBIE FARWELL BROWN. ILLUSTRATED BY FANNY Y. CORY
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND CO. BOSTON AND NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT 1900 BY ABBIE FARWELL BROWN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
IN LOVING MEMORY OF A FRIENDLY BEAST
BROTHER, HAST THOU NEVER LEARNED IN HOLY WRIT, THAT WITH HIM WHO HAS LED HIS LIFE AFTER GOD'S WILL THE WILD BEASTS AND WILD BIRDS ARE TAME?
SAINT GUTHLAC OF CROWLAND
IN the old legends there may be things which some folk nowadays find it hard to believe. But surely the theme of each is true. It is not hard to see how gentle bodies who had no other friends should make comrades of the little folk in fur and fins and feathers. For, as St. Francis knew so well, all the creatures are our little brothers, ready to meet halfway those who will but try to understand. And this is a truth which every one to-day, even tho' he be no Saint, is waking up to learn. The happenings are set down quite as they read in the old books. Veritable histories, like those of St. Francis and St. Cuthbert, ask no addition of color to make them real. But sometimes, when a mere line of legend remained to hint of some dear Saint's relation with his friendly Beast, the story has been filled out in the way that seemed most likely to be true. For so alone could the old tale be made alive again. So all one's best is dressing old words new.
PAGE Saint Bridget and the King's Wolf 1
Saint Gerasimus and the Lion 11
Saint Keneth of the Gulls 30
Saint Launomar's Cow 42
Saint Werburgh and her Goose 53
The Ballad of Saint Athracta's Stags 69
Saint Kentigern and the Robin 77
Saint Blaise and his Beasts 88
Saint Cuthbert's Peace 95
The Ballad of Saint Felix 108
Saint Fronto's Camels 114
The Blind Singer, Saint Herve 126
Saint Comgall and the Mice 148
The Wonders of Saint Berach 156
Saint Prisca, the Child Martyr 166
The Fish who helped Saint Gudwall 176
The Ballad of Saint Giles and the Deer 183
The Wolf-Mother of Saint Ailbe 190
Saint Rigobert's Dinner 199
Saint Francis of Assisi 211
A Calendar of Saints' Days 226
The legend of Saint Fronto's Camels originally appeared in The Churchman.
THE BOOK OF SAINTS AND FRIENDLY BEASTS
SAINT BRIDGET AND THE KING'S WOLF
EVERY one has heard of Bridget, the little girl saint of Ireland. Her name is almost as well known as that of Saint Patrick, who drove all the snakes from the Island. Saint Bridget had long golden hair; and she was very beautiful. Many wonderful things happened to her that are written in famous books. But I suspect that you never heard what she did about the King's Wolf. It is a queer story.
This is how it happened. The King of Ireland had a tame wolf which some hunters had caught for him when it was a wee baby. And this wolf ran around as it pleased in the King's park near the palace, and had a very good time. But one morning he got over the high wall which surrounded the park, and strayed a long distance from home, which was a foolish thing to do. For in those days wild wolves were hated and feared by the people, whose cattle they often stole; and if a man could kill a wicked wolf he thought himself a very smart fellow indeed. Moreover, the King himself had offered a prize to any man who should bring him a dead wolf. For he wanted his kingdom to be a peaceful, happy one, where the children could play in the woods all day without fear of big eyes or big teeth.
Of course you can guess what happened to the King's wolf? A big, silly country fellow was going along with his bow and arrows, when he saw a great brown beast leap over a hedge and dash into the meadow beyond. It was only the King's wolf running away from home and feeling very frisky because it was the first time that he had done such a thing. But the country fellow did not know all that.
"Aha!" he said to himself. "I'll soon have you, my fine wolf; and the King will give me a gold piece that will buy me a hat and a new suit of clothes for the holidays." And without stopping to think about it or to look closely at the wolf, who had the King's mark upon his ear, the fellow shot his arrow straight as a string. The King's wolf gave one great leap into the air and then fell dead on the grass, poor fellow.
The countryman was much pleased. He dragged his prize straight up to the King's palace and thumped on the gate.
"Open!" he cried. "Open to the valiant hunter who has shot a wolf for the King. Open, that I may go in to receive the reward."
So, very respectfully, they bade him enter; and the Lord Chamberlain escorted him before the King himself, who sat on a great red-velvet throne in the Hall. In came the fellow, dragging after him by the tail the limp body of the King's wolf.
"What have we here?" growled the King, as the Lord Chamberlain made a low bow and pointed with his staff to the stranger. The King had a bad temper and did not like to receive callers in the morning. But the silly countryman was too vain of his great deed to notice the King's disagreeable frown.
"You have here a wolf, Sire," he said proudly. "I have shot for you a wolf, and I come to claim the promised reward."
But at this unlucky moment the King started up with an angry cry. He had noticed his mark on the wolf's right ear.
"Ho! Seize the villain!" he shouted to his soldiers. "He has slain my tame wolf; he has shot my pet! Away with him to prison; and to-morrow he dies."
It was useless for the poor man to scream and cry and try to explain that it was all a mistake. The King was furious. His wolf was killed, and the murderer must die.
In those days this was the way kings punished men who displeased them in any way. There were no delays; things happened very quickly. So they dragged the poor fellow off to a dark, damp dungeon and left him there howling and tearing his hair, wishing that wolves had never been saved from the flood by Noah and his Ark.
Now not far from this place little Saint Bridget lived. When she chose the beautiful spot for her home there were no houses near, only a great oak-tree, under which she built her little hut. It had but one room and the roof was covered with grass and straw. It seemed almost like a doll's playhouse, it was so small; and Bridget herself was like a big, golden-haired wax doll,—the prettiest doll you ever saw.
She was so beautiful and so good that people wanted to live near her, where they could see her sweet face often and hear her voice. When they found where she had built her cell, men came flocking from all the country round about with their wives and children and their household goods, their cows and pigs and chickens; and camping on the green grass under the great oak-tree they said, "We will live here, too, where Saint Bridget is."
So house after house was built, and a village grew up about her little cell; and for a name it had Kildare, which in Irish means "Cell of the Oak." Soon Kildare became so fashionable that even the King must have a palace and a park there. And it was in this park that the King's wolf had been killed.
Now Bridget knew the man who had shot the wolf, and when she heard into what terrible trouble he had fallen she was very sorry, for she was a kind-hearted little girl. She knew he was a silly fellow to shoot the tame wolf; but still it was all a mistake, and she thought he ought not to be punished so severely. She wished that she could do something to help him, to save him if possible. But this seemed difficult, for she knew what a bad temper the King had; and she also knew how proud he had been of that wolf, who was the only tame one in all the land.
Bridget called for her coachman with her chariot and pair of white horses, and started for the King's palace, wondering what she should do to satisfy the King and make him release the man who had meant to do no harm.
But lo and behold! as the horses galloped along over the Irish bogs of peat, Saint Bridget saw a great white shape racing towards her. At first she thought it was a dog. But no: no dog was as large as that. She soon saw that it was a wolf, with big eyes and with a red tongue lolling out of his mouth. At last he overtook the frightened horses, and with a flying leap came plump into the chariot where Bridget sat, and crouched at her feet, quietly as a dog would. He was no tame wolf, but a wild one, who had never before felt a human being's hand upon him. Yet he let Bridget pat and stroke him, and say nice things into his great ear. And he kept perfectly still by her side until the chariot rumbled up to the gate of the palace.
Then Bridget held out her hand and called to him; and the great white beast followed her quietly through the gate and up the stair and down the long hall, until they stood before the red-velvet throne, where the King sat looking stern and sulky.
They must have been a strange-looking pair, the little maiden in her green gown with her golden hair falling like a shower down to her knees; and the huge white wolf standing up almost as tall as she, his yellow eyes glaring fiercely about, and his red tongue panting. Bridget laid her hand gently on the beast's head which was close to her shoulder, and bowed to the King. The King only sat and stared, he was so surprised at the sight; but Bridget took that as a permission to speak.
"You have lost your tame wolf, O King," she said. "But I have brought you a better. There is no other tame wolf in all the land, now yours is dead. But look at this one! There is no white wolf to be found anywhere, and he is both tame and white. I have tamed him, my King. I, a little maiden, have tamed him so that he is gentle as you see. Look, I can pull his big ears and he will not snarl. Look, I can put my little hand into his great red mouth, and he will not bite. Sire, I give him to you. Spare me then the life of the poor, silly man who unwittingly killed your beast. Give his stupid life to me in exchange for this dear, amiable wolf," and she smiled pleadingly.
The King sat staring first at the great white beast, wonderfully pleased with the look of him, then at the beautiful maiden whose blue eyes looked so wistfully at him. And he was wonderfully pleased with the look of them, too. Then he bade her tell him the whole story, how she had come by the creature, and when, and where. Now when she had finished he first whistled in surprise, then he laughed. That was a good sign,—he was wonderfully pleased with Saint Bridget's story, also. It was so strange a thing for the King to laugh in the morning that the Chamberlain nearly fainted from surprise; and Bridget felt sure that she had won her prayer. Never had the King been seen in such a good humor. For he was a vain man, and it pleased him mightily to think of owning all for himself this huge beast, whose like was not in all the land, and whose story was so marvelous.
And when Bridget looked at him so beseechingly, he could not refuse those sweet blue eyes the request which they made, for fear of seeing them fill with tears. So, as Bridget begged, he pardoned the countryman, and gave his life to Bridget, ordering his soldiers to set him free from prison. Then when she had thanked the King very sweetly, she bade the wolf lie down beside the red-velvet throne, and thenceforth be faithful and kind to his new master. And with one last pat upon his shaggy head, she left the wolf and hurried out to take away the silly countryman in her chariot, before the King should have time to change his mind.
The man was very happy and grateful. But she gave him a stern lecture on the way home, advising him not to be so hasty and so wasty next time.
"Sirrah Stupid," she said as she set him down by his cottage gate, "better not kill at all than take the lives of poor tame creatures. I have saved your life this once, but next time you will have to suffer. Remember, it is better that two wicked wolves escape than that one kind beast be killed. We cannot afford to lose our friendly beasts, Master Stupid. We can better afford to lose a blundering fellow like you." And she drove away to her cell under the oak, leaving the silly man to think over what she had said, and to feel much ashamed.
But the King's new wolf lived happily ever after in the palace park; and Bridget came often to see him, so that he had no time to grow homesick or lonesome.
SAINT GERASIMUS AND THE LION
ONE fine morning Saint Gerasimus was walking briskly along the bank of the River Jordan. By his side plodded a little donkey bearing on his back an earthen jar; for they had been down to the river together to get water, and were taking it back to the monastery on the hill for the monks to drink at their noonday meal.
Gerasimus was singing merrily, touching the stupid little donkey now and then with a twig of olive leaves to keep him from going to sleep. This was in the far East, in the Holy Land, so the sky was very blue and the ground smelled hot. Birds were singing around them in the trees and overhead, all kinds of strange and beautiful birds. But suddenly Gerasimus heard a sound unlike any bird he had ever known; a sound which was not a bird's song at all, unless some newly invented kind had a bass voice which ended in a howl. The little donkey stopped suddenly, and bracing his fore legs and cocking forward his long, flappy ears, looked afraid and foolish. Gerasimus stopped too. But he was so wise a man that he could not look foolish. And he was too good a man to be afraid of anything. Still, he was a little surprised.
"Dear me," he said aloud, "how very strange that sounded. What do you suppose it was?" Now there was no one else anywhere near, so he must have been talking to himself. For he could never have expected that donkey to know anything about it. But the donkey thought he was being spoken to, so he wagged his head, and said, "He-haw!" which was a very silly answer indeed, and did not help Gerasimus at all.
He seized the donkey by the halter and waited to see what would happen. He peered up and down and around and about, but there was nothing to be seen except the shining river, the yellow sand, a clump of bushes beside the road, and the spire of the monastery peeping over the top of the hill beyond. He was about to start the donkey once more on his climb towards home, when that sound came again; and this time he noticed that it was a sad sound, a sort of whining growl ending in a sob. It sounded nearer than before, and seemed to come from the clump of bushes. Gerasimus and the donkey turned their heads quickly in that direction, and the donkey trembled all over, he was so frightened. But his master only said, "It must be a Lion!"
And sure enough: he had hardly spoken the word when out of the bushes came poking the great head and yellow eyes of a lion. He was looking straight at Gerasimus. Then, giving that cry again, he bounded out and strode towards the good man, who was holding the donkey tight to keep him from running away. He was the biggest kind of a lion, much bigger than the donkey, and his mane was long and thick, and his tail had a yellow brush on the end as large as a window mop. But as he came Gerasimus noticed that he limped as if he were lame. At once the Saint was filled with pity, for he could not bear to see any creature suffer. And without any thought of fear, he went forward to meet the lion. Instead of pouncing upon him fiercely, or snarling, or making ready to eat him up, the lion crouched whining at his feet.
"Poor fellow," said Gerasimus, "what hurts you and makes you lame, brother Lion?"
The lion shook his yellow mane and roared. But his eyes were not fierce; they were only full of pain as they looked up into those of Gerasimus asking for help. And then he held up his right fore paw and shook it to show that this was where the trouble lay. Gerasimus looked at him kindly.
"Lie down, sir," he said just as one would speak to a big yellow dog. And obediently the lion charged. Then the good man bent over him, and taking the great paw in his hand examined it carefully. In the soft cushion of the paw a long pointed thorn was piercing so deeply that he could hardly find the end. No wonder the poor lion had roared with pain! Gerasimus pulled out the thorn as gently as he could, and though it must have hurt the lion badly he did not make a sound, but lay still as he had been told. And when the thorn was taken out the lion licked Gerasimus' hand, and looked up in his face as if he would say, "Thank you, kind man. I shall not forget."
Now when the Saint had finished this good deed he went back to his donkey and started on towards the monastery. But hearing the soft pad of steps behind him he turned and saw that the great yellow lion was following close at his heels. At first he was somewhat embarrassed, for he did not know how the other monks would receive this big stranger. But it did not seem polite or kind to drive him away, especially as he was still somewhat lame. So Gerasimus took up his switch of olive leaves and drove the donkey on without a word, thinking that perhaps the lion would grow tired and drop behind. But when he glanced over his shoulder he still saw the yellow head close at his elbow; and sometimes he felt the hot, rough tongue licking his hand that hung at his side.
So they climbed the hill to the monastery. Some one had seen Gerasimus coming with this strange attendant at his heels, and the windows and doors were crowded with monks, their mouths and eyes wide open with astonishment, peering over one another's shoulders. From every corner of the monastery they had run to see the sight; but they were all on tiptoe to run back again twice as quickly if the lion should roar or lash his tail. Now although Gerasimus knew that the house was full of staring eyes expecting every minute to see him eaten up, he did not hurry or worry at all. Leisurely he unloaded the water-jar and put the donkey in his stable, the lion following him everywhere he went. When all was finished he turned to bid the beast good-by. But instead of taking the hint and departing as he was expected to, the lion crouched at Gerasimus' feet and licked his sandals; and then he looked up in the Saint's face and pawed at his coarse gown pleadingly, as if he said, "Good man, I love you because you took the thorn out of my foot. Let me stay with you always to be your watch-dog." And Gerasimus understood.
"Well, if you wish to stay I am willing, so long as you are good," he said, and the lion leaped up and roared with joy so loudly that all the monks who were watching tumbled over one another and ran away to their cells in a terrible fright, locking the doors behind them.
Gerasimus carried the water-jar into the empty kitchen, and the lion followed. After sniffing about the place to get acquainted, just as a kitten does in its new home, the lion lay down in front of the fire and curled his head up on his paws, like the great big cat he was. And so after a long sigh he went to sleep. Then Gerasimus had a chance to tell the other monks all about it. At first they were timid and would not hear of keeping such a dangerous pet. But when they had all tiptoed down to the kitchen behind Gerasimus and had seen the big kitten asleep there so peacefully they were not quite so much afraid.
"I'll tell you what we will do," said the Abbot. "If Brother Gerasimus can make his friend eat porridge and herbs like the rest of us we will let him join our number. He might be very useful,—as well as ornamental,—in keeping away burglars and mice. But we cannot have any flesh-eating creature among us. Some of us are too fat and tempting, I fear," and he glanced at several of the roundest monks, who shuddered in their tight gowns. But the Abbot himself was the fattest of them all, and he spoke with feeling.
So it was decided. Gerasimus let the lion sleep a good long nap, to put him in a fine humor. But when it came time for supper he mixed a bowl of porridge and milk and filled a big wooden platter with boiled greens. Then taking one dish in each hand he went up to the lion and set them in front of his nose.
"Leo, Leo, Leo!" he called coaxingly, just as a little girl would call "Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!" to her pet. The lion lifted up his head and purred, like a small furnace, for he recognized his friend's voice. But when he smelled the dishes of food he sniffed and made a horrid face, wrinkling up his nose and saying "Ugh!" He did not like the stuff at all. But Gerasimus patted him on the head and said, "You had better eat it, Leo; it is all I have myself. Share and share alike, brother."
The lion looked at him earnestly, and then dipped his nose into the porridge with a grunt. He ate it all, and found it not so very bad. So next he tried the greens. They were a poor dessert, he thought; but since he saw that Gerasimus wanted him to eat them he finished the dish, and then lay down on the hearth feeling very tired.
Gerasimus was delighted, for he had grown fond of the lion and wanted to keep him. So he hurried back to the dining hall and showed the empty dishes to the Abbot. That settled the lion's fate. Thenceforth he became a member of the monastery. He ate with the other monks in the great hall, having his own private trencher and bowl beside Gerasimus. And he grew to like the mild fare of the good brothers,—at least he never sought for anything different. He slept outside the door of his master's cell and guarded the monastery like a faithful watch-dog. The monks grew fond of him and petted him so that he lived a happy life on the hill, with never a wish to go back to the desert with its thorns.
WHEREVER Gerasimus went the lion went also. Best of all, Leo enjoyed their daily duty of drawing water from the river. For that meant a long walk in the open air, and a frolic on the bank of the Jordan. One day they had gone as usual, Gerasimus, the lion, and the stupid donkey who was carrying the filled jar on his back. They were jogging comfortably home, when a poor man came running out of a tiny hut near the river, who begged Gerasimus to come with him and try to cure his sick baby. Of course the good man willingly agreed; this was one of the errands which he loved best to do.
"Stay, brother," he commanded Leo, who wanted to go with him, "stay and watch the foolish donkey." And he went with the man, feeling sure that the lion would be faithful. Now Leo meant to do his duty, but it was a hot and sleepy day, and he was very tired. He lay down beside the donkey and kept one eye upon him, closing the other one just for a minute. But this is a dangerous thing to do. Before he knew it, the other eye began to wink; and the next moment Leo was sound asleep, snoring with his head on his paws. Then it was that the silly donkey began to grow restless. He saw a patch of grass just beyond that looked tempting, and he moved over to it. Then he saw a greener spot beyond that, and then another still farther beyond that, till he had taken his silly self a long way off. And just then there came along on his way from Dan to Beersheba, a thief of a Camel Driver, with a band of horses and asses. He saw the donkey grazing there with no one near, and he said to himself,—
"Aha! A fine little donkey. I will add him to my caravan and no one will be the wiser." And seizing Silly by the halter, he first cut away the water-jar, and then rode off with him as fast as he could gallop.
Now the sound of pattering feet wakened Leo. He jumped up with a roar just in time to see the Camel Driver's face as he glanced back from the top of the next hill. Leo ran wildly about sniffing for the donkey; but when he found that he had really disappeared, he knew the Camel Driver must have stolen him. He was terribly angry. He stood by the water-jar and roared and lashed his tail, gnashing his jaws as he remembered the thief's wicked face.
Now in the midst of his rage out came Gerasimus. He found Leo roaring and foaming at the mouth, his red-rimmed eyes looking very fierce. And the donkey was gone—only the water-jar lay spilling on the ground. Then Gerasimus made a great mistake. He thought that poor Leo had grown tired of being a vegetarian, of living upon porridge and greens, and had tried fresh donkey-meat for a change.
"Oh, you wicked lion!" he cried, "you have eaten poor Silly. What shall I do to punish you?" Then Leo roared louder than ever with shame and sorrow. But he could not speak to tell how it had happened. The Saint was very sad. Tears stood in his kind eyes. "You will have to be donkey now," he said; "you will have to do his part of the work since he is now a part of you. Come, stand up and let me fasten the water-jar upon your back." He spoke sternly and even switched Leo with his olive stick. Leo had never been treated like this. He was the King of Beasts, and it was shame for a King to do donkey's work. His eyes flashed, and he had half a mind to refuse and to run away. Then he looked at the good man and remembered how he had taken out that cruel thorn. So he hung his head and stood still to be harnessed in the donkey's place.
Slowly and painfully Leo carried the water-jar up the hill. But worse than all it was to feel that his dear master was angry with him. Gerasimus told the story to the other monks, and they were even more angry than he had been, for they did not love Leo so well. They all agreed that Leo must be punished; so they treated him exactly as if he were a mean, silly donkey. They gave him only oats and water to eat, and made him do all Silly's work. They would no longer let him sleep outside his master's door, but they tied him in a lonesome stall in the stable. And now he could not go to walk with Gerasimus free and happy as the King of Beasts should be. For he went only in harness, with never a kind word from his master's lips.
It was a sad time for Leo. He was growing thinner and thinner. His mane was rough and tangled because he had no heart to keep it smooth. And there were several white hairs in his beautiful whiskers. He was fast becoming melancholy; and the most pitiful beast in all the world is a melancholy lion. He had been hoping that something would happen to show that it was all a mistake; but it seemed as though the world was against him, and truth was dead.
It was a sad time for Gerasimus, too; for he still loved Leo, though he knew the lion must be punished for the dreadful deed which he was believed to have done. One day he had to go some distance to a neighboring town to buy provisions. As usual, he took Leo with him to bring back the burden, but they did not speak all the way. Gerasimus had done the errands which he had come to do, and was fastening the baskets on each side of the lion's back. A group of children were standing around watching the queer sight,—a lion burdened like a donkey! And they laughed and pointed their fingers at him, making fun of poor Leo.
But suddenly the lion growled and began to lash his tail, quivering like a cat ready to spring on a mouse. The children screamed and ran away, thinking that he was angry with them for teasing him. But it was not that. A train of camels was passing at the moment, and Leo had seen at their head a mean, wicked face which he remembered. And as the last of the caravan went by, Leo caught sight of Silly himself, the missing donkey of the monastery. At the sound of Leo's growl, Silly pricked up his ears and stood on his fore legs, which is not a graceful position for a donkey. Then the Camel Driver came running up to see what was the matter with his stolen donkey. But when he came face to face with Leo, whose yellow eyes were glaring terribly, the thief trembled and turned pale. For he remembered the dreadful roar which had followed him that day as he galloped away across the sand holding Silly's halter. The poor donkey was quivering with fear, thinking that this time he was surely going to be eaten piecemeal. But after all this trouble on Silly's account, the very idea of tasting donkey made Leo sick. He only wanted to show Gerasimus what a mistake had been made.
All this time Gerasimus had been wondering what the lion's strange behavior meant. But when he saw Leo seize the donkey's bridle, he began to suspect the truth. He ran up and examined the donkey carefully. Then Leo looked up in his face and growled softly, as if to say:—
"Here is your old donkey, safe and sound. You see I didn't eat him after all. That is the real thief," and turning to the Camel Driver, he showed his teeth and looked so fierce that the man hid behind a camel, crying, "Take away the lion! Kill the wicked lion!" But Gerasimus seized Silly by the bridle.
"This is my beast," he said, "and I shall lead him home with me. You stole him, Thief, and my noble lion has found you out," and he laid his hand tenderly on Leo's head.
"He is mine, you shall not have him!" cried the Camel Driver, dodging out from behind the camel, and trying to drag the donkey away from Gerasimus. But with a dreadful roar, Leo sprang upon him, and with his great paw knocked him down and sat upon his stomach.
"Do not hurt him, Leo," said Gerasimus gently. But to the Camel Driver he was very stern. "Look out, Sir Thief," he said, "how you steal again the donkey of an honest man. Even the yellow beasts of the desert know better than that, and will make you ashamed. Be thankful that you escape so easily."
Then he took the baskets from Leo's back and bound them upon Silly, who was glad to receive them once more from his own master's hands. For the Camel Driver had been cruel to him and had often beaten him. So he resolved never again to stray away as he had done that unlucky time. And when they were all ready to start, Gerasimus called Leo, and he got up from the chest of the Camel Driver, where he had been sitting all this time, washing his face with his paws and smiling.
"My poor old Leo!" said Gerasimus, with tears in his eyes, "I have made you suffer cruelly for a crime of which you were not guilty. But I will make it up to you."
Then happily the three set out for home, and all the way Gerasimus kept his arm about the neck of his lion, who was wild with joy because he and his dear master were friends once more, and the dreadful mistake was discovered.
They had a joyful reception at the monastery on the hill. Of course every one was glad to see poor Silly again; but best of all it was to know that their dear old lion was not a wicked murderer. They petted him and gave him so many good things to eat that he almost burst with fatness. They made him a soft bed, and all the monks took turns in scratching his chin for ten minutes at a time, which was what Leo loved better than anything else in the world.
And so he dwelt happily with the good monks, one of the most honored brothers of the monastery. Always together he and Gerasimus lived and slept and ate and took their walks. And at last after many, many years, they grew old together, and very tired and sleepy. So one night Gerasimus, who had become an Abbot, the head of the monastery, lay gently down to rest, and never woke up in the morning. But the great lion loved him so that when they laid Saint Gerasimus to sleep under a beautiful plane-tree in the garden, Leo lay down upon the mound moaning and grieving, and would not move. So his faithful heart broke that day, and he, too, slept forever by his dear master's side.
But this was not a sad thing that happened. For think how dreadful the days would have been for Leo without Gerasimus. And think how sad a life Gerasimus would have spent if Leo had left him first. Oh, no; it was not sad, but very, very beautiful that the dear Saint and his friendly beast could be happy together all the day, and when the long night came they could sleep together side by side in the garden.
SAINT KENETH OF THE GULLS
ONCE upon a time, more than a thousand years ago, a great white sea-gull was circling above the waves which roll between South England and Wales. He was pretending that he was doing this just for fun; and he seemed very lazy and dozy as he poised and floated without much trouble to move his wings. But really he was looking for a dinner, though he did not want any one to suspect it. And he hoped that some unwary fish would swim up near the surface of the water within diving reach of his great claws. His keen gray eyes were open all the while unsleepily, and not much that was going on down below on the water escaped his notice.
Suddenly his eye caught sight of a little black speck on the waves. "Aha!" he said to himself, "I think I see my dinner!" and with a great swoop down he pounced. You could hardly think how anything which looked so lazy and quiet could dart so like a flash of lightning. But a gull is an air-ship that can sink whenever it chooses. And when he gives a fish a sudden invitation to step in for dinner, the fish is hardly able to refuse.
But this was no fish which the hungry gull had spied. Before he reached the water he saw his mistake, and wheeling swiftly as only a gull can, he flapped back again into the air, uttering a screech of surprise.
"Cree-e-e!" he cried. "'Tis no scaly water-fish such as I like to eat. 'Tis one of those smooth land-fishes with yellow seaweed growing on its head. What is it doing here? I must see to this. Cree-e-e!"
No wonder the great bird circled and swooped curiously over the wicker basket which was floating on the waves. For on a piece of purple cloth lay a tiny pink-and-white baby, sound asleep, his yellow hair curling about the dimpled face, and one thumb thrust into the round red mouth.
"Well, well!" said the sea-gull to himself when he had examined the strange floating thing all he wished. "I must go and tell the others about this. Something must be done. There is a storm brewing, and this boat will not bear much rough weather. This little land-fish cannot swim. We must take care of him. Cree-e-e!" So off he flapped, and as he went he gave the family cry to call the gulls about him, wherever they might be.
Soon they came, circling carelessly, swooping sulkily, floating happily, darting eagerly, according to their various dispositions; and as they came they gave the Gull cry. "Cree-e-e!" said they, "what is the matter?" "Follow me," said the White Gull to the great fleet of gray-winged air-ships. "Follow me, and you shall see" (which is Gull poetry).
Then he led the flock over the spot where the wicker cradle tossed on the growing waves. "Lo," said he, "a land-fish in danger of being drowned among the Scaly Ones. Let us save it. See how pink it is. Its eyes are a piece of the sky, and its voice is not unlike ours—listen!"
For by this time the baby had wakened, and feeling cold and hungry and wet with the dashing spray, opened his pink mouth, and began to cry lustily. "E-e-e-e-e!" wailed the baby; and as the White Gull had said, that sounds very like the chief word of the Gull tongue.
"Poor little thing!" said all the mother gulls in chorus. "He talks our language, he must be saved. Come, brothers and sisters, and use your beaks and talons before the clumsy nest in which he lies is sunk beneath the waves. Cree-e-e, little one, cree-e-e! We will save you."
Now, I don't know what cree-e-e means in Gull. But the baby must have understood. For he stopped crying instantly, and looked up laughing at the white wings which fanned his face and the kind gray eyes which peered into his own blue ones.
So the strong gulls seized the corners of the purple cloth on which the baby lay, some with their claws, some with their hooked beaks. And at a signal from the White Gull they fluttered up and away, bearing the baby over the waves as if he were in a little hammock. The White Gull flew on before and guided them to land,—a high shelf which hung over the sea roaring on the rocks below, the nicest kind of a gull home. And here they laid the baby down, and sat about wondering what they must do next. But the baby cried.
"We must build him a nest," said the White Gull. "These rocks are too hard and too sharp for a little land-fish. I know how they sleep in their home nests, for I have seen."
Now the gulls lay their eggs on the bare rocks, and think these quite soft enough for the young gull babies. But they all agreed that this would never do for the little stranger. So they pulled the downy feathers from their breasts till they had a great pile; and of this they made the softest bed in which they laid the baby. And he slept.
This is how little Saint Keneth was saved from the waves by the kind sea-gulls. And it goes to show that birds are sometimes kinder than human folk. For Keneth was the Welsh Prince's little son. But no one loved him, and his cruel mother had put him into the wicker basket and set him afloat on the waves, not caring what became of him nor hoping to see him again. But this in after years she did, when Keneth was become a great and famous Saint whom all, even the Prince and Princess, honored. She did not know him then because she believed that he was dead. How proud she would have been if she could have called him "Son!" But that was many years later.
Now when the gulls had made Keneth this comfortable nest, they next wondered what they should do to get him food. But the White Gull had an idea. He flew away over the land and was gone for some time. When at last he returned he had with him a kind forest doe,—a yellow mother Deer who had left her little ones, at the White Gull's request, to come and feed the stranger baby. So Keneth found a new mother who loved him far better than his own had done,—a new mother who came every morning and every night and fed him with her milk. And he grew strong and fat and hearty, the happy baby in his nest upon the rocks, where his friends, the sea-gulls, watched over him, and the mother Deer fed and cared for him, and washed him clean with her warm crash-towel tongue.
Now when Keneth had lived in the sea-gulls' home for some months, one day the flock of guardian gulls left him while they went upon a fishing trip. The mother Deer had not yet come with his breakfast, but was at home with her own little ones, so that for the first time Keneth was quite alone. He did not know this, but was sleeping peacefully on his purple quilt, when a strange face came peering over the edge of the rocks. It was a Shepherd from the nearest village who had clambered up to seek gulls' eggs for his breakfast. But his eyes bulged out of his head, and he nearly fell over backward into the sea with surprise when he saw Keneth lying in his nest of feathers.
"The Saints preserve us!" he cried, "what is this?" But when he had climbed nearer and saw what it really was, he was delighted with the treasure which he had found. "A beautiful little baby!" he exclaimed. "I will take him home to my wife, who has no child of her own." And forthwith he took up Keneth, wrapped in the purple cloth, and started down over the rocks towards his home.
But Keneth wakened at the stranger's touch and began to wail. He had no mind to go with the Shepherd; he wanted to stay where he was. So as they went he screamed at the top of his lungs, hoping some of his friends would come. And the mother Deer, who was on her way thither, heard his voice. She came running in a fright, but she could do nothing to protect him, being a gentle, weaponless creature. However, she followed anxiously to see what would happen to her darling. So they went down the rocks, Keneth and the Shepherd, with the Deer close behind. And all the way Keneth shrieked loudly, "E-e-e-e!"
Now at last a messenger breeze carried the baby voice out over the water of the Bristol Channel where the gulls were fishing.
"What is that?" they said, stopping their work to listen. "Is it not our little land-fish calling us in Gull? He is in trouble or danger. Brothers, to the rescue! Cre-e-e-e!"
So the flock of gulls left their fishing and swooped back to the rock where they had left the baby. Dreadful! The nest was empty. They flapped their wide wings and screamed with fear, "What shall we do?"
But just then up the rocky hill came panting the mother Deer. Her glossy hide was warm and wet, and her tongue lolled out with weariness, she had run so fast.
"He is down there," she panted. "The Shepherd has carried him to his hut and laid him in a nest such as human-folk make. The Shepherd's wife loves him and would keep him there, but he is unhappy and cries for us. You must bring him back."
"We will, we will!" screamed the gulls in chorus. "Guide us to the place, mother Deer." And without another word they rose on their great, strong wings, and followed where she led. Back down the hill she took the path, over the moor and up the lane to a little white cottage under the rosebushes. "Here is the place," said the Deer, and she paused.
But the flock of gulls with a great whirring and rustling and screaming swooped in at the little low door, straight up to the cradle where Keneth lay crying "E-e-e-e!" as if his heart would break.
The Shepherd's wife was sitting by the cradle saying, "Hush!" and "Bye-lo!" and other silly things that Keneth did not understand. But when she heard the rushing of the gulls' wings, she gave a scream and started for the door.
"Cree-e-e!" cried the gulls fiercely. "Give us our little one." And they perched on the edge of the cradle and looked tenderly at Keneth. Then he stopped his crying and began to laugh, for these were the voices he knew and loved. And in another minute the gulls had fastened their beaks and claws into the purple cloth, and once more bore him away as they had done when they saved him from the sea.
Out of the door they flew, right over the Shepherd's astonished head, while his wife stared wildly at the empty cradle. And soon Keneth was lying in his own nest on the ledge above the roaring billows.
After this no one tried again to bring the gulls' adopted baby back among human folk. Little Keneth tarried and thrived with his feathered brothers, growing fat and strong. When he came to walk he was somewhat lame, to be sure; one of his legs was shorter than the other, and he limped like a poor gull who has hurt his foot. But this troubled Keneth very little, and the gulls were kind. He was always happy and contented, full of singing and laughter and kind words for all.
And here in his wild, spray-sprinkled nest above the Atlantic breakers, Keneth dwelt all his life. The Welsh peasants of the Gower peninsula revered him as their Saint, knowing him to be a holy man beloved by the gulls and the deer and all the wild creatures of shore and forest, who did their kindly best to make him happy.
SAINT LAUNOMAR'S COW
SAINT LAUNOMAR had once been a shepherd boy in the meadows of sunny France, and had lived among the gentle creatures of the fold and byre. So he understood them and their ways very well, and they knew him for their friend. For this is a secret which one cannot keep from the animals whose speech is silent.
Saint Launomar had a cow of whom he was fond, a sleek black and white beauty, who pastured in the green meadows of Chartres near the monastery and came home every evening to be milked and to rub her soft nose against her master's hand, telling him how much she loved him. Mignon was a very wise cow; you could tell that by the curve of her horns and by the wrinkles in her forehead between the eyes; and especially by the way she switched her tail. And indeed, a cow ought to be wise who has been brought up by a whole monastery of learned men, with Launomar, the wisest person in all the country, for her master and friend.
It was a dark night after milking time; Launomar had put Mignon in her stall with a supper of hay before her, and had bade her good-night and a pleasant cud-time. Then he had shut the heavy barn door and had gone back to his cell to sleep soundly till morning.
But no sooner had his lantern disappeared through the gate of the monastery, than out of the forest came five black figures, creeping, creeping along the wall and across the yard and up to the great oak door. They were all muffled in long black cloaks, and wore their caps pulled down over their faces, as if they were afraid of being recognized. They were wicked-looking men, and they had big knives stuck in their belts quite convenient to their hands. It was a band of robbers; and they had come to steal Launomar's cow, who was known to be the handsomest in all that part of the world.
Very softly they forced open the great door, and very softly they stole across the floor to Mignon's stall and threw a strong halter about her neck to lead her away. But first they were careful to tie up her mouth in a piece of cloth so that she could not low and tell the whole monastery what danger she was in. Mignon was angry, for that was just what she had meant to do as soon as she saw that these were no friends, but wicked men who had come for no good to her or to the monastery.
But now she had to go with them dumbly, although she struggled and kicked and made all the noise she could. But the monks were already sound asleep and snoring on their hard pallets, and never suspected what was going on so near to them. Even Launomar, who turned over in his sleep and murmured, "Ho, Mignon, stand still!" when he dimly recognized a sound of kicking,—even Launomar did not waken to rescue his dear Mignon from the hands of those villains who were taking her away.
The robbers led her hurriedly down the lane, across the familiar meadows and into the dense woods, where they could hide from any one who happened to pass by. Now it was dark and they could see but dimly where they were going. The paths crossed and crisscrossed in so many directions that they soon began to quarrel about which was the right one to take. They did not know this part of the country very well, for they were strangers from a different province, who had come to Launomar's home because they had heard of his famous cow and were bound to have her for themselves.
Very soon the robbers were lost in the tangle of trees and bushes and did not know where they were, or in which direction they ought to go. One said, "Go that way," pointing towards the north. And one said, "No, no! Go that way," pointing directly south. The third grumbled and said, "Ho, fellows! Not so, but this way," and he strode towards the east. While the fourth man cried, "You are all wrong, comrades. It is there we must go," and he started to lead Mignon towards the west. But the fifth robber confessed that indeed he did not know.
"Let us follow the cow," he cried; "she is the only one who can see in the dark. I have always heard that animals will lead you aright if you leave the matter to them." Now as the other robbers really did not have the least idea in the world as to which was the right direction, this seemed to them as sensible a plan as any. So they stripped the halter from Mignon's head and said, "Hi, there! Get along, Cow, and show us the way."
Mignon looked at them through the dark with her big brown eyes, and laughed inside. It seemed too good to be true! They had left her free, and were bidding her to guide them on their way out of the forest back to their own country. Mignon chuckled again, so loudly that they thought she must be choking, and hastily untied the cloth from her mouth. This was just what she wanted, for she longed to chew her cud again. She tossed her head and gave a gentle "Moo!" as if to say, "Come on, simple men, and I will show you the way." But really she was thinking to herself, "Aha! my fine fellows. Now I will lead you a pretty chase. And you shall be repaid for this night's work, aha!"
Mignon was a very wise cow. She had not pastured in the meadows about Chartres with blind eyes. She knew the paths north and south and east and west through the forest and the fern; and even in the dark of the tangled underbrush she could feel out the way quite plainly. But she said to herself, "I must not make the way too easy for these wicked men. I must punish them all I can now that it is my turn."
So she led them roundabout and roundabout, through mud and brambles and swamps; over little brooks and through big miry ponds where they were nearly drowned,—roundabout and roundabout all night long. They wanted to rest, but she went so fast that they could not catch her to make her stand still. And they dared not lose sight of her big whiteness through the dark, for now they were completely lost and could never find their way out of the wilderness without her. So all night long she kept them panting and puffing and wading after her, till they were all worn out, cold and shivering with wet, scratched and bleeding from the briars, and cross as ten sticks.
But when at last, an hour after sunrise, Mignon led them out into an open clearing, their faces brightened.
"Oh, I think I remember this place," said the first man.
"Yes, it has a familiar look. We must be near home," said the second.
"We are at least twenty-five miles from the monks of Chartres by this time," said the third, "and I wish we had some breakfast."
"By another hour we shall have the cow safe in our home den," said the fourth, "and then we will have some bread and milk."
But the fifth interrupted them saying, "Look! Who is that man in gray?"
They all looked up quickly and began to tremble; but Mignon gave a great "Moo!" and galloped forward to meet the figure who had stepped out from behind a bush. It was Saint Launomar himself!
He had been up ever since dawn looking for his precious cow; for when he went to milk her he had found the barn empty, and her footprints with those of the five robbers in the moist earth had told the story and pointed which way the company had gone. But it was not his plan to scold or frighten the robbers. He walked up to them, for they were so surprised to see him that they stood still trembling, forgetting even to run away.
"Good-morning, friends," said Launomar kindly. "You have brought back my cow, I see, who to-night for the first time has left her stall to wander far. I thank you, good friends, for bringing Mignon to me. For she is not only a treasure in herself, but she is my dearest friend and I should be most unhappy to lose her."
The men stood staring at Launomar in astonishment. They could hardly believe their eyes and their ears. Where did he come from? What did he mean? But when they realized how kind his voice was, and that he was not accusing them nor threatening to have them punished, they were very much ashamed. They hung their heads guiltily; and then all of a sudden they fell at his feet, the five of them, confessing how it had all come about and begging his pardon.
"We stole the cow, Master," said the first one.
"And carried her these many miles away," said the second.
"We are wicked robbers and deserve to be punished," said the third.
"But we beg you to pardon us," cried the fourth.
"Let us depart, kind Father, we pray you," begged the fifth. "And be so good as to direct us on our way, for we are sorely puzzled."
"Nay, nay," answered Saint Launomar pleasantly, "the cow hath led you a long way, hath she not? You must be both tired and hungry. You cannot journey yet." And in truth they were miserable objects to see, so that the Saint's kind heart was filled with pity, robbers though they were. "Follow me," he said. By this time they were too weak and weary to think of disobeying. So meekly they formed into a procession of seven, Launomar and the cow going cheerfully at the head. For these two were very glad to be together again, and his arm was thrown lovingly about her glossy neck as they went.
But what was the amazement of the five robbers when in a short minute or two they turned a corner, and there close beside them stood the monastery itself, with the very barn from which they had stolen Mignon the night before! All this time the clever cow had led them in great circles roundabout and roundabout her own home. And after all this scrambling and wading through the darkness, in the morning they were no farther on their journey than they had been at the start. What a wise cow that was! And what a good breakfast of bran porridge and hay and sweet turnips Launomar gave her to pay for her hard night's work.
The five robbers had a good breakfast too; but perhaps they did not relish it as Mignon did hers. For their consciences were heavy; besides, they sat at the monastery table, and all the monks stood by in a row, saying nothing but pursing up their mouths and looking pious; which was trying. And when the robbers came to drink their porridge Launomar said mildly,—
"That is Mignon's milk which you drink, Sirs. It is the best milk in France, and you are welcome to it for your breakfast to-day, since we have such reason to be grateful to you for not putting it beyond our reach forever. Ah, my friends, we could ill spare so worthy a cow, so good a friend, so faithful a guide. But I trust that you will not need her services again. Perhaps by daylight you can find your way home without her if I direct you. The highroad is plain and straight for honest men. I commend it to you."
So, when they were refreshed and rested, Launomar led them forth and pointed out the way as he had promised. He and Mignon stood on the crest of a little hill and watched them out of sight. Then they turned and looked at one another, the wise Saint and his wise cow.
And they both chuckled inside.
SAINT WERBURGH & HER GOOSE
SAINT WERBURGH was a King's daughter, a real princess, and very beautiful. But unlike most princesses of the fairy tales, she cared nothing at all about princes or pretty clothes or jewels, or about having a good time. Her only longing was to do good and to make other people happy, and to grow good and wise herself, so that she could do this all the better. So she studied and studied, worked and worked; and she became a holy woman, an Abbess. And while she was still very young and beautiful, she was given charge of a whole convent of nuns and school-girls not much younger than herself, because she was so much wiser and better than any one else in all the countryside.
But though Saint Werburgh had grown so famous and so powerful, she still remained a simple, sweet girl. All the country people loved her, for she was always eager to help them, to cure the little sick children and to advise their fathers and mothers. She never failed to answer the questions which puzzled them, and so she set their poor troubled minds at ease. She was so wise that she knew how to make people do what she knew to be right, even when they wanted to do wrong. And not only human folk but animals felt the power of this young Saint. For she loved and was kind to them also. She studied about them and grew to know their queer habits and their animal way of thinking. And she learned their language, too. Now when one loves a little creature very much and understands it well, one can almost always make it do what one wishes—that is, if one wishes right.
For some time Saint Werburgh had been interested in a flock of wild geese which came every day to get their breakfast in the convent meadow, and to have a morning bath in the pond beneath the window of her cell. She grew to watch until the big, long-necked gray things with their short tails and clumsy feet settled with a harsh "Honk!" in the grass. Then she loved to see the big ones waddle clumsily about in search of dainties for the children, while the babies stood still, flapping their wings and crying greedily till they were fed.
There was one goose which was her favorite. He was the biggest of them all, fat and happy looking. He was the leader and formed the point of the V in which a flock of wild geese always flies. He was the first to alight in the meadow, and it was he who chose the spot for their breakfast. Saint Werburgh named him Grayking, and she grew very fond of him, although they had never spoken to one another.
Master Hugh was the convent Steward, a big, surly fellow who did not love birds nor animals except when they were served up for him to eat. Hugh also had seen the geese in the meadow. But, instead of thinking how nice and funny they were, and how amusing it was to watch them eat the worms and flop about in the water, he thought only, "What a fine goose pie they would make!" And especially he looked at Grayking, the plumpest and most tempting of them all, and smacked his lips. "Oh, how I wish I had you in my frying-pan!" he said to himself.
Now it happened that worms were rather scarce in the convent meadow that spring. It had been dry, and the worms had crawled away to moister places. So Grayking and his followers found it hard to get breakfast enough. One morning, Saint Werburgh looked in vain for them in the usual spot. At first she was only surprised; but as she waited and waited, and still they did not come, she began to feel much alarmed.
Just as she was going down to her own dinner, the Steward, Hugh, appeared before her cap in hand and bowing low. His fat face was puffed and red with hurrying up the convent hill, and he looked angry.
"What is it, Master Hugh?" asked Saint Werburgh in her gentle voice. "Have you not money enough to buy to-morrow's breakfast?" for it was his duty to pay the convent bills.
"Nay, Lady Abbess," he answered gruffly; "it is not lack of money that troubles me. It is abundance of geese."
"Geese! How? Why?" exclaimed Saint Werburgh, startled. "What of geese, Master Hugh?"
"This of geese, Lady Abbess," he replied. "A flock of long-necked thieves have been in my new-planted field of corn, and have stolen all that was to make my harvest." Saint Werburgh bit her lips.
"What geese were they?" she faltered, though she guessed the truth.
"Whence the rascals come, I know not," he answered, "but this I know. They are the same which gather every morning in the meadow yonder. I spied the leader, a fat, fine thief with a black ring about his neck. It should be a noose, indeed, for hanging. I would have them punished, Lady Abbess."
"They shall be punished, Master Hugh," said Saint Werburgh firmly, and she went sadly up the stair to her cell without tasting so much as a bit of bread for her dinner. For she was sorry to find her friends such naughty birds, and she did not want to punish them, especially Grayking. But she knew that she must do her duty.
When she had put on her cloak and hood she went out into the courtyard behind the convent where there were pens for keeping doves and chickens and little pigs. And standing beside the largest of these pens Saint Werburgh made a strange cry, like the voice of the geese themselves,—a cry which seemed to say, "Come here, Grayking's geese, with Grayking at the head!" And as she stood there waiting, the sky grew black above her head with the shadowing of wings, and the honking of the geese grew louder and nearer till they circled and lighted in a flock at her feet.
She saw that they looked very plump and well-fed, and Grayking was the fattest of the flock. All she did was to look at them steadily and reproachfully; but they came waddling bashfully up to her and stood in a line before her with drooping heads. It seemed as if something made them stay and listen to what she had to say, although they would much rather fly away.
Then she talked to them gently and told them how bad they were to steal corn and spoil the harvest. And as she talked they grew to love her tender voice, even though it scolded them. She cried bitterly as she took each one by the wings and shook him for his sins and whipped him—not too severely. Tears stood in the round eyes of the geese also, not because she hurt them, for she had hardly ruffled their thick feathers; but because they were sorry to have pained the beautiful Saint. For they saw that she loved them, and the more she punished them the better they loved her. Last of all she punished Grayking. But when she had finished she took him up in her arms and kissed him before putting him in the pen with the other geese, where she meant to keep them in prison for a day and a night. Then Grayking hung his head, and in his heart he promised that neither he nor his followers should ever again steal anything, no matter how hungry they were. Now Saint Werburgh read the thought in his heart and was glad, and she smiled as she turned away. She was sorry to keep them in the cage, but she hoped it might do them good. And she said to herself, "They shall have at least one good breakfast of convent porridge before they go."
Saint Werburgh trusted Hugh, the Steward, for she did not yet know the wickedness of his heart. So she told him how she had punished the geese for robbing him, and how she was sure they would never do so any more. Then she bade him see that they had a breakfast of convent porridge the next morning; and after that they should be set free to go where they chose.
Hugh was not satisfied. He thought the geese had not been punished enough. And he went away grumbling, but not daring to say anything cross to the Lady Abbess who was the King's daughter.
SAINT WERBURGH was busy all the rest of that day and early the next morning too, so she could not get out again to see the prisoned geese. But when she went to her cell for the morning rest after her work was done, she sat down by the window and looked out smilingly, thinking to see her friend Grayking and the others taking their bath in the meadow. But there were no geese to be seen! Werburgh's face grew grave. And even as she sat there wondering what had happened, she heard a prodigious honking overhead, and a flock of geese came straggling down, not in the usual trim V, but all unevenly and without a leader. Grayking was gone!
They fluttered about crying and asking advice of one another, till they heard Saint Werburgh's voice calling them anxiously. Then with a cry of joy they flew straight up to her window and began talking all together, trying to tell her what had happened.
"Grayking is gone!" they said. "Grayking is stolen by the wicked Steward. Grayking was taken away when we were set free, and we shall never see him again. What shall we do, dear lady, without our leader?"
Saint Werburgh was horrified to think that her dear Grayking might be in danger. Oh, how that wicked Steward had deceived her! She began to feel angry. Then she turned to the birds: "Dear geese," she said earnestly, "you have promised me never to steal again, have you not?" and they all honked "Yes!" "Then I will go and question the Steward," she continued, "and if he is guilty I will punish him and make him bring Grayking back to you."
The geese flew away feeling somewhat comforted, and Saint Werburgh sent speedily for Master Hugh. He came, looking much surprised, for he could not imagine what she wanted of him. "Where is the gray goose with the black ring about his neck?" began Saint Werburgh without any preface, looking at him keenly. He stammered and grew confused. "I—I don't know, Lady Abbess," he faltered. He had not guessed that she cared especially about the geese.
"Nay, you know well," said Saint Werburgh, "for I bade you feed them and set them free this morning. But one is gone."
"A fox must have stolen it," said he guiltily.
"Ay, a fox with black hair and a red, fat face," quoth Saint Werburgh sternly. "Do not tell me lies. You have taken him, Master Hugh. I can read it in your heart." Then he grew weak and confessed.
"Ay, I have taken the great gray goose," he said faintly. "Was it so very wrong?"
"He was a friend of mine and I love him dearly," said Saint Werburgh. At these words the Steward turned very pale indeed.
"I did not know," he gasped.
"Go and bring him to me, then," commanded the Saint, and pointed to the door. Master Hugh slunk out looking very sick and miserable and horribly frightened. For the truth was that he had been tempted by Grayking's fatness. He had carried the goose home and made him into a hot, juicy pie which he had eaten for that very morning's breakfast. So how could he bring the bird back to Saint Werburgh, no matter how sternly she commanded?
All day long he hid in the woods, not daring to let himself be seen by any one. For Saint Werburgh was a King's daughter; and if the King should learn what he had done to the pet of the Lady Abbess, he might have Hugh himself punished by being baked into a pie for the King's hounds to eat.
But at night he could bear it no longer. He heard the voice of Saint Werburgh calling his name very softly from the convent, "Master Hugh, Master Hugh, come, bring me my goose!" And just as the geese could not help coming when she called them, so he felt that he must go, whether he would or no. He went into his pantry and took down the remains of the great pie. He gathered up the bones of poor Grayking in a little basket, and with chattering teeth and shaking limbs stole up to the convent and knocked at the wicket gate.
Saint Werburgh was waiting for him. "I knew you would come," she said. "Have you brought my goose?" Then silently and with trembling hands he took out the bones one by one and laid them on the ground before Saint Werburgh. So he stood with bowed head and knocking knees waiting to hear her pronounce his punishment.
"Oh, you wicked man!" she said sadly. "You have killed my beautiful Grayking, who never did harm to any one except to steal a little corn."
"I did not know you loved him, Lady," faltered the man in self-defense.
"You ought to have known it," she returned; "you ought to have loved him yourself."
"I did, Lady Abbess," confessed the man. "That was the trouble. I loved him too well—in a pie."
"Oh, selfish, gluttonous man!" she exclaimed in disgust. "Can you not see the beauty of a dear little live creature till it is dead and fit only for your table? I shall have you taught better. Henceforth you shall be made to study the lives and ways of all things which live about the convent; and never again, for punishment, shall you eat flesh of any bird or beast. We will see if you cannot be taught to love them when they have ceased to mean Pie. Moreover, you shall be confined for two days and two nights in the pen where I kept the geese. And porridge shall be your only food the while. Go, Master Hugh."
So the wicked Steward was punished. But he learned his lesson; and after a little while he grew to love the birds almost as well as Saint Werburgh herself.
But she had not yet finished with Grayking. After Master Hugh had gone she bent over the pitiful little pile of bones which was all that was left of that unlucky pie. A tear fell upon them from her beautiful eyes; and kneeling down she touched them with her white fingers, speaking softly the name of the bird whom she had loved.
"Grayking, arise," she said. And hardly had the words left her mouth when a strange thing happened. The bones stirred, lifted themselves, and in a moment a glad "Honk!" sounded in the air, and Grayking himself, black ring and all, stood ruffling his feathers before her. She clasped him in her arms and kissed him again and again. Then calling the rest of the flock by her strange power, she showed them their lost leader restored as good as new.
What a happy flock of geese flew honking away in an even V, with the handsomest, grayest, plumpest goose in all the world at their head! And what an exciting story he had to tell his mates! Surely, no other goose ever lived who could tell how it felt to be made into pie, to be eaten and to have his bones picked clean by a greedy Steward.
This is how Saint Werburgh made lifelong friendship with a flock of big gray geese. And I dare say even now in England one of their descendants may be found with a black ring around his neck, the handsomest, grayest, plumpest goose in all the world. And when he hears the name of Saint Werburgh, which has been handed down to him from grandfather to grandson for twelve hundred years, he will give an especially loud "Honk!" of praise.
Dear Saint Werburgh! One would almost be willing to make a goose of himself if so he might see her again, with all her feathered friends about her.
THE BALLAD OF SAINT ATHRACTA'S STAGS
ATHRACTA was a maiden fair, A Prince's daughter she; Down to her feet fell golden hair, A wondrous sight to see.
And all amid this golden shower, The sweetest rosebud face Blossomed like a dew-fed flower Upon a stem of grace.
Yet loved she not the court of kings, But in the wild would be, With but one maid her hair to braid And bear her company.
So, near Lough Cara's silver sheen, They built of turf and bark A hut wherein from springtide green They dwelt through winter's dark.
On seven cross-roads the hut was made, That they might offer rest To pilgrims by the night waylaid, And strangers hunger-pressed.
To draw them water from the lake, To till their little soil, Two ancient horses did they take, Outworn for other toil.
Once gallant chargers these had been, Keen-eyed and prancing gay, Who tourneys brave and wars had seen, All decked in bright array.
But now their age in peace was spent By kind Athracta's side; No gallant wars, no tournament, And yet they served with pride.
Their neighbors in the forest glades Were stately, antlered deer, Nor of the two most holy maids Had these, their brothers, fear.
So dwelt the maidens there alone For many months and years, The doings of the world unknown, Its wars, its woes, its tears.
But strife was stirring in the land, And kings must castles build, To guard them from the foeman's hand With fire and weapon filled.
And so the King's most stern decree Went forth upon a day,— "My serfs must build a fort for me, Each must his service pay.
"Each man and maiden must fulfill In this great work his share; It is the King of Connaught's will, Let tardy hands beware!"
Athracta sent unto the King: "We be but maidens twain, My Liege, we cannot do this thing, I beg we may refrain."
But sternly sent he back the word,— "Ye maids must do your part." He was a hard and cruel lord, No pity touched his heart.
So forth they fared into the wood, Athracta with her maid, To fell the timber as they could, Without of men for aid.
Heavy the axe and full of pain Each weak and skill-less stroke, Yet strove the maids again, again, With walnut, beech, and oak.
Until upon the wagon cast By which the horses stood, Their bleeding hands had piled at last The goodly logs of wood.
But when Athracta saw the steeds Straining with feeble will To draw the heavy load, it needs Must make her eyes to fill.
Athracta spoke all piteously,— "Alack! poor broken things, Must you, too, bear your painful share To save the pride of Kings?
"How can I ease your burden, how, My faithful servants still? My little hands are bleeding now With toil beyond their skill."
"O mistress dear," then spoke her maid, "These be but feeble nags; How would the King's pride be dismayed If you could harness Stags!"
"Thou sayest well," Athracta vowed. "Come hither, Stags!" she cried, And lo! the thud of hoofs grew loud Ere yet the echo died.
"Come hither, Stags!" O'er green and glade The silver summons thrilled, And soon the space about the maid With antlered kings was filled.
Through moss and fern and tangled trees Twelve panting creatures broke, And bending low their stately knees They knelt beneath the yoke.
Now harnessed in the horses' stead The great Stags strained their best, To please the Lady at their head And follow her behest.
But lo! a vexing thing then happed; Scarce had they gained the road, The rusty chains of iron snapped Beneath the heavy load.
Yet paused she not in weak despair, This noble-hearted maid, But loosed her heavy golden hair Out from its double braid.
She loosed her locks so wonder-bright And shook them to the breeze;— It seemed a beam of yellow light Had sifted through the trees.
Then from amid this golden net She plucked some silken strands, And where the chains had first been set She bound them with her hands.
She tied the ends against the strain, And knotted them with care, Then bade the Stags pull once again Upon the ropes of hair.
And lo! the slender harness held, And lo! the antlered steeds Went forth to prove their generous love Lent to a maiden's needs.
Straight to the King her gift they bore To fill his heart with shame; And her true maiden went before To show him whence they came.
Now when the King this wonder saw He turned all pale and red, "She hath a greater power than law," He vowed, and bowed his head.
"She hath a greater power than I, Whose slaves the wild stags be, And golden hair like this might snare E'en the wild heart of me.
"No need to her of castles stout, No need of moat or tower, With antlered guardians about Her lonely wild-wood bower.
"No need to her of watch or ward, With friends like these at hand; Bid her from me henceforth to be Queen of her little land.
"Henceforth she is no serf of mine, Nor subject to my throne; Where'er her golden hair may shine That is her realm alone."
So where the seven cross-roads met Still dwelt the holy maid, Her hut a place of refuge set For all who shelter prayed.
Her realm a holy place of peace, Where, with the ancient nags, Lived out their days in pleasant ways Athracta's faithful Stags.
SAINT KENTIGERN & THE ROBIN
ONCE upon a time Saint Servan kept a school near Glasgow in Scotland, and many boys, big and little, came there to study. Now of all these boys there was one who surpassed the rest in everything that makes a good scholar. Kentigern was one of the smallest boys in the school, and yet he stood at the head of all his classes. It was Kentigern who found the answer to the knottiest problem, and who read off the hardest passages of Latin when no one else was able to make sense of them. It was Kentigern who learned his lessons first and who recited them best. It was Kentigern who sang the loudest and was never off the pitch; and good Saint Servan loved him best of all his pupils.
For all these reasons, and for several more like them, the other boys were jealous of Kentigern and did everything they could to trouble him and make him unhappy. They tried to make him fail in his lessons by talking and laughing when it was his turn to recite. But this was a useless trick; his answers were always ready, so they had to give this up. They teased him and called him names, trying to make him lose his temper so that he would be punished. But he was too good-natured to be cross with them; so they had to give this up. They tried to coax him into mischief and lead him do something which would make Saint Servan angry with him. But Kentigern loved his master too well to do anything to trouble him. So the boys had finally to give this up also.
There was only one way to bring Kentigern into disgrace. They must plan a trap, and make him fall into it. For weeks they racked their brains trying to think what they should do; but at last they thought they had hit upon a plan.
It was all concerned with a fire. In those days there were no matches with which to strike a light in a second. Matches had not been invented in the year 600, nor indeed for many centuries afterwards. Their way of making a fire was by rubbing two dry sticks together until they grew hot and a spark fell out upon the wood which was to be kindled. And this was a very difficult and tiresome thing to do, especially in the winter when there were few dry sticks to be found. So the fire which was kept burning night and day in the great fireplace of Saint Servan's school was tended carefully, and it would be a very serious thing to let this go out. For how would the breakfast be cooked, and the rooms warmed, and the candles lighted for the morning service in the chapel if there were no fire on the great hearth?
So for a week at a time the boys had to take turns in tending the fire; and the boy whose turn it was had to rise at midnight and put on wood enough to keep the blaze bright until morning. And oh! how angry Saint Servan would be with any boy who was so careless as to let the fire go out in the night.
Now it was Kentigern's week to tend the fire; and for several days he did tend it faithfully. But the boys were waiting for a chance to play their mean trick. On the fourth night Kentigern rose as the chapel clock boomed "twelve!" and went down to the kitchen to give the hungry fire its midnight lunch of snappy wood. But as soon as he stepped into the great empty hall he knew something was wrong. Br-r-r! The air was damp and chilly, and there was no crimson glow on the hearthstones. Kentigern shivered and ran to the fireplace, peering into the black cavern. There was nothing but a heap of white ashes and half-burnt wood!
Then Kentigern's heart sank, for he knew he should be blamed for carelessness, although he suspected that some one had thrown water on the fire and put it out. And he guessed that it was the other boys who had done this spiteful thing to bring him into trouble. He did not know what to do. But a sudden courage came to him. He took up a log of wood from the corner and laid it on the heap of ashes. Then bending down he blew gently on the pile. And oh, wonderful to say! It was as if he had scratched a dozen cards of matches and had touched them to a pile of paper. Hardly had his breath stirred the ashes and made the moss shiver on the great log, when the whole fireplace was filled with dancing flames, and the wood began to snap and crack in the best kind of a blaze. Kentigern laughed softly to himself as he stole back to bed, and said never a word to the sleeping boys who had tried to make mischief for him.
When they woke in the morning they began to chuckle and nudge one another, expecting every moment to see Saint Servan come frowning in search of the careless Kentigern. And every boy was ready to declare that the fire was burning brightly when he went to bed, and that Kentigern had forgotten to go down and tend it at midnight. But they were prevented from telling this falsehood. For the bell rang as usual for breakfast, and down they all went to find a beautiful fire burning on the hearth, and Kentigern going with his taper to light the chapel candelabra. They did not know how it had happened till long, long afterwards when Kentigern had made many other wonders come to pass, and when he was known far and wide as a Saint even wiser than Servan his master.
But meanwhile the boys hated him more than ever, when they saw how much better Saint Servan loved him every day. And once more they planned to bring him into disgrace. But this time it was an even more cruel thing which they meant to do. For if they succeeded it would not only cause Kentigern to be punished and make Saint Servan unhappy, but it would cost the life of an innocent little creature who never had done any harm to a single one of them.
Saint Servan was a kind-hearted old man, and he had a Robin Redbreast of which he was very fond,—a black-eyed fellow who ate his breakfast out of the Saint's hand. And when the master chanted the Psalms the little chorister would perch on Servan's shoulder and flap his wings, twittering as if he were trying to join in the songs of praise.
Now one morning when the coast was clear, the boys killed the little Redbreast and pulled off his head. And then the biggest boy of them all took the dead bird in his hand, and followed by all the rest ran screaming to Saint Servan himself, pretending to feel very sorry.
"Oh Father!" cried the Big Boy, "just see what the wicked Kentigern has done! Look at your Robin whom Kentigern has killed!"
Then they all began to cry out against Kentigern, and some even declared that they had seen him do the wicked deed; which was a horrid story, and their tongues must have smarted well as they spoke it.
Of course Saint Servan was very sad and angry. He tenderly took the little limp body in his hand and went to seek Kentigern, the other boys tiptoeing after him to see the fun. And by and by they came upon him in a window bending over a big book which he was studying. Saint Servan strode up to him and laid a heavy hand upon his shoulder.
"Look at this, boy," he cried with a sad voice, "look at this cruel deed, and tell me what shall be done to punish the slayer? Did I not love the Robin, even as I loved you, ungrateful boy!"
Kentigern turned quite pale with surprise and sorrow, and the tears came into his eyes.
"Oh, the dear little bird," he said. "Did I not love him too? Who has killed him, Father?"
"You did, you did; we saw you!" cried all the boys in a chorus.
Kentigern turned and looked at them in astonishment. He did not say a word, but his cheeks grew red and his eyes flashed. This was more than even his patience could stand.
"Well, what have you to say for yourself?" queried Saint Servan sternly. Kentigern turned to him sadly.
"Oh Father!" he said, "how can you believe that I would do such a cruel thing, to hurt the bird and to make you sad? I did not do it, Father."
"Can you prove it?" asked Saint Servan still more sternly, for he thought the boy was telling a falsehood to hide his guilt.
"Give me the Robin, Father," said Kentigern, holding out his hand. "I will prove that it was not this hand which cowardly used so small a thing as a tiny bird." Then holding the limp body in one hand and the downy head in the other, he stood before them all, looking up towards heaven, and made his little prayer.
"O Father in heaven," he said, "prove to my dear Father on earth that I have not done this cruel thing. If I am innocent, give me power to undo the wrong and restore life to the little singer who loved to praise Thee with his sweet voice." Then gently he set the head in place where it should be and, as his tears fell upon the Robin's neck, it seemed to grow again to the body. The feathers ruffled and the limp wings fluttered feebly; the black eyes opened, and out of the bill came a little chirp. Then the Robin hopped out of Kentigern's hands and across the floor to Saint Servan's feet, and flew up on his master's shoulder. There he sat and sang such a carol of joy as made the great hall ring again. But all the guilty boys put their fingers in their ears and turned pale, as if they understood what he was saying, and as if it told the truth about their jealousy and their cruelty and their falsehood.
So Saint Servan learned that Kentigern was innocent, and saw how it had all happened. The real culprits were severely punished. But Kentigern became even dearer than before to his master, who helped him in every way to become the great and famous Saint he afterwards was. And the Robin was another fond and faithful friend. For the bird seemed never to forget that Kentigern had restored his life, and always sang his sweetest song for the boy.
You may be sure that after this the boys gave up trying to get the better of Kentigern. They had learned that lesson, and thenceforth they were more kind and respectful to a boy over whom some kind Power seemed to keep special charge.
SAINT BLAISE AND HIS BEASTS
THIS is the story of a Saint who loved all animals and whom the animals therefore loved in return.
Saint Blaise was the son of wealthy people in Sebaste, a town of Armenia near Turkey, in the days when it was fashionable to be a heathen. He was not like the other boys, his playmates, for he was a Christian, full of sympathy for everything that lived. More than all things he longed to learn how to help the creatures that he loved,—men and women, the children, the dumb beasts, and everything that suffered and was sick. So he went to school and studied medicine; and by and by he grew up to be a wise man with a big, tender heart. Every one loved him, for he did great good among the people of his village, tending their children and healing their cattle and household pets.
Nor did he neglect even the wild beasts. For Saint Blaise loved to go away into the woods and fields where he could learn about the untamed creatures and teach them to be his friends. The birds and beasts and fishes grew to love him because he never hurt them, but talked to them kindly and healed them when they were sick or wounded. The timid creatures were brave in his presence, and the fierce ones grew tame and gentle at the sound of his voice. The little birds brought him food, and the four-footed beasts ran errands and were his messengers. The legends say that they used to visit him in his forest home, which was a cave on Mount Argus near the city of Sebaste. Every morning they came to see how their master was faring, to receive his blessing and lick his hands in gratitude. If they found the Saint at his prayers they never disturbed him, but waited in a patient, wistful group at the door of his cave until he rose from his knees.
One day a poor woman came to him in great distress because a wolf had carried away her pig. Saint Blaise was sorry to hear that one of his friends had done so wicked a thing. He bade the woman go home, and said he would see what could be done. He called the Wolf up to him and shook his head gravely at the culprit.
"You bad Wolf!" he said. "Don't you know that the Pig was a friend of mine, too? He is not handsome, but he is nice and plump; and he is the only pig of a poor, lone woman. How could you be so selfish? Go straight home and get my friend Pig, and drive him down to the woman's house." Then the Wolf went sheepishly away, and did what the good Saint had told him to do; for the Pig had not yet been made into pork. And when the poor woman saw the Pig run grunting into her yard, chased by the repentant Wolf, she fell upon his fat neck and wept tears of joy. Then the Wolf went back to Saint Blaise, who told him he was a good wolf, and gave him a dish of fresh milk to cool his throat.
Saint Blaise was chosen Bishop by the Christians who loved him for his piety and his charity. And the wood-beasts were glad of this honor done to their dear master. But the poor creatures did not know how dangerous it was to be a Christian in those days, and especially to be a Bishop who had much power over the people. For the heathen were jealous of him, and feared that he would make all the people Christians too, when they saw the wonderful cures which his medicines made. But they could not find him, for he was living in his forest cave.
This was 316 years after Christ's birth, and the cruel Emperor Licinius was causing many Christians to be killed. Agricola was the governor whom Licinius had appointed in Sebaste, and he sent his soldiers into the mountains to get some wild beasts for the games in the arena, where the Christians were to be put to death. But they could not find any beasts at all in the mountains, or in the fields, or valleys, or woods. They thought this very strange. But by and by they came by accident to the cave where Saint Blaise lived.
And there were the animals, all the fierce beasts whom they feared; lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and wolves, making their morning call upon Saint Blaise and sitting quietly about. In the midst was Blaise himself, praying so earnestly that he never noticed the men with nets and spears who had come to entrap the beasts. Although the creatures were frightened they did not move nor growl for fear of disturbing their master, but kept quite still, glaring at the soldiers with big yellow eyes. The men were so astonished at the sight that they stole away without capturing an animal or saying a word to Saint Blaise, for they thought he must be Orpheus or some heathen god who charmed wild beasts. They went to the Governor and told him what they had seen, and he said,—
"Ho! I know he is a Christian. The Christians and the beasts are great friends. Go and bring him to me straightway."
And this time the soldiers went in the afternoon when the animals were taking their after-dinner nap. So they found Saint Blaise quite alone, again at his devotions. They told him he must come with them; but instead of being frightened he said joyfully, "I am ready, I have long expected you." For he was a holy man willing to die for his faith, and holy men often knew what was going to happen to them.
It was on his way to prison that Saint Blaise cured his last patient,—a sick child whose mother brought him to the holy man's feet begging help. The child had swallowed a bone and was choking to death, poor little thing. But Saint Blaise touched the baby's throat and the trouble was gone. This is why in olden times people with sore throats always prayed to Saint Blaise to make them well.
The good Bishop was put in prison. And after that they tortured him, trying to make him promise not to be a Christian any longer. But Saint Blaise refused to become a heathen and to sacrifice to the gods. And so they determined that he must die. They would have put him in the arena with the wild beasts, but they knew that these faithful creatures would not harm their friend. The beasts could not save him from the cruel men, but at least they would not do anything to hurt him. Those which were still left in the forest howled and moaned about his deserted cave, and went sniffing and searching for him everywhere, like stray dogs who have lost their master. It was a sad day for the wood-creatures when Saint Blaise was taken from them forever.
The soldiers were told to drown Saint Blaise in the neighboring lake. But he made the sign of the Cross as they cast him from the boat, and the water bore him up, so that he walked upon it as if it were a floor, just as Christ did once upon the sea of Galilee. When the soldiers tried to do the same, however, thinking to follow and recapture him, they sank and were drowned. At last of his own free will Saint Blaise walked back to the shore, clothed in light and very beautiful to look upon; for he was ready and eager to die. He let the heathen seize him, and soon after this was beheaded.
In very old times it used to be the custom in England on the third of February to light great bonfires on all the hills,—blazes in honor of his name.
And we can well believe that all the little animals came out of their dens and burrows and nests at the sight of these fires, and thought with loving hearts of the dear old Saint who so many years ago used to be kind to their ancestors, the beasts in the forests of Armenia.
SAINT CUTHBERT'S PEACE
SAINT CUTHBERT was a Scotch shepherd boy who tended his flocks along the river Tweed near Melrose. Night and day he lived in the open air, drinking in the sunshine and sleeping on the heather. And he grew up big and strong and handsome,—the finest lad in all that part of the country. He could run faster than any one, and was always the champion in the wrestling matches to which he challenged the village boys for miles around. And you should have seen him turn somersaults and walk on his hands! No one in all the world could beat him at that. Saint Cuthbert lived more than a thousand years ago, and yet the people of Scotland still tell tales of his strength and agility and grace in games with the other boys. He was their leader and chief, and every one was sure that he would grow up to be a famous man.
But he tended his sheep faithfully until the time came. For he was growing and learning all the while. In his happy outdoor life he became wise in many things which other people never know. He found the secret of the whispering wind, and the song of the brook. He knew what the chatter of the squirrels meant, and the caw of the crows. He learned the ways of all the little bright-eyed animals whom he met in his walks over the hills of heather; and he grew to love every creature which has fur or feathers and goes upon four legs or on two. Especially he loved the birds. He used to watch them for hours together, the little larks gurgling up and trilling down again; the great gulls swooping and curling and sailing like white ships in the blue sea of sky. And he longed, oh! how he longed to have wings and to flutter and float away like the birds.