Изображения страниц
PDF

cast off. “Noo,” said Tammas, “pull for the brig yonder. All the redcoats i' the kingdom should na hae Prince Charlie noo.”

The prince looked back at the shore they were leaving. “Farewell, Scotland s” he murmured. “My heart is sore at going, but I 'll come back. Yes, I'll come back to you.”

The Scotchmen pulled strong oars, the water splashed from their blades, and the light on the brig grew larger, and soon Roger could make out her lines and even see a group of men gathered in the bow, facing toward them. “Noo let her run" called Tammas. The oars rose and stayed poised, and the long boat shot gently into the great black shadow made by the ship. “Here we are, Roger,” said Prince Charlie. “In good time, too, for yonder streak on the horizon looks like dawn to me.”

CHAPTER XIV HOW THE KNIGHTS DECIDED

WHEN Roger woke up the next morning, he found the storm had cleared and he could see from his window the motionless white arms of the elm at the side of the house. But he did not jump right out of bed because he could not help wondering how Prince Charlie was faring in the French brig, and if he would really return to Scotland some day and fight for his throne again. As he was thinking that, Roger's father knocked at his door, and said, “Roger, you’d better tumble out as quick as you can, or you 'll find it 's the day after Christmas.” That would never do; so Roger hastened to dress, and ran down to breakfast. He got there in time to find that it was still December twentyfifth, and to wish all the family a Merry ChristIslas. That was a wonderful holiday week, for the fine weather held, and the boys could live out-ofdoors. But one thing worried Roger as the holidays wore on. Each one of the knights who had sat at the table had come to Westover House and taken him away with him, as they had agreed, and now he was afraid there would be no more adventures. Christmas week passed, and he saw none of them. New-year's eve came, and Roger's father and mother drove away in a sleigh to a neighbor's house, for a dinner-party, and to see the New-year in. Roger sat reading in the library until the clock struck eleven. Then he put his book on the table and went over to the hearth, where he kicked the big logs into a blaze. He did not feel sleepy, and he did not want to go to bed. Then he remembered the book, bound in green and gold, that he had been reading on that

other night, and also the little amulet of jade. He took the book from the shelf and the amulet from its drawer in the cabinet, and carried -them to the tiger skin before the fire. He stretched out, and opened the book at the page that was still marked with the slip of paper he had left in it. He read the lines again, out loud, to catch the sound of them. He finished reading, and, looking down at the amulet in his hand, wished that he might see his knights again. Then, above the crackling of the fire, he caught a murmur of voices. With a beating heart, he got up and looked about. Yes, the room was as it had been on that other night, with tapestries hanging where the windows would have been. Trembling with excitement, Roger dropped the amulet into his pocket, and walking across the room, pulled the tapestries apart. Beyond lay the hall of the Knights of the Golden Spur. The banner of white, with the spur of gold in its center, hung high above the shining table, and the torches in their rings about the walls lighted the faces and figures of the six men who sat about the board. One chair stood empty, just as it had before. Sir Lancelot was speaking. “'T is well met we are, brothers,” said he, “to cast our balance on this closing night of the year. When we last met, a lad of this new century came to us, eager to win yon vacant seat. Has each of ye seen him since P” so “Aye,” came in a chorus of voices from those gathered there. “And what think ye of him?” asked Lancelot. “Speak first, Prince Charlie.” The young man in blue smiled as he glanced about the circle of expectant faces. “Roger Miltoun went through a storm with me when we were like to perish,” he answered. “He carried news of my capture to a house of strange men, and brought them back to save me. He was true as steel to me.” “What sayest thou, Philip Sidney?” asked Sir Lancelot, turning. Sir Philip Sidney pushed his chair a little back from the table. “England needed help,” said he, “for Spain's Armada was ready to descend upon us. Traitors were sending secrets across seas, and, when they might have slipped me, Roger pursued and wrenched the gilded tube from a traitor's neck. My gracious Queen Elizabeth has thanked him, and she is a judge of daring men.” “And I,” said the tall man in the black armor, with the ostrich-plumes in his helmet, “can vouch his cunning and his courage. He won me back my father, who was duped by certain evil men.”

“He helped me bring a young earl out of evil plight,” put in Richard Coeur de Lion. “And his wits are of keen edge.” “So say I,” said Little John. one of Robin Hood's band.” “He rode with me to Forfars,” said Lancelot, “and but for him, I should never have seen Camelot again. How say ye? Is he worthy the seat that 's waiting there?” Again came the chorus of voices, “Aye, he is " “I pray thee bring him hither, Prince Charlie,” said Sir Lancelot. Prince Charlie rose and stepped to the tapestries. He flung them back. There stood Roger, his eyes dancing with joy and excitement. “Oho,” said Prince Charlie, “so you heard what I said about you!” “I could n't help it,” answered Roger. “I did n't know you were all here again, but when I found you, I could n’t go away.” “There is no need of that now, Roger,” said the young man in blue. “Give me your hand.” Prince Charlie led him past the curtains and up to the big arm-chair which stood on the opposite side of the round table from that of Sir Lancelot. The knights had all risen and were looking at Roger. “Here is Roger Miltoun, my brothers,” said Prince Charlie, “and he is as fit to be a knight of this new century as we each were of ours.” Roger glanced about the circle of faces, each so different from the others, and yet each that of an old friend. At last he looked at the splendid man in gold, whose clear, deep eyes were fixed upon him. “We have all tried thee, Roger,” he said slowly, “in peril of witchcraft and of storm, of treachery and craft, and we have all found thee steadfast. The last seat at the board is thine.” Then Sir Lancelot took a small golden spur that hung at his shining belt, and passed it to Little John. He, in turn, handed it to the Black Prince, and he to Prince Charlie. “This is the badge of our order,” said Prince Charlie, as he placed the little spur in Roger's hands. “Now,” came the ringing voice of Lancelot, “our table is completel Hail the last knight; give hail to Roger Miltoun s” Each man drew his sword and flashed it above his head, pointing it toward the great banner that hung high above the table. “Hail, Roger Miltoun Hail, the new Knight of the Golden Spur !” they cried. The swords fell and were sheathed. Then Lancelot took his seat again, and after him in

“We made him.

[ocr errors]

order, Little John, Richard Coeur de Lion, the Black Prince, Sir Philip Sidney, and Prince Charlie. Last of all, Roger sat down in his big arm-chair. One fear was in his mind, and he could not keep it from his lips. “Will the amulet and the verses bring you all again, Sir Lancelot?” he asked. Lancelot smiled. “When there is need of brave work to be done, of wrongs to be redressed, of ills to be prevented, we will each come to thee, according to our need. When thou hast need of any one of us, hold the little spur in thy hands and speak his name. He will be standing by thee when thou lookest up again. Twice every year we meet here in our hall, one summer's night, and every New-year's eve. Thou wilt know we are here, for I shall summon thee.” Roger sat back in his chair, satisfied. He had never been so happy in his life. Then there boomed out on the night the first stroke of a great bell, ringing somewhere in the distance. Sir Lancelot stood up. “The old year passes, brothers. A welcome to the New-year !” They all leaped to their feet, a sword shining in each unlifted hand. Roger felt instinctively at his belt. He found the hilt of a sword, and drew the blade forth. Like the rest, he pointed it toward the banner. “Hail to the New-year; to the New-year all hail l’’ came the loud chorus of voices, Roger's among them. So they stood while the bell rang out its twelve slow strokes, and at the last each thrust his sword yet higher toward the banner.

THE last stroke was still echoing in the air, but the torches, the table, and the knights were gone. Roger was standing at the bow-window in his father's library, looking out over the fields of snow. He heard the last echo grow fainter, fainter, and then vanish. He held something clutched in his left hand. He opened his fingers and looked down at it. It was a little gold spur, of an old-fashioned pattern and curiously wrought. He turned and walked over to the fireplace. The book bound in green and gold still lay on the tiger rug where he had left it. He looked about the room. There was no doubt it was his father's library. “Yes, I'm wide awake,” said he, aloud, “and I 'm certainly here at home.” He looked down at the spur again. “Yet here 's the spur they gave me; so it must be true. I've only to keep it safe, and want one of them very much, and he 'll come to me. And more than that, I, too, am a Knight of the Golden Spur !”

THE END.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed]
[graphic]

Round every general when he goes to battle is a selected company of men, sometimes a whole

body-guard. Their main duty is to protect the com- mander. Whoever o - 22' is in danger, he S-2 must not be; whoever falls, he must not. They do not do skirmish duty, nor picket duty, this body-guard; they protect the general. Their business is to serve the whole army by guarding the life of the one who, in his turn, serves the army by commanding it. The position of these men is a proud one, and they are often the pick of the fighting force. To be near the general and responsible for his safety is an enviable post, and the warm sense of friendship between the chief of the whole army and this small part of it, is a prize that every soldier would like to call his own. When we enter the fighting-field of life, as each of us must do, we are provided with a bodyguard. In time we may come to command large armies in the field of business, or we may command forces in the field of art, as Raphael and Rembrandt and Turner did; or in the field of science, as Helmholz and Edison; or in literature, as did Dickens and Stevenson. We may do all this, and yet be exposed to great danger and failure if our body-guard should desert or prove cowardly. And, on the other hand, it is well to remember that if we never hold a generalship or a place of command, this body-guard is still necessary. Every person needs it, and every person has it, whether he becomes as famous as Napoleon, or lives quietly in a country village all his life. It is as much needed in carrying on the smallest duties of life as it is in conducting campaigns of war or discovering a new comet. The body-guard I am speaking of, as you surely see by this time, is something that has to do with us as individuals, rather than as people who hold this or that position. It is the protecting force, the selected troop of habits, influences, and character, which is close to us to see that, no matter whether we win or lose the fight, we shall not lose the life of our best self. This body-guard may not keep a man from losing his money, but it

BY GEORGE LAWRENCE PARKER

can and will keep him from losing his character. It may not make a boy win every foot-ball game, but it will help him to win every fight with meanness or selfishness or wrong. It will make him commander of himself and of his own thoughts and actions, even if the rest of his army is defeated. If the troops in the field become demoralized, as the phrase is, the body-guard remains to see that our real self is not defeated. You see how important a thought this is. And, first of all, notice that there is a difference in the two body-guards I have mentioned. The general's body-guard is only provided for him after he becomes a general. But the body-guard of each of us as individuals, as Tom, or Mary, or Elizabeth, is provided for us from the very moment of our birth. We go on adding to it or strengthening it, but it is really there almost as soon as we begin to live. In other words, our body-guard grows up with us; it is not made up of strangers. It is around us from the first. Who and what are some of the members of this body-guard—some of these things that are closest to us? We must know them by name, if what I have said of them is true. The first I want to name is Character. Character is the quality that keeps us always ourselves. It stands nearest to that innermost part of us that each calls “myself”; sometimes it is even hard to distinguish the two. But I like to keep Character in my body-guard. Character stands firm under every trial, if we give it the chance to do so. It says to all the enemies, temptation, discouragement, bad luck, the blues, and hosts of others, “You may defeat the rest of the army, but you dare not come near the general.” Character is the quality that always reminds me that I am myself. It stands just next to myself and goes on repeating, “Be yourself! Don't forget who you are; don't act below yourself.” Wherever it began, Character is the first in our bodyguard. He will never desert. A boy or girl who has character, who keeps character strong and alive, can never truly be defeated. Then, in our body-guard, is one called Disposition. Some people have good characters, but unpleasant dispositions. Disposition obeys orders, and we really are to blame if he sulks constantly. He is more teachable than Character, and we can improve him if we begin early. If I am cross and ugly in my tone of voice or looks, it may not be bad character, but more likely it is bad disposition. What I need to do is to cultivate that Disposition, educate him until he grows better. If my character is really good, I must tell my disposition that he must not tell a falsehood about me, but must show me to others as I really am. Disposition must be made to keep step with Character. As the actors on the stage usually get their signs, or “cues,” from another actor, so Disposition must take his sign from Character; otherwise we appear worse than we are. And, sometimes, if Disposition remains bad too long, he can even spoil Character entirely. Just as a poor player can easily spoil the acting of a great one. Temper is in our body-guard, a most excellent protector if controlled. I will only say of him that he is like a good watch-dog. He does best service when he is chained up. Keep Temper in the body-guard, as we keep a good dog near the door of our house at night. He will bark when noise reaches him, but he must not run after noises a mile off that don't concern him. A great many boys lose their tempers over foolish things. Their watch-dog has run away, and is off duty. I have seen a boy get angry over a shoe-lace that had caught in a knot; then when, a few moments later, he saw another boy act rudely, he had no temper left to make him go up to that boy and say, in a quiet but strong voice: “You ought to know better than that.” In this chosen troop, so very close to us, is one called Habit. He is a kind of an outsider at first get he sooner or later manages the whole

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

body-guard. He will obey the general only. If I, that self of mine, give him strict orders, he will obey; but if I am careless, he obeys no one and tries to command every one. Habit is the timekeeper of the body-guard. He tells the rest of the troop just when the general needs help. Habit, if allowed to get slipshod, will at once spoil the rest of the body-guard, and then the general himself, and his right-hand man, Character, are in very great danger. Yes, very great The body-guard has many others in it whom you can write down for yourself. You will be wise if you call the roll some day soon. Ask Purpose if he is there; ask Good-will if he is there; call for Industry, Energy, Perseverance, Hopefulness, and for the whole splendid company. They like to be reminded of the general's care, and you are the general. You see why the body-guard is a selected troop —the King's Own. And do you not also see that, as we go on through life, these are the things that stay nearest to us. They protect us; and between us and them grows up an affection and friendship which is far greater than we can ever have for mere skill, or cunning, or power, or knowledge. These last are good troops, and we need them. But far more do we need about us the body-guard of Character, Disposition, Temper, Habit, Purpose, and their sort. When the battle is lost, we are still victors if we can say, “My body-guard stood firm. I am still a conqueror, for I have been true to myself.”

MAY-FLOWERS

BY PAULINE FRANCES CAMP

A THousAND little plants should be a-greening o'er the land,
Whose seeds were planted January first, you understand.
And if they were well cared for, and the weeds pulled up each day,
Their buds, from sleep, should be a-peep this blossom time of May.

“Good resolutions” were the seeds they planted in the snow;
And kindly thoughts and words and deeds the blossoms that should blow.
Of course there have been many weeds, to choke the little plants:
Those naughty “Too much troubles,” “I forgots,” and “Won’ts,” and “Can'ts.”

[merged small][ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »