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´╗┐Title: Golden Deeds - Stories from History
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Golden Deeds - Stories from History" ***

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    How Horatius Kept the Bridge
    William Tell
    Catherine Douglas
    Handel, the Great Musician
    The Story of Columbus
    Antonio Canova
    Damon and Pythias
    Charlemagne and the Charcoal-burner


How Horatius Kept the Bridge

More than two thousand years ago Rome was ruled over by some kings
called the Tarquins. As they were wicked men, the Roman people rose up
against them, and drove them out of the city. The banished kings then
went to Tuscany, where Lars Porsena took up their cause, and gathering
an army together, went to help them force an entrance into Rome again.

The city could only be entered by crossing the river Tiber, and there
was but one wooden bridge over which the army could pass. Then the
leader of the Romans, who was called the Consul, cried out to his
followers to destroy the bridge.

"But," he added sadly, "I fear they will be upon us before we have time
to hew it down."

At this a Roman called Horatius came forward and offered to stand at the
farther end of the bridge, to keep the Tuscans at bay while it was being

"The pathway is so narrow," said he, "that if two others will help me,
we can stop the whole army from advancing. So who will keep the bridge
with me?"

Two other brave Romans, called Spurius Lartius and Titus Herminius, at
once answered the call of their comrade, and these three gallant men
went to defend the passage, while the rest hastened to destroy the

When the Tuscans saw the three men standing ready to meet the whole
army, they laughed aloud in scorn. But their laughter was soon changed
to wrath and despair, as one after the other they and their chiefs were
quickly laid low at the feet of the dauntless Romans.

Meanwhile the supports of the bridge were destroyed. The Consul shouted
to the three heroes to hasten across before the ruin fell into the water
beneath. Lartius and Herminius just succeeded in getting safely to the
farther bank, but Horatius remained facing the foe until the last beam
fell. Then with a cry he leapt into the foaming stream, and although
badly wounded and heavy with his armour, he managed to rejoin his
comrades on dry land, to the joy of the whole city. During his gallant
fight, a dart from an enemy's arrow had put out one eye, and because of
this he was given the surname of Cocles, which means one-eyed.


William Tell

When the Emperor Albert ruled over Germany, he wished to govern the
people of Switzerland in such a way that their independent spirit would
be broken. To bring about this end he appointed a governor, who treated
the Swiss unjustly and cruelly.

The name of this man was Gessler, and in order to test the people's
obedience, he placed his hat upon a pole in the market square of one of
the principal towns, and commanded that all who passed it should bow
down before it in token of respect. A certain brave Swiss, named William
Tell, having refused to obey such an absurd order, was at once arrested
and taken before Gessler. The tyrant, who knew him to be a clever
archer, said that his life would be spared only on the condition that he
should with an arrow hit an apple placed upon the head of his only son.
Tell's eye was true, so he consented to the horrible proposal.

An apple having been placed upon the head of his little son, he took his
bow and quiver, and prepared to take aim. A moment later the apple,
split in two halves, fell to the ground.

Gessler, who was enraged at Tell's success, noticed that he carried
another arrow under his cloak.

"What have you a second arrow for?" he demanded.

"If I had killed my boy," replied the bold Swiss, "the second arrow was
for you."

The angry governor had him thrown into prison, but Tell escaped, and
revenged himself by killing the tyrant.

[Illustration: TELL'S SON AND THE APPLE]

[Illustration: FOR THE KING!]

Catherine Douglas

When King James came to the throne of Scotland, the whole country was in
a state of rebellion.

The King tried to restore order, but the wicked nobles hated him, and
plotted together to take his life.

It was Christmas, and King James, with his Queen Joan and a party of
faithful friends, was celebrating the season at an old monastery in
Perth. The day had passed merrily, and the royal couple prepared to

Suddenly the clang of arms was heard. The ladies rushed to secure the
door of the room, but alas! the bolts and bars had gone, and only the
empty staples remained. Meanwhile King James seized the tongs, and
tearing up a board in the floor, let himself down into a vault below.
But before there was time to replace the board, the murderers came
rushing along. Then Catherine Douglas, one of the Queen's ladies, flew
to the door and thrust her arm through the empty staples, thus gaining
time to allow her sovereign to escape. The brave arm was but a frail
bar, and was soon broken, and the traitors burst into the room, to find
no sign of King James.

Unfortunately the King was unable to get out of the vault. The ladies
then made ropes of the sheets, and tried to pull him up, but the noise
was heard by the ruffians. They again rushed into the room and the
unfortunate monarch was most cruelly murdered.

Although Catherine's brave deed was not rewarded by the salvation of her
King's life, yet it was an act of self-sacrifice which places her among
the ranks of true heroines.


The Battle of the Nile was a great battle fought at sea between the
British and French in the year 1798. The famous admiral, Lord Nelson,
was in command of the British fleet, and he won a most glorious victory
in which only four French ships escaped.

Towards the close of the battle the French Admiral's flagship,
_L'Orient_, caught fire, and blazed up with terrible brightness. Lord
Nelson immediately gave orders that the British boats should be put off
to save as many as possible of the poor sailors on the burning vessel.

When the boats reached her side, most of the French officers accepted
the offer of safety and sprang into them. Standing upon _L'Orient's_
deck was the little ten-year-old son of the Captain, named Casabianca,
who was the favourite of everyone on board, and as he made no attempt to
move, the British sailors shouted to him to come with them.

"No," replied the boy; "my father told me to remain here, and not to
stir unless he called me."

"But," cried the sailors in amazement, "your father lies mortally
wounded on deck, and the ship will soon blow up. Jump into the boat and
save yourself."

"No," again responded the little fellow; "I must obey my father's

As there was no time to linger, the boat put off from the ship's side. A
few minutes later the figure of Casabianca was seen in the glare of the
flames, leaning over the prostrate figure of his father.


Soon after, a terrible explosion shook every ship in the bay, while
burning fragments of _L'Orient_ were hurled in the air, falling heavily
to the water in all directions. A dead silence followed this fearful
sound, and then the British boats rowed busily about, picking up those
who had leapt from the burning vessel in time to save their lives. In
this way about seventy were saved. But where was the brave boy,
Casabianca? Not a sign of him was to be seen. The noble lad had perished
with his father, faithful until death.


Handel, the Great Musician

In the small German town of Halle there once lived a barber-surgeon
named George Handel. In those days barbers were nearly always surgeons
as well, and George Handel was a very respected member of the
profession. He had a large family of sons and daughters, the youngest of
whom was called George Frederick. When quite a small child this little
fellow showed a decided taste for music. In the nursery his only toys
were trumpets, drums, flutes, and anything out of which he could get
musical sounds. As he grew older this intense love of music increased,
until it became the one great thought and pleasure of his life. Seeing
this his father was very distressed and alarmed, for he did not wish his
little son to take up music as the means of earning his living.

At that time organists and musicians were very poorly paid, and George
Handel wanted his boy to get on well in the world. So he tried to turn
the child's mind away from all such ideas, by never allowing him to go
to any place where music was performed, and by sending every instrument
out of his house. But in spite of so much care and trouble taken, it was
impossible to destroy the strongest desire of the boy's nature.

One night, after the household had gone to bed, Mr. Handel was awakened
by the sound of soft music stealing from an unused garret. He arose in
great surprise, and calling his wife they went to find out the cause of
these strange sounds.

Going quietly to the garret they paused to listen outside for a few
moments, when their astonishment was increased by the beauty of the
melody which met their ears. Then, opening the door and holding up the
candle he carried, George Handel peered wonderingly into the dusty old
lumber-room. There, seated at a clavichord (an instrument something like
a piano, only much smaller), was his little son Frederick, then only six
years old. The child had coaxed one of his aunts, who was his friend and
sympathizer, to help him smuggle the clavichord into the garret, where
he taught himself to play while his parents were asleep, or out of the

The wonderful sweetness of the music, together with the earnest
entreaties of the tiny performer, softened the heart of his father to
forgiveness of his conduct. But even then the old gentleman could not be
induced to allow his son to follow the profession for which nature had
so well fitted him, as he feared he would not be able to earn his living
at it. However, it happened not long after that the Duke of
Saxe-Weissenfels heard the boy play, and was so struck by his genius
that he persuaded his parent to consent to have him properly trained.

When once he was enabled to continue his studies under the guidance of a
good master, it did not take young Handel long to show not only his
father, but the whole world, that he was a truly great and marvellously
gifted musician. To-day his famous oratorios are played everywhere, and
people delight in them and marvel at them just as much as when they were
first produced.

[Illustration: THE CHILD MUSICIAN]


The Story of Columbus

About four hundred years ago there lived an Italian sailor, named
Christopher Columbus. In those days people supposed that there were no
continents in the world besides Europe, Asia, and Africa, but Columbus
believed there was a great country across the ocean that had never been
discovered. He felt a burning desire to sail in search of this land, but
as he was a poor man he had not the money with which to get the
necessary ships and men. For some time he wandered from place to place
trying to induce others to help him carry out his plan, but he was only
laughed at and called a fool and a madman. At length he obtained an
interview with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. At first they
refused to give him any assistance, but afterwards the Queen said she
would pledge her jewels to raise the needful money.

So in the month of August, Columbus sailed away upon his voyage of
discovery, his little fleet consisting of three small vessels. For four
weeks they sailed on over the dark and stormy waters, during which time
Columbus had much trouble with his sailors, who grumbled and complained
unceasingly. When at length they found themselves alone on the vast
unknown seas, with no sign of land, they became panic-stricken, and
implored Columbus to take them home again. He reproved them for their
want of courage. Then for a little while they showed a braver spirit,
but before long they again broke out into rebellion; but Columbus was so
strong-minded and courageous that he succeeded in quelling the mutiny.

Thus days passed, until one night, in the middle of October, as Columbus
was walking on deck he suddenly saw a light ahead which told the
sea-weary mariners that the longed-for land must lie not far distant.
When at last dawn came it showed an island lying in the blue waters
before them. A boat was at once lowered, in which Columbus and a party
of his men landed upon the unknown shore. Groups of dark-skinned natives
crowded to the water side, gazing in fear and wonder at the strange
white men. Then, with the Spanish royal flag in one hand and his sword
in the other, he took possession of the island in the name of King
Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Having visited other islands, Columbus
returned in triumph to Spain, where he was greeted as a hero.


Antonio Canova

In the sunny land of Italy, in the obscure little village of Possagno
near Venice, there once lived a little lad whose name was Antonio
Canova. As he was left an orphan at three years old he dwelt with his
grandfather, who earned his living by cutting figures and ornaments out
of stone. The old man took the greatest care of his grandson and wished
to train Antonio to become a stone-cutter too, so with this end in view
the boy was taught drawing. He soon showed great talent, and when he
began to model birds and flowers in clay, he succeeded so well that his
grandfather was both astonished and delighted. Even in his ninth year he
made two beautiful marble shrines which can be seen to this day.

One day a nobleman called Giovanni Falieri, who was about to give a
large dinner party, asked old Canova to make him some ornament for the
table. He said he did not care what it was, but wanted something new and
uncommon. There was but little time before the date fixed for the party,
and the old stone-cutter tried in vain to think of a suitable object.
Seeing his grandfather so troubled, Antonio said to him, "I think I can
make something to please his lordship. If you will let me have some good
hard butter I will make him a butter lion."

"That is an excellent idea," replied the old man. And he sent for the
butter at once.

Antonio set to work, and very soon he had shaped a lion's head, with
fine flowing mane, out of the creamy mass. Then followed a beautifully
formed body and limbs.

[Illustration: A CLEVER PUPIL]

[Illustration: CANOVA'S BUTTER LION]

When the animal was complete his grandfather looked at it with intense
pride and admiration, and it was carefully carried to his lordship. It
attracted a great deal of attention at the dinner party, and amid cries
of wonderment was passed from hand to hand. When the nobleman and his
guests heard that it was the work of a boy, they expressed a great
desire to see the talented young artist. Antonio was sent for, and his
lordship was so impressed with his talent that he promised to see that
he had the best masters, and that he was given every chance to succeed
in his profession.

Giovanni Falieri nobly kept his word, and placed him as a pupil under
Bernardi, or as he is usually called Torretti, a famous Venetian
sculptor, who happened to be staying in a neighbouring village at the
time. By the aid of this kind friend, and the power of his own genius,
Antonio became a world-renowned sculptor. And not only was he a famous
sculptor, but he was even entrusted with great affairs of state.

When the great Napoleon conquered Italy he carried off most unjustly
hundreds of priceless works of art, and when the tyrant was overthrown
the young Canova was sent as ambassador to Paris to find the whereabouts
of these works. For these and other services he was made by the Pope
Marquis of Ischia, and given a pension of 3000 scudi. But Canova was
very good and generous and he devoted all this pension for the relief of
his poor brother artists. Thus the little figure of the butter lion
proved to be the stepping-stone to fame.


Damon and Pythias

The city of Syracuse was once ruled over by a clever but very cruel man
called Dionysius. Perhaps he would not have been so harsh and cruel if
he had been able to trust his people; but he knew that the Syracusans
hated him. It happened that he once suspected a certain Greek called
Pythias, and his anger was so terrible that he sentenced the unfortunate
man to death. Pythias begged to be allowed to go and bid his relations
in the country farewell, promising to return at a given time to suffer
the death to which he had been condemned. Dionysius laughed his request
to scorn, saying that once he was safely out of Syracuse it was not
likely he would ever return to die. Pythias replied that he had a
friend, named Damon, who would be answerable for his return at the
given time. Damon then came forward and swore that if Pythias did not
keep his word, he himself would suffer death in his stead. Dionysius
consented to let Pythias go.

Time went on and the day fixed for his return drew near, but still he
did not come. The Syracusans told Damon that he would have to die for
his faithless friend, but Damon showed no anxiety. At length the very
day and hour upon which the condemned man was to die came round. But a
few minutes before the fatal time Pythias rushed in, and having warmly
embraced his friend, he went forward to take his place. Dionysius was so
struck by the conduct of the two men that he pardoned Pythias, and
calling him and Damon to his side he entreated them to allow him to be a
third in their friendship.



Charlemagne and the Charcoal-burner

Once the noble Charlemagne, King of the Franks, was riding across a
lonely moor with some of his courtiers, when they were overtaken by a
terrific storm. It became so dark that the party lost sight of one
another, and the King found himself alone in the tempest of wind and
rain. As he struggled on he met a poor man leading a horse with two
great baskets upon its back.

"What is your name, friend?" enquired Charlemagne.

"I am Ralph, the charcoal-burner," replied the man.

"Can you tell me where I can find shelter for my horse and myself?"
asked the King.

"If you care to come with me to my cottage you will be very welcome,"
answered Ralph.

The King was only too glad to accompany the man to his house in the
forest. When they reached the door the charcoal-burner called to his
wife to hasten to let them in. Ralph stood aside for his companion to
pass in first, but Charlemagne hung back behind. Seeing this the man
took him by the neck and pushed him in the house, saying, "It is only
right that my guest should enter first."

When supper was ready the charcoal-burner bade King Charlemagne go to
the table before him. But again His Majesty held back. Then Ralph gave
his visitor such a sound box on the ear that he staggered and fell.

"Why will you not do as I bid you?" he cried angrily.

"These are strange doings indeed," said the King to himself, as he rose
from the ground.

"Now tell me who you are, and where you live?" said the peasant to his
royal guest.

"My name is Uzmond, and I live at Court, where I have an office with the
Queen," replied Charlemagne.

Early the next morning, Charlemagne before starting offered to pay Ralph
for his food and lodging, but the man refused to take payment for
sheltering one who belonged to the Court of the noble King of France.

"So be it," answered His Majesty. "But if you will not let me pay you,
come to the Court with a load of coals and I will see that you sell your

"That will I do," answered Ralph.

The following day Ralph loaded his mare with two large baskets of coal
and set off to Court. When he arrived there he asked for one Uzmond, but
no one knew of such a person. The King had given orders that he should
be admitted into the Palace, and at length he came to a splendid hall,
where Charlemagne sat at dinner with his nobles. The poor
charcoal-burner at once pointed at His Majesty, exclaiming, "See, there
sits Uzmond, but truly he must be a greater man than he said!"

At this His Majesty burst into a loud laugh, and rising from his seat he
told the whole company how he had fared at Ralph's cottage. The lords
all laughed heartily, but some of them would have had Ralph punished for
having boxed the King's ears.

"Nay," said Charlemagne, "Heaven forbid I should harm him. He is an
honest man who can strike a hard blow, and I shall make him a knight


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note: The original did not have a List of Stories, one was
added to this version.

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