« PreviousContinue »
THE STORY OF THE WOOD.
What said the Wood in the fire
To the little boy that night
When the blaze was burning bright?
What they've done to me!
In my leaves of green
That loved to lean
“From the blossoming dells
Where the violet dwells The cattle came with their clanking bells And rested under my shadows sweet; And the winds that went over the clover and wheat
Told me all that they knew
Of the flowers that grew In the beautiful shadows that dreamed at my feet.
6. And the wild wind's caresses
Oft rumpled my tresses ;
And I listened and heard
The small heart of each bird As it beat in the warm nest that mother had made!
“And in springtime sweet faces
Of myriad graces
And the sunshine in showers
Through all the bright hours
“And the lightning came brightening
From far skies, and frightening
But they flew to my breast,
And I rocked them to rest, While the trembling vines clustered and clung at my
“But how soon," said the Wood,
“Fades the memory of good! Though with sheltering love and sweet kindness I stood, The forester came with his ax gleaming bright, And I fell like a giant, all shorn of his might!
Yet still there must be
Some sweet mission for me; For have I not warmed you and cheered you to-night ?”
So said the Wood in the fire
To the little boy that night
When the blaze was burning bright. - FRANK L. STANTON.
[From “Little Folks Down South.” By permission of D. Appleton and Company.]
SKATING IN HOLLAND.
EDMONDO DE Amicis [då ä-meel chees) was born at Oneglia [o nál' yä], Italy, Oct. 21, 1846. During five years of his youth, and until Italy was made free under Victor Emmanuel, he served as a soldier in the Italian army of liberation. He then returned to civil life, established a home in Turin, and devoted himself to literature. He has traveled in France, Holland, Turkey, Morocco, and Spain. The books he has written concerning these countries are very delightful. This extract is from “Holland”; copyright, 1894, by Porter and Coates. Used by courtesy of The
John C. Winston Company, Publishers. Skating in Holland is not only a recreation; it is the ordinary means of transportation. ... When there is a hard frost the canals are transformed into streets. The peasants skate to market, the workmen to their work, the small tradespeople to their business ; entire families skate from the country to the town with their bags and baskets on their shoulders or drive in sledges. Skating is to them as habitual and easy as walking, and they skim along so rapidly that one can scarcely follow them with the eye.
Persons who have been drawn by sticks have told me that the speed with which they slide over the ice is enough to turn one giddy; but this rapidity is not the only remarkable thing about it; another point very much to be admired is the security with which they traverse great distances.
Peasants go from one town to another at night. ... Sometimes as one is walking along a canal one sees a figure flit by like an arrow, to disappear immediately in the distance. It is a peasant girl carrying milk to a house in the city.
There are sledges of every size and shape, some pushed by skaters, others drawn by horses, others propelled by means of two iron-tipped sticks which are worked by the person seated in the sledge.
One sees carts and carriages taken off their wheels and mounted on two boards, on which they glide with the same rapidity as the other sleds. .. Sometimes ships in full sail are seen skimming over the ice of the large rivers, going so fast that the faces of the few who dare to make this experiment are terribly cut by the wind.
The most beautiful fêtes in Holland are given on the ice. When the Meuse is frozen, Rotterdam becomes a place of reunions and amusements. The snow is brushed away until the ice is made as clean as a crystal floor; restaurants, coffee-houses, pavilions, and benches for spectators are set up, and at night all is illuminated. During the day a swarm of skaters of every age, sex, and class crowds the river.
In the other towns, especially in Friesland, which is the classic land of the art, there are clubs of men and women skaters who institute public races for prizes. Stakes and flags are set up all along the canals; railings and stands are raised; immense crowds come from the villages and the countryside. Bands play; the élite of the town are present.
There are races for men and races for women; then both men and women race together. The names of the winners are enrolled in the annals of the art and remain famous for many years. The first day when the canals and small docks are covered with ice strong enough to bear the skaters is a day of rejoicing in the Dutch towns. Skaters who have made the experiment at break of day spread the news abroad ; the papers announce it; groups of boys about the streets burst into shouts of delight; men-servants and women-servants ask permission to go out with the determined air of people who have decided to rebel if refused.
At the Hague the basin, which is in the middle of the city, near to the Binnenhof, is invaded by a mingled crowd of people, who interlace, knock against each other, and form a confused, giddy mass.
The flower of the aristocracy skates on a pond in the middle of the wood, and there in the snow may be seen a winding and whirling maze of officers, ladies, deputies, students, old men, and boys, among whom the crown prince is sometimes seen.
Thousands of spectators crowd around the scene, music enlivens the festival, and the enormous disk of the Dutch sun at sunset sends its dazzling salutation through the gigantic beech trees.
EDMONDO DE AMICIS.