The piggy bank with the stories so often quoted is especially famous for its Sentier d'Or.
But it was all of these 175 little stories that taught young Thérèse.
Selected readings from
L. SW. Belloc
TO JULIETTE, MARCEL AND MARY
Once upon a time there was a good grandmother who had several grandchildren whom she loved very much and whom she wanted to see good and happy. Every day she wrote down for them what she had seen, heard or read that was interesting. She put the written pages in a box divided into as many compartments as there are letters in the alphabet, from A to Z. On the lid of the box, there was an opening large enough to pass the hand. The one of the children who had done his task well, or recited his lesson, drew one of the papers at random and read it aloud. When it was a dialogue where everyone spoke in turn, the little readers shared the characters. The eldest took the serious tone of the teacher, while a little brother gave the pupil's answers. When it was a mother, the eldest sister was in charge of representing her, and did it wonderfully. If a passage was not well understood by the children, the grandmother was there to explain it. These little exercises, which taught wonderfully to read well, had become so attractive that the whole family waited impatiently for the hour when the piggy bank opened up to stories.
You know what we call a piggy bank a trunk to hold the money; but this contained more than money, as you can judge, for the grandmother wanted what she had done for her grandsons and granddaughters to benefit all the children. She has emptied her piggy bank for you and made a book of it in which you will find good examples, amusing stories. You will make new acquaintances there that you will love and want to be like. The grandmother has drawn for you from her memories, from French and foreign writers, everything she believed to be of a nature to interest you, to please you. We'll see if she succeeded.
HOW WE LEARN TO READ LETTERS
Children, when you learned to read, you were first shown letters, and after having looked at them closely, you recognized them; you said: "Here's an A, a B, a C, a D," and so on with all the others down to Z. fool, right? But that's not all, we then had to see what sound each letter would give with another letter, for example B with A, ba; B with E, be; B with I, bi; B with O, bo; B with U, drunk; B with Y, by. when you knew how to spell the nineteen consonants with the six vowels by turning them and returning them in every way, you said to yourself: “Here I am on the right track. “Indeed, you could put syllables together and read words: dad-dad, ma-ma, di-eu, three great names to love. As you became more learned, the words became longer: kindness, courage, truth, docility, four virtues to practice; wisdom, knowledge, honor, three good things to acquire. I'm sure you were very happy the day you were able to read fluently: I'm going to apply myself well, because I want to be a courageous, true, obedient child, loved by God, by dad, by mom, by my master, and deserve to have the cross of wisdom one day.
When one knows how to assemble words, it is necessary, so that these words express something, to give them their accent; thus, when you speak, you don't have the same sound of voice to say: "I'm very sorry," or "I'm very happy." It's the same when you read: before hearing the words perfectly, someone who listens to a good reader knows whether what he's reading is sad or happy.
It is essential, in order to become a good reader, to practice very young to pronounce the words clearly, to read without hurry, stopping a little at the commas, longer at the point-and-comma, at the colon , and finally quite to the point, in order to catch our breath. Without these pauses for breathing and for the clarity of sentences, we would immediately manage to run out of breath, to stammer, and to make cock-a-donkeys like these:
Children are often at odds with each other with anger that turns them into bullies.
Surely you wouldn't want to read and hear read that way.
THE PLEASURE OF DOING WELL.
You have made progress: you read fluently, you stop at commas and periods; a few more efforts and it will be a pleasure to listen to you, and you yourselves will be very happy to think that you are doing it and that you have succeeded. The best reward for the pains we give ourselves is to succeed in being useful to others. What joy to be able to read a good book to poor Father Jean who is blind! to be able to read to the turbulent little Joseph a pretty story that will keep him quiet while the mother is resting!
I knew two boys who went to school: one didn't want to do anything; most of the time he held his book upside down and didn't notice it; also, when it was his turn and the master called him, he got up all red, all vexed, and began to mumble at each word, something like this: "The gram... the gram... mayor, is ...is...” But I don't want to give you bad examples.
That's why I prefer to tell you about the other boy. On his return from class, where he had studied well and recited his lessons without faltering, he ran to fetch his sister; the two of them, seated in the shade of the chestnut trees, were reading some fine book together, while the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the good old dog Fidele, lying at their feet, also seemed attentive to the reading.
Which of the two school children would you like to be like?
“The vowels speak for themselves,” said a little boy I knew. Do you understand this? If you don't understand it, I'll try to explain it to you. A represents a sound, which is like speech. “Oh! how beautiful! Ah! that I hurt myself! I go to school. »
The letters EIOUY each have a sound that strikes your ear. Without a vowel one cannot make a single word. Try it instead, here are the nineteen consonants BCDFGHJKLMNPQRSTVXZ; put them together anyway, you can't get anything out of them. put a vowel before or after one of these letters and it will immediately ring in your ear: pa-pa, mamma, da-da, bé-bé, sa-ra. you will see them coming back everywhere, these little talkative vowels; you say them a hundred times a day. There are thirty-two in the two short sentences we have just read; count yourself. you see that little people can render great services. Merit is not measured by size. without vowels, we could neither speak, nor read, nor write. Try to make yourself as useful as the little letters called vowels.
THE ART OF READING WELL.
I want all the little boys and all the little girls who will have this book to be able to read well. You started by getting to know all the letters of the alphabet. Afterwards, you learned to assemble them into syllables, then into words. You read a sentence like this: “God is a good father, we are his children. But to read a whole story well, you have to know something else. Your eyes have to get used to reading each word quietly quickly before speaking it out loud. Your mind must practice understanding the meaning of this word to give it the sound it should have. Don't think it's very difficult: with a little attention it will come by itself. If you try to read half a page often, studying a sentence first and then reading it out loud, always slowly, without rushing, you will be amazed at your progress.
Children who do not want to take the trouble to pay attention take much longer to learn and find it much more difficult than good school children; moreover, they never know how to read well. I know of nothing more disagreeable and boring than to hear a lesson recited as if by a machine: one would think it was the ticking of a mill; but the mill grinds the wheat to extract the flour, while the ticking of the bad schoolboy produces nothing and leaves his head and heart empty. One can derive neither instruction nor profit from words which one does not understand. Let's try to read the following story together:
JAMES AND PETER.
Jacques and Pierre went to school one day; they had nearly a kilometer to walk and each carried their lunch in a basket. »
"Let's stop for a moment, my children. Do you see those little marks "at the beginning and these" at the end? They are called quotation marks; they warn you that the sentence ends there, and that I interrupt the story to speak to you. The two letters larger than the others are capital letters indicating personal names. Do you know what the upper small number is for? 1 It's a reference: it warns you to look at the bottom of the page, where I explain to those who don't yet know what a kilometer is.(1) a kilometer is the measurement of a thousand meters put at the end of each other.) Let's continue our reading. I reopen the quotation marks:
“Jacques' mother had given him a large slice of butter, and Pierre's mother had filled the basket and her son's pockets with nuts, apples, and a large piece of bread. “There is a capital L at the beginning of this last sentence, because after a point, which marks the rest, we put a large letter.
“Although Pierre had more provisions than he needed, he amused himself by throwing stones into the walnut trees to cut down the nuts. Twice he was nearly arrested by the rural guard and taken to prison for having marauded, that is to say, for having taken from the ground fruits which were not his. »
Do you not notice in what we have just read a word which is not printed like the others? These letters, which are called italics, seem thinner to you; this is due to the fact that they are not rows straight, but a little leaning. We print in italics the words on which we want to fix the reader's attention. Now we'll start a little lower; -this interval which remains empty is called a indentation.
“On the contrary, Jacques knew that we must never take what does not belong to us. He had a good mother who brought him up well, and he would have been very sorry to disobey her. When his mother said to him, “Jacques, don't do that, it's wrong,” he immediately stopped doing it. When he was doing well, she would tell him and encourage him to continue.
“As the children arrived at the corner of a wood, they saw a pair of small clogs resting near a tuft of heather.
"The little boy whose clogs are," said Pierre, "will have taken them off to go into the woods." Let's play a good trick on it: bury the hooves in the sand; he will believe them lost, and we will hide to see him seek them. He will be in great pain; I bet he'll cry, for fear of being scolded by his mum or dad.' — No, no, said Jacques; I know a much better trick: put a part of our breakfast in these clogs; I'll give him half my slice of butter.
"And I three walnuts and an apple," said Pierre, carried away by the good example of his comrade. Let's hide to hear what he will say. »
“The children went behind a tree. They weren't there long without seeing a poor little chimney sweep, all in rags, coming out of the woods. He went straight to the hooves to pick them up; but what was his joy when he found them filled with such good things! He looked around him, and, seeing no one, he knelt down and said aloud: “My God, I thank you for the good food you send me. I was so hungry and I couldn't find a single blackberry in the woods! My God, bless those who shared with me what they had. "You can imagine if Jacques and Pierre were happy to hear the poor child and to see him eat with such great appetite the slice of butter, the apple and the walnuts!"
“They went away slowly. Since that day, instead of playing dirty tricks on his comrades, Pierre thinks only of pleasing them. He now knows how happy we are to do a good deed. »
WHAT WAS IN JACQUES AND PIERRE'S STORY.
Here, my children, is a story that was well read because it was well understood. You weren't in too much of a hurry, you stopped at commas and periods; you changed your tone when a little hyphen informed you that it was Pierre or Jacques who was speaking; finally you said with heart the prayer of the small chimney sweep. Now show me the quotation marks, the capital letters, a reference, italics, a paragraph, a hyphen, and explain to me what these different signs are used for.
Weren't there also things in this story that you can't show me, but that you retained and that made you see how a good child helps a comrade to correct himself? If Jacques had said to Pierre: "You're a villain to want to hide those clogs to have them found by the one who left them there!" Pierre would probably have been angry. Jacques did much better. he gave away half his toast, and Pierre, who at first thought only of playing a clever trick, wanted to do as he did and put three walnuts and an apple in the little clogs. Also, they had the joy of seeing the poor little chimney sweep very happy, and of hearing him pray to God to bless them. Now, my children, read the story loud and alone.
Perfectly ! The better you read, the better you will understand, and the better you understand, the better you will read.
It will not happen to you, like many little boys and girls, to be very embarrassed and very ashamed when you are told to read aloud in front of someone. They are not only children, but very grown-ups, whom I have heard read so badly that it was impossible to listen to them with pleasure, and that because they had not practiced good pronunciation when young. words, stopping at commas and periods. They ran the post office, or they mumbled in a monotonous tone that made you want to sleep; they felt their faults and regretted not having applied themselves to reading well in their childhood, when the tongue is more supple and the ears better, for the tongue forms the sounds and the ear judges them. If we knew how much pleasure we deprive of ourselves and others by not learning to read well at a young age, I believe that there would not be a single bad reader.
WHAT A BOOK IS.
Oh! mom, how I wish I had a book! said little Arthur when he was five years old.
"Here's one," her mother told her. Take a good look at it and tell me what you see in it. Arthur. 'I see letters in it like the ones you taught me to know in the alphabet; and these letters make words, and these words make pretty stories, as you sometimes read to me, Mama.
The mother. - Alright. But how are these letters marked in black on the paper, and who put them in a row so that they form words?
Arthur, after thinking. “I'm not sure, but I think the letters are cut out, put ink on them, and then pressed them onto paper.
The mother. — Precisely, that is what is called printing. The man who arranges the letters so that they form words is called a composer, but he is not the one who invents the stories you like to hear read. Arthur. "Who is it, mother?"
The mother. — It is the author, whose name is usually inscribed on the first page of the book, after the title. In the past we did not know how to print: books were written, and when we wanted to have them we had to copy them, which was very long and difficult. Since the invention of the printing press, found nearly four hundred years ago, books can be multiplied by hundreds and thousands. A book consists of several pages, which are gathered and bound together by the stapler or binder, so that they do not get lost.
A good child takes great care of his book. It does not stain or tear it, but preserves it preciously.
WHAT IS Reading?
Knowing how to read, my children, is the way to never be bored. It is also the way to learn what we need to know to become good, wise, happy. Before having a book, Jeanne was bored, she yawned, she was sullen, because her mother didn't always have time to tell her stories or read to her. As soon as she could read on her own, ah! so the hours passed quickly. It cost her quite a bit of trouble to assemble the words, the sentences, and to understand them, but she quickly came to the end of it, and, as soon as she could read fluently, this is what she read:
who made everything we see?
Look at the blue sky. What do you see there? The sun. It enlightens you and warms you. look
Earth. You see stones, grass, flowers. Look at those pretty green trees that give you shade when it's hot. Don't you want to know who did all this? I'll tell you: it's God. He has done everything from nothing, because he can do anything he wants. His name should only be spoken with respect. It is good; he loves us. So we must also be good and love him.
He made the cows and sheep that graze in the fields, the dog that barks, the cat that meows, the birds that fly in the air, your fish that swim in the water, the bees that make honey, the butterflies, small flies and all animals. God made everything from nothing. How good and powerful he must be!
The next day Jeanne read this again:
WHO MADE YOU?
Who made all the little boys and all the little girls in the world?
Who gave you eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, mouth to taste, tongue to speak, hands to hold, legs and feet to walk, common sense to distinguish good from evil? It's God. He did everything you see; he also made you, you and all those you love; he made you to be good. If you're mean, he won't like you. Although we do not see him, he sees us: he sees everything we do; he hears what we say. If you tell a lie, he knows it. It is God who takes care of you during the day, when it is light, and at night, when it is dark; for the dark night is clear to him.
Let us therefore love him, and let us try to be good, for he is good!
Jeanne was no longer bored. She had found in her book a friend who was always ready to keep her company, always ready to teach her what she wanted to know.
THE CAREFUL CHILD.
Jean is a clean and neat boy.
When he comes to school, his hands and face are always well washed.
You will never see an ugly black border under her fingernails.
He wipes his shoes on the mat before entering.
He puts his hat on the coat rack.
He salutes as he enters the classroom, and goes to his seat quietly.
He has a small suitcase in which he brings his books and notebooks.
If you visit his desk, you will find everything in order.
Look at his books, there are no torn pages or folded corners. He doesn't enjoy drawing
on the margins, nor to scribble on the white pages.
When he writes he does not make blocks, because he is careful not to take too much ink and
to wipe his pen. If he sees a hat, a book or a feather on the ground, he picks them up and returns them to those of his comrades who left them lying around. Jean is a well-behaved boy and a good student.
A nice little boy of five or six was having lunch under his mother's eyes; he very conscientiously dipped in a soft-boiled egg, very fresh and cooked to perfection, the little loaves of bread that his mother cut for him.
“Do you know, my child,” she asked him, “who made that egg you are eating?
─ Yes, mum, replied the little man, it's the white chicken that you gave me, — And the white chicken, where did it come from? From another egg.
─ And this other egg, who made it? Hey! said the child laughing, it's another hen.
─ And this other hen? ─ Well, it's yet another egg and still like that.
─ And the first of all the eggs, who made it?
─ But, mum, this is the first of all the hens.
─ Very well; but if the first hen laid the first egg, then who laid the first hen?
The child thought for a moment and replied to his mother: "It's the good Lord."
Bishop de Segur
Oh ! mother, said little Marie to her mother, I already love this God so good, I would like to see him.
─ Dear child! you cannot see God; no one living in this world can see it. But whatever we cannot see, he sees us and knows everything that exists.
─ Mom, said Mary, does God see us now, and does he hear what you are telling us?
─ Yes, dear, he sees us now, and every moment of the day and night. When you are good and obedient children, he loves you and blesses you; when you are disobedient, he turns his eyes and his love away from you.
─ And where is God now, mother?
─ He is in the sky, my child, in the skies beyond the skies we see. Heaven is called the Kingdom of God. There is no sorrow or evil there; everything is good there, everything is brilliant, we are always happy and content, and still always, always."
The children listened silently. At the end, Mary asked, "Mom, shall we not go to the beautiful shining sky?
─ Yes, my child; if, while we are in this world, we love God, and if we obey him, we will go to heaven after our death. "
MOM AND MARY
Mom, not all children who die go to heaven. The other day, a little boy who had died was being carried to the cemetery; her dad and two little girls were following the coffin and crying a lot, which made me sad. Had this little boy been naughty?
- I hope not; I hope he was good and the soul of the little boy, when his daddy and his sisters were mourning him, was happy in heaven.
- Blade? Mom; I do not know what it is ; I do not understand very well.
"Marie, you just told me that seeing those little girls cry hurt you."
“Yes, Mom, a lot.
- Well ! what was angry and sad? Was it your arm?
- No mother.
"Was it your ear?"
- Oh ! no mother; it was my inside.
— This inside, Marie, is your soul which rejoices or is saddened, which warns you when you do wrong, which is happy when you do well. »
Marie had a little brother who was only six months old and whom she loved very much. Also, as soon as Baby saw him, he laughed and held out his little arms to him.
"Mom," she said to her mother one day, "I think Baby has an inside too, what you call a soul." See how his eyes shine when it is brought to you! as he wiggles his little feet. He cannot walk, and his soul would like to run to you. He can't talk, and he's moving his lips as if to tell you something. It recognizes your voice before you enter the room. When we approach him to a mirror, he smiles at the other Baby, whom his soul wants to kiss; and it seems to me that he loves me, me, with his soul.
The mother. — Yes, of course, my child, Baby feels that we love him, and he loves us too and shows us as much as he can. Sight, speech, hearing, touch, are still quite imperfect in him, but the soul that God has given him is already showing itself.
Married. "Does Baby know what's right and what's wrong, Mom?" The other day he got angry and was shouting very loudly because he was thirsty and you didn't come home early enough.
The mother. “It's natural for him to cry when he's thirsty, because he has no other way to express his needs. Later, he will learn to be patient and to control himself. You will help her, Mary, by giving her an example. A little child is sent to us by the good Lord to correct us of our faults. We must be gentle and kind to him, so that he himself may be kind and gentle. The Baby then becomes the blessing of the family. »
THE SOUL INDEPENDENT FROM THE BODY
It's awful to think! Imagine that there are nurses and maids who, to sleep better themselves, give laudanum or poppy water to drink to infants entrusted to their care. Perhaps they sin by ignorance, and do not know all the harm they are doing. Often the poor little ones they put to sleep in this way no longer wake up, or else die in convulsions. Others, more robust, survive, but to suffer all their life from terrible illnesses.
There was in England the only daughter of a rich lord. She had been bottle-fed by an unworthy woman, who, to ensure more rest at night, mixed laudanum with the milk she was giving the child to drink. The poor little girl, who was of good constitution, did not die, but she became almost blind; the convulsions had disfigured her, and when very young she lost her memory. Her soul was so beautiful that she needed neither wit nor science to make herself adored, especially the poor and the sick, whose sufferings she understood so well. No one practiced Our Lord's divine command better: "You shall love God above all things and your neighbor more than yourself." I spent about ten days in the countryside with his parents. I saw her leaving very early in the morning, on horseback, accompanied by a trusted old servant. She went to every cottage; she knew the story of all those who were unhappy, and brought them help and consolation with admirable tact and kindness. They had tried to teach her several things which, for lack of memory, she had been unable to retain; but his great heart made up for the weakness of his mind. Modest and imbued with the precept of the Gospel which says: "When you give alms, let your left hand not know what your right is doing," she did not like to talk about what occupied her only . Seated at the table beside her, I tried to make her talk; but a somewhat prolonged conversation became difficult for him owing to his infirmities. Instead of speaking, she acted; she guessed your slightest desires and hastened to satisfy them. Even-tempered and gentle, she wasn't even angry with the woman who had caused her misfortune; she begged her parents not to have her punished. She had several companions whom she made very happy; she deprived herself of their company and of their care as soon as she could ensure their fate by marrying them advantageously.
Harriet C*** died at the age of thirty-six, of the same disease which had taken away her sight, her beauty, her memory; but the goodness of Providence had left him the better part: a beautiful soul.
history and fiction.
Mom would you tell me a story? Marcel asked his mother one day.
"Yes, my dear child," replied the mother. Do you want a true story or a fiction?
— What is a fiction? Marcel asked.
'It's a story that isn't true.
But, mother, you wouldn't want to lie, that would be wrong; and to say something that is not true is to lie.
— Yes, my dear child; but I suppose you are running in the garden with papa's cane between your legs, and that you come and say to me: “Look, mamma, that is my horse; isn't he beautiful? will it be wrong of you to say that?
- No mother.
"Will it be true?"
- No; the cane is not a real horse.
"Do you know why it's okay to say it?" »
Marcel did not know.
“I'll explain it to you: you're not trying to deceive me. I see very well that what you call your horse is a cane, and you know very well that I will not take the cane for a horse.
- Oh ! Yes mom.
- Well! if you told me something which is not true and you wanted me to believe that it is true, that would be very bad; that would be lying. Me too, I would do a lot of harm if I told you something that is not true while wanting to deceive you and make you believe that it is true; but there is no harm in telling you a tale for fun, or a fable in which the animals talk. Do you think animals talk like humans?
- Oh ! no mother.
— It's a fiction invented at pleasure.
"So, Mom, tell me a fiction."
- With pleasure. »
THE LUNCH OF THE FLY.
There was once a little fly that had pretty clear wings, a body, and a round head with two big eyes. Waking up in the morning on the chimney, she made her toilet, brushed the dust well from her wings with two small brushes which were at the end of her paws, which she also passed over her head; she then rubbed the two small brushes together to clean them; when her toilet was finished, for she was a very neat little fly, she thought she was hungry, and set out to get her breakfast.
First she flew on the table and walked around it. She encountered a small grain of sand and said to herself: "Would it be good to eat, by any chance?" She lengthened her trunk, for I forgot to tell you that she had a trunk like an elephant, but much smaller; she tried to taste it with her trunk, but found the grain of sand hard, dry and rough. She shook her head and said, "No, no, no, it's not good to eat." A little further on she saw a pin shining: "Perhaps this is good to eat," she said. She stretched out her trunk again and tried to taste it, but it was smooth, hard and round, impossible to bite into. She said, “No, no, that's not good to eat either. She turned around and when she came to the point she pricked her nose, which made her cry louder: “Oh! Oh! no, no, it's not good at all, at all. »
She went further to a crack in the table where she stuck her trunk, but again there was nothing good to eat.
However, she was very hungry. Luckily for her a little boy who was having lunch had left a pear peel on his plate. The fly, this time, sucked the juice with its proboscis; she found it sweet, excellent: "It's good, good to eat," she said. If the peel is such a great treat, the fruit must be even better. Who made this good fruit? Is it you, little boy? »
The little boy began to laugh: “No, no, little fly; it is God who made the pear, who made me, who also made you, and who made the sun to rejoice and warm us. »
WHAT WAS TRUE, WHAT WAS FALSE IN THE HISTORY OF THE FLY.
The mother had finished speaking that Marcel was still listening
"Tell me, Marcel," resumed the mother, "what's true in this story, and what's fictitious, invented."
─ First there is the fly, mum, which is a real fly, like I have seen many times with their thin wings, their round heads and their big eyes. But, mother, I believe you invented the trunk; a fly has no trunk like an elephant.
─ She has a much smaller one, as I told you. She takes it out or brings it in at will. Take a good look at the first fly you meet, and you will see that it has a real proboscis which I did not invent.
'Mom, what you made up is what she said: 'No, no, it's not good to eat. Didn't you hear the fly say that?
'No, certainly not, but I assumed that his buzzing said: 'I'm very hungry; I would like to eat well and I can't find anything good. Then, when she found the pear peel, she said nothing more, but when the treat was over, she flew away, making a little song that said: "It was very good, very good to eat. »
"And the little boy, Mama, did he really say that it was God who had made the fly, and him, and the sun?"
'If he didn't say it, he thought it, and that's the truest thing in the story. »
God created everything: the man and the gnat, the flower and the little boy. He created the sky, where the stars shine. He orders, and the night has folded its veils. The sun has appeared; everything is born under its rays! And yet these are the least of your gifts.
Healer! of our immortal soul, With a word you caused the divine spark to spring forth, And you said to the child, opening his eye to the day: Live, prosper, work, and earn my love.
A GOOD GIRL.
Walking one day in the Saint-Gervais meadow, at the onset of winter, I saw a poor woman lying on the ground, occupied in weeding a square of sorrel; beside her was a little girl no more than six years old, standing motionless and all purple with cold. I addressed myself to this woman who seemed ill, and I asked her what was her illness? 'Sir,' she said to me, 'I have had a rheumatism for three months which is causing me great pain; but my illness pains me less than this child: she never wants to leave me. If I say to her: "Here you are all numb, go warm yourself up at home, she replies: "no, mum, if I leave you, you just have to feel bad!"
(BERNARDIN OF SAINT-PIERRE)
What tenderness in this little heart, my children! This brave little girl preferred to suffer and stay close to her mother to help her if she was ill, than to go warm up and have fun. Be sure that, as soon as she could, she was a help for her poor mother, and that God blessed her as he blesses good children.
Dialogue between a teacher and one of his students.
THE TEACHER ─ My children, there are many words that you hear every day, that you use often, without understanding them well. I would like to chat with you sometimes about some of these words, like For example. Here is a very short little word, composed of only five letters, and which nevertheless says more than it is big; we could write a lot about it without having said everything.
Let's see: to start at the beginning, little Paul, do you love someone?
Paul. ─ Yes, sir.
TEACHER ─ Who do you love?
PAUL. ─ Mom.
TEACHER And after your mum?
PAUL ─ Dad.
TEACHER ─ Why do you love your mom and dad?
PAUL. ─ Because they take care of me and because they are good
The teacher. "So your mother takes care of you, your three sisters and your little brother?"
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "Didn't you tell me you loved her because she took care of you and was kind to you?"
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "Well, then, you must love her all the more because she takes care of you five, and is kind to everyone."
Paul. - Yes sir.
The teacher. "Do you know who takes care of your mother? Perhaps you don't understand me." I ask you who created your mother, who keeps her alive?
Paul. "Sir, I believe it is God." .
The teacher. "Does God take care of her while she takes care of you?" When she's awake, asleep, always?
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "So God is good for her?"
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "Must she love him?"
Paul. - Oh ! Yes.
The teacher. "Whom does God still care for?"
Paul. — From dad, from my sisters, from my brother.
The teacher. "Shouldn't your mother love God all the more because he takes care of all those she loves, her husband, her children?"
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "Hasn't God taken care of you?"
Paul. - Oh ! whether.
The teacher. "So you must really like him." And do you know how? You must love him with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.
Paul. -- Yes. over all.
The teacher. "Would you be a good child if you didn't love God?"
Paul. - No: I would be a villain, and a bad heart.
The teacher. "Does God still care for people other than your father, your mother, your brother and your sisters?"
Paul. - Oh ! Yes.
The teacher. "From whom?" of your comrades, of all those who are here?
Paul. - Oh ! of many other people as well.
The teacher. - Of how many? thirty, forty, a hundred people?
Paul. - Much more.
The teacher. "Of all those who could fit in this room?"
Paul. - From everyone.
The teacher. — Can God take care of so many people at the same time? does he see them?
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "Can these people see God?"
Paul. - No.
The teacher. - For what?
Paul. “Because God is a spirit.
The teacher. "Shouldn't you really love this great Spirit who cares for so many people even though they can't see him?"
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "Has he taken care of you long?"
Paul. - Six years ago.
The teacher. "Since you were born?"
The teacher. "Does your mother know that you love her?"
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "How does she know him?"
Paul, hesitantly. - I don't know.
The teacher. - Look, think a little. Could it be because you are trying to please him? If you caused her pain, if, instead of being obedient, gentle with your brothers and sisters, you were disobedient, sullen, grumpy, do you believe that she loved you?
Paul. - Oh ! No.
The teacher. "Does God know you love him?"
Paul. - Yes.
The teacher. "How does he know?" How do you show it to him?
Paul. — By saying my prayers morning and evening, by forcing myself to be wise, to learn well, and to obey papa, mamma, and my masters.
The teacher. — Very well answered. In your prayers you thank God for all the good he has done you; by striving to learn well, you are trying to develop the intelligence he has given you to understand him, love him and serve him; by obeying your father and mother, your masters, you are obeying God who has entrusted you to them. Who do you think God loves: wise and good children, or bad children?
Paul. - Good children.
Weak and plaintive, when I saw the light, Who pressed me to his beating heart? Almost dying, and still pale, but proud, Who covered my newborn body with kisses? It was my mother!
To relieve my primary weakness, Who in his life exhausted the springs? To nourish me, under a solitary roof, Who from his bosom lavished the treasures? It's you, my mother!
To the sweet sleep tearing off her eyelid, Who watched alone, attentive to my cries.
And, the eye fixed on my light layer, Near me spent long nights? My mother again!
When with my steps I dared to mark the earth. Who, by the hand, joyful, guided me? And if my foot struck in the quarry, Between his arms, trembling, cradled me? Always my mother!
In the room where Charles slept, there was a clock enclosed in a long, narrow wooden cupboard; there was a window at the top through which one could see the dial, on which the hour numerals are engraved. It was an old clock the likes of which you hardly see any more, and all day and all night it went: tick, tock, tick, tock. Charles was obedient, and his papa had told him to get up at six o'clock so that he could give him his lesson before going out.
Charles was so afraid of not being exact that he awoke long before daybreak. However, he did not get up, because he had no light. He waited for the clock, which was ticking, ticking, ticking, to strike the hour. One, two, three, four! “Oh! it is not. four o'clock, I can go back to bed and sleep. A little later he woke up again. It was a bit light. The clock chimed: one, two, three, four, five! “Oh! it's only five hours! I still have an hour to sleep. He fell back to sleep so well that he wouldn't have woken up this time if the clock hadn't struck loudly: one, two, three, four, five, six! It was broad daylight. Charles jumped off the bed and got dressed quickly. When his papa entered the room, he found him up, having already prepared his book and his notebooks.
Her dad kissed her and said, "I'm happy with your punctuality in getting up at six o'clock, as I had recommended to you!" — Dad, said Charles, without the clock, I would never have woken up. Tell me, please, Papa, what makes it tick, and what makes the hour strike. »
Her dad opened the cabinet and showed her a big weight attached to a rope that was going down while another weight was going up. The weight gently pulled the rope, which was wrapped around a wheel: this wheel made other smaller wheels turn, and these small wheels made the hands move and strike the hours. It was the sound of the pendulum ticking.
“A clock is a very useful thing, Dad. —
Yes, certainly; it warns us that time is passing, that we must use it well. »
I hear the hour ringing; she is already gone! Let's not escape in wasted moments
This time which knocks in our ear, 'And says: Be good, work and watch; The Master will soon be here: No one knows when; but he will come.
When spring comes, the birds make their nests, some on top of the trees, others on the ground. Some nest in the woods, others in wheat fields and meadows. Some build their nests in brambles and bushes; swallows and sparrows make them in barns, under roofs and in chimneys. It's a big job for those poor little birds. It is a house they are building for themselves and their children. They will gather everywhere hay, roots, straw, which they glue together with a little sodden earth, or which they sew with hair. You have to see them working with their legs and beak!
When they have finished the outside, they line the inside with moss, wool, feathers; then the female settles on her eggs to brood them, while the male fetches caterpillars, gnats and all the insects which, in the spring, attack the buds of the trees and bite the young fruits which spoil and then rot .
So these pretty birds, by feeding their females and young with all these harmful insects, are doing us a great service. A single sparrow destroys more than three thousand five hundred a week. There are, however, little boys quite ignorant and bad enough to remove the eggs and the young from the nests; they thus do a double harm, first to the poor birds, and then to themselves, by destroying the fruits which are devoured by the insects which are not eaten by the birds. I
Do not lay a reckless hand On the nest where the bird warms its young. Think of your poor mother's pain, of her tenderness one day if you were delighted.
One beautiful morning in May, little Jacques, who was playing in the garden, found a poor little bird on the ground on the lawn. It had fallen from the nest by accident, or perhaps some bird of prey had let it slip from its claws, half dying. There was a bit of blood on his barely sprouted little sleeping bag. Jacques was kind and compassionate. He picked up the wounded man and carried him to his mother, who was kind enough to help him take care of him.
On examining it carefully, she discovered that it had a slight wound on its wing, which she washed with lukewarm water; then she made him drink a drop of wine, and the revived little dying boy raised his head. Jacques felt no joy. He undertook, under the direction of his mother, the cure of the little patient, and he was so exact, so attentive to look after him, to prepare his food for him, to give him to eat little and often, as fathers and mothers do. , that after a fortnight the cured bird had regained its strength, its wings had grown, and it flew to the ceiling and banged on the windows, in its desire for freedom.
Jacques' mother said to her son one day: “You saved the life of your dear Bibi (that was the sparrow's baptismal name); you love him very much; well, you still have to do him a great service: you have to let him fly away. By keeping him, you make him unhappy. I know it will be a sacrifice, but friendship is at this price. He who does not know how to forget himself for his friends does not deserve to have any. »
Jacques found it very hard to do without Bibi and to give her the key to the field. He pleaded and tried to prove to his mother that Bibi was happier at home than in the woods.
"He is the best judge," replied his mother. Tried! Who knows if, left to himself, he won't come back? »
It was with a very heavy heart and with a trembling hand that Jacques opened the window wide and saw his dear prisoner take flight and go to rest on the branches of a beautiful apple tree covered with white and pink flowers. There, he shouted and sang with such good heart that while listening to him Jacques forgot his grief. But unfortunately! the ingrate flapped his wings and flew away. His friend followed him with his eyes far, far away, out of the garden, into the tall trees; and the child, all in tears, closed the window, saying: “He's gone! he won't come back! - Who knows? resumed the mother. Animals retain the memory of the good that has been done to them, as much and sometimes longer than humans. Two days passed and Bibi did not reappear.
- Had he found his nest and his parents? Was he so happy with his freedom that he no longer wanted to risk losing it? “I must try to forget him, since he forgets me!” said Jacques to himself. But, oh happiness! on the thirtieth day, very early in the morning, he thought he heard the sound of wings. This time it was no longer inside, but outside, against the windows, Bibi tapped with his beak and feathers, he asked to enter. He had come to see his young benefactor and his friend again. You can imagine how well it was received! He had millet, brioche, sugar, delicacies to which he was not insensitive, and the feast finished, he fluttered around Jacques' head, perched himself on his shoulder, on his finger, flew away, returned. at roll call, played dead and all the kindnesses that Jacques had taught him. In the garden, he began to peel the apple tree leaf by leaf, delicately plunging his beak into the pinkish calyx of the flowers and pulling out a small green caterpillar or a barely visible worm which he swallowed by putting his head aside, and looking his friend, as if to say to him: “You see, I render service for service; when you eat a beautiful pippin apple, very healthy, in the fall, you will think of Bibi, who killed the worm that would have gnawed and spoiled the fruit. From the apple tree he passed to the peach tree, to the pear tree, always hunting insects and discovering them where the gardener's eye and finger cannot reach. The next day he returned to make his friendly visit and his duty as a peeler, as faithful to one as to the other. For his part, Jacques never forgot to prepare a few good mouthfuls for him. It lasted the whole season. When autumn came, he was absent for several days in a row and Jacques became worried. The poor child had fallen ill and was in bed, when one morning he heard a little rolling on the window. It was Bibi, striking in her own way with her beak and wings. It was opened to him and great was the joy of the two friends when they saw each other again. That day, the bird did not want to fly away. He remained in the little patient's room, enlivening him with his song and his caresses until he recovered. Since then, they have become inseparable.
THE KING AND THE SPARROWS.
The one who resigns himself to admitting a wrong shows that he has sense and that he is just and strong.
A king, who was visiting his lands, saw one day, on an espalier of looting franc-sparrows, entire legions descend on a cherry tree. " What ! cried the angry monarch, this greedy race will dare to plunder me! And how could I spare him! No, no, for thieves there is no quarter. The punishment follows the threat: Hunters and nets are in the fields;
Sparrows are falling by the hundreds. More birds, leaving more songs, More voices in the woods, more nests in the plains. It was believed that next season Trees and wheat would be fertile; But it was a vain hope! Cobs, leaves, buds, Caterpillars, snails, worms, had feasted. The king, all sheepish, exclaimed: "The fine decree I made there!" I want the benevolent brood of sparrows to return to my states as soon as possible. »
God understands better than we how to govern the world; Let us forever bless her profound wisdom, And do not dare to rule her.
application and will.
It is such a small incident
From which we do not learn.
In his childhood, Saint Isidore, Archbishop of Seville, was very lazy. He spent all his time playing and running about the fields; now it happened that one day, feeling weary and thirsty, he stopped at the edge of a well. The stone that formed the coping was cut into furrows and deep notches that caught the child's attention. A good old woman who was drawing water explained to him that the stone had been dug out over time by the rope used to lower the bucket and raise it. On this, the future bishop, who was not stupid, said to himself: "Certainly, if this hard rock allows itself to be attacked in this way by a soft and flexible cord, application and will must overcome the laziness. »
Passing this idea over and over in his mind, he returned home and began a new life there. Studies, which until then had bored him because he only half-devoted himself to them, became attractive to him. He pursued them with so much energy that he acquired great knowledge and was one of the lights of his century and his country. He reformed the discipline of the Spanish Church; he wrote the history of the Visigoths and had Saint Gregory the Great as a friend. Born around 11, he died in 570, Archbishop of Seville.
One still sees, at the convent of Saint-Isidore, a fragment of the stone of the well which gave the child the useful lesson of which he was able to profit so well.
eagles and their young.
The eagle is the largest, strongest and highest flying bird.
A traveler recounts how he witnessed an interesting sight one day:
“I found myself,” he said, “on one of the highest peaks in the Alps where I had been drawn while pursuing a chamois. Two eagles, mother and father, teaching their little ones, two young eaglets, how to fly. They began to rise from the top of the mountain, heading towards the sun, which was very hot and very bright, for it was the month of August. They first described small circles; the young birds imitated them. The old ones paused, hovering with outstretched wings, to wait for the little ones to repeat the lesson. The parents then made a second and larger circle, always climbing towards the sun, widening the circle of their flight, so as to form an ever-widening spiral. The little ones followed them, slowly, then faster and faster as they climbed. They continued this noble exercise, always rising, until they were seen only as dots in the air: at last these very dots faded away, and the eagles and their eaglets were lost in a light. too dazzling for our tired eyes. »
Children, remember this great lesson well; your parents, your teachers show you the way to heaven. They elevate you, that is, they help you grow in wisdom, in knowledge, in goodness. They teach you what you must do to be loved by God, by your parents, by your comrades; to be happy with yourself and others; finally, to be happy in this life, whatever may happen to you, and to deserve to go to paradise after your death. Listen carefully to their words, retain them; pay attention to the lessons given to you by your fathers and mothers, your teachers, in order to climb always, always, like the little eaglets.
the nut jug.
A little boy, seeing a jug full of nuts, thrust his fist into it and took as many nuts as his little hand could hold; but when "he wanted to pull it out, impossible: the neck of the jug was too narrow. "Let go of half the walnuts, one of his comrades shouted to him and your hand will come out." He did so and he easily withdrew his hand.
" Who graps all, looses. »
the little tease.
Edouard wasn't mean, but he had a bad habit of teasing his comrades: he hid the book from Leon, who wasted his time looking for it; he dragged Charles by his coat while his back was turned: he caught blows at this ugly game about which he complained to his mother. One day, she said to him: “My child, the monkeys are also teasing; and do you want to know how they are punished for it? I'm going to read you what a traveler says who saw them in a country, far from here, where they are free:
the crocodile and the monkeys.
Very close to the shore stands the crocodile. “Imagine a lizard, two to three meters long, with an enormous mouth and terrible teeth. It has its body under water, because it is amphibious, that is, it lives on land and in water. Its huge jaws protrude above the surface; they are all wide open, ready to grab whatever comes their way. Now a troop of monkeys, stunned and teasing like some schoolchildren, approach and begin their gambols. The most daring leaps from branch to branch, hangs himself by one arm, advances, kicks the crocodile with his paw on the muzzle; then step back quickly. So all the other monkeys, delighted with the trick, want to do the same. They put all their flexibility and agility into play to torment the monster. Sometimes the terrible jaws close suddenly, but not quickly enough to seize the impertinent; then the whole band begins to utter cries of joy and triumph. But it also often happens that the paw of the teasing monkey is caught in passing, and that, dragged under the water with the rapidity of lightning, the poor dazed creature is eaten and does not reappear.
It is spring: and in frolicsome bands The school disperses to the fields; The meadows, the woods, are the smiling theaters
Games, jumps and loud fun.
There, the star of the meadows, the white daisy
Call a little hand;
Everywhere on the grass the buttercup invites
To pick his chalice, where the morning tears
Sleep in pearls of gold. Goure, playful troops,
And echo your childish songs; Tie the garland, tie the bouquets:
The hawthorn has its snow and the wood its lily of the valley.
A. de MONTGOLFIER.
Ah! the beautiful season! that the air is sweet, that it is good to breathe it. It is full of sweet scents. Here is the daisy with a heart of gold, with a small white and pink crown, which opens in the meadows; here are the white anemones and the yellow cuckoos, and many other pretty flowers. There are buds on the trees, which are small leaves folded in on themselves; soon they will develop in the rays of the sun, and the trees will become of a tender and fresh green. The joyous birds will sing on the branches, they will fly hither and thither, busy picking up blades of grass, hay, moss, and the little flakes of wool that the sheep in passing leave clinging to the hedges bordering the path? What do they want to do with it? A warm nest for their little ones. Who sings in the woods? It's the cuckoo: we hear the voice; you can't see the bird. Welcome, cuckoo, because you announce the spring. Young lambs are seen in the fields beside their mother sheep; in the barnyard the hens break the grain with their beaks to feed it to their chicks; the ducks lead their newly hatched little ducklings to the pond; everyone seems happy. The days are longer than in winter, and the weather will become warmer. Do you see those trees covered in pretty pink flowers? they are peach trees, and these pretty flowers will gradually change into those beautiful sweet peaches that you love so much. This big all-white tree that looks like an enormous bridal bouquet is the plum tree; and lower are the flowering apple trees, the pear trees, the cherry trees, and lower still the strawberries with their little white stars. All these charming flowers, all the beautiful fruits which will be born from them later, issue from this same black earth; yet all these flowers are not the same; all these fruits have different tastes; the peach does not resemble the plum, nor the apple the cherry, nor the cherry the strawberry. All the science of men could not make a cherry, nor a peach; all this comes to us from God. These are all miracles that come back every spring. How good is God! how beautiful are his creations! we can never love him enough, thank him enough.!
If you want to put your wealth
Safe from thieves, rust and time,
Try to accumulate treasures of wisdom,
And take advantage of the beautiful days of spring.
the cherry tree song.
In the spring the good Lord says: "Let us set the table for the little worm!" — Immediately the cherry tree sprouts leaf upon leaf, a thousand fresh, green leaves.
The little worm, which was sleeping in his house, wakes up, stretches out, opens his little mouth and rubs his drowsy eyes. Then he quietly gnaws at the little leaves, saying, "You can't tear yourself away from them." Who prepared such a feast for me? »
Then the good Lord said again: "Let's set the table for the little bee!" Immediately the cherry tree sprouts flower upon flower, a thousand small fresh white flowers.
And the morning bee has seen it at dawn, and the first rays of the sun lead it there. "Let's go drink my coffee, she said to herself; it's poured into such precious porcelain!"
That the cups are clean and beautiful! She dips her little tongue in it, and while drinking, exclaims: “The delicious drink! we didn't spare the sugar. »
Summer is coming and the good Lord says: "Let's set the little bird's table!" And the cherry tree is covered with a thousand fresh, vermilion fruits.
“Oh! ha! exclaims the little bird, that's a good thing; I have a good appetite: it will give new strength to my wings and to my voice, and I will be able to sing a new song. In the fall the good Lord says: "Remove the table, everyone is satisfied." And the cold mountain wind begins to blow and makes the tree shiver.
The leaves turn yellow and red, and fall one by one, and the wind that knocked them down picks them up and blows them in the air.
Here comes winter and the good Lord says: "Cover what remains for me!" And the whirlwinds bring the snowflakes, and everything rests and sleeps.
PROVIDENCE LAW EXPLAINED
BY A FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHILD TO HIS YOUNGEST COMPANION
Don't take, don't waste.
sweetie, don't touch!
Look at! Never Juliet,
Neither I pick the flower
Strawberry, although there are so many!
It's wrong to even touch it.
Always listen to us, little one;
I have two summers older than you:
The oldest knows the law,
The youngest listens and enjoys.
As much as your hand can hold,
What can your bosom contain?
Take, pick at leisure, my little one.
And buttercup and daisy.
Seem to hatch on purpose for us.
Roll on the violet,
Make garlands, rosaries,
But without mixing with your bouquets
Strawberry the simple flower.
Do you see, my little sister.
Spring loves every flower,
Anything, cuckoos, daisies.
Summer chooses its favourites,
And without regret let it wither
The flowers we can pick;
No fruit will bend its stem.
When other springs will return.
The cheerful green meadows will bloom again.
For the strawberries!... wait, I tell you:
God endowed with a sweeter love
Her little flower that laughs at day.
Let the spring flow,
And soon, come back in droves,
We will see, there, on this lawn,
Strawberry point galore
Under its half-veiled leaf.
To taste its savory fruit,
We must never save in our games
Its white flower be stripped.
A. DE MONTGOLFIER
Spring is over; here we are in summer; the sun is hot; the Days are long. The fruits grow and ripen. It's a pleasure to see the gooseberries blush, to pick the wild strawberries in the woods. These are the same strawberries which, transplanted into the gardens and cultivated with care, give strawberries until November. There are many species of strawberries, from the small wild strawberry to the large strawberry, which is called pineapple. They are called varieties; and it is the gardeners who have perfected them by cultivation, for the intelligence of man can multiply and improve, by work, the fruits, the flowers, the wild plants which God gives birth to in abundance. There are also many species of roses and carnations, and other flowers which man strives to vary. It is a very amusing occupation to cultivate flowers and fruits. We discover there at every moment marvelous proofs of the goodness of God, of his foresight, of his wisdom. Summer is harvest time, a happy time when we gather the wheat that will give us bread all year round. Happy are those who think of sharing this bread with the poor!
We are the Lord's farmers here;
The Lord is the great sower,
Who, with his full and fruitful hand,
Spreads widely over the world
The good seed which must prosper;
Don't let it go astray!
Have you ever seen a flowering meadow? Oh ! how beautiful ! The first time I saw this pretty green grass, all strewn with white, yellow, red, purple flowers, I thought I was in paradise, in the beautiful garden where Adam and Eve were before they disobeyed. God is very good to have made the earth still so beautiful for us. I would have liked to pick all the daisies, all the cuckoo clocks, all the blue bells. At night, as soon as I closed my eyes, I saw the flowery meadow, its tall grass lit by the sun, and all the flowers calling me. When I woke up the next day I ran to see him, but as I approached I heard a noise I had never heard.
Listen ! It is the reaper who sharpens a great shining blade.
Listen! it is the reaper who sharpens a large, shiny, curved blade called a scythe. It will cut the tall grass and with it the pretty flowers. What pity! But he cannot choose. The scythe is very sharp. Do not approach it.
Let's go to the meadow. See, there's already a lot of cut grass. Here are women and men who come to stretch it out and turn it over with their pitchforks and their rakes. They work hard. Let's go help them make the hay. Grass, when cut, is called hay.
Oh! it's hot! Is equal; hay must be made while the sun is shining. How good it smells! It is the flowers that perfume it, but the grass also smells good. When the hay is quite dry, put it in a heap; then we'll take it back to the attics. Hay is the food for horses, cows and sheep during the winter, when no more grass is growing. Who made the grass grow in the spring, and the flowers, all that made the prairie so beautiful? It's God. And who thought of cutting the grass, drying it and saving it for the winter? It's the man. He cannot create anything, but he can use the gifts of God with foresight and wisdom, for cows, horses and sheep do not foresee winter and would starve when the snow comes, if man did not work at provide hay for them.
god is always there.
When summer comes, the poor love
Summer is the season of fire,
It is the warm air and the fresh dawn;
Summer is the gaze of God.
Summer, awakened nature
Everywhere is spreading in all directions,
On the tree in thick foliage,
On man in caressing blessings.
She gives life and thought
To the poor, saved from winter,
From sun to full cross
And the pure sky which says: Live!
The storm has passed! the air is sweet; the weather's nice. It hasn't been that hot since the lightning got him. thunder rumbled. that the rain has fallen. What a good smell the flowers have! The trees, the hedges, the grass, are fresh and green. Let's go to the fields to see if the wheat is ripe. Yes. it is of a beautiful golden brown; he is ripe. Here come the reapers with their sharp sickles. They cut rye and wheat. Wheat is also called wheat. See these grains of wheat, how neatly they are on the ear! What a beautiful order! The end of the stalk that carries these grains is called the ear. The stalks on which rye and wheat grow make straw.
This bundle of ears bound together is called a sheaf, and with many sheaves a stack is made, such as you see in the countryside, covered with a pointed straw hat.
When the grain is dry, it is taken to the barn to be threshed; that is to say, so that one removes, by striking it with long slack sticks called flails, the small thin film which covers the grain. The grain is then taken to the mill to be ground. When it is ground, it is called flour. When it is in flour, the baker makes the bread that we eat.
Who made the wheat? Who made it come out of the ground, grow, grow? Who has arranged his seeds one above the other in such beautiful order that the mere sight of it delights the eye? Who wanted each grain to have a little plume of pointed barbs to sting and repel the fly and the little butterflies that would come and lay their eggs in these grains and spoil them? Who put in the grain this white powder which we call flour? Who but God could have done all these wonderful things? Who sowed the wheat? Who cut it? Who put it in sheaves, then in heaps? Who beat it and took it to the mill, and when it was in flour, who made it into bread? These are men we call baker, miller, barn beater, reaper, plowman. .But all these men together could never have made a single grain of wheat. Only God gives them this grain that they work with intelligence, and from which they derive such good food: bread.
See them little boys and girls scattered across the field? What are they doing there? They pick up the ears that have remained on the ground. They glean. That poor old man over there is also gleaning.
He is quite old. Her hair is all white. His head bobs. He's almost too old to work, but he doesn't like to be idle. He has come a long way to pick up a few meager ears of corn: he is very tired of walking along the fields, always stooping. He dropped one of his little bundles of corn. Pick it up and return it to him. Talk nice to the poor old man. Let's pick up a few ears to enlarge his little pile. The miller will grind them for him out of charity, and the baker will make him a loaf of bread. Perhaps he has a wife and little children at home who are waiting for him and who are hungry. Maybe they are crying for bread. Think of them, because if God gives us wheat, it is so that everyone has bread, poor and rich. So give, because God gives you only so that you give to him who has less than you. God alone can create, but we can use his gifts to gain paradise.
AND THE DAWS OF THE PLAIN.
Once upon a time there was a family of giants who lived in a castle in the mountains: the daughter of one of these giants was tall as a poplar, although she was only six years old. She was curious and longed to go down to the plain and see what the men below were doing there, who from above seemed to her like dwarfs. One fine day when her father the giant had gone hunting and her mother was sleeping, at noon, this enormous little girl took her run and ran down the mountain into a field that peasants were plowing. She stopped, quite surprised, to look at the plow and the ploughmen, for she had never seen anything like it. "Oh! pretty toys! she cried. She bent down and spread her apron on the ground, which covered almost the entire field. She put the men, the horses, the plow there; then, in two strides, she ascended the mountain and returned to the chateau where her father was at table. “What are you bringing here, my daughter? he asked her. - Look at! she said, opening her apron, the pretty toys; I have never seen
so beautiful. and she placed on the table, one after the other, the plough, the horses, and the ploughmen, who were all bewildered and bewildered, like ants being dragged out of their anthill to be carried into a drawing-room. The little giant began to clap her hands and laugh with all her might, but her father frowned. "You have done a bad job," he said. mountain giants would starve if the dwarves on the plain stopped plowing and sowing wheat."
(Translated from German)
Summer is over: the days are getting shorter. The flowers are rare in the fields and in the gardens. The leaves turn yellow, but they do not fall off yet. Let's pick grapes, pears, apples, walnuts and chestnuts. Let's stock up for the winter. Remember, however, that many fruits cannot be kept. God sends them to us like manna, to be eaten and given. There are misers who let beautiful fruits rot in their attics, rather than share with those who have none. It's very bad ; because we must not lose anything of what God gives us. It is also the harvest season, which is a celebration and spreads joy in the countryside.
The real riches, my children, are neither gold nor silver, which cannot feed us, nor heat us, nor clothe us; but the goods of the earth, wheat, wood, flax, cotton.
Notice, my children, that God gives all of us, rich and poor, the best things without which we could not live, air, water, sunlight.
After autumn, winter will return, and after winter, spring and summer. And always like this:
Each season has its crown,
Of flowers, of perfumes in spring.
Shade in summer, fruit in autumn.
The winter of snow and so much.
Each, pouring out her basket,
Said to the rich: Receive and watch
So that nothing is lost:
What is given to the poor is given back.
What do I see there? It is not a meadow, because there is neither grass nor flowers. It is not a wheat field, for there are no ears Dangling from long stalks. No, they are small shrubs covered with pretty leaves which are called vines and which, green at first, turn yellow and red in the fall. Under the leaves, I see hanging beautiful clusters of a golden yellow or a black red. You are familiar with these beautiful clusters and the shrub that bears them. These are grapes; it is the vine.
Who made the vine? Who made the grapes? - God.
Always God who gives us all that is good, all that is beautiful.
Let us now see what men do with the vine and the grapes.
IT was first necessary to plant the vine stock to make the vine come; then, dig the earth around, pull out the weeds; when it grows, it must be supported with stakes so that its long branches do not drag on the ground, and that the grapes, when they begin to form, receive the rain and the sun. Now the grains are large and ripe. Here are the grape pickers and the pickers with their big scissors who come to cut the tails of the bunches, which are put in hoods to take them to the press. This is where the grapes are pressed. From it comes a sugary juice which runs into vats, where it is left to ferment. You have to be careful not to approach the vats and lean over them to look inside; for a vapor rises from it which stuns and kills you. If you fall into the tank, you will die there. Children and even men, who did not know the danger, died like that.
When the juice no longer ferments, it is left to rest and not put in barrels until a long time later. All this requires caution and experience. Finally, when the wine is made, you must drink it in moderation, mixing it with water, because it can still make you dizzy and intoxicated, that is to say, take away your reason and make you like beasts. .
A drunkard is a stupid being who no longer knows what he is doing and who becomes contemptible.
THE trees have hardly any leaves; wind and rain knocked them down. The sky is grey, it is cold. It's winter. It freezes; the ponds of the public gardens are covered with a thin layer of ice. Don't try to slip on it: it will break and you will fall into the water. In four or five days, if the frost continues, the ice will be thick and can carry you. Then come the skaters. Have you ever seen skating? It's a deft way to glide across the ice with steel blades scratching it. There is a country called Holland, which is covered with canals and rivers; during the. long winter, the water of the canals and rivers is covered with thick and hard ice; so the inhabitants, who all learned to skate from childhood, go from one village to another skating on the canals. We often see milkmaids, their milk jug on their heads, sliding on the ice with their skates, without spilling a drop of milk and without losing their balance. They go much faster than us when walking; their address comes from a great habit.
The ice is melting. Here comes the snow! How quickly and in a hurry it falls! Its flakes look like small feathers. Everything is covered with it, the trees, the fields, the road, the houses and even the streets, where it soon turns black under the feet of passers-by and horses. Over the countryside she spreads a beautiful white carpet, whiter than anything white we see; also we say: white as snow. It is beautiful to see. The snow comes from the clouds. It's rain frozen in the air by the cold.
Put some snow in front of the fire. See how it melts! There are no more. There is only water. When the sun shines, when the weather becomes milder, the snow that is on the ground will melt, and the ground will drink it as it drinks the rain.
It is good in winter to play ball, run, jump rope, to warm up: but there is something that warms the heart and the body even better, it is to wear little woolen jackets and little self-made woolen dresses for poor children, who have neither fire nor warm clothes to protect themselves from the cold.
THE SPARROW'S PETITION.
When, no longer serving as shade, The leaves serve as a carpet, When the forest is leafless, When the birds no longer have shelter;
When the ice chains the waves Of the sad stream that is silent; May the snow, in deep masses, pile up in the silent wood,
The sparrow, fleeing the grove, Seeks the stubble and the houses, And goes to beg, in his language, Pity, help, provisions:
“The snow is falling so quickly: Have mercy, have mercy on me! Not a leaf that shelters me, And the wind blows, strong and cold!
“No seeds, no sloes. More red pears-Martin; The earth is hard, and the water freezes; I'm cold, and I'm thirsty, and I'm hungry.
“My nice little nest of moss Is spoiled, stripped, destroyed: Retreat so warm and so sweet. Where I slept so well at night!
“And now, if I land On these branches, weary! I will die All frozen (you will be the cause of it), Before dawn has illuminated!
" Oh ! throw me a few crumbs, Welcome me near the hearth: The sparrow, with its ditties, Soon will know how to cheer you up.
“When I have dried my plumage. Which clings to my chilled back, I want, in my joyous song, All day to tell you. THANKS!
“Until the golden season Sun, leaves, flowers, Keep me... Oh! What party! If you push me away, I die!
“And tomorrow, on the cold earth When you see me stiff dead. You will pity me, and my prayer will come back to You like remorse.
" Oh ! keep the little thing That asks for so little, so little! When the first flower blooms, "I fly away and bid you farewell." »
A. DE Montgolfier.
“Have you understood what you have just read, my dear child? the mother asked her little girl.
— Yes, replied Juliette, I understand that in autumn when the leaves fall, they serve as a carpet instead of serving as a roof; and I amused myself many times pushing them, while walking, and piling them up while dragging my feet in such a way that they made: frou, frou! I know very well that the ice binds the water, that it prevents it from running, and that, when the water no longer moves, it no longer makes a sound. I also know how unhappy the poor birds are in winter: I remember the poor little robin, whom I warmed up last year, and who was so ill. He looked quite dead when I picked him up. »
LOOK at that big tree; he was born from a very small acorn Here is an acorn, take a good look at it.
One day a small acorn like this fell on the ground.
The hot sun shone and warmed him, the rain came and softened him.
The shell of the acorn opened, out of it came a small green sprout.
From the small green sprout came two small leaves above, and below a small, thin root like a thread. God shined the sun on the little shoot; God sent the rain down on her. The little sprout grew: branches covered with leaves came out of it.
As the branches rose in the air, the roots lengthened and grew in the earth.
Today it is a big tree, beautiful and strong. Without the acorn, there would be no oak. Who made the acorn, and all the seeds that grow in the ground? It's God.
An acorn falls from the tree and rolls on the ground. The eagle, in its empty greenhouse, leaving the valleys, Playfully seizes it and carries it to its threshing floor to sharpen the beak of its young eaglets; Soon from the deserted nest carried away by the storm He rolls confounded in the moving debris.
And on the bare rock a grain of sand stops He who must one day break the wing of the winds;
Summer is coming, the north wind raises The powder from the furrow which for him is only a game, And on the extinct germ where the sap still broods Let it fall a little; Spring with its warm shower Waters it as if with a hand; This dust is fertilized, And life circulates there at last.
One morning when Marie and Florence were walking before lunch with their maid, they saw Suzanne, the farmer's daughter, on her knees in front of a row of beehives.
“What is she doing there asked little Florence, who was six years old.
— I think, replied Marie in a serious tone, that she watches the bees at work.
— Do the bees work? I've only ever seen them fly. »
At this moment, Florence saw her father coming towards them; she ran to him:
“Dad, what are the bees doing?
"To make the wax and the honey that you like so much." I'll show them to you at work. »
The father approached and removed a hood of straw that covered one of the hives. The children then saw that it was a box that had a glass window. They looked through the window. The bees came and went without it being possible to guess at first what was occupying them. But suddenly Florence exclaimed:
“I see a bee that has just entered the hive. She has trouble walking; to each of its legs are glued small yellow balls; here is another bee coming towards her and ridding her of these little balls; what are they doing with it, papa?
— These little pellets are the yellow dust which the bee has collected on the flowers; they now knead it into mash, which they use to feed their young. At first it was believed that it was with this yellow powder that they made the wax of which their cells are formed; but it has since been discovered that the wax comes out of their bodies and molds itself on the rings of their belly, whence they draw it in small scales. Look how pretty and regular each cell is. When the bees begin to build their cells, they divide into several troops; some are responsible for bringing the materials for the work, and knead the wax with their forepaws, their tongues and their little teeth. Others go about the same way to shape the cells, to unite and polish the interior; while a third band flies outside early in the morning, everywhere, in the fields, on the heather, sucking the juice from the flowers and bringing honey back to the hive to refresh the workers; for waxworkers, as they are called, are not allowed to quit their work and fly away. But, to console them for being kept at home, the bees which go out to gather honey place themselves behind the workers and wait patiently, like good little servants, to be asked to eat. Thus, when Madame the waxworker is tired of working and needs to refresh herself, she takes her trunk out of her mouth; it is as if she were saying: "My dear, have the kindness to give me my dinner." Then the little maid opens her pocket full of honey and feeds the lady who, when she has dined with a good appetite, returns to work more active and more joyful. »
WHAT FLORENCE ASKED HER FATHER.
OH ! papa, said Florence, give me a good bee, please.
“What do you mean, my little girl?
“Dad, I mean a real bee that can walk, run, fly, make honey just like the ones we've seen. Mum bought one for us the other day in the toy store, and the salesman said it had six legs and two wings, that it lacked nothing, that it was as well made as all the others. bees. However, she doesn't want to run, fly or make honey. It's not a good bee. I put her in a box, I gave her sugar, she didn't want to eat, and when I opened the box the next day, very gently, lest she fly away, she hadn't even moved. Do you want to teach him to fly, dad?
"That's impossible for me, dear little child, but tomorrow you'll know the name of the one who gave the bee the power to fly, of the one who made these flowering trees, and all the beauty you see in them. this world. »
THE SONG OF THE BEE.
PAPA, where does the bee hide her honey bag?
“In his stomach, my child. The bee thrusts its proboscis into the bottom of the flowers, it sucks the sugary liquor which descends into its little inner bag, which is its storehouse. She has the power to reopen this bag and bring out the honey to treat her sisters; she also fills the supply cell with them, in order to keep some for the winter, when there are no more flowers in the fields and the bees are resting and sleeping. »
The mother of Marie and Florence, who had come to join them, sang to them on their return the first verse of the song of the Bee:
In winter you sleep, Vigilant bee; Spring is awakening. Get out of your house! Ringing at your door, Every dead leaf That the breeze carries Says in its song:
“Already has just hatched A flower that gilds The nascent dawn Farewell, take flight. The bee breathes, Flies, and from the flowers draws The honey and the wax Which are its treasure
The little girls would have liked the mother to sing them the other verses, but she told them that they were still too young to understand them.
A. de Montgolfier
The next morning, immediately after breakfast, the mother took her two little girls to her room. She sat down in front of the open window which overlooked the garden. The sun was shining, the sky was blue; she called Marie and Florence and made them sit down beside her.
"How I wish there was room for Aimee too!" said Florence, glancing regretfully at the little corner where she had left her doll.
'Well, my darling, tell Aimée to cross the room; tell him to bring his stool and sit with us.
— "We are laughing at me, Mom; Aimée, who is a doll, cannot walk or lift a stool.
- What! Florence, can't you make her walk? She has arms and legs though, and can't you just make her carry a stool?
- How could I, Mom, I who am only a small child?
"I am not a little child, Florence," resumed the mother; I am a big person, a woman; yet I have no power to make your doll walk any more than your papa can make a bee fly. There is only one great, glorious being who can do everything and who has done everything. This being is GOD. »
A BENEFIT IS NEVER LOST.
A man was riding on a high road. He sees a poor little chimney sweep who broke his leg falling and couldn't get up. The traveler, who had a good heart, stopped immediately; he took the little boy in his arms, put him on his horse, and walked alongside him, supporting him. They arrived in a city where they went loser to a brave woman. THE
The traveler handed the little boy over to him and ran to fetch a surgeon, who mended the chimney sweep's leg and told him that he had to stay thirty days without moving, if he wanted God to cure him. Thirty days is a long time! but the little boy was docile and knew how to say his prayers. So he prayed to God to help him be patient. The man gave the woman some money and told her to take good care of the child until he was fully recovered; then he mounted his horse and returned to his house, which was a long way off.
Pierre (that was the name of the little chimney sweep) became a messenger as soon as he could walk, because he no longer bothered to sweep chimneys, which is a hard job.
One day, the man who had such a good heart passed through this town, and dismounted at the house of the woman who had nursed Pierre five or six years ago.
He was tired and went to bed right away.
The woman, after bathing the bed, put the basin near a pile of dry straw and fell asleep.
So, in the middle of the night, the house caught fire. The woman wakes up and runs down the street, dazed.
Pierre, who had arrived first, wanted to take her home, but she showed him the window on the second floor, saying: "Someone is going to burn there!" »
Pierre did neither one nor two, he climbed the ladder and entered through the window, from which the flames were beginning to come out; then he reappeared, carrying on his shoulders a man whom the smoke had already almost smothered.
But when water was thrown in his face, he came to, and Peter recognized the good traveler who had taken pity on him six years before.
God had allowed the poor boy to have this great joy of having saved the life of his benefactor.
LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOR.
It is said that one day, Rabbi Joel and his brothers, nicknamed the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, were sitting in the courtyard of the temple, discoursing on what could ensure happiness here on earth. One says it was the possession of a sufficient fortune, acquired without sin; the second, that it was a great fame and the praise of all men; the third, that it was the power and wisdom necessary to govern the state; the fourth made happiness consist in a calm and joyful interior; the fifth, in the old age of a rich, powerful, famous man, surrounded by his children and his children's children. The sixth says that all this was in vain, if one did not above all observe the law of Moses. Rabbi Joel, who was the eldest and the most venerable, took the floor in his turn: "You have all spoken wisely, but you have omitted one essential thing: to find happiness, you must add to all these goods the respect of tradition and of the prophets."
There was in the yard, among the people who were listening to the doctors, a handsome child with blond hair, with shining eyes in which the sky was reflected; he held in his hand a snow-white lily. He stood up, and although he was only twelve years old, everyone turned to him, waiting for him to speak. "He alone has happiness, he says, who loves the Lord his God with all his mind, with all his heart, with all his soul, and his neighbor as himself. He is greater than if he possessed wealth, fame, power, happier than if he lived in the happiest interior, more worthy of honors than the rich and powerful old man. He himself is the law and the prophets."
The doctors, astonished, looked at each other and asked themselves: "When the Messiah comes, will he tell us greater things?" »
But they were praising God, saying, "The Lord hath put his wisdom in the mouths of children."
Do you know love well, you who speak of loving?
Love is a treasure that cannot be estimated;
There is nothing greater, nothing more admirable; He is comparable to himself here below, He knows how to lighten the heaviest burdens; The darkest days, he knows how to make them beautiful. Do you want the reason? In God alone is its source: In God alone is also the rest of its course, He departs from it, he returns there, and this entirely divine fire Has no other principle and no other end.
THE AGAMI ROBIN
HERE is a name that you do not know, my children, unless you have met the intelligent bird so called. Perhaps you have seen it in the beautiful Jardin d'Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, which has several. He is a friend of man, and moreover a good and useful servant, as you will judge by the account of a learned observer, member of the Acclimatization Society, that is to say a meeting enlightened people, who bring useful and beautiful animals from afar, which we gradually accustom to living in France, which we carefully acclimatize, so that they can later spread and enrich the inhabitants of our campaigns. This is how we brought the agami from Guyana, which is his native country. But rather listen to how this docile animal lends itself to receiving a real education, wiser and better learned in this than some schoolchildren.
I had been in Angers for about twenty-five years, with a local doctor. We were walking in his yard when I heard a few sharp knocks on a door that opened onto the countryside. As my host seemed to take no notice, I said to him: "There's a knock on this door." - Ah! he said, it is Robin, "who leads the herd." Saying this, he goes to open the door, and I see about twenty geese pass by, followed by a black bird, the size of a Russian hen. My host closes the door. " Well! said I, and the shepherd?” waiting for me
to see some child appear. "The shepherd," he replies, "there he is, it's Robin... Robin!" he shouted. And the poor bird to run up, to peck its feet, to wave its wings; in a word, to show him his joy, at the same time as I showed him the pleasure that this charming bird gave me.
“At dinner, the dining-room door having remained ajar, Robin reappeared: “Ah! said my host, "are you coming for a little sweetness?" Go ask madam. And the lovely bird came to peck at my feet and shake its wings in front of me. I leave you to think if it was in vain. Finally, after a few moments, his master said to him: "Come on, that's enough, go away!" And poor Robin leaves: he stops at the door, turns around, stays there for a few moments, and seeing that no one calls him back, he disappears.
“I must add that the master of this charming bird assured me that the cleverest shepherd would not take better care of his flock and that he had never lost any of his geese. »
Wasn't I right to tell you that the agami was good to know? Who knows if one of you will one day be called upon to make it appreciated and used? It is to be hoped that there are at least one or two of them in each barnyard, where he can maintain order and discipline better than the most zealous guardian.
Slightly larger than the hen, very nimble in running, rarely flying, and unable, on account of its short wings, to sustain itself for long in the air, it has an agreeable appearance. Its plumage, of a beautiful black, frames on its chest a plate of a metallic luster with green, blue and purple reflections. He has a great vivacity of movement, an expressive look, and a singular ease in taming himself and even in attaching himself to man. These are many titles for our adoption.
Let us therefore hope that it will one day become as useful and as familiar to us as our beautiful French rooster, and our pretty and good Norman hens.
It was a rainy day, Frank couldn't get out to take off his kite. So he had fun playing with his horse chestnuts. — He was playing alone in a room, and by accident he threw one of his horse chestnuts against the window and broke a pane of glass. Immediately he ran down the stairs to look for his mother in the room where he knew she was. He found her busy talking with someone. She did not see him: but he gently touched her arm, so that she would pay attention to him; and, when she turned her head towards him, he said to her: "Mama, I broke a window in your bedroom, by throwing my horse chestnut against the window." »
The mother replied, “I'm sorry you broke a window; but I'm glad, my dear Frank, that you came to tell me right away. And his mother kissed him.
"But how shall I prevent you," she continued, "from breaking my windows with your horse chestnuts?"
"I'll be careful not to break them again, Mom," Frank said.
'But even today, before breaking the windows, you told me that you would be very careful. After burning your finger the other day by dropping sealing wax on it, weren't you very careful not to let any more fall on your hand: say, Frank?
- Oh! yes, mamma, answered Frank, shaking the finger which had been burned, in the same way as when he had felt the heat of the wax; Oh! Certainly, Mama, I took great care not to drop any more, for fear of burning myself again.
"And if you had felt some pain when you broke the window just now, don't you think you'd be careful not to do it again?"
- Yes mom.
Where's the horse chestnut you broke the window with?
"He's on the floor, up there, in your room."
- Go get it for me. »
Frank fetched the chestnut, and brought it to his mother. She took it in her hand, and said, "You'd be sorry to see that chestnut thrown away, wouldn't you, Frank?"
"Yes, Mom," Frank said, "because I like to roll it around and play with it, and it's the only one of my horse chestnuts I have left."
'But,' said his mother, 'I'm afraid you'll break yet another pane of glass; if I threw it, you could no longer use it to throw it against my windows, and the grief you would have at losing it would remind you, I believe, not to throw hard things against the panes any more. »
Frank thought for a moment, looking at his horse chestnut, and he finally said, “Well! mom, I'll throw it away. And he threw the chestnut out the window.
A few days later, Frank's mother called him to the table where she was working; and she drew from her work-box two balls which she gave to Frank. One was very hard, and the other very soft.
His mother begged him to use only softball in the house; and hardball, only when he's out. She told him that she had bought the softball so he could play with it when it rained and he couldn't go out.
This ball was made of rubber and rebounded very high as soon as it touched the ground.
Frank thanked his mom. His balls made him very happy; he liked them very much, and his mother said to him, "You haven't broken a window, Frank, since you punished yourself by throwing your horse chestnut out the window, and now I'm very comfortable to be able to reward your frankness and your common sense. »
HAPPINESS WITHIN REACH OF EVERYONE.
One day Sigismund, Emperor of Germany, was asked what was the surest way to procure happiness in this world? He replied, “Always do, when you are well, what you have often promised yourself to do when you were sick. »
Paul and Robert were cousins and went to the same school, but their characters were very different. As much as Paul liked to be of service, to oblige, so much Robert was personal and sullen. He never dreamed of sharing his lunch or his snack with those of his comrades who had nothing but dry bread to eat. Paul, on the contrary, often deprived himself for the pleasure of giving.
It happened that Paul broke his arm one day while falling, and in the same fortnight Robert sprained his foot. Both were obliged to watch the house for a long time, poor Paul in bed, and Robert, seated, his leg stretched out on a chair. But there was this difference between them that Paul was not bored for a single day, because, as soon as the doctor said that he could be seen, he had a visit from the teacher who loved him very much, because of its docility and gentleness. His master brought him a book full of pictures and amusing stories that made the days seem very short. The priest also came to inquire about the little boy whom he had noticed at catechism for his good manners and his intelligent answers: seeing him ill, he urged him to be patient and to ask God for his healing, which would not be long in coming. Finally, on Thursday and Sunday after mass, several of his comrades came to see how he was doing. Little Jacques brought him a paper mill he had made himself. Georges gave him a dozen of his marbles, with a magnificent cap, speckled with all sorts of colors. Armand, to whom his mother had given two sous as a reward for his Cross of Wisdom, bought an orange for Paul, who was very happy and content with the gifts, and even more with the friendship of which they were proof. "You are really too good," he said to his little friends, "to think of me and of everything that can give me pleasure." "Don't you remember. answered little Jacques, that one day I cried because I had lost my ball? you gave me yours, which was quite new and very pretty. 'Me,' said Georges, 'I haven't forgotten that once you generously defended me in the street against a big boy who wanted to beat me; you put yourself between us and it was you who received the blows. 'And so I,' said Armand, 'was going to be punished, because there had been a broken pane in the classroom, and the teacher thought it was me; you remembered that the day before you had thrown a marble in that direction; you got up, and in front of everyone, you said bravely: "Sir, it's me." "I had forgotten all that," said Paul. "But we have not forgotten him," replied his comrades.
How do you think Robert spent his time, while Paul was thus surrounded and loved? He spent it in vexation, in tormenting his poor mother, who did all she could to please him without being able to do so. As she was forced to go during the day to earn enough to support him and take care of him, he was left alone. Then he yawned, he stretched himself and repeated twenty times an hour: “Ah! How bored I am! If he tried to read, he threw the book away after five minutes, because, having never applied himself to anything, he read very badly and didn't understand half the words. “If only someone came to see me! he said ; but nobody cares if I'm good or bad. In the evening, when her mother came home, she told her that she had gone to hear from her nephew Paul; she told him how she had found him happy in his bed, playing with his left hand with his marbles, for he could not move his right hand because of the device that had been put around his broken arm; he had shown her the book that the master had brought him, the pretty paper mill that little Jacques had made for him, and the beautiful orange that Armand had bought for him, he hadn't opened it yet because he was waiting. that her little sisters come home from school to share it with them. Finally, Robert's mother told her son that Paul was very sorry to know he was ill, and that, to distract him, he was sending him half his marbles and one of the two beautiful pictures that the priest had given him. Robert's face cleared up a little. At night, when his mother was in bed and he was alone, he began to think about what he had heard. But I have comrades too, he said to himself, why don't they come to see me? why don't they bring me anything? Robert was not stupid, as soon as he questioned himself in good faith, the voice of his conscience answered him very quickly: "It's because you've never done anything for others." You haven't thought of the pleasures of your comrades and they don't think of yours. When you had treats, did you ever think about making allowances for those who had nothing? No; you preferred giving yourself indigestion and making you sick. If you had applied yourself to learning to read, you would at least have the company of books, in the absence of friends, but now you are bored, alone like an owl in its hole, and that is your fault.
“Oh! if I could have foreseen what is happening to me, I would have behaved differently,” sighed Robert.
As he was tossing about and crying quietly in his bed, his mother asked him what was the matter:
"I, no one loves me," he sobbed.
" 'Perhaps it's because you've never loved anyone,' replied his mother. 'Try to be helpful, good with your comrades, docile and diligent with your masters, and you will see that everything around you will change. As soon as you are well, do what you regret not having done, today that you are sick."
Robert followed the advice of his good mother. He took it upon himself; he did not naturally have as good a character as Paul, but he corrected himself little by little, and found himself very well off.
THE TWO GOATS.
Some of you have seen goats, my children. You know it's a pretty animal, which gives good milk and costs less to feed than a cow; The goat is considered capricious and stubborn, however it is less so than some children of my acquaintance and yours. I am going to tell you a very true story on this subject, which happened in a country of mountains, where many goats are fed. One of them was grazing alone in a very steep place. She had climbed higher and higher, from rock to rock, looking for the clumps of grass and wild thyme that grew here and there between the cracks in the stones. Finally, she found herself at the foot of an embankment, so steep that even a goat could not climb it. It was as if we had tried to climb a great wall. But there was a very narrow path that wound around
of the rock; the goat took it. Just as she reached the other side, she saw opposite her another goat walking down the same path. What was there to do? The path was only just wide enough for a single goat, so that if both tried to cross it, one or both of them would fall over the precipice and be killed. There was no room to turn around. While they stood looking at each other, a man passing some distance away noticed them and ran to call his neighbors in a nearby village to see what was going to happen. There was soon a fairly large crowd of people gathered at the bottom of the mountain. Will they advance?—will they retreat?—one wondered.
Finally, one of the two goats, bending first one leg, then the other, and pressing itself against the rock, lay down on the ground: then the other goat passed over it cautiously; after which, the one who was lying rose slowly and both turned their backs and continued on their way. The viewers clapped their hands when they saw these wise goats get away with it so well, and I have no doubt that you also applauded these good beasts, my children. Suppose neither of the two goats wanted to give in and lie down so that the other would run over her, what would have happened?
One of the children. “Both would have died of hunger, or would have pushed each other to pass, and would have fallen from the top of the rocks into the precipice.
"And which of the two goats do you like best?"
ANOTHER CHILD. "The one who gave in and lay down on the ground."
So I hope you'll always be willing to give in to your comrades when you play.
Be sure that the best and happiest child is, like the goat, the one who is the first to give in to the desires of others.
THE CHILD AND THE FLOWERS.
I was barely six years old when one day the milkmaid promised to bring me a bouquet of primroses. Impatience made me get out of bed at the first ray of the sun; I ran to the window in my little shirt to see her coming. How fresh the flowers were! They seemed to breathe in my hand. Another time she brought me a jar of dark red carnations. What wealth! and how surprised I was at such generosity! These flowers planted in the ground seemed to me to be eternal; I kept counting it all over again, trying not to skip the slightest button; but there were more than I could count.
I knew little about forests and valleys, and the first meadow I had seen had been for my childish eyes an immense expanse dotted with golden stars. I rolled around in the grass and saw the plants crowding together. The flowers were so numerous that one of them, although very interesting, could have escaped me, if its pretty name had not made me notice it; whoever gave it to her knew her well. I hadn't paid attention to the shepherd's little purse; but when I heard it named, I recognized it among many others. I opened the little satchel and found it filled with pearl seeds, a thousand times more delicate and precious than gold coins, for God gave them spirit and life: a single one of these little seeds, put in the ground , will produce a plant that will give birds food and shelter. Don't the flowers dance when the wind blows? Do they not spread in the air their perfumes which rise to the sky to thank God for having created them?
Let us be no less grateful than the flowers. The good that good, wise, charitable children do also rises to heaven like the perfume of flowers.
GOGO ENJOYS HER, AND HUNGRY GUGU.
before drinking your cup of milk in the morning, or eating your soup for dinner, have you ever taken heed, dear children, of the little comrades who attend your meals without saying a word? No ; I would wager that they have remained invisible to you, like so many other little creatures which rejoice, agitate or sadden in your neighborhood without your thinking about it.
At your age, I was hardly more attentive; however, one day when the table was large and the company numerous, I took it into my head to be patient, while waiting for my turn, to examine my spoon, a beautiful spoon, really! shining like a mirror, and which was used for the first time. What do you think I saw on its domed, polished silver back? The most comical figure in the world, so wide that it stretched from the handle to the tip, so plump that its eyes could hardly open, so gay in its ugliness that one could not look at it without laughing .
“Oh! little rascal, I thought, you live there like fish in water. You lack nothing, you taste the first of all the good things that are served at the table, from soup to cream and meringues. I'm not surprised you're so fat. Also, I will call you Joyful Gogo. »
The figure laughed and gave me a little wink, as if to tell me that the name suited him: then crack! she disappeared. I had turned my spoon the other way. And now, instead of the little puffy face, I see one so long, so long that it never ends: a real knife blade, with eyes, a nose and a mouth so thin that no cheeks were seen.
" Oh ! for that one, I tell myself, it's Gugu the starving one: She attends her companion's treats, without catching a crumb; all the treats pass in front of her nose without her being able to bite on them, and that's what makes her make such an ugly pout. »
Continuing to look, I discovered a little resemblance between the two faces, but the expression was so different that it was not without difficulty that I recognized myself there. Yes, in truth, it was me! Her face beaming and smiling, she was the docile and good little girl who accommodates herself to everything, who acquits herself joyfully at her task and who plays merrily afterwards. The other was the sullen grimace of the grumpy little sulky, who takes no pleasure in anything, neither her homework nor recreation; who, dissatisfied with herself and with others, is neither lovable nor loved: and yet these two images were indeed my portrait.
Little children, when you look at your shiny spoon and see two such different faces mirrored in it, try to look like cheerful Gogo, and for that do you know what to do? Hold out your hand to poor Gugu, who reminds you in her thinness of more than one sad little face, contracted by hunger: give her a good share of the excess that makes you so puffy: then her cheeks will round, her eyes will light up, his mouth will open to bless you, and you will no longer see in the little silver mirror anything but a joyful and sweet little face which will always smile at you.
WE NEED TO HELP EACH OTHER.
There is great pleasure in helping others, and children can help each other just like grown-ups.
One day, being at Versailles, I went to see in the groves of the park a charming group of children who are feeding vines and grapes to a goat who seems to be playing with them. Nearby was a covered cabinet, where the king, on fine days, sometimes went to snack. As the weather was sleet, I went inside for a while to take shelter. I found there three children much more interesting than marble children. They were two nice little girls, who were very busy picking up sticks of dry wood from around the cradle, which they were arranging in a basket placed under the king's table, while a little boy, badly dressed and very skinny devoured a piece of bread in a corner. I asked the eldest, who was eight or nine years old, what she wanted to do with the wood she was picking up so eagerly. She replied: "You can see, sir, that little boy there: he is very miserable." He has a mother-in-law who sends him all day long to fetch firewood; when he does not bring it home, he is beaten: when he takes it away, the porter takes it away from him at the entrance to the park, and takes it for himself. He is starving, we gave him our lunch. »
After telling me that, she and her companion finished filling the little basket; they loaded it onto the poor fellow's back, and ran ahead of him to the gate of the park, to see if he could pass in safety.
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre.
THE ANT AND THE BEE.
On an empty stomach, the body all chilled,
And for good reason, One winter day, the ant Near a well-closed hive
Dreamed full of worry. A watchful bee sees him and introduces himself.
"What are you looking for here? she told him. - Alas, my dear, Answers the poor ant.
Do not be angry: The pheasant, my enemy,
Destroyed my anthill; My store is dry;
All my parents perished
Of hunger, of cold, of misery.
I was going to succumb too,
When from the palace here
The look gave me courage.
I knew it was well stocked
Of this good honey, your work;
I made an effort. I finished
By arriving without damage.
Oh! I said to myself, my sister
Is industrious girl;
She is rich and generous.
She will pity my misfortune;
Yes, all my hope rests
In the goodness of his heart.
I ask little;
But I'm hungry, I'm cold, my sister.
— Oh! ah! answered the bee.
You talk wonderfully;
But towards the end of the summer,
The cicada told me
that you rejected
Such a request.
- What! you know... — My God, yes;
The cicada is my friend..
What would you do, please.
If like you, today,
I was callous and proud,
If I was going to invite you
To walk or sing?
But, be reassured, my dear; Come in, eat at your leisure;
Use it as your own; And above all, for the future,
Learn to sympathize With the misery of another. »
Laurent de Jussieu.
Little Albert was six years old. He was the son of a gardener. Since he was born, he saw his father and his brothers, who were active and industrious, planting trees, sowing seeds, which grew and gave fruits, vegetables, all sorts of good things. He had seen a single bean planted in the ground yield a hundred beans, often more; a slice of potato, on which there was an eye, brought up to forty beautiful potatoes; he therefore knew that the earth gave back much more than was given to him. One day he found a twenty-franc piece at his father's. He quickly ran to bury it in his little garden. “A tree will grow, he thought, which will bear gold coins like a cherry tree bears cherries, and I will give them to papa who will be very happy. Every morning, he went to see if the piece was growing, but nothing was coming out of the ground. Meanwhile, the father was looking everywhere for the twenty-franc piece. Finally, he asked little Albert if he had seen her?
" Yes Dad; I found it and I sowed it.
"How, sown?" little fool! do you by any chance believe that the piece will grow like a cabbage?
"But, papa, did I hear you say that gold was found in the ground?"
'Yes, but it doesn't grow like a seed; gold does not live. »
It was necessary to dig up the piece which had not grown at all, and Albert was scolded and punished, for having taken what did not belong to him.
There is however a way of sowing gold, my children, which makes it bring back more beautiful fruits than there are on this earth. You guessed it was by giving it to the poor. But it is in heaven that the harvest of this seed takes place.
A negligent schoolboy, who has fun on the way and arrives late for school, is said to be skipping school. This is what Georges often did; so he had many bad points; he learned nothing, while his little comrade, Michel, six months younger than him, already knew how to read fluently.
One day, they left together at half past seven in the morning to go to school, which was a kilometer from their home. As they passed along a flowering hawthorn hedge that separated them from an orchard, they heard a great hum. They stopped to listen. "I think it's bees," said Georges. There may be an apiary on the other side of the hedge. Lets go see. »
He parted the hawthorn branches and slipped through a gap. Michel did not follow him. “Come on,” George called to him. But Michel replied: "No, Mama forbade me to turn away from my path."
"Mommy forbade me too," Georges went on, "but what does it matter?" I won't be long. »
George then began to look at the hives. There were three of woven straw, lined up on a board, about eight inches from the ground. They looked like large overturned baskets, in the shape of a sugar loaf. Bees swarmed around. They returned laden with the sweet liquor which they pump from the bottom of the flowers. The more Georges looked at them, the more he thought of honey, which he liked very much. "I'm sure," he said to himself, "the hives are full of them!" I would like to taste it a little, just a little. As he thought about it, his greed increased. The water came to his mouth, as they say. Honey is so good! He circled around the board. After all, straw isn't very heavy. At that moment he heard the voice of Michel who had retraced his steps to look for him and who was calling him. George did not answer. He hid like a thief, because deep in his soul he had the bad idea of taking what was not his. When he thought his comrade was gone, he came out of his hiding place; he lifted one of the hives aside and slid his hand quickly under it, but the whole swarm came out the opening and threw itself on him. He was covered in bees that stung his hands and face. The pain was so intense that he couldn't suppress piercing cries. The master of the orchard, attracted by the noise, arrived furious. The petty thief fled through the hedge, tearing with thorns his jacket, his trousers and his skin. He was running with all his might, screaming in pain because the bees were chasing after him and wouldn't let go.
Michel, who saw him pass at a gallop like a runaway horse, called out to him: "Georges!" George! so what do you have? But, instead of answering him, Georges was still running straight ahead. He did not see a ditch full of mud into which he was about to fall. Passers-by helped Michel pull him out, but he came out covered in slime and completely disfigured.
They took him back to his mother, who was very sad to see him in this state. Her swollen eyes remained closed for more than eight days. His face, neck and hands were frighteningly swollen. He had a high fever and was near death. All for disobeying his mother and skipping school.
a little book that contains everything.
There is a little book that children are taught and asked about in church; read this little book, which is the catechism, you will find there an answer to all the questions that you need to know. Ask the Christian where does the human species come from? he knows it; where does she go ? he knows it. Ask this poor child, who never thought of it in his life, why he is here, what will become of him after his death? he will give you a sublime answer, which he will not yet understand, but which is none the less admirable. Ask him how the world was created, and for what purpose? Why did God put animals and plants there? How was the earth populated? If it is by a single family or by several? Why do people speak multiple languages? Why are they suffering, why are they fighting, and how will it all end? He knows it. Origin of the world, origin of the species, question of races, destiny of man in this life and in the next, relationship of man to God, duties of man to his fellows, rights of man about creation, he is ignorant of nothing, and when he grows up he will not hesitate any more about natural law, political law, the law of nations, because all this flows clearly and as if from itself. of Christianity. This is what I call a great religion: I recognize it by this sign that it leaves none of the questions which interest humanity unanswered.
From this open treasury eternal wealth
No matter how much we invite you, If we don't have a humble, simple, faithful heart, We can't take advantage of it.
The beautiful page you have just read, my dear children, is beyond your age; to make it clearer to you, I am going to take at random some of the questions and answers from Father Fleury's little historical catechism, which I urge you to learn by heart as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. .
Ask: Who made the world? — Answer: It is God.
D. What did he do it for? - he. He did it out of nothing.
D. How did he do it? —R. By his word.
D. Why did he do it? — A. For his glory. What did the first man make? — A. He made the body of earth.
D. And the soul? — A. He created it out of nothing.
D. Why did God make man? — A. To know him and to love him.
D. Are all men brothers? — A. Yes, because we all come from Adam and Noah.
D. What is the law of nature? — A. It is reason and conscience.
D. What does it teach us about God? "That only he should be adored."
D. And with regard to men? — A. Not to do to anyone what we would not like to be done to us.
D. And with regard to ourselves? — A. To moderate our passions and our desires.
I add, my dear children, according to the Holy Gospel: What you want men to do for you, do the same for them. If you do so, you will live, not this short life, but the eternal and blessed life.
the basket of eggs
ON A beautiful summer day, a little girl, named Ruth, was sent by her mother to a village a mile away. She was going to take a basket of eggs to a dealer's shop. It was the first time that Ruth had been charged with this commission, for it was usually her mother who herself carried the eggs for her hens to the merchant who bought them from her. But that day she had soaping to do, and she thought she could trust her little girl who was eight years old. Ruth was delighted to make herself useful; besides, she was very fond of going to the village: she therefore felt very happy when her mother passed the handle of the basket over her arm, full of eggs carefully arranged in straw. “Remember, my dear child,” her mother said to her, accompanying her to the door, “if I didn't have the money for these eggs, it would be a great loss for me; So be careful not to break them: walk calmly, and don't stop under any circumstances until you get to the village: once there, you'll go straight to Mother Manette's shop. »
Ruth promised to be careful, and left for her message. As she followed a path through the fields, she soon encountered a barrier which stopped her. She thought for a moment, then she put the basket on the ground and pushed it gently under the barrier, then she passed, bending down as much as she could, so that she was on the other side, without having broken a single egg. The path continued through a pretty wood, in a shaded path. The sun was very hot, and it was a pleasure to feel cool and much more at ease than on the hot, dusty road. Ruth slowed down and began picking a flower here, a flower there, as she walked. But now she saw a wild strawberry under the grass: she forgot what her mother had told her, and stopped to pick it. She then saw many others growing
on a mound, higher than she could reach. I could easily climb that far, Ruth thought. Mama advised me not to stop on the way, but that's because she was thinking of the main road, where carts and horses pass all the time. There's no risk here, nothing can happen to the eggs, and I'll be down soon. So Ruth put her basket on the ground and climbed up the embankment where the strawberries were growing. Just as she reached the top, she heard a rustle in the bushes below, but she was so busy searching that she didn't turn to see what it was.
She didn't take great pleasure in eating her strawberries, because she knew she was hurting: as soon as she had finished, she hurried back downstairs. But what was his consternation when he saw a big dog, its muzzle plunged into its overturned and quite empty basket! The path had a steep slope there, so that the eggs, thrown out of the basket, had rolled one after another to a pile of stones against which many had broken. The dog had also lapped up several of them, for some dogs are very fond of eggs. When Ruth had picked up those who had escaped, she counted them and saw that not half of them remained. How she repented of her disobedience! She did not know what to do; she began to walk slowly again, crying with all her heart.
At the end of the alley in the woods, she met one of her little classmates, named Jeannette, who asked her why she was crying so hard. Ruth told him her foolishness, sobbing at every word. “Mom will be so angry with me, she said, oh! what to do? what to do? - I
I'll tell you what to do, Jeannette went on, don't talk to your mother about the strawberries, but tell her that a big dog threw itself at you and knocked you down; then she won't get angry, she'll think it's an accident. 'But, Jeannette, that's not true, and I don't want to lie. "What harm is there," continued Jeannette again, "since this lie won't hurt anyone?" You can avoid being punished like that, and if you lie, no one will know. 'Yes,' replied Ruth, 'certainly God will know, and God does not like liars; God wouldn't love me anymore if I lied. No, I'll tell Mom the truth, although I'm pretty sure she'll punish me. "Well, you are a fool," exclaimed Jeannette. And she ran away, while poor Ruth continued sadly on her way.
the new part.
It happened that a lady who was walking with her little boy, near the village, looked at Ruth who was passing, and, noticing her unhappy look, she stopped and kindly asked her what was the matter? “I've lost more than half of my eggs, ma'am,” replied the little girl. I found some wild strawberries out there in the woods, and while I was having fun picking them, a big dog came and knocked over my basket. I know it's my fault, because mom had forbidden me to stop on the way. She will be very angry with me; she is poor, and she relied on egg money.
"I hope," continued the lady, "that you will tell her the truth." - Oh yes, madam, I want it and I will. A friend of mine was advising me earlier to say that the dog had knocked me down, but that would be a lie, and I know it's wrong to lie.
— Mum, said the little boy in a low voice in the lady's ear, she's a good little girl; will you allow me to give him the new two-franc coin which my uncle gave me last week? It may be the price of broken eggs. — Do as you wish, my dear child; and she smiled at the little boy, for she was glad to see him have a good heart. So little George gave his beautiful shiny coin to Ruth, who thanked him again and again. She wiped her eyes and went happily to Manette's shop.
When she had received the price for the eggs she had left, she noticed that she had twelve sous more than the three francs eight sous she had to bring back to her mother. As the good little boy had only wanted to replace the lost money, she thought she was wrong to keep those extra twelve sous, and she ran after the lady and her son to give them back. The lady listened to his explanation and said to him: "You are an honest little girl, but I don't think Georges will take back the twelve sous." He would rather you give them to your mother. What do you say, George? “That's exactly what I wanted, Mom. Farewell then, little girl, be well. »
Ruth bowed happily. She couldn't help thinking that after all, there had been more luck than bad luck that the eggs had been broken, since things had turned out so well.
As soon as she got back, she told her mother all that had happened and ended by saying: “You see, mother, there is no great harm. "No great harm in disobeying me, Ruth!" resumed his mother. The kindness of the lady and the little boy who gave you the two-franc piece does not make you less guilty of having done what I had forbidden you to do. "Truly, Mom, I'm very sorry about that," said Ruth. "I hope so, my child, but I won't be able to entrust you with eggs for a long time to take to the neighboring village." - Oh ! mamma, cried Ruth, I'll take care of it, I'll be so careful next time. - Well, if you are attentive and especially obedient for a month, I will still trust you. In the meantime, my dear Ruth, added her mother, embracing her, I am very glad that you have shown yourself sincere and honest. I would have blamed you very much if you had not offered to give the little boy back the extra twelve sous you had left, but you did well to do so, and I am glad to think that the lady saw through it. there that my little Ruth was a brave child, an honest little girl.
"Mother," said Ruth, "after a minute's silence, I would very much like to be able to please the little boy, for it was very good of him to give me his pretty two-franc piece, instead of keeping it to buy toys or beautiful history books. But we are poor, and I'm afraid I have nothing to give him. "Let's have a look," resumed her mother, putting her knitting on her knees to think better; I'm thinking of one thing, Ruth: the apples of our big apple tree will soon be ripe, I'll pick some of the finest and put them in a little basket and you'll take them to Monsieur Georges. I can find out where he lives. Though it is only a trifle, I am sure he will be glad to see that we have not forgotten that, so young, he was good and compassionate.
YOU have never seen angels, but you have certainly heard of them. You learned in the catechism that angels are pure spirits that are not, like our souls, united with bodies. God created them to glorify and serve him. There are good and bad angels, but it is above all the good angels that I will talk to you about, because it is among them that your guardian angels are who love you, protect you and guard you, from your birth until when you die.
Angels are represented with wings because they fly from earth to heaven, and from one end of the universe to the other, to carry out the orders of God. After Adam and Eve had disobeyed the Lord by eating the forbidden fruit, they were expelled from the earthly paradise, and an angel, armed with a flaming sword, closed the entrance to them.
Three angels appeared to Abraham as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day and announced to him the birth of Isaac.
When Hagar was in the desert, and seeing her son Ishmael dying of fatigue and thirst, she sat down and wept, it was an angel who showed her a well full of water from which she drew something to refresh and quench the thirst. boy. We often see appearing in the Holy Scriptures, these heavenly messengers charged with consoling men.
Every mortal has his own: this protective angel, This invisible friend watches over his heart, inspires him, leads him, raises him if he falls, receives him in the cradle, accompanies him to the grave, And, carrying in the two his soul in his hands, presents it trembling to the judge of humans.
Once upon a time there was such a wise and good child that an angel always walked by his side. When he felt like disobeying his mother, getting angry, doing something stupid, the angel's breath passed over his heart, and he became calm and docile again.
One day the angel said to the soul of the child: “This beautiful light that you brought from heaven, which still shines in your eyes, in your smile, will fade away little by little. If you are not careful, you will only see the earth and you will forget the sky so beautiful and the angels who love you so tenderly. The child began to cry, for he would not have wanted to be ungrateful.
However, he grows; he lived in the country with his parents. He looked at the trees, the moss, the leaves and the flowers; he gathered the fruits so sweet to the mouth; he rejoiced and feasted on so many good things, without thinking of the one who created them and gave them to the children, and without thanking him. Nor did he think of the poor little ones who walked barefoot, while he was well shod; who didn't always have bread, while he had more cakes and candies than he could eat; who often slept outside on very cold nights, while he was very warm under his blankets in a nice little bed. Finally, he had no idea that a poor little orphan, abandoned, was crying in the house next to the one where he lived with a good father and a good mother. However, the light he had brought from the sky grew increasingly pale. He was becoming capricious, selfish, greedy. As he no longer loved anyone, no one loved him. One day when he was bored alone, he wanted to go play with other children, but everyone avoided him; he heard them saying from the other side of the hedge: “We don't care to be his slaves; he always wants us to yield to him; and when he is resisted, he stamps his foot and gets angry. — Just yesterday, said one of the children, he wanted to beat the gardener's son; and he refused a piece of bread to poor little Jeanne, who was very hungry, while the next moment he threw the rest of his toast to the dogs. - Oh fi! it is a wicked, a bad heart! said the children. And they walked away.
Pierre became very pensive; for he had never been told these hard truths. “Oh! he thought, my good angel has left me, he has gone back to heaven; if he kept me, if his voice spoke to me as before, I would become good. If I was sure I could correct myself, I would try. “Try it,” a voice whispered in his ear. He turned around and saw nothing. But from that day on, he tried to become better; when he felt like getting angry, he tried to restrain himself; instead of satisfying his gluttonous appetites, he asked and obtained from his mother permission to reserve part of his lunch for poor little Jeanne. He never forgot to thank God. One evening when he was praying, he saw a great light in the room, and he heard around his head the sound of wings: it was his good guardian angel who was coming back and never left him.
TO MAKE a lie is to say what, what one believes to be not true; because even if what you say is true, and you believe it to be false, you are lying. A farmer had two sons, one was called Jean and the other Pierre. One day the father told his children that they could go and play on the haystack in the yard: "But shut the door tightly behind you, he said, lest the colt come out." Pierre and Jean ran happily to the millstone, but they were in such a hurry to climb on it that they completely forgot to close the door to the yard. When they had played well, they descended from above the millstone, and found the door open and the colt gone: at least, however much they looked, they could find him nowhere. 'Let's close the door now,' said Pierre, 'and say nothing to papa; he will believe that it was someone else who left it open.
- Oh! no, replied Jean, let's tell him the truth. About an hour later, Pierre came back into the house and his father said to him, "I hope you didn't let the foal out?" "No, Dad," replied Pierre. A little later the father met Jean and said to him: “Well, Jean, you had a good game up there on the haystack, you had a good time; I hope you didn't let the foal out? Jean lowered his head and said, "Dad, I'm very sorry, but we forgot to close the door, and the colt came out." »
Certainly you would not hesitate to say which of Peter or John had lied. However, the colt had not gone out; he had lain down in a corner, under a heap of hay, where the farmer found him.
But Peter had lied none the less, for he had intended to disguise the truth, while John had said what he believed to be true. So the father punished Pierre, and was pleased with Jean.
THE ARABS AND THE CAMEL DRIVER.
PAPA, said Lucie, I would like you to be kind enough to tell Henri and me some of those funny stories where there is something to guess.
- One of those funny stories where there is something to guess! what do you mean, my dear?
'I mean those questions you sometimes asked us when we were all sitting around the fire last winter.
- Oh ! yes, papa, said Henri.
"But make sure, Papa," Lucie went on, "that there's a nice little story with the question." »
After a while the father began: “Once upon a time there were three Arab brothers, who traveled together to learn. It so happened that one day their route led them across a great plain of sand, where only a few scattered tufts of grass could be seen here and there. Towards evening they met a camel driver, who asked them if they had seen a camel he had lost, and if they could tell him about it.
"Wasn't your camel one-eyed?" says the eldest "of the brothers." "Yes," replied the driver. "Was he missing a front tooth?" resumed the second brother. "And he was lame," said the third. "Exactly," answered the man; tell me, please, which way he went? "Didn't he carry," asked the "Arabs," a vessel full of oil and another full of honey? " 'Yes, in truth,' resumed the camel-driver; tell me, please, where did you meet him? - Encounter! We have never seen your camel,” they replied.
“The furious camel driver could not believe them; he accused them of having stolen his camel, and they were brought before the prince. Their manners, the wisdom of the answers they gave to the questions addressed to them by the latter on various subjects, persuaded him that they had not been able to stoop so low as to commit such theft. So he set them free; but he begged them to explain to him, before leaving, how they had been able to meet so accurately on so many true circumstances, without ever having seen the camel.
“The brothers could not refuse this request, and after having thanked him for his clemency and kindness, the eldest spoke thus:
“We are not magicians, and it is very true that we have never seen this man's camel. All that we know of it we owe only to the use of our senses and our reason. I judged that he was one-eyed, because..."
“Now, Henri and Lucie, explain, if you can, by what means the three brothers guessed that the camel had one eye less, that it was limping in one leg, that it had lost a front tooth, and that he was charged with a vessel of oil and a vessel of honey. »
Henri asked if there was anything in the owner of the camel that could have helped them to judge. No, there was nothing in the air, nor in the camel driver's words, that could put them on the path.
"Dad, I would like you to help us a little," said Lucie.
"Well, don't you remember telling me this morning that you knew my horse had come to the door, although you didn't see him?"
— By the marks of his feet; Oh ! yes, papa, exclaimed Lucie. No horse other than yours passes through this sandy path; and as the Arabs were traveling in a sandy desert, probably they had seen no other tracks than those of this camel. But how did they know he was limping in one leg?
"Because," Henri went on, "the camel put its lame foot on the ground more cautiously than the others, and pressed down lightly, so that the track of that foot must always be less deep than that of the three others." »
The minus eye was a more difficult question to solve. Lucie thought that the camel might have strayed more to one side than the other, or that perhaps the tracks of its feet could indicate the places where it had left the path, always on the same side. They made a few more attempts to resolve the other issues, but nothing more was discovered that evening.
The next morning, Lucie said that she had thought of the camel and the three brothers when she woke up, but that the more she thought about them, the more she was embarrassed, and she was about to add: "Dad, I give up," but Henri advised him to have a little more patience. It happened that, at the moment, his mother served him honey; a drop fell on the tablecloth, and a bee, which was flying around the room, alighted on the stain, and, stretching out its trunk, began to suck.
Lucie quivered with pleasure as she watched him, and exclaimed: "Henri, Henri, I found him!" the vase of honey let go, the drops fell on the sand, and the brother observed the small gatherings of bees or insects which had settled on it or around it. I'm right, because dad laughs. As for the oil, probably the jolts occasioned by the uneven walking of the lame camel had spilled some of it. The lack of the tooth is all that remains now; so I leave it to you, Henry. You seem to have some good idea.
"I remember," continued Henri, "that my father told us, at the beginning of the story, that there were, here and there, tufts of grass on the road: the hungry camel, for it must have been hungry in the desert, had been able to browse on some of them, and the one of the brothers who had the sharper eye could see that, in each place where he had browsed, a few blades of grass had escaped him and remained longer. longer than the others because of the vacuum produced by the tooth less.
"Now we have guessed everything," said Lucie, "and we have had very little help."
"I would rather they hadn't helped us at all," said Henri.
THE FIRST COMMUNION.
How to speak to you with dignity of this great day, my dear children, which must influence your whole life, which will decide your happiness or your misfortune, according to the dispositions that you will bring to it? I will borrow the words of a young priest, who died like a saint, and who left in the souls of all those who knew and heard him indelible memories of piety and charity. Read them with care and respect. Henri Pereyve wrote, on the eve of being ordained deacon:
"May 29, 1857.
“You know that I always link to my first communion the first call of God concerning my vocation. It is a thought that is very sweet to me. I can still see, as if it were yesterday, that blessed moment when, having just received Our Lord at the holy table, I returned to my place, and there, kneeling on that red velvet bench that I still see, I promised to Our Lord, in a very sincere movement of love, to belong to him forever, to him alone. I feel the warmth of those first tears that fell for the love of Jesus from my childish eyes, and the ineffable confusion of a soul that for the first time spoke to God, saw and heard him ..
“With what respect and what love I have kept this memory, today that God has condescended to confirm these promises and fulfill the wish of my twelve years! Ah! dear sir, dear friend, would you believe it? this beloved memory gave me a feeling which I would gladly call the superstition of the first communion. It seems to me that almost all of life depends on that day; that on that day one can conclude everything with God; that on that day, as a little twelve-year-old angel told me, we sign our eternity.
" Nice day! beautiful day that I love! »
I seek in you, Lord, the sovereign remedy For all my pains,
And the comforter who lends me his help Against all misfortunes.
Lift up all my heart above the thunder; Fix it in the skies
And don't let him wander on the earth anymore Towards what shines in the eyes.
Become all my love, all my joy, all my good, all my purpose;
Become all my glory and all my tenderness, As all my salvation.
Aren't you that inferno, that divine flame
Which never goes out, And whose bright ray purifies, illuminates And the soul and its wishes?
THE LITTLE GARDEN HOUSE.
Very close to Frank's garden there was a little house where the gardener's tools were formerly stored, the rakes, the spades, the watering cans; but as it had been found too small, another had been built in the vegetable garden. All that remained in the one that adjoined Frank's estate were a few old flowerpots and two or three crates. Frank used to go and play in this little house: the flower pots were piled up there much higher than his head, and one day when he was trying to pull a large crate from under it, he shook the whole pile and one of the pots fell. If Frank hadn't run fast to park, he'd hit him on the head. As soon as he recovered from his fright, he saw that the flowerpot had broken on falling. He carefully picked up the pieces and returned to "the house to tell his mother what had happened to him. He found his father and mother seated at a table and busy writing letters. Both looked up when he entered, and said to him almost at the same time:
"So what is it, Frank?" What have you? Why are you so pale?
"Because I broke that flowerpot, Mom."
- Well, my dear, you did well to come and tell us that you had broken it. It's an accident; there is not so much to be afraid of for that.
'No, Mom, and that's not what scared me so much either. It's a great thing, Mama, that I didn't break all the flowerpots that were in the little house in the garden, and that I didn't break my head to boot. »
So he told his mother how he had tried to pull out the big crate that was far below, and how the big pile had moved from top to bottom, and how the top pot had fallen.
“Very fortunate, indeed, that you did not hurt yourself, Frank,” said his mother.
His father asked if there was a key to the door of the little house.
“Dad, there is an old rusty lock, but no key.
“The gardener must have the key; I'll get her right away, her father said, getting up from his chair, and I'll close the door, lest the child return and the same thing happen again.
'No, no, Dad,' said Frank, 'I'm not so stupid as to do something again when I know it might hurt me.
"But, my dear, you could, without doing it on purpose, and while playing in the study, touch these pots, shake the pile and make it fall on you." When there is really a danger to fear, you know that I always warn you, because it is better to prevent a misfortune than to be angry about it.
After. I'm going to get the key right now and close the door, her father continued.
"Dad," said Frank, stopping him, "you don't have to go get the key or close the door, because if you forbid me to go and play in the old cabinet in the garden, I won't go." ; I won't go in there, I promise you. I will never even open the door.
“Very well, Frank! I can trust your promise. So I need neither a lock nor a key; your word is enough for me.
"But just take care not to forget it and not to enter it by chance, Frank," said his mother; you have such a habit of going there that you might as well go back there without thinking about it.
- Oh ! Mom ! I won't forget my promise,” Frank said.
A few days later, as Frank's father and mother were walking in the garden, they arrived at the little house and stopped in front of the door, which was ajar. The wind had not been able to push it or open it, for one of the corners was rubbing on the ground and it was not easy to move it.
“I assure you mother, that I have not forgotten my promise: I have not opened it; I did not enter it; very true, dad. »
His father replied, "We don't suspect you opened the door, Frank." And his father and mother looked at each other smiling.
They called the gardener and forbade him to open the door of the little house more than it was. They also forbade all servants to enter it.
A week passed, then another week, then a third; and Frank's father and mother were walking in the garden, when the mother said:
"Let's go see the little house. »
They did indeed go, and Frank ran after them, rejoicing at having kept his promise; he had not gone into the little house, although he had often longed to fetch a little boat which he had left there and which he loved very much. When her father and her mother saw the door, they looked at each other as before, smiled the same way, and said:
“We are very comfortable, Frank. that you kept your word and didn't open that door.
“Certainly not. dad, answered Frank; but how could you know that just by looking at it?
“You can find out how we found out, if you want to look, and I'd rather you find it than tell you,” his father resumed.
Frank thought at first that they had remembered how far the door had been left open and that they saw that it was just at the same point; but his father answered him that it was not that, because, in this way, they could not be certain that the door had not been opened wider, and then closed again. up to the same point.
“Dad, maybe you would have seen the mark the door would have made on the earth as it opened? Is that your way, daddy?
- No. However, it's not badly thought out; but one could have erased the trace of the opening of the gate and united the earth as before. There is another circumstance, Frank, which you can discover, if you observe carefully. »
Frank took the door, and was about to move it when his father stopped him.
“You mustn't move the door; look at it without touching it. »
Frank examined it with great attention; finally he exclaimed:
"I found it, dad!" I found it!... I see a spider's web with all its circles so fine, so fine, and its spokes like those of a wheel; there, at the very top of the door! And she goes to the post against which the door rests as it closes. If it had been opened wider, or if it had been closed completely, the cobweb would have been torn or washed away. It was impossible to close or open the door without undoing it. Can I try, dad?
- Yes my dear. »
He opened the door a little more, and the cobweb tore; the part that held on to the top of the door broke loose and fell along the post.
"See you found it in the end, Frank," his father said.
WHAT YOU CAN UNDERSTAND AT TWELVE.
It is at the age when Our Lord Jesus questioned the doctors in the temple, and surprised them with his wisdom and his answers: it is, at this age when one prepares for the great act of his first communion , that a child can understand the greatest and most important truths.
He can understand that God who is at the bottom of hearts, and who at every moment awakens in us both conscience and reason, that God, I say, is the first of masters; that God alone gives the intelligence and the taste for work, and the love of what is beautiful; that one can and must ask God for these virtues, and that he who asks for them with ardor will obtain them. He can understand that all sin distances us from God, from work, from all that is beautiful; that one must only learn to speak and write in order to write and tell the truth; that the greatest talent in the world is useless, and that ordinarily even God takes it away from us, if we lack heart, if we do not love our family, our country, all the men our brothers ; if we do not pity so many unfortunates who suffer and lose themselves in misery, vice and ignorance; if one is not finally firmly decided to devote all one's talent, and even one's entire life, to doing as much good as one can, and to defending justice and truth unto death.
HOW WE SHOULD OBEY.
ONE evening, Marcel, who was five years old, was playing near his mother, when she said to him: “My child, it's time for you to go to bed.
- Oh! mom, said Marcel, do I have to go right away?
'Do you know,' her mother went on, 'it's not right to say that.
"Why so, mother?"
“Because if I think it's time to go to bed, it's wrong for you to say or do anything that shows you're unwilling to obey.
"Because it makes it more disagreeable for you to go to bed, and for me more disagreeable to send you there." When the time has come, it is my duty to put you to bed, and your duty is to go there immediately. We should never do anything that makes our duty unpleasant or difficult for us. »
Marcel said nothing, and thought for a few minutes.
“Did you understand me? asked his mother.
- Yes mom.
"Suppose the mother says to her little boy: 'Come on, my child, it's time to go to bed' and the child replies: 'I don't want to go,' would that be good or bad?
- Oh ! very badly, said Marcel.
“Suppose he starts crying and keeps saying no.
"That would be very bad too."
"Suppose he asks to stay a little longer, saying, 'I don't want to go now.' I can wait a quarter of an hour. » What would you think?
"That wouldn't be right, I don't think, Mom."
"Suppose he looks at his mother sadly and says to her, 'Do I have to go right away?' »
"That would be a little bad," said Marcel weakly.
'Well, suppose he doesn't say a word, but looks grumpy and sullen, throws his toys there in a bad mood and follows his maid or his mother slowly and angrily. Would that be good?
- Oh ! no, that would be wrong.
"Suppose, on the contrary, that this same little boy says: 'I'm ready, Mama,' and comes with a friendly little face to take his mother by the hand, and, after having wished good evening to all the people who are there, go away cheerfully to bed.
"That would be good," said Marcel.
"Yes," resumed his mother, "it would be from a well-behaved and obedient boy." Whether the thing we are commanded is agreeable to us or not, the best way to obey is to do it immediately and with a good heart. »
ICT. ─ THE SWING
How to correct a bad habit.
One day, after dinner, Frank went to find his father, and told him that he would recite some pretty verses to him, if he would.
'I shall be delighted to hear them, Frank,' said his father; begin, and repeat them to me. So Frank repeated them, without making a mistake; and when he had finished, his father asked him several questions, to find out if he had understood them correctly, and he saw with pleasure that Frank really understood what he was reciting. Frank told his dad that his mother had been kind enough to show him a glowworm, a moth, and a honey hive, and that she had explained to him, in those verses, all the words he didn't understand. not the meaning.
"I am very glad, my child, of the amusement you had," said his father, "and I am also glad that you had the perseverance to learn thoroughly what you had begun." But tell me, please, why did you do nothing but button and unbutton the left sleeve of your jacket the whole time you recited the verses, and answered my questions?
"I don't know," said Frank, laughing, "unless it was because all the time I was memorizing those verses, and repeating them to myself, I was always buttoning and unbuttoning this sleeve, so that I cannot remember the verses so well, when I leave my sleeve alone.
"And don't you remember, Frank," his mother said, "that I warned you several times, and that I told you that I was afraid that if you weren't careful, you would take a tic, a habit of buttoning and unbuttoning your sleeve?
"Yes, mamma," answered Frank; I stopped whenever you told me, and whenever I remembered; but, as soon as I no longer thought about it, I started again; and now when I want to try to remember something, I can't remember it half so well unless I start buttoning and unbuttoning my sleeve.
"Give me your right hand," his father said.
Frank gave his hand to his dad.
"Now," said his father, "repeat those verses to me once more." »
"Stop the sweet sound of the murmuring waters,
Stream! Winds, be still..."
But at this point he tugged at the hand, which his father held firm.
"Winds, be quiet...
“Dad, I can't tell, if you're holding my hand. »
His father let go of his hand.
Frank immediately buttoned and unbuttoned his sleeve, and then went on fluently:
“Winds, be quiet! Peace, quivering leaves!
Of your wings cease the gentle swaying,
You azure butterflies..."
But here his father took his right hand again, and he could say no more.
'My dear,' said his father, 'it would be very disagreeable to you if your memory were in the buttons of your coat; for you see that I can, in an instant, make you forget everything you have to say. All I have to do is hold your hand.
"But, Papa, if you will let go of my hand," said Frank, "you will see that I know these verses very well, and that I can repeat them without fail."
“It is not important, my son, that you know these verses, and that you can repeat them today or tomorrow; but it is very essential that you do not adopt clumsy and ridiculous mannerisms; therefore I would beg you not to repeat these verses to me until you can keep yourself perfectly still while reciting them. »
Frank's father and mother went for a walk, and Frank went with them. " Oh ! how glad I am that you are going this way! said Frank, I'll see the swing."
His dad had a swing placed between two trees.
Frank had seen her from the window of the closet where he slept; but he hadn't come near it yet, and he really wanted to see it and swing on it.
When he arrived near the swing, he saw that there was a very soft cushion, tied in the middle of the rope from which the swing was made.
One end of the rope was tied around the trunk of a large ash tree, and the other end to the trunk of an oak tree which was opposite the ash tree.
The rope was tied to the tops of the trees, from which a few branches had been cut in front and behind, so that the rope could swing without snagging on anything.
The cushion, which formed the seat of the swing, was close enough to the ground for Frank to reach; and he asked his papa if he could sit on it. His father allowed him, and said to him: “Hold the rope on each side; hold it tight, and your mother and I will swing you. »
Frank immediately jumped on the cushion, sat down on it, and took the rope, which he held on each side with one of his hands.
“Be careful not to let go of the rope while we swing you,” his father said. Otherwise you could fall and hurt yourself. Raise your feet so they don't touch the ground.
"I won't let go, Dad, I'll hold on tight," Frank said. And his dad and mom begin to rock him back and forth. He was very fond of this exercise; but as it was autumn, and the evening was cold, his papa and mamma did not care to stay long swinging him.
"When you've had twenty more good swings back and forth, we'll leave it at that, Frank," his father said. And Frank started counting each shot. While he was counting, a leaf fell from the tree and made him forget where he was. He tried to remember if the last number he had counted was six or seven; when he wanted to remember it, he let go of the rope with his right hand, to button and unbutton his sleeve, as he used to do when he was trying to remember something.
As soon as he had let go of the rope, he pirouetted a little on the seat; he couldn't catch himself, and fell off the swing.
He fell on the grass and hurt his ankle, but not badly.
"He's glad you didn't hurt yourself more," said his father; if we had thrown you higher, and if you had fallen in the sandy path, instead of falling on the grass, you could have hurt yourself. But, my dear, why did you let go of the rope?
'Because I was trying,' Frank said, 'to remember if it was six or seven times you had already slapped me.
“Well, you didn't have to let go of the rope to remind you.
— No, Dad; but it's that... it's that I think I was going to start unbuttoning my sleeve. I wish I didn't have this bad habit.
"It's up to you to correct yourself, if you really want to take the trouble," resumed his father.
"I would love the power," Frank said. It's not that I hurt myself very much. Dad, will you put me back on the swing? I don't think I'll let go of the rope this time. You know, dad, that I didn't get my twenty shots.
"No, you've only had eight," said his father, "but I'm afraid if I put you back on the seesaw and you start counting again, you might not remember where you are." are; then you'll let go of the rope to button up your sleeve and you'll slip to the ground again.
— No, Dad, said Frank; I believe that is precisely what will be able to cure me of my bad habit, because I don't like to fall and hurt myself; I therefore believe that I will take care when I count; I will try to remember my account without buttoning or unbuttoning my sleeve. Do you want me to try, dad? »
His father took his hand which he shook with friendship, saying: "I am very glad to see that you can endure a little suffering, and that you wish to correct yourself of this ridiculous tic. - Come on, jump, my child Frank took a swing, and his father sat him firmly on the swing.
Frank counted the turns, and held the rope steady while he counted them; just as he was on the seventeenth, his dad said to him, "Can you remember how many you've already counted, without letting go of the cord to button your sleeve?"
'Yes, papa,' said Frank, 'I can; I was seventeen.
“And there have been two rounds since I last spoke. "How much is that?"
Frank was about to let go of the rope, but he remembered his first fall. He stood firm, and after thinking about it for a moment, he replied, "Seventeen laps and two more since, that makes nineteen." »
His father then gave him a good run for the last, and knocked him down; his mother kissed him.
The next day his father was leaving; and, when he bade farewell to his son, Frank asked if he could do anything useful for him, while he was away. "Would you like me to dust the books in your closet, Dad?" I can do that well.
"I would prefer, my child, that, during my absence, you learn to repeat the verses you know by heart, without...
- Oh ! dad, I know what you mean; I will try, if I can. »
Frank's dad left; and Frank, after he was gone, begged his mother, if she would, to come with him to the swing, and let him try to remember some of the verses he had learnt, while she would sway him: "Because you know very well, mother, that then I cannot open my hands without falling, and that will force me to be careful." »
But his mother told him she didn't care to dump him when his father was away. A few moments later, Frank continued: “In that case, would you be good enough, Mama, to cut off this button and sew on the buttonhole; then I won't be able to button or unbutton my sleeve. »
When his mother had cut the button and sewn the buttonhole, Frank began to recite the verses; several times he tried to button his sleeve, but finding no more button and no longer being able to put his finger in the hole of the buttonhole, he ended, little by little, by getting out of the habit of looking for them.
Frank's dad stayed out of the house for a whole week; during this time Frank completely corrected himself from the bad habit he had taken; he was able to repeat the verses to himself, keeping his hands perfectly still.
He begged his mother to sew on the button, and to open the buttonhole again, the day his father came home, and she was kind enough to do so.
As soon as his father got back, and as soon as Frank said to him, "How are you, daddy?" he exclaimed, "Would you like me to recite the verses to you right away, Papa?"
- Yes my dear. »
Frank stood up opposite his father, held his hands quite still, and recited the verses without making a single mistake. His father was pleased, and told the servant who was pulling the packages from the carriage which had brought him to give him a book which was in the front pocket.
It was a volume filled with very pretty engravings. Frank's father wrote, on a blank page at the beginning:
“This book was given to Frank on Saturday, October 27, by his dad, as a token of his satisfaction that his son, at the age of six, had corrected a bad habit. »
You will perhaps believe that this title designates one of those ugly instruments of correction, which you hardly know except by name, for for a long time in France the whip has been used only to correct animals; still this is a bad way. The horse, the dog and even the donkey obey good words more than blows. Back to the martinet. One day when we were playing cheerfully in the garden, my brother and I, on a beautiful spring morning, we discovered lying on the ground, at the bottom of the wall of the house, a bird. What a find! Yet we dared not approach or touch it. He was larger than a sparrow, slate-black gray. He didn't seem hurt, but he didn't move and looked at us sideways with a worried look. We called our mother. She had no sooner seen him than she exclaimed: “Hey! He's an old acquaintance of mine! a swift; the city swallow that nests in the cracks of the walls. I was your age when one of these birds came to nest under the edge of a cornice overlooking a small courtyard. I saw him from the window of the study where I took my lessons. I took great pleasure in following its rapid movements with my eyes, in seeing it skimming the wall, clinging to it with its little legs so short that they look like claws. See! they barely exceed its feathers. With rare dexterity, he leaned his tail against a small protrusion of stones, and stuffed with his beak into the hole the blades of dry grass, straw, wood, which he had heaped up I don't know where. He pressed them with his chest to get them in; often he held himself suspended by a single leg, like the most skilful tight-rope dancer; it used its beak like a small trowel, to mix and apply the earth that it brought to one of its legs. They were two to do this great work, when one was resting, the other was working. I couldn't distinguish them at first, and I thought it was the same bird; but I soon recognized the female. She was the smallest, but the most skilful. When the nest was made and perfect, she laid four very white eggs in it. So she never left the house, and the male brought her food. When the little ones were hatched, I heard their chirping. I could not get tired of admiring how carefully the parents watched over their little brood, which also never tired of asking with continual little cui cui. The father and mother served them every minute flies, cousins, all the insects they could catch in flight; but the greedy little infants never seemed satisfied.
One day a serious accident happened: the largest swift, the male, caught its leg in a string hanging from the roof, probably forgotten there by some roofer. The more the poor bird tried to extricate himself, the less he succeeded. The female, attracted by her plaintive cries, left the nest. She twirled around the fatal string, looking desperate, then she rose quickly into the air and disappeared. I was thinking of a way to free the poor prisoner, but how? Impossible to reach it; he was as if hanging by the leg, on the edge of the roof, a little below the nest. He tried to fly, but always restrained he got tired and fell like a weight on the end of the string. My heart sank at the idea that he was going to die there, abandoned even by his companion. Suddenly it reappeared, and with it several swallows; they described circles around the captive, then each approaching gave a peck at the string. They repeated this trick until they had cut it off. The poor freed bird fell; but halfway, before reaching land, it spread its great wings, beat the air, and ascended to the nest, where it went to rest from its fatigues. Her liberators had flown away without even waiting for a thank you. As for me, my heart was still deeply moved by his anguish, and my theme was affected by it. My head was more full of the perils of the poor bird than of the Adventures of Telemachus, which I had to translate from French into English.
During our mother's story we had examined her old acquaintance a great deal, and we had noticed that she did not have, like the swallow of the chimneys, a white spot on her tail, that her wings were longer, her beak more short and weaker? How had she fallen? Our mother tells us that she had probably gotten caught up in the pursuit of some moths. Once close to the ground, it can no longer take flight; it needs space and fresh air to spread its wings: so the greatest service that can be rendered to it is to throw it very high.
Which we did with great joy, as a reward for his assiduity in destroying the cousins, those inconvenient and prickly guests whose stinging stings we had often felt, and heard the importunate buzzing, without being able to get rid of them.
When you pray, my children, do you know what you are doing? You are talking to God who can do everything, who has already given you a lot and who can give you even more. You are talking to the one who said, "Ask and you shall receive." So address yourself to God as a friend who listens to you with kindness, who loves you, who will help you in all things.
I knew a child to whom his mother had taught, when he was very small, to pray well, that is to say with all his heart, thinking of what he said, and not like a parrot. who repeats words without understanding them. His prayers were very short, but God listened to them. So, when he didn't feel like getting up in the morning, he would say, “My God, I would like to obey Mommy and jump out of bed, but my laziness says: no. Help me, my God, to be stronger than my laziness. And he jumped out of bed, all brave and all happy. If he didn't understand his lesson well, because of the noise in class, he would say quietly: “My God, I think I'd study better if there wasn't so much noise around me. And little by little there was calm; his prayer had silenced the noise, or, if it was still being made, he no longer heard it; and when the moment came to recite, he was amazed at his memory, which supplied him with the words so just, so appropriate.
One day he was very upset: he had given way to impatience and anger with his comrades, because he wanted to prove to them that he was more right than them. He had been dishonest, brutal, and he had been justly punished. So he said to himself: “My God, all this only happened to me because I didn't ask you for help. And he prayed to God to help him correct himself.
Another time his mother was ill; his good mother, who loved him so much! he had a very heavy heart: everyone around him was worried. He thought of his best friend, who always listened to him, who often answered him, and he said to him. " My God! cure my dear mamma, and I will try to be very good in thanking you. His mother recovered, and he kept his word. He grew up, he became an excellent man, charitable, pious, a good father, who brings up his children as he was brought up by his good mother.
Pray then like him, my children; you see that it is not difficult. Just think that God sees us, listens to us. Lift up your heart to Him from time to time to be saved from doing wrong.
Prayer helps in work, consoles in pain, calms and heals ailments.
the spring man.
THE FAIRY LIBRARY.
IN Ireland, where children like fairy tales almost as much as our French children, there was in a village an old shepherd whom we had nicknamed the good man Spring, because as soon as the first leaves of the year appeared, he braided them a garland and adorned her bonnet with it. He brought his little friends in the village the first daisies and the first buttercups; but what they liked even better were the stories he knew and told them in the evening when he returned from the fields, or on Sundays after mass. Also, from the farthest we could see his pointed cap and his green crown, it was up to who ran to meet him. The little ones climbed on his back, on his knees. He immediately had half a dozen of them grouped around him, shouting: "Tell us something, goodman Spring." - I want it a lot ; but I have no books; I only know what the fields, the woods and the rocks tell me. “Well, tell us. »
The old shepherd began without being asked. "A league from here there is a large lake, and in the middle of the lake an island called the Library of the Fairy, because the rocks look like big books, or rather they are the books of the fairy. of the lake that have been turned to stone. Well, one fine day a young lady, while rowing in her boat, was seized with the desire to know what was in these large volumes. "If I could read there," she thought, "perhaps I would become as learned as the lake fairy." She waved her fine silk veil in the wind, and began to circle around the fairy's library. First she saw only the pretty green moss, then the white and green lichen, the climbing weeds, finally all the rich enameled cover of the books... that is to say, the rocks. But very skilful would have been the bookbinder who could have imitated these embroideries of gold and silver illuminated by the sun. It then occurred to him that the green moss, adorned with its little buttons of white pearls, taught him a great deal about vanity and the fleeting radiance of youth. The lichen in turn gave him a three-point sermon. He told her what he had seen, how the sun of God lit up the lake, even on stormy days; how the rain fell on good and bad grass; how, barren as the rock seemed, it received and nourished, to the great astonishment of the grasses of the meadow, the seeds that the wind threw at it as it passed. The spiral hermit, dragging his striped house after him, tells how he lived happily between the great sheets of stone. Wriggling worms, crowned with egrets, praised the rock. The little fish, and all the insects that fly, crawl, swim, and swarm at its top and base, boasted of the shelter they found there. And as this knowledge came to the young lady like music, what do you think came out of the waters? The lake fairy herself with a smiley face. "What will you pay me," she said, "to have read in my old book?" "Great queen," replied the lady, "I was beginning to spell there." - What ! resumed the fairy, "have you not read there what the green moss and the gray lichen teach, what the wind whispers, what the snail traces there, what the worm engraves there, not to mention a crowd of other artists unknown to you? Know then, my child, that for those who know how to read in it, my book is the most beautiful, the largest, the oldest of the books which "have been opened or closed." With that the fairy returned to her liquid palace and the young lady promised herself to return to learn at the lake fairy's library. »
BLANCHETTE is not, I beg you to believe, of the common breed commonly called "alley cats." She had for father a beautiful angora, and for mother a Spanish cat of noble lineage, brought from beyond the Pyrenees, with all the respect due to her rank and that of her mistress, the widow of a hidalgo. Blanchette inherited from her illustrious parents a spotless robe of ermine white, soft as satin, and blue eyes the color of wild violets. You can see right away that she is a high trimming cat. Unfortunately, under these beautiful appearances, she hides a cruel and capricious nature. She came to us with all the faults of a spoiled child. More adept at hunting roasts than mice, from the very first day she carried off, right under our old cook's nose and beard, a partridge that was going to be skewered. Imagine Marianne's fury! She had decreed that she or Blanchette should leave the house; We had great difficulty in getting her to accept a compromise. Cooking was forbidden to Blanchette, who consoled herself by having fun in the garden, where, crouching under the grass, she watched the little birds, which fell all bloody under his claw. This living prey pleased him even more than the dead one. How to reform these bloodthirsty appetites and prevent it from destroying our dear little winged visitors, who, attracted by the crumbs of bread that we sow on the lawn, came confidently to throw themselves into the mouth of the wolf? The finest reasoning could have no hold on Blanchette. There were rods, but corporal punishment is repugnant to us; moreover, they would have had only a temporary effect. Jacques, who is very ingenious, has invented a fairly innocent trap, since the worst thing that could happen to Blanchette was to have her leg caught and pinched when she stretched it out towards the bird, locked in a glass cage. .
The expedient succeeded perfectly: the planchette folded down, and Blanchette, frightened, mewed for help. There remained the nests, more difficult to save, our cat being nimble and more agile than the best rope jumper. As soon as her keen eye discovered a nest under the emerging leaves of the great pear tree, she climbed, and in less than a second she had reached the highest branches and the poor little ones, which she slaughtered without pity. We racked our brains to find a way; finally Jacques imagined coating the trunk of the tree with glue at a certain height. We were on the lookout to judge the result of our stratagem; it was a question of protecting a charming nest of robins, which still contained only eggs about to hatch. As usual, Blanchette stood at the foot of the pear tree, lying on her stomach, watching the comings and goings of papa robin, who brought to the incubator the little green caterpillars with which he purged our rosebushes. At one moment, which Blanchette no doubt judged favorable for the assault, she leapt forward; but, having arrived halfway, it stopped short: its claws, sunk in the glue, remained entangled there; the more she tried to free herself, the more her legs stuck. She ends up meowing pitifully; we came as liberators to his aid. I found our role disloyal, but Jacques claimed that Blanchette's perfidious nature authorized the trick. The fact is that she no longer tried to climb the pear tree; but, enticed by the chirping of young wrens, she tried another day to climb an apple tree; this time, Jacques, posted on a branch in ambush with his blowpipe, fired a hail of dried peas at her which made her descend more quickly than she had ascended. Convinced from that moment that the birds had formidable artillery at their disposal, she gave up, not without regret, I believe, hunting in flight. It is true that, to help in this reform, we took care that she always found, in the vestibule, a most appetizing pie, and in the salon an excellent reception. THE
the power of education is such that today Blanchette lives in perfect harmony with Bibi, our canary; we can take him out of his cage and let him fly around the apartment, without her being upset. Jacques claims that in the beginning she turned her head away and closed her eyes so as not to give in to temptation. That would be a real triumph of mind over matter, and Blanchette is a well-bred cat.
white mother of a family.
I wouldn't do Blanchette justice if I didn't show her to you at her most interesting. She is the nurse and mother of three kittens: Mistigris, Minette and Faribole, whom she raises with the greatest care, and who are beginning to say mum; it is true that they pronounce meow! As soon as she is awake, very early in the morning, she proceeds to wash them; she pulls them out from under her warm fur where they have snuggled up for the night, smooths their hair with her tongue, which she passes over and over their little pink noses and behind their ears; when Marianne, who has made up with the mother out of love for the little ones, brings them their lunch of bread crumbs and milk, Blanchette teaches them to eat properly without dirtying their mustaches and without putting their paws in the dish. After the lesson comes recreation; she rolls them, caresses them, taps them, and finally gives the signal for the big game: the tail game! You have to see them running, jumping sideways, jumping on the wriggling end that slips between their legs. Faribole, who is the wag of the gang, ventures to nibble on mom's tail; Blanchette then turns around with Spanish gravity and mischievously extends a claw, which he dodges with a caper. I assure you that nothing is more gracious to see and more entertaining; we would forget ourselves there for hours, if Blanchette herself did not put an end to the entertainment by majestically straightening her tail and going for a walk in the cellar. Minette follows her there, while Faribole has fun playing Mistigris. I wanted to know what mother and daughter were going to do in those mysterious depths, and judge of my surprise when I saw Blanchette lying in wait beside a hole and posting Minette opposite. They hadn't been on sentry long, when a little black snout appeared at the opening. He returned, reappeared, lay down outside, but, alas! the poor beast had not seen the enemy who, with a blow of his terrible nails, split his skull. Then laying her paw on the dead woman, Blanchette mewed, in a significant way; I think she was lecturing her daughter on the art of catching mice. She then took the victim between her teeth, and went to lay it at the feet of Marianne, whose conquest was completed by this last exploit, for she complained bitterly of the invasion of mice in her pantry. "Vermin for vermin," she grumbled, "I like cats even better!" »
Blanchette kills the mice, but does not eat them, showing that she is acting in the interest of the house, and not for a personal purpose. The trait which should earn him immortality, and with which I want to end, is this. One day, I was studying my piano and Jacques was playing his theme; we had let go of Bibi, who was pecking on the floor at the hemp seeds I had thrown there for her. Blanchette, installed in a circle on a cushion in front of the fire, was sleeping like cats, which seem to an eye. Suddenly, she leaps on Bibi, carries her away and flees. Judge of our terror, of our anger! We run into the bedroom where she had taken refuge with her prey, which we imagined to be torn and bloody. Not at all: not only was Bibi breathing, but not one of her feathers was wrinkled, such prudence and consideration had been put into it by Blanchette. She had taken it delicately with her lips, and had deposited it safe and sound on the carpet.
The reason for this singular behavior was explained to us by the appearance of a big black tomcat who, finding the door ajar, had entered the living room. Blanchette had seen it, and, like a civilized cat who fears the ferocious nature of the savage, she had sensed the bird's danger and put it out of reach.
Let me be told, after such a story, That beasts have no spirit.
Madame F*** had to be bled; the surgeon had been sent for. As soon as he entered, Elise got up hastily; she was about to go out, her mother called her back: 'Don't go away, my child; I want you to stay near me. 'But, Mom, I can't bear to see you bleed. - For what? What harm can it do you? - Oh ! I can't see the blood. Then I couldn't see you suffer, mom. “If I can take it, you can see it. You have to stay, my daughter, we'll talk about it later. »
Elise, all trembling, stood near her mother and watched the operation; but she could not help a thing, for she turned her head away so as not to see the puncture of the lancet; she paled and shivered at the first spurt of blood. When it was all over, after the surgeon had left, his mother said to him, “Well, what do you think of this big business? Wouldn't it have been stupid to run away? - Oh ! mom, I was so scared when he took his lancet! Didn't he hurt you badly? — No, very little; and when it would have hurt me, you know it was necessary. "But, Mama, what was the point of me staying?" It couldn't do you any good. 'Perhaps not; but it is good for you to accustom yourself to seeing such things. "Why, Mom?" "Because accidents happen every day, and it is our duty to help those who suffer, and to remedy their ills." If we are afraid to approach them, we will never have the experience and the presence of mind necessary to relieve them. “But if I were taught how to heal people, I could do it without getting used to seeing wounds or ailments. “No, my child, we all have a natural repugnance to suffer and to see suffering; practice alone can give us the presence of mind indispensable in such cases to be useful. Many nuns witness terrible operations in the hospitals.
I asked one of them how she had this courage, and if it was not very painful to her? "No," she told me; in the beginning, it cost me: I was afraid, I was moved; but “I felt that this emotion robbed me of my strength and rendered me incapable of helping the surgeon; moreover, it could "communicate itself to the patient and aggravate the danger." I thought that habit would triumph over my foolish fear, and I prayed that they would put me on duty whenever there was an operation to be performed. On the very next day, a young carpenter was brought in on a stretcher who, falling from a scaffolding, had fractured his leg in four or five places: it was decided that it had to be cut off. The poor boy was crying. I offered to hold the limb that was going to be operated on. Yes, if you can answer for yourselves, the surgeon told me, if you are cool. I supported the mutilated leg, and God gave me the grace not to tremble; I don't even think I turned pale. The poor wounded man had his eyes fixed on my face, and seeing me calm he reassured himself. But afterwards, I asked him, don't you sometimes feel bad? " Oh! I didn't have time, she replied with an angelic smile. Wasn't it necessary to help with the dressings, with the concern of making the patient suffer as little as possible, of finding the position which would be the most comfortable for the patient, of inventing a thousand means of relieving him? And what satisfaction when one succeeds! I assure you that one feels more happy than sad. Listening to this excellent woman, I said to myself that she had true sensitivity, the one that acts instead of dissipating into tears that irritate. Many people are moved by misfortune, and believe they have done much when they have wept; but this is a selfish and sterile pity: that which consoles, which remedies evil, is the only useful and true pity; then it is called charity.
PRESENCE OF MIND.
Mom, what is presence of mind?
— It is the firm possession of oneself in the event of an alarm, the calm which prevents one from being frightened and losing one's head. It is an invaluable quality without which we are constantly liable to run into danger, instead of avoiding it. Do you remember hearing your grandmother say that, being a little girl and playing one evening with her brother, she leaned over to look at a drawing he was drawing? A lighted candle was very close, the child's bonnet caught fire; the maid uttered a cry and fled; the little boy, who was only ten years old, seized the flaming bonnet and threw it into the fireplace: his sister only had a few burnt hairs. You see that you can have presence of mind at any age.
─But the maid was foolish to run away!
─ She was not used to self-control; the danger had made him lose his head. We read daily in the newspapers of terrible examples of this lack of presence of mind. Young girls, women, seeing their clothes on fire, open the doors and run half mad down the stairs and into the street, where they fall burned to death; because drafts and leakage activate the flame. A mother was awakened one day by the smell of smoke and a crackling in the woodwork: it was fire! She rushed out of her room and hurried downstairs, instead of going upstairs to call her children who slept above; when she was in the street she remembered... Too late! the flames had reached the stairs and the roof: the unfortunate children were burned in their beds.
─Oh! mom, it's horrible to think about.
─ Yes, of course. I had a friend for a lady who behaved quite differently. She was also awakened by the creaking of the parquet, under which the fire had caught. Her husband wanted to open the door leading to the landing, which would have let in the air and burst the flame; she prevented him. Her children slept with the maid in a room next door. She ran there, awoke them, tied the sheets and blankets, and first made the maid come down through the window, then handed her the children one by one; she got off last. A few minutes later, the floor sank, and the whole house was on fire.
─What happiness to be out of it with all your family!
─ Yes; she had owed this happiness to her presence of mind. What calm, what prompt resolution must have been necessary to judge the danger and escape it! All mothers love their children and are ready to expose themselves for them; but, in weak minds, this very love too often hinders action. A lady had a beautiful little boy. One day when she was holding him on her knees, he put a plum in his mouth which slipped down his throat; the poor child turned black, he was choking. The mother was so frightened that instead of sticking her finger in her throat and pulling out the plum, which was easy to do, she put it down and ran to call for help. The maid came, but just as frightened as her mistress, because fear is won, she did nothing, and the child died.
─Poor woman! how unhappy she must have been!
─ She turned it into a disease that left her languid for the rest of her life. Another lady, seeing her little boy climbed to the very top of a ladder, gave a loud cry which frightened the child: he fell and hurt himself a great deal; if she had had sufficient self-control to speak to him softly, it is probable that he would have descended without risk.
─ Dear mum, what is running down your arm?... Oh! it's blood!
─ Yes, my arm is bleeding; I stirred it too soon.
─ My God! what to do?
─ First of all, don't be scared. I will stop the blood by pressing my finger on the vein, while you ring Catherine... Catherine, my arm is bleeding, can you tighten the bandage?
─ I think so, madam.
─ I hope, mum, that it's over?
─ Yes, my dear; Catherine pulled it off wonderfully. You see that she has calmed down. It reminds me of the adventure of a reaper who injured his arm with his sickle. He had cut an artery.
─ I don't know what an artery is, mum.
─ It is one of the channels through which blood flows from the heart; when an artery is cut, the blood escapes violently, and the only way to stop it is to apply strong pressure between the injured part and. the heart, in order to interrupt the flow of blood to the wound. Well, this poor man was bleeding very badly, and the people around him were so bewildered with fear that some were running to the right, others to the left, while the majority remained quiet. However, the reaper lost all his blood; he would have died there if a brave woman who came along had not unfastened her garter and held it firm above the wound. By this means the blood was stopped until the arrival of the doctor.
─ What a brave girl! but how did she know what to do?
─ She may have heard it said, as I am telling you now; and probably among those who were there some knew this means, but they did not have enough presence of mind to apply it.
“The greatest test of courage is when there is danger for others and for oneself. Thus, a ship's captain, who is responsible for the lives of his passengers and the safety of his crew, needs all his coolness to face the innumerable perils of the sea. these brave sailors, surprised by a terrible storm, having no more coal on board to operate the steam engine, had the interior partitions demolished to feed the fire. He thus gained the port which he would never have been able to reach without this extreme means.
“Another captain, informed that the fire had taken hold in the cotton bales which filled the hold of the ship, had all the openings which could give passage to air and flame blocked, forbade the alarm to be given, and continued on his way to Le Havre, where he arrived without the brazier which was burning under his feet having exploded. »
the little girl and her brothers.
Three children have gone to play in the woods; the older sister, who is seven years old, and her two younger brothers. A shower surprised them, because it is February; the path is covered with snow, and they no longer see traces of it. They walk to return to the cottage, but the more they walk, the further they get away from it. The little boy who is four years old said, “Sister, I am very hungry! give me food. The three-year-old cries and moans: "I'm very tired, I can't walk anymore." The older sister gave the first one what was left of his bread; she took the smallest in her arms, and she still walks through the snow which wets her feet, through the brambles which tear them. And yet, no house, but trees, always the wood where the poor children are lost. The shadows lengthen, the night comes: “Sister, we are very cold! sister, we would like to be in bed. “Be patient, my brothers. Presently you will be warm, presently you will have a bed. The sister laid the youngest on a pile of dead leaves; she found in a hollow chestnut tree a well sheltered niche, she garnished it with a dry and soft moss. “Here is a pretty little room, a good fern pillow, a couch of leaves on which you will sleep like kings, my little ones. But first, you have to pray. And the brothers on their knees repeat what the seven-year-old big sister says.
The children have huddled in the trunk of the old chestnut tree, but they are shivering, they are cold. The little girl takes off her coat and covers them; she hangs her little petticoat in front of the opening, and, to prevent the wind from reaching them, she fills up the gaps with dead branches and dry grass; like the mother of the little birds, she has made for her brothers a real well-closed nest. An icy breeze blows from the north, but the little girl has a warm heart, and although barely dressed, she does not feel the cold. She also falls into a peaceful sleep.
When, at one o'clock in the morning, the desolate parents, who were running through the woods in search of their children, discovered the little girl motionless at the foot of the chestnut tree where her brothers lay, they saw an angel with white wings who carried this young soul to heaven. , where there is no longer either cold, or suffering, or misery, where an eternal sun shines, where a gentle warmth reigns, where everything is beautiful and joyful, where the souls of other little children who had been , like her, good on this earth.
THE LITTLE PEDLER
A rich silk merchant was chatting at the entrance to his shops with two of his friends. A little peddler came to pass. He was fourteen or fifteen years old, a frank and good-humored face, and ten francs at the most worth of haberdashery in his ball. He stopped to display his wares: "What are you selling?" asked one of the talkers. "Anything you want to buy me," replied the boy. And, encouraged by the benevolent air of the three men, he added with a laugh: "Gentlemen, which of you would not like to lend something on my good looks?" I have a great desire to make a fortune. The wealthy silk merchant found the boy to his liking. “Here,” he said to her, “here are thirty francs! Promise me, faith of a merchant, that you will give me half and half of the profits. "I promise you, faith of an honest man!" replied the little peddler, quite cheerful; and he went away. The donor's friends began to laugh: “You have invested your money well! they said. "Faith! I like the boy, and I have always thought that the one who is at the top of the ladder must reach out to the one who is at the bottom. I will in fact have invested my money well, if I help a modest colleague who is just starting out. »
After fifteen years, one day when the merchant was at table, one of the clerks came to tell him that a well-dressed man was in the store and asked him: “Oh! I do not distract myself. If he's a customer, show him the fabrics he wants to see. 'But, sir, it's you he wants to talk to. The merchant, a little annoyed at being disturbed from his dinner, descends and finds himself face to face with a stranger. "Excuse me if I insisted," said the latter. Don't you remember a little boy to whom you lent thirty francs? - No! The trader had on more than one occasion lent money to people young and old, who had not always returned it. "It was such a day, such a month of the year," said the man; you were there, chatting with friends, when a waiter passed..." "Ah! the little peddler! cried the merchant; indeed, I remember. "That little peddler was me," continued the stranger. Here are my books; you will see here what I bought with your money, how much I sold it, how I embarked for Spain and went from there to India, still trading. There are profits for your share of nearly a hundred and fifty thousand francs... — Which I cannot take, in good conscience, said the merchant; for I never intended to lend you those thirty francs, but to give them to you. No matter how much the man insisted, he could not get his former benefactor to accept him.
The next day, he sent her by two messengers a magnificent set of silverware and a rich diamond pin.
WHAT it costs to lose your needles.
Please, mother, give me a needle, said little Louise in a pleading tone, busy sewing a doll's dress for her mother.
"But just yesterday, Louise, I gave you six beautiful, brand new needles." What have you done with it?
"I'll tell you, mom. First, I gave one to Marie, who needed it.
"And the other five?"
"The other five?" One broke, one jumped into the fire when I got up, and for the one I was sewing with earlier, it was impossible to find it.
'That only makes four, Louise. According to your own account, out of six, you would have lost three you don't know how?
'I assure you it's not my fault, Mom. I always attach them very carefully to my work and when I return they have disappeared.
“No doubt that is a marvel; but I advise you to be more attentive in the future, to tie your needle better, and above all not to shake thoughtlessly the stuff you are working on every time you disturb yourself.
"After all, Mama, those six needles only cost two cents."
"Do you count for nothing the trouble and the industry that many men had put into making them?" Besides, you lost your dice yesterday on the walk where you had taken it by mistake; and the skein of thread which you have mixed up this morning, so that it is impossible to get twenty needles out of it, and the silk...
- Oh! mom, if you sum it all up...
— It is the work of two days. Well, a dime thimble, a two-penny skein of thread, as many needles and six pennies of silk, that makes...
"Twenty sous!" I would never have thought I had lost so much money. But after all, she went on after a moment, twenty sous is only the fifth part of five 'thing for that. »
Someone came and prevented his mother from answering him. Louise therefore set to work again, repeating to herself, as an excuse for her carelessness, that twenty sous was not such a large sum, and that she would soon have earned them back by her good points.
Meanwhile, a similar scene was happening upstairs between Edouard and his father. The schoolboy of ten had lost, spoiled, or broken several feathers in the course of the morning, and, returning to the charge for the third time, he repeated this eternal refrain of careless and disorderly children:
“Dad, it's not my fault this time: my iron quill has just fallen to the bottom of the inkwell.
'Try to get it out,' his father went on, 'because I certainly won't give you another.
“But it will be full of ink; she will no longer be able to write. »
His father imposed silence with his hand. Edouard fell silent and returned to his desk. It was more than ten minutes before he could invent a way to remove his iron quill from the bottom of the cone. Then he had to clean it, adjust it on the pole, not without spraying his hands and face with drops of ink. Finally, as he was getting ready to put his homework in order, it was time for class.
" I'm not finished ! I haven't even started! What will the teacher say? he cried in despair.
“He will probably punish you. It is right that you bear the pain of your faults. »
Edouard left very sad and returned with a pensum of two hundred lines which robbed him of all hope of recreation. When he presented himself to sit at the table, his mother ordered him to go quickly and wash his face and hands. But it was so slow and so clumsy, and the indelible ink was so tenacious, that it didn't reappear until the end of dinner. He had to content himself with dry bread, because there was no way to think of dessert after such conduct.
For her part, Louise was hardly less punished; big sister Marie had promised to bake a huge cake on King's Day; everyone had to contribute to the purchase of sugar, flour, almonds, and Louise had no money! There was also talk of a little lottery for poor children; all her girlfriends had already brought pretty books of their own; and she, who was to do wonders and wonders, who had promised a doll with her full trousseau, could not manage to finish even the first dress, for lack of thimble, needle and thread. However the time was approaching, the mother was inflexible, and the good points did not arrive.
“Oh! if it were to start over, said Louise with a sigh.
─ What would you do? asked his mother.
─ I would tighten my needles and my thimble so as not to lose them again; I would try not to confuse my skeins.
─ In two words, you would become a healer. Well, my child, start today.
─ But, Mum, there are only two days left; I will never have done everything I promised to do for the lottery.
- You will bear the penalty for your negligence and that is justice. »
The lesson was hard, but deserved. Louise had the chagrin of not being able to contribute either her share of the Kings cake, or her prize in the charity lottery. And when his girlfriends, more industrious and less negligent, asked him: "And you, what have you given?" she would turn quite red and reply, lowering her head: "Nothing." »
at the needle.
(Imitated from John Taylor, 1600.)
As long as little infants, Like flowers in the beds, Close to the women will bloom; As long as kind mothers Their brats will doll; As long as the young girls, Beautiful, trim, neat, At pleasure will adorn themselves; As long as white sheep Fine wool will give; As long as hemps provide Fleeces the cattails; As long as the host of the mulberry Tree Will file, to grant you Silk from his entrails; As long as the sun powders, As long as the earth is green, Aiguille, we will honor you, And we will sing about your grace.
If you are taken from the ground, From the fire that makes you shine, You come out in your purity. Heart of steel, little needle, Which jumps from point to point, Pursuing idleness, By your effort gossip, calumny are banished. Ah! may the human race, And especially the feminine, No longer know any other weapon Than your tip, whose charm Adorns the mind and the hand.
A. de Montgolfier.
THE shepherd and the traveler.
A traveler descended from a high mountain in Greece: he was very tired and very thirsty. He met a shepherd who was coming up again laden with a pitcher full of water which he had gone to draw from a spring in the valley more than a league distant. It was his provision for twenty-four hours, for his hut was at the very top of the mountain. The shepherd, covered in goatskin, had a long beard and a wild look. One would rather have taken him for a thief than for a man disposed to help others.
The traveler said to him: "I suffer cruelly from thirst: would you give me something to drink?" "I come from afar," answered the shepherd; I walked a lot to bring back this water, I cannot return to the source, and the sun burns me too, but drink. He raised his jug to the lips of the stranger, who drank long and eagerly. The man took out his purse and offered some money to the poor shepherd in recognition of the service rendered, but the latter refused:
“God forbid,” he said, “that I make myself pay for the water that comes from heaven and that is so generously given to us by the Lord! You are welcome to share with me this gift from above. »
the captain's wife.
The captains of small merchant vessels often have only the vessel they command as their only asset; it is their house, they live there with their wife and children, who accompany them on their travels. A Dutch captain was traveling with a cargo of tea from Amsterdam to London. He had on board his young wife and three small children. The crew, that is to say the men who do the manoeuvre, hoist the sails, fold them up, consisted of a second (who commands after the captain) and four sailors.
One dark night and a violent storm, the Minerve, that was the name of the Dutch ship, was struck by a steamer, the Star. The shock was so strong that the captain and one of his sailors were thrown against the prow of the Etoile, and clung to it. They were then collected in the English vessel. The other three sailors of the Minerve fell into the sea and disappeared. There remained on board only the captain's wife, his three children, and the mate, who was knocked down by the jolt and broke his arm; so that he could not even pull a rope or hoist a sail. In this extremity, the captain's wife had the presence of mind and the courage to steer the vessel. She took the helm, and, using the experience she had acquired in other voyages, doing in turn the trade of pilot, captain and sailor, she arrived, after eighteen hours of a continual and very painful labor to reach one of the ports of England.
When the fine conduct of this courageous woman became known in Amsterdam, a medal was minted in her honor, and the corporation of sailors opened a subscription which brought in six thousand francs, with which they were able to repair the damage to the vessel. But what was worth much more than the medal and the money was that, by her presence of mind and her courage, she saved her three children, the second, and found her husband, who had arrived safely in London. .
Do you know who helped him? God first, then her self-confidence and self-control, which kept her from losing her mind in danger.
A NEST OF FAIRIES.
(Imitated from English)
It's spring. The meadows are greening and the trees are budding; up there, on the slender top of a poplar tree, swings a delicious little nest. Children returning from school saw him, and cried: "He is ours! The wren has woven his pretty house there for his little ones, but the leaves have barely grown, On the attack! 'assault!'
The boldest rushed forward; but as it rises, the nest seems to rise too. The boy is not halfway that the branches bend and break under his weight." "Oh! the girls are lighter, said the eldest of the troupe, if Lily would try!"
The little fair-haired girl, proud of this post of honour, advances intrepid and laughing; the flexible twigs suit her to rely on them. She climbs and climbs from branch to branch, heedless of danger; the innocent of fear does not even know the name. No evil has yet reached her; tender arms surrounded her from her cradle. Who could want to harm the dear little beloved? Would the tree that sings and bends in the wind want to let her fall? Oh ! No ; everything laughs at him, everything pleases him, and his faith is complete.
Thus, she goes from branch to branch, without fear of betrayal; confident and cheerful as the chaffinch, the little queen believes that the world was made for her. Of life she knows only five summers; of the house she is the joy; and the boys even proclaim her the most agile. She does not want a rest or a halt. She climbs like the squirrel and slips along the stem. She hit the top! her heart throbbing, she thrusts her little fair head above the nest. O surprise! instead of eggs, six little fairies seated in a circle, quite at ease, hold council together with the most serious air.
Oh ! if a scientist, a philosopher, a sage, had happened to be there, how he would have shook his head and what wide eyes he would have opened! But children, for whom everything is play, and to whom each hour brings something new, are not surprised at anything. Why would six little fairies in a nest be a greater miracle to Lily than the radiant colors of the setting sun in the west, or the rubies of blackberries on brambles? When she first saw a robin fly, or the dark clouds melt into snow, or when she hears the plaintive bleating of the lamb, are these not so many marvels? Now, finding fairies in a nest that her little hand is going to take, has nothing more strange for her than finding newborn kittens in the basket where Minette sleeps. She only thinks that if her companions so ardently desire inert eggs, they will be much more delighted to possess living little fairies!
With what tenderness she seizes the nest, and from her rosy lips chirps a song of love! She hugs him to her heart, which worries no doubt. She only has one hand left to hold on to the branches and to help her nimble little legs. If I were to drop them, she thought, would they break like eggs? " Oh! as a child, you were so close to both! Up there exists a brilliant mirage. Even the leaves... who knows why?... are more beautiful near the sky, and if a bold bird places its nest nearer to the azure, it has a heavenly charm and grace... who knows the why?
Oh! child, the sky is far away! The earth is near. The fairies have disappeared, and in their place reappear six small speckled eggs. Only near the heavens, where all is innocent and blessed, can the eyes of little children see the fairies in the nest.
The Kingdom of Fairies (Good words for the young.)
ALWAYS WANT WHAT GOD WANTS.
Mathieu is a brave farmer who has never wronged anyone; and yet his neighbors envy him and would accuse him of magic. “Do you see that wheat field? it's Matthew's. The ears are tight and come as desired, while mine, right next to it, are frail and puny. He always reaps two sacks of wheat against me one. Isn't that annoying? "I tell you he made a pact with the devil," continues an envious second; last year, his vines were covered with clusters, although the grapes had failed us. His cow had two calves and mine only had one; yet he died after eight days. It's not natural, there's some witchcraft there. "Here he is coming this way," said the first; if we asked him for his recipe? Hey! Father Mathieu," he added in a mocking tone, "we admired your wheat. You have to admit that you are lucky, because your lands always bring in more than the others. "Don't be surprised, my children," replied Mathieu, "there's a good reason for that." I always have all the seasons and all the times that I want. - Bah! when I said you were a wizard! How about you tell us your secret? “He is at your service. That's what it is: I always want the time that God sends me! If it is sunny, I think the wheat will be drier and of better quality; if it rains, I'm happy to see the grass grow and provide fodder for our animals for the winter. I am old, and the more I observed, the more I saw that God knows better than we what we need; that's why I always want what he wants, and I feel good about it. This is not to say that I am crossing my arms; no, I get up in the morning, and if my ears are fine, it's because I've plowed and manured the earth thoroughly. My vine had four ways instead of the two that you give to yours; that is why she reported when the others gave almost nothing. When I have worked well, I think I have fulfilled my duty; I have a happy heart, I leave it up to God for the rest, and in the evening, while saying my prayer, I can say in all sincerity: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!" »
THE ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD JUDGE.
Baghdad is a major city in Asian Turkey. In this town, there are children, as everywhere, but these were not fools; you will judge. One day when several little boys were playing together in a courtyard that opened onto the street, one of them began to talk about a lawsuit that was then occupying the whole town. "Let's play cadi. resumed another; you, you will be the cadi (it's as if he had said the judge), I the accused, and Mahmoud here is the accuser. He then spoke and said:
“Monsignor the cadi. my name is Ali Cogia; I was a merchant in Baghdad. Ten years ago, wishing to go to Mecca on pilgrimage, I begged this man, my neighbour, to keep for me a jar of olives, which I took to his house: "Here is my key," he said to me; put the jar in “my store, and where you put it, you will find it.” I did as he told me and left. The vessel on which I was shipwrecked: I had many misfortunes and adventures which kept me absent for several years. Three days ago I came back and asked my neighbor for the jar of olives that I had entrusted to him. He said to me: “Here is the key; go, you will find the pot where you "put it." It was indeed the same pot, my lord the cadi, but the contents had been changed, for I had filled it three-quarters full of gold powder, which I had carefully covered with olives, and the powder of gold has disappeared; deceiving my trust, this man robbed me. Thereupon, the little boy who represented the accused spoke in his turn: "I did not deceive the confidence of this merchant, because he did not tell me that he gold dust, but olives. I give him back his olives, what does he have to say? "If he falsely claims what he has not given, he deserves prison," said the little cadi; but if he is telling the truth, it is you who are a liar and a thief. »
How to know the truth? This was the difficult point. The real cadi had been much embarrassed there, and had ended up condemning the accuser, the man with the gold dust. But the latter had appealed to the sultan, who had seen no more clearly, and who, having disguised himself, ran through the streets of Baghdad to find out what was being said about the trial. He was just passing in front of the courtyard where the children were playing cadi, and he stopped to listen to them.
The little judge reflected; after a while he said, "Let someone bring me the jar of olives." He pretended to take some and pretended to taste them. "I have heard," he resumed. that olives could only be kept good for three years; now, these are fresh, and those which Ali Gogia had put on his gold powder, ten years ago, should be rotten; so we took out the old olives and replaced them with new ones. Turning then to the accused and the accuser: "Here," he said, "the guilty and here is the innocent." The little boys clapped their hands, shouting, "Long live our cadi!" But the lesson had not been lost on the sultan. The next day, to the great surprise of the little boy, they came to fetch him: they took him to the palace. There the sultan seated him on his throne, and ordered him to repeat his judgment, in the presence of the two men and of the real cadi, who had judged so badly. Olive merchants, called as witnesses, declared that the child had been right, and that the old olives, which had covered the gold dust, had been replaced by olives of the year.
THE PURPLE JAR.
Rosemonde, a little girl of about seven, was walking with her mother in the streets of Paris. Passing along the shops, she looked through the windows, and saw a number of different things, of which she knew neither the use nor the name. She really wanted to stop and look at them, but there were a lot of people in the streets, a lot of carts, a lot of cars. and she dared not leave her mother's hand.
" Oh ! Mom, how happy I would be, she said, passing a toy shop, if I had all these pretty things!
- How, all! Would you like them all, Rosemonde?
"Yes, mother, all of them!" »
While talking, they arrived in front of a florist's shop; the stained glass windows were adorned with feathers, ribbons and garlands of artificial flowers.
" Oh! mom, the beautiful roses! Don't you buy it?
“No, my dear.
- For what?
'Because I don't need it, my child. »
A little further on, another shop caught Rosemonde's eye. It was a jeweler's display, and there were a lot of pretty jewels, stored behind the glass.
"Mom, don't you want to buy some of that jewelry?"
"Which one, Rosemonde?"
- Which! I don't know which one, mom; but one of those. They are all so pretty!
— Yes, they are very pretty; but what use would they be to me?
"To what?" Oh! I'm sure they'd still be good for something, if you just wanted to buy them first.
— But I would like to know first how they would be useful to me.
“Well then, mamma, here are some belt buckles; you know very well that loops are useful, very useful, even.
— I have a loop; so I don't need to buy any more,” her mother said, and went on her way. Rosemonde was very angry that her mother did not need
Nothing. At this moment, they passed in front of a shop which seemed to her much more beautiful than all the others. It was a pharmacy, but she didn't know it.
" Oh! mom, oh! she cried, pulling her mother's hand; look, look! Blue, green, red, yellow, purple! Oh! mother, what beautiful vases! If you buy some? »
Her mother answered as she did the first time: "What use would these beautiful vases be to me, Rosemonde?"
"You could put flowers in it, and it would look so pretty on the mantelpiece!" My God! mom, how I want it!
"You have a vase to put flowers in," her mother said, "and those aren't flower vases."
'But, you see, Mama, they can be used for that all the same.
"If you looked at them more closely, and if you examined them better, perhaps you would soon be disgusted with them."
- Oh ! no really; I'm sure not; I find these vases so pretty! I would be so happy to have one! »
Rosamond turned her head to stare at the purple jar for as long as she could see.
“Mom, she said, after a moment of silence, maybe you don't have any money?
- If I have some.
'Well, if I had the money, I'd buy roses, boxes, belt buckles, purple vases, and all sorts of things. Rosemonde was forced to interrupt herself in the middle of her speech.
" Oh! mom, would you stop for a minute? I have a stone in my shoe which hurts me very badly.
"How come there's a stone in your shoe?"
'It's because of that hole, Mama; she walked in there. My shoes are quite worn out: I would like you to be kind enough to give me another pair.
'But Rosemonde, I don't have enough money to buy shoes, flower vases, belt buckles, boxes, and all sorts of things. »
Rosemonde thought that was a great pity. But her foot, which had been injured by the stone, began to hurt her so much that she was obliged to almost hop on one foot. She flinched with each step, and could not think of anything else. Soon after they arrived at a cobbler's shop.
a Hold on, hold on, mum! here are some shoes, tiny little shoes that will just fit me; you know very well that I need shoes, and that is a useful thing, for example.
- Probably yes; so, let us enter, Rosemonde. She followed her mother into the shop.
M. Chausse-Pied, the shoemaker, had a lot of practice; his shop was full. So they were forced to wait.
"Well, Rosemonde," her mother said to her, "don't you find this shop as pretty as the others?"
'No, it's far from it; it is dark and sad there; one sees only shoes all around; and, besides, there is a very disagreeable smell.
— This smell is that of new leather.
- Leather? Oh ! Rosemonde said. looking around her, here's a pair of little shoes that will suit me perfectly, I'm sure.
“Maybe, but you can't be sure until you've tried them; nor could you be sure that you would like the purple vase so much, until you had examined it more closely.
"It's true that for the shoes, I don't know until I've tried them on, but, Mom, for the flower vase, I'm sure I'd like it."
"Well, which would you rather have, the purple jar, or the pair of shoes?" I'll buy you one of them.
- Oh! thank you, dear mother! but if you could buy me both.
“No, not both.
- So the jar, please.
"But I must warn you that I won't be giving you any more shoes this month."
- Of this month ! Oh ! it's a long time, a month! You don't know how these hurt me; I think I'd rather have new shoes... but that beautiful purple vase!... By the way, Mama, my shoes aren't so bad; I think I could wear them a little longer; they will last well until the end of the month. It will soon be over, won't it? What do you think, mom?
“My dear, I want you to think for yourself. You'll have time to think about that while I talk to Mr. Shoemaker. »
While her mother was talking to the shoemaker, Rosemonde, one shoe on, the other in her hand, was thinking.
“Well, my dear, have you made up your mind?
- Mom ! yes... I think so... If you don't mind, I'd rather have the flower vase, provided you don't think I'm too stupid, Mama.
'As for that, I can't promise you anything, Rosemonde; since you have the freedom to choose, you must think of what will please you the most: it does not matter then whether you are considered stupid or not.
"Well, Mama, if it's like that, I'm sure the flower vase will make me happier," she said, putting on her old shoe; so I choose the vase.
'Amazingly, you'll have it; fasten your shoe, and let's come home. »
Rosemonde fastened her shoe and ran after her mother. After a short time, the quarter of the shoe was shattered; we had to stop several times to remove the stones that had entered it. She took more than one stumble along the way; but the love of the purple vase prevailed and she persisted in her choice. Arriving at the shop with the large windows, Rosemonde felt her joy redouble when she heard her mother tell the servant who was with her to buy the purple jar and take it home. He had other errands to do, so he didn't follow them. As soon as Rosemonde arrived, she ran to pick all the flowers she had in her little garden.
"I'm afraid they'll all be withered before the vase is here, Rosemonde," her mother said to her, when she saw her come carrying flowers in her apron.
“No, really, mamma; I'm sure he'll be here presently. How happy I will be to arrange these flowers in this beautiful purple vase!
“I wish so, my dear. »
The servant took much longer to return than Rosemonde had expected; but at last he arrived, bringing the much-desired purple vase. As he placed it on the table, Rosemonde ran up with a cry of joy.
"Is he really mine now, Mama?"
“Yes, my dear, it is yours. »
Rosemonde threw the flowers on the carpet and grabbed the jar.
" Oh ! mamma, she exclaimed, as soon as she had lifted the lid, there is something black inside that smells very bad. What is it? I don't care about that ugly black thing.
“Neither do I, my child.
"But what shall I do with it, Mama?"
- I do not know.
'But, Mama, that's no good to me.
- It's not my fault.
"I'm going to empty the vase, and I'll fill it with water."
“As you please, my child.
"Will you lend me a cup to pour this in, Mom?"
'It's more than I promised you, my dear; but I want it. »
The cup was brought, and Rosemonde began to empty the vase. What was her surprise and her sorrow when, having completely emptied it, she discovered that it was no longer a purple vase, but quite simply a plain jar, in white glass, which owed its beautiful colors only to the dye with which it was filled!
Poor Rosemonde burst into tears.
“Why are you crying, my child? his mother told him; it will be just as useful to you as before, to put your flowers.
"But it would have looked so pretty on the fireplace!" Certainly, if I hadn't believed that it was really purple, I wouldn't have wanted it at all.
"But didn't I tell you that you hadn't examined it, and that you might get sick of it very soon?"
— It's true that I'm disgusted by it; I would so much like to have believed you at first. I would much rather now have the shoes; because I won't be able to walk all month. Just for having come this short way, coming back here, my feet are hurting me a lot. Mom, I'll give you back the vase, and the purple water, and everything, if you'll just give me some shoes.
— No, Rosemonde. You must stick to what you have chosen; and now, the best you can do is to make up your mind with good grace.
"I'll take it as well as I can, mamma," said Rosemonde, wiping her eyes; and she began, slowly and sadly, to arrange her flowers in the jar.
But Rosemonde's annoyances were not to end so quickly; his imprudent choice caused him more than one grief, more than one deprivation, before the end of the month. His shoes became worse day by day, until at last he was unable to run, dance, jump or
to walk. When Rosemonde was called to show her something, she was busy picking up the quarter of her shoe, and she always arrived too late. When her mother went for a walk, she couldn't take her with her, for Rosemonde had no soles on her shoes. It happened, precisely on the last day of the month, that her father offered to take her and her brother to a glassworks, which she had a great desire to see. She was enchanted; when she was ready, she had put on her hat and her gloves, as she hurried down the stairs to join her brother and her papa who were waiting for her below. his shoe left his foot; she hastily put it back on: but just as she was crossing the vestibule her father turned round:
“Why are your shoes like slippers?' I'm not going out with a little girl in slippers. In truth. Rosemonde, he said, looking at her feet with disgust, I thought you were neat and clean. You can leave, I will certainly not take you with me. »
Rosemonde blushed and went upstairs. " Oh ! mother, she said, taking off her hat, how I wish I had chosen the shoes! They would have been much more useful to me than the jar. At least I'm sure... no, no, not quite sure, but hopefully I'll be more reasonable another time."
SAGACITY OF A DOG
You have often been told, my children, of the extraordinary traits of the intelligence and sagacity of the dog, but this one surpasses them all. I have it from a very truthful friend.
"During the summer of 1846," she wrote, "my son, who was then twelve years old, and who was visiting friends in the country, had occasion to cross a neighbor's field, which had a very large and very formidable dog. The animal rushed, with terrible barking, in pursuit of the young boy, who, frightened, turned his head, and, seeing himself close to being hit, ran up against a rock and broke his leg. He fell and remained lying on the ground; in a leap the dog came, still barking furiously; but instead of rushing at the child, he stopped short, as if he had understood that there had been an accident; then, after having examined him, he resumed his course towards the house, too far away for the cries of the wounded man to be heard. The intelligent animal, as if afraid to leave the child alone, did not go far away at first, but barked to attract attention; Failing to do so, he ended up running home where his plaintive screams decided some of the family to follow him to the place where the poor boy had passed out. »
Isn't it strange that this dog, faithful guardian of his master's domain, pursuing, like an enemy, the stranger who ventured there, was suddenly moved with pity on seeing him on the ground, and sought to save the life of the one he had knocked down standing?
Is not such conduct a lesson of which many men should profit?
I noticed at the door of a church a poor blind woman asking for alms. She was an embroiderer who had been deprived of her sight by a disease called serene gout when she was still young. She was very neatly combed, and wearing a very white bonnet. “You don't live alone? him, I say after offering him my little offering. - Yes, madam. "Who does your hair and dresses you?" - It's me, oh! I do not need anyone. "So you can see a little?" - No. I am in the deepest night. But what I lost on one side, I gained on the other. As long as I had my eyes, I had no idea what my hands could do without them. I dress myself, I make my bed and my room, I mend my stockings and my dresses, and I assure you that I do not put the coin next to the hole, my fingers warn me.
See this wonderful providence of God! when illness or an accident deprives us of one of our senses, the others become more subtle, intelligence gives us back in part what we have lost. This is why the blind child should not be isolated from other children; with them, he will soon become as skilful as the seers.
A little seven-year-old boy, blinded by smallpox, built windmills, carts, wooden vessels more skilfully than any of his little comrades, who had their eyes wide open. He gained by thus exercising self-confidence, courage and independence. Orphan of father and mother, he had been taken in by a brave woman who also died when he was only fourteen. He obtained employment as a rural postman, that is to say, as a letter carrier in the countryside. He was renowned for his accuracy and speed. Later, he became a peddler and traveled all over the country with his bale of goods on his back. He himself recounted, in a book he wrote on the blind, the difficulties and dangers of his wandering life. Often in a great storm, drenched to the skin, he had to stumble along a road full of ruts, or cross ditches which he probed with his stick, in order to find his way to the side where the sound of a bell , the barking of a dog, announced to him the neighborhood of a farm or a castle. The slightest noise warned him to be on his guard; the leaping of a fish, the croaking of a frog, told him that he was near water. Approaching a tree or a wall, he divined an obstacle before touching it; the wind rustled the leaves, or returned to his face reflected by the wall opposite. A host of things, of which those who see do not notice, had a meaning for him.
Once he was in a stagecoach which overturned, one dark and rainy night, in a ditch. “The curious. he said, it was because the travelers and the driver were appealing to the poor blind man to get them out of there. The fact is that after the shock of the fall, and not being injured, I was in no way disoriented, since the night is for me like the day. The natural order was overthrown; I who, in the bright sunshine, was not always able to drive myself, this time I told eight people to pull here, to lift there; so that in less than half an hour horses and people were on their feet and the carriage on its wheels. »
He has related, in his volume, the lives of several blind men, all of whom got out of trouble, one among others whose principal amusement was to fish in the lakes and streams of Scotland. He guessed from the very slight twitch of the line that the bait had been taken, and he never missed his fish. He knew the roughest and most withdrawn gorges, and oriented himself in such a way as to always find his way. Another was not only an excellent mathematician, but a skilful naturalist and botanist; by touch, he recognized animals and insects, and knew to what class they belonged. As for plants and flowers, the rapidity of his tact equaled that of sight and was even surer. Also one of his friends said of him: “Look at him! his whole face sees; he is all eyes. »
WHAT A MOTHER CAN.
Benjamin West was a very talented artist; he often said: "It was my mother who made me a painter, and what is even better, an honest man, loving and fearing God." She had taught me as a child to pray. When I made a mistake, she encouraged me to admit it to her, and to accept without a murmur the punishment that I had deserved.
“However, one day a servant accused me of having broken a pane of glass; I had actually played ball in the bedroom, and I had a vague idea that I had thrown my ball towards the window, and had done this mess, but the maid was angry and called me a liar . At first I said it wasn't me, and I persisted; for once you have entered the wrong path of falsehood, it costs you to step back. My mother came; she looked at me fixedly, and placing her hand on my shoulder, she said to me: “My child, God sees you; does not disguise the truth. I looked down; but I seemed to feel the eye of God and the gaze of my mother weighing on me. My decision was soon taken, I raised my head:
" Yes mom. It was me who broke it. I wasn't quite sure, but now I remember how it happened. In fact, everything came back to me; the bullet, after hitting the woodwork, had rebounded as far as the window, and I had heard a crack. My mother told me that she was happy with me, but that I would pay for the broken pane out of my week's money! This led to the deprivation of small purchases that I intended to make; it was just, and, although punished, I had a light heart.
“Another day, when I was very young, my mother entrusted me with looking after my little brother, an eight-month-old baby, asleep in his crib. The child was so fresh, so pink, so nice, with his chubby little hands, and his little head rested so well on the pillow, that I wanted to draw him. I had never learned to draw, but I had fun tracing as best I could on paper what I saw. I had also copied framed prints, which adorned our dining room. The baby was much more difficult to represent, but the difficulty was an added pleasure. So I set to work with great ardour; but when my drawing was finished, I found it so ugly, so different from the model, that I resolved not to show it to anyone. I hid it in a wallet that contained my daubs. My mother found him there, pulled him out, and looked at him complacently when I entered. She had recognized her baby. She took me in her arms, and raising me in the air, for I was still very small, she kissed me with all her heart. From that day my vocation was decided; that joyous kiss from my good mother had made me a painter. »
O the love of a mother, a love that no one forgets, Wonderful bread that a God shares and multiplies, Table always served at the paternal hearth, Each has his share and all have it all!
If there is a sullen bird, it is certainly the parakeet. I really want to believe that it has its charm in the heart of the virgin forests of America, but out of place in our living rooms, perched on its sad perch, melancholy repeating the same note and the same word, I know nothing more annoying. As tastes vary, there are people who delight in this pastime. One of my acquaintances, among others, has a passion for parakeets; if one succumbs to chest disease, an inevitable result of our harsh winters, she immediately replaces it with another creature just as green and just as tasteless. I had cowardly flattered this weakness by trying to win Cocotte's good graces for myself; I had offered him biscuits, sugar cubes; but, bored by these sweets, or perhaps instinctively guessing my antipathy for his race, the accursed bird had only responded to my advances with furious blows from his hooked beak, which, tearing the skin, penetrated as far as the to the flesh. Her mistress always had some excuse for her favourite; instead of being moved by my bleeding finger, she felt sorry for Cocotte.
" Poor little girl! she has been very nervous for some days. I'm afraid his diet is hot; if I put it in barley tea? What do you think? »
I wanted to recommend, like M. Purgon, some good laxative medicine to rid Cocotte of her gall or to get rid of her. But I abstained, apologizing for my ignorance of the temperament of parakeets. On my second visit, the lady told me with effusion that Cocotte was much better. The barley water had succeeded; his duties were regular, his appetite had returned. She was no longer languid and left her perch several times a day to practice flying in the bedroom. The perch was empty. I looked around me, not without some terror. If lady parakeet, yielding to a malicious whim, came to swoop down on my nose and plow it with her pointed claw, as the kite of fatal memory once attacked the king's nose.
From the king himself. He then had neither scepter nor crown? When he would have had one, it would have been a whole: The royal nose was taken as a common nose.
I shuddered at the thought of the danger to mine. Fortunately, against his usual, Cocotte kept quiet. For the first time she allowed herself to be forgotten and did not imitate with her nasal and discordant cries the importunate babble of vain little people who can only listen to themselves and only know how to talk about themselves. Thanks to this unusual reserve, the conversation had taken an interesting turn, when the mistress of the house interrupted herself in the middle of a speech, and exclaimed: "But my parakeet!... I forgot my parakeet!" She didn't get back on her perch! where can she be?... She has the unfortunate habit of shoving herself into the curtains, under the furniture. She rang for the servants, who ran up, and the whole house set out to look for Cocotte. The door had been opened: perhaps it had flown away?
In the midst of the general excitement, an idea crossed my brain and gave me a cold sweat. As I sat down in the easy chair, I had heard a faint moan; convinced that it was one of the rubber bands yielding under my pressure, I hadn't worried about it otherwise. If, however, it was Cocotte's last breath! I slipped my hand between the cushion and myself, which encountered a soft, soft object: alas! it was Cocotte, smothered by me, her personal enemy! What to do? I gently put the corpus delicti in my pocket and slipped away. Nobody paid attention to my retirement, we were too absorbed in the search for the beloved bird. Once in the street, I dragged him from his hiding place, and could not look without remorse at his dull eyes and stiff paws. I ran to the best taxidermist in Paris, I begged him to put all his art into giving Cocotte the appearances of life. He had to lack absolutely nothing but speech, I wouldn't look at the price. The artist put on a shrewd air and assured me that he would miss nothing and that I would be happy.
Eight days later, on entering my room in the evening, I found Cocotte on my fireplace. It was to make ghosts believe: same head carriage, same attitude, same paw raised, ready to scratch the spectator. The artist had outdone himself. I went to bed and fell asleep, happy to think that I could at least return to Cocotte's mistress the effigy of her favorite. But I wasn't done with the damn beast. I dreamed that the parakeet, suddenly coming to life, flew from the fireplace to my bed. She had fallen on my face and was plowing it, with her hooked beak, while she whispered in my ear in a sepulchral and broken voice: "Cocotte!... poor Co... coat!...” I made vain efforts to pull myself out of the claws of the bird. I woke up... I was no longer dreaming and I still heard: "Cocotte!" poor Cocotte! We know that parakeets have a grudge, did this come to reproach me for the involuntary murder I had committed? I remembered the accusing magpies, the Capitol geese, and a host of other stories proving all the wit of birds, for the imagination once set in motion goes quickly; and always the sepulchral voice said: "Co...cotte!" poor Co...cotte! I was exasperated. I sprang out of bed, I turned on my light again, I approached the fireplace: Cocotte made a last effort, but only a dull groan came out of her half-open beak, she had become mute again. Was I the dupe of an illusion or some spell?
The next day, the stuffer's invoice explained the mystery to me: "To have stuffed a parakeet, with enamel eyes and talking alarm clock, 300 francs!" I had paid a little dearly for my nightmare; but also what a surprise I spared Cocotte's inconsolable mistress! I ran to her. I had not dared to go back there since the fatal day. I had to endure the story of all the unsuccessful attempts to find the dear bird. I took advantage of the lady's absence to put the parakeet back on its perch. On returning she saw her and uttered a cry of joy: "Cocotte!... but it's Cocotte!" So you found her?... Poor Cocotte! »
"Co...cotte!... poor... Cocotte!" repeated the mechanic. I had calculated my effect and set the spring on time; only, once in train, Cocotte did not stop until the twelfth repetition, which betrays the fraud. "Admit, however," I said to the mistress, "that the illusion is complete!" - Oh! no, she replied with a sigh, this one doesn't peck..."
There is nothing, my children, more beneficent and more formidable than fire. You all know the good heat of the sun which warms the earth after winter, which causes seeds to sprout, grasses to grow and trees to bloom. You have seen old men warm their benumbed limbs in the sun; you yourselves have felt stronger and more lively under its rays. During the bad season, when the sun hides, we resort to fire to replace it. The fire is in many things, but it is hidden there. You know that by striking certain stones with a piece of iron called a lighter, sparks come out; these sparks fall on the tinder, which they ignite, and then we have portable fire to kindle wood. You know only too well how to have a fire even faster with chemical matches, which have caused and still cause so much misfortune every day. The savages, in the forests of America, also know the means of making a fire by rubbing briskly against each other two pieces of dry wood, one hard and the other soft: after a few minutes they get flame. Limestones also contain fire and boil the cold water thrown on them; also care must be taken not to touch the quicklime before it has cooled. I knew a child who had the misfortune to fall into a pit of boiling lime, and although they pulled him out almost immediately, half of his body was burned; he died as a result. Finally there is electric fire, which is of the same nature as thunder and lightning; you can see it coming out in the form of sparks from the hair of a cat, from the fur of other animals, and, what will seem more extraordinary to you, from a ball of snow, sugar when it is broken, and even your fingers and your hair.
So there is fire everywhere. It is necessary for our life; we cannot do without it. It is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. It softens the extreme cold of winter, it helps us to prepare our food, to cook it, which makes it healthier and more pleasant. Without fire it would be impossible for us to melt and shape iron, copper, gold, silver.
But if fire is one of the most useful things we have, it is also, as I told you, the most dangerous thing and against which we must be most on guard. It only takes a moment of forgetfulness, of thoughtlessness, of disobedience, for in less than an hour a house is burnt down with all those it contains; old men, young people, women, children, no one is safe from fire, this terrible destroyer that goes faster than thought. Houses, often entire villages, are destroyed by fire every day; hundreds of children perish, burned in excruciating pain, for having disobeyed their parents or neglected the warnings given to them. One does not open a newspaper without reading the story of terrible misfortunes. It was the day before yesterday, it was yesterday, it is today, it will be tomorrow, so great is the imprudence of parents and children.
Here is yet another very recent example, and it is one of a thousand.
THE BURNT CHILD.
Yesterday morning, honest and industrious workers left their rooms to go each to their work. Before going out, the mother had entrusted the custody of her youngest child, little Marie, aged twenty-eight months, to her eldest daughter, aged nine. She was cooking potatoes in the fire; having needed to fetch water from the nearby fountain, she left her little sister sitting on a chair by the fireplace. No doubt this poor little girl set her dress on fire while trying to have a potato; anyway, when her older sister came back, she found her all in flames, half charred and struggling under the bed, which was already on fire. The neighbors came running to shouts; they immediately went for a doctor, but his care was useless: little Marie died a few moments later. Her sister was sobbing, and the parents, who had been rushed to find, arrived to find the body of their poor little girl and their half-burnt bed.
Judge what your grief would be, my children, if such a misfortune happened to you! So never play with matches; do not touch the fire. Perhaps you imagine that, being warned, you will do it better than others. Do not trust it, because sooner or later the unwary perish by their fault. Never let your little brother or sister near the fire; never leave them alone near the fireplace or near the stove. A stove is all the more dangerous when you cannot see the flame and when the small door which gives air strongly attracts the fabrics as soon as you approach it. Your dress or your smock can burn before you know it, and the fire goes quickly: it rises, it envelops you in a second; even then one must not lose one's head, but drop down and try to smother the flame instead of running, opening the doors and rushing out, which kindles the fire. If you see someone's clothes ignite, throw a blanket, a shawl over the person, and roll them in it. I knew a grandmother who, by her presence of mind and her coolness, thus saved her granddaughter from a terrible death. However, the safest thing is still to take all the necessary precautions to avoid these terrible accidents.
For example, ashes from a furnace or fireplace should never be cooled in a wooden crate, or near anything flammable. A house was recently burnt down by this cause.
Do not carry a lighted candle, late at night, into an attic or a room in which there is oakum, hemp or cobwebs. Do not hold a light above a chest or drawer containing linens, cotton or papers. Usually use a lantern.
Never put a lighted candle, or even a lantern, on the shelf of a cupboard, because the flame rises, heats the board above, blackens it and burns it like coal, so that you can close the cupboard and leave there the beginning of a fire which will develop during the night. I was quite a child when I saw the ruins of an immense castle, which had been entirely consumed by the imprudence of a servant who had set fire to an upper plank of the pantry without being aware of it. seen, and only placing her candle below. I assure you that it was a very sad and terrifying spectacle, these great black walls, these large collapsed halls, where neither floor nor ceiling remained; and what was more terrible was that two poor children had been burned, without anyone being able to pull them out of the furnace, and that the landlady of the chateau had gone mad with shock and grief.
Care must be taken in the evening, when covering the fire, to always put the logs flat on the hearth, so that the embers do not roll.
Carefully remove rugs, chairs and cushions from the fireplace in the evening before going to bed.
Cover the head and body with a wet sheet, to approach the flames and help someone who is burning. There is nothing more terrible than being awakened in the middle of the night by the cry: fire! Often entire villages are destroyed by fire, and families who went to bed the day before, having a small comfort, furniture, the next day have neither house, nor beds, nor bread.
MY GRANDMOTHER'S PARROT.
JACKO was pearl-grey, with apple-green wings glazed with rose, and a red collar; he was truly the most handsome of the forest dwellers who had seen him born, but his adornment was nothing compared to the kindness of his mind, and the rare qualities of his heart. I did not know Jacko personally, to my great regret, but I was rocked by the story of his heroic deeds, and I hope that my young readers will enjoy it as much as I do.
Jacko had been brought very young, from Guiana, to my grandmother. who, auguring well for his intelligence, had given him a complete education. He could sing:
When I drink claret wine, everything turns...
And the refrain. If asked, "Jacko, did you have lunch?" He replied imperturbably: “Yes! even when he was fasting. " What did you eat? — Some rrrô..ti. But he was still in his infancy. What he remembered best was what he learned about himself by listening; completely unforeseen incidents resulted from it. One day a lady comes to visit my grandmother and knocks on her bedroom door. We shout from within: “Let’s go! No one appears, the lady knocks again. " Let's go ! let's go ! they always shouted. The same game is repeated five or six times. Impatient with such a prolonged joke, the lady leaves in a rage. Fifteen days pass; my grandmother meets her and complains that she hasn't seen her for a long time. " Blame it on the impertinence of your maid, who held me at the door for half an hour without opening the door, while shouting: we're going! let's go! My grandmother burst out laughing. “Hey! it's my parrot! He was alone in the apartment. The lady didn't want to believe it. Jacko was called in to testify, but as he spoke only at his leisure, he didn't like repeating himself, and the lady was left shocked.
Jacko had no political opinion, but, like more than one modern historian, he echoed popular passions. From the top of his cage suspended under the old arcade of the old house, opposite the law courts of the old city, in front of which stood the orators in the open air and their audience, he witnessed various phases of the Revolution. In the first days of April 1791, he said with the penetrating and nasal accent of gossips: "Mi...rrra...beau is dead, my dear!" And joining the pantomime to the words, he wiped his eyes with a rag. Jacko was as much ape as parrot. He had shouted with equal enthusiasm: "Long live the King!" long live the Republic! But this last word was repugnant to him; it was too long, and cost him great effort.
However, he showed marvelous tact during a home visit made in 1790 by zealous sans-culottes to my grandmother, who was accused of having buried her old family silverware in her cellar, instead of depositing it on the altar of the fatherland, as every good patriot was forced to do in this time of unlimited freedom. The fact was true, and the circumstance grave, for nothing more was needed to send him to prison and from there to the guillotine. The whole house was appalled. "We know from a good source, citizen," said the leader of the gang, "that you are an aristocrat, and that you detest the Republic." Jacko, who until then had been silent, caught the word on the fly, and began to shout at the top of his voice: "Vive la Rrrrépublique!" Once the difficulty was overcome, charmed by his success, he began again five or six times, ringing the r more and more. The representatives of the Committee of Public Safety burst out laughing, and one of them, who concealed benevolent dispositions under the guise of a savage republican, exclaimed: "Faith, citizens, here is an irrefutable witness!" I am of the opinion that we did not arrest the mistress who trained her parrot so well, and who could only have sinned through ignorance. A faithful servant, at a sign from one of my aunts, who trembled for her mother, had taken the silverware from the hiding place and handed it over to the terrible visitors, who carried it off in triumph. Jacko had another no less surprising apropos. The popular effervescence was beginning to calm down, and my grandmother, whose delicate health was very compromised, rented a country house on the outskirts of the town, and went to spend a month there, taking her parrot and her old cook, Reine, with her. who during the Terror had thought it necessary to change his compromising name to that of Horseradish, thus avoiding the trouble of unmarking his linen. Either Reine or Horseradish had a real passion for Jacko. Under the pretext that the heat of her stoves restored him to the scorching temperature of her native country, she had made him the guest of her kitchen, and had trained him to launch forceful invectives at a big black cat, as soon as he dared to venture into the vicinity of the broiler pan. One night a thief, taking advantage of the negligence of a barnyard girl who had left the door ajar, slipped into the house. He groped his way in the dark. A slight vibration of the saucepans awoke Jacko with a start, who began to shout at the top of his voice: "Grrrand trickster!... go away, thief!" This one didn't have to be told twice; he fled, knocking over a pile of plates in his terror: the crash put everyone on their feet. All that was left was Jacko, who, with his feathers on end, shouted hoarsely repeating: “Grrrand trickster! go away. The open door and the broken dishes proved that the alarm had not been given in error.
Jacko's biography is full of beautiful features, I only want to name one. Loved, pampered by all, and seeming to return tenderness for tenderness, one day he disappeared; his cage exposed to the sun on the terrace was found empty. A mad love of freedom had seized him. Lifting the latch of his prison with his paw, and perhaps seduced by some spring scent from the neighboring gardens, he had taken flight. We went everywhere to discover; we inquired; no one had seen the bird. The liberal reward promised by my grandmother was not claimed. Three days passed in deep mourning.
Finally, Reine picked up a significant noise at the market: it was said that the butter seller had glimpsed a superb parrot in the back room of a pastry chef, her practice. No doubt it was Jacko; my aunt left escorted by Reine. They invaded the pastry chef; he wanted to deny it, but at the sound of those well-known voices, Jacko, who had been relegated behind a curtain, flapped his wings and called loudly to his friends: "Queen!" Adelaide! It had to be returned to its rightful owner. Since his sequestration the poor bird, all languishing, had neither spoken nor eaten. He only recovered his appetite and his voice when he found himself in the old house. Yet it was there that a cruel fate awaited him. Forgotten outside one April night, his feet were frozen. Neither toast with wine nor hot baths could cure him. Feeling his last hour approaching, he named all the family members gathered around him one by one, raised his head as if to bid them farewell, and exhaled. We engraved on his tombstone:
Here lies Jacko, without reproach and without fear: From his mistress he saved the head, He put a thief to flight: These traits assuredly are not of a beast. He could have claimed the honor Of being sung by our great poet If he had been born earlier he would have had happiness.
the golden path.
Les Chèvrefeuilles is a pretty cottage. located by the sea, in a charming little village in the south of England; it takes its name from the magnificent honeysuckle or honey flower that adorns and covers its facade. From its windows one embraces the view of the channel, and for little Marie who lives there, it is a great joy to sit there, and an ever new delight to follow with the eyes the vessels which, sails in the wind, leave. on the great sea to set sail, sometimes to the east, sometimes to the west.
Marie is a sweet little girl, full of kindness and cheerfulness. Her silvery, joyful laugh makes the house vibrate and seems to her mother the sweetest music her ear has ever heard. Perhaps Marie is a little spoiled; the excuse is that she is an only child, and that the father is away, over there, over there in India for three mortal years.
On a fine June morning, at low tide, Marie, her little shovel in hand, had built a number of small houses on the smooth, damp sands, now swept away by the rising waves. Every day, after spending an hour or two in the open air, Marie came home at noon precisely to take a nap before dinner, and since she was her mother's love and had no companion, often the mother came and sat down by the little bed until her darling child was asleep, and when the soft and pretty eyes all heavy closed, the mother slipped out of the room, leaving Marie to her rest; sometimes, but not often, she would tell a story, and then Marie would fall asleep more quickly dreaming of it.
The very day on which I write, the mother had related the adventures of ships, and, right in the middle, sleep had surprised the little girl.
At the moment when in the sky the sun goes down and descends towards the sea to dive into it, my readers have often been able to observe a trail of gold and fire leaving the shore to go and lose itself in the setting sun. The whole sea in the distance darkens; only the trail radiates like a narrow and long golden arrow soaring a thousand and a thousand leagues, as far as the eye can reach.
Well, it was this golden ray, a narrow, luminous, infinite path, that little Marie saw that day in her dream; right in the middle swayed a beautiful ship, with sails white as snow, the prettiest little ship Marie had ever seen; she found herself wishing she was in it and navigated it alone.
Instantly she felt herself transported through the air and found herself, as she had wished, seated at the bow. She was there quite alone and had no fear. A soft, light breeze rose aft, filled the sails, and she traveled as fast as the luminous stream that carried her.
But soon, however, she began to feel the cold; it seemed to him that the luster of the path was fading, that the waves were becoming hard and furious. Then the desire came to him to go back, to the shore, to his mother. But poor little Marie, of course, knew nothing about sails or maneuvers, and could not steer her boat; feeling distressed and alone, she began to cry. And still the waves made the little ship dance louder and louder, and the cold increased and the light dimmed; the poor child had left the golden path and did not know how to go about getting back there.
The image of his mother presented itself more vividly to his heart; she was so alone, so abandoned, so unhappy, and the sad memory of a time when her sick mother could neither look after her nor care for her rose in her memory; at that time she had felt in such heartbreaking isolation!
What had she done then? Turning her weary head on the pillow, her mother had looked at her and said, "Kneel down, darling, and say, 'My God, make my dear mother well!' »
She remembered kneeling down, repeating these words, and then reciting Our Father who art in heaven... The next day, her mother was completely recovered, and she, little Mary, completely made happy. She knelt again beside her mother, her head on her knees, her hands in her hands, and said, “Thank you, my God! to have restored health to my dear mother; then she recited Our Father again...
She also remembered that her mother had told her: "If ever my little Marie is in danger, she will kneel down and say the Pater, and then He who called the children to him and blessed them will send his good angel to comfort my little one. child. »
All this Marie remembered in the ship. Then she knelt down and recited the prayer that Our Lord taught us, until she came to the words: deliver us from evil. Scarcely had she uttered them than she perceived that her boat had returned to the golden path; the same warm breeze filled the sails as at the start, and she sailed, sailed until she arrived at an enchanted country, shaded with magnificent trees, filled with flowers and birds such as she had never seen. nor heard, enlightened by a delicious light. The air was pure, light, fragrant; just as she approached, as she put her little foot on the soft, flowery grass,... she woke up.
Her mother was there, leaning over her, and seeing her little girl start when she opened her eyes, she asked her why; then Marie, in her childlike language, related her strange dream: "What does this dream mean, Mama?" does it make sense? — Yes, he has one; but I don't think you can understand it now, my dear, answered the mother; perhaps later, many years from now, you will understand its meaning. This brilliant golden ray teaches us that the way to heaven is luminous; this narrow line, that it is a narrow road; the time it took you to get out of it is so short that it is easy to lose; the vast and gloomy sea where you wandered in the night, that, outside this path, all is cold, dark, stormy; the way you found it shows that God alone can keep us from the cold and the pitfalls that surround us, and that praying to him, trusting in his love is the best way to keep us on the narrow path of gold and to arrive at our good and shining home: the sky. »
THE BLACK HAT.
About this time, Rosemonde went with her mother to live in Paris. An elderly lady came one morning to visit them. This lady was an old friend of Rosemonde's mother, but as she had been traveling for some years, Rosemonde had not yet seen her, and she cried as soon as the stranger had left the room:
" Mom ! I don't like this old lady at all. I'm very sorry that you promised to go and see her in the country and take me with you, because I don't like her very much, mother.
— I won't take you with me if you don't want to come, Rosemonde. But I can't guess why you don't like this lady; you saw her this morning for the first time, and you know nothing about her.
'It's true, mother; but it doesn't matter, she displeases me, of course; and I took a dislike to her as soon as she entered the room.
"For what reason, Rosemonde?"
"The reason, mother!" I don't know; I have no particular reason for this.
- Very good; but, particular or not, give me a reason, give me some reason.
'I can't give you any reasons, Mama, because I don't know why I don't like this old lady. You know very well, mother, that very often, that is to say sometimes, it happens that people please or displease us, for no reason, without our knowing why.
'We!... Speak for yourself alone, Rosemonde, because as for me, I always have some reason for liking or not liking people.
'Mom, I'm sure I'd find some reason too, if I wanted to look; but I never thought of it at all.
"Then I advise you to think about it and try to find one." Fools sometimes love, or, as they like to say, take in affection, at first sight, people who do not deserve to be loved, who are of bad nature, who have a bad character or faults. serious. At other times fools take a liking to, or, as they say, an ill will, an antipathy to, those who have estimable qualities, an upright character and a good nature.
"It must be very unpleasant, very unfortunate," said Rosemonde, beginning to become serious.
"Yes, that is very disagreeable, as you say, very unfortunate for fools, since, with complete freedom of choice, they take the bad in preference to the good and manage to live with those who make them miserable, instead of look for those who could have made them happy.
'That's very unfortunate, Mama, very unfortunate; and I wouldn't choose that way. Maybe this lady who I don't like, or, what do you say, Mama?... whom I took a dislike to... maybe she's a good woman, deep down?
"But that would be very possible, Rosemonde."
'Mom, I wouldn't want to do like the fools. I don't want to have antipathy. What is an antipathy, mother?
— A feeling of disgust and displeasure that we cannot justify for any reason. »
Rosemonde remained motionless and silent for a few minutes, thinking deeply; finally, suddenly bursting out laughing, she held her sides for a few moments without being able to speak, then she said:
"Mom, it's because I can't help laughing at the funny reason... a stupid reason I was going to give you for not having found this lady to my liking: it's only because his black hat was horny and had a nasty knot all crooked in the front.
'Perhaps that was reason enough not to like the hat, Rosemonde; but it seems to me that it does not justify your prejudices against the person who wore it.
'No, mamma, because I suppose she doesn't always wear it; at least she doesn't sleep with it, and if I saw her without that ugly hat, I might very well love her.
"It is very possible."
'But, mamma, there's also another reason why I don't like it: it may be a bad and unjust reason, and yet I can't help hating this 'thing; and she can't put it on or take it off as she wants. I can never see her without "that," Mama, and that is something I will always very much dislike. I may know that's the reason why I don't love this lady, but I can't make me love her the least bit more for that.
- The least in the world more for that! repeated Rosemonde's mother; it is certainly not by the precision of your language that we must judge the correctness of your thoughts, my daughter.
- Oh ! Mom, it's not something I think, it's something I find... that I can't help seeing. Mom, I can't understand why you didn't notice... that is to say, I really want to know if you paid attention to this nasty thing?
"When you've agreed to tell me what this 'nasty thing' is, I'll be able to answer you, Rosemonde."
'Mom, if you haven't noticed, you won't have been shocked, that's for sure.
- No, it does not seem clear to me at all.
'Of course then, Mama, you haven't seen him. Have you seen it?...I bet you haven't! How could you not be shocked? it's so ugly!
"Will you finally explain to me what you mean, Rosemonde?"
'I can see, Mama, that you haven't seen him.
- Seen. What?
'When she took off her glove, Mama, didn't you see the ugly finger, a stump of a finger; and that big ugly red, wrinkled skin that covers the whole top of her hand!... Mom, I'm very glad she didn't hold out her hand to me when she left, I could never have take that hand and I couldn't help withdrawing mine.
'There was no reason to fear that she would present that hand to you, Rosemonde; she is aware that this scar is unpleasant to see, and if you had bothered to notice it, you would have seen that it was her other hand that she offered me when I held out mine to her. .
“She did very well. So she knows it's very ugly... Poor woman! how sad and ashamed she must be!
'She has no reason to be ashamed of it; she should rather be proud of it.
"Proud, mother, and why?" so you know something extraordinary about it?.,. Do you want to tell me what you know about it, mother?
'I know that it was while saving her granddaughter who was about to be burned alive that she injured herself like this. The child, finding herself alone in a room, had come too close to the fireplace, her dress caught fire; the muslin in a moment was in flames. The child, in her terror, ran to the door crying; the servants came running; some remained motionless with fear, others did not know what to do. The grandmother heard the cries, rushed from the top of the stairs, saw the child whose hair and clothes were already on fire, threw herself on her and rolled her in the mat which was on the floor. The good grandmother had not thought of the danger she might run herself, and at the first moment she had neither thought nor felt how burned she was; it was not until the surgeon had dressed the child that she showed him her hand. She was so badly burned that it was deemed necessary to cut off the phalanx of one of the fingers, and the scar you find so dreadful is the mark left by the fire.
"Dear, good, courageous woman!" What a tender, what an excellent grandmother! exclaimed Rosemonde. Oh! mother, if I had known all that! Now that I know, how differently I think! Was it unfair enough, stupid enough of me to find her distasteful, and that for a badly turned knot on her black hat and because of that same scar, that dear hand! Mom, of course I wouldn't take my hand away if she offered me hers now... Oh! how I want to go and see her now, right away! Will you take me with you, mother, when you go to her country?
“With pleasure, my dear child. »
PAPA THE SQUIRREL AND QUIQUI.
"Do you ever live in his cage, Master raging squirrel To enlarge his prison, Run, leap tirelessly And multiply his task Without changing his horizon?"
There was once a pretty wood, and in that pretty wood there were beautiful big trees, in one of those trees there was a hole; and this hole was all lined inside with moss and dry leaves. It was the house of Monsieur and Madame l'Écureuil; they lived there with four children, Boubi, Gris-gris, Quiqui and Nutcracker. The family would have been very happy if Quiqui had not been grumpy and always dissatisfied with everything. She was trying to share her bad mood with her brothers and sister. She always wanted to have the best seat and take that of the others.
One day, the father and mother had gone running through the woods to look for nuts and bring them back; the children began to play together very kindly; but soon Quiqui pushed Gris-gris against Roubi, and wanted to kick Nutcracker out, because she found the house too small, and wanted it all to herself. Quiqui had a bad temper, which caused a great deal of grief to Papa and Mama Squirrel, who had gently taken her back, but without success. Often they spent the night without sleep wondering how they could correct their naughty child. This time, on returning they found the whole family dismayed; from Quiqui's surly expression they guessed that she had played another trick on her brothers and sister.
The next morning at dawn, Papa Squirrel tells Quiqui to get up and come with him. She asked for nothing better, for the weather was fine and the woods were charming; there was an abundance of hazelnuts, acorns, and brambleberries, which Quiqui was very fond of; so she promised herself to enjoy it, but the father jumped from branch to branch and did not stop. Quiqui wasn't as nimble and could only follow him from afar. Suddenly the father turned around and said: “Quiqui, you are becoming mean; you behaved very badly yesterday, and you deserve to be punished. He then took her by the paw and nimbly climbed a tree. The tree was very tall, and they were still climbing. Quiqui was afraid; his heart was beating very hard. Finally they arrived at a small black hole, where there was just enough room for Quiqui; his father stuffed him there and told him to stay there; there was no branch nearby, and if she tried to get out of the hole, she would inevitably fall from a great height and kill herself. After having given him this advice, Papa the Squirrel went away; Quiqui, left alone, heard her carefully descend the trunk, and brush the dead leaves on the ground with her tail and her paws, as he returned to his dwelling.
Dinner time arrived: Quiqui hoped that his mom or dad would bring him something to eat. But no... no one came. She began to cry, for she was very hungry. She felt all around with her paw, and ended up finding at the bottom of the hole a small withered acorn. She looked through the opening, but her head was spinning: it was so high! She began to think; she thought of her bad temper, of the way she had behaved with her brothers and her sister. “Oh! if they just wanted to pick me up, I wouldn't do it again,” she said, crying. But no one was there to hear him, and the branches, knocking together, seemed to say to him: "It's too late!" How long time seemed to him! This is the hour when we supped in the good little nest of moss; no one thought of poor Quiqui! were they going to let her die there of thirst and hunger? The sun set: night came. There arose a great wind that blew and whistled through the trees. She saw a large black wing pass. It was doubtless an owl, looking for some prey to bring back to its children; if he found out about Quiqui, he would make short work of it. She cowered terrified at the bottom of the hole. However, the rain began to fall; it streamed along the high branches, and penetrated as far as poor Quiqui, whose hair was soon all wet. It was nice to bring his long tail plume over his head, she could not protect herself, and was soon soaked to the bone. If she ever got out of there, she wouldn't expose herself to such an adventure; but would she come out of it? At this moment, she thought she heard a slight rustle of leaves, then a little noise along the bark; and finally Papa the Squirrel's head appeared at the entrance to the hole. You judge the joy of Quiqui! She begged forgiveness for her foolishness, and promised to be in future a good and docile little person, to tease her brothers and sister no more, to be as amiable and obliging as she had been surly and sullen.
Her father, who saw that she was truly repentant, took her by the paw; they descended together from the tree, and returned to the very warm nest, where a good supper of sweet acorns and fresh hazelnuts awaited them. Everyone was happy to see Quiqui again, and she was even happier. When she wanted to be mean again, she thought of the black hole, where she had stayed without dinner, where she had been afraid of the owl and its great black wing, where she had heard the wind roar, the rain fall, and she became gentle and obedient again.
THE STATUE OF SAINT KEWEN.
Saint Kewen was a hermit who landed long, long ago on an island called Ireland, where half-savage men then dwelt. He came, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to teach them to love one another, to pray to God, to forgive their enemies. They received him very badly and took him prisoner; the most wicked wanted to kill him, but the little children, who instinctively know those who wish them well, crowded around him, and attached themselves to his robe, so that the parents decided that he would be given to them. for slave.
They told the children that they were free to hurt Kewen, pull his beard and torment him in any way. There were some who wanted to try, but the saint was so gentle and so patient, that they could not succeed in angering him; they grew tired of their wickedness sooner than the hermit grew weary of suffering. He loved animals and shared his. bread and its water with them. The birds of the sky often came to visit him.
It is said that one day, as he was praying with both hands outstretched, a swallow came through the window of his cell and laid an egg in one of his hands. The saint did not lower his hand; he did not close it until the swallow had deposited all her eggs there, and after having hatched them, she let her young take flight.
It is in memory of this miracle of patience that the statue of the solitary holds a swallow in his hand.
THE BEE MOTHER.
Let me tell you a story from my convent. There was a nun who was called the cellar mother; she had accustomed me to helping her. When we had stored the wine in the cellar, we went to tend the bees; for she was the mother of the bees, a very important charge. In winter, she fed them, she gave them sweet beer to suck on her hand; in the summer, when she walked in the garden, the bees clung to her veil, and the good nun claimed to be loved and known by these little creatures.
I too had a great inclination for bees then. The mother cellarer said that above all you had to overcome the fear they inspire, and not move when one of them wants to sting, that then she never stings hard. It cost me great fights. I formed a plan to keep myself quiet in the midst of the bees which buzzed around; but suddenly, fear seized me, I fled, and the whole swarm flew after me. Finally I managed to get used to it, and I got a lot of pleasure out of it. I often went to visit them with a big fragrant bouquet that I held out to them, and on which they came to rest.
I liked to take care of their particular little garden, and I mainly planted very fragrant red carnations there. The old nun then gave me the pleasure of saying that the taste of all the flowers I had cultivated was detected in the honey. She also taught me how to warm the bees when they are frozen. She rubbed her hand with nettles and a certain little fragrant plant called catnip; she opened the big slide of the hive, and thrust her hand into it; all the bees came to sit on it and warm themselves there. I have often done like the nun, and stuffed my little hand into the hive next to hers. Today I wanted to do the same; but I no longer felt the courage to do so. That's how you lose your innocence and the gifts it gives you.
Children, happy children, whose sweet innocence Makes good blossom when you see it everywhere. Ah! retain the faith of your childhood days, She charms, colors, and sustains to the end.
RECIPE TO KEEP YOURSELF IN A GOOD MOOD.
(inside a class)
The mistress. — We read this morning, in sacred history, of the march of the Israelites through the desert after their exodus from Egypt. What struck you the most in this story, my children?
A student. — The patience of Moses; his devotion to this crowd which constantly murmured against him. He delivers her from slavery, walks at her head during the passage of the Red Sea. She finds the spring waters bitter, Moses softens the bitterness. She complains of having no more bread, Moses addresses the Eternal, who makes the manna rain. The drought increases and the people say to their leader: “Did you bring us out of Egypt only to make us die of thirst here? Moses strikes the barren rock, and water springs from it. To each complaint he responds with a new miracle, but far from subsiding, the discontent of the Israelites increases.
The mistress. "To what do you think this discontent should be attributed, to the circumstances or to the character of the Israelite people?"
Several students. — To character; for the circumstances were as painful and more difficult for Moses than for those whom he led, and he was not irritated by them like them.
The mistress. "Where do you think his sweetness came from?"
pupil brawl. — Of his complete confidence in God and of his empire over himself.
The mistress. — Do we not have before our eyes frequent examples of this blameworthy disposition?
Students. - Yes yes.
The mistress. - Which?
Students. — We often see here, and elsewhere, people who are never happy, who murmur about everything, who complain about the good weather and the rain.
The mistress. "Are these people happy?"
Students. - Oh ! no, far from it.
The mistress. — Do they make others happy?
A student. - No way. I had a cousin, who...
The mistress. - Hush! it is not necessary, my dear child, to cite proper names. I have also known a good number of people, endowed with health, wealth, with all the goods of life, who made themselves unhappy at will. They only ever saw the bad side of things. Everything was a matter of concern and torment to them. At the pension, they wanted to be at home; back with their parents, they would have liked to go to boarding school.
Constantly desiring a change, they complained about their mistresses, their companions, the lessons, the food, the bed. It's a real moral disease, the attacks of which we have all, more or less, felt.
Students. - It's true.
The mistress. “Well, we have to work in good faith to get over it.
Students. - Yes but how?
The mistress. - It's very simple. We are convinced, are we not, that this is an unfortunate provision, harmful to us and to others?
Students. - Certainly.
The mistress. "Then let's try to abstain from any kind of complaint for a week." Who among you wants to make a commitment not to complain about anything, or anyone, not even about yourself, about your lack of intelligence or ability? If one encounters difficulties in the study, one will expose them to me in order to be helped, but without complaining. Those who are in favor of this practical experience, raise your hands.
All students raise their hands at the same time.
The mistress. - All in good time. This is called, if I am not mistaken, universal suffrage. This is a good agreement which augurs well for the success of our event.
The report on the results of the experiment at the end of the week found that, out of fifty pupils, only six had failed in their resolve; even then, it was only involuntarily in short phrases, in an impatient word dropped too quickly, had one wanted to retract the next moment.
Grumpy kids will do well to try this great recipe.
THE SPIDER AND THE FLY.
FABLE. (Imitated from English)
“Come then, my dear, to my little drawing-room, Said the spider to the midge; It is a nice drawing-room, all covered in silk; Up the winding stairway, let me see you, up, and I guarantee you'll have fun. - To others! replied by buzzing the fly; Your winding staircase is a very suspicious place: You go up there, that's good, but you don't come down. "Always flying from the window to the wall is a hard job in the long run," said the spider. Come, come down, little fly; Come, come and lie softly on my couch; The sheets are white and fine, and the curtains silky. Come, I will rock you. "To others!" Me, I fly! Fi of a cowardly rest! On your bed so soft She who fell asleep no longer opens her eyes.
- Hey! how then can I prove my love to you, If you frolic all day? Said the cunning; here I amass in my cupboards Sweet dishes, wine, dairy products, pears; Come, jewel; of the meal I will do the honors.
— No, said the fly, no. Charitable Madam, I know what is served on your table every evening,
You won't see me there. Taunt your flattering words!
"What judgment!" What tact and wit! Where does she take what she says?
She really is as wise as she is beautiful! Her adornment is of gauze, and her pupil of jet; Look at yourself, pretty, in my mirror!
— Nay; I'm not fooled by your grimace, Said the fly. Really, to see yourself in the mirror, In your dark palace, madam, it's too dark. »
Pst!... Immediately passing I don't know where, L'aragne returned to its hole. A web is weaved in another corner, Another table is set, awaiting the food, And the spider is there, singing on the threshold: "Fly, with a beautiful egret, with a velvety bodice, With a green wing and purple, kind-faced, Diamond-eyed dazzling my eye,
Oh ! despite myself, I admire your beauty! Alas! she listened too much. Stupid fly! she approaches and closer she flies. Thinking only of her dress with the green halo, Of the bodice, of the aigrette; she flies, she comes. And turns and twirls and hums its glory. Mindlessly spreads its wings the moire, Approaches, and the spider in its claws holds it. She drags her up her dark staircase, To the living room of the sad manor. She stretched him out there on the inhuman couch, And never, never again buzzed the fly!... There is a hidden meaning in this childish tale: Never respond to flattering words; But, closing your ear to their frivolous charms. Deaf and happy mutes, go your way.
A. de Montgolfier.
This seven-year-old girl whom a bishop blessed was a child like you. Fourteen centuries ago, that is to say fourteen times a hundred years, she was born in a village near Paris called Nanterre. She showed herself, very small, so wise, so reasonable and so pious, that the other children respected and loved her. When they argued, it was Geneviève who reconciled them. Since she had never lied, we believed everything she said. Bishop Germain, passing through the village, had only to look at her to see that she would one day be a great saint. He called her and asked her what she wanted? “I would like to serve God and my neighbour,” she replied. "You will be heard, my child," said the holy bishop to him. He placed his two hands on her head, and passed around her neck a small copper medallion on which was engraved the cross. She never wore any other jewelry. Although her parents were well off, they sent her to tend the sheep in the fields, which she did with a good heart. She was not afraid of wolves, because she always felt under the hand of God. However, in those days there were men much more to be feared than wolves. Barbarian tribes called the Huns had penetrated into Gaul—it was then the name of our beautiful country of France. They pillaged and burned towns and villages; they pursued and killed the poor inhabitants, who fled into the depths of the woods. They were ugly, covered in animal skins, frightening to see.
Geneviève had gone to Paris to visit her godmother, when one day she heard someone shout: "Here are the Huns and their King Attila!" We are lost! Everyone was running, not knowing where. Geneviève, who had grown up, went out into the street, and God having revealed to her that it was a false alarm, she reassured the fugitives. She told them that the Huns would not approach, that the Bishop of Troyes had stopped them on the left bank of the Seine, and that they would be defeated by
a large army before reaching Paris. She spoke so well and with such authority that many people believed her; but others insulted her, saying that she wanted to play the prophetess, that she could not know what was going on in the distance. They called her a witch and wanted to kill her. She neither complained nor was afraid, having put all her trust in God. News of the victory over the Huns confirmed Geneviève's prediction. So everything changed. She was in great veneration, and nothing was done in Paris without asking the advice of the shepherdess, and her advice was good, for she prayed to God to enlighten her and inspire her what to do to hello to the people. Thus, while the city of Paris was besieged, misery became so great that the poor people died of hunger in the streets: bread could not be procured for gold or for silver. Geneviève, who was not afraid of exposing herself to help those who were suffering, embarked on the Seine, went up the course of the river and spoke to the laborers and the farmers, begging them, urging them to sell her wheat, which she agreed to pay them later: which she did. She brought eleven boats laden with wheat back to the starving city. You judge what was the joy of the poor and how much they blessed it!
She had a church built in honor of the holy apostles Peter and Paul. On January 3, the anniversary of her death, her feast day is celebrated, as patroness of Paris, in the church that bears her name and in that of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, where her reliquary is exhibited all year round at the veneration of the faithful.
Children who read this story, Burn it in your memory, Try to deserve so much respect and love one day.
HOW ALL THINGS WORK.
God did not create any of the things we see to leave idle; each does her duty according to the command she has received. The sun, the moon and the stars work to shine; the sea is in turmoil and works tirelessly to produce profitable things, fish and herbs to feed them; the earth also renews everything that is thrown into its bosom and reforms it, sometimes under one figure, sometimes under another; from a grain of wheat she brings forth an ear, from an apple seed an apple tree, from an acorn an oak, and this with such great ardor that, if some good seed is not given to her, she will labor to produce thorns and thistles rather than sit idle."
So said a father to his son while walking on the shores of the sea. They left the shore and followed the banks of a canal dug in the land to lead the tide to a nearby mill.
“See, child, how men profit by kind industry from this ardor of work and movement that God has put in the waters.
“Here comes the sea to enter in the channel; she finds the door closed, and, judging no servant more helpful and cleaner than herself, she pushes, opens, enters, and grinds the mill to her welcome, and when she wishes to return, she will close the door. behind her like a good servant, in order to leave the canal full of water which will grind the grain until her return.
“So it is with our mind, for whom the law of labor is life.
“Wouldn't it be a great shame to be lazy when everything is working around us! »
He who spoke like that was himself a great worker. His name was Bernard Palissy. He lived 300 years ago.
Born in the Agenois around 1500, died in the Bastille in 1589.
You will see in the Louvre museum earthenware that bears his name and on which he fashioned, with great art, eels, fish, all kinds of animals.
I lived and worked. Children, ask this world only for work. It is still the best he can give you, because the curse of God is richer in gifts than the blessing of men. The Lord said: “On the foreheads, sweat. The men say: "To the fronts, the crowns!" and we are crowned. But whether gold or flowers, the circle tightens, bloodying the flesh and breaking.
Work, work! Work is worth more by itself than what it brings, honor, money or glory.
THE LITTLE DRUM.
A young boy had enlisted as a drummer in a regiment. His good nature had won him the affection of the officers. One day, these, gathered under a tent, drank in memory of one of their comrades whom they had just buried; the little drummer was passing, he was called, and his lieutenant presented him with half a glass of brandy.
"Thank you, my officer," said the young boy; I don't drink strong liquors.
'You can't refuse, crook,' continued the lieutenant, 'when your superiors do you the honor of toasting with you.
" It is goodness of them," said the young drummer; but I can not.
'He's afraid to drink,' continued the lieutenant, turning to the captain. 'He'll never be a soldier.
- What is this ! said the captain, affecting a severe tone. I order you to drink, and you know that in war disobedience is punishable by death. »
The poor child straightened up to his full height and replied in a firm voice, staring, his limpid eyes on those of the officer:
"Captain, my father died of drunkenness, and when I left for the army, I promised my mother, on my knees before her, that with God's help I would not put a single drop of brandy or rum, and I want to keep my promise. I am very sorry to disobey you, but I would rather be shot than fail to speak to my mother. »
The captain held out his hand. "You are an honest boy and a brave heart," he said to her; one day you will be a valiant officer, for he who knows how to abstain and command himself is worthy of commanding others. »
THE GOOSE WHO SAVED HIS MASTER.
Many people imagine geese to be stupid birds, and one often hears it said, "Dumb as a goose," which is a bad way of speaking, firstly because it's rude to people , and unjust and false for the geese, who have received from God the share of intelligence that is necessary for them and even what is needed to be useful to others.
The famous city of Rome was saved by the geese, whose cries raised the alarm as the army of the Gauls mounted an assault. These geese had had the sense to watch while all the inhabitants slept foolishly. But I have a story to tell you that proves that this bird has a lot more meaning than we think.
I knew a goose, white as snow, which had taken such great friendship with its master that it followed him everywhere. He was a wealthy farmer. If he rode, the poor bird flew ahead or above him; when he walked in his fields, she lounged by his side. She refused to eat, although she was hungry, and would take nothing except from her master's hand. At dinner, she perched patiently on the sill of the window which overlooked the lawn; from there, she did not lose sight of her protector, standing erect on one leg, then on the other, when she was tired.
It so happened that, one beautiful autumn afternoon, she followed her master over a marshy ground which bordered on a peat bog; the farmer, relying on his knowledge of the country, did not pay too much attention to the road; suddenly the moving ground gave way under his feet and he sank into a hole. The more he tried to get out of it, the further he entered, and he would certainly have disappeared if he had not had the presence of mind to put his rifle across the hole on two tree stumps that stood were on either side. He clung to the rifle, but he didn't have enough strength to extricate himself from the thick mud in which he was immersed and from the roots and weeds that squeezed his legs.
His faithful goose, seeing him thus stopped, circled the hole, stretching out his neck and clucking softly; at last she rose into the air and whirled above her head, making as much noise as possible with her wings and beak. Men pulling peat from the nearby swamp heard the bird's cries and noticed its ride, they arrived in time to rescue the farmer. Nothing equaled the delight of the poor goose when she saw her master safe and sound; she rubbed like a cat against her legs, flapped her wings and clucked with joy. So the grateful farmer wished that, all the rest of his life, she should be treated with the care and consideration due to the important service she had rendered him.
I hope that little boys who read this story will no longer be tempted to say, "Dumb as a goose." I will ask them if, being in the place of the goose, they could have done better than what she did?
To be animal is not to be stupid;
The dog, the bird, each has its own spirit.
Children, know that the best head
Judge yourself by what you do rather than what you say.
PERFECTION OF THE WORKS OF GOD.
A mother's conversation with her daughter
(Mother and child work together.)
The child. - Ah! Mom, my needle just broke.
The mother. "I'll give you another one."
The child. "What are the needles made of?"
The mother. - Try to guess it.
The child. "I can't, Mom.
The mother. "Do you know metals?"
The child. - Yes mom; I have samples in my little box.
The mother. "Well, are the needles of wood, of stone, of marble?"
The child. - Oh! no, they are of metal; but what metal?
The mother. — Always try, before asking questions, to guess for yourself what you want to know; this is very amusing.
The child. — Come on!... A needle is made of metal: it is not silver, because it is not white; it is not gold, for it is not of a beautiful brilliant yellow; it's not of copper, because it's not an ugly yellow that smells bad;... but, mother, is it of iron?
The mother. - There you are.
The child. 'But, mamma, the iron isn't smooth and shiny like that.
The mother. "Because it has been polished and prepared in a certain way, and when it has been rendered as you see it, it is no longer called iron, it is called steel: thus the steel is polished iron.
The child. "And a needle is of steel." Now I'm going to guess how it's done...
The mother. 'That's impossible, you couldn't guess; but we will go together to a factory
in which needles are made; you will see it done, and it will amuse you very much.
The child. — I would like to know how we make all the things we use.
The mother. - You're right ; it is shameful to ignore the things that we have constantly in front of us.
The child. “Mom, let me look at your needles.
The mother. - Here, here is my case.
The child. - My God! how small! How pretty! how fine! Men must be very skilful to do something so delicate...
The mother. "Do you remember seeing at the fair a little ivory cart drawn by a flea which was attached to it with a gold chain?"
The child. - Oh! yes, mother, it was charming.
The mother. "I read in a German newspaper that a workman named Oswald Nerlinger made a cup of a peppercorn, and that this cup contained twelve others...
The child. - Oh! how small these twelve cups must have been since they fit in a grain of pepper!
The mother. - That's not all. Each of these small cups had its golden edge and stood on its foot.
The child. "How I would have liked to see that!"
The mother. — You are right to admire the skill of men; it is indeed astonishing and deserves well that one learns with care how so many curious works are made; however there are many other things more worthy of admiration...
The child. "Teach me then, dear mamma."
The mother. “I'll give you an idea right away.
(She gets up.)
The child. "What do you want, mother?"
The mother. 'I want to bring your papa's microscope to us, which he had brought to this cabinet this morning.
The child. — I am very comfortable; I like to look through a microscope.
The mother. — This one is excellent and magnifies the objects prodigiously. I'm going to put the smallest of my needles under the glass. Look before how fine, smooth and polished it is... Now, look at it through the glass. Well, what do you see?
The child. — My God, Mama, it's dreadful what I see: this needle seems quite rough to me...
The mother. "You see holes, furrows, inequalities there, don't you?"
The child. “It looks like an ugly, crude iron bar.
The mother. — Well, all you see there, all these imperfections are really in this needle: our eyes are too weak to see these faults without the glass which magnifies the needle; but these faults are none the less real.
The child. — The workman who made this needle would be ashamed if he looked at it under the microscope.
The mother. - Take away this needle, I'll put something else under the glass.
The child. "What is it, Mom?"
The mother. "It's a little bee sting."
The child. - Oh! how small and pretty it is!... and how shiny and smooth it is! but I know in advance that under the microscope it will appear quite rough...
The mother. — There it is: look.
The child, watching. - Ah! How strange, mamma!
The mother. - Well?
The child. — It is swollen, swollen like the needle, and it is not at all rough;... on the contrary, it is still just as smooth... The needle no longer had a point, and this sting has always a point as fine as a hair. Why is that, mother?
The mother. "It's because the workman who made this goad is infinitely more skilful than the one who made the needle."
The child. "Who is this skillful workman?"
The mother. — He who made the heavens, the stars, the earth, the plants and all creatures.
The child. 'It's God.
The mother. - Certainly! Didn't God make the bees and all the animals?
The child. - Certainly.
The mother. — It is therefore God who has made the sting of this bee; that is why this sting is so superior to a needle, because a needle is only made by a
male. But let's keep looking through the microscope.
Here is a small piece of muslin of the greatest delicacy; put it under the glass. What do you see?
The child. — I see it as a thick net, quite uneven, and very badly made.
The mother. — Here is a small piece of superb lace; look how well done it is...
The child. - Oh ! for that, I think it will be pretty, even under the microscope; there it is under the glass.
The mother. - Well?
The child. 'It's horrible... It looks like it's made of all rough hair with big uneven holes, and those threads that are so coarse look like they're tied all askew.
The mother. "Because these are still the works of men."
The child. - Ah! Mom, let's see now a handiwork of God.
The mother. "Do you know what that is?"
The child. 'Yes, Mom, it's a silkworm shell.
The mother. — The small threads which compose it are very fine, well united; see if they will look uneven under the microscope.
The child, looking into the microscope. Garlic! it is always
also regular; the shell is still just as plain, just as shiny, the threads still just as equal...
The mother. "It's because it's the work of God." Let's examine something more! What's on this paper?
The child. — Small dots made with ink and
small round spots, also made with ink.
The mother. "Do those little dots and flecks look perfectly round to you?"
The child. - Oh ! yes, perfectly round.
The mother. — They are made with the greatest care... Look at them under the microscope...
The child. “Well those little dots and flecks are just big spots all uneven and jagged all around, and they're not round at all anymore.
The mother. — Take the paper away, we're going to see God's handiwork. This is a butterfly wing; you see that it is strewn with small round speckles; put it under the glass. What do you see?
The child. “I see what I saw without the glass, except it's bigger.
The mother. "The speckles are still just as round, aren't they jagged, disfigured, uneven?"
The child. - Oh! no way; they are perfect. Oh! How beautiful are the works of the good Lord!...
The mother. "Then they are well worth taking the trouble to study!"
The child. - Certainly ; but I will always do like that; I will compare them to the works of men.
The mother. “And always, in everything, you will find faults in the works of men, and the more learned one becomes, the more perfect one finds the works of God. This should make us think two things: first, that God deserves our admiration as much as our love;
the second, that proud men are extravagant, because they cannot do anything perfectly beautiful, perfectly regular, and their finest works are full of imperfections when compared with those of the Creator.
Madame de Genlis.
This worm which, on the dusk, Lights its beacon of night, And which extinguishes it, as soon as the moon Gives way to the sun which follows it, Without anyone knowing why shines Its soft and trembling glow In the shadow and the lawn sparkles, Peaceful pastor's star. Is it its head, is it its tail, We say to ourselves, which sheds on us, at night, This cute blue glow, Weak, but so charming to see? What does it matter! by creating the light, God made fall on these humble towards The particles of the dust Which it throws in suns in the airs. Do not crush the frail atom: It has its charm, it has its end. He lights up the thatched roof, He adorns the edges of the road. In this modest spark Which slips under the grass, A divine power is revealed As in the immense horizon.
A. de Montgolfier
the dervish's ointment.
Caliph Haroun-Al-Raschid. Commander of the Faithful, used to walk the streets on the evening of the first Monday of each month, disguised as a simple merchant, in order to see for himself what was going on in his good city of Baghdad. He had gone out as usual, accompanied by the leader of his black slaves, his faithful Mesrour, similarly disguised. As they were about to cross the bridge which leads to the suburb of Damascus, they were stopped by a blind man who was begging for alms. This kneeling beggar had near him an inverted turban where everyone could put his offering, and he cried in a lamentable voice:
“Take pity on a poor sinner, and give him a para and a slap. »
The caliph had this extraordinary request repeated, looked at the man, and glancing at Mesrour: "I want this beggar to appear before me tomorrow, at the opening of the divan," he said to him in a low voice; and dropping a few coins into the turban, he passed on.
But the blind man had heard the sound of money and of footsteps going away; he hastily picked up his turban, and pursuing the caliph, guided by the noise of his walk: "Stop, charitable lord," he cried; stop! take back your alms or give me a slap.
"God forbid," replied the sultan, "that I thus dishonor myself and my fellow man." I wanted to do you good, don't force me to do you harm.
"You cannot, sir, inflict on me punishments that are not below what I deserve and the pain that the few words you have just said make me feel." If you don't wanna hit me, take your money back or I'll throw it on the road 'cause I
can accept nothing except on the condition that I first declared to you. »
The caliph and the beggar argued for a long time; finally Haroun-Al-Raschid, unable to overcome the obstinacy of the blind man, lightly touched his cheek with his two fingers and continued on his way.
The next day, at the opening of the divan, immediately after the prayer, the sultan had the curtain drawn which veils his throne, and the first figure which struck his eyes was that of the blind man, whom Mesrour had caused to be brought, and who remained prostrate, for he had been told before whom he was to appear.
“Why are you an object of scandal to my faithful subjects, said the sultan to him, and why do you dishonor alms? »
The blind man stood dumbfounded for a few moments, and finally declared that his conduct was the result of a vow, and that he had reason to fear that his penance and his miserable life would not be a sufficient expiation for the faults he blamed himself for. . The Commander of the Faithful ordered him to get up, sit down, and tell his story sincerely.
"I was a camel driver by profession, said the blind man, and joining the caravans, I rented my camels to merchants, to pilgrims, and thus made honest profits which enabled me to increase little by little the number of my beasts, so that having started by having only ten, I had managed to possess a hundred. I had taken a wealthy merchant to Bagdad who was returning from the pilgrimage to Mecca, and I was returning with my camels unloaded, for I had found no travelers for the return. Having traveled this route more than thirty times, I thought I knew it down to the smallest detours; however I arrived in a place which was completely unknown to me. They were great rocks intermingled with narrow and dark gorges, while the arid rocks which sheltered them did not even nourish moss in their crevices. As I contemplated these wild places, I saw a white-bearded dervish come out of them, with a venerable face; surprised to find him alone in this desert, I was still more surprised when he said to me: "My son, I am the possessor of an immense treasure, and I want to share it with you." The hundred camels you drive will barely be enough to transport it; “when they are loaded with gold and precious stones, there will be fifty for me, the other fifty will be yours. My heart beat with joy at these words, for I had always coveted riches: I had put para upon para to arrive at fortune, and now it was she who was coming to meet me. I threw myself at the knees of the dervish; I thanked him, as if he had been my father and had given me life a second time. He lifted me up, told me to bring my camels forward, and led me through difficult paths in a quite arid and desolate place. There were no grasses, no flowers, no earth, not even sand. It was dry, bare rock. The old man lit a small bundle of brushwood which he had taken from under his robe and placed on a large white stone, and a thick cloud of fragrant smoke enveloped us. I felt dizzy when a crack as loud as a clap of thunder was heard, shook the rock under our feet, and the stone, splitting in two, let me see some steps that the dervish descended. I followed him without hesitation. The cavern into which I entered after him dazzles me with its magnificence. Vases of transparent precious stones, arranged around it, lighted up this subterranean space, and appeared like so many stars of various colors. These immense cups were filled with silver, gold, coined and in ingots, diamonds, rubies, pearls, carbuncles; my eyes had never seen such a spectacle. Alas! now they will only see at night; and the memory that I preserve of this place of delights is all the more vivid, as the darkness in which I am plunged is deeper!
“I did not wait for the dervish's encouragement to load my camels with everything I could get out of this treasure of the geniuses: first I threw myself on the gold; then, instructed by the example of my companion, I choose diamonds in preference. Finally the bags of my camels were full, so that the poor beasts could carry no more, when I decided, on the repeated invitations of the dervish, to leave this underground place which he was going to close again; I could not take my eyes off these riches, from which it did not appear that we had removed anything, and on casting a last glance at them, I saw my companion open a simple porphyry vase which I had not noticed; he pulled out something which he hid in his tunic. My curious eyes never left him; when he was near me, he drew from his bosom a small wooden box: “My son,” he said to me, “this is what I have 'reserved' for myself; and opening the box, he showed me that it contained only a little ointment.
"I chased the camels in front of me, and when we had left the defile: "My son," said the dervish to me, "take at your choice fifty of the camels which belong to you and continue your way, while I will follow mine with the fifty that you will leave me. I therefore chose those which seemed to me the most loaded, and after having thanked the dervish again, with the liveliest expressions, I parted from him. But as I walked away, I thought, with more bitter regret, of the fifty camels I was abandoning to him; and forgetting that those I myself drove were laden with more riches than I had seen in all my life, even in dreams, I thought only of those which I had to give up. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer, and stopping my animals, I ran after the dervish and called to him with all my voice: “My father! my father! He heard me and stopped. When I had joined him: "My father," I dared say to him, I thought of one thing: you are not in the habit of driving camels, they are "often vicious and rebellious animals, believe me, don't take it upon yourself to lead so many of them. It will still be quite enough for you to drive forty of them; let me unite the other ten with those I lead myself. Accustomed as I am to making them work, what would be an unbearable task for you is only a game for me. — My son, said the dervish, let it be done as you wish. I then hastened to hijack ten of the fifty camels being led away by the one who had given me so much wealth, the one whom my sole desire now was to despoil.
"The ten camels I was leading had not yet rejoined their companions, when, leaving them there, I ran after the dervish, and called him again, crying: 'My father! my father! He stopped himself. "I've thought it over," I told him when I had caught my breath; it would also be difficult for you to lead forty animals: what "would you do with so much wealth, you who have
“take a vow of poverty? I am too grateful to suffer you to cross the deserts with treasures which would tempt the wandering bands of Arab thieves, so that they would snatch your life.
“What shall I say to you, sovereign commander of the believers? I picked up the fifty camels ten by ten, and the dervish went away alone, when again I stopped him with my cries: "What do you still want from me, my son?" I have nothing more to give you. 'Father,' I went on, 'I have received everything from you, and you would not want to disoblige me for a trifle. What is this ointment enclosed in the little box that I saw you hiding in your bosom?
"My son," said the dervish, "it is a balm composed by geniuses, and made with such art that, for him who rubs his left eye with it, all the treasures that the earth" contains become visible; but one cannot rub both eyes with it without being immediately blind.
'Father,' I continued, 'your goodness cannot be denied, prove to me that you are not playing with my credulity. »
“The dervish did what I wanted; he passed a little of this marvelous ointment over my left eye, and I contemplated, with an avidity which still surpassed my admiration, innumerable riches; I mechanically closed my dazzled eyes, and when I opened them again, the splendid spectacle had disappeared. Irritated at losing sight of all these treasures, in the grip of an insatiable lust, which grew as I abandoned myself to them, I persuaded myself
that the dervish was lying, and that if this ointment applied to one of my eyelids had had the virtue of revealing so many riches to me, applied to both, it would make me possess them. I therefore demanded of the dervish, in an imperious tone, that he cover both my eyes with his balm. He refused for a long time, using the very expressions Your Highness used yesterday evening when speaking to your slave: "My son, he repeated to me, I wanted to do you good, don't force me to do you good. evil! »
“Wretch that I was, I forced him to do so; I had the infamy to threaten my benefactor. I was alone with him, I was young and strong, he was old and weak, he did what I wanted. I opened my eyes: I opened them in vain; I was blind!
“Unhappy! said the dervish to me, since nothing could tame your greedy and ungrateful nature, suffer in punishment for your crime, and may the punishment make you better! »
“He then left me, taking the camels, and left me alone with eternal darkness. »
So spoke the blind man. Haroun-Al-Raschid, finding him sufficiently punished by his blindness and above all by his remorse, sent him away ordering that he be fed at the expense of the treasury and forbade him to beg in future.
OAK and BROOM.
At the edge of the babbling brooks which run on the side of the mountains, in the clearings of the wood, in the middle of the hills, the shepherd André, while guarding his flocks, listened to what the birds were saying, the wind and the trees talking among themselves. . One autumn evening, while the family was gathered around the fire, he told the following tale:
On the slope of a high rock beaten by storms, an oak had grown; at his feet grew a broom. It was March, a clear noon, the thaw wind was blowing. In a voice that age had made serious, the oak, giant of the forests, spoke thus to the dwarf broom, his neighbor:
“The jelly has been working day and night for nearly two months, sinking its nails into the rock like so many wedges. Look up and think of the danger that threatens you! Last night I heard a crack... Remember that barely two years ago a stone broke loose and rolled down the slope like thunder; if my roots had not held her back, it was all over for you; it is still there suspended above your head, ready to fall, and yet you are green again without worry: the little shepherd nestles in your shade as in a nest, and one day, which is not far off, will come when you both of you will perish! »
The little broom, who was beginning to find that the oak was saying too much, replied: “I thank you for your advice. I know that, young and old, weak and strong, only hold on to life by a fragile bond, but I also know that God is watching over me as over everyone! This is my paternal corner, my dear and sweet heritage; my parents have green and flowered there before me, why should I trouble myself with vain fears? Am I not a favored plant of heaven? Summer covers me with flowers, and when, in winter, the snow falls, my branches are still so green and so fresh that the passer-by says to himself: Doesn't this plant die?
“The butterfly, in spring, flies towards me attracted by the beautiful yellow of my petals as brilliant as the gold of its wings. When the grass is wet with dew, the ewe and her lamb take shelter near me; I see their tenderness, the joy they have in being together, and I am happy about it.”
The broom could have gone on until the stars rose. His voice was gay, his heart was light; but in the high branches of the oak two crows perched and croaked their evening song, and the breeze brought into the green bosom of the broom two bees, which fell asleep buzzing.
At night, a furious wind, coming from the north, fell on the oak tree and threw it away. I saw the broom again in the hospitable crevasse: it had escaped the hurricane and the two bees were feasting on the juice of its flowers.
story of a cherry pie.
Can a pie have a story? Why not? First of all, this pie didn't look like the ones you see at pastry shops. It wasn't as ornate, but it was at least as good. To make it, we had picked the cherries from the beautiful big cherry tree which spreads out like an espalier in the garden and which are so red, so big and so pretty to see. We had arranged them at the bottom of a large hollow dish, then we had sprinkled them with sugar, and to finish we had covered the dish with a good dough made with flour, salt, butter and an egg, and care had been taken to leave a small opening in the middle so that the steam would escape as the fruit heated and baked in the oven where the pie had been brought. Do you know who picked the cherries, stirred and shaped the dough? She was the mother of Jeanne and Pierre, two nice children, but who had an ugly fault: they were very greedy and ate in a voracious and dirty way that disgusted everyone. Also, seeing that they did not correct themselves, their parents no longer made them dine at the table when there were guests. Now, it was the eve of the village fete, and the whole day had been spent getting ready to receive the townspeople who were to come to lunch and dinner the next day at the farm.
"Hey, Jeanne, do you think we're allowed to eat with the others?" Pierre asked his sister. It would be so sad to be alone in our corner, and yet another beautiful day of celebration!
"I don't know," said Jeanne timidly. If we had corrected ourselves, well and good; but yesterday you bit into your bread and your mouth was so full that you nearly choked. Mama has warned you many times that these are bad manners. I try to be careful.
- I advise you to brag! I saw you put your fingers in the cream, and lick your plate like a cat this morning. »
Jeanne turned red up to her ears. " It's true ; I thought I was all alone, but I'll be careful another time. »
The two children were playing in the garden. Pierre called Jeanne: “Look! the reserve window is open. This is where we put all the good things for tomorrow, jams, pastries! How the wasps enter it! Of course they will eat everything.
"We have to go and tell mummy so that she chases them away and closes the window," said the little girl.
'The mother went to the mill,' resumed Pierre, 'and by the time she comes back, the wasps will have plenty of time to feast. I'm going to hunt them down!
- Be careful ! you will get bitten.
- I am not afraid. Pierre fetched a large empty flowerpot, put a brick on it and climbed up to the opening of the window. As he stepped over the window sill, he shouted:
Come on, Jeanne. Come see something!
'But we don't have permission to enter the reserve, Pierre.
"You know very well it's to chase away wasps." We will not be scolded. Jeanne still hesitated. “Come then! resumed Pierre impatiently; you have never seen anything so pretty! And what a good smell! »
Jeanne raised her nose, then her foot; his brother held out his hand to him, and they both found themselves in front of the famous pie, which was still warm. There were designs fashioned on it, and mouth-watering mouth-watering vapor came out of it.
"How good it must be!" said Peter. What do you think is in the dish, under the crust? Guess !
─ Raisin, perhaps?
─ Raisins!... it's much better than raisins: they are good cooked cherries, and so sweet! I lifted the crust a little, it does not hold. Take a look: there is nothing wrong with seeing. »
Jeanne stared for a long time, too long. “How about we taste it? said Peter. Just one cherry each, there are so many!
"No," said Jeanne weakly, "that would be bad."
"There are too many," resumed Pierre; if a little were taken away, it would not appear there. Here, open your mouth and close your eyes! »
Joan obeys. A first cherry was followed by a second, then a third, and more. As Pierre was not forgotten, the distribution was going full speed and the dish was emptying.
Jeanne stopped first, “My God! she exclaimed, what will mamma say?
"She won't see anything about it," resumed Pierre; the pie looks as good as ever since I put the crust back on.
"Yes, but underneath there's almost nothing left," sighed Jeanne.
— Hush! I hear footsteps in the kitchen; we must not be found here,” said Pierre.
And the two children, who had entered with good intentions, jumped over the window in haste and fled like culprits. They were indeed: they had disobeyed and done a wicked thing.
Instead of cheering them up as usual, their mother's voice made them start. She called them to come and help her make bouquets. Jeanne had a heavy heart. She says to her brother:
“Pierre, I really want to go and confess everything to mum!
"So you want me to be scolded and punished?" It is very bad to report.
“But I won't talk about you. I will only blame myself for this gluttony.
- Then you will lie, since we were together.
- You have a way of arranging things that I can no longer distinguish what is good from what is bad.
"In that case, it's best to keep quiet." »
Jeanne was not convinced; but she was afraid of hurting her brother.
At this moment their mother came in, accompanied by two people who had just arrived for the party. Still others came, and soon dinner time struck. Everything went well enough until dessert; but when the famous pie appeared, the two children blushed to their ears.
“You are going to taste the housewife's pastries,” their father said to his hosts. It was my wife who wanted to pick the most beautiful cherries from our orchard herself; it was she who cooked them in syrup and mixed and kneaded the dough; she wanted to trust only herself to regale good friends. »
As he spoke he cut the lid and plunged the spoon into the dish; but he took it out empty...nothing, no syrup, no cherries! He looked at his wife in amazement.
“Who could play such a trick on me? she exclaimed. Someone must have entered the pantry; I had left the key with the cook; I would never have believed her capable of such delicacy! I'll give him his leave tomorrow.
- Oh ! no, no, mother, cried Jeanne, flushed and trembling, don't send her away: it's not her, it's me!
"You! But it's impossible!" you couldn't eat all the cherries there on your own? »
What to say? Jeanne was silent. Suddenly the father, whose eyes had turned by chance to Pierre, exclaimed:
“You don't have to look very far for your accomplice: rather look at that big red spot on your waistcoat, sir! Either I don't know, or it's cherry juice! Your voracious and filthy habits have betrayed you. A first fault led you to commit a much more serious second. You yielded to the temptation to secretly eat what was not yours, at the risk of raising suspicion on an innocent person, and you were silent when your sister accused herself, which is cowardice. Get out of the table and go to your room to think about your conduct. As for you, Jeanne, you will be deprived for a week of the dessert you have eaten in advance; but you will console yourself by thinking that you had the courage to confess your fault and to suffer the shame of it. »
SOFTNESS AND KINDNESS.
There are among you, my children, abrupt, violent characters, who do not know how to control themselves and who give in at their first movements. It is a bad disposition that one cannot too much combat; it gives rise to quarrels and commits actions of which one repents too late. I will give you two examples that I witnessed.
A young man, violently hit in the street by a passer-by who was coming straight ahead of him, turns around and gives him a slap.
“Oh! monsieur, exclaims the other, what regret you are going to have! You hit a blind man! »
A distinguished and still young man, mounted on a donkey, was walking through a village. Rude peasants boo him and urge the donkey to make it run. The horseman dismounts, goes straight to them, and, showing them his wounded leg: “You did not know,” he said to them, “that you were dealing with a lame man; you wouldn't have wanted to be so cowardly. »
The peasants, taken aback, blush, look at each other and walk away without saying a word.
What do you think of these two lessons? For my part, I have no doubt that they benefited those who received them.
Those who have read report that a king, having found some gold mines in his kingdom, employed the greater part of his subjects to draw and refine the gold from the said mines, which caused the lands to remain fallow. and the famine began in that kingdom.
But the queen, who was prudent and moved with charity towards the poor people, secretly had capons, chickens, pigeons and other meats made of pure gold; and when the king wished to dine, she had these golden meats served to him, with which he was delighted, for he did not at first understand what the queen was aiming at; but seeing that they brought him nothing else to eat, he began to get angry. Whereupon the queen begged him to consider that gold was not food, and that it was better to employ his subjects in cultivating the land, which never tires of producing and giving, than in seeking gold which satisfies neither hunger nor thirst, and which is nothing but by the esteem that men have of it, which esteem would very quickly change into contempt if gold were once in abundance.
It always seemed to me that this queen thought and spoke with common sense.
the gold song.
To make the gold coins that we exchange for bread, clothes, we must first melt gold ingots over a large fire. Now it happened that one day the founder, who was pouring this molten gold onto a metal plate where it was spread out in a thin layer, heard harmonious sounds: these were the vibrations of the gold which, as it cooled, was singing. A young poet was listening, and he translated for you the song of gold:
You who run, light of your fifteen years, The serene face and the heart without reproach, Beautiful youth, avoid my approach, My only contact would fade your springs. What does gold do to you, you to whom God entrusts The holy deposit of the treasures of here below By giving you what one does not buy: The love of good, the innocence of life? I am fatal, Yet they love me, And for evil Man sows me.
Oh! How sad and dark is my refrain When fools, on greedy roulette, Will lay down their empty purse so soon To return to their homes without bread! Ah! my song ! these men, at your age, All listened to It like a sacred hymn, and yet it was the Dies irae, a song of death, a wild song. I am fatal, Yet they love me, And for evil Man sows me.
There are days when the organ with long chords Makes stream in the bottom of the cathedrals Deaf accents, sepulchral notes, Which make arise in the heart a thousand remorse: And I likewise, in days of anger, I made vibrate of those dark sounds; I hissed them in the ear of those Who refused alms to misery. I am fatal, Yet they love me, And for evil Man sows me.
But all is not darkness and cowardice, And when a man, with a generous soul, Throws me to the bottom of the hideous prison, For the redemption of a humble freedom, Then, children, such, when the sun shines, You feel your heart free and joyful, Such, I spread myself in melodious tunes, And my song skips like a bell. For God blesses The gold that is given In large alms To the poor nest.
FISH AND THE GIRL.
You have indeed seen dogs following their masters, tamed birds obeying the command, whistling the tune they had been taught, coming to rest on the head or on the finger of the one who calls them and feeds them, but I'm pretty sure you've never seen obedient, stroking fish! Well, my children, a very little girl managed to make herself loved and understood by the animals that live in the water. And do you want to know his secret? It is very simple and within everyone's reach: it has been good for the fish, and the fish have been grateful to it. It's that kindness overcomes the most difficult things, and that quite naturally, without much effort.
So there was once a little girl of six years old, very much alive, in flesh and blood, because what I am going to tell you is not a tale, but a story, that is to say something very -true that happened. This little girl lived near a pond, and she was allowed to go for a walk
with his maid on the edge of the water. She would take away the bread she had left from her lunch, and she would throw crumbs into the water for the fish: "Here, little ones, little ones, she would say, I'm sharing with you." The fish didn't come right away, they had to wait a bit; but as the little girl was not discouraged and visited them every day, they gradually grew accustomed to seeing her, and tamed themselves so well that they came to her voice, followed her around the pond. and ate out of his hand.
One day a stranger came with his daughter to see these curious fish and their little mistress; But he went first to the pond; the fish, seeing a little girl, were mistaken and rose to the surface of the water; they quickly recognized their mistake and dived, fleeing as quickly as possible. meanwhile, their girlfriend had come running; she called them, and they reappeared in a crowd, hurrying to receive from her hands the crumbs of bread.
She also has a tortoise, which had had its leg crushed; she bandaged it, cared for it, and lodged it at the edge of the pond. This good beast obeys its benefactress and makes her all kinds of friendships. She only wants to receive her food from her hand, and as soon as she sees her, she shows her joy by dragging herself towards her and shaking her head right and left as if to say hello.
I who speak to you, I saw the good little girl with the shining eyes in the middle of her barbels, her tenchs, her carps, which she caresses on the head and on their brilliant scales, taking them, then letting them slide through her fingers, without them appearing for a moment worried or frightened: they know very well that she won't hurt them. She has her favorites among them; one, which she recognizes, has a spot on her head, that one and the lame turtle are both remarkably intelligent.
Isn't that a lovely example of what kindness and gentleness can do?
Children who read this will be glad to learn that formerly, hundreds of years ago, a Roman named Lucullus also had tame fish in the ponds of his gardens, which ate from his hand and which, at the call of their keepers, jumped out of the water.
A historian named Pliny, who lived shortly after Lucullus, says that each of these fish had a name and knew it, and that several wore necklaces. But Pliny is a storyteller who likes marvelous stories, and I think the readiness of the fishes to leap out of the water, and the effect of their ornaments, may be doubted, seeing that I do not know. how the fish would go about keeping their collars from slipping over their gills, from head to tail.
What is more certain is that there are very beautiful carp in the pond of the Château de Fontainebleau which are said to be a hundred years old and more, and which come together with their noses out of the water as soon as let's ring a bell. The Chinese also call their pretty golden fish to the sound of the bell. In Ferney, the fish swam towards the gardener when he made the water splash. I knew an owner of tame carp who called them by hissing; as soon as they heard it, they arrived very quickly to receive their ration.
An Englishman, who has visited the islands of the Great Ocean, told me that at Tahiti, where the rivers are full of fish and above all abound in beautiful eels, a young chief had tamed several of them. They lived in large holes, two or three feet deep, partly filled with water; they found or dug there a kind of horizontal galleries, where they usually stayed until they were called. This Englishman said that he had often seen the young chief, seated near one of these holes, whistle with all his might, and almost immediately an enormous eel would appear on the surface and calmly come and eat what his master presented to him.
Finally, the Chinese, very skilful in the art of raising fish, fatten quantities of them in ponds, regularly giving them a ration of fine cut grass evening and morning, as one gives to oxen and horses, to the stable, their fodder ration. They have several very delicate fish, which we do not know, but which we hope to see acclimatize and multiply in France, thanks to the progress that has been made in recent years in pisciculture, that is to say the art of raising fish.
ONE day two little boys who were in the fields passed in front of a garden whose gate was open. They went in out of curiosity, just to look. There was in this garden
several plum trees so laden with ripe fruit that they had been propped up with poles lest the weight break them.
" Oh ! beautiful plums! said Augustus. We could enjoy it without it appearing. There is no one in the garden to see us. Let's pick a branch and run away. — No, said Ernest, the plums are not ours. "What harm will there be?" resumed Augustus. The man who owns them has more than he can eat; he will not notice that he lacks them, there are too many to count. "But it will be wrong to take them," said Ernest,
God forbids it; you know what we have learned in the catechism: The property of others you shall neither take nor withhold unjustly.
If the plums were yours, would you be glad they were stolen? ' '
— No, said Auguste, but plums are such a small thing!
"The thief who spent the other day between two policemen," Ernest went on, "began to steal from any child." You know what our father used to say: "There is no petty theft; whoever gets used to taking a penny will one day take a Napoleon."
Children who live on the shores of the sea know well what a lighthouse is; most have seen it; but those who live in the interior of the country, in the countryside, in the towns of the centre, perhaps do not know what it is. I am going to tell you.
A lighthouse is a high tower built very close to the sea, at the end of a pier; a jetty is a stone construction which juts out into the sea, like a cape or a promontory. There are also lighthouses erected on isolated rocks, all surrounded by water, at some distance from the coast, and which can only be reached by boat. At the very top of the tower there is a small glazed chamber, where are large lamps which are lighted in the evening and which burn all night. It is like a great beacon whose light extends very far. When the vessels approach the coasts in the dark, the sailors see the light of the headlights and know that they indicate a port or a reef: this light helps them to navigate in the darkness, to avoid the shallows, the sandbanks, on which the ship could run aground.
On all the parts of the coasts of France which are dangerous, lighthouses have been built. A man lives there, he lights the lamps and sees that they do not go out.
Often, on a stormy night when neither moon nor stars can be seen, when the vessel is tossed about by furious waves, and the sailors are afraid of seeing it sink at any moment, that is to say, say knock against some rock that would tear him to pieces, a bright light appears in the distance. She bursts like a beautiful star on the black sky. What joy this clarity brings to the poor sailors! The pilot then knows which way to steer the ship. All are sure of not being far from the port where they are to disembark, and of being helped, rescued in case of danger.
A lighthouse keeper had a little girl who had often seen her father light the lamps. One evening when it was very dark, the father, who had gone by boat to the neighboring coast, did not return, and yet the night was dark, the sea roared and the lighthouse was not lit. What would you have done in the place of the little girl? Perhaps you would have cried, calling for your father, who could not hear you.
I'll tell you what the brave child did. There were many steps to climb to get to the very top of the tower; and when she was there, how could she light the lamps alone? She told herself so, but she also thought that the lamps had to be lit; she was afraid; she remembered that before she died her mother had said to her: "My dear little girl, when you are in trouble, pray to the good Lord and ask him to help you." So she knelt down and asked God for help.
When she had finished her prayer, she felt reassured, and she had the courage to climb the long staircase. At times she hoped to find her father upstairs. He had been able to come back without her seeing him. So she climbed to the top of the tower, but her father was not there. Then she thought: “I have often seen Papa light the lamps; I will try to be like him. She did it carefully, carefully, and succeeded. She then sat down on the steps and fell asleep. When his father came back at daybreak, he asked, "Who lit the lamps?" She replied:
"Well, you saved the lives of several people, because a vessel entered the port of the neighboring town last night which would have broken on the rocks but for the light of the lighthouse which guided it... If I I didn't come back last night, it's because I fell while disembarking; I injured my arm and lost consciousness. God be blessed, for having given you such presence of mind! »
Thus, all those who were on board the ship would have perished if not for the courage of a child. Think how happy she must have been!
If that fine little girl hadn't watched how her father did to light the lamps, she wouldn't have been able to light them; if she had not listened when they said why these lamps were lit, and what they were used for; if she had not been courageous, patient, trusting in God, she would have remained, like you, like me, perhaps, terrified, alone, in this great tower, without daring to move, without doing anything; and then it is probable that the vessel and all who were on board would have perished.
You see by this story that a young child, girl or boy, can sometimes make himself very useful, if he is observant, attentive, reflective and pious; that is, loving God, praying to him and trusting in him.
PRAY, AND YOU WILL BE ANSWERED.
Many of you, my children, know the river which flows through Paris and which is called the Seine. Well, if you always followed its edges in the direction where the water goes, you would pass by many pretty villages, then, by a large city called Rouen, and you would finally arrive at the place where the Seine throws it into the sea. Don't imagine that it just happens.
The sea swells, rises once in twelve hours along the coast, drives back the water of the river, and being higher than the Seine, the tide, as the rising sea is called, pushes before her a wave as high as a house, and which runs as fast as a galloping horse once it has crossed the bar, that is to say a barrier of rocks and sand which accumulate at the entrance to the river. These are called banes. At low tide, that is to say when the tide recedes, these banks are seen in the open; shells, especially mussels, remain attached to it.
It's time to go get them, but as the sailors have left for the big fishing that is done far away, their wives get into the boats and go pick up the mussels. We see them rowing, approaching the banks, detaching the shells which hold firm, with a curved iron shovel called a dredge. They put them in a net. They are often in water up to their knees, and they must not be amused, because when the sea has dropped for a while, it starts to rise again, and woe to anyone who lets himself be surprised by She. This is what almost happened recently. Mussel boats had left Honfleur, with women and a few men on board; the harvest done, they were setting out again, when a boat, which had remained the last on the bank, suddenly broke under the weight of twenty-two persons. The waves were still getting bigger, the water was getting deeper and deeper, and the bench on which the poor castaways were standing was going to disappear, because the sea was still rising. What do you think they could do to get out of such great danger? The other boats had left. Who could hear them and help them?
One who always has an open ear to prayer; the one who is the patron saint and the star of the sailors. You immediately thought of God and the Blessed Virgin. They too thought of it, and prayed wholeheartedly to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, which has a chapel nearby. They asked him to save them, or, if they were to die there, to obtain for them the forgiveness of their sins. The sea was still rising; another ten minutes, and she would carry them off. But now, in the middle of the white foam that surrounded them, they see a black dot. This point grows, approaches; it was a fishing boat, named the Protégé de Marie (an auspicious name), which came to their aid in the midst of a thousand dangers. He had seen them with a telescope, while he waited for the tide. to enter the port of Honfleur. He collected and saved from certain death eighteen women and four men.
Do you see the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, over there, at the very top of the hill? This procession of pilgrims who climb barefoot to thank God and the Blessed Virgin for having preserved their life, it is the poor people who saw death so close, and many more who prayed and who miraculously escaped the great waters.
What do you notice in this story, my children? Is there not great courage in exposing themselves as these poor women do, to go, in the absence of their husbands, to look for something to feed their children, and to support their families by selling their fish? ? Don't you think the owner of the boat should have made sure it was solid before risking his life and that of others? But see above all the goodness of God, who said: "Ask and you will receive, pray and you will be heard." »
POOR AND RICH.
Martin was a little boy who earned his bread running errands; one day when he was returning from a village very far from his own, he felt weary, and rested under a large tree at the door of an inn, on the high road. As he sat there eating a piece of dry bread he had brought for his dinner, he saw a beautiful carriage arrive in which was a young man and his tutor. The innkeeper ran up immediately, and asked the travelers if they wanted to get off, but they replied that they had no time, and asked that they be brought a cold chicken, a bottle of Bordeaux wine and a carafe of 'water.
Martin considered them very attentively; then he looked at his crust of dry bread, his old jacket and his torn cap, and he could not help sighing and saying in a low voice: “Ah! if only I were that rich young man, instead of being poor little messenger Martin! What luck, if I could be in his place and he in mine! The tutor overheard what Martin was saying, and repeated it to his pupil, who, then leaning at the door, beckoned Martin to approach.
"You would be very glad, it seems, my boy, to be able to change places with me, would you not?" 'I beg your pardon, sir,' replied Martin, blushing, 'if I said that it wasn't that I meant you any harm. 'So I'm not angry with you,' replied the young man. 'On the contrary, I'd like nothing better than to exchange my lot for yours. - Oh! you're kidding, continued Martin, no one would want to be in my place, much less a handsome and rich young man like you. I am obliged to travel several leagues a day, and it is rare that I have anything else to eat but dry bread and potatoes, while you are riding in a carriage and you can eat chicken and drink wine. . "Well," resumed the rich young man, "if you want to give me all that you have and that I don't have, I will give you, with all my heart, in exchange, all that I have." Martin opened his eyes wide, and he didn't know what to say, but the tutor continued: "Do you consent to the change?" "Yes, certainly," exclaimed Martin, "if it's for good." Will the people back home be surprised to see me arrive in this beautiful big carriage! And Martin burst out laughing at the idea of his triumphal entry into his village.
The young man called his servants, who opened the door and helped him out. But what was Martin's surprise when he saw that he had one wooden leg and the other was so weak that he could not use it!
He was forced to lean on two crutches: on looking at him more closely, Martin perceived that he was very pale, and that he had the complexion and face of a patient.
He smiled benevolently at the little messenger, and said to him: "Well, my boy, would you still like to change with me?" Would you, if you could, give up your good, strong legs, your rosy cheeks, for the pleasure of being dragged around in the carriage, and wearing a nice coat? - Oh! no, not for the whole world, replied Martin. "Me," said the young man, "I would willingly consent to be poor, with the free use of my limbs." But as the will of God is that I be lame and sickly, I try to take my troubles patiently; I try to be cheerful and grateful for the goods that God in his goodness has left me.
“Do the same, my little friend, and remember that if you are poorly dressed, and if you are lean, you have health, strength, which are better than a car and horses, and that the Money can neither buy nor give. »
THE CRACKED VASE
A week after Frank's mother had given him the two palm balls, she came to the room where he was playing. He had been there all alone until his mother entered. She held in her hand a beautiful bouquet of red and white carnations.
" Oh! they are pretty and they smell good! Frank exclaimed, nuzzling them as his mother showed them to him. You have to put them in water. Would you like, Mom, that I help you put them away in the flower vase?
- Yes my dear; bring me the porcelain vase which is on the little table, we will put them in it. »
She sat down; Frank ran to the table to pick up the vase.
"There's no water, Mom," Frank said.
"We'll put some on," her mother answered. Well, why don't you bring it?
'Mom,' said Frank, 'it's because I'm afraid to touch it, because there's a slit all the way through the pot; when I only touch it with my fingertip, it jerks, and I believe that if I pick it up, it will fall apart. »
His mother got up, and approached the small table in front of which Frank had remained; she looked at the vase, and saw that it was completely split; when she picked it up, it fell to pieces.
"That vase wasn't broken last night," she said; I remember that when I took some faded reseda out of it, there wasn't a crack in it.
'I saw it too, Mama; I was with you.
"I'm not asking you, my dear Frank, if you broke that vase: I believe that if that had happened to you, you would have come to tell me right away, like when you broke the pane of the window."
'But mother,' said Frank quickly, looking at his mother with all his eyes, 'I didn't break the vase; I didn't just touch him; I played with my softball, as you told me; take a look: here it is, my ball, the one I've been playing with all morning.
'I believe you, my child,' replied his mother, 'because you told me the truth when it came to the pane of glass. »
At that moment, Frank's father came into the room, and Frank asked him if he had broken or cracked the flower vase.
“No, he answered, I don't know what you mean. »
Frank's mother rang, and when the maid appeared she asked if she had broken the flower vase.
“No, madame, it is not I,” replied the maid; and, having made this answer, she left the room.
"Now, my dear Frank," said the father, "you see one of the advantages of telling the truth: because you told the truth about the broken window, you also told the truth about the horse you saw. down the alley, I can't help but believe you're telling the truth now. I don't think you broke that flower vase, since you tell me you didn't break it.
'But, Dad, I'd like whoever broke it to tell you or Mum, because then you'd be fine, of course it wasn't me. Do you think it was the right one who did it?
- No, I do not believe it, because she just told me it was not her, and she always told me the truth. »
While Frank's mother was talking, she was examining the pieces of the flower vase, and she noticed that near the break one of the sides of the vase was blackened, she rubbed the black, saw that it came off very easily, and said “It looks like lampblack.
"I remember now," said the father, "that yesterday evening I sealed a letter on that little table, and I remember that I left the candle burning very close to the flower-vase, while I I was going to give the letter I had just sealed to the man who was waiting for it. Coming back I blew out the candle, and I didn't notice if the flower vase was blackened or cracked. I think now that it is very probable that it was the heat of the flame which caused it to crack.
"Let's see if there's any candle on the pieces," said Frank; for it may have fallen on the vase while it was melting, as sealing-wax fell on my fingers the other evening. »
Frank examined the pieces of the flower vase; and on one of them, near the place which was blackened with smoke, he found a drop of round wax.
“Now I'm perfectly sure,” said his father, “that it was my fault that the accident happened; I had put the lit candle too close to the porcelain.
- Oh ! How glad I am that we have found the truth! Frank said.
THE INVISIBLE FRIEND.
Daniel Bryan, an old Irish sailor, served under Sir Sydney Smith, aboard the flagship the Tiger, during the Syrian campaign in 1799. During the siege of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, this brave veteran repeatedly asked to be employed ashore.
As he was old and a little deaf, his request was not granted. At the first terrible assault which the French delivered on the place, one of their generals was killed and remained among the dead. The Turks cut off the head of this unfortunate officer, and after inhumanly mutilating the body with their sabers, they left it exposed to become the food of stray dogs. After a few days, this rotting corpse presented a hideous spectacle, a frightening example of the horrors of war. When the sailors detached ashore came back on board, they were asked if the general's body was still there? "Yes," they replied. Daniel exclaimed, "Why didn't you bury him?" "Faith! go there yourself and take care of it. "That's what I'll do, on my soul!" said Daniel, "for I was a prisoner of the French, and I have always seen them respect dead enemies, and give them honorable funerals, while the Turks let Christians rot like filthy beasts!" »
The next day, having obtained permission to visit the city, Daniel put on his best clothes and left in the canoe with the marine surgeon. An hour or two later, Daniel entered a ward of the hospital, and in his rounded, brusque manner, he said to the surgeon who was dressing the wounded Turks: “Here is my job done; I buried the general, and now I come to see the sick. Worried that the sailor might catch the plague, the medical officer ordered him out and paid little heed to his words; but the men in the canoe had seen it at work, and related how it happened. Old Daniel had procured a pickaxe, a shovel and a rope. He had insisted on being lowered through one of the openings in the wall, close to the breach. Some of his companions wanted to follow him: "No, no," he told them, "you are still too young to die of a bullet, I am old and deaf, the loss will not be great." Persisting despite the gunfight, Daniel: was suspended and lowered to the foot of the breach, with his tools on his back. The first obstacle, and it was not the least, was to keep the dogs away. The French recognized the red uniform, and took aim at it. They were about to fire when an officer, guessing the pious intentions of the sailor, threw himself in front of the guns. The clanking of weapons, the thunder of cannonade, ceased for a moment. There was a solemn silence, and the dam man was able to accomplish his task.
He dug the grave, laid the corpse there, covered it with earth, placed a large stone at the head, another at the feet, and taking a piece of chalk from his pocket, he wrote on this improvised grave: "Here lies a brave! He was again hoisted into the town with his shovel and pickaxe, and the fire began again.
Informed of this incident, Sir Sidney summoned the veteran to his cabin. 'Well, Daniel,' he said to him, 'I hear that you buried the French general? “Yes, Admiral. "Was there anyone with you?" “Yes, Admiral. "I was told you were alone?" - Oh ! that no! I had a friend with me. "Who was this friend?" "It was God!"
EXCURSIONS IN A LITTLE-KNOWN WORLD.
THE WOUNDED, THE DOCTOR, A DESERT ISLAND.
It was a beautiful summer morning; the night had been stormy, and the dawn rain crowned each blade of grass with a sparkling diadem; it trickled in innumerable trickles over the gravel, polishing and shining every grain of sand: one would have said it was a vast casket poured out with a liberal hand over all nature; pearls and diamonds shone everywhere, all the more shimmering as they were more fugitive and more mobile. There was in the vegetation, among the insects, in the air, on the ground, an activity, a life which communicated itself to me. I was aware of crossing animated worlds, populations in a hurry to repair the disasters of the night.
I bent down to better see what was swarming on the ground. An army of working women paraded in good order, under the leadership of their leaders. There were female inspectors walking back and forth along the column, keeping it in a single line, pioneers marching in front to smooth the way, scouts preceding it, finally stragglers at the tail, no more no less than in human armies.
Blind instrument of fate, I had unknowingly punished the least for their careless slowness; my foot, placed haphazardly, had bruised, bruised, injured some. At first stunned by this gigantic pressure, they remained motionless for a moment, then the elasticity of the ground and its coolness coming to their aid, they regained the use of their legs and resumed walking. Only one, more seriously injured, remained behind. The whole posterior part, attached to the corselet by such a slender thread, seemed seriously compromised: the loins seemed to me broken.
I have always thought with Shakespeare that a ciron can suffer as much as an elephant. I was therefore moved with pity for the poor little being who had so inadvertently found himself in my way. I wanted to help him. But how? the slightest touch of my fingers would have sufficed to finish him off. However, he lay there, isolated and patient. I was angry with his companions for forgetting him like this: it was a rash judgment, like most of those we form by accusing. An ant, detached from the bulk of the army, passed a short distance; she seemed in search of something or someone; from time to time she would stop, raise her head, move her antennae, then start searching again. She finally arrived near the poor wounded man, who obviously retained all his consciousness. The antennae moved, crossed each other, touched each other on several occasions: we know that these slender and mobile threads which stand on the heads of the ants are their organs, if not of language, at least of communication. After a rather long dialogue in which I like to believe that affectionate words, tender consolations were exchanged, the new arrival left, leaving the patient once again to her isolation and her suffering. A second, a third, came and did exactly the same. Were they simply visits of condolence? was the case hopeless? I was beginning to fear him when I saw the two ants coming back, bringing a third. I would not affirm that these were the latest arrivals, not being yet sufficiently familiar with the individual physiognomy of the formic race; but I have every reason to think so. As for their companion, he was certainly a personage considerable for his skill or his knowledge; they gave way to him: he advanced alone towards the wounded man, spoke curtly, moving only with majestic slowness, and seeming rather to question than to discourse. He then examined the diseased part, felt it delicately with the tips of his antennae, which he then used as levers to lift the kidneys, while his patient assisted him and helped himself as best he could. I do not know what skilful operation performed this wise Aesculapius, but so much so that the ant straightened up and walked, while limping a little. At that moment, I almost saw glasses, a cane and a golden snuffbox on this emeritus doctor, this Marjolin of a new world.
This little scene had given me a taste for observation, I continued my walk on the ground, and wasted no time in discovering a new subject of interest and curiosity. The rain, filling the ruts of the path, formed torrents, sometimes as rapid and as tumultuous as those of the Alps, carrying, in the guise of tree trunks and rocks, strands of wood, bark, and even rocks. One of these, carried away at first by the violence of the current, had encountered a mass of gravel at the bottom of the stream, which had stopped it in the middle. This floating island had settled down. It was an arid, bare rock; barely a few hollows, carpeted with a rare yellow lichen, offered insufficient shelter from the heat of the sun. At first sight one would have thought the island was deserted, but not! I soon discovered there an animated, living, suffering being: a poor castaway, having more than Robinson the anxieties and torments of maternal solicitude. An ant wandered desolate on this burning surface. Clinging to the roughness of the stone, she descended the cliffs steeply, dipped her antennae in the water, and climbed painfully towards a small cavity where an infant was deposited, wrapped in a thin, white singlet, which she moistened gently to sustain a numb, feeble life within. She then took between her paws, like a nurse in her arms, the little thing, and resumed exploring the country. From time to time she would stop, drop her burden on the ground, climb a promontory half a centimeter high, and gaze into the distance. Alas! she did not even see, like my sister Anne, the powdery sun and the green grass! not a shrub, not a plant animated the solitude of the desert.
However, the water was still rising: stopped by the stone, which formed a dyke and impeded the torrent in its course, the foamy waves collided, hurried, threatening to invade the ground. The puny little creature seemed to understand the danger; she ran hither and thither, distraught, agitated, taking turns carrying and letting go the little white, motionless cotton, child in a bathing suit whose head and feet could not be seen. The pantomime of the poor nurse became more and more expressive. On the bank opposite to that which the raging waves were already scaling, the low, calm water was more accessible. A slender rod of straw, swirling with the waves, washed up against the shore; placed across the river, it almost reached the other side: I hadn't noticed it, but the ant had seen it before me. Thrilling with hope and dread, she ventures a trembling step on this movable bridge; then she stepped back, ran to fetch her infant, and sometimes pulling it, sometimes pushing it, she embarked it with her on the frail raft. The journey was perilous; twenty times the child and the nurse nearly rolled into the abyss; but, as if Providence had wanted to reward constancy and devotion, even in such a frail being, a slight eddy of the current pushed the straw, which landed with its passengers on the other bank, where I soon saw them disappear under the bushy shade of a grassy forest. They doubtless found there the necessary rest after such labours, and were able, I hope, to rejoin the people who had provided me with two interesting episodes in a space of one square foot, and within an interval of ten minutes. My sympathy for the liberating ant grew still further when I learned later from a learned naturalist that she was not the mother, but only the guardian, the nurse of the little jersey he had saved at the risk of his life.
What I have told I have seen, and if my story found incredulous people who, measuring their esteem by their height, treated my heroines with disdain from the height of their grandeur, I would answer them with these verses of the poet:
The mountain eagle one day said to the sun:
"Why shine lower than this vermilion summit?
What is the use of lighting up these meadows, these dark gorges;
To smear your rays on the grass in these shadows?
The imperceptible moss is unworthy of you!...
─ Bird, said the sun, come and ride with me!..."
The eagle, with the ray soaring in the cloud,
Saw the mountain melt and fall at his sight,
And when he had reached his new horizon,
To his confused eye everything seemed level.
"Well! said the sun, you see, superb bird,
If for me the mountain is higher than the grass.
Nothing is big or small in front of my giant eyes:
The drop of water paints me like the oceans;
Of everything that sees me, I am the star and the life:
Like the haughty cedar the grass glorifies me:
I warm the ant there, nights I drink the tears there,
My ray perfumes itself there while trailing on the flowers!
And so it is that God, who alone is his measure,
With one eye for all equal sees all nature!...
Dear children, bless, if your heart understands,
This eye which sees the insect and for which everything is great.
THE OLD PARALYTIC.
About six years ago a poor woman in the village where we live in the summer was stricken with paralysis following a violent grief caused by the departure of her last son who had fallen into conscription. The news of his misfortune shocked us. “What a sad existence! we said. What! seeing oneself deprived of speech, of a part of movement, having no longer any means of expressing one's thoughts, dragging out a languid life, a burden on oneself and on others, expecting everything from others: what more miserable ! ah! better would be a thousand times death! »
Alas! we reasoned with our worldly, blind and limited wisdom. From this cruel situation, the miseries of which seemed so great to us, God drew innumerable sweetnesses. Not only is the poor paralytic not sad, but she is joyful: her eyes beam with gaiety; she accepts and blesses the destiny that God has made for her. Her language can only form a sound, a syllable that has no meaning, but the accent she puts on it makes it a hymn of gratitude and love. Welcomed for three months of the year by each of her children, who share the sweet task of housing her, feeding her, carried to take the air in the arms of her sons or her sons-in-law, because she cannot walking, surrounded by her grandchildren who play beside her, she has only one sorrow, it is when the day arrives when another of her daughters claims her, and when she must leave the one who takes care of her, and near which it is always best. She shows tenderly the good bed she occupies, the warm clothes that cover her. All this she owes to her children, and the blessings which cannot reach her lips crowd into her heart.
Oh ! yes, she is great and blessed, this poor peasant. Great by her submission, by her faith, by the way in which she enjoys the goods that God has left her when she is better. All those who approach her become all the more loving, all the better because she needs them more, because they have more duties to fulfill towards her. Thus this disease was a source of blessings for the patient and for her family.
May this example, my dear children, inspire you with boundless confidence in the goodness of God, complete resignation to his will, and the desire to return to your infirm and old parents some of the care you received from them in your childhood!
RECIPE FOR MAINTAINING THE CONCORDE
The teacher, the pupils, during recess.
Mary ─ What are we going to do? It's raining cats and dogs. Impossible to venture into the garden, and
it's so boring to be reduced to walking around under the cloisters.
Elise ─ You were complaining just yesterday that we weren't left there, and that we had to, willingly,
unwillingly, go play in the garden.
Marie ─ The sun hurt my head.
Elise ─ Couldn't you walk under the lime trees?
Marie ─ No: it was too dark there.
Elise ─ Wow! you are never satisfied with anything: you always complain.
Marie ─ Anyway, I'm not the only one.
Elise ─ This is all the sadder.
The Mistress ─ Is it not, by chance, that all these discontents are neither due to the rain nor to the sun, but have their source in you, my dear child?
Marie ─ I don't think so; because I would like nothing better than to be happy and to have fun like the others.
The mistress. - In truth! Oh! so be sure that you will not be sad or sullen for long. It just takes a little good will. Let's look around us: there's Adele jumping with pleasure when she sees the rain falling that puts you in such a bad mood; I wager that she finds in it a source of joy which eludes us. Let's go ask him.
Married. "So what's so gratifying, Adele, about being locked up here?"
Adele. - Oh ! I think of my flowerbed, which the sun had dried up yesterday. All my flowers tilted their heads sadly: this good little rain will revive them, and tonight it will be a pleasure to see them reborn, to smell the smell of roses, carnations!
Marie, spitefully - Me, I don't have a floor.
Adele. "Do you want half of mine?" we will cultivate it together.
THE MISTRESS, to Marie. - I advise you to accept, if only to convince you that the rain can sometimes be welcome.
(Two students, Gabrielle and Louise, approach quickly.)
Gabriella. "I'm right, madam, and Mlle. Justine's dress is blue, isn't it?"
Louisa. - At all! She is lilac.
Mistress.—That, indeed, is a fine subject of dispute!
Gabriella. "But I'm sure it's blue."
The mistress. — Suppose it is lilac glazed with blue. Is it believable that you quarrel over the color of a dress?
Gabriella. "Louise is so stubborn!" Just now, again, she maintained that I had her basket, because unfortunately my work basket resembles hers.
Louise, in a low voice. “I support him, and always will.
The mistress. "I see with regret that you are much more advanced in the science of yours and mine than was a worthy anchorite, whose life I read this morning."
Elise. — Anchorite; what a singular word! what is an anchorite, madam?
The mistress. — A man who seeks solitude, who lives in retirement.
Gabriella. "Like the Desert Fathers?"
The mistress. - Precisely. One of these early Christians, who for years had been living in the depths of Thebaid, one day received a visit from a traveller. The solitary asked the newcomer what was going on in this world he had left:
“Are there still cities? he asked her, do justice and charity finally reign among men?
— Alas! answered the traveler, they encounter great obstacles, which men themselves raise up for them. Everything is a matter of quarrel, and every day there arises a host of disputes about everything.
"I don't quite understand you," interrupted the anchorite. So what is a dispute?
"It's easy to explain," continued the traveler. Here is a stone that I lay between us: suppose it belongs to you; I come, and I say that she is mine.
"Well, take it," replied the holy man.
"I see that you have not understood me," continued the traveler. This time, I'll take your coat as an example, which is yours, since it covers your shoulders, and you have no other garment to protect you from rain and sun. I take it and make it my own.
- Oh! how charmed I am! said the hermit; this coat has long been a useless luxury to me. I am made for the bad weather of the air and the seasons: I no longer feel them, while you must suffer from them. »
The traveler lost his troubles and was never able to enlighten the charity of the hermit on the nature of a dispute.
Try this recipe, my dear young friends; give in to what is disputed with you, and you will see amenity, benevolence, replace bitterness and discord.
Gabriella. — Certainly, Miss Justine's dress could well be lilac.
Louisa. — Yes, a lilac verging on blue.
Gabriella. — And since our baskets are alike, let's swap them. Here, Louise, here's the one you asked for.
Louisa. "She's not mine, I see that now." This one is much newer and prettier.
Gabriella. "Then do me the pleasure of accepting it, as a pledge of peace."
I DO NOT WANT.
One day when I was passing on the road, I heard two little boys talking very loudly: "No," said one in a firm voice; I do not want. I stopped and asked: "What don't you want to do, my little man?" “I don't want Mom to think I'm home from school, because that's not true. I know she will scold me, but I'd rather be scolded than lie. "And you're right," I told him. He's a brave child. I gave him a handshake, while the other boy, who was advising him to excuse himself with a lie, left with his head bowed and looking ashamed.
A few months later, passing through the same village and dealing with the schoolmaster, I entered the class where I quickly recognized my two acquaintances on the road; the one who hadn't wanted to lie smiled at me, while the other avoided looking at me. As the master was driving me home, I asked him about his two pupils: "Oh," he said to me, speaking of the first, "he's an excellent subject, a little stubborn, but frank, honest, always ready to agree on his wrongs, and, what is better, quick to repair them! the other, on the contrary, constantly apologizes; he has never done wrong and therefore never corrects himself. He is cowardly, intractable and a liar. 'I'm not surprised,' I said, 'I had already taken out the horoscopes of these two children,' and I told him what 'I had heard.
A regiment of Egyptian troops, going to conquer Nubia, was crossing the desert. The skins being almost empty, each man was only allowed a small ration of water. They were suffering cruelly from thirst, when they saw at some distance a beautiful lake, whose limpid waters bathed the foot of the sand dunes. They ordered the Arab who served as their guide to lead them on the hour towards these so desired waters. “Alas! he answered them, your eyes deceive you. There is neither spring nor lake there; it's a mirage that would lose you, taking you away from the true road. »
Exasperated by the suffering, the soldiers insisted; and as the guide refused, they came to blows, and killed the man who alone could lead them through the desert. All the soldiers rushed in the direction where the water appeared; they walked for a long time exhausted and dying of thirst. Their feet sank deeper and deeper into the burning sands; their fiery breath parched their throats; the farther they went from the beaten path, where the guide lay in his blood, the more the lake, close to the eyes, far from the lips, seemed to recede; the more the deceptive waters shone in the sun as if to invite them to bathe their weary limbs in it. Finally the mirage paled, then faded away. In place of the fatal lake lay the burning sand; then the devouring thirst, the horrible despair, seized the men lost in this desert. They thought of the murdered guide; they had committed a crime, and they were going to die! Not one escaped; the Arabs sent to look for them found nothing but desiccated corpses strewn on the ground.
This story strikes me as a striking image of what our evil inclinations can do to us. Like the mirage of the desert, they tempt and seduce us with the most beautiful appearances. A wise guide warns us of danger, but we close our hearts and ears to his words, and if we don't murder him, we break with him, and we leave the good road to rush down the wrong, where illusions dissipate, and where we find only despair and death.
Children, do not believe in deceptive promises, Which tempting spirits will often make to you; Always close your ears to treacherous words Which seduce the mind and corrupt the heart.
One day Robert's mother sent him on an errand for her. He went off with a rather sullen air; when he came back, she said to him: "Robert, you have to go get my work basket for me again, in my room." Then Robert muttered between his teeth: "Always errands to do!" It's very boring, I wish I wasn't a little boy! »
His mother heard him; and she was grieved; when he had brought her her basket, she said to him: "Thank you, I have nothing more for you to do." Robert took a book and went into the garden. He sat down under a cradle of jasmine and honeysuckle that his father had planted for him, and he began to read.
This pretty cradle, and the bench which had been placed there, reminded him of the kindness of his parents; he regretted the lack of haste he had shown in making himself useful to his mother. This thought disturbed him and he paid no attention to his reading. Little by little the book slipped from his hands and slipped to the ground; his head bent down and he fell asleep.
Often one dreams while sleeping; that's what happened to Robert. So he dreamed that he lived in a little house, two or three leagues away, he was there alone with his mother; she asked him to fetch a bucket of water from the fountain, and as he went he murmured: "A bucket of water is very heavy!" do i have to wear it every day? what a hard life I lead! »
Then he dreamed that he saw a big cat lying in the sun in front of the door. "Here is one who has nothing to do, he thought, it must be convenient and amusing." I would love to be a cat! »
No sooner had he said this than he felt an extraordinary urge to get down on all fours. His body became smaller and smaller, his nails turned into claws at the tips of his fingers; he felt covered with thick fur: in short, he had become a perfect cat. He walked for a minute or two on all fours, stretched, meowed, purred to make sure he was really a cat; then he went to lie down in the sun to sleep. He said to himself, closing his eyes: 'Well, I won't be going to fetch water from the fountain any more; I will only have to rest day and night. A cat is truly a happy beast! »
However, he soon woke up, he was very hungry. His first thought was to go, as usual, to ask his mother for a slice of bread and butter. He entered the house, looked at her pitifully, meowing; but she paid no attention to it: he mewed louder, she paid no more attention to it; then Mr. Minet impatiently jumped on a sofa, and began to tear it with his claws. His mother opened the door, took a broom, and pushed him out, saying, "Come on, you naughty cat!" and don't come back. Robert, with a heavy heart, thought he must try to catch mice, or starve. He went down to the cellar, which was very dark, and stood in front of a small hole dug in the wall.
He waited there for over an hour. Finally, a little mouse showed its nose. Robert stretched out his paw, but since he hadn't practiced his cat much, he missed the mouse, which burrowed into its hole, where it was safe.
Robert waited a long time; the mouse did not reappear. "This hunt is not as easy as I thought it would be," he said to himself. It's even worse than carrying water. However, I would like to find something to eat! I see that being a cat is hardly better than being a little boy. »
At that moment, he heard a loud noise in the yard. He quickly climbed the cellar stairs to see what was making that noise. It was the cow mooing for someone to milk her. She was a beautiful cow, so big and fat that you could tell they were giving her more hay and boiled potatoes than she could eat.
“Spending the whole day in the green fields, doing nothing but drinking, grazing, and lying under the trees, must make a pleasant life. I would like to be a cow!...”
Immediately, he felt visibly fattening. It seemed to him that something was growing on his forehead, he put his paw there, although with difficulty, for his paw had changed into a long stiff leg; he noticed that he was growing large horns. Before his leg had touched the ground, his cat's claws had turned into hooves. He was transformed into a cow. He beat his sides with his tail, and began to graze the grass of the yard, until he had had his fill; he then said to himself: "In truth, that's better than watching mice all day long in an ugly dark cellar!" A cow passes her time very well. »
After the cow Robert was milked, it was taken to a dark stable; they passed a rope round his neck, and tied him short to an empty rack where, instead of fodder, there were cobwebs. “Am I going to stay here all night tied up? thought Robert. He had to resign himself.
The next morning they took him out to pasture. The boy, in charge of taking him there, kicked him with his stick if he strayed to the right or to the left. Once in the meadow, he was assailed by the flies which stung and bit him. He tried to drive them away with his tail, but they came back more fiercely. The bigger, more harmful ones found ways to attach themselves to his skin where he couldn't reach them. In the evening, as he was returning to the stable, nasty rogues threw a dog at him, and harassed him in a rough manner. “Oh! he said, it's a terrible thing to be a cow! »
At this moment the dog, tired of barking, went away. " Oh ! if I were only a dog! sighed Robert. A dog can defend itself. He can eat his fill, and has nothing to do. Definitely I would rather be a dog! »
No sooner said than done. Robert became more slender and smaller; its horns fell off, its hooves became paws again, its body was covered with smooth, shiny hair. 'He had grown into a beautiful black dog, with hanging ears, a trumpet tail, and an elegant brass collar around his neck.
He wandered the roads for half an hour, with great satisfaction; then he went back to the house. The scene had changed, a very fine courtyard preceded the house where his master lived. He ran there eager and hungry, but he was not allowed to enter even the kitchen; a servant threw him a bone to gnaw. " What ! just a bone! Robert thought to himself. He gnawed at it, however, thinking that it was a pittance, but he who sleeps dines, and he wanted to go to bed. Alas! there was no bed for him! The servant who had given him a bone took him by his collar and led him into the yard, where he tied him near the entrance gate, recommending him to watch out for thieves.
Robert spent a sad night. There came no thieves,
He heard several people approaching, he immediately stood up on his hind legs against the railing and barked, for it was early in the morning, although it was barely daylight. Five to six men drove a huge animal: a big elephant. They were taking him to the next town to show him, and they had set out early so that no one would see him without paying. "That would suit me," said Robert. "That elephant is lounging about like a great lord. am I in your place!”
He was still talking while his nose lengthened in the shape of a trunk; his body swelled beyond measure; its legs widened like poles; in place of his shiny black hair, he felt a coarse, coarse, greyish skin spreading over his body, and he found himself walking along the road, carrying a man seated on his head.
They arrived at a large barn where the admirable animal was to be shown to the public. The elephant Robert then had a lunch of carrots and potatoes. Soon after the spectators came running, there was a crowd. Robert had half an hour of good time, during which he walked around the barn several times, carrying children on his tusks; he then took his mahout by the head and put it back on his back; he picked up nuts and pieces of brioche with his finger and thumb from the tip of his trunk; he uncorked a bottle of wine, and emptied the contents into his mouth; he lay down and got up at the order of his mahout. However, he felt tired, and when he was ordered to lie down, he decided that he would not get up, but the mahout demonstrated to him by blows that, admirable as he was, he could not act as he pleased: the man was the master, he the slave. New troops of onlookers came endlessly. Robert, forced to repeat the same exercises fifty times over, was exhausted. He could barely stand on his big legs, and when they let him go to bed for good in the evening, he thought sadly that he would have to start again the next day and the day after, and so on all the time. the year; then he was seized with despair. “How stupid I was to want to be an elephant! he says to him. I would prefer anything to the hard life I lead. And after so much work to be so poorly housed; to have such a small window for such a big elephant! and he looked at the little square hole in the barn wall. Over there he saw a green tree growing in the garden behind the wall. A little bird, perched on one of the branches, was singing its evening song.
“Oh! merry little friend, it is you who are having a good time; you are free as air, happy as a king. The table is always set for you, you taste the cherries before they are picked; your house is a pretty little nest placed at the top of the tree, where the wind rocks you, and where no danger reaches you. A flapping wing takes you where you want to go. Ah! If I only had wings, I could escape all my enemies! »
His long trunk, which he had folded over his legs, straightened, hardened, shortened, and became a long beak; feathers sprouted, his enormous body shrunk to the size of an ox, then to that of a sheep; finally, he did not become bigger than a pigeon, pretty wings covered his sides, he hopped on the floor, and feeling like a real bird, he took off and flew out the window, far, far away from the ugly barn.
He spent a very pleasant night among the trees; the next day he was singing at the top of his voice at dawn. A man entered the wood; he was holding something in his hand. Robert looked at him, happy to think that no one could catch him or hurt him, now that he had wings. The man lowered a kind of long cane, and took aim. Robert then saw that it was a gun; seized with great fright he wanted to spread his wings, but boom! Bang!! the shot went off and the poor bird fell, his wing and leg broken; a dozen pellets had lodged in his chest; its pretty plumage was all bloody. Pain and fear awoke Robert, who found himself sitting under the cradle; her book, which had slipped from her hand, was on the ground at her feet.
His dream had made him see that every position has its advantages and its disadvantages; he says to himself that a good spirit must apply himself to enjoying good things and to putting up with bad things; and that the fate of a little boy, who has good parents and reason to behave, is a thousand times preferable to the condition of animals, who have only instinct to guide them, were this little boy to be busy all day doing her mother's errands.
So he returned home, determined to correct himself and never be sullen again.
THE CHILD, THE ANGEL AND THE FLOWER.
When a wise and good child dies, an angel descends to earth, takes the dead child in his arms, and, spreading his white wings, flies over all the places the child has loved during his short life. life; from time to time he bends down to pick flowers, which he brings to God, so that in heaven they bloom even more beautifully than here below. God receives all the flowers, but he chooses one of them and brings it to his lips, and when the divine lips have touched it, the chosen flower finds a voice and sings in the choirs of the blessed. Now, listen to what the angel told the dead child who heard him as in a dream. First they hovered over the house where the child had played, then over smiling gardens full of flowers.
“Which one will I take to plant it in the sky? asked the angel.
There was a beautiful rose bush that was once straight, firm, slender; but a wicked hand had broken its stem, and all its branches, covered with gay buds, hung withered.
“The poor tree! said the child; take it, good angel, that it may, in heaven, bloom again near God! »
The angel took it and kissed the child, who half opened his eyes. They picked brilliant flowers, then also the humble daisy and the wood violet.
Their harvest seemed done, and yet they were not flying to God. Night came, all was silent, and the child and his celestial guide were still lingering above the great city. They flew across one of its narrowest streets strewn with straw and ashes, for it was the 21st of April; scattered there were fragments of plates, broken glasses, rags, all sorts of rubbish. Among these debris, the angel distinguished the shards of a flowerpot from which a clod of earth half protruded, from which hung the long roots of a faded field flower which seemed unable to grow green again: thrown out on the street as useless and dead.
"It is well worth picking up," said the angel; let's take it away, and, while flying, I'll tell you the story of the flower.
“Over there, in the narrow winding street, lived a little boy, a poor and sick child, bedridden as soon as he could walk. When he felt better, all he could do was walk up and down, on his crutches, in his little room. On some summer days, the sun's rays penetrated the narrow, dark cell for half an hour. Seated near the window, warmed by the sun, the child, without having the fatigue of walking, imagined he was out for a walk; he only knew of the forest, of the fresh greenery of spring, the beech branch which the neighbour's son had picked for him. He hung the verdant branch above his head, and, believing himself under the trees sheltered from the sun, he dreamed of the sweet song of the birds. One day, the neighbour's son brought him wild flowers, and by chance he found one that still had its root; the little boy planted it in a pot and put it on the window, near his bed. The flower, planted by a blessed hand, grew, grew, and bore other flowers every year. She was the whole parterre of the little patient, his treasure here below; he watered it, cared for it, loved it; he saw to it that she had all the rays of the sun, to the very last, sliding on the low window. The flower was also with him in his dreams, for it was for him that it bloomed, that it spread its sweet perfume, that it displayed its gay colors; he turned to her again at the hour when the Lord called him.
“Today he has been living close to God for a year; her beloved flower, forgotten since that time at the window, languished, withered, then was thrown into the street. And yet this despised, withered flower is the honor of our bouquet. She gave more pleasure, she gave more joy than all the splendid parterres of a royal garden.
"How do you know all this?" asked the child the angel was carrying to heaven.
'I know it,' replied the angel, 'because I was the sick little one who walked on crutches; how could I not recognize my beloved flower? »
The child fully opened his eyes and saw the radiant figure of the angel as they entered heaven, where there is only joy and happiness. God took the flowers, pressed them all to him; but the one he kissed was the flower of the despised and withered field: immediately the flower had a voice, and sang with the pure spirits which surround God, some near, others far, forming circles larger and larger, multiplied to infinity, peopled with beings equally happy, all singing in unison, young and old, from the wise and blessed child, to the poor flower of the fields picked up in the mud, among the sad refuse of the winding and dark street.
Jean-Chrétien Andersen, Danish poet.
THE YOUNG HOUSEWIFE.
With a cheerful heart and a nimble hand, She made every task easy. Cherished by all and quick to foresee everything, Last in bed and first up, Her tender care prepares each layer And delicate becomes for each mouth The frugal dish prepared by her hand. The white tablecloth and the stretched linen Adorn the table and rubbed and shiny, And the timpani shines brilliantly there; Simple tin competes with silver. The worn stockings, the ancient garment, Under its active, industrious needle, Are repaired; hideous poverty Takes a pleasing aspect around it. For the old man showing holy respect, Tender to the child, with an indulgent ear She listened, when the yelping voice Of the young pupil mumbled the lesson. The fearful wish, the humble petition Timidly are whispered near her. To his goodness every mischievous appeals, And the oppressed come to weep in his bosom. In a graceful, childish jargon, The fresh brat, which in her bed she arranges, Under her dictation invokes her good angel; The mouth prays and the eye is already closed, And sleep comes to confuse the words.
Who is not moved by the gaze of tenderness That the young mother addresses to her baby doll, When the little one, in his naive antics, Leaps, tramples, and stretches out his little arms? What a sweet murmur in her caressing voice! His laugh bursts out and his word sings. Who does not like to see the good grandma of the alphabet show the talisman, and the eye fixed on the learned page, of the cheerful toddler straightening the song?
Holier still, of her little sisters Calming the ardor, clearing up the tears, The young girl with the pixie band Serves as a mentor. Each childish lip Comes, on her forehead, to deposit in return The sweet kiss of an angelic love. And what a pleasure, the task finally fulfilled, To frolic in the hours of madness! It is a struggle, a war, a tournament; The dress suffers from it, and, reduced to the bare bones, The young girl, submissive to the enemy, Smiles, bends over, and seated on her collar, The smallest among her young sisters, Pushes triumphant cries laughing.
A. de MONTGOLFIER.
I won't name all the flowers with which I have been intimately linked and which now come to life in my memory, I will only tell you about a myrtle that a young nun cared for in the convent. She kept him summer and winter in her cell; she gave him air day and night; she regulated the heat of her cell to that which her flower needed, and she considered herself more than rewarded when the myrtle buds. No sooner had they appeared than she was already showing them to me. I helped him in his care. In the morning, I went to the Sainte-Madeleine fountain to fill my pitcher with water. The pimples grew, reddened and finally opened; after four days flowering was complete. Each flower looked like a white cell, from which issued thousands of rays, all of which had a small pearl at their end; then the nun put the myrtle in the window, and the bees came in crowds to greet it.
I still think of that dear nun: the half-wilted roses of her cheeks were wrapped in white linen; a veil of black gauze accompanied the agile movements of her graceful gait; his hand came out of the wide sleeve of his woolen garment to water the flowers. One day she put a little black seed in the ground, gave it to me, and told me that I would see a marvelous thing grow from it. Soon, indeed, the little seed germinated, sprouted clover-like leaves; she climbed in the air after a stick, with the help of little coiled hooks, like peas; then it hatches a few yellow flowers, from which emerged a green acorn, the size of a hazelnut, which turns brown as it ages. The nun then picked it, and, pulling it close to the stem, unwound it in a chain composed of small, well-coordinated thorns, between which the seed had ripened. She braided a crown of it, placed it at the foot of her ivory crucifix, and told me that this plant was called Corona Christi, the crown of Christ.
We believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ; we believe that he was God and that he allowed himself to be tied to the cross for us; we pray to him, we promise him to become saints; but unfortunately! how little we keep our promises! When we contemplate nature in her games, when we see her expressing her wisdom with such childlike grace, when we see characters which resemble exclamations painted on the leaves of plants, the little gnats bearing the cross imprinted on their wings, this puny plant without appearance to contain an artistically braided crown of thorns, caterpillars and butterflies marked with the sign of the Trinity, we shudder and we feel that God takes part in these mysteries. In such moments, I believe that religion has generated everything, that it is even the vital force of every animal, of every plant. Recognizing the beauty in creation and enjoying it is wisdom and godliness. We who recognized her were both pious, the nun and myself.
It is ten years now that I left the convent; last year I went back to visit. The nun had become prioress; she led me to the garden, walking with a crutch, because now she is crippled. The myrtle was all in bloom; she asked me if I recognized him: he had grown a lot. Large carnations and fig trees laden with fruit were planted around it; she picked everything that was flowery or ripe and gave it to me; but she spared the myrtle: that was what I had foreseen. I tied the bouquet she had made for me in the car. How happy I was that day! I prayed as I had prayed in the past: to be happy makes praying so well!
So we all have in the shadow of the past Some sweet memory pure of all alloy Which, the day when the storm Is amassed upon us, Like a ray of pure gold through the cloud.
A FIRST FAULT MAKES OTHERS.
One fine summer morning a group of children trotted along the road that leads from Les Gressets to the village of La Celle. They were on their way to school, but since it was still early, they had fun picking field flowers and chatting along the way. Two little boys were running ahead of the others, playing who could reach the bend faster, near the gate of the castle. Right there was an old woman sitting with a basket of gingerbread and candy sticks; that was where they were running, because Jean-Pierre (that was the name of one of the boys) had received a penny the day before, and he wanted to spend it before going to school. 'I'll give you half, Jules,' he said, as he walked up to the shopkeeper, 'and we're going to enjoy ourselves. He felt in his pocket for his penny, but there was no penny.
“What misfortune, Jules! he cried; I would have lost it. Of course I dropped it on the road. See! there is a hole in my pocket; come back with me to get it.
"Let's hurry then, or we'll be late," said Jules. They went back, looking at the ground with all their eyes and asking the other children if they had found anything. No; no one had seen anything, the penny was nowhere to be found, and they had to rush back to school. As they passed the old shopkeeper, Jean-Pierre stopped to look at the barley sugar with deep regret at not having his penny left.
"I am very sorry that you lost him," said Jules; but let's not stop, because we are late.
"I would so like to have one of those pretty pink sticks," resumed Jean-Pierre, without listening to his comrade; he was still looking at the basket.
"Come then and think no more about it!" replied the other, pulling him by the arm. See! we will be the last. »
Jean-Pierre was two years younger than Jules, and although he was a good boy, he liked to eat too much; he was greedy. When we let ourselves go to a defect, that is to say when we do not try to correct it, it often happens that this defect leads to others; and you will see all the mistakes that gluttony caused Jean-Pierre to commit.
At first, his gluttony made him grumpy and sullen, because, instead of listening to Jules's good advice, he pushed him away, saying angrily:
“I will go to school whenever I want; you don't have to wait for me.
"Very well," said Jules. Then I let you; but I advise you to come if you don't want to lose your place in class. »
He left and arrived just in time. Jean-Pierre, as he had predicted, was missing. The master reproached him for this and put him at the end of the bench where he had been first.
You may think he was punished enough to correct himself; but no, because no punishment corrects us for a fault if we do not strive to correct ourselves. The stick of candy rolled around in his head while he was learning his lessons, which caused him to learn them badly and recited them very badly.
After class, the schoolchildren went out; they were all running and jumping merrily, with the exception of Jean-Pierre, who felt grumpy and chagrin; the master had had to correct him several times for his inattention; then he was in a hurry to return home to get his penny. He didn't want to stop playing with the others on the Place de l'Ecole, he took the lead alone. When he passed by old Mariette (that was the merchant's name), he still stopped to look at the barley sugar and to desire it. Jean-Pierre was committing the sin of covetousness; to covet is to desire strongly and for a long time something that does not belong to us: this is what he did. When he arrived at the house, he ferreted about in every corner and turned everything upside down to see if he would not discover his penny.
Finally his mother said to him: 'My dear child, I left you looking everywhere for your money; you see he is lost. I'm sorry for you, but don't think about it anymore. I have an errand for you to do before supper, which is not yet ready: take this basket of white linen to the chateau; there she is, run and don't have fun on the way. »
Jean-Pierre took the basket and left. Now, the shortest way was by the turn where the merchant stood; but when Jean-Pierre approached the bend, he was very surprised not to see old Mariette there anymore, and what surprised him even more was that the basket was placed on the ground with all the sweets, biscuits, bread spices, barley sugar. He stopped opposite; he looked up and down the road, there was no one in sight.
"Where can old Mariette have gone?" he thought; she cares little for these good things to leave them thus on the high road! I don't think she would mind me very much if I took one of her candy canes; in any case, she would know nothing about it. When these bad thoughts came into his head, Jean-Pierre shouldn't have stopped there, he should have run away and gone to do the errand his mother had given him; but instead he stopped looking and lusting. Finally he bent down and took one of the sticks of candy cane. He heard a step behind him; he shuddered, trembled, turned very pale and dropped the candy cane: it was only the step of a donkey browsing the grass on the side of the road.
“How stupid I was! he said; and his heart still trembling, he picked up the stick of barley sugar, which had broken into three pieces. “I can no longer put it back with the
others,” he thought; and he ate it as he ran to the gate. He left the laundry basket with the concierge and hurried back. He wondered as he walked if he would find the old merchant in her place and if she would have noticed that she was missing a candy cane? But the basket was still there, all by itself and in the same place. “Where can she be? he says to him. Maybe she's gone to buy other fresher goods than that: there's hardly any gingerbread and cookies left. »
Jean hesitated less this time, because it's always easier to hurt a second time than the first. So he began to eat a biscuit, then another, then several greedily, thinking, as he looked in front of him and behind him: "No one sees me!" »
He forgot God, who saw him, who sees us all, always and at all hours; God, who does not want us to disobey his commandments, and who said: “You shall not steal! »
Jean-Pierre didn't stop to devour everything. He was too afraid that someone would come by and see him; he stuffed what was left in his pockets, and ran home. When he walked through the village, it seemed to him that everyone he met looked at him and guessed what he had done. He ran out of breath to his mother.
He would have liked then to have never touched what did not belong to him.
"What could have held you back so long?" Jean-Pierre's mother asked her son when he came home.
"I don't know," replied Jean-Pierre, adding a lie to his other sins, for he knew very well what had held him back.
"I'm afraid you stopped playing on the way," said the mother, "because you only had half an hour at most." Here's your supper, it's almost time to go to bed. »
But after stuffing himself with sweets, Jean-Pierre was no longer hungry. His mother was surprised and thought he was not well. To escape the questions, he hurriedly went to bed, but he found no rest there: all night he dreamed that his theft had been discovered. He awoke trembling: he imagined he saw the stern face of the schoolmaster and old Mariette threatening him with her stick.
Perhaps you are wondering, like Jean-Pierre, what had become of the old merchant, and why she had left her basket? You will learn it. When Jean-Pierre left for school the next day, with the other children, he was no longer running as usual; he walked slowly and backwards, for he feared to see the merchant, who must now be aware of what had happened. However, she wasn't there, and the basket was gone. Two neighbors only were arrested and talking.
"Where is old Mariette?" cried one of the children.
"Don't you know what happened to him yesterday?" said one of the women. She wanted to go and fill her jug with water at the spring, and as there was no one in sight, she put her basket on the ground. She intended to return after a minute, but leaning over the edge of the stream, her foot slipped, she fell and hurt her leg badly. She could no longer get up; I don't know how long she would have stayed there if my man, who was passing by, hadn't seen her. He took her on his shoulders and carried her home, poor old thing! I went this morning to see how she was.
'And that's not all,' said the other woman. 'When she got home, she sent her granddaughter Madeleine to fetch her basket; and do you know what Madeleine found? nothing! the biscuits, the gingerbread, the candy canes, everything was gone, there was nothing left at all. Some mean prowler had stolen them, and the basket was as empty as mine; and she turned the basket on her arm upside down.
"I really hope," resumed the other woman, "that it is not one of you, children, who has done this infamy!"
- Oh no! said all the schoolchildren.
'You, Baptiste,' she went on, addressing one of the little ones, 'you're often very hungry. I know your mom can't always give you lunch, but I hope you never thought of stealing?
- Oh! no, Madame, said little Baptiste quickly. I neither saw nor touched the basket.
"And you, Jean-Pierre?" »
Jean-Pierre became very red, then very pale, and answered without stopping to reflect: "No, madam." »
The children continued on their way, discussing what had happened. Alone, Jean-Pierre said not a word, he walked with his head bowed. It seemed to him that each of his comrades must know that he had the rest of the candy canes in his pocket.
“How could we have done such a great wickedness? said one of the little girls who also went to school with the sisters. Surely, since the merchant was no longer there, the thief would have believed that no one saw him and that he would not be punished.
"Perhaps so," resumed Suzanne, Jean-Pierre's sister; but you know that God sees us always and everywhere; and if he does not punish us immediately, he will punish us later, after our death. »
Jean-Pierre heard these words, and a greater fear than that of Mariette's stick or the schoolmaster's reprimand seized him. His heart was pounding, and he listened with all his ears to what the other children were saying.
“But if the one who stole,” continued Baptiste, “was a poor ignorant boy, to whom no one had ever spoken of God, his sin would not be so great, would it?
"I don't think so," said Suzanne; but let's hurry, or we'll be the last to arrive. »
If Jean-Pierre had recited his lessons badly the day before, it was much worse that day. He thought all the time about the terrible mistake he had made. How could he have brought himself to do so much harm, to steal, to offend God, and that for a few biscuits and candy canes, out of pure greed! After class, he went off on his own; he sat down behind a hawthorn hedge, and began to weep bitterly. He hadn't been there long, when he heard a light footstep, he turned around and saw his sister Suzanne.
“So what is the matter with you? she said, sitting down next to him. Jules says you didn't know a single one of your lessons, and now you're all in tears! Are you sick? Jean-Pierre shook his head. So did you do something wrong? Jean-Pierre's sobs proved to her that she had guessed correctly.
“Come on, tell me what it is; if you are really, really angry, the master will forgive you, provided you confess your fault and promise not to do it again.
- No no ! exclaimed Jean-Pierre, no one will ever forgive me. It was I who stole old Mariette! I, who was very young at school, knew very well that it was bad, very bad! »
Suzanne was suffocated with surprise and grief; she could not speak. Jean-Pierre told him everything, and asked him what he should do.
“Did you eat it all? Susan asked.
"Almost," he said, pulling from his pocket a few pieces of candy cane and cookie crumbs.
Suzanne was silent for a few minutes.
'I think,' she continued finally, 'that there is only one thing to do. Go find the master, before he has left the class, and tell him everything you have done: I am sure he will give you good advice, and tell you what you must do.
- Oh! but I can't tell him! I can't ! exclaimed Jean-Pierre, trembling. He will be so angry, so angry with me!
“But God will be even angrier if you don't. Come on, courage, come, I'll go with you. She took him by the hand and led him, despite his resistance, towards the school.
At the door, Jean-Pierre stopped short.
" I can not enter; no, I can't... Besides, no one knows it's me.
'God doesn't he know! resumed her sister. Do you think you could hide it from God? Of what use will your regret for having done wrong be to you, if you continue to keep silent?
"Well then, I'll say it: I want it," said Jean-Pierre, and he entered the classroom with his sister.
The master was putting the books in order, and putting away the notebooks.
“What is it, my children, he asked, are you sick, Jean-Pierre?
"No, sir, I'm not sick. He then recounted how he had allowed himself to be tempted, and all the things he had done wrong. "I know very well that you will punish me, sir," he said, finishing; but if you believe that God will forgive me, I will try that the rest is equal to me. »
The master was sad and serious. "Jean-Pierre," he said. the reproaches of your conscience have already punished you, and your fault carries with it its punishment; for one cannot trust the one who stole. You have sinned against God, and you have done great harm to a poor old woman who earns her honest living. You must first ask forgiveness from God, for having broken that of his commandments which says: "Thou shalt not steal!" "If you sincerely repent, go immediately to find old Mariette, confess your fault to her, and promise her that you will pay her as soon as you can the price of all that you have stolen from her basket. You will not you can never have a happy heart that you didn't do that. »
Jean-Pierre obeys. He went to find old Mariette, and. begged him for forgiveness. She was very angry because she had not learned to forgive. He had to bear his reproaches patiently, he knew he had deserved them. He had to restore his reputation by good conduct, and it was some time before his fault was forgotten. However, he carefully put aside every penny he earned from running errands and weeding, and he took them to old Mariette. At the end of the year, his debt was paid, and I believe that the old merchant could now entrust her basket to him, without having to fear that a biscuit or a single candy cane was missing.
The flame is the test of iron, The temptation is of men; By it alone do we see what we are, And if we can triumph. When she prepares to strike, Let's close the door of the heart to her: We come out easily victorious, When from the start we stand up to her; Who resists too late hardly resists, And it is at the first step that it is necessary to stop.
THE LITTLE GEESTER.
Returning home, I made the acquaintance of the little goose girl. The inch-long dark lashes of his eyes struck me from afar. The other children were around her and made fun of her, saying that her huge eyelashes amazed everyone. She, quite ashamed, began to cry; I comforted her and said to her:
“God, who entrusted you with the care of beautiful white geese, and who knows that you are always on the meadow, where the sun is so dazzling, God has given shade to your eyes. The geese huddled close to their little keeper in tears, and clucked at me, and at the little mockingbirds.
If I knew how to paint, I would paint this scene.
THE TAMED SWALLOW.
Snow in the bosom, black in the wing. Ah! here comes the swallow. With her comes spring, Flowers in the gardens, greenery in the fields, Everything is born in the flapping of her wing. Ah! here comes the swallow!
the swallow was thought impossible to tame; we were wrong. In August, a painter of animals and flowers found a young swallow fallen from its nest in front of the door of the chalet he lived by the sea, in the pretty little village of Etretat.
The poor bird, already feathered, had broken its wing in its fall. The painter, who quite naturally loves his models, picked up the swallow and carried it to his wife, who warmed the wounded one, bandaged her wound, and put her in a cage, on a small soft layer of cotton wool and rags.
The next day, the swallow recognized its mistress, called her by her cries and opened her beak to ask her for her food, which consists of insects and flies. As soon as her benefactress appeared, the joy of the convalescent redoubled, and if the door of her cage had not been immediately opened to her, she would have broken her head against the grating. The door barely opened, the swallow flew away, and came to rest on the hand which had set it free, it settled there and would not consent to move away from it even to eat.
Today she lives in Paris with her mistress, whom she still loves with the same passion; she runs up on his knees, solicits his caresses and does not allow her to work. With her slender little beak she impatiently pulls the thread from the seamstress, and pushes it between her fingers to make it clear that she wants only her to be taken care of, like a spoiled child.
She knows everyone in the house, flaps her wings when the master returns, and greets him with her happy little song. She is not afraid of the big mustache dog, who looks at her friendly, nor of visitors, nor of anyone. Only you mustn't think of putting it back in a cage, but let it hunt flies along the windows, fly away and come back at will.
Perhaps, one day this autumn, she will take flight for distant lands with her companions, and when she returns in the spring, the children will ask her for her song.
See Spring Melodies, new edition, published by MM. Garnier.
THE DEATH OF A FINFINCH.
A hunter's rifle, a shot fired from the wood Have just awakened my remorse of yesteryear: Dawn on the tender grass had sown its pearls And I ran through the meadows on the trail of blackbirds, Schoolboy on vacation; and the fresh morning air, The hope of bringing back a glorious booty, This happiness of being far from books and themes, Intoxicated my fifteen years, all intoxicated with themselves.
So I was going through the meadows. But a merry bullfinch, His red chest in the wind, his open beak, and his eyes On fire, threw his morning song to the sky, Alas! suddenly interrupted by the brutal weapon. When the shot hit him all jumping and lively, From his bleeding throat a little plaintive cry Came out, some down flew from his chest, Then, closing his clear eyes, leaving the thin branch. In the reeds and boxwood, stained with his murder, He, so happy to live, he died at my feet.
Ah! of a good movement that passes over our soul Why blush? shame is on the scoffer who blames. Yes, on this singer, who died for my childish pleasure. My heart, as a singer, is often softened. Winged brother, on your body I shed a few tears. Thoughtful and accusing myself, I laid down my weapons. Your blood is not lost, no one has seen me since Reddening the grass of the meadows and profaning the box trees. I pity the birds and I pity the men: Poor thing, you made me gentle in the harsh century in which we find ourselves.
THE CHILD AND THE CANDY SUGAR.
A weak child was crying, a tender passer-by said to him: “What is the matter with you, my darling? Then, driving back his sobs in his throat, The little crybaby replied: "Instead of sucking it, I bit into my candy, And I didn't taste the barley sugar." »
Children who read while running, Who eagerly devour a book
Without seeing the spirit that gives life, You look like this little gourmand.
A. from M.
MEDOR was a handsome Newfoundland, the most intelligent and affectionate of dogs, the indefatigable playmate of the farm children. It was a pleasure to see him throw himself into the pond in pursuit of the stick which Jean had thrown as far as he could; he reached for the piece of wood, grabbed it in his mouth and brought it back to the shore, to the great satisfaction of the little boy and his sister Jeannette. This game started over twenty times without exhausting the patience of the good Medor. Then there were running assaults, caresses, joys, antics, until the farm boy's whistle reminded the faithful animal of his duties: then he set off like a dash to escort the cows that 'we led to the fields, and prevent them from wandering into the neighbour's pastures. When the gardener went to sell the vegetables at the market, Medor mounted guard around the cart; and in the evening, very daring would have been the prowler who would have ventured to cross the hedge which closed the enclosure.
Once he showed amazing sagacity: a day laborer, who was often employed to carry sacks of wheat from the barn to the house, tried to steal a sack during the night. Médor, who knew the man, did not make the slightest hostile demonstration as long as he followed the path which led to the farm, but as soon as he left it to take the road to the village, the vigilant guard seized him by the his smock, and wouldn't let go. It was as if he had said, "Where are you going with my master's wheat?" »
The thief then wanted to try to put the bag back where he had taken it; the dog would not allow it; he held him in check, without biting or wounding him, until daybreak; the farmer found him in this difficult position, he reprimanded him sharply and dismissed him without making it known so as not to dishonor him.
But the man bore a grudge against the dog, and long after, taking advantage of the absence of the farmer and his children, he called Medor who came to him without mistrust; he put a rope around her neck and led her to the edge of the river. There he tied a large stone to the other end of the rope, and, lifting the heavy animal in his arms, he threw it into the water; but dragged himself down by the weight and the effort, he also fell.
Not knowing how to swim, he would have been carried under the wheel of the mill, if the brave Newfoundland, obeying his instinct as a rescuer, and freed from the loosely attached stone, had not dived twice, and brought back to shore. his cruel enemy.
The latter, who was already losing consciousness, understood, as soon as he came to, that the poor dog he had wanted to drown had saved his life. He was ashamed of his bad action, and from that day he made efforts on himself, and fought his bad inclinations. The example of the dog corrected the man.
THE WIDOW'S GRILL.
There was once a poor widow in a poor village in Ireland. All she owned was a broiler: this is the name given to a round iron plate on which, in Ireland, pancakes of oatmeal or unleavened wheat are cooked, which together with potatoes are the principal food of the Irish peasant.
The poor widow, feeling close to death, had neither children nor anyone to pray to God for the salvation of her soul after her death. This thought worried and troubled her.
She thought of the broiler which she used to cook the flour from the ears of corn which she was going to glean in the fields, after the harvest, to feed herself during the winter. She bequeathed her broiler forever to the village, on the condition that it would pass from hand to hand whenever it was needed, and that each person who used it would say a pater and an ave for the salvation of the soul of the donor.
Fifty years ago, and the holy grill, as it is called, still in demand, is still the best grill in the village; the pancakes cooked on it are twice as tasty as the others, and never burnt, thanks to the pater and the ave which sanctify the pious legacy of the widow.
PETITION OF JEANNOT-LAPIN AND BICHETTE
to their new boss.
Being before my sister entered this low world, Because I am her senior, I believe, by a second, I assume the right to speak for both of us. Of our little faults of which I am so ashamed. Allow me first of all to thank you For having been able to desire our humble company, For if it were not you, I say it bluntly, Who asked us to leave the living room
Where we left many bitter tears, We would have remained at the hearth of our fathers; Because, rabbit that we are, the heart is always there To give regret to the little one who is leaving. So take pity on the frail creatures Who, giving themselves up to you without lease or signature, Hope to find in these new climates The same jealous care that they were given there. Make us forget this grid cabin Where lived, far from the noise, all our family, While the pigeons told us their loves By warming their velvet throats in the sun. Let us have neither the wind nor the rain, For our wet hair falls out when we wipe it; And then never take us on your knees, We are too small to answer for ourselves; And your apartments in the form of barracks, Where carrots or alfalfa never grow, Are not made for us, it's perfectly clear We need the huts, the plain and the open air. Now, to make you aware of our life, We like alfalfa still freshly picked, And, when you want to serve us a feast, Give us radishes flanked with a little thyme: Do not spare us the prosaic cabbage , Cabbage is worth an epic poem for a rabbit; Finally, since I'm on our little shortcomings, We have a taste for green beans; The beet is also one of our weaknesses, And for the wild thyme we would do mean things.
Such is, or nearly so, the ordinary frugal Which we contented ourselves with there for all pleasure. Besides, you have an interest, I imagine, In that we are happy with the cooking, And that we become fatter from thinners, For a skinny rabbit is a pitiful meal. Only let us live one more year, And do not eat us, please, at our dawn; Wait until, as the price of hospitality, We leave a posterity among you, Let your house swarm with little rabbits; So, feasting on the father of the family, Whom his experience will have made better, Finding me cooked to perfection, you will shed a tear. If some author, one day, becomes my biographer, Let him say, to end in the form of an epitaph: "This rabbit was eaten when he was two years old, "But he lived happily, and had many children .
THE DOVE AND THE HAWKNET.
Lively, ardent, strong, The simple child who so gaily stirs, In whom life both seethes and quivers, What can he know of death?
(Wordsworth, We are seven.)
Eveline had eyes blue like the cornflowers that bloom in the wheat, lips red like cherries in June, cheeks rosy like a freshly blooming rose. She was a happy child. It was eight years that day that she had been born; she was braided
a garland of flowers to celebrate her birthday, and she ran joyfully in the garden, listening to the cicada which sang under the grass, the bees which buzzed around the mignonette, and the gray dove, with its changing green collar, which cooed near his little ones.
Suddenly a shadow passed between the sun and the child; she heard a plaintive cry, and the wounded dove fell at her feet. She picked up the bleeding bird, and, her head thrown back, her cheek inflamed, she threatened with her little fist the savage hawk which, hovering above her head, demanded its prey again.
The shy child had become courageous. A shot from the gardener hit the hawk; it spun around and disappeared behind the tall branches.
“She is saved! she is saved! exclaimed Eveline, rushing towards her mother, who had been alarmed by the gunshot. See, mother, the dear bird! it will be my own dove, won't it? we will take care of her, and when she is cured, we will give her back to her children.
'I'm afraid, dear child, that the poor dove will never see them again; the cruel hawk has struck her with too sure a blow. She no longer moves: she is dead.
— Dead! do you mean, mother, that she will never steal again, that she will never sing again, never?
“Yes, my child; his life has flown away, and all our care could not restore it to him. But you did well to want to defend her against the bird of prey; always take the side of the weak against the strong in this world: and now you have to replace the mother with the little ones and raise the brood of the orphans. »
This prospect consoled Eveline a little, and the same day she took possession of the nest and the barely feathered lovebirds.
VISIT TO A BEGIG DEPOSIT.
When we arrived at the part reserved for children, we first crossed a courtyard where several of these unfortunate little ones took their recreation. Even in their games they had neither the grace nor the liveliness of their age. Almost all of them were ugly and unhealthy; one of them, a pale, puny brat, half stupid, his head and eyes so covered with ringworm that he could hardly see how to behave, suddenly showed a marked preference for one of the visitors. He began to follow him, clinging to the tails of his coat, passing between his legs like a young cat giving itself over to his coaxing; finally, he placed himself in front of her and held out his arms to her without saying a word, but smiling, with that smile of a child who seeks a caress and thinks he is sure of obtaining it. Poor little! his whole person was made to inspire disgust, and the one to whom he was addressing himself, a handsome gentleman, delicate and well dressed, had an extreme repugnance for ugliness and uncleanliness. So there was a moment of struggle and hesitation, but the child's confidence was not betrayed; the call was irresistible: the visitor took him in his arms and kissed him as if he were the father of this poor repulsive creature. We would all have done the same, I like to believe, however the act seemed to me heroic, and one of those whom God takes into account. This alms of tenderness to the poor little scabby picked up in the mud of London, the most revolting of all mud, had its source in the purest Christian charity.
When the day of the Last Judgment comes, when each of us will have to give an account of his life, the poor child, holding his friend by the hand, will say to the Eternal Father: "Forgive him, my God, because, abandoned, without a father neither mother, I was hungry for affection, I was thirsty for caresses; he caressed me, he kissed me, and from that day on I tried to be good and to save my soul to be in heaven with him.
A LESSON IN BOTANY.
I was very young, I was twelve years old, when I climbed a mountain for the first time. To tell the truth, it was hardly more than a high hill; but having hitherto inhabited a flat country, of which nothing broke the dull uniformity, I was as novice as the rat in the fable.
So here I am in the countryside, my heart throbbing with desire and hope, neither more nor less than if I were going to explore an unknown country. The attack was at first rather rough. There was no path cleared; a passage had to be cut through the brush and brambles. But as I advanced, the obstacles were smoothed out; new discoveries presented themselves at every step. Here, a cool valley sheltered in the hollow rock; there, a steep slope, carpeted with vigorous vegetation quite different from that which I had admired below. A silver-mesh rivulet shimmered and slid over the grass; on the ground shone a marine shell abandoned on these heights by the waters of the deluge; veins of quartz sparkled like a scarf of crystal on the sides of the mountain. And if, tearing myself away from these enchantments, I were to turn around, what a still more marvelous picture! Shady valleys, gaps as far as the eye can see in the great woods, torrents leaping from rock to rock, launching rockets of foam into the air, until, stretched out in sheets, they looked like shining mirrors framed through the dark forest. Above my head the sky was a dark blue, under my feet the ground was covered with mountain flowers, all pretty and fragrant. I did not know then that each of these flowers was endowed with beneficial properties. I learned this later, when I was walking in this beautiful country of the Ardennes, with a friend who was older and above all more educated than me, she named the plants that I amused myself picking to make bouquets for myself. It was the lungwort which bears flowers of two colors, pink and blue, and which cures colds; centaury, which combats fever almost as well as cinchona; chamomile, sore herb, and so many others, which constituted a pharmacy for him for the use of the poor in his neighborhood. Where I saw only a pleasure for the eyes, she made me discover a benefit of Providence, which, in the gifts she makes to us, joins kindness to beauty.
DEVOTION OF A NUN.
THE little river Tet, which passes through Perpignan and empties into the Mediterranean Sea, was swollen by the rain; the water was deep and flowing very fast. A man driving a cart loaded with plaster persisted in wanting to cross the river with his cart and team. “Take care,” said several people to him; your horses will not be able to stand; the water is too strong, and you yourself, from the first steps, will be carried away by the current. - Bah! he answered, it's not the first time I've forded the river. She's not that mean, and she knows me well. »
The carter probably didn't have all his composure. It was a market day, and he had stopped at the cabaret. So he was stubborn, as happens to those who do not want to listen to advice, and who believe themselves to be wiser than everyone else. He whipped his horses; but no sooner had he entered the water with them than what had been predicted to him happened. The cart, the team and their driver were immediately overturned and carried away by the current. The unfortunate was about to perish. Who do you think saved him? A woman, a good nun from the Dominican community, who was then on the banks of the Tet supervising the laundering of a laundry in the convent. Without being frightened by the danger, which was great, this holy girl, animated by the love of her neighbor and by charity, advanced into the water, and, with great difficulty and effort, she managed to grasp the arm of the imprudent carter and pull him ashore.
To succeed, he had needed a prompt decision, great courage, and the help of God, which is never lacking in these beautiful souls.
Remember, my children, that what gives strength to the weakest is a good heart and a firm will. You would have liked, I am sure, to be in the place of this good nun, and to do like her.
A BEAUTIFUL CHILDHOOD.
In the month of February, 1782, several children assembled at Saint-Cloud, in a royal chateau, were playing with all the abandon, all the gaiety of their age; a little girl, who had not yet
five years? was alone, serious and sad; when it came to her turn to order the affected pawn, she asked for prayers "for her sister from Orleans," who had remained ill in Paris. This restless preoccupation, so astonishing in such a young child, did not leave her; nothing could distract her, and when she learned the next day of the death of her twin sister, her pain was so great that they feared for her life. The toys they had in common had to be removed. Everything that reminded her of the absence of her dear half made her burst into tears, and despite the precautions taken to deaden this grief, she persevered in it for two whole years. Often, while we thought she was busy playing, she turned silently towards the wall, and wept quietly so as not to sadden her companions.
She was not seven years old when, walking in the forest of Montmorency, she met a little blind peasant girl: her heart sank; she wanted to know if there wouldn't be a way to cure the child; and as the mother said that her daughter was not blind from birth, but that she had no means of taking her to Paris to have her seen by the doctors and treated: "Well, I lead, said the little princess. When I leave, I'll make room for him next to me in the car. »
The child was in fact taken to a famous oculist, who kept her all summer and part of the winter. When she had regained her sight: "Aren't you very happy?" asked her young benefactress.
— Yes, because I will be able to work.
- And read?
- Oh! Miss, I can't read.
“But now that you see clearly, you will learn.
— My mother is not rich enough to send me to school.
'Poor little thing! Do you want me to teach you to read?' If it pleases you, I will teach you a lesson every day. »
The little peasant girl began to laugh, believing that the princess was joking; but nothing was more serious, more grave, more settled in the mind of the noble child. Objections piled up.
“Will you be bored?
- Nanette will perhaps be very hard-headed: you will need unfailing patience.
- I will have it. Will you still be here in three months, Nanette?
─ Yes, miss.
"Then you'll have plenty of time to learn, and I'm going to teach you your first lesson." »
This offer was not a sterile outburst of kindness, one of those charitable inspirations which aim at effect and evaporate in words; the little princess ran to fetch her book and immediately set to work. If the pupil was not very diligent, on the other hand the mistress had a tender, inexhaustible zeal. She pursued with marvelous constancy the difficult task which she had set herself. Every day she gave the lesson without ever failing to do so, showing pictures and letters with her small hand, repeating everything in a low voice, praising out loud, encouraging her schoolgirl with rewards, enjoying her successes; and, when the child was reading well, she brooded over her with a delighted gaze, with her eyes so gentle, so luminous!
It was a sight both amusing and touching to see this young and rich intelligence eager to share with the poor the most precious of possessions.
At eleven years old. She was judged well enough educated, and above all pious enough to make her make her first communion. Shortly before this great solemnity, in the month of June 1788, she visited the convent of La Trappe, accompanied by her governess.
Alas! she returned there for the last time in August 1847. She had preceded her brother, King Louis-Philippe, and took pleasure in seeing again with him these places which reminded her of a happy period of her childhood, too short, too troubled early on by the revolutionary turmoil.
Long, sad years had elapsed between these two journeys, and yet it was the same heart, tempered by reverses, on the level of its high fortune, ripe for heaven, which came to meditate in retirement. , pour oneself out at the feet of God, ask him for his blessings for his royal family, his protection for France: France! whom she loved with a love so sincere, so profound, towards which all her hopes had turned during the painful exile when, at the age of sixteen, she lost her natural gaiety.
"His character had changed without becoming embittered," said his governess; his melancholy was so sweet that it resembled much less sadness than the development of extreme sensitivity. I can affirm without exaggeration that never a complaint or a murmur escaped him. When she is afflicted, she cries, is silent, and prays to God more. She never regretted fortune and luxury; one would believe to see her that she had always lived in a small cell, and so on. His piety, which is truly angelic, gives him the Christian philosophy which consists in patience, courage, resignation and sincere contempt for pomp and grandeur. »
The child who, at the age of four, had almost died of grief on losing his sister, was one day to be the most perfect model of fraternal friendship, of constant abnegation, of indefatigable devotion.
Poor Nanette's young teacher was later to found the first elementary school opened in Paris; she would have liked to see all French people, without distinction of class or rank, share in the benefits of education.
She who, at the age of six, had felt moved with pity for a little blind girl, was later to extend her royal charity to all who suffered, and particularly to the children of the poor, to asylums, to crèches.
A life so nobly filled had to have a sweet end; God gave it to him. After receiving the last rites, Madame Adélaïde d'Orléans fell asleep on December 30, 1847, in the midst of her family, her hand in that of her brother, without suffering, without agony. In the beautiful expression of one writer, "death was kind to her who had been kind to everyone." »
Mourned by all, this serene soul, detached without anguish from its earthly envelope, returned to the heavens from whence it had come.
THE LITTLE MOUSSE MICHEL.
There was on board a French vessel which was sailing for Lisbon, in Portugal, a small ship's boy named Michel. He was a brave child, who climbed the rope ladders lightly, and stood firm on the shrouds at the top of the mainmast when the wind blew. But it happened that one night, when Michel was sleeping soundly in his hammock, a big English steamer came and collided with the French vessel. The shock was so violent that the sailors and the captain quickly jumped on board the Englishman, so as not to sink to the bottom of the sea with the half-demolished ship. In the confusion caused by this terrible event, no one had thought of the poor little ship's boy. The captain thought about it, but too late.
He calls: “Michel! Michael! where is Michael! The sailors looked at each other sadly without answering. "He will have stayed on board!" The English ship was moving at full steam: nothing could be seen on the open sea; nothing but waves rising and falling.
The vessel had disappeared: the child was dead!... No; Michel was alive: the jolt had awakened him: he had heard the planks creak around him, under him, as if everything were breaking. He jumps down from his hammock and runs on the deck: the deck is deserted. There is no longer either captain or sailors; and over there, over there, very far away, a ship moves away; it's just a black dot on the horizon. Michel is all alone; he shouts, he calls. The sea, which engulfs itself in a wide hole made in the carcass of the vessel, responds to it with its lowings.
First, the child cries and is sad, then he straightens up: he thinks that God does not abandon those who confide in him. Men have forgotten it, abandoned it; God will not leave him! It pumps out the water that enters the vessel; he rings the alarm bell.
Night comes, the wind blows in a storm. Michel does not lose his head. He lights a beacon and hangs it from the mainmast. He no longer feels alone; Three cats, and Serin, the crew dog, have taken refuge around him and seem to be saying to him: “We are counting on you to save us. He vigorously resumes the push-ups; but his strength is exhausted. They must be restored, he knows where the provisions are. He shares what he finds, ham and bread, with his companions. Finally, day begins to dawn. Is it a cloud, is it a sail passing offshore? Michel hoists the distress flag. But unfortunately! the ship, for it was, went on. Doubtless he did not see the vessel half sunk in the water. Around noon, another sail appears on the horizon. Michel calls, the dog barks, but the wind and the noise of the waters stifle their cries.
The child struggled thus for three days, which must have seemed like a century to him. At last, just as the ship was about to sink, an English brig saw him and picked up the little ship's boy, exhausted, but not at the end of his tether. He did not want to abandon any of his faithful companions, whom he brought back with him to Saint-Servan, in Brittany, his native country.
THE TWO PLOWS.
A ploughshare, after a long rest, Was covered with rust; he sees his brother pass,
All radiant, returning from work. "Forged from the same arm, from the same material, He said to him, I am dull, and you, polished, brilliant: Where did you get this brilliance, my brother?
- While working. »
DIFFERENCE OF TEMERITY AND COURAGE.
Frank, his mind still full of the conversation he had had with his father, listened attentively to the anecdotes that had to do with courage, and also remembered any that he found in the books.
One evening, while his father was reading to his mother, on a trip to Italy, the description of the Church of Saint Peter in Rome, his attention was attracted by the audacity of some young Englishmen who, having gone to visit this church with a large company, bet that they
would see more than anyone before them. The ladies they accompanied stopped, after reaching the top of the dome, but they resolved to climb the outer surface of the golden globe and reach the top. It was not without great difficulty and danger that they came to the end. Their descent was still more perilous: for at the lower part of the globe, which returned below, they were compelled to crawl on their hands and feet, their faces turned upwards, much like a fly walking on a ceiling. Frank and Marie, listening to this story, did not breathe anxiety.
“Oh! there they are down and safe, said Frank; how happy I am! They were really brave!
"I am very glad that they got off without accident," said Marie; but I find them very mad to be mounted.
- Fools! not at all, my dear! said Frank; think therefore that they were men, and that men must always be brave; isn't it, dad?
"Yes, brave, but not rash," said the father; it is not wise to risk one's life without sufficient motive and without utility.
"That's just what I think, papa," said Marie; if I had been there, I would have been very afraid that Frank would want to come up too. »
Frank says he certainly would have, that he would never have consented to stay back, even when there was nothing curious to see. He would have feared that the others would think him a coward if he had refused to go with them. Besides, he would have liked to say that he had gone as high, and higher than anyone before him. And, after all, whether the thing was crazy or not, it was certainly a proof of courage.
"You're expressing quite natural feelings there at your age," her father said. But I hope that as you grow up you'll learn not to go crazy lest you look cowardly; you will understand some day that there is male courage in confronting the contemptible opinion of madmen, fools, or those who judge lightly. As for me, I only recognize courage and admire it when it is exercised for a useful purpose. For example, he added, putting down the book he was reading and taking out a newspaper, here is the story of a fire in which a man saved the lives of two children at the risk of his own, and by risking the the most perilous way. The children had been left in an upper room; the staircase was burnt; the room could only be reached by a joist, on which this brave man ventured through the flames and the smoke. He seized the children, who were uttering shrill cries, put one under each arm, and crossing the narrow passage again, returned them safe and sound to their mother. »
This time, Frank exclaimed that he would much rather be that man than the one who had climbed to the very top of the golden globe.
" Oh ! yes, said Marie, and, although it was so dangerous, I would have been glad you had done that, Frank. I'm sure you'll do the same when you grow up, if you ever find yourself at a fire. I wouldn't want to be there to see it, but I would love to hear it told. »
The next day, Frank practiced walking on the narrowest planks he could find. He rested his ends on two stools, and when he was able to move forward with a firm step on this narrow path, he put, in place of the stools, high trestles which had recently been used by a workman to upholster one of the bedrooms. of the House. When the ends of the plank were firmly fixed on these trestles, Marie spread out coats and the cushions of the sofa below to represent the feather beds and the blankets that people threw under the flaming joist, in order to preserve the man as much as possible, in case it should fall. Frank then filled the role of the one who had saved the life of the two children, and seized with great firmness the two dolls of Marie, to the great applause of the latter.
A few days later, he heard a true trait of courage in a little boy. It was told to him by the mother of the child, who still had all the details in her mind, the thing having happened lately. The father was crossing a field where a bull was grazing: he had often stroked this animal which he believed to be very gentle. That day, the bull followed him: he noticed it and thought it was a way of provoking him to play; but, in a hurry to get home, he took a clod of earth and threw it at him to chase him away. The animal continued to follow him: he threw another larger one; then the bull began to run and was soon close to overtaking him. He seized him by the horn to make him turn around, but the bull, instead of yielding, tried to throw him in the air. Nevertheless, the man, who was tall and strong, held firm and thus took a few dozen paces, the bull trying from time to time to strike him, and he always holding him by the horns, while calling his servants to his aid. and whistling the dogs guarding the cattle; but neither dogs nor men heard him. He was seen only by a servant, who stood in the doorway with a child in her arms, and who was so frightened that she could neither move nor speak. At this time, his son, about nine years old, who was playing in front of the house, looked up and saw him struggling with the bull. Without thinking of the danger for himself, he ran towards his father who, exhausted, had just let go, and was fleeing behind a tree to seek shelter there; but the moment he reached the tree, he fell. The bull gave him a blow of his horn which, fortunately, met his watch: the furious animal already had the two front feet on his chest and was preparing to strike him down with his horns when the child arrived. The poor child had no means of defence, neither stick nor stone, nothing to throw at the animal; he took his cap off his head and took aim so accurately that it struck the bull in the eye as he stooped to deliver a second blow. The frightened animal turned away. The dogs came, the men followed them, and the father's life was saved by his son's courage and presence of mind.
JOURNEY TO THE MOON.
It happened that once the Seven Sages in Athens wanted to decide what was the greatest wonder of creation; they ordered that each of them in turn should state his opinion on the subject.
"The first who spoke maintained that there was nothing more marvelous than the stars: according to astronomers, most were nothing less than suns, around which revolved worlds, containing, like the earth, plants, animals, but of strange and unknown forms. Fired by this prospect, the scientists begged Jupiter to allow them to visit the nearest planet, the moon. They would remain there only three days, and would return to tell men of the wonders they would have seen in this new world. Jupiter consented to this, and assigned them, as a place of rendezvous, the summit of a high mountain, where a cloud was to await them. They arrived at the appointed time, accompanied by artists and poets, charged with painting and describing their discoveries.
“After rapidly traversing space, they reached the moon, where they found a palace prepared to receive them. The next day they were so tired of the trip that they did not wake up until noon. They were served, to restore their strength, a succulent meal, which they enjoyed so well that their curiosity was greatly blunted. They glimpsed that day, through the windows, a delightful country, covered with the richest verdure and with flowers of exquisite beauty; they heard the melodious chirping of the birds, and promised to get up at dawn the next day to begin their observations. But on the second day, as they were about to set off, a troupe of male and female dancers blocked their way. A second banquet, even more sumptuous than the first, was served; there were rare wines, music, dances; everything invited pleasure. They let themselves go. Suddenly, envious neighbours, come to disturb the feast, rushed, saber drawn, into the hall of the feast. The struggle began, the Sages took part in it, and the invaders were defeated. Justice had to take its course, and the third day was entirely taken up with pleadings, rebuttals, and judgment: so much so that the time granted by Jupiter expired, and the seven Sages descended again into Greece, where the whole population ran to meet them, eager for news from the moon. All that the scholars could say of it was that it was a beautiful country, covered with greenery, variegated with flowers, and where the birds sang enchantingly. Of what nature were this greenery and these flowers, how these birds were made, they did not know the first word. »
The famous naturalist Linnaeus, author of this apologue, applies it to all of us. We indeed live in an enchanted land; but, disdainful of the marvels which Providence has sown there in profusion, we more or less resemble the travelers of the moon.
One day I was reading a story to a child about a poor Negro slave. The child did not understand: he did not know what a slave was; he did not know that there were countries (thank God, there are none any more) where men, women, and children were sold and bought, as one sells and buys animals. He didn't know that they were going to look for poor black people in Africa who were piled up on board old ships, in the bottom of the hold, where they had barely enough air to breathe; and that after a long sea voyage, during which many died, they were landed in America, where they were sold on the market to masters who were often cruel and always exacting.
There was a time when I also didn't know there were slaves. I'll tell you how, as a child, I learned it.
I was born in a seaport which maintained frequent and friendly commercial relations with our colonies and the United States of America.
A sail she came to dawn on the horizon, it was a ship bringing many samples of the riches of this promised land. Among the loads of sugar and cotton sent to the merchant, there always slipped in for the family a few rarities which threw the children into transports of joy. They were the big gnarled cane, still full of the sweet syrup, formerly called the honey of the reeds, and today the sugar, with which one makes dragees, pralines, barley sugars, and all the delicacies, treats brats.
Then, the gigantic candied pineapples, imprisoned in barrels that were opened with solemnity, in the middle of a circle of delighted little spectators; and coconuts bristling with tow, and shaped at their lower extremity into the head of a monkey, which, like the dragons in fairy tales, had to be attacked head-on, and pierced without mercy to arrive at the fresh and delicate milk that contained the hull.
Sometimes a parrot with red and green plumage came to realize the marvel of the "talking bird." So we didn't have enough eyes to admire these surprising novelties.
We were also told that, in this land of blessing, the land, which produced almost everything without cultivation, belonged to the first occupier; you could pitch your tent on the edge of a virgin forest, plow, sow, and, while waiting for the harvest, live richly on hunting and fishing. This wandering life seemed full of charm to us. In this happy country, there was room for everyone, in the sun. There could be no poor, no beggar, no tyrant, no slave.
It happened that one day a rich planter from Georgia landed in the port. One calls planter, the owner of vast grounds planted in sugar cane, in cotton. He had come to France to seek a remedy for the illness of his only son.
This child, attacked by the Saint-Guy dance, did not appear to be more than ten years old, although he was thirteen. A month after his birth, he had had terrible convulsions. They came back to him in more and more frequent attacks. They skirted his limbs and upset his features.
Pityed by his sufferings, I did my best to distract him, but the little Creole opposed my affectionate attempts with a taciturn mood and a sly indifference. He barely answered me.
“How bored I am! he cried at last. I knew very well that I could never do without Sammy!
"And who is Sammy?" I asked, thinking he missed a friend, a playmate.
"He carried me," he replied sullenly. I had fun making him trot, gallop. Sometimes he acted rebellious and he reared up, but a good spur and whip had quickly corrected him, and he started running again, willy-nilly, until he fell.
- Fi! you had the heart to treat a poor horse like that! »
He burst into a noisy burst of laughter. " Horse! ha! what not! he was just a nigger, a little moric that dad had given me to do with him what I wanted, and I had made him my pony. Ah! I had trained him well. He had a bit and a bridle just like a real horse. »
I felt a deep horror for this naughty child whose puny and deformed body was even less ugly than his soul. Either he read this expression on my face, or he felt the need to justify his barbarity:
'I had every right to mistreat him,' he said, 'because his mother, who had been bought to be my wet nurse, had left me as a little boy exposed to a draft to run to her ugly, screaming moricau. The doctors say that this chill was the cause of the nasty illness from which I may never recover. Also, to teach him, papa had him put on the picket line, had him whipped until he bled, and took his son away from him. It was fair. I listened with horror.
What! there were human creatures, creatures of God who were bought with money, mothers who were punished for having listened to the cry of their child! It was monstrous! How many execrable examples, detestable abuses of force, had been necessary to falsify the conscience of a child to such an extent, and to make him regard such barbarities as just!
He yawned, stretched out, and, between two contortions, exclaimed with a hateful sneer which exposed his long white teeth:
"How I would like to hold Sammy!"
"Don't think that here, in France, they let you bridle him and drive him around with a spur or a riding crop," I went on.
- Bah ! if I couldn't make it my pony, I would make it my sleeping dog. I would train him to run on all fours, to search and to retrieve. It would amuse me.
"And why did your father deprive you of a toy that offered so many resources?" I say bitterly. Why didn't he let you take Sammy?
'Because the rogue had boasted that once in France, he would take the key to the fields, and could no longer be caught and punished as a maroon nigger. »
He explained to me that this was the name given to the Negroes who, to escape bad treatment, ran away; there was no torture inflicted on them when they were recaptured; I won't repeat to you what he told me about it with a laugh, the mere memory of it horrifies me.
Shortly after the American planter returned with my father, he extolled to him the liberal institutions of the United States, the freedom enjoyed there...
"The whites, yes," resumed my father, "but the blacks?"
- Oh ! blacks are not men,” said the planter.
You know now, my children, what it is to be a slave and you will understand the story I was telling you about at the beginning.
Do not think, however, that all Creole children are harsh and inhuman; if there are unfortunately many of them who are capricious, thoughtless, angry, there are also some who are models of charity and kindness, and I will soon introduce you to one of these children.
granville sharpe and the little nigger.
IN 1767 there was a merchant in London named Granville Sharpe, who kept a shop in one of the most populous quarters of the city. One day he saw a poor little Negro go by, his head wrapped in a bloody bandage. He asked her what had happened to her. The child replied simply: “It was Massa (the master) who did it to me. Mr. Sharpe continued to question him, and learned that the poor little slave had been sent as a present by a rich Jamaican planter to his brother, a merchant in London. The latter, in a moment of brutal anger, had dealt the child a terrible blow with a sharp instrument. The slave had fled, and, having no one to protect or care for him, he wandered about and. had been begging for a few days in the streets. Mr. Granville Sharpe led him to his brother, William Sharpe; who was a surgeon, and who, after dressing the wounded man, had him admitted to the hospital, where he completed his recovery. Mr. Granville Sharpe took him in when he left the hospital, and took him into his service as a servant. At the same time he informed the negro's master of what had happened, and gave him his address. This one
came to claim the black, saying that he was his slave and belonged to him. It was what Mr. Granville Sharpe expected. He refused to deliver the negro, and declared that he would claim his right to freedom. It was not easy then; there was no English law that permitted having slaves, but neither was there one that forbade slavery. Granville devoted his fortune and his time to this great cause; he studied day and night, and, as he himself says, "worked like a Negro" to free not one, but all the poor Negro slaves in England. There was a trial, which lasted five years. Finally a jury, that is to say a tribunal chosen from among the principal inhabitants of London, and presided over by the Chief Justice, unanimously proclaimed "that on setting foot on English soil, every slave was free. You judge of the joy and gratitude of the poor black man for his generous protector!
This judgment caused a great sensation and spread throughout London. A few days later, a lady was seated on her balcony overlooking the river (the Thames), between London Bridge and the great basins where vessels arriving or leaving for the West Indies are held. She saw a small boat which was heading towards the basins with great strokes of the oar. As the boat passed rapidly under her balcony, she heard a piercing cry, and the name "Granville Sharpe!" Granville Sharpe! distinctly pronounced. She thought it was a poor Negro who was being kidnapped and brought back as a slave to America, and who was calling Granville Sharpe to his aid. Without wasting a minute, this lady ran to the Lord Mayor to say what she had
seen and heard; she obtained an order authorizing her to seek, on board all the ships occupying the basin of the West Indies, the man who had cried out and called Granville Sharpe to his aid. After a few hours of searching, they discovered, in a merchant ship ready to leave, a young black man gagged, bound hand and foot, who had been hidden under a barrel. He was immediately released and released.
It was no longer permitted, from that day, to trade in blacks, that is to say, to take them from Africa and resell them in America; but those who were already there continued to be slaves, as well as their children. In England and in France, it was not the same, a law there declared free any slave whom one brought there. It was a lot, but it still wasn't enough.
TOPSY AND EVA.
The little negress Topsy was of rare skill, and brought to manual labor as much energy as activity. She learned very quickly what she was taught; few lessons brought her so perfectly acquainted with all that concerned Miss Ophelia's room, that the most minute rigor could not have found her fault. Never could human fingers have spread, smoothed the sheets better, adjusted the pillows more methodically, sweeped, dusted, tidied up with more perfection than those of Topsy, when she wanted to; — but she didn't always want to. "If Miss Ophelia, after three or four days of scrupulous supervision, imagined that she could trust Topsy and attend to other cares, Topsy held a veritable carnival in the room for an hour or two." Instead of making the bed, she stripped it, took off the pillowcases, and rolled her woolly head in it until she had made herself a grotesque feather wig. She climbed like a cat along the small columns which supported the baldachin, and, having reached the top, hung upside down; she was spinning the sheets, dragging them all over the apartment. She dressed the bolster of her mistress' night dress, to then make her play all sorts of pantomimes—singing, whistling, and regaling herself, before the mirror, with the most comic grimaces. In short, she was fooling around, or, as Miss Ophelia put it, "she was thinking of Cain." »
Once, the mistress, by an unheard-of negligence at home, having forgotten her key in a drawer, found her pupil decked out in a magnificent red turban, made from her finest crepe de chine shawl, which Topsy had twisted around her head, while she declaimed pompously in front of the mirror.
'Topsy,' cried the poor Miss out of patience, 'how can you act like this?
─ I don't know, mistress, maybe it's because I'm so mean!
─ I don't know what to do with you, Topsy!
─ Lord! mistress, you must whip me. Old mistress always whipped me. I don't know how to work without being beaten.
“But, Topsy, I have no desire to beat you; you can do well if you want; why don't you want it?
─ Hey! there, mistress, I have always been whipped; maybe it's good for me. »
One day, loud exclamations and a hail of reproaches, falling on no one knew who, exploded in Miss Ophelia's bedroom, which opened onto the gallery.
“What new devilry will this elf Topsy have brewed in us? said Saint Clair. She's at the bottom of this din, I'd bet! »
A minute later Miss Ophelia appeared, dragging the culprit, and, in a fit of lively indignation:
'Come here,' she cried, 'come; I want to tell your master.
─ What is it, cousin?
─ I cannot be harassed by this child any longer. A saint's patience wouldn't last. I lock him up there, in my room, I give him a lesson to learn by heart. What does she notice? She spies on me to find out where I hide my key, opens my dresser, takes my finest bonnet trim, and cuts it into pieces to make doll dresses! I have never seen anything like it in my life.
─ I told you enough, Cousin, continued Madame Saint-Clair, such creatures are not led by words. If I were free to do as I please (and she gave her husband a reproachful look), I would send this child to the reformatory to be whipped hard, until she can no longer stand on her legs. »
Miss Ophelia's anger suddenly subsided.
"I wouldn't want the child to be treated like this for anything in the world," she said; but the fact is that I am at the end of my patience and expedients. I taught, rebuked, talked, scolded until I was hoarse; I whipped her, I punished her, and I'm just as advanced as day one!
"Here, monkey, come here!" said Saint-Clair, calling the child close to him.
Topsy stepped forward. A certain dread, mixed with his usual funny expression, made his sharp, round eyes twinkle and blink.
“Who pushed you to behave like this, let's see? said Saint-Clair, who could hardly keep from laughing as he looked at her.
"Sure it's my bad heart," said Topsy solemnly; Miss Phelie said so.
'Can't you see all the trouble Miss Ophelia takes? she no longer knows what to do with you; do you hear it?
- Lord ! Yes Master. Old mistress said all the same; she whipped me, ah! she whipped me otherwise hard! She was pulling my hair out, banging my head against the door, and it didn't matter at all; it didn't do me any good. Surely she would have plucked handfuls of all the hair from my head and it wouldn't have done me any good either. I'm so mean, Lord! besides, I'm just a nigger after all!
"I give up the game," resumed Miss Ophelia; I've had enough: I can bear no more.
Eva, who until then had been listening in silence, made a sign to Topsy to follow her, and the two children slipped together into a little glass cabinet, at the corner of the veranda, where Saint-Clair sometimes went to read.
“What is Eva going to do? asked Saint-Clair; I must see it. »
Walking on tiptoe, he advanced slowly, parted the curtain a little, and almost immediately, putting his finger to his lips, he silently called Miss Ophelia to him. The two children were sitting opposite each other on the floor: Topsy, with her mischievous, comical and carefree air; Eva, her face animated, tender, and her eyes full of tears.
"What makes you so bad, Topsy?" Why won't you try to be good? Don't you like anything, Topsy? said Eva.
— Don't know. Me, just like candy sugar and other good things, that's all.
─ But do you love someone, your dad, your mom?
'I never had a mum or dad, you know. I have already told you, Miss Eva.
- Ah! I know, said the little girl sadly; but have you no brother, or sister, or aunt, or...
- Oh ! never had nothing, never had anyone, no one at all.
“But, Topsy, it's up to you to be good.
"I can be just a nigger, nothing else, good or bad," Topsy said. If I could take off my black skin and come all white, oh! I do not say!
“But people can love you, though black, Topsy; Miss Ophelia would love you, if you were good. »
The short, sharp, jerky laugh, Topsy's usual expression of disbelief, was her only response.
“Don't you believe it?
- No ; she can't put up with me because I'm a nigger. She loves a toad better than I touch her! Nobody like niggers, niggers can do no good; but never mind, I don't care! And Topsy began to whistle.
" Oh! Topsy, my poor child, I love you! exclaimed Eva with an impassioned surge of soul; and she leaned her transparent hand tenderly on Topsy's black shoulder; “I love you because you have no father, no mother, no friends, because you are a poor, unhappy and abandoned little girl! I love you and I want you good! You see, Topsy, I'm very ill, I won't live long, and I'm so sorry to see you mean! Be good for me sake, I have so little time to be with you, Topsy! »
The round, piercing eyes of the little negress suddenly veiled; large shiny drops rolled slowly one by one, and fell on the small white hand. Yes, at that moment, a ray of faith, of celestial charity, had passed through the darkness of that pagan soul, and Topsy hid her head between her knees, she wept, she sobbed, while the beautiful child, bent lovingly over her , seemed the shining angel bent over the sinner whom he has just redeemed.
"Poor dear Topsy," said Eva, "don't you know that Jesus loves us all the same?" you as well as me. He loves you like I love you, but much, much more, because he's much bigger, much better. He will help you become good, and you can go to heaven in the end, to be an angel forever, just as if you were white. Think about it! Think, Topsy, it's up to you to be one of those blissful, brilliant spirits that Uncle Tom sings about!
- Oh ! dear Miss Eva! dear Miss Eva! I want, I try to be good. I didn't care before, not at all. »
Saint-Clair let the curtain fall.
"The sweet child reminds me of my mother," he said to Miss Ophelia; what she told me is true. If we want to give sight to the blind, we must, like Jesus, call him to us and lay hands on him.
"I've always had a kind of distaste for negroes, that's a fact," said Miss Ophelia; I didn't like Topsy touching me; but I never imagined that she noticed it,
"Trust the children for these discoveries," replied Saint-Clair. Impossible to hide from them the impression they produce. The most benevolent efforts, services, benefactions, nothing can excite in them a shadow of gratitude, so long as this repugnance exists. It may sound strange, but it is.
"What to do there?" said Miss Ophelia; they are so disagreeable to me, especially this little one, I cannot change my impressions.
─ Eva has very different ones.
─ Oh! Eva is something else; she is so loving! And it's only being a Christian, after all, Miss Ophelia added thoughtfully. I would gladly like to be like her, and I believe she has given me a salutary lesson there.
"Perhaps so," remarked Saint-Clair. It would not be the first time that a small child had been sent to teach an old disciple. »
Mrs Beecier Stowe.
You probably won't have a little negress to love and convert, my dear children, but when you meet poor, ignorant, helpless, miserable little creatures like Topsy—there is no lack of them among the whites—remember Eva, and try to be good, compassionate, charitable like her.
Eva and Topsy, my children, were painted from nature, by a woman with a big heart, who, having seen the sufferings of the poor black slaves in America, wanted to soften their fate. She has written a book for this, which is called Uncle Tom's Cabin, which you will read one day, and where you will find with great pleasure the amiable little girl with whom you have just made the acquaintance.
We have seen together, by the Son of a Planter, how slavery corrupted the whites, and made them so young capable of so much wickedness. We have also seen a man, revolted by this injustice, devoting himself entirely to a poor slave, and not taking an hour's rest until he had obtained not only the freedom of the poor man, but the emancipation. of all the slaves who were in England and France.
I then wanted to show you how this regime of beatings, ill-treatment, separation of children from their mothers, brutalized in the long run these poor beings without families.
Finally, I end with good news. Slavery no longer exists, even in America.
The sun woke me up at half past four; he stared at me. I got up and left. The whirlwinds and torrents of rain had just ceased, a golden calm stretched over the blue sky.
What a joy to savor the morning mist, to run with the cool wind, to feel the fragrance of young plants penetrate the chest and rise to the head, to feel the beating of one's temples and flushing of one's cheeks, and to shake off the drops of dew of her hair!
I rested on the trunk of a hollow lime tree, lying across the waters. Under its thick branches I discovered a multitude of birds' nests. There was a family of little chickadees, black-capped, white-throated; they were seven in the same nest; then finches and goldfinches. The father and mother hovered above my head, and brought the beak to their young. Ah! provided they manage to raise them in this critical situation! If one of these little birds, suspended above the rapid stream, were to fall into it, it would infallibly drown. To make matters worse, the nests hang askew.
If you had seen life, the movement of those thousands of bees and flies buzzing around me! In truth, there is no market so populous, so animated; everyone seemed to recognize themselves very well; everyone went to look under the flowers for a little inn to retire to; then we came out, we met the neighbor, we passed one by the other buzzing, as if we wanted to say to ourselves: How beautiful this world is! how great is God!
To the young of the birds he gives food, And his goodness extends over all nature.
A German proverb says:
“The morning hour has gold in its mouth. Yes, I see that gold shining on the water; the rays of the sun pierce the clouds and sprinkle stars over the rapid stream, swollen for two days by incessant rain.
What pleasures the lazy deprive themselves of!
Children, rise with the sun to see these lovely things and to become strong, joyful and healthy.
IT IS DAY.
Hello day! Divine sun, Shine and come bring life! Roll, run, leap, vermilion wave! Groves, exhale harmony. It is day!
Noon is coming: launch your incense, Roses, and from the sleeping lake. Birds, ride the wave as you pass! The daisy in the meadow wakes up, noon is coming!
It's evening: soft-eyed herds, Go home, reach the sheepfold. To the nests, fledglings, all fly. From the sunset, gold melts into rain, It's evening!
It is night: sparkling sky, Your eyes twinkle on the plain; The fagot burns sparkling, The cricket sings breathlessly; It is night!
It is midnight: everyone is sleeping in the house; The owl alone in the shadow watches, On the floor the mice trot; Weary, exhausted, the man sleeps, It's midnight.
To. of hot air balloon.
THE TWO BUCKETS.
There are always two ways of looking at things, as the story I am about to tell you will prove.
Two buckets, suspended from a long chain, descended and ascended alternately from the bottom of a deep well. They met halfway, and one of the buckets said to the other:
"Why do you look so sad, and why are you crying?" "Because I've no sooner come back full than they take my water and send me back empty." But you, why are you frolicking and looking so happy?
—- Because I think that if I go down empty, I always come up full. »
And this is how there is in all things, and for everyone, the bad side and the good. Happy is he who gets used early to seeing the good.
Here is a word that you do not know, my dear children; God save you from ever experiencing the poignant pain he expresses. Remorse is the regret of having done what can no longer be repaired.
It was in November 1776, in frosty, cold and rainy weather. All that the city and the surroundings of an English city, called Lichtfield, contained of outstanding people were gathered at the countess of C ***, attracted especially by the pleasure of dining with the English author who had the most renown. , Samuel Johnson, who. then visited his hometown. Dinner time passed, and Johnson did not arrive: we waited an hour, two hours, we dined without him. announced the doctor. He entered, and one was immediately struck by his strange appearance. It was no longer that haughty and harsh air which attracted so many enemies to him, in spite of his excellent qualities. He was pale, weak, downcast; his messy clothes were covered in snow and dripping with rain. We watched him in silence. He walked up to the mistress of the house: "Madame," he said, "I beg your pardon. When I signed up, I had no idea that today would be the... November... Don't you understand? you don't know?... Well, I'm going to tell you: it will be one more expiation.
“Forty years ago today, to the day, November 21, my father, who was old and suffering, my father said to me: “Sam, take the cart; I am not well; “Go to the Walstall market, and you will sell the books in my shop, in my place. I, madam, foolishly proud of the knowledge he had given me, I who had only eaten the bread of his work, I who have since run out of bread...I refused. Then, with a gentleness the memory of which kills me at this moment, my father insisted. “Come on, Sam, he said, be good kid, go ahead, it would be a shame to lose a market day. And I, haughty dog that I was, I refused. He went there, my father, and the weather was like today; he went there, and... and he died, my father... he died a few days later."
At this point in his story, the doctor covered his face, which was flooded with big tears, with both hands. Then he resumed:
'Forty years ago, madam, and forty years ago, on the 21st of November, I come to Lichtfield. The journey that I didn't want to make in the cart, I do on foot and without having eaten; I stand bareheaded in the market place of Walstall for four hours, where my father ran the stall that fed me for thirty years. Forty years ago, I passed the age my father was when he died... and I cannot die. »
Johnson's sobs redoubled; he raised his head, and said with a frightful smile: "But what's the use of crying?" Isn't it on the Place de Walstall that this word came to me from one of my works which people found so striking: It's too late! It's too late! »
THE PRISONER APPLE.
"My grandmother had a decanter on her mantelpiece which excited my childish curiosity all the more because it contained the forbidden fruit, a pretty apple, pink and white, with very smooth skin, ripe to perfection, and whose sight made your mouth water. But the apple was like the beauty of Prince Desire, a prisoner in his crystal house, whose transparent walls defended it against the hands and teeth of the curious. How did she get there? how could she have passed through the narrow neck? This mystery piqued my curiosity more than the beautiful fruit excited my gluttony. No matter how much I looked, I couldn't guess. How many times, in my grandmother's absence, had I climbed onto a chair, picked up the mysterious carafe, and turned it upside down to make sure it hadn't a double bottom! Ah! if I had let it slip, if it had broken when it fell, how Grandmother would have whipped me!... and I would have had only what I deserved.
"But the story is not over, Papa," said the little reader, interrupting himself.
The father. - Yes; I wanted to leave you the pleasure of finishing it. Try to guess by what sorcery an apple twice as big as the neck was there?
William. “I think I know that, Dad. We will have blown the bottled glass over the apple.
The father.—It's not badly thought out; but the heat of the glass that one blows while it is red and molten would have cooked the apple, and, instead of a beautiful fresh and pink fruit, you would have had an ugly cooked apple, all black and quite shriveled.
William. - Then I do not know.
The other children. “Neither me... nor us.
The peke. “So you have to tell you how my grandmother managed it, because I couldn't guess either. One day I saw her in the garden inserting into another decanter a very small apple, which was still attached to the tree by a branch, and which, helped by the rain and the sun of the good Lord, was to grow and grow in prison, until until it is gently detached from its nourishing branch. The mystery was then explained to me, and I have since learned that fine pears and apricots were brought in bottles in this way. »
During the terrible revolt of the Hindus against the English, one of those beggars who roam the villages and cities of India, their forehead covered with ashes and dressed in rags, and whom the natives call fakirs and venerate as saints, found a poor European child, whom his nurse had hidden during the massacres. The parents had fled. The fakir picked up the abandoned boy and took him with him on his errands, not without running great risks; but his reputation for holiness preserved him. He succeeded in discovering the father and the mother, and returned the child to them, whom they had believed dead. In their gratitude, they asked the beggar what he wanted, offering him half of the gold they had been able to salvage.
"I want neither gold nor silver," answered the poor man; only, in memory of me, dig a well where travelers can quench their thirst and give my name to this well. »
The act of this poor fakir, my children, is it not an excellent example of Christian charity? He wants nothing for himself; riches do not tempt him; but he thinks of the others, of those who, in this burning climate, suffer from thirst, as he himself has often suffered.
THE CHILD HERO
Alone!... the child remained alone on the blazing nave,
When all the others had fled: The fire lit up, through the smoke, The dead lying around him.
Ah! didn't he seem to command the storm,
To see him standing on the bridge? Heroic and beautiful form, in this new age, Hero child with a noble brow!
Go, stay, what does it matter? It's about instructions,
And not to live or die: Close to the post of honor that the order designates for him, He has the strength to obey.
But who will change it, the order? the broad waves
Roll dead, dying at the same time; Your father, buried under their deep blades, Poor child, no longer hears your voice.
And the child called: he shouted:. " My father!
Is my task done, say? From the heated cannons the lugubrious thunder Coup sur coup responds to his cries.
His voice rises again: “Father, father! he calls;
" Can i go? Oh! say! answer! And the flame launched, in its cruel rage, Its hot breath on the young brow.
Her long hair floated in this breath of embers,
And his calm gaze faced The hissing torture and the fiery furnace Which approached more and more.
He shouts again, it was his last word: “Father! fire wins! Instantly A thousand tongues of fire run, the flame flies. And from cable to cable goes down.
Sails, masts, tackle, red were outlined On the darkened azure of the two;
Above the child in the air lit up Like banners of fire.
A deafening noise,... then the night,... silence!...
What became of the young hero?... Ask these winds whose breath balances The debris scattered on the waves.
Shrouds, masts, rudder, everything on the wave swirls,
And even to the victorious flag, The sea engulfs everything: but its noblest prey Was this young and faithful heart.
(Son of a Corsican captain in the service of France, who commanded the battle of Aboukir the ship the east, the young Casa Bianca, about thirteen years old, remained at the post where his father had placed him, although the ship had caught fire, and the whole crew had abandoned their board.)
A. DE M.
MY CHILDHOOD INCIDENT.
I remember an incident which had a great influence on my whole life, and which I want to tell you, children, so that you may benefit from it.
We were in the country, in the summer; my father, sitting on the lawn in front of the house, his straw hat lowered over his eyes, had a book in his hand. Suddenly a beautiful flowerpot of blue and white earthenware, which had been placed on the sill of the window on the first floor, fell with a crash, and the fragments were scattered around my father's legs. He continued to read without being moved.
“Oh! exclaimed my mother, who was working in the vestibule, my poor flowerpot that I loved so much! who did that?... Annette! Annette! »
She showed her head at the fatal window, and went downstairs in the twinkling of an eye, pale and out of breath.
"I would have preferred all the plants in the greenhouse had been destroyed by the hurricane last week," said my mother; I would have preferred to see my porcelain tray broken, rather than that dear flower-pot which had been given to me by my husband on my birthday; and that poor geranium that I had grown and cared for so well! It is this naughty child who will have done this! »
Annette was very much afraid of my father. For what? I do not know; unless it was because talkers are always afraid of those who speak little. She looked at my father, who seemed attentive to what was going on, and immediately exclaimed:
"No, ma'am, it's not that dear child, God bless him!" it's me.
- YOU ! how could you have been so careless, so thoughtless, knowing how much I valued this pot and the flower! Oh! Annette. »
Annette was sobbing.
"Don't lie, nurse," said a small, shrill voice, and little Marcel came out of the house, firm and fearless. He continued quickly:
“Mom, don't scold Annette: I pushed the flowerpot out.
— Hush! said my nurse, more frightened than ever, and looking with horror towards my father, who had taken off his hat and who, with his eyes wide open, witnessed this scene.
'Hush!... if he broke it, madame, it was by chance. He was standing nearby, like that, and didn't mean to do anything wrong. Isn't it, my darling?... Speak! speak then! She whispered in my ear: "Say yes, otherwise Dad will be very angry with you." »
'Well,' resumed my mother, 'I see it was an accident. You must take care another time, my child. I'm sure you're very sorry to have hurt me: you won't do it again. Come on, let me kiss you.
- No, mom, do not kiss me, I do not deserve it. I pushed the flowerpot on purpose.
- Ah! and why? said my father, stepping forward. My nurse was shaking like a poplar leaf. " To have fun ! I answered, lowering my head, and to see what you would say, papa: here is the truth. Now type me, correct me. »
My father threw his book on the lawn, bent down and took me in his arms:
"My boy," he told me. you did something wrong, but you will fix it by remembering all your life that your father thanked God for giving him a son who could tell the truth, despite fear. As for you, nurse, the first time you teach him to lie, you will leave the house immediately. »
From that hour, I felt that I loved my father, and I also understood that he loved me. From that day he began to chat with me. If I met him reading in the garden, he no longer passed by giving me a smile and a little nod. He stopped, put his book in his pocket, and asked me what I saw in a flower, in an insect? and in confiding to him my little observations and my childish ideas, I felt happier and better; for he had a way of his own, not of teaching me, but of making me make a discovery on my own. And that pleased me very much, and amused me infinitely more than throwing flowerpots on the ground to see what Papa would say.
THE DOMINO GAME
M. Martin, who was unmarried, and who was very fond of children, often gave me little presents; shortly after the adventure of the flower pot, he made me one that surpassed all the others in value and beauty. It was a large box of dominoes, carved in ivory, painted and gilded. This box was my delight. I never got tired of playing dominoes with my nanny, and I made the box sleep under my pillow.
One day when I was putting away my beautiful dominoes on the living room table, my father came in and said to me:
"Do you like these dominoes better than all your other toys, Marcel?"
- Oh ! Yes Dad.
"Would you be very sorry if your mother threw that box out the window for fun?" »
I looked at my father pleadingly, without answering.
"But you might be glad," he continued, "if one of those good fairies the storybooks talk about changed the box of dominoes into a beautiful white and blue flowerpot, which you could have the pleasure of putting on your mother's window.
“Yes, actually. »
I had a heavy heart and tears in my eyes.
“I believe you, my dear child, but good desires do not repair bad deeds. Only a good deed can make up for a bad one. »
That said, he closed the door and left. I remained worried and preoccupied to find out what my father had meant. That day I did not play dominoes. The next day, as I was under a tree in the garden, my father passed by and stopped. He stared at me fixedly with his large, bright, serious eyes.
“My boy, he said, I am going to Versailles; it is half a league from here: do you want to come with me? Take your box of dominoes, I would like to show it to someone.”
I ran to fetch my box, and proud of walking on the main road beside Papa, I got into step.
"Dad, there are no more fairies now. I'm very sorry about that.
─ Why, my child?
─ Because my box of dominoes cannot change itself into a geranium and a blue and white flowerpot.
— My dear Marcel, said the father, putting his hand on my shoulder, he who sincerely desires to be good always has two fairies with him: one here, — and he touched the place of my heart, — and the other there; — he touched my forehead. — I don't understand, papa.
- Tried; I have plenty of time to wait for you to understand. »
We had arrived in front of the flowerbed of a gardener-florist. My father entered it, and after looking at the flowers, he stopped in front of a large variegated geranium with double flowers. “Oh! this one is more beautiful than the one your mother loved so much. How much is it, sir?
"Ten francs," replied the gardener; "it's a rare species." My father buttoned his coat. "I can't afford to buy it today," he said softly, and we continued on our way.
As we entered the town, we saw a beautiful earthenware shop. "Do you have a flowerpot like the one I bought a few months ago?" Ah! here is one, it is marked five francs. Yes, that was the price; I remember it. Well, when Mom's Day comes around, we'll buy one for her. We will have to wait five or six months; but we can be patient, Marcel, for the truth, which flowers all the year round, is worth more than the most beautiful geranium, and a promise that has never been broken is more valuable than a earthenware vase, or even porcelain. »
I had lowered my head, but I raised it: my heart was beating with joy.
"I've come to pay you your little bill," said my father to one of those bric-a-brac vendors who sell all kinds of curiosities, toys for young and old. "By the way," he added, as the merchant searched his books for the price of the articles sold, "my little boy can show you a box more curious and of prettier workmanship than the one you persuaded my wife of." bought last winter. Show your box of dominoes, dear. »
I spread out my treasure. The merchant found the box very beautiful, as well as the set of dominoes. It was a rarity that had value.
"If my boy got sick of it one day, how much would you give him?" asked my father.
"I couldn't give more than fifteen francs for it," said the merchant, "unless the little gentleman wanted to take some pretty toys in exchange."
"Fifteen francs!" said my father, it wouldn't be cheap; certainly you would not lose. Well, boy, when you get tired of your box, I'll let you sell it. »
My father paid what he owed and left. I stood behind the merchant for a moment, then ran to join my father at the end of the street. " Daddy daddy ! I cried, clapping my hands, we can buy the geranium, we can buy the flowerpot! I took a handful of money from my pocket.
“Wasn't I right? said my father: you have found the two fairies! »
Ah! how happy I was when, after placing the vase and its flower on the windowsill, I pulled Maman by her dress and showed them to her.
“He wanted it; it was he who made the market and paid his money, says my father. A good deed has repaired the bad.
- What ! cried my mother when she knew everything. You sold your beautiful box of dominoes that you loved so much! Tomorrow we'll go to Versailles to buy it back, even if the merchant wants to sell it to us for double.
"What do you say, Marcel?" Will we redeem it? asked my father.
- Oh ! no no ! that would spoil everything! I cried, throwing myself on Papa's neck.
— My wife, my father said gravely, the child is right. Let's not take away from him the happiness he feels at having got rid of something he loved to repair a wrong. Let us not weaken the feeling of justice which must serve as a rule for him all his life. »
So ends the story of the broken flowerpot.
THE POWER OF FAITH.
I had just visited an injured friend. By the time I got back to camp, the sun was beginning to set. I met a chaplain whom I have since found in Italy, and whose morning combat had made the ministry necessary all day. This priest lived in a tent next to mine. I walked with him. We had both arrived, he on his mule, I on my horse, at the ramp which descends from the plateau into the valley. Between the camps we had just left and those we were going to join, we crossed almost solitary spaces where the soul rested with astonishment in calm. We were crossing an interesting and serious country, which this hour of the day, tranquil and collected, filled with an immense charm. Suddenly, at the edge of the road we were following, halfway between the valley and the plateau, the priest saw a soldier, stretched out on the ground, who was still breathing, but whose face bore all the traces of death. He gave me his mule, dismounted and ran towards this dying man. I saw him get on his knees, lean the heavy head of the dying man against his chest, and open his mouth to utter words that I could not hear. After a few moments, he came back to me, and, seeing a band of soldiers on the road, he called them to carry the man he had just held in his arms. This man was already nothing more than a corpse.
We had resumed our course, and the chaplain walked by my side without speaking. Suddenly coming out of the silence: "Do you know," he cried, "what this poor man said to me, from whom I received his last sigh?" He said to me: “Cholera took me two hours ago, I fell at this place where I am. At the very moment I saw you, I was fervently praying to God to send a priest to me. The priest had passed.
Watch therefore and pray, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Here was a poor man who had escaped many dangers, who had seen many bullets pass near him without being hit; and suddenly the disease seized him, he felt struck to death, from the bottom of his heart he cried out to God, and he was heard.
A RAY OF SUNSHINE.
Rich people, do not say, when you give alms: "I have done a lot of good." No, you are mistaken; Our Father above gives back everything we give, But it is by doing too much that we will do enough.
................................................... ................................................... ................................................... ..
We left one evening for a pilgrimage,
Higher than far (it was on the sixth floor),
Not in a palace, but under these rotten roofs
Where the poor and the bird go alone to make their nests,
Where all the flagellates of human existence
Will sweat blood and water to die the pain,
Where a few pale rays seldom fall:
The sun does not like to smile at rags.
We went in... it was towards the end of December,
In a hole, not to call it a bedroom.
A woman was there, sewing... That was all,
But it was too much... A young child standing
Watched us coming: on her, misery
In its deformity showed itself entirely;
Yet she was beautiful, with her big black eye,
Who must have cried so much from morning until night.
Fate had shaped it with great strokes of the iron.
At this aspect we are often frightened, we recoil,
Dreading the touch of dirty clothes,
Sordid shreds, abject and repulsive;
But no, none of that: under this rough bark
One felt the beating of a heart sure of its strength;
And I stretched out my hand, holding back my tears,
To this young button which will have no flowers.
Then, trying to smile, she held out hers;
A ray of sunlight passed through the shutters:
The child looked at me; then, falling on his knees:
“Look, mum, the good Lord who still thinks of us! »
A smile enlightened these poor swallows,
And I wept with joy. Friends, pray for them!
THE FOUR HOSTS OF MOTHER ROSE.
It was in December, close to Christmas. It was very cold. A woodcutter, who lived on the edge of the forest, sent his son there to look for wood. The path was long and slippery. Many paths crossed in the thickets. The child wanders off. Night was coming and her heart sank. Suddenly he saw a small light appear in the distance. He walked this way; the light appeared and disappeared hidden by the trunk of an oak or by the branches of a poplar. Finally, he saw a large black mass: it was a rock. A red glow filtered between the brambles and the stones that blocked the entrance to a cave. Michel was no coward; however, before entering this strange house, he would have liked to know who lived there. He approached very slowly and looked. A woman was seated in front of a fire, which she rekindled by throwing brushwood into it; the flame rose and lighted the interior of the cavern, which was very deep. There were large leather skins; some, inflated like balloons, touched the vault; others hung limp and relaxed. It wasn't terribly scary; then a woman does not scare a child. Michel remembered his mother, who had always had kind words and tender caresses for him. He resolutely brushed aside the brambles and stones. At the noise, the woman turned around. She had the most singular face in the world; you couldn't distinguish nose, mouth, or eyes, it was all moving so much. A round cap, bristling with sixteen points, swirled around his head like a weather vane. “Who comes here? she asked in a hollow voice. "It's me," replied Michel, a little trembling. "And who are you?" — I am the son of the woodcutter of the forest: my father sent me to the new cut to look for fagots; I lost myself; I saw light and came straight at her. 'Well, you're not too stupid, little Michel. Come closer to the fire and warm yourself up. — Well, said Michel to himself, she knows my name! It must be a fairy: she looks like no one, and she has such a funny cap! "If you're hungry," said the woman, still shaking her head, "here are chestnuts roasted under the ashes." That's all I have left; but I shall not lack provisions presently, when my hosts arrive. "His hosts!" thought Michel, where does she lodge them? Does she run an inn? He looked with all his eyes, but he could not find any beds, chairs, or chests of drawers:
nothing but skins. “You have met my hosts sometimes. They are wanderers who roam the world night and day. When they are too tired, they come to rest with Mother Rose. Hold! I believe one is coming. Don't you hear it? Michel listened. There was a loud noise in the forest. The trees bent, the branches broke with a groan, and there was a dull roar like that of the raging sea.
"It's a storm," said Michel, who turned very pale. — No, it's the hurricane. You are very happy not to have found it on your way. At this moment the cave shook as if it were about to collapse, a gust laden with frost and snow rushed into it, and filled it so completely that Michel could no longer distinguish anything. " Lets go ! said the mistress of the house to the newcomer, let's calm down: leave your abrupt manners at the door, you know I don't want rowdy people in my house. Are you at least bringing me something good? “A weak salt cod that I snagged on the tip of my wing as I passed the coast of Newfoundland. You should have seen the astonishment of the fishermen watching their fish fly through the air! I could have taken more, but it would have been too heavy. I have enough to do to push the mountains of ice, and to carry the big clouds full of snow. The fog had lifted; the frost had fallen to the ground where it had sown a silver dust, and in front of the fireplace stood a strange being. He had the face of a man; his whole body was enveloped in immense white wings, and on his head he wore a crown of aigrettes more scintillating than diamond. be kind, and show this little one, who trusted me, the countries from which you come. "He won't find them very gay," replied the traveller; but since it is your good pleasure, Mother Rose, that we show the magic lantern to this child this evening for the Christmas party, let it be done as you wish. Judge of the joy of Michel who only knew the magic lantern by name, but who had heard wonderful stories about it. " Attention ! the birdman shouted at him.
A wall of the cave had become luminous, and against this background was outlined an even more dazzling sea, all strewn with mountains of ice, so high that their summits seemed to pierce the clouds, while their bases sank several hundred meters under water. Some resembled fortified castles, with their towers and crenellations; others to churches, with open-work cloisters. A deep crevasse opened below a vault transparent as crystal: one would have thought to see the glass palace where the beautiful bride of Prince Désir was shut up. Only, instead of princess there were polar bears in this den of ice. They lived there as a family. A mother bear, sitting on her hind legs, was washing a little bear cub, who was making such a funny face, with an ice cube instead of soap, that Michel burst out laughing. Further on, seals were practicing to climb a snow cone which had the shape of a gigantic sugar loaf. They slipped and fell back into the sea, capering; big birds, called penguins, raised on their tails, assisted in this gymnastics: with their black plumage, their serious air, they looked like judges charged with distributing prizes to the most agile. Michel's eyes widened and he never tired of contemplating so many new things, when he saw a small black dot sliding through these enormous masses, at the risk of being crushed by them; he was advancing under these slender vaults, from which hung candles of ice twenty meters long. From time to time a dull creak was heard: half of the vault collapsed with a terrible noise and fell into the sea, sending up a cloud of foam which darkened the air. After a while the black dot reappeared, still advancing, and Michel, who had seen boats on the river, recognized a ship. Men came and went on board, furling the sails or spreading them according to where the wind was blowing; but in vain did they, around them formed impassable barriers. Soon there was only a vast field of ice, where the motionless vessel remained riveted. Then a handsome young man alighted; five sailors followed him. They were going in search of a brave sailor, who many years before had also sailed for the North Pole, and had never returned to England whence he had left. This time, a brave Frenchman risked his life to restore a desolate woman to her husband, to find the lost Englishman, or at least traces of his passage. He was marching resolutely at the head of his companions, when, enveloped by a storm of snow, he felt the icicle which supported him crack and detach from the mass. The storm took him and carried him away! Michel saw him wave his handkerchief as a sign of farewell: gasping, the child exclaimed: "Will he be saved?" where is he going ? "He goes to the supreme port towards which we all march," said Mother Rose, "but few arrive there by such a glorious route as that taken by Lieutenant Bellot." Terrified, Michel had closed his eyes: when he opened them again, the sea of ice, the mountains, the ship, everything had disappeared.
" Oh ! How beautiful, how beautiful! cried Michael. It doesn't look like the sun or the moon. What is it?
"On earth," said the bird-man, "these lights are called an aurora borealis." Better informed, I can tell you that these are only the pale rays of light which escape from the gates of heaven, when I go to receive the orders of the sovereign master of whom I am only the blind instrument.
"Thank you for showing me so many curious things, sir," stammered Michel, quite dazzled.
— My name is not Monsieur. Formerly, the Greeks called me Boreas or Aquilon; today they call me quite simply, North Wind. »
Michel had dozed off: he awoke with a start at the sound of a great flapping of wings. North Wind was gone. Enclosed in one of the largest wineskins, he rocked at the bottom of the cavern, humming a song like a child falling asleep in its cradle; but the song of Vent du Nord, was as deafening as the bell of Notre-Dame, and its cradle even bigger and bigger than the captive balloon which we saw last summer rising above Paris. A newcomer had taken his place near the hearth. He did not resemble his brother, although there was a family resemblance between them. Instead of being white as snow, his wings were of an azure blue, and he wore on his head a little pointed hat whose upturned brim ended in four horns topped with bells which gave off a silvery sound. He had a yellow complexion, small eyes, long and turned up at the corner, a wide mouth, a snub nose, and all this made such a funny face that one could not look at it without laughing.
"It's your turn to amuse this little one, while I go make tea," said Mother Rose. But try to be more cheerful than your brother, who only showed us ice and snow.
"You're forgetting the beautiful fireworks display at the end," Michel went on.
- It's true ; but now we must be shown countries inhabited by men and not by bears and seals.
'You will be served as you wish, Mother Rose. »
Immediately the silhouette of the pointed hat was drawn on the wall of the cave and grew rapidly, while hats of the same shape, but of different sizes, were staged above: it always rose, and became an immense pyramid of small kiosks. superimposed on each other. From the top of this singular edifice one could see rivers, countryside, towns swarming with thousands of inhabitants; there were some on board the big boats like houseboats that covered the rivers. There were so many of them in the streets that a pin could not have fallen to the ground, so crowded were they. There were some in the fields, busy collecting the small white grains of rice, the down of cotton, and the green leaves of shrubs which covered leagues of ground: others dried these leaves, rolled them up and locked them up. preciously in large black boxes marked with gold characters. They were then piled up on board large ships. What amused Michel the most was to see that all the men, even the children, had the front of their heads shaved, while behind them a long tail of braided hair hung down their backs. Among this crowd pushing and jostling each other, there were no women. Michel was astonished at this when he discovered several ladies seated in a garden pavilion, carefully occupied in deforming the pretty pink feet of their little girls, by enclosing them in sorts of cases which prevented them from developing and growing. . When one of these mothers got up and tried to walk, she stumbled, and had fallen on her nose, if a servant had not supported her. The discordant sounds of a great metal gong being struck with a hammer were heard from time to time, and a procession marched past to the great pagoda to worship the Buddha idol there.
"I've seen a big house like this before," said Michel, one day when I went to the chateau. It was painted in gold on a screen, and the petty bourgeois told me it was a Chinese pagoda.
'Indeed,' continued Mother Rose, 'there are all sorts of ugly grimacing faces in there, which those poor pagans who don't know the true God adore. But look this way. Michel looked and saw a chapel that reminded him of the church in his village; nearby was a large room filled with children. French priests brought in very small ones that they had picked up on the edge of the Well for children, so named because the parents throw there those they cannot feed: only the mothers do not have the barbaric courage to drown the poor little ones, and deposit them on the edge. This is where the missionaries pick them up. They take care of them, baptize them, raise them and instruct them. As a reward they are often arrested and put to death. At that very moment they were leading several of them to execution. Their faces were radiant and they walked with a firm step towards the executioner who was going to cut off their heads.
"I don't want to see them die," cried Michel, and he closed his eyes. When he opened them again the scene had changed: troops were landing in front of Peking; the guns were firing; the Chinese fled in all directions. Michel, who had played at being soldiers, clapped his hands. A great cloud of dust enveloped the fighters: everything disappeared. The cavern grew dark again, and a voice whispered in Michel's ear: “Farewell! I'm going back where I came from, because this is the hour when I have to part the clouds that veil the sun at sunrise.
"Tell me at least your name?" asked Michael.
— They call me East or East Wind. »
Orient had just taken off when a third guest flew in. Its plumage was neither white nor blue, like that of its brothers, but of a beautiful sea-green, shining with gold dust. On his head he had a garland of finely cut marine plants, from which hung droplets like the drops of dew one sees in the morning on the grass. Her face was beautiful, but as mobile as Mother Rose's. It changed color twenty times in one minute. "You're really late tonight," said the hostess. 'It's because you don't come in the blink of an eye from the place where the sun sets, when you have to cross five or six thousand leagues of sea. Then, I had work to do on the way. I had to round up and put back on track hundreds of ships that my terrible brothers had scattered and hunted down. I, with a vigorous stroke of the wing, pushed a rescue boat to the aid of the unfortunate castaways, who were about to perish; finally, I picked up on the back of a wave the last word of a dying man, and I took it to his mother. The poor woman slept and dreamed of the sailor's dangers. My breath had barely touched her ear when she stood up straight: "Are you calling me, my son?" here I am! and her soul went to join that of her child.
"Don't you have less dismal stories to tell us?" said Mother Rose. - So good. I met there, there, merry niggers. From slaves become free, they laughed, sang, danced; the mothers embraced their little negroes, all happy to think that they would no longer be taken from them and dragged to the market to be sold like little pigs. The fathers still bore the marks of the whip with which the barbarous overseers had beaten them for years; but they consoled themselves with the idea that their children would not be mistreated like them. This joy dilated the heart, and I forgot to breathe. However, I resumed my journey and arrived in a country where free men voluntarily make themselves more slaves than the Negroes. »
Then, on the wall of the cave, unfolded endless plains, watered by rivers. Here workers, waist deep in water, were sifting through wet sands; they seemed exhausted with fatigue; their limbs frozen and stiffened, they nevertheless pursued their painful task with feverish anxiety. Further on, others were splitting the rock with great blows of axes, or digging the earth to bury themselves in it. When they reappeared on the surface, they were emaciated, defeated, almost dying. Those who still had a little strength dragged themselves along the deserted plains, crushed under the weight of heavy burdens. Woe to them if they fell, they were immediately stripped by their companions; and, left naked on the ground, they soon perished there of cold and hunger.
“What master makes these poor people work so hard? asked Michael. — The hardest and most pitiless master, replied Mother Rose: the love of gold. These people have left their country, their families to enrich themselves far away. You see what they found: misery and death.
"The fact is," said the West Wind, "that the golden dust which I raised in passing, and which clung to my wings, made them so heavy, that I nearly fell twice. in the ocean; and you would oblige me, Mother Rose, to get rid of it as soon as possible. »
Mother Rose took her feather duster and dusted the beautiful golden-green plumage of her guest so thoroughly that the floor of the cavern became all shiny. West, feeling lighter, flapped his wings, rose to the vault, and having found a crevasse, escaped with a long hiss.
“Oh! the runner! said Mother Rose; he left without having taken the time to rest. He will have felt his elder brother coming, whose burning breath dries him up. This one shouldn't be far.
A whirlwind of sand, scattering the stones and brambles that closed the entrance to the cave, entered it with a burst of heat that seemed to come from an oven. Mother Rose pushed Michel, who fell face down on the ground. He heard a frightening buzz like the sound of a fire. When he dared to open one eye, he saw wings the color of fire surmounted by a red face like the clouds of the sunset. Michel was terrified, but Mother Rose whispered to him, "He's not as bad as he looks." Let it breathe a little, and it will soften.
"What is it called?" asked Michel softly.
- Oh ! it has several names: it is called Simoun in Africa. After it has crossed the sea and landed in Marseilles, it's the Mistral, and when it comes to us calmed down, it's the southerly wind. 'If that's his calm,' thought Michel, 'how angry must he be? However, the face was less flushed, and the fire of the wings had paled.
"It's been a long time since you've been seen," said Mother Rose, "what's become of you?"
— I am weakening. I am being chased into the desert that was once my kingdom. Wells have been dug there, trees have been planted which arrest my powerful growth.
Even the sands, which formerly I made roll and undulate like the waves of the sea, resist me. Everywhere I meet an indefatigable and intrepid race which bars my way. She traced with iron a road against which my fury was broken. She opposed the steam to me; I bravely struggled with this one, and I was conquered: it is the strongest. Finally, for centuries I had filled in and erased even the trace of a canal begun by the kings of Egypt, to unite the Red Sea with the Mediterranean; learned engineers have taken up this gigantic work, and it is coming to an end. 0 decadence of my power! I have seen machines, driven by steam, raise mountains of earth that my formidable breath could not have shaken. I saw a new channel open, extend, fill; I saw a ship cross it without my help; I blushed with shame, and ran to hide myself here.
"Is it really possible?" exclaimed Mother Rose, I wouldn't believe it unless I saw it. "Look at him then," said the furious Simoun.
At the same moment the desert appeared, crossed by a long convoy of travellers. They were heading, no longer towards the isthmus, but towards the Suez Canal, which was covered with boats and ships.
“In place of the mirages created by my fancy,” resumed the south wind, “veritable waters, which wet and fertilize, have sprung up; a city has arisen from the bosom of fixed sands, fertilized by the power of French genius. Instead of the swarms of locusts that I launched on the fields of the Arabs, condemned to die of hunger by the hundreds, swarms of priests come to give their bread to the dying, to collect the women, to save the orphans, and to bring aid and instruction to all. My reign is over. I have nothing more to do.
— No, no, said Mother Rose, you still have to repair the wrongs you have done. The obstacles you encounter, in breaking your anger, will make you softer; instead of trying to overthrow the newly planted trees that shelter the ground and keep it cool, gather the clouds and pour them over the fields you have devastated; instead of irritating him against the courageous efforts of men, help them: from cursed, you will become blessed.
“And you, little Michel, said Mother Rose, from everything you have seen today, remember this: that everywhere you have to fight evil and do good, at all costs. If you follow this precept, your A visit to the Rose of the Winds will be of great benefit to you.”
As Michel opened his mouth to thank him, he felt himself lifted gently from the ground, and, rocked in the air, he fell asleep. When he awoke, he was in his bed; above the cottage, the Rose of the Winds, once again turned into a weather vane, turned, repeating:
Remember, child, remember that each in his sphere Finds something good to do, Whether he is a lumberjack or a king.
SARA MARTIN, THE PRISONERS' MOTHER.
SARA Martin was a poor worker, with no other resources to live on than what she earned by sewing. She was small, rather ugly than pretty, quiet and sweet. She was said to be simple-minded, but good-hearted. Indeed, she was quick to help everyone. There was a prison in the city where she lived, very dark, very sad. Those confined there had no food but bread and water; they said: “They are malefactors: they have well deserved their punishment; too bad for them. »
But Sarah, who was good and charitable, pitied them; she often thought: “Among the prisoners, there are perhaps some who have not had parents to bring them up well and give them good examples; there are perhaps also those who repent of their crimes, and who would like
become better: but they are with people even meaner than themselves, who give them bad advice, and try to make them worse. »
Sara wondered how we could help those who repent, and how to make the wicked ones good? She was still thinking about it; each time she looked at the small grilled windows, each time she passed in front of the great door so massive and so well locked, she prayed to God for the prisoners.
One night she dreamed that she had wings, and that by flying very high around the great tower, she had been able to slip through the bars of a narrow cell, and visit a prisoner. When she was awake she set to work, and as her needle slipped through her fingers she said to herself, "Why can't I go into the prison?" Her thoughts flew like a bird above the high walls, and she saw herself sitting in the midst of murderers and thieves. She was talking to them; she listened to them; she told them how she liked the work, and the pleasure there was in being good. One day one of her neighbors was arrested for cruelly beating her child. She was a very angry woman, and as she was being taken to prison, the people, indignant at this bad mother, wanted to throw themselves on her and kill her. The next day, Sara, who knew her, asked and obtained from the jailer permission to see her.
She found her at the back of a dungeon, squatting in a corner like a wild animal. “What are you doing here? said this furious one to him: no doubt you have come to insult me?
— No, answered Sara gently, I come from someone you won't refuse to listen to: he reads hearts: he sees that you are repenting. This is what he sends me to tell you,” and she read:
"The Son of Man has come to save the lost...If a man has a hundred sheep, and one goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine others on the mountains to fetch the lost one?
“And if he happens to find her, I tell you truly, he has more joy in her than in the ninety-nine who have not strayed.
“I tell you likewise that there will be great joy among the angels of God over one sinner who has done penance. »
The prisoner, who had at first pretended to want to cover her ears, finally listened.
“Who said that? she asked after a moment.
— Our Lord Jesus, replied Sara, who became man and died to redeem our sins.
"Do you mean that God will forgive me?"
“Yes, if you repent. By indulging in anger, you nearly killed your child, yet you love him. »
The woman was sobbing:
"I deserved my punishment," she said. If I had been taught early to pray to God, I might not have become brutal and wicked.
"But there's still time to correct yourself," Sara continued. You have sinned greatly, you must do penance. »
The unhappy woman wept, kissed Sara's hands and thanked her.
From that day, the good Sara resolved to devote herself to the prisoners. She came to see them regularly twice a week; at first they made fun of her, and ridiculed what she said to them: but nothing repelled her. She mended their linen, taught them to read and write, for there were many of them who were very ignorant: she got them work, and undertook to sell the little objects they made with bones or straw. She used the money they earned in this way to get them some sweets and to make a little emergency fund for them when they left. The laziest solicited her, after a few days, to obtain employment. His gentleness and charity worked miracles. You could see old gray heads spelling out the alphabet, and hands that once had shamefully flown practiced holding a feather, braiding straw hats, making caps, carving bone cutlery. The women were sewing shirts, layettes, while Sara read the Gospel to them aloud. She also lent them good books. The prison had changed into a workshop. Having truly become the mother of the prisoners, more than those who had brought them into the world, Sara loved them like her children. She was the confidante of their sorrows, their weaknesses, their repentance. She supported them and encouraged them in their good resolutions.
All his days were spent among them. One day an inspector came to visit the prison, and, surprised at such a great change, he learned all that Sara had done. He asked for and obtained from the town for her a pension of three hundred francs, for she no longer had time to work at the needle. She only enjoyed it for two years, and died on October 15, 1843.
I leave you to imagine if the prisoners regretted it. You see, my dear children, that the most humble person, the poorest, the most isolated can do a lot of good. It's just about wanting. So don't say to yourself: “I can't do anything for others; I am just a child. You can also do a lot in the measure of your small forces. Try to always want what is good, and you will see the wonders you will accomplish.
Everything that comes from God bears a sublime seal: The rays of the sun, the mountain and the abyss, The murmuring bee and the singing birds, The treasures of the earth and those of the fertile seas, The breeze of the forests and the breath of the worlds, Flowers and children!
Children! how beautiful they are, bringing to life, From the skies they have left, a scent of homeland! In these fresh and pure hearts, full of laughing dreams, God seems to have left some holy promise, So much one reads of happiness, hope and joy On their confident brows!
How beautiful are the children! one, sweet and fair-headed, Swan with songs to come, wants for his conquest Only a kiss from his mother and hymns of love; The other, already stronger, full of his young audacity, Calls the perils, and the struggle, and the space: he must be an eagle one day!
And God made them so, sowing among the souls As in nature and perfumes and dictames From the humble floweret enamelling the path, to the giant cedar of which the number is rarer; And each has his task, in broad daylight or in the shade, Blade of grass or haughty oak.
But to fill it well, God marks its place in everything: On the cedar the mountain where the wind from the sky passes, On the blade of grass the plain where the ground is softer. Let us follow the divine voice, and, leaning towards childhood, Let us seek well what treasure of art or intelligence Each one brings to all.
Of each soul let us seek what is the destiny, And let us say to the Lord: “You who gave it to us, What is its mission and its goal here below? What should she spread? harmony or light? And the Lord will point to the quarry To guide our steps there.
Everything that comes from God bears a sublime seal: The rays of the sun, the mountain and the abyss, The murmuring bee and the singing birds, The treasures of the earth and those of the fertile seas, The breeze of the forests and the breath of the worlds, Flowers and children!
The children! how beautiful they are, bringing to life, From the skies they have left, a scent of homeland! In these fresh and pure hearts, full of laughing dreams, God seems to have left some holy promise, So much one reads of happiness, hope and joy On their confident brows!
How beautiful are the children! one, sweet and fair-headed, Swan with songs to come, wants for his conquest Only a kiss from his mother and hymns of love; The other, already stronger, full of his young audacity, Calls the perils, and the struggle, and the space: He must be an eagle one day!
And God made them so, sowing among the souls As in nature and perfumes and dictames From the humble floweret enameling the path,
1. Aromatic plant.
even the giant cedar, the number of which is rarer; And each has his task, in broad daylight or in the shade, Blade of grass or haughty oak.
But to fill it well, God marks its place in everything: On the cedar the mountain where the wind from the sky passes, On the blade of grass the plain where the ground is softer. Let us follow the divine voice, and, leaning towards childhood, Let us seek well what treasure of art or intelligence Each one brings to all.
Of each soul let us seek what is the destiny, And let us say to the Lord: “You who gave it to us, What is its mission and its goal here below? What should she spread? harmony or light? And the Lord will point to the quarry To guide our steps there.
The Piggy Bank has emptied. May you, dear children, have found as much pleasure in reading its contents as the grandmother took in collecting it for you. During this work, she seemed to see around her your kind and smiling faces, which gave her a kind of renewal of youth. Today, we must say goodbye, a word full of regret and hope, because, in leaving those we love, it is to God that we give them.