|What boy or girl has not heard the story of King Robert Brace and the spider? I will tell you another story of the same brave and famous king. He had fought a battle with his enemies, the English. His little army had been beaten and scattered. Many of his best friends had been killed or captured. The king himself was obliged to hide in the wild woods while his foes hunted for him with hounds.|
For many days he wandered through rough and dangerous places. He waded rivers and climbed mountains. Sometimes two or three faithful friends were with him. Sometimes he was alone. Sometimes his enemies were very close upon him.
Late one evening he came to a little farmhouse in a lonely valley. He walked in without knocking. A woman was sitting alone by the fire.
“May a poor traveler find rest and shelter here for the night?” he asked. The woman answered, “All travelers are welcome for the sake of one; and you are welcome”
“Who is that one?” asked the king.
“That is Robert the Bruce,” said the woman. “He is the rightful lord of this country. He is now being hunted with hounds, but I hope soon to see him king over all Scotland.”
“Since you love him so well,” said the king, “I will tell you something. I am Robert the Bruce.”
“You!” cried the woman in great surprise. “Are you the Bruce, and are you all alone?”
“My men have been scattered,” said the king, “and therefore there is no one with me.”
“That is not right,” said the brave woman. “I have two sons who are gallant and trusty. They shall go with you and serve you.”
So she called her two sons. They were tall and strong young men, and they gladly promised to go with the king and help him.
The king sat down by the fire, and the woman hurried to get things ready for supper. The two young men got down their bows and arrows, and all were busy making plans for the next day.
Suddenly a great noise was heard outside. They listened. They heard the tramping of horses and the voices of a number of men.
“The English! the English!” said the young men.
“Be brave, and defend your king with your lives,” said their mother.
Then some one outside called loudly, “Have you seen King Robert the
Bruce pass this way?”
“That is my brother Edward’s voice,” said the king. “These are friends, not enemies.”
The door was thrown open and he saw a hundred brave men, all ready to give him aid. He forgot his hunger; he forgot his weariness. He began to ask about his enemies who had been hunting him.
“I saw two hundred of them in the village below us,” said one of his officers. “They are resting there for the night and have no fear of danger from us. If you have a mind to make haste, we may surprise them.”
“Then let us mount and ride,” said the king.
The next minute they were off. They rushed suddenly into the village.
They routed the king’s enemies and scattered them.
And Robert the Bruce was never again obliged to hide in the woods or to run from savage hounds. Soon he became the real king and ruler of all Scotland,
|Many years ago there was a king of Prussia, whose name was Frederick; and because he was very wise and very brave, people called him Frederick the Great. Like other kings, he lived in a beautiful palace and had many officers and servants to wait upon him.|
Among the servants there was a little page whose name was Carl. It was Carl’s duty to sit outside of the king’s bedroom and be ready to serve him at any time.
One night the king sat up very late, writing letters and sending messages; and the little page was kept busy running on errands until past midnight.
The next morning the king wished to send him on another errand. He rang the little bell which was used to call the page, but no page answered.
“I wonder what can have happened to the boy,” he said; and he opened the door and looked out. There, sitting in his chair, was Carl, fast asleep. The poor child was so tired after his night’s work that he could not keep awake.
The king was about to waken him roughly, when he saw a piece of paper on the floor beside him. He picked it up and read it.
It was a letter from the page’s mother:—
Dearest Carl; You are a good boy to send me all your wages, for now I can pay the rent and buy some warm clothing for your little sister. I thank you for it, and pray that God will bless you. Be faithful to the king and do your duty.
The king went back to the room on tiptoe. He took ten gold pieces from his table and wrapped them in the little letter. Then he went out again, very quietly, and slipped them all into the boy’s pocket.
After a while he rang the bell again, very loudly.
Carl awoke with a start, and came quickly to answer the call.
“I think you have been asleep,” said the king.
The boy stammered and did not know what to say. He was frightened and ready to cry.
He put his hand in his pocket, and was surprised to find the gold pieces wrapped in his mother’s letter. Then his eyes overflowed with tears, and he fell on his knees before the king.
“What is the matter?” asked Frederick.
“Oh, your Majesty!” cried Carl. “Have mercy on me. It is true that I have been asleep, but I know nothing about this money. Some one is trying to ruin me.”
“Have courage, my boy,” said the king. “I know how you must have been overwearied with long hours of watching. And people say that fortune comes to us in our sleep. You may send the gold pieces to your mother with my compliments; and tell her that the king will take care of both her and you.”
Today’s date is November, 9th, 2040. This is my first video diary after becoming the first earthling to visit the planet Venus. I still cannot establish contact with NASA, so I will recap for anyone who is listening. Two decades ago, in the year 2020, scientists hypothesized that the clouds of Venus might have bacterial life. My mission is to gather a sample of Venus’ atmosphere and scan it for proof of life. My trip to Venus took two months. My spaceship is small, so my only companion is my cat, which took me a while to convince NASA to let me bring. Thanks to NASA’s Food-In-A-Tiny-Box program, all my cat and I have to eat is dehydrated, compacted food. I would like to have a word with whomever thought of this. My cat can no longer taste the difference between rehydrated tuna, which he loved back on Earth, and rehydrated citrus which he would never touch back on Earth. My cat doesn’t like being weightless. He can’t climb on his cat tower or practice jumping off the tower and landing on his feet. When he jumps, he floats to the ceiling, occasionally bumps his head on the lightbulb and breaks it, making the room dark. I’ve had to replace the lightbulb twice already, so I’ve decided to tape a pillow to the lightbulb. Now my cat can no longer break it. I’m starting to regret bringing him on this mission, because that was the only pillow NASA packed for me. There’s a small gas leak in the spaceship’s cooling system, which makes a high-pitched squeaking noise. That is not good for two reasons:
1) It’s getting hot in here.
2) My cat has been looking for the squeaking “mouse” for the past two weeks.
He really wants to catch the “mouse” because the rehydrated foods all taste the same. He’s looking for something that doesn’t taste like year-old toothpaste. My spaceship also brought a small blimp to Venus. This blimp will allow me to fly through the clouds and collect samples. To collect the samples, I’ll use gloves with motion sensors to control two big robotic arms on the exterior of the blimp. With these arms, I’ll scoop some of Venus’ clouds into a jar, screw the lid on, and bring the jar back to Earth. My cat is not allowed in the blimp because he might scratch a hole in it with his claws, causing the blimp to crash into Venus’ surface, where I will be cooked alive. That’s unfortunate because my cat really wants to come with me on the blimp. So, tomorrow, I’ll be boarding the blimp and getting ready to collect a cloud sample with possible bacterial life, but not before saying goodbye to my cat. If all goes well, and I’m not killed immediately by accidentally coming in contact with a deadly space bacteria, or being scorched on the planet’s surface, my next entry will be tomorrow.
All right! Here I am, a big plump Persian penguin in his prime. Come on, take your pictures. What? No one again? Anybody? Hello? I can’t believe this! It’s been a month and no people are coming to this beach. Nobody is looking at us or taking our pictures. Maybe they don’t like persian penguins anymore. What’s wrong with us? Or, maybe, it’s not us, it’s them! Right, something bad must have happened to people. They used to like going to the beach, having picnics, taking long walks, trying to feed us popcorn… yuck! But now they are all gone. It’s like a creepy predator ate them all.
I think We should go to people’s habitat and take a look. I know it sounds crazy! But don’t you get it? Something terrible destroyed people, and we might be in danger too. I know it’s not safe, but we can’t just sit here and wait! Who’s coming with me? Great, those are my penguins, let’s go, guys.:)
Okay, now we have to cross this black ice river.
Oh, walking is hard work, how do people do that?
Okay, almost there. Do you hear that? Nee-nah, nee-nah… a round-feet monster with flashing lights! It’s too fast…what do we do? Huddle? Yeah, huddle huddle!!!
It’s gone…that was close! Looks like the round-feet monsters are still alive. (relieved) Wait! Look at that poster, a green round monster with little crowns all over its body, is that the thing that ate people? Yeah, that must be it. A corona monster swallowed them all.
You know what, I’m gonna miss them. People could be a pain in the beak sometimes, but they were big, gentle, intelligent, funny creatures.
Wait a minute, look at that! They’re not all dead. There’s a little girl behind that window, and an old man on the balcony! And there and there! They are all alive! 🙂
But why are they locked in these cells, no one goes out? It reminds me of the place I spent my early years in – the zoo.
I know, corona monster locked them all in their homes. I guess now animals are supposed to go and look at people! This is hilarious! People zoo! I wish I had a camera! Maybe we can even feed them, let’s go get some fish! Tell the seals they’re gonna love it!
|Two hundred years ago there lived in Scotland a young man whose name was Alexander Selkirk. He was quarrelsome and unruly. He was often making trouble among his neighbors.|
For this reason many people were glad when he ran away from home and went to sea. “We hope that he will get what he deserves,” they said.
He was big and strong and soon became a fine sailor. But he was still headstrong and ill-tempered; and he was often in trouble with the other sailors.
Once his ship was sailing in the great Pacific Ocean, It was four hundred miles from the coast of South America. Then something happened which Selkirk did not like. He became very disagreeable. He quarreled with the other sailors, and even with the captain.
“I would rather live alone on a desert island than be a sailor on this ship,” he said.
“Very well,” answered the captain. “We shall put you ashore on the first island that we see.”
“Do so,” said Selkirk. “You cannot please me better.”
The very next day they came in sight of a little green island. There were groves of trees near the shore, and high hills beyond them.
“What is the name of this island?” asked Selkirk.
“Juan Fernandez,” said the captain.
“Set me on shore and leave me there. Give me a few common tools and some food, and I will do well enough,” said the sailor.
“It shall be done,” answered the captain.
So they filled a small boat with the things that he would need the most—an ax, a hoe, a kettle, and some other things. They also put in some bread and meat and other food, enough for several weeks.
Then four of the sailors rowed him to the shore and left him there.
Alexander Selkirk was all alone on the island. He began to see how foolish he had been; he thought how terrible it would be to live there without one friend, without one person to whom he could speak.
He called loudly to the sailors and to the captain. “Oh, do not leave me here. Take me back, and I will give you no more trouble.”
But they would not listen to him. The ship sailed away and was soon lost to sight.
Then Selkirk set to work to make the best of things. He built him a little hut for shelter at night and in stormy weather. He planted a small garden. There were pigs and goats on the island, and plenty of fish could be caught from the shore. So there was always plenty of food. Sometimes Selkirk saw ships sailing in the distance. He tried to make signals to them; he called as loudly as he could; but he was neither seen nor heard, and the ships came no nearer.
“If I ever have the good fortune to escape from this island,” he said, “I will be kind and obliging to every one. I will try to make friends instead of enemies.”
For four years and four months he lived alone on the island. Then, to his great joy, a ship came near and anchored in the little harbor.
He made himself known, and the captain willingly agreed to carry him back to his own country. When he reached Scotland everybody was eager to hear him tell of his adventures, and he soon found himself famous.
In England there was then living a man whose name was Daniel Defoe. He was a writer of books. He had written many stories which people at that time liked to read.
When Daniel Defoe heard how Selkirk had lived alone on the island of Juan Fernandez, he said to himself: “Here is something worth telling about. The story of Alexander Selkirk is very pleasing.”
So he sat down and wrote a wonderful story, which he called “The
Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.”
Every boy has heard of Robinson Crusoe. Many boys and indeed many girls have read his story.
When only a child he liked to stand by the river and see the ships sailing past. He wondered where they had come from and where they were going. He talked with some of the sailors. They told him about the strange lands they had visited far over the sea. They told him about the wonderful things they had seen there. He was delighted.
“Oh, I wish I could be a sailor!” he said.
He could not think of anything else. He thought how grand it would be to sail and sail on the wide blue sea. He thought how pleasant it would be to visit strange countries and see strange peoples.
As he grew up, his father wished him to learn a trade.
“No, no, I am going to be a sailor; I am going to see the world” he said. His mother said to him: “A sailor’s life is a hard life. There are great storms on the sea. Many ships are wrecked and the sailors are drowned.” “I am not afraid” said Robinson Crusoe. “I am going to be a sailor and nothing else.”
So, when he was eighteen years old, he ran away from his pleasant home and went to sea.
He soon found that his mother’s words were true.
A sailor’s life is indeed a hard life. There is no time to play. Every day there is much work to be done. Sometimes there is great danger.
Robinson Crusoe sailed first on one ship and then on another. He visited many lands and saw many wonderful things.
One day there was a great storm. The ship was driven about by the winds; it was wrecked. All the sailors were drowned but Robinson Crusoe.
He swam to an island that was not far away. It was a small island, and there was no one living on it. But there were birds in the woods and some wild goats on the hills.
For a long time Robinson Crusoe was all alone. He had only a dog and some cats to keep him company. Then he tamed a parrot and some goats.
He built a house of some sticks and vines. He sowed grain and baked bread. He made a boat for himself. He did a great many things. He was busy every day.
At last a ship happened to pass that way and Robinson was taken on board. He was glad to go back to England to see his home and his friends once more.
This is the story which Mr. Defoe wrote. Perhaps he would not have thought of it, had he not first heard the true story of Alexander Selkirk
One day John Randolph, of Roanoke, [Footnote: Ro’a noke.] set out on horseback to ride to a town that was many miles from his home. The road was strange to him, and he traveled very slowly.
When night came on he stopped at a pleasant roadside inn and asked for lodging. The innkeeper welcomed him kindly. He had often heard of the great John Randolph, and therefore he did all that he could to entertain him well.
A fine supper was prepared, and the innkeeper himself waited upon his guest. John Randolph ate in silence. The innkeeper spoke of the weather, of the roads, of the crops, of politics. But his surly guest said scarcely a word.
In the morning a good breakfast was served, and then Mr. Randolph made ready to start on his journey. He called for his bill and paid it. His horse was led to the door, and a servant helped him to mount it.
As he was starting away, the friendly innkeeper said, “Which way will you travel, Mr. Randolph?”
Mr. Randolph looked at him in no gentle way, and answered, “Sir!”
“I only asked which way you intend to travel,” said the man.
“Oh! I have I paid you my bill?”
“Do I owe you anything more?”
“Then, I intend to travel the way I wish to go—do you understand?”
He turned his horse and rode away. He had not gone farther than to the end of the innkeeper’s field, when to his surprise he found that the road forked. He did not know whether he should take the right-hand fork or the left-hand.
He paused for a while. There was no signboard to help him. He looked back and saw the innkeeper still standing by the door. He called to him:—”My friend, which of these roads shall I travel to go to Lynchburg?”
“Mr. Randolph,” answered the innkeeper, “you have paid your bill and don’t owe me a cent. Travel the way you wish to go. Good-by!”
As bad luck would have it, Mr. Randolph took the wrong road. He went far out of his way and lost much time, all on account of his surliness.
John Randolph, of Roanoke, lived in Virginia one hundred years ago. He was famous as a lawyer and statesman. He was a member of Congress for many years, and was noted for his odd manners and strong self- will.
|When Andrew Jackson was a little boy he lived with his mother in South Carolina. He was eight years old when he heard about the ride of Paul Revere and the famous fight at Lexington.|
It was then that the long war, called the Revolutionary War, began. The king’s soldiers were sent into every part of the country. The people called them the British. Some called them “red-coats.”
There was much fighting; and several great battles took place between the British and the Americans.
At last Charleston, in South Carolina, was taken by the British. Andrew Jackson was then a tall white-haired boy, thirteen years old.
“I am going to help drive those red-coated British out of the country,” he said to his mother.
Then, without another word, he mounted his brother’s little farm horse and rode away. He was not old enough to be a soldier, but he could be a scout—and a good scout he was.
He was very tall—as tall as a man. He was not afraid of anything. He was strong and ready for every duty.
One day as he was riding through the woods, some British soldiers saw him. They quickly surrounded him and made him their prisoner.
“Come with us,” they said, “and we will teach you that the king’s soldiers are not to be trifled with.”
They took him to the British camp.
“What is your name, young rebel?” said the British captain.
“Well, Andy Jackson, get down here and clean the mud from my boots.”
Andrew’s gray eyes blazed as he stood up straight and proud before the haughty captain.
“Sir,” he said, “I am a prisoner of war, and demand to be treated as such.”
“You rebel!” shouted the captain. “Down with you, and clean those boots at once.”
The slim, tall boy seemed to grow taller, as he answered, “I’ll not be the servant of any Englishman that ever lived.”
The captain was very angry. He drew his sword to hit the boy with its flat side. Andrew threw out his hand and received an ugly gash across the knuckles.
Some other officers, who had seen the whole affair, cried out to the captain, “Shame! He is a brave boy. He deserves to be treated as a gentleman.”
Andrew was not held long as a prisoner. The British soldiers soon returned to Charleston, and he was allowed to go home.
In time, Andrew Jackson became a very great man. He was elected to Congress, he was chosen judge of the supreme court of Tennessee, he was appointed general in the army, and lastly he was for eight years the president of the United States.
|One day a traveler was walking through a part of Italy where a great many sheep were pasturing. Near the top of a hill he saw a little shepherd boy who was lying on the ground while a flock of sheep and lambs were grazing around him.|
As he came nearer he saw that the boy held a charred stick in his hand, with which he was drawing something on a flat rock. The lad was so much interested in his work that he did not see the stranger.
The stranger bent over him and looked at the picture he had made on the rock. It was the picture of a sheep, and it was drawn so well that the stranger was filled with astonishment.
“What is your name, my boy?” he said.
The lad was startled. He jumped to his feet and looked up at the kind gentleman.
“My name is Giotto,” he answered.
“What is your father’s name?”
“And whose sheep are these?”
“They belong to the rich man who lives in the big white house there among the trees. My father works in the field, and I take care of the sheep.” “How would you like to live with me, Giotto? I would teach you how to draw pictures of sheep and horses, and even of men,” said the stranger. The boy’s face beamed with delight. “I should like to learn to do that—oh, ever so much!” he answered. “But I must do as father says.” “Let us go and ask him,” said the stranger.
The stranger’s name was Cimabue. He was the most famous painter of the time. His pictures were known and admired in every city of Italy.
Bondone was surprised when Cimabue offered to take his little boy to
Florence and teach him to be a great painter.
“I know that the lad can draw pictures wonderfully well,” he said. “He does not like to do anything else. Perhaps he will do well with you. Yes, you may take him.”
In the city of Florence [Footnote: Flor’ence.] little Giotto saw some of the finest pictures in the world. He learned so fast that he could soon paint as well as Cimabue himself.
One day Cimabue was painting the picture of a man’s face. Night came on before he had finished it. “I will leave it till morning,” he said; “then the light will be better.”
In the morning, when he looked at the picture, he saw a fly on the man’s nose. He tried to brush it off, but it remained there. It was only a painted fly.
“Who has done this?” he cried. He was angry, and yet he was pleased.
Little Giotto came out from a corner, trembling and ashamed. “I did it, master,” he said. “It was a good place for a fly, and I never thought of spoiling your picture.”
He expected to be punished. But Cimabue only praised him for his great skill. “There are few men who can draw so good a picture of a fly,” he said.
This happened six hundred years ago, in the city of Florence in Italy. The shepherd boy became a very famous painter and the friend of many famous men.
|The man of whom I am now going to tell you was famous, not for his wealth or his power or his deeds in war, but for his great gentleness. He lived more than seven hundred years ago in a quaint little town of Italy. His name was Francis, and because of his goodness, all men now call him St. Francis.|
Very kind and loving was St. Francis—kind and loving not only to men but to all living things. He spoke of the birds as his little brothers of the air, and he could never bear to see them harmed.
At Christmas time he scattered crumbs of bread under the trees, so that the tiny creatures could feast and be happy.
Once when a boy gave him a pair of doves which he had snared, St. Francis had a nest made for them, and the mother bird laid her eggs in it.
By and by, the eggs hatched, and a nestful of young doves grew up. They were so tame that they sat on the shoulders of St. Francis and ate from his hand.
And many other stories are told of this man’s great love and pity for the timid creatures which lived in the fields and woods.
One day as he was walking among the trees the birds saw him and flew down to greet him. They sang their sweetest songs to show how much they loved him. Then, when they saw that he was about to speak, they nestled softly in the grass and listened.
“O little birds,” he said, “I love you, for you are my brothers and sisters of the air. Let me tell you something, my little brothers, my little sisters: You ought always to love God and praise Him.
“For think what He has given you. He has given you wings with which to fly through the air. He has given you clothing both warm and beautiful. He has given you the air in which to move and have homes.
“And think of this, O little brothers: you sow not, neither do you reap, for God feeds you. He gives you the rivers and the brooks from which to drink. He gives you the mountains and the valleys where you may rest. He gives you the trees in which to build your nests.
“You toil not, neither do you spin, yet God takes care of you and your little ones. It must be, then, that He loves you. So, do not be ungrateful, but sing His praises and thank Him for his goodness toward you.”
Then the saint stopped speaking and looked around him. All the birds sprang up joyfully. They spread their wings and opened their mouths to show that they understood his words.
And when he had blessed them, all began to sing; and the whole forest was filled with sweetness and joy because of their wonderful melodies.
|In the city of Corinth there once lived a wonderful musician whose name was Arion. No other person could play on the lyre or sing so sweetly as he; and the songs which he composed were famous in many lands.|
The king of Corinth was his friend. The people of Corinth never grew tired of praising his sweet music.
One summer he went over the sea to Italy; for his name was well known there, and many people wished to hear him sing.
He visited several cities, and in each place he was well paid for his music.
At last, having become quite rich, he decided to go home. There was a ship just ready to sail for Corinth, and the captain agreed to take him as a passenger.
The sea was rough. The ship was driven far out of her course. Many days passed before they came in sight of land.
The sailors were rude and unruly. The captain himself had been a robber.
When they heard that Arion had a large sum of money with him they began to make plans to get it.
“The easiest way,” said the captain, “is to throw him overboard. Then there will be no one to tell tales.”
Arion overheard them plotting.
“You may take everything that I have,” he said, “if you will only spare my life.”
But they had made up their minds to get rid of him. They feared to spare him lest he should report the matter to the king.
“Your life we will not spare,” they said; “but we will give you the choice of two things. You must either jump overboard into the sea or be slain with your own sword. Which shall it be?”
“I shall jump overboard,” said Arion, “but I pray that you will first grant me a favor.”
“What is it?” asked the captain.
“Allow me to sing to you my latest and best song. I promise that as soon as it is finished I will leap into the sea.”
The sailors agreed; for they were anxious to hear the musician whose songs were famous all over the world.
Arion dressed himself in his finest clothing. He took his stand on the forward deck, while the robber sailors stood in a half circle before him, anxious to listen to his song.
He touched his lyre and began to play the accompaniment. Then he sang a wonderful song, so sweet, so lively, so touching, that many of the sailors were moved to tears.
And now they would have spared him; but he was true to his promise,— as soon as the song was finished, he threw himself headlong into the sea.
The sailors divided his money among themselves; and the ship sailed on. In a short time they reached Corinth in safety, and the king sent an officer to bring the captain and his men to the palace.
“Are you lately from Italy?” he asked.
“We are,” they answered.
“What news can you give me concerning my friend Arion, the sweetest of all musicians?”
“He was well and happy when we left Italy,” they answered. “He has a mind to spend the rest of his life in that country.”
Hardly had they spoken these words when the door opened and Arion himself stood before them. He was dressed just as they had seen him when he jumped into the sea. They were so astonished that they fell upon their knees before the king and confessed their crime.
Now, how was Arion saved from drowning when he leaped overboard?
Old story-tellers say that he alighted on the back of a large fish, called a dolphin, which had been charmed by his music and was swimming near the ship. The dolphin carried him with great speed to the nearest shore. Then, full of joy, the musician hastened to Corinth, not stopping even to change his dress.
He told his wonderful story to the king; but the king would not believe him.
“Wait,” said he, “till the ship arrives, and then we shall know the truth.” Three hours later, the ship came into port, as you have already learned. Other people think that the dolphin which saved Arion was not a fish, but a ship named the Dolphin. They say that Arion, being a good swimmer, kept himself afloat until this ship happened to pass by and rescued him from the waves.
You may believe the story that you like best. The name of Arion is still remembered as that of a most wonderful musician.