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Title: Boys Who Became Famous Men - Stories of the Childhood of Poets, Artists, and Musicians
Author: Skinner, Harriet Pearl
Language: English
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Boys who Became Famous Men


[Illustration: "The citizen wheeled abruptly, grasped his arm."]


Boys who Became Famous Men

_Stories of the Childhood of Poets,
Artists, and Musicians_

By
Harriet Pearl Skinner

Illustrated by Sears Gallagher

Boston
Little, Brown, and Company
1905


_Copyright, 1905_,
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

_All rights reserved_

Published September, 1905

THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A.


TO

FRANK, HOWARD, AND ROBERT ANDREWS



CONTENTS

                                          PAGE
BENI'S KEEPER: GIOTTO                        1

THE VICTOR: BACH                             9

"THE LITTLE BOY AT ABERDEEN": BYRON         44

"TOM PEAR-TREE'S PORTRAIT": GAINSBOROUGH    71

GEORG'S CHAMPION: HÄNDEL                    92

SIX HUNDRED PLUS ONE: COLERIDGE            133

THE LION THAT HELPED: CANOVA               176

FRÉDÉRIC OF WARSAW: CHOPIN                 207



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"The citizen wheeled abruptly, grasped his arm"    _Frontispiece_

                                                             PAGE
"He was roused by a hand upon his shoulder"                     4

"Sebastian started up, bewildered"                             37

"Lay in the grass reading aloud from his favorite story"       56

"A head suddenly appeared above the wall"                      84

"The clavichord provided unceasing entertainment"             116

"In its place appeared a noble lion"                          193

"Like the tired robbers, were fast asleep"                    216



_BOYS WHO BECAME FAMOUS MEN_



BENI'S KEEPER

[GIOTTO[1]]


One summer morning, long ago, a small boy guarded his father's sheep on
a hillside in the Apennines. Up and down the stony pasture he trod,
driving back the lambs who strayed too far, and trying all the while to
keep his wayward charges in a group where he could count them from time
to time. His chief care was to prevent them from straggling into the
lonely passes above, where wild animals might set upon and devour them;
and to watch that they did not wander down the wooded slope and imprison
themselves in the tangled thickets below.

The boy might easily have been mistaken for a dryad, as he sprang from
rock to rock, whistling shrilly here, coaxing, calling there, and
waving his crook to direct the truants back to the flock. It would have
seemed no great wonder if he had really stepped out from a mountain
boulder to command these gentle troops, for like all woodland sprites,
he was brown. His eyes were brown, his hair was brown, and the tunic
reaching barely to his knee was made of cool brown linen. His sleeves
were rolled to the shoulder, and his arms and legs, bared ever to the
sun, were as brown as bronze itself. A crimson cover-kerchief wound
carelessly about his head was the only bit of vivid color on the
mountain side.

The sun shone hot, and when Giotto was satisfied that his sheep were all
about him, cropping the mosses, he threw himself down in the shade of an
ilex-tree, and wiped his forehead on the sleeve of his tunic.

Below, he could see his home nestling in a forest of sturdy pines, and
far down the valley shone the roofs and spires of the village.
Southward appeared a glimpse of the public road that threaded its way
through the hills to the mighty city of Florence. Giotto had never
visited the place, but his father, who every spring carried wool thither
to market, had often told him of the splendid bridges, towers, and
palaces to be seen there. Great men lived there too, Giotto's father had
said, and one of them, a certain Cimabue,[2] painted such pictures as
the world had never seen before. Of this painter and his colors the boy
was never tired of hearing; and as he lay on the grass under the
ilex-tree, he was longing unspeakably for the time to come when he
himself might go to Florence and behold the pictures wrought by
Cimabue's hand.

Musing, his eye fell upon a smooth flat stone near by, and with the
sight came a desire that caused him to leap from his lounging position,
his face alight with purpose.

"Hold still for a little while, Beni!" he said, addressing one of the
sheep that nibbled beside the stone; "just be quiet, and I'll play I'm
Cimabue, and draw your picture."

Giotto reached for a sharp bit of slate that had chipped from the rock
above, and carefully studying the woolly face before him, began to draw
upon the flat white stone. Patiently, thoughtfully he worked, glancing
now up at his placid companion, now down at his flinty canvas, and
coaxing Beni back into position with tempting handfuls of grass whenever
the animal turned to trot away.

The sun rose high, and the boy, bending low over his task, forgot that
he was warm, forgot that he was tired, even forgot that he was hungry,
until he was roused by a hand upon his shoulder.

[Illustration: "He was roused by a hand upon his shoulder."]

He sprang up, startled beyond speech by the touch, for he had believed
himself alone with the silence and the sheep.

Before him stood a man in the robes of a scholar. His manner was
stately, his face pale and serious. He was gazing intently downward,
not upon the little Tuscan shepherd, but at Beni's picture upon the
stone.

"Boy, where did you learn to draw?" he exclaimed in a voice of strong
excitement.

"Learn to draw?" queried Giotto wonderingly. "Nowhere, sir. I haven't
learned."

"Do you mean me to believe that you have had no teacher, no one to tell
you how to use your pencil?" The speaker searched the boy's face
earnestly, almost fiercely, in his desire to know whether the child
spoke the truth.

Giotto, innocent of all but the facts of his simple experience, replied
sadly, "My father is too poor to pay for lessons."

"Then God Himself has taught you!" declared the stranger, hoarse with
agitation. "What is your name?"

"Giotto, sir."

"I am Cimabue, Giotto."

"Not--not Cimabue, the painter of Florence!" ejaculated the lad,
falling back a step, unable to believe that he who stood before him was
in reality the hero of his boyish dreams.

"Yes," affirmed the man gravely, "and if you will go with me to
Florence, child, I will make of you so great a painter that even the
name of Cimabue will dwindle before the name of Giotto."

Down upon one bare knee fell the boy, and grasping the master's hand in
both of his, he cried,--

"Oh, teach me to paint pictures, great and beautiful pictures, and I
will go with you _anywhere_--" He broke off suddenly and rose,--"if
father will give me leave," he concluded quietly.

"Oho!" and the artist smiled curiously. "If your father forbade, you
would not go with me, even though you might become a great painter?"

"No," said Giotto slowly, casting down his eyes, "even though I might
become a great painter."

"Most good, most good," burst out the master exultantly; "a true heart
should ever direct a painter's hand, and yours is true indeed, Giotto.
Come, let us go to him."

Down the steep they hastened, the boy running on before to point the
way, the master following with the look of one who has found a diamond
in the dust at his feet; and when they came before Giotto's father with
their strange request, and the Tuscan peasant learned what fortune had
befallen his child, with the promised teaching and protection of Cimabue
the renowned, he bared his head, waved his hand toward Florence, and
said to the painter solemnly,--

"Take him, master, and teach him the cunning of your brush, the magic of
your colors; tell him the secret of your art and the mystery of your
fame, but let him not forget his home, nor his mountains, nor his God."


And what became of the little Tuscan shepherd?

He dwelt with Cimabue in the wonderful city of Florence, studying
early, studying late; and by the time he had grown to manhood, he was
known to be the greatest painter in all the world. Even his master
turned to him for instruction, and picture-lovers journeyed from distant
countries to see him and behold his works. He was encouraged by the
church, honored by the court, loved by the poor; and in all Christendom
no name was more truly revered than that of the painter, Giotto.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Giotto (pronounced _Jótto_).

[2] Cimabue (pronounced _Chím-a-boó-y_).



THE VICTOR

[BACH[3]]


Down the principal street of old Ohrdruf came a procession of boys
singing a New Year's anthem. The cantor marched before them, wielding
his baton high above his head, so that those following could watch its
motions and keep in perfect accord. Behind him marched the singers, two
by two. They carried neither book nor music sheet, but every eye was
fixed steadily upon the silver-tipped baton, and forty voices rose in
harmony so splendid and exact that passers-by stopped, listened, and
turned to follow the procession down the street.

The singers wore students' caps and gowns of black, and upon the breast
of each shone an embroidered Maltese cross of gold, while below it
appeared the crimson letters, S. M. C., which denoted that these were
the choir-boys of St. Michael's Church.

Marching into an open square, they formed a compact group about the
cantor, and started a fresh and stirring hymn; and presently stepped
forth the smallest boy of them all, who paused a pace or two in advance
of the others, and took up the strain alone. Clear and sweet rang out
his voice upon the frosty air, and listeners by the way turned to one
another with nods and smiles of pleasure.

"That's little Bach," announced one.

"They say he is one of the best sopranos at St. Michael's," murmured
another.

The lad seemed quite unconscious of the impression he was making, for
his manner was as unaffected as though he were singing only to the
barren trees. His dark face was not noticeably handsome, but was very
earnest; and a certain plaintive note in his voice appealed to the
company with singular power, for while the carol falling from his lips
was blithe indeed, the eyes of his hearers were wet. Fervently he hymned
the New Year's joy, now trilling, trilling, like a rapturous bird at
springtime; now softly crooning with the sound of a distant violin.

When his solo ended, a round of applause and many bravos burst from his
audience, but the boy stepped quickly back to his former place and
finished the choral with the others.

In the crowd of bystanders, a man wearing a coat and cap of rough gray
fur smiled broadly when the people applauded little Bach.

"Who is the boy?" inquired a stranger at his elbow.

"He is Sebastian Bach and my brother," announced the fur-coated man. "I
am the organist at St. Michael's, and he is one of the leading
sopranos."

"You should be proud of the child, for he sings remarkably well."

"I am proud of him--ah, here come the collectors."

The singing was done, and in and out among the bystanders went the boys,
passing their wooden plates for pennies in exchange for their serenade.

Nearly every one contributed something, for the people of Ohrdruf were
genuine music-lovers, and they knew that the money gathered in this
fashion would be divided equally among the boys, to use as they pleased.

The choir broke ranks, having paraded and collected in all the streets
of the town, and black-robed boys scurried away in every direction.

"Are you bound for home now, Sebastian?" asked Georg Erdmann, the
soloist's marching companion.

"No," replied the other, "I am going to the church to practise."

"Oh, little Bach is going to practise on the organ," exclaimed a woman
who had overheard the boy's speech. "Come, sister, let's go in and
listen while he plays."

Whereupon the two matrons followed him across the square, and the
fur-coated organist, who had lately seemed so gratified at Sebastian's
success, scowled fiercely.

"I wish that boy would stick to his singing, and let the organ alone,"
he muttered. "People tell me every day that if I don't look sharp my
little brother will beat me at my own profession. He would make me a
nice return for my kindness, if, after I have taken him into my house,
fed him, clothed him, and taught him everything that he knows about
music, he should try to outstrip me in my own work and shame me before
my friends. I won't have it! I won't bear it! I'll admit that the boy is
industrious and generally obedient, but I sha'n't let him impose on me,
if he _is_ of my own flesh and blood. Why should these people go to hear
_him_ practise? Why don't they drop in while _I_ am playing? I am the
organist, although people seem to forget the fact. I think I'll step
over to the church and see what these people are going mad about."

Into the shadowy edifice he stole, taking up his position behind the two
women whose coming had so clearly annoyed him. The peal of the organ was
filling the place from floor to dome, but though the women listened with
eager attention, the face of Christoff Bach gradually softened.

"He is playing his studies, just as I have taught him. Any boy who is
willing to work could do as well. There is nothing remarkable in that
performance. I needn't be worried for my position yet awhile."

High in the organ-loft Sebastian practised faithfully, unaware of the
presence of kindred or stranger. Page after page he rehearsed, sometimes
repeating a difficult passage many times before leaving it.

At length he removed the thick scroll from the rack, and replaced it
with a second book of musical manuscript. Then the church re-echoed
with sounds of a brilliant fugue.

At the first note Christoff Bach started violently and his mouth fell
open with astonishment. He strained forward to be sure that he heard
aright, and as the inspiriting theme rolled through the vaulted spaces
his eyes grew sinister and his hands were clenched so tightly that his
nails dug savagely into his palms.

"My book," he gasped; "the music that I copied at Arnstadt for my own
use! When did he decide to steal it, and undertake to learn my best
selections? He can't keep to his own pieces, but must filch out mine
during my absence, and fumble them on the organ so that my friends can
laugh at me for being outdone by a ten-year-old. The braggart! I'd
thrash him soundly if I hadn't promised father that I'd keep my hands
off him; but I'll settle this business before I sleep. The upstart!"

Raging inwardly, Christoff Bach stalked from the church; and half an
hour later Sebastian quietly took his music bag under his arm and
started homeward, conscious that he was very hungry, and that an
appetizing New Year's dinner would be ready when he arrived.

Sebastian Bach had lost both parents by death, and for nearly a year he
had lived with his brother at Ohrdruf. Seldom does an orphan fall into
such kindly hands, for Christoff had generously supplied the boy's
needs, and the organist's young wife had cared for Sebastian with all
the gentleness of a sister. They sent him to the Lyceum school, and
Christoff taught him music at home. At first the elder brother rejoiced
over the boy's progress in organ playing, and often rubbed his hands
with pride as he predicted for his pupil a future filled with musical
successes. But as the months rolled by, and the lad acquired greater
knowledge, Christoff became silent.

Had Sebastian been content to dawdle at his practising, or even to work
with moderate zest, his experience might have proved no different from
that of most music students; but he did nothing by halves, and whether
he worked or whether he played, whether he studied grammar or whether he
led the games at school, he attacked the enterprise with such force that
he usually came off victorious. Bringing this same determination to bear
upon his music, he soon left his fellow-students far behind; and
practising hour after hour and day after day, with his mind set upon
conquering all obstacles as soon as they appeared, he climbed and
presently leaped into musicianly skill. Some of his music mates
complained that Sebastian learned more in one week than they did in
three or four, and their conclusion was wholly correct; but while they
grumbled they forgot that he daily spent twice as many hours at the
organ as did any one of them, toiling steadily, unfalteringly, until he
had acquired a skill far exceeding theirs.

He was such a good comrade, however, that they readily forgave him his
musical progress, and in every game and contest on the playground he was
eagerly sought as an ally.

Strangely enough, as Sebastian's facility increased, his teacher's brow
clouded. The boy could not understand why his brother was more plainly
vexed over a perfect lesson than with a faulty one. In the beginning
Christoff had cheered Sebastian on, but of late he had grown crabbed and
irritable, and the lessons had come to be hours of harsh and sneering
criticism. Sebastian did not dream that his brother was jealous, but
this was really the case; and Christoff heard the boy's lessons with
deepening anxiety and distaste. Never, however, until to-day had the
organist admitted, even to himself, that he was afraid of his younger
brother, that he dreaded lest he himself should be outstripped by his
pupil.

When Sebastian opened the door of the great kitchen, which served the
family for dining-room and living-room as well, a savory odor floated
out to greet him.

"Hurrah for the goose, Schwester! I hope it is nearly done!" he cried,
throwing down his music and hanging his cap and cloak on a peg beside
the door.

Mrs. Bach was kneeling before the open fireplace, busily engaged in
turning the fowl that browned so temptingly above the blaze; but upon
Sebastian's entrance, she rose and approached him with a troubled look.

"Christoff is very angry with you," she whispered, indicating the
chamber above with a motion of her hand.

"Angry with me? What for? What's wrong?" exclaimed Sebastian astonished.
Before she could reply, a door above was heard to open, and down the
wooden stairway at the end of the kitchen rushed Christoff Bach, his
face purple, his eyes gleaming.

Seizing Sebastian roughly by the arm, he loudly demanded,--

"What do you mean by stealing my pieces, and trying to learn them behind
my back, so that the town can laugh at me when you perform?"

"Steal! Laugh!" echoed Sebastian blankly, unable to comprehend his
brother's meaning.

"Don't pretend to be innocent! You can't hoodwink me any longer, my
young cub. I'll see that nothing like this occurs again."

"What have I done, Christoff? I don't know what you mean."

"You stole my book that I copied at Arnstadt, taking pains to lay hold
of it while I was safe at Gotha."

"I didn't _steal_ it," returned Sebastian horrified.

"You didn't? What do you call your going into my room, taking music
without my permission, and practising it while I am out of town?"

"I didn't suppose you would care a bit. I thought if I learned one or
two of Pachelbel's fugues, it would be a nice surprise for you when you
came back from Gotha."

"A nice surprise! Ha, ha! Ho, ho! I suppose that next time I go from
home for a week you will surprise me by pilfering the contents of my
money-drawer."

"I _didn't_ steal, I _didn't steal_ the book," protested Sebastian,
paling under the sting of his brother's taunt.

"No, no, Christoff, I'm sure the boy meant no harm," interposed Mrs.
Bach, touching her husband's arm with a coaxing gesture; "I knew that he
borrowed your music book, but I thought also that you would be pleased
with his desire to study it."

"Then you, too, are engaged in a plot to ruin me!" shrieked the
organist, carried quite beyond himself by the fury of his jealousy;
"I'll see whether I am not to be master in my own house. If I can't
leave my belongings in my room without fear that my brother will use
them expressly to injure me, and that my wife will help him along with
the scheme, I'll begin to put them out of reach!"

Snatching up Sebastian's music bag, Christoff, too impatient to loose
its fastenings of hook and tape, ripped it apart, seized his roll of
manuscript, thrust it into the shelf of a side cupboard, slammed the
steel wicker door, locked it grimly, and pocketed the key.

"Let's have dinner," he growled, drawing out his chair noisily, and
dropping into his place at table without a glance toward either member
of his household.

Mrs. Bach brought on the steaming goose, but everybody was dismally
uncomfortable throughout the meal. The organist's rosy-cheeked wife
tried to banish the gloom by speaking cheerily upon subjects not akin to
music; but Christoff would not reply, and Sebastian could not, so her
brave attempts soon failed, and the room was left in silence.

Sebastian's appetite was gone, and as soon as possible he hurried away
to his own room, where, deeply dejected, he sat with his face buried in
his folded arms.

As the shade of twilight fell across his bowed figure, a quick footstep
sounded behind him, and a soft hand was laid upon his head.

"Come, Bübchen," said Mrs. Bach kindly, "don't worry any more. Christoff
didn't mean all that he said to-day, and he is sorry that he spoke as he
did. See, I have brought you a bowl of bread and milk, for I noticed
that you ate no dinner. So now forgive Christoff for what he said when
he was angry, and forget all that happened this afternoon. If you act
toward him just as usual, he will do the same with you, and we shall all
be happy again."

Sebastian eagerly raised his head.

"He won't think me a thief any longer?"

"No, no. Certainly not. After he had cooled down a bit I explained to
him what you meant by borrowing his book, and how hard you practised to
learn the second fugue against his return; and he said that he believed
that you were truly honest, and he was sorry that he had accused you
wrongfully."

"And he'll let me use his book hereafter, and learn to play the fugues?"
cried Sebastian joyfully.

Mrs. Bach shook her head slowly, her blue eyes fixed sorrowfully upon
the boy.

"No," she said, "you cannot use his book any more. He said that he would
never scold you again for having taken it last week, but that you must
send him your promise never to play out of it again."

"Schwester!" ejaculated the boy in keen distress, "why does he forbid me
to use it?"

"I do not know; I do not know."

"I may as well give up my playing altogether, for I have finished my own
pieces; Christoff himself said I might leave them now, and I have no
others to study. Music is so costly that I cannot buy any for
myself,--yes, I may as well forget that I wished to be a great, great
musician. Schwester!" The boy's eyes kindled and his cheeks glowed as he
continued ardently,--

"I'd like to play so wonderfully by the time I'm a man that whole
audiences would sometimes smile and sometimes cry with the sweetness of
my music, and little children would drop their toys in the street and
stand in my garden listening. But how can I learn without any music to
study?"

"Buy a book from the cantor with the money you earned to-day in the
parade," suggested Mrs. Bach hopefully.

Sebastian shook his head. "I can't," he explained, "because I gave half
of it to Georg Erdmann, so that he might go to Gotha to visit his
grandmother, and I paid the rest to a gardener for a present that I
brought home yesterday for you."

Throwing open the door of his closet, Sebastian stepped inside, and
quickly emerged, bearing in his arms a tiny rose-tree in full bloom.

"I got it for your New Year's gift, and meant to put it on the dinner
table, but the trouble with Christoff made me forget all about it."

"Oh, oh, it is a beautiful present, and so fragrant, so fragrant! But,
Bübchen," she said in a fondly chiding tone, "you should not have spent
your pennies for me; I have so much and you so little."

"I have you, and--and Christoff, and music," returned Sebastian soberly.

"You are truly a man, and surely a baby," said Mrs. Bach, laughing
merrily. At sound of a voice from below stairs she grew instantly
serious.

"Christoff is calling me, and I must go down. You promise, Sebastian,
never to play out of his book again?"

The boy nodded quickly.

"I promise," he said.

After she had gone Sebastian sat for hours, thinking. Again and again
he lived over the bitter scene of the afternoon, wincing painfully
every time that memory whispered the word "_stole_." The murmur of
voices below ceased finally, and he realized that the rest of the
household was wrapped in sleep. He lighted his candle and tried to study
his lessons for school, but a sense of sickening disappointment bore
down upon him so heavily that, though his eyes sternly travelled the
printed lines, his mind had room for no other thoughts than these,--

"I cannot play. I have no music."

He was startled from his reverie by the sound of a piteous whine. He
listened for a repetition of the plaint, and when the whine expanded to
a howl, Sebastian leaped from his chair, and dashed through the corridor
and down the kitchen stair, with a pang of recollection.

"I forgot to let Grubel in, and it's bitter cold outside!"

He made his way swiftly through the dark room, unbolted the outer door,
and flung it wide.

A huge St. Bernard bounded into the room, and Sebastian, brushing the
snow from the shaggy coat, caressed his pet affectionately.

"Now, Grubel, Schwester doesn't like you to stay in this room. Come
along, old fellow, into the passage!"

The dog obediently followed his master across the dark kitchen, and
trotted through the door that Sebastian held open for him.

As the boy sought the stairway again, his attention was arrested by a
flood of moonlight pouring through the uncurtained pane and illuminating
one of the much-used music sheets that had fallen from the bag which
Christoff had thrown into the window-sill after locking his own book
behind the wicker door.

"How bright the night is," thought Sebastian. "One could read the notes,
I believe, without a candle."

Bending over the pages, he found it to be quite true that the dots and
lines were clearly definable.

"I wonder if I could write well by such a light; I'll try it," and idly
lifting a pen from his sister's table, he dipped it and scribbled his
name across the top of the music sheet.

"Very good," observed he, eyeing the scrawl with admiration; then a
thought shot through his brain that seemed to turn him to stone, for he
stood motionless, with head thrown back and pen uplifted, while the
silvery moonlight, bathing him from head to foot, transfixed him into a
marble statue of expectancy.

"I wonder if I could, I wonder if I could!" he whispered excitedly.
"I'll try now, this very night. If I could get hold of Christoff's
fugues, and copy them here in the moonlight, I should have a book of my
own, and still keep my promise not to play out of his."

Turning to the cupboard that held the coveted treasure, Sebastian gazed
wistfully into its second shelf. The doors were of strong steel lattice
work, and Sebastian saw that it would be impossible either to insert
his hand through the finely interlaced bars, or to bend them in the hope
of securing a wider opening.

The boy's burning desire to obtain the music, and his sense of the
justice of his purpose, would not let him draw back without a mighty
effort.

Casting about for some means of assistance, his eye fell upon his
brother's violin case. Opening this, he hastily extracted the bow,
strong and slender, inserted it between the powerful wires, deftly
worked the roll of music to and fro, drawing it ever nearer until it lay
at the outer edge of the shelf. Slipping one finger and thumb through
the mesh, he seized the roll firmly and drew it from the cabinet. For a
moment he could do nothing but hug the volume madly to his breast, in
the joy of his accomplishment; then running noiselessly up to his room
for copy-paper, he speedily returned, spread the sheets before him on
his sister's table, drew up a chair, and set to work.

Swiftly and steadily he wrote, bending very low above the page, that he
might read his text correctly. He took no note of the flight of time,
but as the moon rose higher in the heavens, his pages grew shadowy, and
he was obliged to draw the table into the sheen of her passing radiance.
The fire died out, the room grew cold, and the boy from time to time
threw down his pen, and beat and blew upon his benumbed fingers, warming
them to further activity.

At last the light failed utterly, and in the gloom Sebastian rose,
carefully rolled his brother's manuscript, strapped it as usual, pushed
it through the lattice, adjusted it to its former position by aid of the
violin bow, gathered up his freshly written sheets, and crept cautiously
to his room.

Next morning he met his brother at breakfast, and Christoff secretly
wondered that the boy wore so cheerful a countenance. No reference was
made to the distressing scene of yesterday, and the brothers set off
together, Christoff on his way to a pupil, and Sebastian to school,
quite as though the painful episode had not happened.

Sebastian attended his various classes like one in a dream, for his mind
was filled with his daring enterprise, and the tremendous effort he must
put forth before his book should be completed.

His zeal did not abate, and at evening he waited breathlessly until the
household fell into heavy slumber; then once again he stole down to the
kitchen, arranged his materials at the window, and toiled feverishly
until the white light faded.

Night after night he repeated his adventurous vigil, and no one of the
family suspected that anything extraordinary was taking place in the
house.

To Sebastian's surprise, he discovered that the moon rose later each
night; and ere long he was obliged to wait up so late for his shimmering
torch that he was forced to bathe his face in icy water, tramp up and
down his chamber, and bite his tongue severely in order to keep awake.
Even these heroic measures failed when the moon was delayed until the
middle of the night; and Sebastian realized with dismay that he must set
his work aside until the time in the following month when his friendly
lantern would begin again to mount the sky at an early hour.

Laboring with such hindrances as dim and fleeting light, nearsighted
eyes, loss of sleep, and piercing cold, the lad's progress was
necessarily slow. Week after week, month after month, he continued at
his weighty task; but never once did his interest flag nor his patience
fail. His organ lessons with Christoff were carried on in a half-hearted
fashion, old selections being rehearsed, and studies previously
finished, indifferently played and heard. Had not Sebastian been fired
with a dominant purpose, and bent upon mastering his art at any cost to
himself, he would doubtless, at this period of cold laxity on his
teacher's part, have abandoned his music altogether. But deep in his
breast there was rooted a desire so strong, a hope so pure, that even
Christoff's unjust denial had not power to discourage him.

If the elder Bach had been less orderly in his habits, Sebastian would
not always have found the manuscript within reach; but though Christoff
took it daily from the cabinet, he always returned it precisely to the
place and position which it had occupied before.

One night Sebastian barely escaped detection. He had just descended to
the kitchen, and was groping about for the violin box, when accidentally
he stumbled upon the hearth-rug, and overturned a chair with a great
clatter. Christoff, roused by the unwonted noise, bounded from his bed
and made for the stair, pausing just long enough on the way to light a
candle.

Sebastian was appalled at hearing his brother's step. Dropping to the
floor, he crept hastily under the dining-table, convinced that its
drapery would not screen him from his brother's eagle eye. He shook from
head to foot, not with fear of punishment, but with dread of losing his
chance at the fugues.

Christoff, however, came only half-way down, and stood upon the stair,
holding the candle high above his head and peering about the dusky
kitchen for traces of intruders. Nothing out of the ordinary greeted his
gaze, for Sebastian had hastily righted the chair before beating his
retreat, and the music roll had not yet been taken from the cupboard.
The organist, perceiving no mark of robbers, heaved a sigh of relief and
quickly repaired to his room, deciding that the disturbance must have
been an ugly dream.

Six months had glided slowly by, bringing their gifts of increasing
warmth and fragrance, when, one clear midsummer's night, Sebastian
finished his book. He was so beset with agitation upon discovering that
only one page remained to be copied that he could scarcely command
himself to pen the finishing notes.

"I'm almost done," he murmured over and over, as his quill flew across
the paper. "One line more, and the fugues will be mine! Now, a single
measure, a single measure! One note--ah--it is done, it is done!"

The monument to little Bach's courage and fidelity was built.

The pen dropped from his aching fingers, and, overcome with weariness,
he laid down his head beside the closely written sheets and fell asleep.

His friend, the moon, shone upon him brightly for a time, and in her
pearly beams the tired child's face was as white as the page beside it.
Even she withdrew at length, and nothing disturbed the silence of the
room but the regular breathing of the sleeper.

He was awakened by a voice exclaiming,--

"Bübchen, what are you doing here?"

Sebastian started up, bewildered, for Mrs. Bach stood beside him, and
the kitchen was blazing with sunshine.

[Illustration: "Sebastian started up, bewildered."]

"I--I don't understand," whispered he, dazed by the brightness and the
woman's presence.

Mrs. Bach laughed and shook him good-naturedly.

"You're still asleep, that's what is the matter. See, it's breakfast
time, and I am ready to put the kettle on. What have you been doing
here?"

Sebastian merely pointed to his final page, lying next Christoff's, and
Mrs. Bach gathered the truth at once.

Up went her hands in astonishment, but prudence stifled the comments
that rose to her lips.

"Quick! Run up to your room with your papers, and I'll get this roll
back into the cabinet. Hurry, for Christoff will be down in a minute!"

Sebastian obeyed, and from the bottom of the stairs Mrs. Bach called him
as usual when breakfast was ready.

The following months were filled with delight for Sebastian, who
studied his fugues with ever-deepening happiness. For this practice, he
intentionally chose the hour when his brother was engaged in teaching at
a distant quarter of the town. Every day, when Christoff set off to the
house of his pupil, Sebastian would hurry to the church, and play from
his precious book until time for the organist to return for his own
organ-work.

Winter had come again to Ohrdruf, and one day Sebastian climbed to the
organ-loft, placed his cherished book upon the rack, and began to play
the Pachelbel fugues.

Mrs. Bach, walking in the street, heard the music and entered the
church. Passing up the stair, she drew a stool from a shadowy corner and
sat down to listen and enjoy.

Sebastian welcomed her with a nod and smile, for the sympathy of his
sister-in-law was his daily comfort.

One number after another he played, and the harmonies swelling from the
organ at touch of his flying fingers vibrated through the sacred place
from threshold to chancel.

Musician and listener were so absorbed that they failed to hear a
footfall upon the stair, and both were unaware that a third presence was
added to the gallery.

Like a thunderbolt out of a blue heaven came a derisive hoot in
Sebastian's ear. His hands were grasped as in a vise, and Christoff's
face bent menacingly above him.

"Again, again, again," thundered the organist; "again you have stolen my
book, despite your promise!"

Sebastian struggled to his feet, and confronted his accuser quietly.

"I have not stolen your book. This one is mine."

"Yours," sneered Christoff; "pray, where did you get a book of
Pachelbel's fugues?"

Further concealment was useless, now that his brother had discovered
the existence of his manuscript, so Sebastian in a few words told the
story of his painful and valiant achievement.

Christoff listened amazedly, but no relenting gleam softened his look of
scorn. He laughed harshly when the tale was ended, and, catching the
fated book from the rack, rolled it tightly and crowded it into his
leathern girdle.

"I'll end this pretty business at once," he shouted, bringing his teeth
together with a snap. "Finding that steel lattices are not sufficient
protection against your prying fingers, I'll lock my book behind a door
of solid iron, and," triumphantly tapping the volume in his belt, "I'll
put this one along with it for safe keeping."

"Christoff, husband!" cried Mrs. Bach, her voice breaking into sobs; "do
not be so cruel as to take his book away. He has worked so long, so
hard--"

She ended her defence abruptly as her eyes fell upon the boy.

No trace of passion or grief distorted Sebastian's features, but,
instead, his countenance was singularly serene. Turning toward his
brother with a smile of mysterious power and sweetness, he said,--

"You may lock my book behind twenty iron doors if you wish, Christoff,
but the music is all written in my heart. You can bury my volume in the
earth or the ocean, but you never can take the fugues away from me
again, for I have memorized them, every one."


Many years later King Frederick II. of Prussia assembled his brilliant
court in the throne room at Potsdam to listen to a concert arranged by
the musicians of the royal palace.

The program was but fairly begun when a page entered the hall, and
dropped upon his knee before the king, with a whispered message.

Frederick bent with impatience toward the lad who had dared to bring a
petition from any one at a moment so ill chosen, and was about to
dismiss him abruptly, when his ear caught one word of the boy's
tremulous speech.

The monarch's look of annoyance changed to one of joyful surprise, and
rising quickly, he commanded the musicians to instant silence.

"Bach has come," declared the king in exultant tone; "Bach has come; the
mighty maker of music. Bring him hither that we may do him homage!"

A hundred exclamations greeted the king's announcement, and presently a
man of distinguished appearance and quiet dignity was ushered into the
apartment.

Down from his throne stepped the king, advancing half-way up the hall to
meet the new-comer. By a quick gesture, he forbade the stranger to bend
the knee, but said simply,--

"Play for us."

Without a word the visitor sat down before the piano, and speedily the
room was filled with such music as had never before been heard in the
king's palace.

Frederick would not permit him to leave the instrument, but sat close
by, in rapt enjoyment, while Bach gave one after another of his
marvellous compositions.

"For a long, long time I have known of you, Sebastian Bach," murmured
the king, when at last they parted for the night. "Strange tales have
come to my ears of the court composer of Poland and Saxony. I have heard
of the princes who are proud to take you by the hand; of the beggars
that listen in companies before your door; but I never imagined that
music could be such music as you have given us here."

That night, had the palace of Potsdam had heart to feel and brain to
understand, it surely would have throbbed with hospitality, for within
its well-defended walls slept two who led the world in thought and
action: one was Frederick the Great; the other, Bach the Victor.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] Bach (pronounced _Bakh_).



"THE LITTLE BOY AT ABERDEEN"

[BYRON]


"Vacation's here! Vacation's here!" shouted George Byron, bursting into
the room and throwing his books upon the table.

"And a pity it is," returned his mother coldly; "you are so bad at
numbers that you ought to be at school every day in the year."

George flushed deeply, but did not reply. He had learned that when Mrs.
Byron wore this worried expression it was wiser of him to keep silence.
Doubtless she had received one of those troublesome business letters
again. Such missives always did disturb matters in the Aberdeen
apartment, often causing Mrs. Byron to speak sharply to those about her.

This lady had belonged to the Gordons, one of the proudest families in
Scotland; and upon her marriage with handsome Jack Byron, her fortune
was seized to pay his numerous debts. Consequently, at her husband's
death a few years later, Mrs. Byron was left in the city of Aberdeen
with scarcely enough to keep herself and her child from want. The tiny
rooms in Broad Street were filled with the massive furniture and costly
vases, mirrors, and china that Mrs. Byron had brought from her father's
house at her bridal; but the cupboard was scantily provisioned, and much
thought and labor were required to keep George's apparel in trim for
school. While, however, Mrs. Byron spent only pennies where her
neighbors lavished pounds, her brain and fingers contrived so
successfully that neither she nor the lad ever presented a shabby
appearance.

"Come, George," said the lady more gently, repenting her impatience,
"put your books away, and May will serve tea at once."

The boy's face brightened, and whistling softly, he crossed the room to
the bookshelves. The odd slide and sudden halt with which he moved,
together with the stout cane upon which he leaned, betokened that "the
little boy at Aberdeen" was not quite like other boys.

Sadly enough, George Byron was lame, a burden very hard for an impetuous
lad to bear. He was, however, too plucky ever to allude to his
affliction in the presence of his playmates, but carried his misfortune
bravely and independently as long as his companions seemed to forget it,
and seldom was any of them so unkind as to mention his crooked feet.
Athletic sports were his chief delight, although there were few that he
could enter. At running, leaping, and dancing he was helpless, always
forced to stand aside and watch when these were in progress; but he was
an expert archer, could throw farther than any boy at the grammar
school, and with the sling his marksmanship was astonishing. He was a
prime favorite with all the boys at school and in the neighborhood of
Broad Street, and he was thoroughly accustomed to the rôle, for his
handsome face and fun-loving disposition speedily won admiration
wherever he went.

He gayly joined the boys in their pranks and adventures, often with his
ringing voice and daring spirit commanding the expeditions, but, to the
lads' amazement, he found his best enjoyment in the company of a little
girl named Mary Duff. She was such a pretty child that passers-by often
turned to look after her, and her soft voice and sweet manner showed her
to be a real little gentlewoman. The mothers approved of this
friendship, for they said that Mary improved George's manners, and that
George helped Mary with her reading. The children loved each other
dearly, and seldom did there pass a day when they two were not seen
together.

To-night, at bedtime, George said:

"Wake me early, please, mother, for Mary, Aladdin, and I are going to
spend the day by the river."

Mrs. Byron promised, and accordingly the next morning George felt
himself being shaken by the shoulder, while from the midst of a dream he
heard his mother say,--

"Wake up, wake up! This is the third time that I have called you, and
Mary is already here."

Up sprang George, all drowsiness put to flight. When he had dressed
himself and finished his bowl of oatmeal, he joined Mary in the
drawing-room with a tin box of sandwiches, and an apple in each pocket.

The visitor bore a small basket containing her contributions to the
luncheon; and as she slipped off the sofa at George's entrance her
pinafore and little sunbonnet rustled loudly in their starchy crispness.

Down the stairs hurried the pair, bent upon calling for Aladdin, the
third member of their company.

As they reached the street, George was accosted by Bobby Black, who,
with a group of neighboring boys, was emerging from his gate opposite.

"Come on, Byron, we're going to watch the cricket game in Murdoch's
field!"

George shook his head decisively.

"I'm going somewhere else."

"Ha, ha! Ho, ho!" jeered the boys in chorus, and Bobby called out in a
teasing tone,--

"Oh, you'd rather go with Mary Duff than with us. You're Mary Duff's
beau! Ha, ha! You're Mary Duff's beau!"

The little girl crimsoned with annoyance at Bobby's silly taunt, but
George retorted quickly,--

"Well, _you_ can't be Mary Duff's beau until you learn to wash your
hands."

The laugh turned on Bobby, and George and Mary set off in quest of
comrade number three.

As they approached a square stone building, a man standing before its
open door disappeared within, only to return immediately, leading
Aladdin, the most captivating of Shetland ponies.

This animal was George's one important possession, but instead of a
plaything, it had been purchased for the boy's convenience in getting
about. George's poor feet made walks of any great length painful
undertakings, but sitting on Aladdin's back, he could go as far and as
swiftly as he desired.

The pony was black and satiny for the most part, but upon his forehead a
small white patch was to be seen, and his mane and tail were snowy. He
was so fond of his master that he would follow him about like a kitten;
and he always whinnied joyfully whenever the boy appeared at the stable
door.

George tied his box and Mary's basket to the small red saddle, and
turned to his companion.

"We'll ride and tie, of course. You mount first, and leave him at
Baillie's stile."

Stooping, as he had read that the great lairds did, he allowed Mary to
place her chubby foot in his clasped hands. Then, with her agile spring,
he landed her securely on Aladdin's back. She gathered up the reins and
trotted away, while George took up his walking stick and limped slowly
after her.

Their plan was the old one, followed often by farmers and mountaineers,
when two persons travel with one horse. One rides to a certain point,
dismounts, ties the horse and walks on, while the other trudges along on
foot until he comes to the place where the horse is waiting, when he
mounts and rides to a second stopping-place, secures the animal for his
friend, and once more tramps on his way. Thus, by changes of walking and
riding, a goodly journey can be accomplished with less fatigue than
might be supposed.

To-day the playmates proceeded along the wooded shore of the river Dee,
at no great distance from home, but far enough that they were able to
walk on the soft earth, to stand in a forest of mighty trees, and to
bask in sunshine undimmed by the city's smoke and grime.

The journey was a difficult one for George, for he insisted upon walking
his full share of the way, and, hopping along with his stout cane, he
would sometimes be obliged to lean heavily against a tree or rock,
panting violently and clutching at his support with both hands. He dared
not drop down on the mossy bank, lest with no one near to lend him a
hand he might not manage to get up again. So, after but two or three
turns of marching, George sat down upon a stump and waited for Mary and
Aladdin to come up with him.

The pony, with his dainty sunbonneted rider, soon came into view, and
George hailed them from the roadside.

"Hi! Let's stay here. Don't you think we have gone far enough?"

"Yes," said Mary, pushing back her bonnet and glancing about the quiet
place, where dazzling sunbeams pierced through the leafy ceiling and
lightened the carpet of gay green moss; "do let's stay here; it seems
nice and far."

Whereupon the lady slipped from her saddle, and leaving Aladdin to his
own devices, after prudently freeing him of box and basket, joined
George on the stump.

"What shall we do first?" she queried.

"Let's throw clay balls," suggested George, rising quickly.

"Let's!" agreed Mary. So together they scrambled down the river bank,
and heaped a piece of driftwood with stiff clay. Returning, George cut
two slender switches from a willow-tree and presented one to his
partner. Then he rolled a bit of clay into a marble-sized ball, pressed
it firmly on the tip of the rod, and, with a quick fling, sent the ball
far out into the river.

George wielded his twig so dexterously that he could tap a mast in a
passing boat, and selecting almost any tree, stone, or sail within a
range of two hundred yards, could send his pudgy bullet home.

His cheeks soon glowed with the fun and exercise, and at every swish of
the withe he called his comrade to bear witness to his unerring aim.

Mary, following his example, faithfully loaded her switch and let fly at
every target that her fancy chose. Her success, however, was not
brilliant, for her ball seldom soared beyond the shadows of the trees
under which they sat, and never by any chance approached the object she
had intended to hit. After numerous fruitless efforts, she laid aside
her wand and brought from her basket a rag-doll which George had
christened "Heatheress."

Luncheon followed, and when Mary had spread the repast on a napkin, she
said,--

"Let's play house while we eat, and I'll be the mother, and you be the
father, and Heatheress will be the baby, and Aladdin--oh, yes, Aladdin
will be the visitor."

Now George would have writhed with shame had the boys at school heard
of his entering into such girlish pastimes as this, but Mary was always
so ready to join any game that he suggested, no matter how much she
might dislike it, that he felt in duty bound to play her plays a part of
the time. Besides, Mary Duff was so sweet, so winsome, that George found
it hard to refuse anything that she asked; so he played "house" with a
will, and enjoyed it nearly as much as she.

"Mr. Aladdin," called Mistress Mary, as she gathered her family about
the board, "please don't take the trouble to come downstairs; I have
just sent your luncheon up to your room."

The guest was evidently pleased with the arrangement, for he ate
heartily of the delicious green things that he found in his apartment.

When the children had finished, they withdrew to the screen of a blasted
oak and sat rigidly still, watching the birds fly down and carry away
the crumbs of the feast.

Later, they made little rafts of chips gathered from the river,
furnished them with paper sails and pebbly cargoes, and set them afloat
for Spain, Africa, and Jamaica.

Finally, George drew from the breast of his jacket a faded, ragged book,
and lay in the grass reading aloud from his favorite story of Robert
Bruce, while Mary leaned against a tree near by and listened. Before the
reader had reached the climax of the tale, he glanced over his book,
only to discover the little girl fast asleep against her tree, with her
lap full of wild flowers. Forbearing to disturb her, George finished the
story in silence. Then the book slipped from his hands and he, too,
stretched on the cool grass, with a few stray sunbeams flickering across
him, sank down, down, to the land of dreams.

[Illustration: "Lay in the grass reading aloud from his favorite
story."]

A sociable whinny roused the boy at length, and scrambling up by aid of
a slender sapling, he noticed that the shadows had greatly lengthened
during his nap.

"Wake up, Mary," he called, tweaking one of her brown curls; "I
promised your mother that I would bring you back by five o'clock, and we
must go now."

Mary assented, as she usually did to whatever George proposed, and in
five minutes she had sprung into the red saddle and cantered off to the
first tying-place.

"Where's mother?" cried George, entering the house half an hour later.

"She's gone to Mrs. McCurdie's for tea," replied May Gray, the Scotch
woman who had been George's nurse.

"Then I'll get Mary to come and have tea with me," and Master Byron
hurried down the stairs and through his neighbor's gate. He returned
shortly, bringing Mary with him; and the children were in the midst of
their meal, when the street door was thrown hastily open and Mrs. Byron
stepped into the room. Her cheeks were scarlet, and her eyes flashing
with excitement.

"What is it, mother?" demanded George, rising, alarmed by her visible
agitation.

Mrs. Byron placed both hands upon his shoulders, and looking down into
his eyes, said hurriedly,--

"Your great-uncle, Lord Byron, is dead; and you, George, are now Lord
Byron of Rochdale, master of Newstead Abbey, and chief of the Erneis."

The boy looked bewildered, and resting one hand upon the table for
support, he bent earnestly toward his mother.

"_I am Lord Byron?_"

"You are! you are! Mrs. McCurdie has just come from Newstead, and she
told me that uncle died nearly a month ago. There has been some mistake,
else we should have heard of it before. I never knew the old gentleman,
for he and poor Jack were not the best of friends, but I cannot think
that he would have had us left in ignorance of his death. Doubtless the
letters and papers will come very soon, and then, my lord, you can go
to England and take possession of your castle."

"It--is--very--strange," murmured the boy. Always he had known that some
day he would probably come into his uncle's title and estates, but he
had somehow expected the momentous event to delay its happening until he
should become a man. That honor and riches should at this time come to
him, little George Byron, of Broad Street, Aberdeen, was an overwhelming
surprise. True to his nature, whenever deeply moved by joy or sorrow, he
grew silent, trying to settle in his own mind whether he was the same
boy who had thrown clay balls in the woods that day.

Mrs. Byron rapidly explained some of the changes to come, and George
listened as though stunned by the glories of his prospects.

May Gray, his devoted old nurse, slipped out and imparted the news of
her dear boy's succession to all whom she met.

Presently neighbors and friends came flocking in to hear the story. The
drawing-room became quickly crowded with guests, and they made so much
of George, shaking his hand, patting his head, bowing to him, and
offering compliments he did not understand, that the boy began to think
being a lord was rather tiresome business.

When they departed, George closed the door upon the last one with a loud
sigh of relief, and went in search of Mary, with whom he had not spoken
since his mother had arrived with her astounding message.

The little girl sat demurely on a low stool, and as George approached
her, she rose and backed timidly away.

The boy looked at her curiously.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"I--I must go home," she whispered, making for the door.

"No, you mustn't! Your mother said you were to wait until your father
called for you. It's terribly early yet."

"But I must go," insisted the child, with her hand upon the knob.

"Mary!"

George's tone was suddenly masterful. "Are you mad at me?"

"No, oh, no," she replied, shaking her head vigorously.

"Well, something makes you seem very queer. If you're not mad, tell me
why you're starting home!"

Mary looked at him steadily for a moment, then her brown eyes filled
with tears, her chin began to quiver, and she sobbed out,--

"I can't play with you any more, George, because your mother said you
were--_a lord_, and--_awful rich_!"

Down went her face into the circle of her chubby arm.

"Mary, don't cry, please don't cry!" entreated George with a suspicious
break in his own voice. "I like you the very same, the very same, and
I'm just as I was, Mary. Truly I am."

Perceiving with distress that the little maid's plump shoulders still
shook with grief, George regarded her uncertainly for a moment, then
hurried across to Mrs. Byron, who sat busily writing at her desk.

"Mother," he inquired anxiously, "do you see any difference in me since
I have been made a lord?"

"No," replied she, laughing, without looking up, "certainly not."

"There! I told you!" he exclaimed triumphantly, returning to the side of
his sorrowful guest. "You will believe mother, won't you?"

A nod of the head against the pinafore sleeve rewarded him. Then from
the depths of the elbow came in a choking voice,--

"But, George, you are going away!"

"Yes," he returned sadly, "I am going away."

A fresh outburst of weeping greeted his admission, and at his wits' end
for means to comfort the little woman, he declared,--

"When I leave, Mary, I'll give Aladdin to you."

"Oh, George, _Aladdin_!"

Up came the tear-stained face, dimpling with joy and surprise.

"Yes, Aladdin. And whenever you ride him, it will be just as nice as
playing with me, won't it now?"

"Oh, yes," she assented graciously.

"And, Mary," went on the boy earnestly, the while something tugged hard
at his heart and threatened too to strangle him, "let's promise that all
our lives you'll like me better than anybody else in the world, and I'll
like you better than anybody else in the world."

"Let's!" she agreed; and George took her brown little hand in his, and
pressed it to his lips, in such fashion as he had read that the gallant
Gordons greeted the ladies of their clan.

The following day came a letter with an impressive yellow seal,
confirming the fact of George's lordship.

Then followed a sale of all the furniture and draperies which the
Byrons had used in the Broad Street flat; and one morning in July, the
family left Aberdeen for England.

They were not to go to the castle at once to live, for the Earl of
Carlisle, George's new guardian, had decreed that he should attend one
of the great English schools for boys, joining his mother only at
vacation times. Mrs. Byron did not desire to spend the months of
George's absence alone in the great establishment, so she had taken a
house near the school, where, except for occasional visits to the new
domain, they would reside while George's education was being further
advanced. But now they were going for a glimpse of their future home,
and after to-day, Aberdeen would know them no more.

May Gray accompanied the Byrons to England, sturdily refusing to be left
behind.

Mary Duff attended them to the coach, and the children's parting was a
tearful one on both sides. But after many embraces, and the boy's
promise to send her a letter every week, Mary allowed George to mount to
the seat beside his mother; and as the conveyance rolled slowly away,
she waved both chubby hands in response to George's steadily fluttering
handkerchief, until the coach, Blue Dog, was lost to view.

After a night spent at the Nottingham inn, the Byrons hired a carriage
and drove out to Newstead.

When they came to the Abbey woods, and the woman at the toll-bar held
out her hand to receive their coins, Mrs. Byron, playfully feigning to
be a stranger in order to hear what the toll-keeper would say, asked
lightly,--

"To whom does this place belong?"

"The owner, Lord Byron, has been some weeks dead."

"And who is the next heir?" ventured Mrs. Byron.

Innocently the woman replied,--

"They say it is a little boy who lives at Aberdeen."

"And this is he, bless him!" ejaculated May Gray, unable to keep the
secret; and at her words, the astonished toll-woman bowed nearly to the
ground, hysterically commanding the baby who clung to her skirts to
salute his young lord.

The Byrons drove through the Abbey woods, which proved to be an arm of
the very Sherwood forest where long ago had dwelt Robin Hood and his
merry men. Past the lake, with its fish, pleasure boats, and the toy
ships which the old lord had delighted to sail to the end of his days;
through the park, stocked with deer for the chase, and up to the Abbey
they came.

The boy caught his breath at sight of the grand old structure which had
been the glory and retreat of hundreds of monks in the Middle Ages, and
which later King Henry the Eighth had presented to a certain Lord Byron,
who had fashioned one of its wings into a princely dwelling. The
visitors drove around the ancient pile, feasting their eyes upon its
Anglo-Gothic beauties; then they descended from the carriage and entered
the building. Guided by one of the servants in charge of the premises,
they visited the dim cloisters, where scores of hooded monastics had
daily walked; the chapel, the cells, the castle dungeons, the vast hall
where the first Lord Byron had entertained three hundred guests at
Christmas dinner; the late lord's drawing-room, the art gallery, and the
mighty kitchen.

Everywhere the news had spread that the boyish guest was none other than
the rightful lord of Newstead; and wherever George Byron appeared, men
uncovered deferentially, and women and children offered sweeping
curtsies. Mrs. Byron smiled at these with proud acknowledgment, and May
Gray chuckled without ceasing throughout the progress, but George's
face was uncommonly grave.

When his feet became too weary to allow of further touring, the party
sat down before an open-air luncheon, spread for them on a table in the
shade of a great elm.

Mrs. Byron, noting George's sombre silence, asked curiously,--

"Of what are you thinking, my lord?"

"Of Mary," he returned soberly.

"Of Mary," she exclaimed in surprise; "doesn't the sight of all this
grandeur atone for her loss?"

"No," he returned, "nothing can take the place of Mary."

"Then I'll tell you what we'll do," rejoined his mother quickly; "if you
promise to study well at school, and bring in good reports, we will come
back to Newstead at holiday time, and invite Mary to spend Christmas
with us here."

"Oh, mother, do you mean it?"

"Certainly, I mean it."

"Hurrah, hurrah, for Newstead and Christmas and Mary!"


One day in the city of London there was published a strangely beautiful
poem. Upon the first page was printed the title, "Childe Harold," and
just beneath it appeared the name of the author: George Gordon Byron.

When the scholars and students and fashionable folk read the little
book, they were spellbound by the beauty of the story and the verse.
Immediately they said to one another,--

"We must know him, this poet who can write such enchanting lines;" and
forthwith they thronged to his house to learn what sort of a person he
might be.

They found a man, young, genial, elegant in appearance and cordial in
manner. A few noticed that he limped slightly when he walked; others
that his features were strikingly handsome; and all agreed that any one
so thoughtful and talented should be sought out and welcomed to every
one of their homes.

Thereupon, invitations began to pour in upon the poet, every post
bringing letters from persons of rank, families of quiet life,
statesmen, professors, and even people from the provinces, urging George
Byron to visit them and enjoy the hospitality they had to offer. The
citizens of London opened their doors to him with one accord, vying with
one another for the privilege of receiving him under their roofs.

The young lord was astonished at the warmth of their enthusiasm, and to
this day is remembered his saying,--

"I awoke one morning and found myself famous."



"TOM PEAR-TREE'S PORTRAIT"

[GAINSBOROUGH]


Tommy Gainsborough did a very dreadful thing. If he had not possessed
such a trick in the use of pen and pencil, this never would have
happened. But, you see, he spent most of his school hours in drawing
pictures on the fly-leaves of his books, which pleased the other boys so
greatly that he filled their books also with sketches of people, trees,
and houses; while they, in return, worked out his problems in fractions
and wrote his spelling lessons for him. His copy-book he was content to
keep himself, for he chanced to be the best penman at the Sudbury
Grammar School, and his pages were always elegantly inscribed.

As the months went by, and his lesson papers were daily found to be
correct, the teacher's reports of Master Gainsborough's progress proved
highly gratifying to the boy's parents. But while Jack supplied his
answers in arithmetic, and Joe prompted him with names and dates at
history time, Tommy Gainsborough's ignorance of these subjects was
deplorable, and his conduct towards parents and teachers was deceiving
indeed.

As spring came on he grew restless under the confinement of walls and
rules, and longed for the dewy fields and fragrant lanes. If only he
might spend the days outside, he thought, instead of sitting mewed up in
this dreary schoolroom, what splendid woodland pictures he could draw.
Twice he asked the schoolmaster to excuse him, but Mr. Burroughs curtly
refused, since it would be unfair to dismiss one pupil to roam the
meadows and keep the others at their tasks. Tommy next tried his father,
but that gentleman replied with all seriousness,--

"My son, you have worked so well this term that I wish you to keep a
perfect record until the end of the year. When vacation comes you will
be free to spend every day out of doors, but your education is too
important to be slighted for pleasure."

Tommy was much disappointed at this decision, and, I am sorry to say,
closed the door quite ungently as he started for school.

The day was an enchanting one, and as the boy trudged along the unpaved
streets that ran between rows of quaint and ancient houses, a feeling of
hot rebellion took possession of him.

"Father does as he likes," he muttered, "and I think I ought to do the
same way once in a while. What is the sense in listening to old
Burroughs drone all day about nouns and divisors?"

The fresh spring breeze, with its scents of green things growing, was so
tantalizing that he paused before the schoolhouse door and thoughtfully
wrinkled his brow. Presently his face grew defiant, and he dashed into
the schoolroom with the look of a man who had made up his mind to do as
he pleased.

Finding himself to be the first arrival, he hurried to his desk. Deftly
tearing from his copy-book a slip of paper resembling those upon which
Mr. Gainsborough wrote Tommy's occasional excuses, the boy dipped his
pen and quickly wrote the words,--

"Give Tom a holiday."

Now if he had used his own style of penmanship the ruse would have been
readily understood by the schoolmaster; but he boldly imitated his
father's finely pointed lettering to a nicety, and at the end jotted
down the initials, "_J. G._," with two short lines drawn under them,
just as his father would have signed the note.

Carefully drying his pen, he closed his desk and left the building
before any one else arrived. He waited around the corner until almost
time for school to begin, then rushed into the schoolroom, now filled
with noisy pupils, marched straight up to the master's desk, and
presented his forged excuse.

Mr. Burroughs read the slip with some surprise.

"Of course, Tom," he said, "if your father wishes you to have a holiday,
I shall not refuse permission; but I understood that he wished you to
remain steadily at school until vacation time."

"May I go?" queried the boy hastily, not caring to discuss the question.

Mr. Burroughs bowed, but laid the slip of paper in his desk. Tommy, not
lingering for further debate, sped from the room; and when he reached
the place in the next street, where, under Dame Curran's rosebush, he
had hidden his sketch-book, he threw his cap high in air from sheer joy
of springtime and freedom.

Out from the town he hurried, and soon was tramping through the forest
that furnished the banks of the winding river Stour. All day long he
revelled in the glory of the woods, and hour after hour he worked with
his pencil, striving to put into his book the charming bits of landscape
that greeted his eye on every side. One sketch comprised a bend in the
river, with grassy meads beyond; another, an old vine-covered bridge,
now fallen into disuse; a third merely pictured a broken tree lying
across the sunlit path.

Occasionally he experienced a sharp twinge somewhere when he remembered
that all this pleasure was stolen. "But then," he argued, "what
difference does it make? Old Burroughs didn't know, and father will
never find it out!"

He stifled these pricking thoughts as fast as they arose, not permitting
them seriously to disturb his holiday. He whistled, he sang, he lay on
his back and looked up at the sky through the chinks in the tender
foliage. Sometimes he closed his eyes and listened, and the mysterious
woodland sounds, mingled with the purling of the river, yielded him
boundless enjoyment. When, however, the shadows of the trees fell at a
certain angle, Tommy closed his sketch-book with a sigh and went swiftly
homeward.

"I must get there at the usual time," he meditated, "else they'll ask me
where I've been."

As he came in sight of the "Black Horse," the public inn of bygone
times, where armored knights had claimed food and shelter, but which was
now the comfortable residence of John Gainsborough, Tommy began to
whistle airily.

Approaching nearer, he discovered that his father had come with pipe and
chair to the front stoop, and was sitting with his face turned down the
street, as though watching for somebody.

Tommy began to whistle louder, and as he turned in at the gate, his
countenance was beaming with innocence.

He bounded up the steps with the intention of getting into the house as
quickly as possible, but as his hand touched the latch a stentorian
voice said,--

"Thomas!"

The boy stopped short, his eyes round with surprise, his lips still
puckered for the whistling that had been so abruptly quelled.

"I called for you at school to-day."

"_Called for me at school to-day_," echoed Tommy, reddening in dismay.

"I did. I found that I must drive out to Squire Bagley's place, and I
decided to take you along. It seems that you had already given Mr.
Burroughs an excuse from me."

Tommy's fingers began to pick at his jacket, and he racked his brains
for a story that would fit the occasion.

"Well, father, I thought--"

"Silence, if you please! I am terribly shocked to find that my son would
deliberately write and act a lie. Such conduct deserves the severest
punishment. Will you take your whipping before tea or after?"

"After," said Tommy promptly; and accepting this as a dismissal he
vanished into the house.

The evening meal was not a joyous one for the culprit, owing to his
foretaste of what was coming later. His brothers and sisters evidently
knew nothing of his escapade, and chattered among themselves as usual;
but his mother's eyes rested upon him from time to time with sorrow in
their depths. Once a sob came into Tommy's throat, but he fiercely
choked it back, scorning to weep even under such harrowing
circumstances.

As the family rose from the table, Mr. Gainsborough, pointing to the
stairway, said sternly,--

"To your own room, Thomas!"

Very slowly the boy obeyed, and when the upper door had closed upon him,
Mrs. Gainsborough laid a detaining hand upon her husband's arm.

"Wait for a moment, John, and look at the child's work."

Mrs. Gainsborough, who was herself an accomplished painter of flowers,
opened Tommy's sketch-book, and laid before her husband's eyes the
record of the day's outlawry.

A whispered consultation followed, then Mr. Gainsborough ascended the
stair with a heavy, portentous tread.

Tommy, sitting miserably on the side of his bed, heard the measured
tramp, tramp along the corridor; and folding his arms he set his teeth
grimly and waited for the worst.

Mr. Gainsborough entered the room and closed the door behind him.

"Thomas," he began in a relentless tone, "you have disgraced yourself
and your family by your behavior to-day, but I have decided not to give
you a whipping."

Tommy leaped from the bed with an exclamation of puzzled relief.

"Instead, my son, I shall take away all your pencils and drawing
materials for a month, and shall see that you do not have access to any
at school."

"Oh, father," howled Tommy despairingly, "I'd rather take the
whipping--even two of 'em, if you'll give me back my things! Please whip
me, father, as you said you would, and let me have my sketch-book!"

"At the end of a month, and not one day sooner."

Mr. Gainsborough kept his word, and throughout the following weeks
Tommy's fingers fairly tingled for the touch of his beloved instruments.
Pencils and paper were so costly at that time that it was useless for
him to save his pennies in the hope of buying them for himself; and
during the weary days of waiting, Tommy decided positively that his pen
should never again perform dishonest tricks, plunging him into such
trouble.

One midsummer morning, weeks after Tommy's pencils had been restored to
him, Mrs. Gainsborough appeared at the corner of the garden, where the
boy was busily digging worms for fish bait.

"Tommy," she inquired in a vexed tone, "have you been gathering my
yellow pears?"

"No," returned he, pushing his hat back and looking up at the distressed
lady.

Now Tommy was guilty of so many mischievous doings that when anything
went wrong about the place he was always suspected of being in the plot
somewhere, though sometimes he was truly innocent, as happened to be the
case just now.

"No," he repeated, "I haven't touched a single one of the yellow pears.
Honor bright!"

"Then some one else has," declared Mrs. Gainsborough. "For three days,
since they have been ripening so beautifully, I have tried to find
enough to fill a fancy basket for the dean; and although each evening I
have seen ten or twelve that would be perfect in another day, I have
gone the following morning to gather them, and have found only hard and
green ones hanging. The other children know nothing about it, so I
suppose some one has stolen the pears. It is too provoking!"

Mrs. Gainsborough turned away, and her son went on with his digging,
giving no further thought to the missing fruit.

The next morning he awoke very early, so early that the great red sun
was just peeping over the hill. He turned drowsily on his pillow and was
preparing to launch into another delicious nap, when it occurred to him
that sunrise was a capital time for the drawing of shadows.

Instantly he scrambled out of bed, and five minutes later was on his way
through the orchard with his sketch-book under his arm.

Dew lay thickly upon the grass and leaves, and even the ruddy fruit
hanging overhead sparkled brightly as the first rays of the sun shone
upon its clinging drops.

"Now for the shadows," thought Tommy, glancing about the orchard. "I
think I'll draw that clump of currant bushes, if I can get a good
position."

He walked up and down several times, trying to find a place where his
view would be unobstructed. This was no easy matter amid so many trees,
but at length he found that by sitting inside the entrance of an old
rustic summer-house he could command his model exactly.

A few feet at his left, and close beside the stone wall dividing the
orchard from the public road, grew his mother's pear-tree, laden with
ripe, rich fruit.

Tommy had opened his book, and with half-closed eyes and uplifted pencil
was measuring the height of the currant bushes, when, to his surprise, a
head suddenly appeared above the wall, at the very spot shaded by the
pear-tree.

[Illustration: "A head suddenly appeared above the wall."]

The stranger cast a quick, cautious glance about the premises, showing
that his errand was no friendly one, then threw back his head and gazed
greedily at the luscious pears that grew above him. As he stood thus,
with the morning light falling brightly across his visage, Tommy saw
that his features were strongly marked and prominent, his face seamed by
deep and vicious lines.

The boy, accustomed to study the form and appearance of things, quickly
comprehended the stranger's long nose, low brow, pointed chin, and
hollow cheeks.

The man looked furtively about for the second time and sprang to the top
of the wall. Quite unconscious that a spectator was eagerly watching
from the covered structure near by, the intruder ascended boldly into
the pear-tree and proceeded to fill his pockets and hat with the juicy
fruit.

Never a sound came from the summer-house, but before the rogue had
completed his stolen harvest, Tommy's cunning pencil had drawn the
robber's portrait, with the narrowed eyes, leering lips, unkempt hair,
and rakish hat, exactly as they had impressed him at the moment when
the vagabond stood gazing aloft at the fruit overhead. Tommy finished
the sketch with a few hasty strokes, then closed his book and burst
suddenly from the summer-house, shouting "Wow, wow!" at the top of his
voice.

Down leaped the man to the earth, and scaling the wall at a bound, he
fled, dropping many of the pears as he ran.

Tommy's unearthly shrieks had roused the household, and he hurriedly
explained to his mother the cause of her daily vanishing pears,
displaying his sketch as proof of his argument.

An hour later Mr. Gainsborough opened Tommy's book before the squire,
pointed to the drawing upon the last page, and related the story of the
boy's early morning experience.

The squire immediately recognized the picture as of a ne'er-do-weel who
had been loitering about Sudbury for some time, and who had more than
once been convicted of petty thieving.

"I'll send for him," declared the magistrate; and that very afternoon
the offender was brought in.

Mr. Gainsborough accused him of invading his orchard and attempting to
carry away his fruit; but the culprit stoutly denied all knowledge of
the episode.

Quietly the squire opened Tommy's book, and held it before the
defendant's astonished gaze.

He uttered a baffled whine, then, with a laugh that was like a snarl, he
admitted his guilt of the morning, and also confessed to having robbed
the pear-tree upon three previous occasions.

"My man," announced the squire sternly, "I shall let you go free this
time upon your promise of good behavior, but if you ever repeat the
offence I'll give you a sentence of confinement on bread and water.
There is plenty of honest employment to be had in Sudbury, and I advise
you to go to work and live as a decent citizen."

The man shambled out, and from that day forth was seen no more about
the village.

Mr. Gainsborough, concluding from the day's developments that he could
justly afford to encourage this play-work of Tommy's, which was
beginning to take on a shade of importance, bought a large new
sketch-book and presented it to the boy.

Tommy turned five somersaults to express the warmth of his gratitude;
but before despatching the old book to its future home on the closet
shelf, he opened it and, with his bravest flourishes, wrote beneath the
sketch on the final page,--

"Tom Pear-tree's Portrait."


When years had gone by and Thomas Gainsborough had arrived at manhood,
he astonished all England by his remarkable paintings. His pictures of
woods and lanes, fields and shining water, captivated the country folk
by presenting so perfectly the scenes before their doors; and the city
dwellers were awakened by his colors to the charms of the wide, sweet
country they had forgotten.

These landscape studies set Thomas Gainsborough high in the world of
art, but when at length he turned his cunning brush to the task of
painting portraits, his fame was heralded from city to province. He
began by making likenesses of his wife and daughters, and when these
were exhibited at the Royal Academy, people exclaimed at the skill and
dignity of the work. Even King George III., who chanced to visit the
gallery on one of these occasions, paused before Gainsborough's canvas,
and clasped his hands in admiration.

"Summon this painter to the palace," commanded he, "and let him paint
his sovereign and his queen."

This order from the king made Gainsborough's portraits the fashion at
court, and straightway all the ladies of rank and beauty came to him,
entreating him to paint their pictures.

His fortune and reputation, by these well-earned favors, rose far beyond
anything he had expected, and if ever a man was truly happy in his life
and work, that man was Thomas Gainsborough.

He was so generous, so good-humored, so lovable in his old-time
frankness, that people who sought his acquaintance because he was a
famous artist quickly forgot his amazing skill in the pleasure of his
ever-boyish company.

It was supposed that he had reached the climax of his art when he
exhibited a picture of the Duchess of Devonshire, for this set Great
Britain agog with praise and wonder; but Thomas Gainsborough was
destined to climb yet one step higher in the ladder of public esteem,
and the work that crowned his success and brought the world to his feet
was a childish portrait entitled "Blue Boy." This was hung on the wall
of the Royal Academy, and when the spectators came surging through the
gallery, chattering amiably of this canvas and that, they halted
speechless before the boy with the thoughtful eyes, the fresh brown
skin, and the pale-blue dress. The lad was so young, so sweet, so
lifelike in his quiet pose, that not a word was uttered by the critics
standing by. One by one they slipped away, aware that Thomas
Gainsborough had not attained the goal of his greatness by pictures of
kings, queens, court beauties, and mighty soldiers, but by the youthful,
innocent portrait entitled simply "Blue Boy."



GEORG'S CHAMPION

[HÄNDEL]


"No, no, Hans, you are too loud, and Frieda goes too fast! Just listen
to Otto's trumpet and watch my cane, all of you, and then you'll be
right."

The tone was an emphatic one, and the speaker pounded sharply on the
floor with his walking stick.

He was a small boy, whose flaxen hair hung straight and thick on either
side of his face. He was panting with excitement, his eyes were
sparkling, his lips were set.

Before him, on the floor, sat six boys and girls in a semi-circle,
attending earnestly to his commands. One boy possessed a toy horn; two
others, mouth organs; a fourth, a chubby girl, had dropped a tin fife in
sheer fright; and the fifth and sixth clung to drum and dinner-bell
respectively.

"This time," went on the conductor sternly, "I want you to begin when I
bring my cane _down_. Now watch! One, two, three, four,--_one_!"

As the big baton descended with the leader's vehement "_one_," a
deafening uproar burst from the obedient orchestra.

"Keep on, keep on! You're going it now! _Slower_, Frieda! One, two,
three, four!"

The director swung his cane vigorously, shouting his orders above the
strains of the lusty symphony. A few measures were bravely rendered,
when the conductor suddenly threw down his stick with a look of extreme
exasperation.

"Peter," he said quietly, in the tone of a teacher sorely tried but
patient, "please don't _jingle_ the bell. Take the clapper in your hand,
and tap it when I say 'one' and 'three.' Like this!" and seizing the
bell, he illustrated his meaning, compelling the fat offender to perform
the feat to his satisfaction before going on with the rehearsal. When
the bell-ringer had been sufficiently drilled, the director once again
took up his baton and ordered a fresh beginning.

They were playing in good earnest, for this imperious conductor desired
something far above the discordant blasts that are usually obtained from
musical toys. Weeks before he had assigned to each playmate a certain
instrument, teaching him in private to draw real melody from it; and
to-day he had assembled the six performers in his bedroom, introducing
them to the delight of joining together in a familiar musical theme.

To be sure, the toys were shrill and piping, the players often faulty
and careless, but after an hour's persistent and perspiring labor on the
part of all concerned, the Duke's Military March rang through the house
in creditable time and tune.

While the music continued with true martial spirit, the door opened
softly, and a plump, fair girl of sixteen peeped into the room.
Perceiving the occupation of the children, she smiled brightly and
slipped away. A moment later another form appeared upon the threshold,
that of an elderly, dignified man. His hair was white, his eyes were
protected by huge gold spectacles, his shoulders were slightly bent; but
a close observer would have readily detected a resemblance between the
handsome old gentleman and the leader of the orchestra. One bore the
markings of age, the other the dimples of childhood; but they plainly
displayed a kindred will, energy, and intelligence, although one was
seventy and the other but seven.

Mr. Händel was the town surgeon of Halle, appointed by the Duke of
Sächse, and the flaxen-haired boy was the idolized child of his
declining years.

At first sight of the juvenile orchestra the visitor smiled as
indulgently as had the girl before him, entering the chamber
unobserved, and seating himself in a distant corner where he could watch
the highly interesting performance. But he turned quickly grave when his
eye fell upon the small director, who was bending anxiously forward, his
whole being absorbed in the sounds that issued from the toys at signal
of his cane. The flush that burned the leader's cheek, the intensity of
his glance, and the strained alertness of his lithe young body, seemed a
forbidding vision to the old gentleman, for his face clouded and he
shook his head in increasing disapproval.

Presently the concert ended, the children scrambled noisily to their
feet, and the conductor leaned upon his cane, regarding them with the
serene composure of a man who has wrought successfully and is modestly
proud of the fact.

"We must go home, Georg," said Peter, exchanging his bell for his cap.

"I'm going to run, 'cause I'm so dretful hungry," announced Frieda,
disappearing in quest of curds and seed cakes.

"You may all go now," consented the director affably, "but," raising a
commanding finger, "we will practise again at seven o'clock to-morrow
morning, and whoever is one minute late won't be invited to my party in
the afternoon."

"Oh, Georg," wailed Frieda, recalled from the corridor by this edict,
"must I come at seven, whether I've had any breakfast or not?"

The leader bowed.

"Whether you have had any breakfast or not," he rejoined firmly.

The children trooped down the stairs, leaving their chief to gather up
the toys and place them carefully upon the table.

He was about to leave the room when, for the first time, he discovered
that he was not alone.

"Father!" he exclaimed, bounding gladly to the old man's side, and
laying one hand affectionately upon his shoulder. "Did you hear us
play? Didn't we do well? If only we had a fiddle we could make much
better music. Oh, father, it is such fun--why--what's the matter,
father? I sharpened your pens and aired your dressing-gown."

The boy's hilarious comments ceased as he became aware of his father's
darkened expression, and he hastened to allay the doubts that he
supposed to be the cause of this unlooked-for displeasure.

"I know, Georg, that you sharpened the pens, and I believe you when you
tell me that you aired the dressing-gown, but I shall give you a new
duty to-day. See that you perform it promptly!"

Georg listened in wonder, for never before had his father addressed him
with such hardness of manner, and instinctively the boy drew a pace
backward.

"A new--duty?" he stammered.

"I want you to take those musical toys and throw them into the pond, or
give them to some one who never comes into this house."

Georg was dumfounded.

"Throw them away--my trumpet, my fife, my--"

Breathless with consternation the boy rushed to the table and gathered
his treasures protectingly in his arms.

"These--I must--keep," he asserted chokingly, eying his father from the
breastworks of drum and bell.

For answer Mr. Händel pointed to the door, and Georg, reading naught but
doom in that significant gesture, dropped his toys with a crash and
clasped his father's arm beseechingly.

"Father, don't make me throw them in the pond! Tell me why it is wrong
for me to have them; please, father, tell me!"

The old gentleman's face expressed both resolution and kindness.

"Listen, Georg. When I gave you those toys at Christmas time, I expected
you to amuse yourself with them as other children do, in turn with
balls, kites, and sleds. But this you have failed to do, and every
play-hour since that time you have given to these musical toys. Now,
Georg, I mean to give you a thorough education, so that when you are a
man you may become a jurist, capable of following a respectable career
and earning a snug fortune. Ever since you were born I have planned and
saved for this purpose, and I cannot have my arrangements upset by these
silly mouth organs. Tut, tut!" as the boy endeavored to speak, "no
words, my son, over this matter! If I allow you to keep these things and
play with them, day in and day out, as you have been doing, you will
grow into a _musician_, and then where will my jurist be? No, no, it is
not to be thought of. When I came in to-day, you were so deep in the
Duke's March that you did not know that I was near. No, boy, you cannot
have them any longer. I would have taken them away before, had I
realized that you were so set upon them."

"Please, father--" whispered Georg, quaking, but persistent.

"You must either throw them away or give them away to-day. You shall
have an hour to decide which you wish to do, and at the end of it, I
shall expect the matter to be settled for all time. Also, Georg, I wish
you to see no more of four of those children who were here to-day.
Frieda and Peter seemed dull enough, but the others were too musical by
far to be fit companions for you. You may tell them that I forbid them
the house from to-day."

At this stroke of fate, Georg threw himself at full length on the floor,
sobbing tempestuously. His father departed without further parley, and
the boy was left alone to battle with his disappointment.

As the hour drew to a close, he mastered his emotion as well as he was
able, washed from his face the traces of weeping, and hurried out to
call a meeting of his orchestra by the pond-side.

He would not confess to his mates that he was grieved with the message
he had for them, but delivered it with an air of mannish bravado.

"I shan't have an orchestra any more, and I have brought you all of my
instruments. I'll give you each the one you've been using, so you can
play hereafter. You needn't come to-morrow to rehearse, for I can't lead
any longer."

"No orchestra! You won't lead!" chorused the musicians blankly, as they
received the cherished toys into their hands.

"Never again," affirmed Georg loftily, but he must needs set his teeth
hard upon his lower lip, lest its trembling should betray his stinging
regret.

"You see," he explained with the easy patronage of a captain who has led
his troops to victory, but who is about to be promoted out of their
midst, "it is not as though I were to be a musician when I grow up. It
is all well enough for you fellows to play on these things every day,
but I really ought not to waste my time with them, for," importantly,
"when I am a man, I am going to be a jurist."

"A _what_?" demanded his hearers in one breath, much impressed by the
high-sounding title.

"A jurist," Georg repeated, folding his arms, much gratified at the
effect his announcement had produced.

"What does a--a jurist do?" inquired Frieda, feminine curiosity
conquering her awe.

"Oh," replied Georg easily, "a jurist, Frieda, writes down in a book
everything that people ought to do, and when they don't do just as he
has written, he cuts off their heads."

"Ach!"

"Their heads?"

"You will learn to cut them off?"

Georg bowed.

"Now you understand why I must give up the orchestra. If you decide to
keep on without me, perhaps, sometime--"

He was turning away with a kingly wave of the hand, his last sentence
unfinished, when a question from Peter recalled him to the second and
most distressing part of his mission.

"You'll have your party to-morrow afternoon? We needn't play on things,
you know."

The blood mounted to Georg's forehead, and his fingers twitched
uncomfortably; but he managed to speak so boldly that his listeners were
quite unaware of his struggle.

"I am glad you mentioned the party, Peter, for I had nearly forgotten
it. No, I won't have any party, and I must tell you--at least, father
says--that--that Hans and Otto and Gretchen and Leopold must not come to
my house any more. Of course," he added hastily, seeking to drown the
gasps of his troopers, "it isn't that you're not good enough and nice
enough for me to play with, but father says that you four are very
musical, and you might make me musical too; but Frieda and Peter can
come, for they are dull."

"I hate your old tunes and notes, anyway," protested Peter, much
injured; but Frieda cut him short with the excited proposal,--

"Let's have your party for Peter and me and you, to-morrow!"

"_Have_ your party! _Have_ your party!" sneered Otto; and Hans informed
Georg in biting tones that he wouldn't forget this when his birthday
came next month.

Here Georg visibly weakened, for he remembered that Hans was expecting
either a violin or a flute upon that occasion, and he nearly lost his
studied indifference with the recollection. He was obliged to face
about, to hide the sudden teardrops that glistened on his cheeks; and,
marching proudly toward his father's pasture, with head high in air, and
back steadily kept toward his forsaken band, he called out,--

"I'm not mad at you, but you can be mad at me if you like. I won't have
a party to-morrow for Frieda and Peter, 'cause I like Hans and Otto
better than I do them, 'cause they know how to keep time when I beat."

He had reached the pasture with the last word of parting, and flinging
himself over the bars, he fled across the green as though twenty scouts
of the enemy were close upon his heels. The mask that he had worn to
conceal his heartburning had fallen, and he was crying bitterly as he
ran.

Old Kappelstahr, Georg's special pet since the days when she was a
sportive calf, stood mildly chewing her cud near the inner fence. As her
master dashed among the kine in evident agitation, the heifer turned to
look after him, apparently surprised that he had passed her by without a
word of greeting.

Georg, glancing backward, happened to catch that look of gentle
interest. He halted irresolutely, then, rushing to her side and throwing
his arms about her neck, the dejected jurist sobbed out his woe upon her
warm brown shoulder.

During the succeeding days and weeks, Georg felt as lonely as a
shipwrecked mariner cast upon a deserted island of the sea.
Instinctively, when lessons were done, he reached out for amusement to
the musical toys that were his no longer. Sometimes he heard sounds
arising from the pond-side, where his forbidden orchestra rehearsed
under Otto's direction. That he might neither make music nor mingle with
those who did, filled him with blank dismay; and hour by hour he
wandered about the house and garden, unable to attach himself to other
interests or games. His father required him to make an industrious use
of his school hours, even adding to the regular course certain studies
that he deemed useful to one preparing for a serious profession.

The old gentleman was sorry indeed when he saw how the absence of the
musical toys and companions affected Georg, and he even sought to modify
the discipline by presenting to the boy a complete set of carpenter's
tools.

Georg thanked him for the gift, but what was the old gentleman's
surprise, a week later, upon seeing the chest in his son's room, still
unopened, with every tool in place, and across the wooden lid a series
of black and white keys painted, in imitation of a harpsichord.

Mr. Händel frowned, but made no reference to the matter before Georg.

Mrs. Händel believed that her husband was right at all times, and would
not have reversed his decision regarding the musical affair, if she
could; but her sister Anna, the plump fair girl who had peeped in upon
the last rehearsal of the orchestra in Georg's room, sympathized warmly
with the boy, and sought to console him in every way possible.

Anna was barely sixteen, herself scarcely more than a child, blue-eyed,
yellow-haired, and a member of the Händel household. Her sweet temper
and merry heart had long before won Georg's devotion, and in his present
trial no one was admitted to his confidence but this youthful aunt.

Never a word of disrespect or rebellion did Anna utter against Mr.
Händel, for she believed implicitly in a child's obedience to his
parents; but, being of a musical temperament herself, she entered into
the boy's trouble as though she, too, were under the ban. In a certain
sense she was, there being no musical instrument in the house, and often
she felt stirred by the same impulse that wrought so constantly upon her
nephew.

"Never mind, Georg," she would say, "let Hans and Frieda have the mouth
organ and the drum. Just you attend to your school, and when your father
sees that you mean to study hard and carry out his wishes, he will give
them back to you."

But weeks dragged wearily by, and, despite Georg's diligence at school,
Mr. Händel did not relent. Frieda and Peter came occasionally, but they
had never been Georg's chosen comrades, and he joined their games
mechanically, plainly relieved when they took their departure. He longed
unceasingly for Otto, who was clever with the trumpet, and for Hans, who
was now the possessor of a violin.

He became restless and dissatisfied, and his mother despaired of a child
who went about with such a sober face.

He never gave voice to the discontent that surged in his breast, for
parental authority was strict in the Händel household, and he would have
been sharply punished for outspoken protest. But he did not recover from
his disappointment, as his father had so reasonably expected; a slight
paleness crept over his plump cheeks, his lively spirit was tinged with
melancholy, and from his compressed lips was seldom heard his former
ringing laugh.

Every one in the house noticed the change, but all except Anna thought
the mood would presently pass away if properly ignored, and no mention
was made in his hearing of the subject that lay nearest his heart. The
girl, however, realized that Georg was seriously unhappy, and right
heartily did she try to divert him from his consuming desire.

One November afternoon, as Georg sat studying before the sitting-room
fire with his mother, who had fallen asleep over her knitting, his
attention was attracted by a pebble being thrown against the window.
Raising his eyes, he beheld his aunt beckoning to him from the garden.
Down went the book and out went the boy.

"What is it, Aunt Anna?"

For answer, the girl caught him about the neck and whirled him madly up
and down the gravelled path.

"It's a secret, Georg, the best and biggest secret in the whole world.
Nobody is to know it but you and me, and it is so lovely that I can't
keep from spinning like a top!"

"Wait! Stop! Let loose!" and the boy broke from her clasp,
half-strangled by the joyful energy of her arm. "What is the secret?
Hurry and tell!"

The girl stood smiling and speechless, unable to find words to frame her
tidings. Then glancing about to assure herself that no one was near, she
bent quickly and whispered,--

"You remember, Georg, that poor Granny Wegler died last week. Well, her
daughter, Mrs. Friesland, who came from Munich to take care of her,
called here to-day to tell me--what do you suppose?"

"I don't know."

"She said that she had found a note written by Granny, saying that when
she died, she wanted to leave her _clavichord_ to me. Just think of it,
Georg, I am to have that dear, beautiful little clavichord that stood in
Granny's parlor, and you and I can play on it whenever we please!"

Georg's face went from red to white and back to red again with this
stupendous news. Afraid that a shout would serve to recall him to house
and book, he sought to express his delight by rolling over and over in
the crackling brown grass and pulling up the dead blades by handfuls.

Suddenly, however, he ceased his tumbling about, and sat up, his hair
filled with bits of leaves and grass.

"Ought I to play on it, Aunt Anna? Will father care?"

Georg's voice shook with apprehension, but the girl hastened to reassure
him.

"When your father made you give away the toys, he never said a word
about clavichords. It can't be wrong to play on it when you never have
been forbidden."

Anna's idea of obedience was very strict, and in the present case she
was wholly sincere, never doubting for an instant that they were about
to proceed in the straight path of duty.

"Oh, no," murmured the boy, much relieved, "he didn't mention
clavichords, I'm sure."

"Now this is to be a secret of yours and mine, and while the others are
gone to the Kirmess to-morrow, I shall have the darling brought over and
carried up to the garret."

"Ho, ho! Hurrah for our secret! Hurrah! hurrah!"

When, next day, Georg saw the clavichord borne to the shadowy chamber
under the eaves and set up in all its thrilling reality against the warm
brick chimney, he pressed both hands over his mouth in the fear that his
cries of exultation might reach his father's ears in town.

When the carriers were gone, he approached the instrument timidly, and
only after Anna had played several tunes, could he be induced to touch
its yellowed keys. But when he had once overcome the awe that filled
him at sight of his heart's desire, he clung to it as a thing of life,
passing every hour thereafter that he could snatch from his school
studies, in the company of this glorious toy. In the beginning, Anna
taught him the few rudiments of musical art that lay within her ken, but
before many weeks had passed, the pupil turned teacher, so far
outstripping his aunt that he was able to give her many helpful
suggestions.

That Georg speedily recovered his vaulting spirits, every one remarked;
but none guessed the reason. The good surgeon supposed that the boy's
regret for his lost playthings and companions was forgotten, and he
smiled to see his son as noisy and mischief-loving as before the
September episode.

The conspirators were for a time in terror of discovery, but the tones
of the clavichord were so thin and muffled that their tinkling would
never disturb a drowsy garret mouse, much less penetrate the oaken
floors to the chambers under foot. No one but Georg's mother ever
visited the attic region, and during this important season, she chanced
to be afflicted with acute rheumatic pain that prevented her climbing
the steep stair leading to the treasure-house.

The winter was a long one and cold, but Anna and Georg, in their high
retreat, were as happy and comfortable as meadow-larks. Trunks, chests,
old clothing, and discarded furniture abounded there; bunches of dried
herbs were strung to the cross-beams, and cobwebs draped the outlying
nooks; but the great chimney emitted a cosy warmth, and the clavichord
provided unceasing entertainment.

[Illustration: "The clavichord provided unceasing entertainment."]

As time went by, Anna's interest waned considerably, owing to the
succeeding preparations of Christmas gifts, March birthday festivities,
and spring finery; but when months had rolled away and summer suns were
once more ripening the fruit and coloring the flowers, Georg was as
intently absorbed in the clavichord as on the day of its first
appearance.

One June morning he was starting for a day's visit with some cousins who
lived on the most fashionable street in Halle. He was attired for the
occasion in his best suit of shining black satin. A deep collar of
Mechlin lace, a pair of gleaming silver shoe-buckles, and a silver cord
wound around his broad black beaver filled him with satisfaction as he
emerged from the house door.

At this juncture Mr. Händel drove into the gravelled plaza lying between
stable and street, and Georg observed with surprise that the carriage
was festooned with yellow streamers, that Mummer, the staid mare, was
groomed until she shone, and tricked out in the yellow harness and
tassels reserved for state occasions.

"Where are you going, father?" called Georg.

"To Weisenfels. The duke sent for me this morning. He wishes a report
of the state of health in Halle."

"Oh, father, please take me with you! I've never seen the court, and I
want to go so much!"

"Not this time, Georg. I have business to attend to, and I cannot look
after you."

"You needn't look after me," insisted the lad, laying his hand upon the
door of the slowly moving vehicle. "I'll be good and do everything you
say, and Christian will take care of me. Please, father, take me!"

"No, no! Some other time I'll take you, but this time I shall be too
busy. Get up, Mummer!"

With the touch of the whip, the ancient mare broke into a gentle
dogtrot, the only gait more swift than a walk in which she ever
indulged.

Georg saw the carriage roll through the gates and take the road toward
Weisenfels.

To go to the duke's court was something that he had long desired, and
this seemed a wholly favorable time for the undertaking. Had his
father's denial been decisive, Georg would have accepted it with the
best grace he could muster, and gone on about his visit; but he had seen
that the surgeon was merely preoccupied, refusing the petition absently
in order that his reflections should not be disturbed, rather than that
he cared to forbid the journey.

"If he only knew how much I wanted to go, he would have said 'yes,'"
thought Georg. "Father nearly always lets me do things when I ask him.
He really didn't hear what I said,--didn't hear inside him, I mean,--or
he would have taken me. I'll go! I'll go anyway, and when I get there
father will be sure to let me stay."

Fired with this determination, Georg set off, running nimbly behind the
carriage, taking pains all the while to keep out of the surgeon's sight.

Although Mummer was not very fleet as horses go, she jogged steadily
along, and the boy, following close behind the carriage, began to wonder
why she never stopped to catch her breath and cool herself. Up and down
hill, over bridges, through strips of forest, went horse, carriage, and
boy; and, as the sun blazed down, and the road grew dusty to choking,
the last one of the procession became so hot and breathless that he
feared he must stop or die.

At twelve o'clock the carriage drew up before a roadside inn; and when
the hostler came to take charge of Mummer, Mr. Händel opened the door
and stepped out upon the flower-bordered driveway.

The flash of a silver hat-cord seemed to twinkle before his eyes, and
seized with a sharp suspicion, the old gentleman strode quickly round to
the back of the carriage only to see a pair of small black legs
disappearing under the vehicle.

"Georg!" he ejaculated. "Come out, instantly! What are you doing here?"

A dusty, sheepish boy crawled slowly into sight, murmuring confusedly as
he rose,--

"I knew you'd let me go if you thought about it, so I came--"

Dizzy from heat and fatigue, Georg clutched the wheel to keep himself
from falling; and the surgeon took him anxiously by the shoulder.

"You foolish boy! What possessed you to undertake such a tramp! I didn't
care particularly if you came. Here, let's go into the inn and get
dinner! You will feel better when you have had warm food and time to
rest. I'll send a messenger back to your mother, so she will know that
you have come with me. You foolish child!"

The evening was spent in the ducal palace, whither the surgeon had been
summoned with his professional report; and the novel sights and sounds
proved so exciting to Georg that long after he was tucked into his cot
he lay wide awake, thinking of all that he had enjoyed. When sleep did
finally overtake him, he dreamed of the gayly uniformed guards stationed
inside and outside the palace, of the massive corridors, rich with works
of art, and the vast assembly room where the duke had held an audience,
while he himself had looked down from an upper gallery upon the throngs
of men and women, the flowers, the banners, and listened to the music
wafted from the musicians' balcony opposite.

Christian Händel, a nephew of Georg's, although more than twice the
boy's age, was a member of the duke's train, and he had piloted the
small visitor about the place, pointing out to him the things that would
prove of especial interest. He had likewise introduced his young
relative to the musicians, and they, attracted by the boy's
straightforward manner and intelligent replies, cordially received him
among them.

Morning came before Georg realized that he had been asleep, and with
it, Christian, who shook him awake.

"Dress yourself quickly, Georg, for the duke goes to church this
morning, and when he attends, nobody else in the house is permitted to
stay away."

Christian conducted Georg to the organ-loft, that he might better see
the sumptuous chapel and the duke with his richly apparelled retinue
passing in for service.

The white-haired organist, whom Georg had met the night before, greeted
him pleasantly; and Christian left him in care of the aged musician,
while he hurried down to take his place among the crimson-clad
retainers.

When, an hour later, the duke sat in his apartment at breakfast, the
sound of the organ fell upon his ear. Himself a passionate lover of
music, he could readily distinguish the touch of the various players at
court; but this soft and unfamiliar strain caused him to bend forward
with a puzzled look. Gradually the music grew more distinct, and soon
the palace resounded with a strong and stately melody.

"Who is at the organ?" the duke demanded suddenly, glancing inquiringly
at one of his attendants.

"It is the little Händel from Halle, your grace," replied Christian.

"A relative of yours?"

The young man blushed, for he was unwilling to confess to an
eight-year-old uncle; but he told the truth and satisfied his pride by
explaining distinctly,--

"He is my grandfather's youngest son."

"Bring him hither, and his father also."

Christian disappeared, and presently Mr. Händel entered by one door,
just before his son and grandson appeared on the threshold of the other.

The duke motioned the old gentleman to a distant corner, and beckoned
the boy to approach.

Georg, bereft of Christian's support, and unaware of his father's
presence, became so frightened that his breath almost failed as he
advanced, and he wondered wildly if the trembling of his knees could be
detected by the company. He carried his black beaver on his arm, as he
had seen the courtiers do, and when he came within a few feet of the
ducal chair, he bowed with a curious little bob that set the whole room
laughing.

"Silence!" commanded the duke sternly; then turning, he kindly asked his
small auditor what his name might be.

"Georg Friedrich Händel," replied the boy tremulously, but with the
sound of his own voice his terror dissolved, and he stood before the
Duke of Sächse with respectful composure.

"When did you learn to play the organ, my manikin?"

"This morning, your grace."

"This morning!" echoed the duke, astounded. "Can it be true that you
have never tried the instrument before to-day?"

"Well, you see, we have no organ at home," returned Georg
apologetically.

The duke studied him for a moment, as though seeking for traces of
falsehood, but Georg's utter simplicity was strangely convincing.

Quietly the duke put his next question.

"Upon what instruments _have_ you played before?"

"Last winter and this summer I have played every day on my aunt's
clavichord, your grace."

Here a loud gasp was heard from a distant corner, but the duke frowned
for silence.

"And what before the clavichord, my boy?"

"A mouth organ, a tin trumpet, a fife, a drum, and a dinner-bell, your
grace."

A dozen irrepressible titters burst from the attendants, but the duke
grew very grave.

"And that is all, lad?"

"All, your grace."

"No lessons?"

"No--except when Aunt Anna and I taught each other. But you mustn't
tell father about the clavichord, your grace, because it is a secret,
and father told me to give away my own instruments, and Aunt Anna
wouldn't like to give away her clavichord, so please don't let him know
about it."

"I am afraid that he knows already," said the duke, smiling; and at his
signal, the Halle surgeon emerged from his corner, pale with amazement.

Georg was so confounded at sight of his parent, that, unable to meet his
expected look of condemnation, he buried his face in the folds of the
duke's breakfast cloth.

"I am sorry, Mr. Händel," said the duke, "that I betrayed the child's
secret. Had I known there was anything confidential in the interview, I
should have held it in private. But now that the mischief is done, will
you tell me why you oppose the musical study that Georg desires?"

"Merely, your grace, because he neglects his school for music when I
allow it. I am a music-lover myself, but I wish to educate my son for a
jurist, and I cannot have the plan interfered with, even by music."

"Let me suggest, then, that you allow the music lessons and compel the
school lessons, taking away the instrument if he fails at school; and
when he is old enough and wise enough to be a jurist, he will be capable
of choosing for himself the work of his life."

"I thank you, your grace! The advice is fair and judicious, and I shall
be happy to act upon it. If I have made a mistake, it was out of concern
for the child's best good, your grace."

"An error on the safe side, Mr. Händel. A-ha, my small minstrel, do you
hear how your father and I have arranged matters?"

Georg had not fully understood the conversation, but he gathered that
the duke had somehow persuaded the surgeon to allow his little son to
play upon the clavichord as much as he wished, if he were faithful at
school.

"Does the prospect please you?" asked the duke, his eyes twinkling.

"It does, it does!" cried Georg, his face radiant. "I am obliged to your
grace, and I am sure that you are almost as good and fine a person as my
Aunt Anna."


One night, in London, a concert was given at a certain music-hall, and
the money earned from the sale of tickets was to be used to relieve the
poor children of the city.

Such a throng of people crowded into the hall that every seat was
promptly filled, and the door-keepers were obliged to turn away many who
desired to attend.

King George II. appeared in the royal box, and when he had been
respectfully saluted by the people, the hall grew still. The stage was
filled with singers, and soon the room resounded with the thrilling
notes of a new piece called "The Messiah."

The people had expected to be only pleasantly entertained, but as one
strain followed another, they bent forward entranced. Such harmonies
they had never listened to before, and the people in the hall were moved
to the point of tears. At length the sounds grew so impressive that the
king could contain himself no longer, but leaped to his feet. Instantly
the people, following the lead of their sovereign, rose impulsively in
their places, and so standing, they waited until the glorious chorus was
ended.

Throughout the performance, a fine old gentleman sat quietly on the
stage near the singers, listening intently. His face wore a look of
noble earnestness, and he did not smile until the last note died away,
and from every part of the house voices cried,--

"Händel! Händel!"

For a moment he did not respond to their calls, but as the hall fell
into a tumult, and the shout increased to a deafening roar, the
white-haired gentleman rose and quietly bowed.

This did not satisfy the crowd, and from above, below, from right and
from left, excited men and women demanded that he should play for them.

The old gentleman bowed again, but finding that the audience would not
depart until he had yielded to its desire, he turned toward the massive
organ at his right.

Before he had taken a step, one of the singers hurried to his side, laid
a hand upon his arm, and conducted him slowly to the organ-bench. Then
it was that any stranger would have learned what all London
understood,--that the courtly old gentleman was blind.

At the first rich chord from the organ, a hush fell upon the room, and
when the silvery-haired musician finished, and rose to his feet with
another stately bow, the people silently filed out, too stirred by the
grandeur of his music for ordinary speech.

That night, in the city of London, hundreds of suffering and friendless
children were gathered into places of refuge, and were fed, warmed, and
clothed with the money earned by the genius and loving-kindness of Georg
Friedrich Händel.



SIX HUNDRED PLUS ONE

[COLERIDGE]


Up to London, one May morning, came Samuel Coleridge, and as the coach
rattled over the pavements, and the roar and tumult of the city filled
his ears, the boy clutched his uncle's arm with delight. Never before in
all his ten years had he journeyed beyond the quaint country village
where he was born, and the dun clouds of city smoke caused him to look
expectantly about for rain.

His uncle laughed and patted the boy's arm good-naturedly. "Never mind,"
he said; "these crowded streets will soon become as homelike to you as
one of your Devonshire fields."

Mr. Bowdon was right, and at the end of a week Samuel could go alone
about the quarter of the city where his uncle resided, and his ears grew
so accustomed to the mighty din that he quite forgot there was any
noise to hear.

Samuel was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother was a widow,
and gradually she had become too poor to provide food and shelter for so
great a family. To be sure, the oldest brothers and sisters aided her as
best they could, but times were hard, money was scarce at best, and when
Uncle Bowdon proposed to undertake the care and education of Samuel his
offer was thankfully accepted. It was planned that the boy should visit
at his uncle's house for several weeks, and that later in the summer he
should enter the famous charity school known as Christ's Hospital. Many
families sought to send their sons to this school, but only those pupils
were admitted who were too poor to pay for their education.

Samuel was tall for his age, and very dark. He was attractive without
being handsome, for his striking look of intelligence, his slight,
straight figure and ready laughter, earned for him the frankest
approval of friends and strangers too.

Mr. Bowdon was exceedingly proud of him, and often took him to his club,
that his friends might become acquainted with his young guest. Also Mr.
Bowdon planned frequent excursions about the city, so that his nephew
might enjoy the notable sights of London. These were indeed gala days
for Samuel, and when the time came for him to go to school he could
scarcely believe that ten weeks had flown since he had come up by the
coach from his country home. It is doubtful whether Mr. Bowdon would
have been willing to part with the lad even after so long a visit, but
his business just at this time compelled him to take a long journey to
the East Indies, and he desired to see the boy safely established before
departing from London.

Accordingly, one fine July afternoon, uncle and nephew arrived at the
great school in Newgate Street, through whose high iron gate they were
admitted by a boy wearing a queer costume of blue and yellow. Samuel
had no eyes for the stately buildings grouped about the enclosure, for
across the shaded central grass-plot marched a veritable army of boys,
walking four abreast with military precision. Like the page at the gate,
they wore long blue coats reaching nearly to the ankle and trimly
girdled with red, bright yellow stockings, low buckled shoes and
neckbands of snowy whiteness. Oddly enough, their heads were bare, and
Samuel supposed that they had left their caps behind, though he learned
later that the "king's boys," as these were called, never wore head
coverings of any description, but went serenely abroad in all weathers,
guiltless of beaver, helmet, or turban.

On they came, more boys and more boys, until Samuel grew fairly dizzy
with watching the steadily moving column.

"What is the occasion?" inquired Mr. Bowdon of the gatekeeper.

"The lord mayor is visiting the school to-day, sir, and the scholars
are going now to hear his address."

When the gayly apparelled procession had gone in, the steward of the
school, a young man in russet gown, came to greet the strangers and to
show them about the place. He conducted them through the twelve
dormitories, where rows of narrow white beds stood side by side down
either wall; to the dining-hall with its long tables, where all the
students sat down at once; and to the office of the registrar, a
spectacled old gentleman, who took down a great book and gravely wrote
upon one of its yellowish pages,--

"Samuel Taylor Coleridge, aged ten; born at Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire,
October, 1772. Regularly entered at Christ's Hospital, July 18, 1782."

Then Mr. Bowdon took his departure, for he was to leave the city at
nightfall. Samuel accompanied him to the gate, where he received his
uncle's affectionate farewells, then peering wistfully through the iron
palings, he watched the portly figure move slowly down Newgate Street,
until it was lost to view in the passing crowds.

With the last glimpse of Mr. Bowdon, Samuel was seized with a sudden
panic of fear and loneliness, for never before had he been out of the
sight of kindred faces, nor out of the sound of kindred voices. Even the
page had left the gate, and Samuel clung to the palings in strange
dismay. His attention was arrested by the doors of the lecture-hall
being thrown open and the blue and yellow procession reappearing, headed
by the lord mayor of London and a company of white-wigged, black-gowned
masters and tutors. The gate swung back, the lord mayor received a
military salute from the boys, and passed out to his waiting carriage,
and at sound of a clanging bell the procession turned and wound its way
to the dining-hall, leaving the campus deserted except for the presence
of one young stranger.

"I wonder if I am to go in, or if I am to have any supper at all,"
queried the boy, looking anxiously about, as he suddenly awakened to the
fact that he was fearfully hungry. "Nobody knows that I am here but the
steward and the old man with the book."

His doubts were relieved by the appearance of the brown-robed steward,
who beckoned to him from the entrance of the dining-hall.

Samuel sped to his side, and was ushered into the vast apartment where
the pupils sat at dinner. Quiet reigned here, broken only by a subdued
conversation at the masters' table, and the voice of a tutor who from a
desk at the upper end of the room read a Latin oration for the
entertainment of those present.

Samuel was conducted to a vacant seat at one of the long tables, where a
wooden bowl of soup and a slice of bread awaited him. These he quickly
despatched, and turning to the boy on his right, was about to inquire
modestly how he should get a fresh supply, when his neighbor hastily
pressed his finger to his lips, as a sign that speech was forbidden.
Samuel was surprised at this injunction, especially as he was still
hungry, and glancing about the board, he discovered that every other
bowl was as empty as his own, and that no single crumb of bread was to
be seen.

No one addressed him, but he was aware that numerous pairs of eyes were
fixed curiously upon him. He shrank from this open scrutiny, although
the boys at his table were all near his own age; and reddening, he gazed
persistently at his bowl.

"Ss--ss!" came in a soft hiss from a lad across the table.

"Ss--ss! Ss--ss!" cautiously echoed a dozen others.

Samuel wriggled uncomfortably in his chair, but to his surprise, his
neighbor on the right reached over and grasped his knee with friendly
force. Samuel instantly responded by seizing the stranger's knee, and,
fortified by this unlooked-for support, threw back his head and eyed in
turn each lad at the table. There was something in his fearless glance
that caused the hisses quickly to subside; and when the bell rang, and
the students trooped out, no word of challenge was offered to him.
Moreover, no other kind of words came either, for it was the hour of
recreation, and the boys swarmed the campus, shouting, whistling,
singing, and engaging in various athletic games. The most popular sports
seemed to be leap-frog and basting-the-bear, for groups everywhere were
indulging in these rollicking pastimes.

Samuel stood alone watching, for even his neighbor at table had joined
the merry-makers. He decided that if he wished to become one of them he
must make a bold move; so, marching up to one of the leap-frog
companies, he ventured to enter the game. The effort was quickly foiled,
however, for one pupil seized him by the leg, another by the hair,
while twenty voices shouted at once,--

"Clear out! Don't you know you can't play with us till you get your blue
coat?"

Samuel retired, much crestfallen, wondering when he should be promoted
to the prevailing uniform. He wandered up and down the schoolyard,
watching here, watching there, hearing never a word of greeting, nor
meeting with a friendly nod or smile. At length he came upon an outer
stairway, which seemed to lead somewhere, and climbing it, more with the
desire to get away from the hordes of strangers than to explore the
premises, he came out upon a flat, leaded roof. Resting his folded arms
upon the parapet, he stood gazing at the evening sky, solitary and sad.
Up to him came the shouts of the students and the roar of the city's
noises, and for the first time since he had come to London, his heart
turned back with a mighty longing to the fields, the river, and the
simple folk of his native village. If only he might hear the lapping of
the water and the tinkling of the sheep bells, he would give all that he
possessed in the world. He thought of his mother and of his big brother
Luke, and the vision of their faces came before him with such startling
plainness that he set his teeth and clenched his hands to stem the tide
of homesickness that surged over him.

At sound of the deep-toned bell, he hurried down the stair, suspecting
that the slender supper was about to be supplemented by a tea or
luncheon of some sort; but he was mistaken, for, although the western
sky was still ablaze, the boys were filing toward the dormitories.

"This way, Coleridge," called the steward, appearing on the green.

"Where are they going?" inquired Samuel.

"To bed," rejoined the other briefly.

"To bed!" ejaculated Samuel; "why, it's only seven o'clock!"

"Seven is the hour for bed at this school," explained the other
shortly, and Samuel gathered from his tone that further comment would be
unacceptable.

Awakened next morning by the signal bell, Samuel sat up in his narrow
cot and blinked sleepily. Across his bed was thrown a complete uniform
such as the other boys wore, and springing up, he gladly donned the
costume, and marched down with the others.

At breakfast he sat in the same seat he had occupied last night, and his
right-hand neighbor greeted him with a cordial pinch on the arm.

The meal this morning consisted of a quarter-of-a-penny-loaf, on a
wooden plate, and a small leathern cup of beer. Samuel was accustomed to
rich country milk, fruit, and vegetables; but with yesterday's hunger
still unappeased, he could not afford to be fastidious. In a twinkling
the bread and beer had disappeared, and he was unconsciously glancing
about in search of some one who would serve him with more, when he
chanced to notice that every plate and cup at the table was swept
clean, and that the lads were shifting about in their chairs as though
anxious to be dismissed. Then it was that Samuel realized with a curious
pang that plates were never refilled at Christ's Hospital, and that the
allowance was always distressingly small. Almost as hungry as when he
had sat down, he rose with the others and passed outside.

He was about to speak to his table neighbor, when that young person
suddenly set off for the high iron palings. Without stood a half-grown
girl, holding a little basket on her arm, and when the boy came up with
her, she took something from the tiny hamper, and passed it through the
fence. That the gift was in the nature of food of some sort, Samuel
discovered from the alacrity with which the boy proceeded to devour it;
and the lad from Devonshire stood watching the operation with the
strangest of gnawing sensations inside him. Other boys looked greedily
at this spectacle, but went about their affairs as though the sight
were a familiar one; and Samuel, following their example, was turning
mechanically away when a beckoning gesture from the lad at the fence
called him thither.

"Here, I like you, and I'll give you a bit. Come on!"

Before Samuel had time to accept or decline, the stranger had crowded
into his hand a hot roll, and was all but pouring a small can of tea
down his throat.

"Thank you--it's fine," gurgled Samuel, "but I don't want to take the
things you ought to have."

"I can spare some. You see I'm ashamed to have this stuff brought to me
when the other boys can't get any, but when it comes, I'm so starved I
eat it anyway. My sister brings a little breakfast over every day, for
our house isn't very far away, and it helps out, I can tell you. Here's
another piece of crust. Eat it, quick, for I know you want it."

Samuel accepted the proffered fragments gladly, frankly confessing that
he had not felt quite satisfied at breakfast.

"Oh, we never have enough here," remarked the other calmly. "Wednesdays
are the best, for then they give us meat stew; but that happens only one
day in seven."

While Samuel swallowed the pleasing morsels, he keenly examined the face
of his generous host. The strange boy was apparently a year or two
younger than himself, slightly Jewish in appearance, and very handsome.
He was frail-looking, with curling black hair, bright dark eyes, and
sensitive lips. His expression was thoughtful, and something in his
impulsive manner had attracted Samuel from the beginning.

"What's your name?" demanded the younger lad, when Samuel had finished
his unexpected breakfast.

"Samuel Taylor Coleridge. What's yours?"

"Charles Lamb; and this is my sister Mary."

The girl smiled prettily, and waving her basket as she turned to go,
called back, "You must come to see us some time with Charles."

Samuel thanked her and promised; and as the bell rang, summoning the
pupils to lessons, he inquired,--

"How many boys are there here?"

"Six hundred."

"Plus one, now I've come."

"I like you," declared Charles again, linking his arm with that of the
new boy, as they fell into line.

"I like you, too," responded the other warmly; and so began a friendship
that grew stronger with each succeeding day.

Samuel was speedily installed in school work, and having been a
book-lover from the age of three, he was placed in a class of boys who
were generally older than himself. With these he made friends at once,
for his originality, both in work and play, won the admiration of the
lads. With the teachers, too, Samuel fared better than most, for while
James Bowyer was not a man to be trifled with, having always a birch
twig within reach for the correction of young offenders, his wrath
seldom descended upon pupils so apt as Samuel.

"But," cautioned Charles, "look out for Jemmy Bowyer when he wears his
passy wig!" He meant _passionate_, for on some occasions the head master
appeared in the school-room with his smooth and carefully powdered wig
replaced by an old, unkempt, and discolored one, and woe to the pupil
who failed in his lessons or otherwise displeased him while thus
decorated! His head-dress was the barometer that warned the boys of his
moods, and they modelled their conduct accordingly.

Mr. Bowyer was a conscientious teacher, who desired to give the lads
most thorough and careful instruction, and the boys who studied
earnestly were safe from the touch of his rod except on the days when
he wore the "passy wig." Then his temper was most uncertain, and worker
and laggard alike were frequently brought to judgment.

At the end of a week, Samuel felt as though he had been a member of
Christ's Hospital for a long, long time. Each day was spent like every
other day, and he soon found himself going through the routine of study,
recitation, play, and sleep as familiarly as the oldest student there.

On Saturday morning Charles said,--

"This is our weekly holiday, you know. Where will you go?"

"Nowhere, I suppose," replied Samuel. "My uncle has left town, and I
don't know anybody else in London, so I think I'll have to stay here."

"You can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Because nobody is allowed to stay inside the grounds on leave-days. We
are all turned out as soon as breakfast is over, the gates are locked,
and we can't come in again until evening."

"But surely they won't send us out who have no friends in London!"

"Oh, yes, they will. But come along, and we'll spend the day together
somewhere. I'm not going home this time, because my people are away at
work."

At eight o'clock six hundred boys filed into Newgate Street and
scattered in all directions. For those whose parents resided in town,
this weekly holiday was always most welcome; but to the boys who had
neither kindred nor friends within reach, the enforced leave-day was
often a difficult one.

To-day Samuel and Charles walked about the streets for a time, then made
their way to the bank of the New River. Here, to Samuel's delight, green
fields stretched before them, birds twittered in the trees, and sleek
cows browsed along the shore.

"Oh, oh!" he exclaimed, "this is almost as good as the real country."

With one accord the boys snatched off their garments and plunged into
the stream. Both were good swimmers, and they splashed about, diving,
floating, and showing their skill in various ways, until they grew
tired. Ascending the bank, they dressed quickly and wandered farther up
the stream. For a while they threw stones into the current, watching the
eddies widen from each pebble that sank into the water; and after a time
they lounged against a convenient tree, Samuel relating stories that he
had read of ancient heroes, and Charles eagerly listening.

"I wonder what time it is," hinted the latter at length.

"Not much past noon," replied Samuel, glancing at the sun with the
experienced eye of the country-bred.

"Wouldn't it be fine if we were cows, with a whole field-full of dinner
spread before us," murmured Charles, gazing at the Alderneys beyond.

"And see how fat that bird is! He must eat four or five meals every
day!" exclaimed Samuel; then hastening to turn the conversation to
topics less vital, he asked genially,--

"What things do you like best in the world?"

"Let me see," mused Charles; "yes, I know very well. I like money,
vegetables, and my sister Mary. What do you?"

"Homes, churches, trees, and old people's faces," returned Samuel
promptly. "What shall we do now,--go back into town?"

"Not yet, for if we do, we must keep on walking for four or five hours."

"Let's go swimming again, then."

"I'm with you," and a minute later they descended into the river for the
second time.

Both were almost as much at home in water as on land, and they swam
about, teaching one another aquatic tricks until they became quite
breathless. Making for the shore, they climbed weakly up the bank, and
only partially robing, dropped side by side upon the sward.

Overcome by fatigue, Charles fell asleep, while Samuel lay panting and
composing verses about the Seven Champions of Christendom.

Finally they rose, languid and drooping, and trudged back to the school
in Newgate Street, sorry that their holiday was done, but thankful for
the supper, however meagre, that would presently be served to them.

As the weeks passed by and summer slowly gave place to autumn, Samuel
made rapid progress in his classes. He studied almost constantly, not
that he meant to be especially dutiful, but because he loved printed
pages better than any other company. He was born with a thirst for
books, which made him con his lessons eagerly in the absence of other
and more entertaining volumes; and at Christ's Hospital the boys had no
access to books of any kind besides the text-books used in their regular
courses.

With no fresh stories, histories, or poems to feed his ravenous young
mind, Samuel was obliged to dwell upon the tales and truths he had read
before coming to London. He soon became known among the students as a
capital storyteller, and often he would be found seated tailor-fashion
in a remote corner of the playground, surrounded by a dozen choice
spirits who listened open-eyed and open-mouthed to his dramatic
recitals.

One Saturday in November he was walking down the Strand. Charles had
gone to spend this leave-day with his parents, and Samuel was tramping
about the streets alone. His thoughts were busy with his favorite hero,
Leander, and so absorbed did he become in the story that he entirely
forgot the presence of the crowds in the busy thoroughfare. Reviewing
the stirring scene when Leander swims the Hellespont to visit the
priestess, on the opposite shore, Samuel unconsciously threw out both
arms as though buffeting the waves, and one hand smartly rapped the coat
tails of a respectable gentleman walking immediately before him.

Samuel started in confusion at being brought back so suddenly from
Grecian clouds to London pavements, and offered a stammering apology;
but the citizen wheeled abruptly, grasped his arm, and frowned down upon
him with mingled horror and distaste.

"What! So young and so wicked! Who could believe that a stripling like
you would attempt to pick my pocket in broad daylight! Mm--mm!"

"You're mistaken, you're mistaken, indeed you are," protested Samuel; "I
was thinking about Leander crossing the Hellespont, and I must have been
swimming too. I didn't even see you, sir, truly I didn't."

"Leander! Well, my young gentleman, what do you know about Leander?"

Samuel explained that he had read and re-read all the mythical tales of
Greece, and that he often thought them over for amusement.

The stranger's expression softened.

"You are fond of books, then?"

"I love 'em, sir!"

"Do you read every day?"

"Not since I came to London, for we have no books except our lesson
books at school."

"Mm--mm! Should you like to read if you had the opportunity?"

"Wouldn't I?" burst out Samuel, with enthusiasm.

"I think we can arrange matters then. A boy who swims with Leander down
London Strand, causing people to take him for a sneak thief, ought
surely to have books to read," and pressing a yellow card into Samuel's
hand, he continued,--

"This is a ticket to a circulating library in Cheapside. By showing this
to the librarian you can draw as many books as you like. Good day, my
young gentleman!"

Without waiting to hear Samuel's exclamations of gratitude, the
stranger was off, leaving the boy overjoyed in the street.

From that day the school life was made more bearable by the precious
fruit of the yellow ticket. Hunger, cold, loneliness, and punishments
were daily forgotten in the adventures of knights of old. Samuel took
all risks in slipping out to get the books, but, fortunately, he was
never detected, and he proceeded to read straight through the library at
the rate of two volumes daily.

The ruggedness of his present life, however, could not be entirely
smoothed by stories and poetry. Christ's Hospital did not differ from
other charity schools of the time in its discipline and arrangements for
the welfare of its inmates; and indeed many of the great schools of
England, Germany, and France, whose walls could be entered only by the
payment of extravagant fees, were similarly conducted. Instructors had
not yet learned that young bodies should be cared for as zealously as
young brains, and that happiness promotes better work than does
distress. They managed their schools exactly as had their fathers before
them, deeming it the most natural thing in the world that growing boys
should be poorly nourished and poorly warmed.

As winter drew on, Samuel yearned deeply for his home. He pictured to
himself the family in the comfortable old house in Devonshire, and his
thoughts clung so feverishly to the images of his mother and his big
brother Luke that even his dreams enfolded them, and often he awoke
weeping in the night. He could not inform the loved ones of his dreary
condition, for all letters written by the students were read by the
masters before being posted, and if unfavorable comments were found
therein, the notes were promptly destroyed.

Charles Lamb was ever Samuel's greatest solace. They met their little
world together, fighting, dreaming, hoping, and depending upon each
other for company at all times. Both were gayly disposed and many were
the daring pranks they played on their mates and upon each other. The
leave-days were almost the hardest of the week for Samuel, as Charles
usually went home, and he was left to walk the streets alone from
morning till night. Sometimes he, too, paid a visit to the Lambs, but
finding that they were very poor and very busy people, he feared that
his presence might seem an intrusion, so he usually stayed away.

One winter's day Samuel was walking slowly round Newgate market. He had
no interest in Newgate market, but he must walk somewhere, and this was
as good a place as any. A cold rain beat pitilessly upon his uncovered
head, and from time to time he drew his blue coat more closely about
him. Everyone but himself seemed in a hurry to get to places of shelter,
and occasionally persons would pause to stare curiously at the lad who
stood motionless in the downpour, gazing listlessly into shop windows.
Whenever he found a deserted stair or vestibule, he stole in and read
until he was curtly despatched by owner or policeman. Round and round
the square he trod, jaded, famished, waiting for the hours to drag
themselves by.

Suddenly revolting at the sights and sounds of the market, Samuel
hurried into a by-street, turning to the right here, to the left there,
bent only upon leaving the deadly familiar spot behind. On he went,
shivering and footsore. On he went, purposeless and oppressed. He was
usually able to gather odd bits of pleasure and information from these
weekly excursions, but to-day the city seemed like a dull and winding
lane, where one had no choice but to walk and walk until nightfall
brought the end. Even cathedrals, bird-stores, and persons attired in
black, which ordinarily proved highly diverting, failed to arrest his
attention, and he tramped the flooded pavements hour after hour and mile
upon mile.

Finally he halted before a toy-shop whose windows looked into a narrow
court, and was glancing over the display of balls, dolls, and
fishing-rods, when a delicious odor of cooked food greeted him from
behind. Samuel faced about so sharply that he almost sent a baker's boy
sprawling, who chanced to be turning into the court with a huge basket
on his shoulder.

"Look out! Look out! Would you try to upset a hard-workin' cove?" bawled
the white-capped 'prentice; but Samuel allowed him to pass unanswered,
for with the whiff of meaty fragrance his stomach gave a furious lurch,
and his head seemed about to swim off his shoulders. He swayed
unsteadily, caught blindly at the window ledge, and leaned his forehead
against the dripping stone as he struggled to regain his self-command.

"Blue Coat!"

The name was shouted into his ear, and Samuel was dizzily conscious of
being collared from behind, while a strong arm pulled him smartly erect.

"I beg your pardon, sir," quavered the boy, alarmed at the gruff tone
and iron hand. Twisting his head about, he got a glimpse of a very fat
man with a round red face and protruding blue eyes.

"What made ye look so hard at my baker's boy? Anything wrong?"

"No-o!"

"Must ha' been. You glared after him like a tiger."

"Nothing was the matter except I was so hungry,--and--when I smelled the
bread and meat--I couldn't help it, I suppose."

For the first time since he had become a pupil at Christ's Hospital,
Samuel gave voice to his privations, and, unmanned by sheer want and
exhaustion, the truth came out, while tears of misery rained down his
pallid cheeks.

"Hungry!" The ejaculation came like the report of a small cannon.

Samuel could only nod in speechless, desperate assent.

"Come in here!" roared the captor, enforcing his order with a ferocious
tug at the blue collar.

Samuel feared that he had somehow trespassed upon the big man's rights,
and that punishment was likely to follow. He longed vaguely to run, but
weakness held him chained, and he felt himself being pushed before his
jailer through the toy-shop and into a small parlor at the rear.

"Mother! This Blue Coat is so hungry that he nearly devoured our dinner
through his eyes as the baker brought it in."

"Hungry?" echoed a piping feminine voice, and from the farther corner of
the parlor a little woman approached with a napkin thrown over her arm.

"Sakes alive, ain't you had no dinner over to the school?" she asked in
a motherly tone that set Samuel's heart beating.

"No. We don't have any dinner on Saturdays. They give us a little
supper when we go back," and Samuel explained the holiday system.

"What, then, did you have for breakfast?"

"A slice of bread and a cup of beer."

"How perfectly outraging! Our dinner is just ready, so sit up to the
table as quick as you can. 'Tain't a fancy meal, but it's good enough to
fill up a hollow, faintin' stomach. How perfectly outraging!"

Before Samuel could consent or object, he was thrust into a chair at the
small round table, where several steaming dishes awaited the pleasure of
the party. Host and hostess took their places, and a heaped-up plate was
speedily set before the astonished guest.

"Eat that slice of hot mutton," adjured the woman pleasantly; "and after
that, you'll find those potatoes and beans pretty satisfyin'."

The substantial repast seemed a kingly banquet to Samuel, and he ate
with almost wolfish appreciation. His plate was like the widow's cruse
of oil, which was promptly refilled as soon as emptied; and the fat man
and the little woman looked on, the while, with benevolence shining from
their faces.

"Now," said the hostess, when Samuel could take no more, not even a
second slice of currant pudding, "while we sip our tea, we'll tell each
other who each other is. My husband over there is Mr. Crispin, and I'm
Mrs. Crispin. He has the toy-shop that you came through, and he is a
shoemaker, besides. We never had any children, and we just live along
here, contented with what good things we have. Now Mr. Crispin is the
best man in the world--"

"Hush, hush, my dear!" burst out the big man, a tremendous blush
spreading over his honest face.

"He is, so there! He talks loud and kind o' scary, but he couldn't say
'no' to a kitten. Now, little Blue Coat, tell us who you are."

Samuel had quite regained his usual bright manner under the spell of
their hospitality, and he gladly told them of the home and loved ones he
had left behind in Devonshire. Pleased to see the Crispins interested,
he described many droll adventures of the boys at school, and these set
the worthy pair laughing mightily.

After dinner, Mr. Crispin showed his young visitor all the glories of
the toy-shop and the shoemaking den. Mrs. Crispin with much pride
exhibited four canaries, a yellow patchwork quilt, and a coral
breastpin; and Samuel was warmed to the heart by their simple
kindliness.

The afternoon wore away all too soon, and when he was leaving, Samuel
held Mrs. Crispin's hand tightly in both of his, as he tried to thank
her for the blessed visit.

"'Tain't nothing at all!" protested she earnestly. "Who wouldn't give a
nice-spoken lad a bite when he was faintin' with hungriness on the very
doorstep, an' him a Blue Coat, too? Now listen, Sammy; you are to come
here every Saturday. If we shouldn't be to home, you'll find the key
under the rubber door-mat, an' you can come right in an' help yourself
in the pantry. 'T ain't just that we feel sorry to see you starvin', but
we like children, we always did, 'specially nice ones, an' you seem so
gentlemanly mannered, an' we'd feel honored to have you here. Remember,
every Saturday, now, rain or shine."

His acquaintance with the shoemaker and his wife proved the greatest
relief to Samuel. Not only did a toothsome dinner await him every
leave-day in their modest parlor, but the whole-souled friendliness of
their innocent welcome cheered him through all the following days. The
Crispins looked forward to the Saturday visits as eagerly as did Samuel
himself, and this assurance gave the boy courage to come with
regularity.

During the springtime Mr. Crispin and Samuel even planned that the boy
should gain permission from the head master to leave Christ's Hospital
altogether and learn the shoemaking trade under Mr. Crispin's direction.
It was arranged that the shoemaker, instead of Samuel, should approach
Mr. Bowyer with the request, it being thought that his age and size
would carry more influence with the head master; but on the day set for
the interview Mr. Bowyer chanced to wear his "passy wig," and he
disposed of the subject by shouting violently,--

"'O'ds my life, man, what d'ye mean?" and pushing the astounded Crispin
bodily out of the room.

Samuel was so disappointed at the failure of the dazzling scheme, and so
mortified at the treatment his friend had received, that he was rushing
past Mr. Bowyer with the intention of apologizing to Mr. Crispin for
having drawn him into his own petty troubles, when the head master
stopped him.

"Some one is waiting to see you in my lower office, Master Coleridge."

"To see me, sir?"

Samuel was taken aback, for never before had any one paid him a call at
Christ's Hospital.

"Who can it be, I wonder. Surely Mrs. Crispin would not come here."

Crossing the threshold of the office, he descried a stalwart manly form
at the window.

The first glance seemed to stupefy the lad. He halted abruptly in the
doorway, his hands fell limply at his sides, and he seemed unable to
advance or retreat. It only needed a slight movement on the visitor's
part to break the tension, when Samuel bounded forward with a great cry,
and threw himself into the stranger's arms.

"Luke, Luke, my brother, my Luke, my Luke!"

"Here I am, little fellow. I wanted to surprise you, so I didn't write."

"Oh, Luke, you won't go away again and leave me here, will you? Please,
please tell me that you won't!"

"I shan't leave you alone in the city for a day," declared the young
man warmly. "I have come up to walk the London Hospital, so I shall be
within easy reach hereafter. Your holidays you shall spend with me, and
I have already arranged with the master to make you comfortable here at
school. Bless you, little fellow, you mustn't quite suffocate me with
your hugging, for I want to live and take good care of you. I have
waited and worked for this ever since you came to London, and now you're
going to have fair weather all round. Come along; I've just begged a
holiday for you. What should you like to do?"

"Introduce you to the Crispins."

"Very well. We'll get the Crispins, and go for a ride on the good old
river Thames."

"A boat ride! A boat ride! Luke, do you care if I ask Charles Lamb to go
with us?"

"Not a bit. This is the day when we are going to do just as we please,
you know."

"Oh, Luke, you're so good, and you'll like the Crispins, and Charles
'll like you--and--and--isn't the world beautiful to-day, Luke?"


In a cosy little parlor, at the top of a London stair, a dozen persons
were chatting together. The sounds of wind and rain upon the casement
only served to increase the warmth and brightness of the snug apartment.

Everybody seemed in the highest spirits, and finally one of the guests,
a man whom the others called "Southey," turned gayly to the hostess and
inquired with the ease of old friendship,--

"My good lady, when are we to have our supper? Please remember that
Wordsworth and I have journeyed all the way from Keswick solely for the
delight of supping with you. Do you realize that eleven o'clock has come
and gone?"

Mary Lamb laughed merrily, but shook her head with decision.

"Fifteen minutes more you must wait, so curb your hunger as best you
can. The guest of honor has not yet arrived, and when he comes, you will
all agree, I am sure, that it would be worth while to delay supper until
to-morrow, if only we might have him with us."

"A mystery! A mystery!" cried the visitors, and thereupon they began to
ply Miss Mary's brother with questions as to who the expected personage
might be.

To all these, the young host gave jovial but vague replies, exchanging
with his sister frequent nods and smiles over their heads.

Presently there sounded a quick step on the stair, and Charles Lamb
threw open the door, shouting joyfully,--

"Welcome, Samuel, my blessed old friend! Welcome, a thousand times!"

At his words, the guests sprang up with a single impulse, crying in
astonishment,--

"Coleridge!"

Then for an instant they turned their eyes away from the two who stood
clasping one another's hands in wordless, heartfelt greeting.

The silence endured but a moment; then the new-comer was quickly
surrounded, and the room rang with the hearty good-will of his
reception.

Charles hastened to relieve him of his travelling cloak and hat, Mary
summoned the party to the table, temptingly laid, and the guests sat
down to the enjoyment of the viands and the company of their unexpected
friend.

Samuel Coleridge had just returned after a two years' absence from
England, and the tales he related of his visit, the accounts he gave of
his adventures abroad, captivated the company. Every word that fell from
his lips was received with keen attention, and whether his mood was
grave or gay, serious or sprightly, his hearers sat enthralled.

"To be sure, Coleridge is a wonderful poet," whispered Southey to the
lady next him, "but in my judgment he talks even better than he writes."

"He holds us with his expressive eyes," mused Mary.

"I can see," decided Charles, "that his power lies in his magnetic
voice, the voice that charmed us all in the old school-days."

Whatever was the source of his singular influence, hours passed as the
visitors sat under the spell of Samuel's presence, and morning was
stealing across the threshold when they rose from the table and took
their departure.

Coleridge was the last to go, and when about to descend the stair, he
again clasped the hand of his host with a warm and fervent pressure.

"I am fond of them all," he said slowly, indicating those whose
footfalls still sounded in the passage below; "I am fond of them all:
Southey, Wordsworth, Lovell, and the rest; but you, Charles Lamb, you
are to me as though you had been born my younger brother."



THE LION THAT HELPED

[CANOVA]


"Tonin, Tonin, come out with us to the River! Luigi has built a raft,
and we're going to pole it down to the second bridge."

Five boys, bareheaded, barefooted, dirty-faced, and joyful, grouped
themselves before a mud-walled Alpine cabin, the last of a quaint
village row, while Pablo, their leader, hailed some one within.

Instantly there appeared in the doorway a boy of their own age, clad as
roughly and lightly as themselves. His blouse was loosened comfortably
at the throat, his trousers were rolled well above the knee, and over
these cool garments he wore a hempen working-apron which was held in
place by a stout cord attached to its upper corners and passing about
his neck. In one hand he held a small steel hammer, in the other a
chisel.

"Come on, Tonin," repeated Pablo, pointing excitedly toward the brook.

The lad in the doorway shook his head and lifted his chisel meaningly,
as though no additional explanation were needed.

"Oh, do, do!" urged the new-comers. "Leave your old stone-chipping for
an hour and come with us. We'll let you pole all the time if you will."

"I can't," returned the other briefly.

"Please come! Come along!" insisted four alluring voices, but Pablo
turned away impatiently.

"Leave that sullen Tonin alone! He'd rather bang away at his
grandfather's stones than go with us on the jolliest jaunt we could
name. Come on, and let him stay by himself."

Thereupon the boys ran swiftly down the adjoining slope, and Tonin
Canova stepped into the house with a shrug, as though glad to be rid of
them and their invitations. He did not tarry in the cleanly sunlit
cabin, but hurried out to the rear garden, where an old man wearing an
apron similar to his was busily tapping and chipping at a block of stone
erected upon wooden supports.

"Why didn't you go with the others?" inquired the stone-cutter, looking
up from his work. "You needn't have come back, because I have finished
the urn for the terrace of the Villa d'Asolo, and it is too late in the
afternoon to begin on the Monfumo altar ornaments. Besides, you have
stood by your work pretty hard lately, and I think every boy needs a
holiday once in a way."

"I don't want a holiday, grandfather."

"Bless us! What are you talking about? Who ever heard of a boy who
didn't want a holiday every day in the week, if he could get it?"

"I'd like to be free from working on your things, of course, but I don't
want to pole a raft. I'd rather carve my cherries, if you can do
without me the rest of the afternoon."

"Ho, ho!" chuckled the old man fondly; "you're just like me, Tonin: work
is play when it happens to be stone-work. Do your cherries, if you have
the mind."

"Hurrah! I can finish them to-day, and I'll do a pear next, and--see,
grandfather, by carnival-time I'll have plenty to sell," and throwing
open the door of a small rude cupboard set in the branches of a stunted
acacia, Tonin proudly displayed a collection of peaches, apples, and
grapes which his skilful fingers had wrought out of fragments of stone
left from old Pasino's cuttings. Next autumn, when all the villagers and
country folk of the province would assemble at Asolo for their carnival
and yearly frolic, Tonin would peddle his pretty fruit among the
pleasure-seekers, confident of filling his purse-bag with coins in
exchange for his wares. As he stood reviewing his handiwork, he smiled
slyly at thought of the gifts he would buy for the two old people who
adored him, and who had freely shared with him their roof and bread,
from his earliest infancy.

The stone-cutter's earnings were necessarily small, and for two years
Tonin had assisted him regularly at his work, cutting, carrying,
measuring, and delivering day by day. He seconded Pasino's efforts so
intelligently, and labored through the long hours with such manly
patience, that the scanty comforts in the Alpine cabin visibly
increased, and all the while the boy was learning the use of the cunning
edged tools which his grandfather wielded so dexterously. The lad's
name, as it appeared on the parish register, was Antonio, but to the
guileless aged pair who cared for him he was simply and always _Tonin_.

Hoof-beats, accompanied by a shout from the roadway, caused the
stone-cutter and the boy to hurry quickly to the hedgerow before the
cabin.

A mounted horseman wearing the livery of the Duke d'Asolo called out,
as with difficulty he brought his spirited steed to a standstill,--

"Pasino, you are wanted at the villa. Something in the picture gallery
needs to be done, and you are the only one to do it. The duke gives a
great banquet to-night, and the room must be in readiness. Vittori sent
me, and bids you to hurry as fast as you can."

"I'll follow you at once. Come, Tonin, mayhap you can be of service at
the villa also."

Off galloped the messenger, and down the road marched Pasino Canova,
bearing his tool-box upon his shoulder, while his barefooted grandson,
similarly equipped, trudged cheerily by his side.

The stone-cutter was frequently in demand at the Villa d'Asolo, for
besides the craft of his trade, the old man understood something of the
uses of plaster, stucco, and even marble. No other workman in this
remote hill country was so skilled, and for many years he had received
the friendly patronage of Giovanni Falier, Duke d'Asolo.

On the way, Pasino stopped for an instant before the entrance of a
gentleman's country residence. "This'" said he, "is the home of Toretto,
the great, great sculptor."

"Oh, grandfather, let's go in and look at his wonderful statues," begged
Tonin. "Please, grandfather! Surely he wouldn't care, for I came once
with Giuseppe Falier, and he allowed us to look at everything. Do,
grandfather!"

"Not to-day," objected the old man, hastily resuming his onward way; "we
have work to do, and have promised to hurry to the Villa d'Asolo as fast
as we can."

Tonin slowly followed Pasino down the road, looking backward over his
shoulder as long as the tall chimneys of Toretto's palace could be seen.

"Grandfather," said he thoughtfully, as a turning of the way shut the
sculptor's house from sight, "I'd rather be able to make a statue as
beautiful as the ones Toretto showed us that day than do anything else
in the whole world."

"Ah, that you might!" burst out the old man emphatically; "but, Tonin,
for such work the eyes, the fingers, the mind must be taught--taught,
Tonin, and--well, you know the rest: poor folk like us mustn't be gloomy
because we can't do fine works. Chances to learn such things cost so
much that none but gentlemen with bulging purses can afford them."

"I'm not gloomy, grandfather! You can teach me all that you know, and
when I am a man, I will take care of you and grandmother." Here the boy
began to whistle gayly, seeking to banish the look of sadness that had
rested for a moment on the old man's features.

Presently they reached the Villa d'Asolo, whose pillared gates were
thrown open to them by retainers. Across the terraces they took their
way, past arbors, gardens of blossoms, and plashing fountains, reaching
at last a postern door of the many-storied castle.

In the passage they were confronted by Giuseppe Falier, the duke's
youngest son, a handsome lad no older than Tonin. A serving-man attended
him, carrying a glass aquarium that contained numerous brilliant
goldfish. Boy and groom were preparing to depart through the door by
which the Canovas had entered, but at sight of the new-comers Giuseppe
halted.

"Hello, Tonin," he exclaimed; "come with me up to my cousin's house.
This is David's birthday, and I forgot all about it until this minute. I
didn't have any present to give him, so I decided I'd take the goldfish
out of the conservatory. He likes such things. I don't, myself. Come on,
and we'll have some fun. David has a new boat, and we'll make him take
it out."

Giuseppe's invitation was so frankly cordial that Tonin would have
joined him readily had he had no duties to perform. Giuseppe was a lad
of jovial spirit who chose his friends wherever he found good comrades,
quite regardless of rank and riches, and many were the half-days that he
and Tonin had spent together, exploring the hills and valleys round
about Asolo.

"I can't go to-day, Giuseppe," replied Tonin; "grandfather has something
to do in the picture gallery before the banquet to-night, and he is
likely to need me."

"My eye, but there will be a crowd of people here! One reason I'm going
up to David's is because I'm not allowed to stay up for the fun.
Good-by. I'll take you up to see the boat some day next week," and
beckoning the servant to follow with the aquarium, the young patrician
disappeared through the outer door, and the Canovas made their way up a
stately marble stair, and through a winding corridor until they came to
a long narrow apartment whose walls were hung with canvases.

Here they were greeted by Vittori, the stout and hoary seneschal of the
palace. He wore his crimson robe of office, and a stupendous bunch of
keys hung by a chain from his girdle, clanking as he walked.

He bustled up to the Canovas hurriedly, puffing and panting as from some
undue exertion.

"Ha, Pasino, you are the very man I most need to see. Those four deep
niches in the walls, two at either end of this gallery, are to be filled
with the statues which Toretto has just finished. The beastly things
were delivered yesterday, and Toretto himself promised to come to see
that they were set up properly, but instead, a message was brought from
him two hours ago saying that he had sprained his silly ankle and could
not stir from the house. The duke will be furious if his marble
doll-babies are not on view to-night, and as I wouldn't touch them
myself for fear of harming them with my clumsy fingers, I called you for
the business. There, in that further ante-room, you will find Toretto's
beauties inside the packing cases, and you are to get them safely into
these niches. My-o! My-o! What a load of care falls on a poor old man
who is keeper of a palace where one hundred noble guests are expected
for a feast! Nobody in all Venetia has more worries and
responsibilities. You may have as many men as you want, Pasino, and if
your eye spies out any need for decorations in this chamber, send for
what you wish. My-o! My-o! The carriages are beginning to arrive, and I
must make eleven more arrangements before the feast is ready. You have
plenty of time, for this room is not to be used until the ladies come up
at the end of the banquet, to drink their Persian coffee," and the
seneschal departed, accompanied by the sounds of his labored breathing
and jangling keys.

Pasino's task was a delicate one, and though Vittori sent four strong
men to aid him, the evening was nearly spent by the time the glistening
statues were released from their temporary prisons and lifted to their
pedestals in the gallery niches.

While they worked, sounds of music and subdued laughter floated up to
them, and fragrances and appetizing odors were continually wafted from
the banquet-hall below.

Tonin worked with the others, and when the sculptured nymphs were
brought to view, his delight knew no bounds. Taking up his position
before the last erected one, he stood with folded arms, silently,
wonderingly drinking in the beauties which Toretto's chisel had
effected. He was wholly lost to time and place and was quite unaware
that the servants had removed all traces of packing and litter, and that
a bevy of maids were now seated in the gallery, weaving garlands at
Pasino's order, for the festooning of the unfinished pedestals. He was
so absorbed in the snowy goddess before him that he was deaf to
everything until old Vittori's voice suddenly rent the gallery's
stillness with something between a groan and a shriek.

"Where is the aquarium? Who's seen my gold-fish? Answer, somebody, or
I'll throw you all out of the window! Oh, I shall be disgraced and
discharged and maybe half killed! Where is it? Why don't you speak?"

The seneschal's appearance, as well as his words, indicated unusual
excitement, for his scarlet robe was thrown open at the throat, his
frosty locks were rumpled, his uplifted hands were shaking, and his lips
were twitching uncannily.

"What's the matter? What's wrong?" demanded a dozen voices, but Tonin
darted across to the old man's side with the announcement--

"Giuseppe carried it away this afternoon as a present to his cousin
David."

"My-o! My-o! I am lost, I am done, I am dead!" ejaculated the seneschal,
wringing his hands.

"What's the trouble, Vittori?" asked Pasino, laying a quieting hand
upon the shoulder of his agitated friend.

"It is this," returned the seneschal hoarsely; "the duke ordered me to
send to the table a fresh ornamental centrepiece with each course,
making every one handsomer than the one used before it. I did so, and
all has now been served but the dessert, and that will be due in about
fifteen minutes. For this fancy piece I have filled a great tray with
Parma violets on snow, thousands of them--and in the midst of the
flowers I planned to set the aquarium of goldfish for a bit of color and
life. My-o! My-o! What shall I do?" and once again the seneschal fell to
moaning.

"Build a column of fruit in the centre of the tray," suggested Pasino.

"Impossible! I used a pyramid of apricots and nectarines for the second
course."

"Wouldn't a lighted candle or lamp do?" inquired Pasino, earnestly
endeavoring to find relief for the seneschal.

"No! No!" wailed Vittori; "lighted things would melt the snow."

"To be sure," agreed Pasino sympathetically.

"I know something that might be pretty," ventured Tonin timidly.

"What is it?" Vittori demanded.

For answer the boy turned from the seneschal and his fellow-retainers,
and whispered to Pasino apart. The old man's face brightened as he
received the boy's confidence.

"I don't know," he commented; "but it ought to be good--yes, yes, it
would be, it would indeed!"

"Then let him put it through," shouted the seneschal desperately. "I
can't wait to hear what it is, for I'm late now. Do as he says,
everybody, for I've got to trust my reputation to this stripling whether
I like it or not. Saints help him, for if the work is a failure, woe to
poor Vittori! Have your ornament ready in the lower rear passage, lad,
when the tray goes through to the banquet-room. Everything else shall
be taken in first, so that you may have as much time as possible."

Off went the harassed seneschal, and Tonin, beset with misgivings lest
he had been both rash and bold in his offer of assistance, addressed the
grooms with outward composure.

"Bring me a firkin of butter, a pail of the coldest spring water, and a
big china platter."

His orders were swiftly obeyed, and all looked on with expectant
interest while he directed a servant to dig from the cask as much butter
as could be heaped on the platter. Next he rolled back his sleeves and
plunged his hands into the water-pail, holding them there until they
were sufficiently cooled for his purpose, then attacking the butter with
his dripping fingers, he rolled and patted it into a goodly loaf, with
motions so quick and decisive that the spectators fairly blinked.
Seizing a small chisel and a pointed wooden blade from Pasino's
tool-chest, Tonin began to convert the meaningless dairy lump into a
form familiar to all beholders.

With the touch of his nimble instruments, attended by occasional taps
and pressures from his lithe brown fingers, the loaf vanished, and in
its place appeared a noble lion, quite as though Tonin's chisel had been
a magic wand which had freed the king of the forest from a stifling and
hideous disguise.

[Illustration: "In its place appeared a noble lion."]

The tawny beast, with his bushy head, slender body, powerful limbs, and
graceful tail, brought a torrent of babbling admiration from the
on-lookers; but Tonin, heedless of their chatter, sought out his
grandfather with questioning glance. He received a quiet nod from
Pasino, and drying his hands on a corner of his hempen apron, he caught
up the platter and carried it to the appointed place below stairs,
followed by Pasino and a train of chuckling servants.

He had gauged the time exactly, for as he stepped into the low-ceiled
passage, six flower-maidens, bearing the debatable centrepiece, entered
from the opposite doorway. The seneschal joined them immediately, and
without a word set Tonin's lion in the centre of the snowy field,
enclosed on every side by drifts of Parma violets. Vittori then abruptly
directed the maidens to enter the banquet-hall with their ornament.

That the seneschal was alarmed lest the duke would not be pleased with
this hastily contrived decoration, Tonin read at a glance; and
impulsively he threw himself before the carriers to stay their progress.

"Don't send it in if it isn't right, Master Vittori! Try something else,
please!" he implored.

"Hist! Let them go, let them go! I have nothing else to send, so I must
stand or fall by your butter-toy. Alas for me, and you, too, sirrah, if
the duke be vexed!"

A strained silence fell upon the group in the rear passage as the
flower-maidens crossed the main corridor and entered the banquet-hall.
The grooms and maids exchanged significant nods and winks, old Vittori
unconsciously pressed his keys tightly to his breast, Pasino withdrew
into the shadow, and Tonin waited in acute suspense, wondering whether
in his desire to relieve the seneschal's dilemma he had been guilty of a
childish and ignorant blunder. As the seconds flew by, the boy's
perplexity increased, and presently he was writhing with the fear that
his offering would affront the duke, and perhaps even render him
ridiculous before the lords and ladies who sat at the board.

Sounds of harps and violins greeted them from beyond the velvet-hung
portal, but none in the rear passage regarded the melody.

Five minutes dragged by, and one of the flower-maidens stepped into the
corridor. Each person in the rear passage started breathlessly forward
to hear her message.

"His grace desires the seneschal to come to him."

"My-o! My-o!" groaned Vittori; "mercy knows what he'll do to me--and to
you, too, Tonin Canova!"

Pausing just long enough to settle his scarlet robe and adjust his linen
neckcloth, the seneschal concealed his distress as well as he could, and
walked sedately into the banquet-hall.

Tonin locked his hands together in despair.

"What a dunce I was--I, Tonin Canova, who has never been off this
mountain--to dare to set up my little work before grand persons like
those! Oh, oh! and poor Vittori may be discharged on account of it!"

Suddenly the seneschal reappeared.

"Tonin, you are wanted at once! His grace has sent for you. Hurry! Go
on!"

"Not in _there_!" gasped Tonin, retreating toward the stair door; "I
should die of fright before those great folk."

"Hurry, hurry, you impudent monkey! Do you think you can keep the Duke
d'Asolo waiting?"

To make an end of the argument, Vittori seized the boy by the arm,
giving him a push that sent him into the banquet-room with a rush.

Tonin was half-blinded by the myriads of lights, and quite dazed by the
grandeur of the spectacle. He dimly comprehended that the vast apartment
was hung with vines and banked with flowers; that a table like a huge
cross ran the entire length and nearly the breadth of the room; that the
Duke d'Asolo sat at the upper end, and that hosts of ladies and
gentlemen in gorgeous raiment turned about in their chairs and fixed
their eyes upon the young visitor.

A scalding wave of shame rushed upward through Tonin's body, scorching
his cheeks and dyeing his neck as he became conscious of his own
workaday garb. He came to an abrupt stop, standing with downcast eyes
before the Venetian company, a truly diverting figure with his loose
blouse, rolled-up trousers and sleeves, bare arms, bare legs, and
dripping apron.

"Come, my lad, and tell us something about yourself," said the duke in a
tone surprisingly gentle for one who palpitated with wrath and
vengeance.

Tonin made his way slowly up the room, pausing at the duke's elbow, and
raising his eyes just far enough to get a glimpse of his yellow lion on
the table, directly before Giovanni Falier.

"When did you do this?" inquired the master of the feast, indicating the
ornament with his jewelled index finger.

"To-night," admitted Tonin feebly.

"Can you make other figures and objects?"

"Yes, signor."

"Where did you learn?"

"From grandfather, signor."

"I have been greatly surprised this evening, as also have been my
guests, at sight of this--this decoration, and ahem--"

"Now it's coming," thought Tonin in a panic. "Perhaps he'll put me in a
dungeon."

"I have sent it clear around the table so that every one might examine
it closely, and we all agree about it. How should you like to make
statues, lad,--nymphs, you know, and fairies--"

"And goddesses like that one upstairs?" cried Tonin, his face alight
with this unexpected turn of the conversation.

"Yes."

"Oh, oh! I'd rather make a goddess like that than to be a king, or _go
to the carnival_!"

A chorus of laughter greeted this outburst, and Tonin trembled with
embarrassment and surprise.

"Then you shall," the duke declared with a smile like April sunshine.
"You must have worked pretty hard, harder than most boys ever do, to be
able to make this," pointing to the lion; "and if you are willing to
keep on working, you may learn to do great things. You shall go to
Toretto, the sculptor who did the four pieces upstairs, and he will
teach you to make statues as good. Shall you like it, my boy?"

"Like it! Oh, signor, if I had a chance to learn anything so beautiful
I'd work--I'd work--"

A vision of the glistening goddess and her wordless grace came before
him, causing something to spring up in his throat that choked him. Twice
he tried to finish his eager speech, but the words did not come. He gave
a quick, eloquent gesture of entreaty, and down went his face into his
hands before them all.

"A toast, a toast!" exclaimed the duke, springing to his feet with
upraised glass. "We'll pledge in water, if you please, good people, for
clear water and unspoiled childhood are the purest things of earth.
Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you our little friend, Tonin Canova. May
he work faithfully with his teacher day by day, and when he comes to
manhood, may he be good and great and happy! God bless him!"

Clink, clink, went the glasses.

Tonin raised his head, and as he turned to withdraw, he whispered to the
duke with a beaming smile,--

"I don't know any nice words to say, but maybe you'll tell all the
people for me how a boy feels when he's too happy to laugh and too happy
to cry."


Up the Alpine road to the village of mud-walled cabins rode a man one
day in autumn. His air was that of an experienced traveller, his dress
rich but modest, his horse a spirited charger.

At the entrance to the village, a turn in the road brought him face to
face with a man in peasant attire who was walking in the opposite
direction. The rider bent curiously, and gazed down at the passer-by
with keenest interest; then bringing his horse sharply to a standstill,
he cried,--

"Pablo! Don't you remember me?"

The man by the way halted in surprise. For a moment he regarded the
stranger blankly, then some memory out of his boyhood seemed to awaken,
for suddenly he seized the horse's bridle with both hands, and
shouted,--

"Tonin Canova! By all the fates and furies, you are the last man in the
world I expected to see to-day!"

"I knew you by your quick and springy step. I suppose you are still the
leader of the town, Pablo, the foremost citizen of Passagno."

A flush of pride crept into the peasant's cheek, but he merely waved his
hand toward the extensive vineyard lying further down the slope.

"That is mine. That's all."

"And enough, too, old friend. Your purse must be ready to overflow,
after a harvest from that fine vineyard."

The peasant blushed again and nodded. Then half timidly he addressed the
other,--

"I'm glad to see you again, signor--"

The rider lifted his hand in rebuke.

"Not _signor_ to me, Pablo! I am still your friend, and not in any wise
changed from the lad who played with you in this very roadway."

"But you have grown powerful and wealthy!"

"Ye-es, but gold coins can never make me anything else than I was
before."

"But we have heard that the city of Venice gave you a pension for your
whole life, because you had made such wonderful statues."

"Yes, Venice has been good to me."

"And that all the great people of Rome are friends with you."

"True, but--"

"That the Pope has written your name in the golden book of the capital."

"So he did; still--"

"That Napoleon of France invited you to his court, and that the German
Emperor has even made you a knight."

"Hark to me, Pablo!" and this time the rider's voice was commanding.
"These things are indeed true, for people everywhere have shown me the
rarest kindness; but while the palace doors of all Europe are open to me
if I care to enter, and ladies and gentlemen of every nation pour their
compliments and gold upon me, my heart has turned back to my native
village and the dear simple friends of my childhood. I have left the
great world for a time, and have come back to see the old faces; and
Pablo, on that slope, near the little cottage,"--here his voice broke,
as he pointed to the last of the mud-walled cabins,--"I have planned to
build a church as beautiful as the Parthenon at Athens. If my good old
neighbors cannot travel far enough to see the temples of the world, they
shall have one near at hand, which will show them that Canova has not
forgotten them."

True to his word, the sculptor lingered in Passagno until there had
risen on the mountain side a classic, snowy edifice which was the
wonder and pride of all the villagers. When the builders had finished
and had gone their way, the man who had designed it all put on his
apron, took up his chisel, and completed for the altar ornaments that he
had begun twenty years before, when he had lived in the cabin just over
the way.

How the people rejoiced in their pillared house of worship, and how
grateful they were to the giver of so splendid a gift. Warmly they bade
him farewell when his task was at length completed, and he was obliged
to go in order to execute the greater works that awaited him.

At last, in the city of Rome, when the sculptor's hair whitened, his
step faltered, and his heart grew strangely still, the friends about
him, a brilliant company, carried him tenderly up the Alpine road, and
laid him to rest beneath the altar of his own carving.

When the service was ended, the lords and ladies, the princes and
cardinals, the poets and teachers who had paid him their devotion to
the last, wound their way slowly down to the turbulent world; and Tonin
Canova slept on the mountain side, in the heart of his Alpine village.



FRÉDÉRIC OF WARSAW

[CHOPIN[4]]


It was the evening study hour at Nicholas Chopin's boarding-school.
Twenty-five lads belonging to the oldest families of Warsaw were
assembled in the schoolroom, preparing lessons for the following day.

The place was large, well lighted, and comfortably warmed; good pictures
hung on the walls, and racks of books filled every available nook. At
the upper end of the room, near the master's desk, stood an open piano;
and at the lower, a table bearing plates, cups, and wholesome
refreshments which would be distributed among the boys when study-hour
was over. Throughout the room great cheerfulness and comfort reigned,
and the apple-cheeked boys at the desks showed that they were generously
cared for under this kindly roof. They were mostly little fellows,
ranging in age from eight to twelve years, and a merrier company one
would journey far to find.

When Nicholas Chopin sat behind the desk, this hour was always a quiet
one; for while he was indulgent with the boys out of school, furthering
their enjoyment with all his heart, he was also a strict and thorough
teacher, who would tolerate no disturbance from the pupils during
lesson-time.

But to-night the master was absent, and the new assistant, a mild-eyed,
pale young man, sat in Nicholas Chopin's chair and sought to keep the
boys at their tasks. He had been among them but two or three days, and
at the very beginning the pupils had decided that this was his first
attempt at teaching. His soft voice and worried look filled the boys
with glee; and half their playtime was spent in making plans to mock and
deride him. Until now, however, they had failed to carry out their
mischievous schemes, for Nicholas Chopin had compelled them to treat
the new assistant with respectful obedience. But to-night the master had
gone from home, leaving his assistant in full charge of the school, and
the boys threw all rules to the winds for the sole purpose of vexing the
new teacher.

Instead of the usual stillness maintained at this hour, the room was
a-buzz with whispers. The boys noisily shuffled their feet, rattled
their papers, and tossed their books about on their desks. The teacher
rapped sharply with his ruler again and again, but these warnings were
greeted with impudent chuckles and laughter.

At one of the side desks sat Frédéric Chopin, the master's son, toiling
at a much blotted copy-book. He was heartily liked by every boy in the
house, and for some reason, whenever he spoke in his quiet way, the
others obeyed his wishes without a syllable of complaint. John
Skotricki, who had the strongest arms and legs at school, was the
ringleader on the playground; but Frédéric was chief councillor and
fun-maker at all other times and places. Although the master's son, he
enjoyed no special favor or liberty, but was held to the same line of
duty prescribed for the other students. In the classroom he was not
noticeably clever, for he was very bad at numbers, and it is doubtful if
he could have found his own country on the great globe in the corner;
but there was one thing that Frédéric Chopin could do better than any
other boy in the school, better than any other boy in Warsaw, better,
probably, than any other boy in all the country of Poland: he could play
magnificently on the piano. So remarkably he played that everybody
wondered, and strangers often came to the house for a glimpse of the
young musician.

A year before, when he was nine, he had played at a great charity
concert given in the city hall, and after the performance the people had
surged by the stage to shake his hand and praise him; and in the
excitement and pleasure of it all, he might have become very vain of his
powers and success, but he remembered just in time that while he could
play brilliantly on the piano, he could not jump as far by ten inches as
John Skotricki, and that he did not know as much about grammar as the
youngest pupil at school.

One boy who had attended the concert, and who loved music passionately,
was the young Prince Radziwill. He decided that evening that he would
like to know the boy pianist, and soon it was no uncommon thing for the
prince's carriage to roll up to the Chopin school. Frédéric went often
with the young nobleman to drive, sometimes even accompanying him home
to the palace; but of these things he never spoke to the boys at school,
and not one of them was jealous because Frédéric had become the prince's
friend.

He practised diligently for many hours every day in his own room; but he
never mentioned the subject of music to the other lads, and when in
their company he was as happy-go-lucky as any schoolboy in Warsaw.

To-night, however, when he saw the new teacher's face flush with
displeasure in the noisy schoolroom, he felt a bit sorry, for he knew
that the young man would prove to be a good-natured companion if he were
not enraged at the outset.

Frédéric glanced uneasily about him from time to time as the confusion
increased, realizing that even the most patient of teachers would not
long endure such rebellion. He, as much as any one, enjoyed the antics
that kept the whole school tittering, and was strongly tempted to join
in the mutiny; but he had promised his father to stand by the new
assistant this evening, and he felt honor-bound to do it.

The crisis came when John Skotricki leaped from his seat and ran down
the room in pursuit of a boy who had given him a cuff on the ear in
passing. The teacher sprang up with an angry light in his eye, and
flourished the ruler threateningly. Frédéric exchanged glances with the
assistant, and threw down his pen with the announcement,--

"Boys, if you'll all be quiet in your seats, I'll tell you a story."

The others, supposing that Frédéric was on their side, and that this was
a part of the joke, folded their arms; and instantly the room grew so
still that one could hear the ticking of the clock in the hall beyond.

Frédéric turned out all the lights, for "a story always sounds better in
the dark," he explained. Then seating himself at the piano, he began to
speak, playing all the while music that helped to tell his story.

Every student rested his arms on his desk, and bent attentively to
listen.

"Once upon a time there stood a great house on the bank of a lonely
river." (Here came a lightly running passage on the piano, like the
rippling of water.) "A band of robbers riding through the country paused
in the glade at nightfall. Seeing the old mansion by the river side,
they decided to force an entrance at midnight and carry away the gold
and jewels that were probably secreted there.

"They laid their plans carefully" (sounds of many gruff, deep-toned
voices, one at a time, then all together in a rumbling chorus), "and at
the solemn hour they had chosen" (twelve clanging tones), "they tied
their horses farther up the dell, and marched, two by two, toward the
house by the swirling river. Noiselessly they approached and surrounded
the many-pinnacled dwelling, each robber choosing a window through which
he would make his entrance. At the signal of the leader" (a high faint
trill), "each man climbed to his window ledge, sawed straight through
the iron bars that protected it" (a steady rasping sound as of edged
tools), "and ripped out the glass with the point of his dagger"
(tinklings as of shattered crystal).

"Now for the treasures! Each man had one foot inside the house, and one
hand on the inner sill, when, all at once, lights flared up in every
room" (a reckless sweep of notes), "dogs barked fiercely, shouts were
heard from the upper corridors, pistol-shots burst on the stillness of
the night, and the robbers leaped from their perches, rolling over and
over in the mud below" (loud discordant notes, and the _bang, bang_ of
the pistols mingled with the furious growling and yelping of dogs).

"Gaining their feet in a twinkling, the robbers fled as swiftly as
though wearing wings on their boots; and reaching the horses in
breathless fright, they swung themselves into their saddles and galloped
madly away. Hour after hour they rode" (pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat of the
hoof-beats), "through valley and village and glen. On, on they spurred"
(pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat), "until they came to a deep, dense forest. Into
its shadows they plunged, knowing that here they would be safe at last
from the dogs and the men who lived in the house by the rolling river.

"They pulled up their horses and listened" (silence), "and listened"
(silence), "but heard no pursuing feet. So, dismounting, they turned
their horses loose to nibble at will, and jaded by hours of reckless
riding, the robbers threw themselves upon the green turf to rest. The
scents of the flowers were sweet, the grass was deep and soft, the
leaves overhead rustled, rustled, rustled, and ere long, in the cool of
the summer's dawn, the weary robbers--fell--asleep."

So quietly had Frédéric spoken, so softly had he played as he described
the woodland sounds, that, gently touching the final chord, he
discovered, by the moonlight streaming in through the windows, that
twenty-four boys, like the tired robbers, were fast asleep.

[Illustration: "Like the tired robbers, were fast asleep."]

Stealing from the room on tiptoe, he summoned his sisters and the
servants to bring in lights; then stepping to the piano, he struck one
crashing chord.

As though a bomb had exploded among them, the boys started from their
slumbers, rubbing their eyes and staring stupidly at one another.

At that moment the clock chimed the hour of dismissal, and Nicholas
Chopin entered the room; whereupon the pupils bounded from their seats
with shouts of laughter over the musical spell that Frédéric had cast
upon them.

When the cups and plates went round, the new teacher drew the master
into the hall and told him how cleverly Frédéric had helped him to
maintain order; but in the schoolroom the lads were waving their
sandwiches and napkins, and cheering the master's son as a jolly comrade
and a true-blue mate.


The city of Warsaw adored its composer, Frédéric Chopin. The residents
detected hidden meanings in his playing of the piano which they
believed would sometime be accepted beyond the realm of Poland.

He was young, handsome, and gay, and his companionship was sought on
every side. Had not his breast been stirred by an impulse stronger than
the mere desire for popularity, Frédéric Chopin would have developed
into nothing more than an elegant young musician, the acknowledged
favorite of his fellow-townsmen. But he was not content to end his
career so tamely. He must see the world. He must conquer the public
beyond his native land. He must play, he must compose, he must work and
study to greater ends.

Accordingly, one day in November, at the age of twenty-one, he set out
for Vienna. When he found himself actually leaving kindred and home
behind, a flood of sadness swept over him.

"I shall never return," he groaned; "my eyes will never look upon Warsaw
again!"

His friends responded lightly to these fears, and with their words of
cheer he soon recovered his usual bright spirit.

He was escorted as far as the first day's travel would carry him by a
score of affectionate friends; and at the end of a banquet given in his
honor, he was touched to the heart by one of their number presenting to
him a silver goblet filled with Polish earth, with entreaties that he
would meet the world as a man, and keep his country in constant
remembrance.

In Vienna he attracted much attention by his playing, and at the end of
a year he was accounted one of the leading musical spirits of the city.

He had decided to pay a brief visit to his home and friends, when on his
way he was horrified to learn that his beloved Poland had been seized by
the Russians, that his country was in the hands of the enemy, and that
Warsaw was converted into a camp of foreign soldiers. He dared not
advance farther, as all absent Poles had been warned by the new
Government to keep away from Poland, on pain of death.

Frédéric was nearly crushed by these unlooked-for tidings, and, only
waiting to learn that his parents were safe and well, he set his face
toward Paris. Here he decided to make his home, as had so many others of
his exiled countrymen. Success in this city meant success in the world,
and for this Frédéric Chopin labored through the following years.

His playing was so rare, so peculiarly delicate, that no one in Paris
could approach him in his chosen style. One critic called him "the piano
god," another, "Velvet Fingers"; and when his compositions were printed,
and the people could play them for themselves, they were nigh
transported by his genius.

London vainly besought him to take up his residence there, but he
steadily refused, remaining for the rest of his days in Paris, the pride
of the Parisians and the idol of the many Poles who, like himself, were
exiled from their native land.

When the end came, and the "velvet fingers" were stilled at last, he was
buried from the Church of the Madeleine. Crowds of distinguished persons
and homeless Poles attended the sacred service, and the procession was
numbered by hundreds, that, to the strains of his own "Funeral March,"
followed Frédéric Chopin to the tomb.

Finally, when his body was lovingly laid in the place prepared for it,
one of his countrymen brought forth the silver goblet which for nineteen
years the composer had fondly cherished, and, as the sweetest
benediction he could offer, reverently took a handful of Polish earth
and sprinkled it upon the body of Frédéric of Warsaw.

FOOTNOTE:

[4] Chopin (pronounced _Sho-pang_).





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