Typographical errors have been corrected. A list of the corrected errors is found at the end of the text along with a list of inconsistently hyphenated words.
THE LITERARY WORLD
JOHN CALVIN METCALF PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
SARAH WITHERS PRINCIPAL ELEMENTARY GRADES AND CRITIC TEACHER WINTHROP NORMAL AND INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE ROCK HILL. S.C.
HETTY S. BROWNE EXTENSION WORKER IN RURAL SCHOOL PRACTICE WINTHROP NORMAL AND INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE
JOHNSON PUBLISHING COMPANY RICHMOND, VIRGINIA
COPYRIGHT, 1919 B. F. JOHNSON PUBLISHING COMPANY
All Rights Reserved
For permission to use copyrighted material the authors and publishers express their indebtedness to the Macmillan Company for "A Deal in Bears" from McTodd, by W. Cutcliffe Hyne, and for "Sea Fever," by John Masefield; to Duffield & Company and Mr. H. G. Wells for "In Labrador" from Marriage; to the John Lane Company for "The Making of a Man" from The Rough Road, by W. J. Locke; to Dodd, Mead & Company and Mr. Arthur Dobson for "A Ballad of Heroes," and to Dodd, Mead & Company for "Under Seas," by Count Alexis Tolstoi; to G. P. Putnam's Sons for "Old Ephraim" from The Hunting Trips of a Ranchman, by Theodore Roosevelt; to Houghton Mifflin Company for "A Greyport Legend," by Bret Harte, "Midwinter," by John Townsend Trowbridge, "The First Snowfall," by James Russell Lowell, "Among the Cliffs" from The Young Mountaineers, by Charles Egbert Craddock (Mary N. Murfree), and for "The Friendship of Nantaquas" from To Have and to Hold, by Mary Johnston; to Harper & Brothers for "The Great Stone of Sardis" from The Great Stone of Sardis, by Frank R. Stockton, and to Harper & Brothers and Mr. Booth Tarkington for "Ariel's Triumph" from The Conquest of Canaan.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LEGENDS OF OUR LAND
RIP VAN WINKLE Washington Irving 9 THE GREAT STONE FACE Nathaniel Hawthorne 33 THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH Henry W. Longfellow 59 THE FRIENDSHIP OF NANTAQUAS Mary Johnston 79
HARRY ESMOND'S BOYHOOD Wm. Makepeace Thackeray 112 THE FAMILY HOLDS ITS HEAD UP Oliver Goldsmith 126 THE LITTLE BOY IN THE BALCONY Henry W. Grady 138 ARIEL'S TRIUMPH Booth Tarkington 141
NATURE AND ANIMALS
THE CLOUD Percy Bysshe Shelley 160 NEW ENGLAND WEATHER Mark Twain 162 THE FIRST SNOWFALL James Russell Lowell 166 OLD EPHRAIM Theodore Roosevelt 168 MIDWINTER John Townsend Trowbridge 175 A GEORGIA FOX HUNT Joel Chandler Harris 177 RAIN AND WIND Madison Julius Cawein 192 THE SOUTHERN SKY Matthew Fontaine Maury 193 DAFFODILS William Wordsworth 195 DAWN Edward Everett 196 SPRING Henry Timrod 198
AMONG THE CLIFFS Charles Egbert Craddock 201 A DEAL IN BEARS W. Cutcliffe Hyne 217 LOCHINVAR Sir Walter Scott 232 IN LABRADOR H. G. Wells 235 THE BUGLE SONG Alfred Tennyson 258 THE SIEGE OF THE CASTLE Sir Walter Scott 259
MODERN WONDER TALES
SEA FEVER John Masefield 334 A GREYPORT LEGEND Bret Harte 335 A HUNT BENEATH THE OCEAN Jules Verne 337 UNDER SEAS Count Alexis Tolstoi 354 A VOYAGE TO THE MOON Edgar Allan Poe 367 THE GREAT STONE OF SARDIS Frank R. Stockton 391
SKETCHES OF THE GREAT WAR
A STOP AT SUZANNE'S Greayer Clover 407 THE MAKING OF A MAN W. J. Locke 414 IN FLANDERS FIELDS John McCrae 436 IN FLANDERS FIELDS (AN ANSWER) C. B. Galbraith 436 A BALLAD OF HEROES Austin Dobson 437
He Was Tempted to Repeat the Draught]
RIP VAN WINKLE
Whoever has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Catskill Mountains. They are a branch of the great [v]Appalachian[9-*] family, and are seen away to the west of the river, swelling up to a noble height, and lording it over the surrounding country. Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed, every hour of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains, and they are regarded by all the goodwives, far and near, as perfect [v]barometers.
At the foot of these fairy mountains the traveler may have seen the light smoke curling up from a village, whose shingle roofs gleam among the trees, just where the blue tints of the upland melt away into the fresh green of the nearer landscape. It is a little village of great age, having been founded by some of the Dutch colonists in the early times of the province, just about the beginning of the government of the good Peter [v]Stuyvesant (may he rest in peace!), and there were some of the houses of the original settlers standing within a few years, built of small yellow bricks brought from Holland, having latticed windows and gable fronts, surmounted with weathercocks.
In that same village, and in one of these very houses, there lived, many years since, while the country was yet a province of Great Britain, a simple, good-natured fellow, of the name of Rip Van Winkle. He was a descendant of the Van Winkles who figured so gallantly in the [v]chivalrous days of Peter Stuyvesant, and accompanied him to the siege of Fort Christina. He inherited, however, but little of the martial character of his ancestors. I have observed that he was a simple, good-natured man; he was, moreover, a kind neighbor and an obedient, henpecked husband.
Certain it is that he was a great favorite among all the goodwives of the village, who took his part in all family squabbles; and never failed, whenever they talked those matters over in their evening gossipings, to lay all the blame on Dame Van Winkle. The children of the village, too, would shout with joy whenever he approached. He assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites and shoot marbles, and told them long stories of ghosts, witches, and Indians. Whenever he went dodging about the village, he was surrounded by a troop of them, hanging on his skirts, clambering on his back, and playing a thousand tricks on him; and not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighborhood.
The great error in Rip's composition was a strong dislike of all kinds of profitable labor. It could not be from the want of perseverance; for he would sit on a wet rock, with a rod as long and heavy as a lance, and fish all day without a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a single nibble. He would carry a fowling piece on his shoulder for hours together, trudging through woods and swamps, and up hill and down dale, to shoot a few squirrels or wild pigeons. He would never refuse to assist a neighbor even in the roughest toil, and was a foremost man at all country frolics for husking Indian corn, or building stone fences; the women of the village, too, used to employ him to run their errands, and to do such little odd jobs as their less obliging husbands would not do for them. In a word, Rip was ready to attend to anybody's business but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible.
His children, too, were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody. His son Rip promised to inherit the habits, with the old clothes, of his father. He was generally seen trooping like a colt at his mother's heels, equipped in a pair of his father's cast-off breeches, which he had much ado to hold up with one hand, as a fine lady does her train in bad weather.
Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of those happy mortals, of foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat white bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought or trouble, and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound. If left to himself, he would have whistled life away in perfect contentment; but his wife kept continually dinning in his ear about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family. Morning, noon, and night, her tongue was incessantly going, and everything he said or did was sure to produce a torrent of household eloquence. Rip had but one way of replying to all lectures of the kind, and that, by frequent use, had grown into a habit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his eyes, but said nothing. This, however, always provoked a fresh volley from his wife; so that he was fain to draw off his forces, and take to the outside of the house—the only side which, in truth, belongs to a henpecked husband.
Rip's sole [v]domestic adherent was his dog Wolf, who was as much henpecked as his master; for Dame Van Winkle regarded them as companions in idleness, and even looked upon Wolf with an evil eye, as the cause of his master's going so often astray. True it is, in all points of spirit befitting an honorable dog, he was as courageous an animal as ever scoured the woods; but what courage can withstand the ever-enduring and all-besetting terrors of a woman's tongue? The moment Wolf entered the house his crest fell, his tail drooped to the ground or curled between his legs, he sneaked about with a gallows air, casting many a sidelong glance at Dame Van Winkle, and at the least flourish of a broomstick or ladle he would fly to the door with yelping precipitation.
Times grew worse and worse with Rip Van Winkle as years of matrimony rolled on. A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use. For a long while he used to console himself, when driven from home, by frequenting a kind of perpetual club of sages, philosophers, and other idle personages of the village, which held its sessions on a bench before a small inn, designated by a [v]rubicund portrait of His Majesty George III. Here they used to sit in the shade of a long, lazy summer's day, talking listlessly over village gossip, or telling endless sleepy stories about nothing. But it would have been worth any statesman's money to have heard the profound discussions which sometimes took place, when by chance an old newspaper fell into their hands from some passing traveler. How solemnly they would listen to the contents, as drawled out by Derrick Van Bummel, the schoolmaster,—a dapper, learned little man, who was not to be daunted by the most gigantic word in the dictionary! and how sagely they would deliberate upon public events some months after they had taken place!
The opinions of this [v]junto were completely controlled by Nicholas Vedder, a patriarch of the village, and landlord of the inn, at the door of which he took his seat from morning till night, just moving sufficiently to avoid the sun, and keep in the shade of a large tree; so that the neighbors could tell the hour by his movements as accurately as by a sun-dial. It is true, he was rarely heard to speak, but smoked his pipe incessantly. His adherents, however (for every great man has his adherents), perfectly understood him, and knew how to gather his opinions. When anything that was read or related displeased him, he was observed to smoke his pipe vehemently, and to send forth short, frequent, and angry puffs; but, when pleased, he would inhale the smoke slowly and tranquilly, and emit it in light and placid clouds, and sometimes, taking the pipe from his mouth, and letting the fragrant vapor curl about his nose, would nod his head in approbation.
From even this stronghold the unlucky Rip was at length routed by his [v]termagant wife, who would suddenly break in upon the tranquility of the assemblage, and call the members all to naught; nor was that august personage, Nicholas Vedder himself, sacred from the daring tongue of this terrible virago, who charged him with encouraging her husband in habits of idleness.
Poor Rip was at last reduced almost to despair; and his only [v]alternative, to escape from the labor of the farm and clamor of his wife, was to take gun in hand and stroll away into the woods. Here he would sometimes seat himself at the foot of a tree, and share the contents of his wallet with Wolf, with whom he sympathized as a fellow-sufferer in persecution. "Poor Wolf," he would say, "thy mistress leads thee a dog's life of it; but never mind, my lad, whilst I live thou shalt never want a friend to stand by thee." Wolf would wag his tail, look wistfully in his master's face; and if dogs can feel pity, I verily believe he [v]reciprocated the sentiment with all his heart.
In a long ramble of the kind on a fine autumnal day, Rip had unconsciously scrambled to one of the highest parts of the Catskill Mountains. He was after his favorite sport of squirrel-shooting, and the still solitudes had echoed and reechoed with the reports of his gun. Panting and fatigued, he threw himself, late in the afternoon, on a green knoll, covered with mountain herbage, that crowned the brow of a precipice. From an opening between the trees he could overlook all the lower country for many a mile of rich woodland. He saw at a distance the lordly Hudson, far, far below him, moving on its silent but majestic course, with the reflection of a purple cloud, or the sail of a lagging bark, here and there sleeping on its glassy bosom, and at last losing itself in the blue highlands.
On the other side he looked down into a deep mountain glen, wild and lonely, the bottom filled with fragments from the overhanging cliffs, and scarcely lighted by the reflected rays of the setting sun. For some time Rip lay musing on this scene; evening was gradually advancing; the mountains began to throw their long blue shadows over the valleys; he saw that it would be dark long before he could reach the village, and he heaved a heavy sigh when he thought of encountering the terrors of Dame Van Winkle.
As he was about to descend, he heard a voice from a distance, hallooing, "Rip Van Winkle! Rip Van Winkle!" He looked round, but could see nothing but a crow winging its solitary flight across the mountain. He thought his fancy must have deceived him, and turned again to descend, when he heard the same cry ring through the still evening air: "Rip Van Winkle! Rip Van Winkle!"—at the same time Wolf bristled up his back, and giving a low growl, skulked to his master's side, looking fearfully down into the glen. Rip now felt a vague apprehension stealing over him; he looked anxiously in the same direction, and perceived a strange figure slowly toiling up the rocks, and bending under the weight of something he carried on his back. He was surprised to see any human being in this lonely and unfrequented place; but supposing it to be some one of the neighborhood in need of his assistance, he hastened down to yield it.
On nearer approach he was still more surprised at the [v]singularity of the stranger's appearance. He was a short, square-built old fellow, with thick bushy hair, and a grizzled beard. His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion,—a cloth jerkin strapped round the waist, and several pair of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, decorated with rows of buttons down the sides. He bore on his shoulder a stout keg that seemed full of liquor, and made signs for Rip to approach and assist him with the load. Though rather shy and distrustful of this new acquaintance, Rip complied with his usual [v]alacrity, and relieving one another, they clambered up a narrow gully, apparently the dry bed of a mountain torrent.
As they ascended, Rip every now and then heard long, rolling peals, like distant thunder, that seemed to issue out of a deep ravine, or rather cleft, between lofty rocks, toward which their rugged path conducted. He paused for an instant, but supposing it to be the muttering of one of those transient thundershowers which often take place in mountain heights, he proceeded. Passing through the ravine, they came to a hollow, like a small [v]amphitheater, surrounded by perpendicular precipices, over the brinks of which trees shot their branches, so that you only caught glimpses of the azure sky and the bright evening cloud. During the whole time Rip and his companion had labored on in silence; for though the former marveled greatly, what could be the object of carrying a keg of liquor up this wild mountain, yet there was something strange and incomprehensible about the unknown that inspired awe and checked familiarity.
On entering the amphitheater new objects of wonder presented themselves. On a level spot in the center was a company of odd-looking personages playing at ninepins. They were dressed in a quaint, outlandish fashion; some wore short doublets, others jerkins, with long knives in their belts, and most of them had enormous breeches, of similar style with that of the guide's. Their visages, too, were peculiar: one had a large head, broad face, and small, piggish eyes; the face of another seemed to consist entirely of nose, and was surmounted by a white sugar-loaf hat, set off with a little red cock's tail. They all had beards, of various shapes and colors. There was one who seemed to be the commander. He was a stout old gentleman, with a weather-beaten countenance; he wore a laced doublet, broad belt and hanger, high-crowned hat and feather, red stockings, and high-heeled shoes, with roses in them. The whole group reminded Rip of the figures in an old Flemish painting, in the parlor of [v]Dominie Van Shaick, the village parson, which had been brought over from Holland at the time of the settlement.
What seemed particularly odd to Rip was that, though these folks were evidently amusing themselves, yet they maintained the gravest faces, the most mysterious silence, and were, withal, the most melancholy party of pleasure he had ever witnessed. Nothing interrupted the stillness of the scene but the noise of the balls, which, whenever they were rolled, echoed along the mountains like rumbling peals of thunder.
As Rip and his companion approached them, they suddenly desisted from their play, and stared at him with such fixed, statue-like gaze, and such strange, uncouth countenances, that his heart turned within him, and his knees smote together. His companion now emptied the contents of the keg into large flagons, and made signs to him to wait upon the company. He obeyed with fear and trembling; they quaffed the liquor in profound silence, and then returned to their game.
By degrees Rip's awe and apprehension subsided. He even ventured, when no eye was fixed upon him, to taste the beverage, which he found had much of the flavor of excellent Hollands. He was naturally a thirsty soul, and was soon tempted to repeat the draught. One taste provoked another; and he repeated his visits to the flagon so often that at length his senses were overpowered, his eyes swam in his head, his head gradually declined, and he fell into a deep sleep.
On waking he found himself on the green knoll whence he had first seen the old man of the glen. He rubbed his eyes—it was a bright, sunny morning. The birds were hopping and twittering among the bushes, and the eagle was wheeling aloft, and breasting the pure mountain breeze. "Surely," thought Rip, "I have not slept here all night." He recalled the occurrences before he fell asleep. The strange man with a keg of liquor—the mountain ravine—the wild retreat among the rocks—the woe-begone party at ninepins—the flagon—"Oh! that flagon! that wicked flagon!" thought Rip; "what excuse shall I make to Dame Van Winkle?"
He looked round for his gun, but in place of the clean, well-oiled fowling piece, he found an old firelock lying by him, the barrel incrusted with rust, the lock falling off, and the stock worm-eaten. He now suspected that the grave revelers of the mountain had put a trick upon him and, having dosed him with liquor, had robbed him of his gun. Wolf, too, had disappeared, but he might have strayed away after a squirrel or partridge. He whistled after him, and shouted his name, but all in vain; the echoes repeated his whistle and shout, but no dog was to be seen.
He determined to revisit the scene of the last evening's gambol, and if he met with any of the party, to demand his dog and gun. As he rose to walk, he found himself stiff in the joints, and wanting in his usual activity. "These mountain beds do not agree with me," thought Rip, "and if this frolic should lay me up with a fit of the rheumatism, I shall have a blessed time with Dame Van Winkle." With some difficulty he got down into the glen; he found the gully up which he and his companion had ascended the preceding evening; but to his astonishment a mountain stream was now foaming down it, leaping from rock to rock, and filling the glen with babbling murmurs. He, however, made shift to scramble up its sides, working his toilsome way through thickets of birch, sassafras, and witch-hazel, and sometimes tripped up or entangled by the wild grapevines that twisted their coils from tree to tree, and spread a kind of network in his path.
At length he reached to where the ravine had opened through the cliffs to the amphitheater; but no traces of such opening remained. The rocks presented a high, impenetrable wall, over which the torrent came tumbling in a sheet of feathery foam, and fell into a broad, deep basin, black from the shadows of the surrounding forest. Here, then, poor Rip was brought to a stand. He again called and whistled after his dog; he was only answered by the cawing of a flock of idle crows sporting high in air about a dry tree that overhung a sunny precipice; and who, secure in their elevation, seemed to look down and scoff at the poor man's perplexities. What was to be done?—the morning was passing away, and Rip felt famished for want of his breakfast. He grieved to give up his dog and gun; he dreaded to meet his wife; but it would not do to starve among the mountains. He shook his head, shouldered the rusty firelock, and, with a heart full of trouble and anxiety, turned his steps homeward.
As he approached the village he met a number of people, but none whom he knew, which somewhat surprised him, for he had thought himself acquainted with every one in the country round. Their dress, too, was of a different fashion from that to which he was accustomed. They all stared at him with equal marks of surprise, and whenever they cast their eyes upon him, invariably stroked their chins. The constant recurrence of this gesture induced Rip, involuntarily, to do the same, when, to his astonishment, he found his beard had grown a foot long!
He had now entered the skirts of the village. A troop of strange children ran at his heels, hooting after him, and pointing at his gray beard. The dogs, too, not one of which he recognized for an old acquaintance, barked at him as he passed. The very village was altered; it was larger and more populous. There were rows of houses which he had never seen before, and those which had been his familiar haunts had disappeared. Strange names were over the doors—strange faces at the windows—everything was strange. His mind now misgave him; he began to doubt whether both he and the world around him were not bewitched. Surely this was his native village, which he had left but the day before. There stood the Catskill Mountains—there ran the silver Hudson at a distance—there was every hill and dale precisely as it had always been. Rip was sorely perplexed. "That flagon last night," thought he, "has addled my poor head sadly!"
It was with some difficulty that he found the way to his own house, which he approached with silent awe, expecting every moment to hear the shrill voice of Dame Van Winkle. He found the house gone to decay—the roof fallen in, the windows shattered, and the doors off the hinges. A half-starved dog that looked like Wolf was skulking about it. Rip called him by name, but the cur snarled, showed his teeth, and passed on. This was an unkind cut indeed. "My very dog," sighed Rip, "has forgotten me!"
He entered the house, which, to tell the truth, Dame Van Winkle had always kept in neat order. It was empty, forlorn, and apparently abandoned. He called loudly for his wife and children—the lonely chambers rang for a moment with his voice, and then all again was silence.
He now hurried forth, and hastened to his old resort, the village inn—but it, too, was gone. A large, rickety wooden building stood in its place, with great gaping windows, some of them broken and mended with old hats and petticoats, and over the door was painted, "The Union Hotel, by Jonathan Doolittle." Instead of the great tree that used to shelter the quiet little Dutch inn of yore, there now was reared a tall, naked pole, with something on the top that looked like a red nightcap, and from it was fluttering a flag, on which was a singular assemblage of stars and stripes; all this was strange and incomprehensible. He recognized on the sign, however, the ruby face of King George, under which he had smoked so many a peaceful pipe; but even this was singularly changed. The red coat was changed for one of blue and buff, a sword was held in the hand instead of a scepter, the head was decorated with a cocked hat, and underneath was painted in large characters, GENERAL WASHINGTON.
There was, as usual, a crowd of folk about the door, but none that Rip recollected. The very character of the people seemed changed. There was a busy, bustling tone about it, instead of the accustomed drowsy tranquility. He looked in vain for the sage Nicholas Vedder, with his broad face, double chin, and long pipe, uttering clouds of tobacco smoke instead of idle speeches; or Van Bummel, the schoolmaster, doling forth the contents of an ancient newspaper. In place of these, a lean fellow, with his pockets full of handbills, was haranguing vehemently about rights of citizens—elections—members of congress—Bunker's Hill—heroes of seventy-six—and other words, which were a perfect jargon to the bewildered Van Winkle.
The appearance of Rip, with his long, grizzled beard, his rusty fowling piece, his uncouth dress, and an army of women and children at his heels, soon attracted the attention of the tavern politicians. They crowded round him, eyeing him from head to foot with great curiosity. The orator bustled up to him, and, drawing him partly aside, inquired "On which side he voted?" Rip stared in vacant stupidity. Another short but busy little fellow pulled him by the arm, and, rising on tiptoe, inquired in his ear, "Whether he was Federal or Democrat?" Rip was equally at a loss to comprehend the question; when a knowing, self-important old gentleman, in a sharp cocked hat, made his way through the crowd, putting them to the right and left with his elbows as he passed, and planting himself before Van Winkle, with one arm akimbo, the other resting on his cane, his keen eyes and sharp hat penetrating, as it were, into his very soul, demanded, in an austere tone, "What brought him to the election with a gun on his shoulder, and a mob at his heels; and whether he meant to breed a riot in the village?"—"Alas! gentlemen," cried Rip, somewhat dismayed, "I am a poor, quiet man, a native of the place, and a loyal subject of the king, God bless him!"
Here a general shout burst from the bystanders—"A tory! a tory! a spy! a refugee! hustle him! away with him!" It was with great difficulty that the self-important man in the cocked hat restored order; and having assumed a tenfold [v]austerity of brow, demanded again of the unknown culprit, what he came there for, and whom he was seeking! The poor man humbly assured him that he meant no harm, but merely came there in search of some of his neighbors.
"Well—who are they? Name them."
Rip bethought himself a moment, and inquired, "Where's Nicholas Vedder?"
There was a silence for a little while, when an old man replied, in a thin, piping voice, "Nicholas Vedder! why, he is dead and gone these eighteen years! There was a wooden tombstone in the churchyard that used to tell all about him, but that's rotten and gone, too."
"Where's Brom Dutcher?"
"Oh, he went off to the army in the beginning of the war; some say he was killed at the storming of Stony Point; others say he was drowned in a squall at the foot of Anthony's Nose. I don't know; he never came back again."
"Where's Van Brummel, the schoolmaster?"
"He went off to the wars, too, was a great militia general, and is now in congress."
Rip's heart died away at hearing of these sad changes in his home and friends and finding himself thus alone in the world. Every answer puzzled him, too, by treating of such enormous lapses of time, and of matters which he could not understand: war—congress—Stony Point. He had no courage to ask after any more friends, but cried out in despair, "Does nobody here know Rip Van Winkle?"
"Oh, Rip Van Winkle!" exclaimed two or three, "oh, to be sure! that's Rip Van Winkle yonder, leaning against the tree."
Rip looked, and beheld a precise counterpart of himself, as he went up the mountain—apparently as lazy and certainly as ragged. The poor fellow was now completely confounded. He doubted his own identity, and whether he was himself or another man. In the midst of his bewilderment, the man in the cocked hat demanded who he was, and what was his name.
"God knows," exclaimed he, at his wits' end; "I'm not myself—I'm somebody else—that's me yonder—no—that's somebody else got into my shoes—I was myself last night, but I fell asleep on the mountain, and they've changed my gun, and everything's changed, and I'm changed, and I can't tell what's my name, or who I am!"
The bystanders began now to look at each other, nod, wink significantly, and tap their fingers against their foreheads. There was a whisper, also, about securing the gun, and keeping the old fellow from doing mischief, at the very suggestion of which the self-important man in the cocked hat retired with some precipitation. At this critical moment a fresh, comely woman pressed through the throng to get a peep at the gray-bearded man. She had a chubby child in her arms, which, frightened at his looks, began to cry. "Hush, Rip," cried she, "hush, you little fool; the old man won't hurt you." The name of the child, the air of the mother, the tone of her voice, all awakened a train of recollections in his mind. "What is your name, my good woman?" asked he.
"And your father's name?"
"Ah, poor man, Rip Van Winkle was his name, but it's twenty years since he went away from home with his gun, and never has been heard of since—his dog came home without him; but whether he shot himself, or was carried away by the Indians, nobody can tell. I was then but a little girl."
Rip had but one question more to ask; but he put it with a faltering voice:
"Where's your mother?"
"Oh, she, too, had died but a short time since; she broke a blood-vessel in a fit of passion at a New England peddler."
There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelligence. The honest man could contain himself no longer. He caught his daughter and her child in his arms. "I am your father!" cried he—"Young Rip Van Winkle once—Old Rip Van Winkle now! Does nobody know poor Rip Van Winkle?"
All stood amazed until an old woman, tottering out from among the crowd, put her hand to her brow, and peering under it in his face for a moment, exclaimed, "Sure enough! it is Rip Van Winkle—it is himself! Welcome home again, old neighbor. Why, where have you been these twenty long years?"
Rip's story was soon told, for the whole twenty years had been to him but as one night. The neighbors stared when they heard it; some were seen to wink at each other, and put their tongues in their cheeks: and the self-important man in the cocked hat, who when the alarm was over had returned to the field, screwed down the corners of his mouth, and shook his head—upon which there was a general shaking of the head throughout the assemblage.
It was determined, however, to take the opinion of old Peter Vanderdonk, who was seen slowly advancing up the road. He was a descendant of the historian of that name, who wrote one of the earliest accounts of the province. Peter was the most ancient inhabitant of the village, and well versed in all the wonderful events and traditions of the neighborhood. He recollected Rip at once, and corroborated his story in the most satisfactory manner. He assured the company that it was a fact, handed down from his ancestor the historian, that the Catskill Mountains had always been haunted by strange beings. It was affirmed that the great Hendrick Hudson, the first discoverer of the river and country, kept a kind of vigil there every twenty years, with his crew of the Half-moon; being permitted in this way to revisit the scenes of his enterprise, and keep a guardian eye upon the river and the great city called by his name. His father had once seen them in their old Dutch dresses playing at ninepins in a hollow of the mountain; and he himself had heard, one summer afternoon, the sound of their balls, like distant peals of thunder.
To make a long story short, the company broke up and returned to the more important concerns of the election. Rip's daughter took him home to live with her; she had a snug, well-furnished house, and a stout, cheery farmer for a husband, whom Rip recollected for one of the urchins that used to climb upon his back. As to Rip's son and heir, who was the ditto of himself, seen leaning against the tree, he was employed to work on the farm; but showed an hereditary disposition to attend to anything else but his business.
HELPS TO STUDY
"Rip Van Winkle" is the most beautiful of American legendary stories. Washington Irving, the author, taking the old idea of long sleep, as found in "The Sleeping Beauty" and other fairy tales, gave it an American setting and interwove in it the legend of Henry Hudson, the discoverer of the Hudson river, who was supposed to return to the scene of his achievement every twenty years, together with the shades of his crew.
I. Where is the scene of this story laid? In which paragraph do you learn when the incident related in the story took place? Why does Irving speak of the mountains as "fairy mountains"? In which paragraph do you meet the principal characters? Give the opinion you form of Rip and his wife. Read sentences that show Rip's good qualities—those that show his faults. What unusual thing happened to Rip on his walk? How was the dog affected? Give a full account of what happened afterward. Tell what impressed you most in this scene. Read aloud the lines that best describe the scenery.
II. Describe Rip's waking. What was his worst fear? How did he explain to himself the change in his gun and the disappearance of Wolf? How did he account for the stiffness of his joints? What was still his chief fear? Describe the changes which had taken place in the mountains. With what feeling did he turn homeward? Why? How did he discover the alteration in his own appearance? How did the children and dogs treat him? Why was this particularly hard for Rip to understand? What other changes did he find? What remained unaltered? How did Rip still account for the peculiar happenings? Describe Rip's feelings as he turned to his own house, and its desolation.
III. What change had been made in the sign over the inn? Why? What important thing was taking place in the village? Why did the speech of the "lean fellow" seem "perfect jargon" to Rip? Why did he not understand the questions asked him? What happened when Rip made his innocent reply to the self-important gentleman? How did he at last learn of the lapse of time? What added to his bewilderment? How was the mystery explained? Note the question Rip reserved for the last and the effect the answer had upon him. How did Peter Vanderdonk explain the strange happening? What is the happy ending? Do you like Rip? Why?
Urashima—Graded Classics III. Vice Versa—F. Anstey. Peter Pan—James Barrie. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow—Washington Irving. A Christmas Carol—Charles Dickens. Enoch Arden—Alfred Tennyson.
[9-*] For words marked [v], see Dictionary.
THE GREAT STONE FACE
One afternoon when the sun was going down, a mother and her little boy sat at the door of their cottage, talking about the Great Stone Face. They had but to lift their eyes, and there it was plainly to be seen, though miles away, with the sunshine brightening all its features.
And what was the Great Stone Face? The Great Stone Face was a work of Nature in her mood of majestic playfulness, formed on the perpendicular side of a mountain by some immense rocks, which had been thrown together in such a position as, when viewed at a proper distance, precisely to resemble the features of the human countenance. It seemed as if an enormous giant, or a [v]Titan, had sculptured his own likeness on the precipice. There was the broad arch of the forehead, a hundred feet in height; the nose, with its long bridge; and the vast lips, which, if they could have spoken, would have rolled their thunder accents from one end of the valley to the other.
It was a happy lot for children to grow up to manhood or womanhood with the Great Stone Face before their eyes, for all the features were noble, and the expression was at once grand and sweet, as if it were the glow of a vast, warm heart that embraced all mankind in its affections, and had room for more.
As we began with saying, a mother and her little boy sat at their cottage door, gazing at the Great Stone Face, and talking about it. The child's name was Ernest. "Mother," said he, while the Titanic visage smiled on him, "I wish that it could speak, for it looks so very kindly that its voice must be pleasant. If I were to see a man with such a face, I should love him dearly."
"If an old prophecy should come to pass," answered his mother, "we may see a man, some time or other, with exactly such a face as that."
"What prophecy do you mean, dear mother?" eagerly inquired Ernest. "Pray tell me all about it!"
So his mother told him a story that her own mother had told to her, when she herself was younger than little Ernest; a story, not of things that were past, but of what was yet to come; a story, nevertheless, so very old that even the Indians, who formerly inhabited this valley, had heard it from their forefathers, to whom, they believed, it had been murmured by the mountain streams, and whispered by the wind among the tree tops. The story said that at some future day a child should be born hereabouts who was destined to become the greatest and noblest man of his time, and whose countenance, in manhood, should bear an exact resemblance to the Great Stone Face.
"O mother, dear mother!" cried Ernest, clapping his hands above his head, "I do hope that I shall live to see him!" His mother was an affectionate and thoughtful woman, and felt that it was wisest not to discourage the hopes of her little boy. She only said to him, "Perhaps you may," little thinking that the prophecy would one day come true.
And Ernest never forgot the story that his mother told him. It was always in his mind whenever he looked upon the Great Stone Face. He spent his childhood in the log cottage where he was born, and was dutiful to his mother, and helpful to her in many things, assisting her much with his little hands, and more with his loving heart. In this manner, from a happy yet thoughtful child, he grew to be a mild, quiet, modest boy, sun-browned with labor in the fields, but with more intelligence in his face than is seen in many lads who have been taught at famous schools. Yet Ernest had had no teacher, save only that the Great Stone Face became one to him. When the toil of the day was over, he would gaze at it for hours, until he began to imagine that those vast features recognized him, and gave him a smile of kindness and encouragement in response to his own look of [v]veneration. We must not take upon us to affirm that this was a mistake, although the Face may have looked no more kindly at Ernest than at all the world besides. For the secret was that the boy's tender simplicity [v]discerned what other people could not see; and thus the love, which was meant for all, became his alone.
About this time, there went a rumor throughout the valley that the great man, foretold from ages long ago, who was to bear a resemblance to the Great Stone Face, had appeared at last. It seems that, many years before, a young man had left the valley and settled at a distant seaport, where, after getting together a little money, he had set up as a shopkeeper. His name—but I could never learn whether it was his real one, or a nickname that had grown out of his habits and success in life—was Gathergold.
It might be said of him, as of [v]Midas in the fable, that whatever he touched with his finger immediately glistened, and grew yellow, and was changed at once into coin. And when Mr. Gathergold had become so rich that it would have taken him a hundred years only to count his wealth, he bethought himself of his native valley, and resolved to go back thither, and end his days where he was born. With this purpose in view, he sent a skillful architect to build him such a palace as should be fit for a man of his vast wealth to live in.
As I have said above, it had already been rumored in the valley that Mr. Gathergold had turned out to be the person so long and vainly looked for, and that his visage was the perfect and undeniable likeness of the Great Stone Face. People were the more ready to believe that this must needs be the fact when they beheld the splendid edifice that rose, as if by enchantment, on the site of his father's old weather-beaten farmhouse. The exterior was of marble, so dazzling white that it seemed as though the whole structure might melt away in the sunshine, like those humbler ones which Mr. Gathergold, in his young playdays, had been accustomed to build of snow. It had a richly ornamented portico, supported by tall pillars, beneath which was a lofty door, studded with silver knobs, and made of a kind of variegated wood that had been brought from beyond the sea. The windows, from the floor to the ceiling of each stately apartment, were each composed of but one enormous pane of glass. Hardly anybody had been permitted to see the interior of this palace; but it was reported to be far more gorgeous than the outside, insomuch that whatever was iron or brass in other houses was silver or gold in this; and Mr. Gathergold's bedchamber, especially, made such a glittering appearance that no ordinary man would have been able to close his eyes there. But, on the other hand, Mr. Gathergold was now so accustomed to wealth that perhaps he could not have closed his eyes unless where the gleam of it was certain to find its way beneath his eyelids.
In due time, the mansion was finished; next came the upholsterers, with magnificent furniture; then a whole troop of black and white servants, the harbingers of Mr. Gathergold, who, in his own majestic person, was expected to arrive at sunset. Our friend Ernest, meanwhile, had been deeply stirred by the idea that the great man, the noble man, the man of prophecy, after so many ages of delay, was at length to appear in his native valley. He knew, boy as he was, that there were a thousand ways in which Mr. Gathergold, with his vast wealth, might transform himself into an angel of beneficence, and assume a control over human affairs as wide and [v]benignant as the smile of the Great Stone Face. Full of faith and hope, Ernest doubted not that what the people said was true, and that now he was to behold the living likeness of those wondrous features on the mountain side. While the boy was still gazing up the valley, and fancying, as he always did, that the Great Stone Face returned his gaze and looked kindly at him, the rumbling of wheels was heard, approaching swiftly along the winding road.
"Here he comes!" cried a group of people who were assembled to witness the arrival. "Here comes the great Mr. Gathergold!"
A carriage, drawn by four horses, dashed round the turn of the road. Within it, thrust partly out of the window, appeared the face of a little old man, with a skin as yellow as gold. He had a low forehead, small, sharp eyes, puckered about with innumerable wrinkles, and very thin lips, which he made still thinner by pressing them forcibly together.
"The very image of the Great Stone Face!" shouted the people. "Sure enough, the old prophecy is true."
And, what greatly perplexed Ernest, they seemed actually to believe that here was the likeness which they spoke of. By the roadside there chanced to be an old beggar woman and two little beggar children, stragglers from some far-off region, who, as the carriage rolled onward, held out their hands and lifted up their doleful voices, most piteously beseeching charity. A yellow claw—the very same that had clawed together so much wealth—poked itself out of the coach window, and dropped some copper coins upon the ground; so that, though the great man's name seems to have been Gathergold, he might just as suitably have been nicknamed Scattercopper. Still, nevertheless, with an earnest shout, and evidently with as much good faith as ever, the people bellowed:
"He is the very image of the Great Stone Face!"
But Ernest turned sadly from the wrinkled shrewdness of that visage and gazed up the valley, where, amid a gathering mist, gilded by the last sunbeams, he could still distinguish those glorious features which had impressed themselves into his soul. Their aspect cheered him. What did the benign lips seem to say?
"He will come! Fear not, Ernest; the man will come!"
The years went on, and Ernest ceased to be a boy. He had grown to be a young man now. He attracted little notice from the other inhabitants of the valley, for they saw nothing remarkable in his way of life, save that, when the labor of the day was over, he still loved to go apart and gaze and meditate upon the Great Stone Face. According to their idea of the matter, however, it was a pardonable folly, for Ernest was industrious, kind, and neighborly, and neglected no duty for the sake of this idle habit. They knew not that the Great Stone Face had become a teacher to him, and that the sentiment which was expressed in it would enlarge the young man's heart, and fill it with wider and deeper sympathies than other hearts. They knew not that thence would come a better wisdom than could be learned from books, and a better life than could be molded on the example of other human lives. Neither did Ernest know that the thoughts and affections which came to him so naturally, in the fields and at the fireside, were of a higher tone than those which all men shared with him. A simple soul,—simple as when his mother first taught him the old prophecy,—he beheld the marvelous features beaming down the valley, and still wondered that their human counterpart was so long in making his appearance.
By this time poor Mr. Gathergold was dead and buried; and the oddest part of the matter was that his wealth, which was the body and spirit of his existence, had disappeared before his death, leaving nothing of him but a living skeleton, covered over with a wrinkled, yellow skin. Since the melting away of his gold, it had been very generally allowed that there was no such striking resemblance, after all, betwixt the ignoble features of the ruined merchant and that majestic face upon the mountain side. So the people ceased to honor him during his lifetime, and quietly forgot him after his decease. Once in a while, it is true, his memory was brought up in connection with the magnificent palace which he had built, and which had long ago been turned into a hotel for the accommodation of strangers, multitudes of whom came, every summer, to visit that famous natural curiosity, the Great Stone Face. The man of prophecy was yet to come.
It so happened that a native-born son of the valley, many years before, had enlisted as a soldier, and, after a great deal of hard fighting, had now become an illustrious commander. Whatever he may be called in history, he was known in camps and on the battlefield under the nickname of Old Blood-and-Thunder. This war-worn veteran, being now weary of a military life, and of the roll of the drum and the clangor of the trumpet that had so long been ringing in his ears, had lately signified a purpose of returning to his native valley, hoping to find repose where he remembered to have left it. The inhabitants, his old neighbors and their grown-up children, were resolved to welcome the [v]renowned warrior with a salute of cannon and a public dinner; and all the more enthusiastically because it was believed that at last the likeness of the Great Stone Face had actually appeared. A friend of Old Blood-and-Thunder, traveling through the valley, was said to have been struck with the resemblance. Moreover, the schoolmates and early acquaintances of the general were ready to testify, on oath, that, to the best of their recollection, the general had been exceedingly like the majestic image, even when a boy, only that the idea had never occurred to them at that period. Great, therefore, was the excitement throughout the valley; and many people, who had never once thought of glancing at the Great Stone Face for years before, now spent their time in gazing at it, for the sake of knowing exactly how General Blood-and-Thunder looked.
On the day of the great festival, Ernest, and all the other people of the valley, left their work and proceeded to the spot where the banquet was prepared. As he approached, the loud voice of the Rev. Dr. Battleblast was heard, beseeching a blessing on the good things set before them, and on the distinguished friend of peace in whose honor they were assembled. The tables were arranged in a cleared space of the woods, shut in by the surrounding trees, except where a vista opened eastward, and afforded a distant view of the Great Stone Face. Over the general's chair, which was a relic from the home of Washington, there was an arch of green boughs and laurel surmounted by his country's banner, beneath which he had won his victories. Our friend Ernest raised himself on his tiptoes, in hopes to get a glimpse of the celebrated guest; but there was a mighty crowd about the tables anxious to hear the toasts and speeches, and to catch any word that might fall from the general in reply; and a volunteer company, doing duty as a guard, pricked with their bayonets at any particularly quiet person among the throng. So Ernest, being of a modest character, was thrust quite into the background, where he could see no more of Old Blood-and-Thunder's face than if it had been still blazing on the battlefield. To console himself he turned toward the Great Stone Face, which, like a faithful and long-remembered friend, looked back and smiled upon him through the forest. Meantime, however, he could overhear the remarks of various individuals who were comparing the features of the hero with the face on the distant mountain side.
"'Tis the same face, to a hair!" cried one man, cutting a caper for joy.
"Wonderfully like, that's a fact!" responded another.
"Like! Why, I call it Old Blood-and-Thunder himself, in a monstrous looking-glass!" cried a third. "And why not? He's the greatest man of this or any other age, beyond a doubt."
"The general! The general!" was now the cry. "Hush! Silence! Old Blood-and-Thunder's going to make a speech."
Even so; for, the cloth being removed, the general's health had been drunk amid shouts of applause, and he now stood upon his feet to thank the company. Ernest saw him. There he was, over the shoulders of the crowd, from the two glittering epaulets and embroidered collar upward, beneath the arch of green boughs with intertwined laurel, and the banner drooping as if to shade his brow! And there, too, visible in the same glance, appeared the Great Stone Face! And was there, indeed, such a resemblance as the crowd had testified? Alas, Ernest could not recognize it! He beheld a war-worn and weather-beaten countenance, full of energy, and expressive of an iron will; but the gentle wisdom, the deep, broad, tender sympathies were altogether wanting in Old Blood-and-Thunder's visage.
"This is not the man of prophecy," sighed Ernest to himself, as he made his way out of the throng. "And must the world wait longer yet?"
The mists had gathered about the distant mountain side, and there were seen the grand and awful features of the Great Stone Face, awful but benignant, as if a mighty angel were sitting among the hills and enrobing himself in a cloud vesture of gold and purple. As he looked, Ernest could hardly believe but that a smile beamed over the whole visage, with a radiance still brightening, although without motion of the lips. It was probably the effect of the western sunshine, melting the thin vapors that had swept between him and the object that he had gazed at. But—as it always did—the aspect of his marvelous friend made Ernest as hopeful as if he had never hoped in vain.
"Fear not, Ernest," said his heart, even as if the Great Face were whispering him—"fear not, Ernest."
More years sped swiftly and tranquilly away. Ernest still dwelt in his native valley, and was now a man of middle age. By slow degrees he had become known among the people. Now, as heretofore, he labored for his bread, and was the same simple-hearted man that he had always been. But he had thought and felt so much, he had given so many of the best hours of his life to unworldly hopes for some great good to mankind, that it seemed as though he had been talking with the angels, and had imbibed a portion of their wisdom unawares. It was visible in the calm beneficence of his daily life, the quiet stream of which had made a wide, green margin all along its course. Not a day passed by that the world was not the better because this man, humble as he was, had lived. He never stepped aside from his own path, yet would always reach a blessing to his neighbor. Almost involuntarily, too, he had become a preacher. The pure and high simplicity of his thought, which took shape in the good deeds that dropped silently from his hand, flowered also forth in speech. He uttered truths that molded the lives of those who heard him. His hearers, it may be, never suspected that Ernest, their own neighbor and familiar friend, was more than an ordinary man; least of all did Ernest himself suspect it; but thoughts came out of his mouth that no other human lips had spoken.
When the people's minds had had a little time to cool, they were ready enough to acknowledge their mistake in imagining a similarity between General Blood-and-Thunder and the benign visage on the mountain side. But now, again, there were reports and many paragraphs in the newspapers, affirming that the likeness of the Great Stone Face had appeared upon the broad shoulders of a certain eminent [v]statesman. He, like Mr. Gathergold and Old Blood-and-Thunder, was a native of the valley, but had left it in his early days, and taken up the trades of law and politics. Instead of the rich man's wealth and the warrior's sword he had but a tongue, and it was mightier than both together. So wonderfully eloquent was he that, whatever he might choose to say, his hearers had no choice but to believe him; wrong looked like right, and right like wrong. His voice, indeed, was a magic instrument: sometimes it rumbled like the thunder; sometimes it warbled like the sweetest music. In good truth, he was a wondrous man; and when his tongue had acquired him all other imaginable success,—when it had been heard in halls of state and in the courts of princes,—after it had made him known all over the world, even as a voice crying from shore to shore,—it finally persuaded his countrymen to select him for the presidency. Before this time,—indeed, as soon as he began to grow celebrated,—his admirers had found out the resemblance between him and the Great Stone Face; and so much were they struck by it that throughout the country this distinguished gentleman was known by the name of Old Stony Phiz.
While his friends were doing their best to make him President, Old Stony Phiz, as he was called, set out on a visit to the valley where he was born. Of course he had no other object than to shake hands with his fellow-citizens, and neither thought nor cared about any effect which his progress through the country might have upon the election. Magnificent preparations were made to receive the [v]illustrious statesmen; a cavalcade of horsemen set forth to meet him at the boundary line of the State, and all the people left their business and gathered along the wayside to see him pass. Among these was Ernest. Though more than once disappointed, as we have seen, he had such a hopeful and confiding nature that he was always ready to believe in whatever seemed beautiful and good. He kept his heart continually open, and thus was sure to catch the blessing from on high, when it should come. So now again, as buoyantly as ever, he went forth to behold the likeness of the Great Stone Face.
The cavalcade came prancing along the road, with a great clattering of hoofs and a mighty cloud of dust, which rose up so dense and high that the visage of the mountain side was completely hidden from Ernest's eyes. All the great men of the neighborhood were there on horseback: militia officers, in uniform; the member of congress; the sheriff of the county; the editors of newspapers; and many a farmer, too, had mounted his patient steed, with his Sunday coat upon his back. It really was a very brilliant spectacle, especially as there were numerous banners flaunting over the cavalcade, on some of which were gorgeous portraits of the illustrious statesman and the Great Stone Face, smiling familiarly at one another, like two brothers. If the pictures were to be trusted, the resemblance, it must be confessed, was marvelous. We must not forget to mention that there was a band of music, which made the echoes of the mountains ring with the loud triumph of its strains, so that airy and soul-thrilling melodies broke out among all the heights and hollows, as if every nook of his native valley had found a voice to welcome the distinguished guest. But the grandest effect was when the far-off mountain precipice flung back the music; for then the Great Stone Face itself seemed to be swelling the triumphant chorus, in acknowledgment that, at length, the man of prophecy was come.
All this while the people were throwing up their hats and shouting with such enthusiasm that the heart of Ernest kindled up, and he likewise threw up his hat and shouted as loudly as the loudest, "Huzza for the great man! Huzza for Old Stony Phiz!" But as yet he had not seen him.
"Here he is now!" cried those who stood near Ernest. "There! There! Look at Old Stony Phiz and then at the Old Man of the Mountain, and see if they are not as like as two twin brothers!"
In the midst of all this gallant array came an open [v]barouche, drawn by four white horses; and in the barouche, with his massive head uncovered, sat the illustrious statesman, Old Stony Phiz himself.
"Confess it," said one of Ernest's neighbors to him, "the Great Stone Face has met its match at last!"
Now, it must be owned that, at his first glimpse of the countenance which was bowing and smiling from the barouche, Ernest did fancy that there was a resemblance between it and the old familiar face upon the mountain side. The brow, with its massive depth and loftiness, and all the other features, indeed, were bold and strong. But the grand expression of a divine sympathy that illuminated the mountain visage might here be sought in vain.
Still Ernest's neighbor was thrusting his elbow into his side, and pressing him for an answer.
"Confess! Confess! Is not he the very picture of your Old Man of the Mountain?"
"No!" said Ernest, bluntly; "I see little or no likeness."
"Then so much the worse for the Great Stone Face!" answered his neighbor. And again he set up a shout for Old Stony Phiz.
But Ernest turned away, melancholy, and almost despondent; for this was the saddest of his disappointments, to behold a man who might have fulfilled the prophecy, and had not willed to do so. Meantime, the cavalcade, the banners, the music, and the barouches swept past him, with the shouting crowd in the rear, leaving the dust to settle down, and the Great Stone Face to be revealed again, with the grandeur that it had worn for untold centuries.
"Lo, here I am, Ernest!" the benign lips seemed to say. "I have waited longer than thou, and am not yet weary. Fear not; the man will come."
The years hurried onward, treading in their haste on one another's heels. And now they began to bring white hairs and scatter them over the head of Ernest; they made wrinkles across his forehead and furrows in his cheeks. He was an aged man. But not in vain had he grown old; more than the white hairs on his head were the wise thoughts in his mind. And Ernest had ceased to be obscure. Unsought for, undesired, had come the fame which so many seek, and made him known in the great world, beyond the limits of the valley in which he had dwelt so quietly. College professors, and even the active men of cities, came from far to see and converse with Ernest; for the report had gone abroad that this simple farmer had ideas unlike those of other men, and a tranquil majesty as if he had been talking with the angels as his daily friends. Ernest received these visitors with the gentle sincerity that had marked him from boyhood, and spoke freely with them of whatever came uppermost, or lay deepest in his heart or their own. While they talked together his face would kindle and shine upon them, as with a mild evening light. When his guests took leave and went their way, and passing up the valley, paused to look at the Great Stone Face, they imagined that they had seen its likeness in a human countenance, but could not remember where.
While Ernest had been growing up and growing old, a bountiful Providence had granted a new poet to this earth. He, likewise, was a native of the valley, but had spent the greater part of his life at a distance from that romantic region, pouring out his sweet music amid the bustle and din of cities. Often, however, did the mountains which had been familiar to him in his childhood lift their snowy peaks into the clear atmosphere of his poetry. Neither was the Great Stone Face forgotten, for he had celebrated it in a poem which was grand enough to have been uttered by its lips.
The songs of this poet found their way to Ernest. He read them after his customary toil, seated on the bench before his cottage door, where for such a length of time he had filled his repose with thought, by gazing at the Great Stone Face. And now, as he read stanzas that caused the soul to thrill within him, he lifted his eyes to the vast countenance beaming on him so benignantly.
"O majestic friend," he said, addressing the Great Stone Face, "is not this man worthy to resemble thee?"
The Face seemed to smile, but answered not a word.
Now it happened that the poet, though he dwelt so far away, had not only heard of Ernest, but had meditated much upon his character, until he deemed nothing so desirable as to meet this man whose untaught wisdom walked hand in hand with the noble simplicity of his life. One summer morning, therefore, he took passage by the railroad, and, in the decline of the afternoon, alighted from the cars at no great distance from Ernest's cottage. The great hotel, which had formerly been the palace of Mr. Gathergold, was close at hand, but the poet, with his carpetbag on his arm, inquired at once where Ernest dwelt, and was resolved to be accepted as his guest.
Approaching the door, he there found the good old man, holding a volume in his hand, which he read, and then, with a finger between the leaves, looked lovingly at the Great Stone Face.
"Good evening," said the poet. "Can you give a traveler a night's lodging?"
"Willingly," answered Ernest. And then he added, smiling, "Methinks I never saw the Great Stone Face look so hospitably at a stranger."
The poet sat down on the bench beside him, and he and Ernest talked together. Often had the poet conversed with the wittiest and the wisest, but never before with a man like Ernest, whose thoughts and feelings gushed up with such a natural freedom, and who made great truths so familiar by his simple utterance of them. Angels, as had been so often said, seemed to have wrought with him at his labor in the fields; angels seemed to have sat with him by the fireside. So thought the poet. And Ernest, on the other hand, was moved by the living images which the poet flung out of his mind, and which peopled all the air about the cottage door with shapes of beauty.
As Ernest listened to the poet, he imagined that the Great Stone Face was bending forward to listen, too. He gazed earnestly into the poet's glowing eyes.
"Who are you, my strangely gifted guest!" he said.
The poet laid his finger on the volume that Ernest had been reading.
"You have read these poems," said he. "You know me, then,—for I wrote them."
Again, and still more earnestly than before, Ernest examined the poet's features; then turned toward the Great Stone Face; then back to his guest. But his countenance fell; he shook his head, and mournfully sighed.
"Wherefore are you sad?" inquired the poet.
"Because," replied Ernest, "all through life I have awaited the fulfillment of a prophecy; and when I read these poems, I hoped that it might be fulfilled in you."
"You hoped," answered the poet, faintly smiling, "to find in me the likeness of the Great Stone Face. And you are disappointed, as formerly with Mr. Gathergold, and Old Blood-and-Thunder, and Old Stony Phiz. Yes, Ernest, it is my doom. You must add my name to the illustrious three, and record another failure of your hopes. For—in shame and sadness do I speak it, Ernest—I am not worthy."
"And why?" asked Ernest. He pointed to the volume. "Are not those thoughts divine?"
"You can hear in them the far-off echo of a heavenly song," replied the poet. "But my life, dear Ernest, has not corresponded with my thought. I have had grand dreams, but they have been only dreams, because I have lived—and that, too, by my own choice—among poor and mean realities. Sometimes even—shall I dare to say it?—I lack faith in the grandeur, the beauty, and the goodness which my own works are said to have made more evident in nature and in human life. Why, then, pure seeker of the good and true, shouldst thou hope to find me in yonder image of the divine?"
The poet spoke sadly, and his eyes were dim with tears. So, likewise, were those of Ernest.
At the hour of sunset, as had long been his frequent custom, Ernest was to speak to an assemblage of the neighboring inhabitants in the open air. He and the poet, arm in arm, still talking together as they went along, proceeded to the spot. It was a small nook among the hills, with a gray precipice behind, the stern front of which was relieved by the pleasant foliage of many creeping plants, that made a [v]tapestry for the naked rock by hanging their festoons from all its rugged angles. At a small elevation above the ground, set in a rich framework of verdure, there appeared a [v]niche, spacious enough to admit a human figure. Into this natural pulpit Ernest ascended and threw a look of familiar kindness around upon his audience. They stood, or sat, or reclined upon the grass, as seemed good to each, with the departing sunshine falling over them. In another direction was seen the Great Stone Face, with the same cheer, combined with the same solemnity, in its benignant aspect.
Ernest began to speak, giving to the people of what was in his heart and mind. His words had power, because they accorded with his thoughts; and his thoughts had reality and depth, because they harmonized with the life which he had always lived. The poet, as he listened, felt that the being and character of Ernest were a nobler strain of poetry than he had ever written. His eyes glistening with tears, he gazed reverentially at the venerable man, and said within himself that never was there an aspect so worthy of a prophet and a sage as that mild, sweet, thoughtful countenance with the glory of white hair diffused about it. At a distance, but distinctly to be seen, high up in the golden light of the setting sun, appeared the Great Stone Face, with hoary mists around it, like the white hairs around the brow of Ernest.
At that moment, in sympathy with a thought which he was about to utter, the face of Ernest assumed a grandeur of expression, so full of benevolence, that the poet, by an irresistible impulse, threw his arms aloft, and shouted:
"Behold! Behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone Face!"
Then all the people looked and saw that what the deep-sighted poet said was true. The prophecy was fulfilled. The man had appeared at last.
HELPS TO STUDY
The Great Stone Face is a rock formation in the Franconia Notch of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, known as "The Old Man of the Mountain."
I. What picture do you get from Part I? Tell in your own words what the mother told Ernest about the Great Stone Face. Who had carved the face? How? Find something that is one hundred feet high, and picture to yourself the immensity of the whole face, judging by the forehead alone. Describe Ernest's childhood and his education.
II. What reason had the people for thinking that the great man had come in the person of Mr. Gathergold? Explain the reference to Midas. What was there in Mr. Gathergold's appearance and action to disappoint Ernest? What comforted him? Why were the people willing to believe that Mr. Gathergold was the image of the Great Stone Face? What caused them to decide that he was not? What was there to indicate that Ernest would become a great and good man?
III. What new character is now introduced? Wherein was Old Blood-and-Thunder lacking in resemblance to the Great Stone Face? Compare him with Mr. Gathergold and decide which was the greater character? How was Ernest comforted in his second disappointment?
IV. What kind of man had Ernest become? What figure comes into the story now? Find a sentence that gives a clew to the character of Stony Phiz. Compare him with the characters previously introduced. Why was Ernest more disappointed than before? Where did he again look for comfort?
V. What changes did the hurrying years bring Ernest? What sentence indicates who the man of prophecy might be? Who is now introduced in the story? Give the opinion that Ernest and the poet had of each other. Find the sentence which explains why the poet failed. Who was the first to recognize in Ernest the likeness to the Great Stone Face? Why did Hawthorne have a poet to make the discovery? In what way was Ernest great? How had he become so? What trait of Ernest's character is shown in the last sentence?
The story is divided into five parts. Make an outline telling what is the topic of each part.
The Sketch Book—Washington Irving. Old Curiosity Shop—Charles Dickens. Pendennis—William Makepeace Thackeray. The Snow-Image—Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Legend Beautiful—Henry W. Longfellow. William Wilson—Edgar Allan Poe.
THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH
In the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims, To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling, Clad in [v]doublet and hose, and boots of [v]Cordovan leather, Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain. Buried in thought he seemed, with hands behind him, and pausing Ever and anon to behold the glittering weapons of warfare, Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,— Cutlass and corslet of steel, and his trusty [v]sword of Damascus. Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic, Broad in the shoulders, deep-chested, with muscles and sinews of iron; Brown as a nut was his face, but his russet beard was already Flaked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November. Near him was seated John Alden, his friend, and household companion, Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the window; Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion. Youngest of all was he of the men who came in the May Flower. (Standish takes up a book and reads a moment.) Suddenly breaking the silence, the diligent scribe interrupting, Spake, in the pride of his heart, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth. "Look at these arms," he said, "the warlike weapons that hang here Burnished and bright and clean, as if for parade or inspection! This is the sword of Damascus I fought with in Flanders; this breastplate, Well, I remember the day! once saved my life in a skirmish; Here in front you can see the very dint of the bullet. Had it not been of sheer steel, the forgotten bones of Miles Standish Would at this moment be mold, in the grave in the Flemish morasses." Thereupon answered John Alden, but looked not up from his writing: "Truly the breath of the Lord hath slackened the speed of the bullet; He in his mercy preserved you to be our shield and our weapon!" Still the Captain continued, unheeding the words of the stripling: "See how bright they are burnished, as if in an arsenal hanging; That is because I have done it myself, and not left it to others. Serve yourself, would you be well served, is an excellent [v]adage; So I take care of my arms, as you of your pens and your inkhorn. Then, too, there are my soldiers, my great, invincible army, Twelve men, all equipped, having each his rest and his matchlock, Eighteen shillings a month, together with diet and pillage, And, like Caesar, I know the name of each of my soldiers!" All was silent again; the Captain continued his reading. Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling Writing epistles important to go next day by the May Flower, Ready to sail on the morrow, or next day at latest, God willing, Homeward bound with the tidings of all that terrible winter, Letters written by Alden and full of the name of Priscilla, Full of the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla. Every sentence began or closed with the name of Priscilla, Till the treacherous pen, to which he confided the secret Strove to betray it by singing and shouting the name of Priscilla! Finally closing his book, with a bang of its [v]ponderous cover, Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier grounding his musket, Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth: "When you have finished your work, I have something important to tell you. Be not however in haste; I can wait; I shall not be impatient!" Straightway Alden replied, as he folded the last of his letters, Pushing his papers aside, and giving respectful attention: "Speak; for whenever you speak, I am always ready to listen, Always ready to hear whatever pertains to Miles Standish." Thereupon answered the Captain, embarrassed, and culling his phrases: "'Tis not good for a man to be alone, say the Scriptures. This I have said before, and again and again I repeat it; Every hour in the day, I think it, and feel it, and say it. Since Rose Standish died, my life has been weary and dreary; Sick at heart have I been, beyond the healing of friendship. Oft in my lonely hours have I thought of the maiden Priscilla, Patient, courageous, and strong, and said to myself, that if ever There were angels on earth, as there are angels in heaven, Two have I seen and known; and the angel whose name is Priscilla Holds in my desolate life the place which the other abandoned. Long have I cherished the thought, but never have dared to reveal it, Being a coward in this, though valiant enough for the most part. Go to the damsel Priscilla, the loveliest maiden of Plymouth; Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of actions, Offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this in short is my meaning; I am a maker of war, and not a maker of phrases."
When he had spoken, John Alden, the fair-haired, [v]taciturn stripling, All aghast at his words, surprised, embarrassed, bewildered, Trying to mask his dismay by treating the subject with lightness, Trying to smile, and yet feeling his heart stand still in his bosom, Thus made answer and spake, or rather stammered than answered: "Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle and mar it; If you would have it well done—I am only repeating your maxim— You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!" But with the air of a man whom nothing can turn from his purpose, Gravely shaking his head, made answer the Captain of Plymouth: "Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gainsay it; But we must use it discreetly, and not waste powder for nothing. Now, as I said before, I was never a maker of phrases. I can march up to a fortress and summon the place to surrender, But march up to a woman with such a proposal, I dare not. I'm not afraid of bullets, nor shot from the mouth of a cannon, But of a thundering No! point-blank from the mouth of a woman, That I confess I am afraid of, nor am I ashamed to confess it! Surely you cannot refuse what I ask in the name of our friendship!"
Then made answer John Alden: "The name of friendship is sacred; What you demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you!" So the strong will prevailed, subduing and molding the gentler, Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went on his errand.
So the strong will prevailed, and Alden went on his errand, Out of the street of the village, and into the paths of the forest, Into the tranquil woods, where bluebirds and robins were building Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of [v]verdure, Peaceful, [v]aerial cities of joy and affection and freedom. All around him was calm, but within him commotion and conflict, Love contending with friendship, and self with each generous impulse.
So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his errand; Saw the new-built house, and people at work in a meadow; Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical voice of Priscilla Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan anthem, Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and comforting many. Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the maiden Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow-drift Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ravenous spindle, While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel in its motion.
So he entered the house; and the hum of the wheel and the singing Suddenly ceased; for Priscilla, aroused by his step on the threshold, Rose as he entered, and gave him her hand, in signal of welcome, Saying, "I knew it was you, when I heard your step in the passage; For I was thinking of you, as I sat there singing and spinning." Awkward and dumb with delight, that a thought of him had been mingled Thus in the sacred psalm, that came from the heart of the maiden, Silent before her he stood. "I have been thinking all day," said gently the Puritan maiden, "Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the hedgerows of England,— They are in blossom now, and the country is all like a garden; Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the lark and the linnet, Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of neighbors Going about as of old, and stopping to gossip together. Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me my religion; Still my heart is so sad that I wish myself back in Old England. You will say it is wrong, but I cannot help it; I almost Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so lonely and wretched."
Thereupon answered the youth: "Indeed I do not condemn you; Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in this terrible winter. Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on; So I have come to you now, with an offer and proffer of marriage Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth!" Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer of letters,— Did not [v]embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful phrases, But came straight to the point and blurted it out like a schoolboy; Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly. Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puritan maiden Looked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with wonder, Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned and rendered her speechless; Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, Why does he not come himself and take trouble to woo me? If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!" Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter, Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was busy,— Had no time for such things;—such things! the words grating harshly, Fell on the ear of Priscilla; and swift as a flash she made answer: "Has he not time for such things, as you call it, before he is married, Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after the wedding?" Still John Alden went on, unheeding the words of Priscilla, Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, expanding. But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent language, Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival, Archly the maiden smiled, and with eyes overrunning with laughter, Said, in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"
With conflicting feelings of love for Priscilla and duty to his friend, Miles Standish, John Alden does not "speak for himself," but returns to Plymouth to tell Standish the result of the interview.
Then John Alden spake, and related the wondrous adventure, From beginning to end, minutely, just as it happened; How he had seen Priscilla, and how he had sped in his courtship, Only smoothing a little and softening down her refusal. But when he came at length to the words Priscilla had spoken, Words so tender and cruel: "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" Up leaped the Captain of Plymouth, and stamped on the floor, till his armor Clanged on the wall, where it hung, with a sound of sinister omen. All his pent-up wrath burst forth in a sudden explosion, E'en as a hand grenade, that scatters destruction around it. Wildly he shouted and loud: "John Alden! you have betrayed me! Me, Miles Standish, your friend! have supplanted, defrauded, betrayed me! You, who lived under my roof, whom I cherished and loved as a brother; Henceforth let there be nothing between us save war, and implacable hatred!"
So spake the Captain of Plymouth, and strode about in the chamber, Chafing and choking with rage; like cords were the veins on his temples. But in the midst of his anger a man appeared at the doorway, Bringing in uttermost haste a message of urgent importance, Rumors of danger and war and hostile incursions of Indians! Straightway the Captain paused, and, without further question or parley, Took from the nail on the wall his sword with its scabbard of iron, Buckled the belt round his waist, and, frowning fiercely, departed. Alden was left alone. He heard the clank of the scabbard Growing fainter and fainter, and dying away in the distance. Then he arose from his seat, and looked forth into the darkness, Felt the cool air blow on his cheek, that was hot with the insult, Lifted his eyes to the heavens and, folding his hands as in childhood, Prayed in the silence of night to the Father who seeth in secret.
A report comes to the settlement that Miles Standish has been killed in a fight with the Indians. John Alden, feeling that Standish's death has freed him from the need of keeping his own love for Priscilla silent, woos and wins her. At last the wedding-day arrives.
This was the wedding-morn of Priscilla the Puritan maiden. Friends were assembled together; the Elder and Magistrate also Graced the scene with their presence, and stood like the Law and the Gospel, One with the sanction of earth and one with the blessing of heaven. Simple and brief was the wedding, as that of Ruth and of Boaz. Softly the youth and the maiden repeated the words of betrothal, Taking each other for husband and wife in the Magistrate's presence, After the Puritan way, and the laudable custom of Holland. Fervently then, and devoutly, the excellent Elder of Plymouth Prayed for the hearth and the home, that were founded that day in affection, Speaking of life and death, and imploring Divine benedictions. Lo! when the service was ended, a form appeared on the threshold, Clad in armor of steel, a somber and sorrowful figure! Why does the bridegroom start and stare at the strange apparition? Why does the bride turn pale, and hide her face on his shoulder? Is it a phantom of air,—a bodiless, spectral illusion? Is it a ghost from the grave, that has come to forbid the betrothal? Long had it stood there unseen, a guest uninvited, unwelcomed; Over its clouded eyes there had passed at times an expression Softening the gloom and revealing the warm heart hidden beneath them. Once it had lifted its hand, and moved its lips, but was silent, As if an iron will had mastered the fleeting intention; But when were ended the troth and the prayer and the last benediction, Into the room it strode, and the people beheld with amazement Bodily there in his armor Miles Standish, the Captain of Plymouth!
Grasping the bridegroom's hand, he said with emotion, "Forgive me! I have been angry and hurt,—too long have I cherished the feeling; I have been cruel and hard, but now, thank God! it is ended. Mine is the same hot blood that leaped in the veins of Hugh Standish, Sensitive, swift to resent, but as swift in atoning for error. Never so much as now was Miles Standish the friend of John Alden." Thereupon answered the bridegroom: "Let all be forgotten between us,— All save the dear old friendship, and that shall grow older and dearer!" Then the Captain advanced, and, bowing, saluted Priscilla, Wishing her joy of her wedding, and loudly lauding her husband. Then he said with a smile: "I should have remembered the adage,— If you would be well served, you must serve yourself; and, moreover, No man can gather cherries in Kent at the season of Christmas!"
Great was the people's amazement, and greater yet their rejoicing, Thus to behold once more the sunburnt face of their Captain, Whom they had mourned as dead; and they gathered and crowded about him, Eager to see him and hear him, forgetful of bride and of bridegroom, Questioning, answering, laughing, and each interrupting the other, Till the good Captain declared, being quite overpowered and bewildered, He had rather by far break into an Indian encampment, Than come again to a wedding to which he had not been invited. Meanwhile the bridegroom went forth and stood with the bride at the doorway, Breathing the perfumed air of that warm and beautiful morning. Touched with autumnal tints, but lonely and sad in the sunshine, Lay extended before them the land of toil and privation; But to their eyes transfigured, it seemed as the Garden of Eden, Filled with the presence of God, whose voice was the sound of the ocean. Soon was their vision disturbed by the noise and stir of departure, Friends coming forth from the house, and impatient of longer delaying. Then from a stall near at hand, amid exclamations of wonder, Alden the thoughtful, the careful, so happy, so proud of Priscilla, Brought out his snow-white bull, obeying the hand of its master, Led by a cord that was tied to an iron ring in its nostrils, Covered with crimson cloth, and a cushion placed for a saddle. She should not walk, he said, through the dust and heat of the noonday; Nay, she should ride like a queen, not plod along like a peasant. Somewhat alarmed at first, but reassured by the others, Placing her hand on the cushion, her foot in the hand of her husband, Gayly, with joyous laugh, Priscilla mounted her palfrey. Onward the bridal procession now moved to the new habitation, Happy husband and wife, and friends conversing together. Down through the golden leaves the sun was pouring his splendors, Gleaming on purple grapes, that, from branches above them suspended, Mingled their odorous breath with the balm of the pine and the fir-tree, Wild and sweet as the clusters that grew in the valley of [v]Eshcol. Like a picture it seemed of the primitive, pastoral ages, Fresh with the youth of the world, and recalling Rebecca and Isaac, Old and yet ever new, and simple and beautiful always, Love immortal and young in the endless succession of lovers, So through the Plymouth woods passed onward the bridal procession.