THE MILLER OF THE DEE
By CHARLES MACKEY
There dwelt a miller hale and bold
Beside the river Dee;
He worked and sang from morn till night,
No lark more blithe than he;
And this the burden of his song
Forever used to be,—
“I envy nobody; no, not I,
And nobody envies me!”
“Thou’rt wrong, my friend!” said good King Hal;
“Thou’rt wrong as wrong can be;
For could my heart be light as thine,
I’d gladly change with thee.
And tell me now, what makes thee sing,
With voice so loud and free,
While I am sad, though I’m the king,
Beside the river Dee.”
The miller smiled and doffed his cap:
“I earn my bread,” quoth he;
“I love my wife, I love my friend,
I love my children three;
I owe no penny I cannot pay;
I thank the river Dee,
That turns the mill that grinds the corn,
To feed my babes and me.”
“Good friend,” said Hal, and sighed the while,
“Farewell! and happy be;
But say no more, if thou’dst be true,
That no one envies thee.
Thy mealy cap is worth my crown,
Thy mill my kingdom’s fee;
Such men as thou are England’s boast,
Oh miller of the Dee!”
DEFINITIONS:—Hale, hearty, strong. Blithe, happy. Quoth, said.
Fee, wealth, possession.
A BOY ON A FARM
By Charles Dudley Warner
Say what you will about the general usefulness of boys, it is my impression that a farm without a boy would very soon come to grief. What the boy does is the life of the farm. He is the factotum, always in demand, always expected to do the thousand indispensable things that nobody else will do. Upon him fall all the odds and ends, the most difficult things.
After everybody else is through, he has to finish up. His work is like a woman’s,—perpetually waiting on others. Everybody knows how much easier it is to eat a good dinner than it is to wash the dishes afterward. Consider what a boy on a farm is required to do; things that must be done, or life would actually stop.
It is understood, in the first place, that he is to do all the errands, to go to the store, to the post office, and to carry all sorts of messages. If he had as many legs as a centiped, they would tire before night. His two short limbs seem to him entirely inadequate to the task. He would like to have as many legs as a wheel has spokes, and rotate about in the same way.
This he sometimes tries to do; and the people who have seen him “turning cart wheels” along the side of the road, have supposed that he was amusing himself and idling his time; he was only trying to invent a new mode of locomotion, so that he could economize his legs, and do his errands with greater dispatch.
He practices standing on his head, in order to accustom himself to any position. Leapfrog is one of his methods of getting over the ground quickly. He would willingly go an errand any distance if he could leapfrog it with a few other boys.
He has a natural genius for combining pleasure with business. This is the reason why, when he is sent to the spring for a pitcher of water, he is absent so long; for he stops to poke the frog that sits on the stone, or, if there is a penstock, to put his hand over the spout, and squirt the water a little while.
He is the one who spreads the grass when the men have cut it; he mows it away in the barn; he rides the horse, to cultivate the corn, up and down the hot, weary rows; he picks up the potatoes when they are dug; he drives the cows night and morning; he brings wood and water, and splits kindling; he gets up the horse, and puts out the horse; whether he is in the house or out of it, there is always something for him to do.
Just before the school in winter he shovels paths; in summer he turns the grindstone. He knows where there are lots of wintergreens and sweet flags, but, instead of going for them, he is to stay indoors and pare apples, and stone raisins, and pound something in a mortar. And yet, with his mind full of schemes of what he would like to do, and his hands full of occupations, he is an idle boy, who has nothing to busy himself with but school and chores!
He would gladly do all the work if somebody else would do the chores, he thinks; and yet I doubt if any boy ever amounted to anything in the world; or was of much use as a man, who did not enjoy the advantages of a liberal education in the way of chores. —From “Being a Boy.”
DEFINITIONS:—Factotum, a person employed to do all kinds of work. Indispensable, absolutely necessary. Perpetually, continually. Centiped, an insect with a great number of feet. Economize, to save. Dispatch, diligence, haste. Penstock, a wooden tube for conducting water. Chores, the light work of the household either within or without doors.
Oh, how one ugly trick has spoiled
The sweetest and the best!
Matilda, though a pleasant child,
One grievous fault possessed,
Which, like a cloud before the skies,
Hid all her better qualities.
Sometimes, she’d lift the teapot lid
To peep at what was in it;
Or tilt the kettle, if you did
But turn your back a minute.
In vain you told her not to touch,
Her trick of meddling grew so much.
Her grandmamma went out one day,
And, by mistake, she laid
Her spectacles and snuffbox gay,
Too near the little maid;
“Ah! well,” thought she, “I’ll try them on,
As soon as grandmamma is gone.”
Forthwith, she placed upon her nose
The glasses large and wide;
And looking round, as I suppose,
The snuffbox, too, she spied.
“Oh, what a pretty box is this!
I’ll open it,” said little miss.
“I know that grandmamma would say,
‘Don’t meddle with it, dear;’
But then she’s far enough away,
And no one else is near;
Beside, what can there be amiss
In opening such a box as this?”
So, thumb and finger went to work
To move the stubborn lid;
And, presently, a mighty jerk
The mighty mischief did;
For all at once, ah! woeful case!
The snuff came puffing in her face.
Poor eyes, and nose, and mouth, and chin
A dismal sight presented;
And as the snuff got further in,
Sincerely she repented.
In vain she ran about for ease,
She could do nothing else but sneeze.
She dashed the spectacles away,
To wipe her tingling eyes;
And, as in twenty bits they lay,
Her grandmamma she spies.
“Heyday! and what’s the matter now?”
Cried grandmamma, with angry brow.
Matilda, smarting with the pain,
And tingling still, and sore,
Made many a promise to refrain
From meddling evermore;
And ’tis a fact, as I have heard,
She ever since has kept her word.
DEFINITIONS:—Qualities, traits of character. Meddling, interfering without right. Forthwith, at once. Amiss, wrong, faulty. Woeful, sad, sorrowful. Tingling, smarting. Refrain, to keep from.