A STORY FOR CHILDREN.
There was a King of Hungary whose name was Adelbert.
When he lived at home, which was not often, it was in a castle of many towers and many halls and many stairways, in the city of Buda, by the side of the river Donau.
He had four daughters, and only one son, who was to be the King after him, whose name was Ladislaus. But it was the custom of those times, as boys and girls grew up, to send them for their training to some distance from their home, even for many months at a time, to try a little experiment on them, and see how they fared; and so, at the time I tell you of, there was staying in the castle of Buda the Prince Bela, who was the son of the King of Bohemia; and he and the boy Ladislaus studied their lessons together, and flew their kites, and hunted for otters, and rode with the falconers together.
One day as they were studying with the tutor, who was a priest named Stephen, he gave to them a book of fables, and each read a fable.
Ladislaus read the fable of the
The sky-lark sat on the topmost bough of the savy-tree, and was waked by the first ray of the sun. Then the sky-lark flew and flew up and up to the topmost arch of the sky, and sang the hymn of the morning.
But a frog, who was croaking in the cranberry marsh, said, “Why do you take such pains and fly so high? the sun shines here, and I can sing here.”
And the bird said, “God has made me to fly. God has made me to see. I will fly as high as He will lift me, and sing so loud that all shall hear me.”
* * * * *
And when the little Prince Ladislaus had read the fable, he cried out, “The sky-lark is the bird for me, and I will paint his picture on my shield after school this morning.”
Then the Prince Bela read the next fable,–the fable of the
A good beaver found one day a little water-rat almost dead. His father and mother had been swept away by a freshet, and the little rat was almost starved. But the kind beaver gave him of her own milk, and brought him up in her own lodge with her children, and he got well, and could eat, and swim, and dive with the best of them.
But one day there was a great alarm, that the beavers’ dam was giving way before the water. “Come one, come all,” said the grandfather of the beavers, “come to the rescue.” So they all started, carrying sticks and bark with them, the water-rat and all. But as they swam under an old oak-tree’s root, the water-rat stopped in the darkness, and then he quietly turned round and went back to the hut. “It will be hard work,” said he “and there are enough of them.” There were enough of them. They mended the dam by working all night and by working all day. But, as they came back, a great wave of the freshet came pouring over the dam and, though the dam stood firm, the beavers were swept away,–away and away, down the river into the sea, and they died there.
And the water-rat lived in their grand house by himself, and had all their stores of black-birch bark and willow bark and sweet poplar bark for his own.
* * * * *
“That was a clever rat,” said the Prince Bela. “I will paint the rat on my shield, when school is done.” And the priest Stephen was very sad when he said so; and the Prince Ladislaus was surprised.