Messing about in boats
`Hello, Mole!' said the Water Rat.
`Hello, Rat!' said the Mole.
`Would you like to come over?' inquired the Rat presently.
`Oh, it's all very well to talk,' said the Mole, rather pettishly, he being new to a river and riverside life and its ways.
The Rat said nothing, but stooped and unfastened a rope and hauled on it; then lightly stepped into a little boat which the Mole had not observed. It was painted blue outside and white within, and was just the size for two animals; and the Mole's heart went out to it at once, even though he did not yet fully understand its uses.
The Rat sculled smartly across and made fast. Then he held up his fore-paw as the Mole stepped gingerly down. 'Lean on that!' he said. `Now then, step lively!' and the Mole, to his surprise and rapture found himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat.
`This has been a wonderful day!' said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. 'Do you know, I've never been in a boat before in all my life.'
`What?' cried the Rat open-mouthed: 'Never been in a – you never –well, I – what have you been doing, then?'
`Is it so nice as all that?' asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.
`Nice? It's the only thing,' said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. 'Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing –absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: 'messing – about – in –boats;
(Source: The Wind in the Willows, 1908 Kenneth Grahame)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way-- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of
its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.......
Along the Paris streets the death-carts rumble, hollow and harsh. Six tumbrils carry the day's wine to La Guillotine... The tumbrils begin to discharge their loads. The ministers of Sainte Guillotine are robed and ready Crash! – A head is held up, and the knitting women who scarcely lifted their eyes to look at it a moment ago when it could think and speak, count One.
The second tumbril empties and moves on; the third comes up. Crash! – And the knitting women, never faltering or pausing in their work, count Two.
The supposed Evremonde descends, and the seamstress is lifted out next after him. He has not relinquished her patient hand in getting out, but still holds it as he promised. He gently places her with her back to the crashing engine that constantly whirrs up and falls, and she looks into his face and thanks him. `But for you, dear stranger, I should not be so composed, for I am naturally a poor little thing, faint of heart; nor should I have been able To raise my thoughts to Him who was put to death, that we might have .Mpe and comfort here today. I think you were sent to me by Heaven.'
`Or you to me,' says Sidney Carton. 'Keep your eyes upon me, dear Jilld, and mind no other object.'
I mind nothing while I hold your hand. I shall mind nothing when I let it go, if they are rapid.'
`They will be rapid. Fear not!'...
She goes next before him – is gone; the knitting women count Twenty-Two..
`I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die.'
The murmuring of many voices, the upturning of many faces, the pressing on of many footsteps in the outskirts of the crowd, so that it swells forward in a mass, like one heave of water, all flashes away. Twenty-three.
They said of him, about the city that night, that it was the peacefullest man’s face ever beheld there... If he had given utterance to his thoughts], they would have been these...
`I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which I shall see no more... I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence...
`It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.'
(Source: Charles Dickens: beginning and end of a Tale of Two Cities)
There was once an old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spilt the broth upon the table-cloth, or let it run of his mouth. His son and his son's wife were disgusted at this, so the grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove and they gave. him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.
They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. 'What you doing there?' asked the father. 'I'm making a little trough,' answered the child, 'for father and mother to eat out of when I am big.'
The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presaw, began to cry. Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.
(Source: 'The Old Man and His Grandson', Grimm's Fairy Tales)
The Town Mouse and Country Mouse
A Country Mouse invited a Town Mouse, an intimate friend, to pay him a visit, and partake of his country fare. As they were on the bare plough-lands, eating their wheat-stalks and roots pulled up from the hedge-row, the Town Mouse said to his friend: "You live here the life of the ants, while in my house is the horn of plenty. I am surrounded with every luxury, and if you will come with me, as I much wish you would, you shall have an ample share of my dainties." The Country Mouse was easily persuaded, and returned to town with his friend. On his arrival, the Town Mouse placed before him bread, barley, beans, dried figs, honey, raisins, and, last of all, brought a dainty piece of cheese from a basket. The Country Mouse, being much delighted at the sight of such good cheer, expressed his satisfaction in warm terms, and lamented his own hard fate. Just as they were beginning to eat, some one opened the door, and they both ran off squeaking, as fast as they could, to a hole so narrow that two could only find room in it by squeezing. They had scarcely again begun their repast when some one else entered to take something out of a cupboard, on which the two Mice, more frightened than before, ran away and hid themselves. At last the Country Mouse, almost famished, thus addressed his friend: "Although you have prepared for me so dainty a feast, I must leave you to enjoy it by yourself. It is surrounded by too many dangers to please me."
Better a little in safety, than an abundance surrounded by danger.
(Source: Aesop’s Fables)
THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES
Many years ago, there was an Emperor, who was so excessively fond of new clothes, that he spent all his money in dress. He did not trouble himself in the least about his soldiers; nor did he care to go either to the theatre or the chase, except for the opportunities then afforded him for displaying his new clothes..... Time passed merrily in the large town which was his capital; strangers arrived every day at the court. One day, two rogues, calling themselves weavers, made their appearance. They gave out that they knew how to weave stuffs of the most beautiful colours and elaborate patterns, the clothes manufactured from which should have the wonderful property of remaining invisible to everyone who was unfit for the office he held, or who was extraordinarily simple in character.
"These must, indeed, be splendid clothes!" thought the Emperor. "Had I such a suit, I might at once find out what men in my realms are unfit for their office, and also be able to distinguish the wise from the foolish! This stuff must be woven for me immediately." And he caused large sums of money to be given to both the weavers in order that they might begin their work directly.
..... The whole city was talking of the splendid cloth which the Emperor had ordered to be woven at his own expense. And now the Emperor himself wished to see the costly manufacture, while it was still in the loom. Accompanied by a select number of officers of the court, among whom were the two honest men who had already admired the cloth, he went to the crafty impostors, who, as soon as they were aware of the Emperor's approach, went on working more diligently than ever; although they still did not pass a single thread through the looms.
"Is not the work absolutely magnificent?" said the two officers of the crown, already mentioned. "If your Majesty will only be pleased to look at it! What a splendid design! What glorious colors!" and at the same time they pointed to the empty frames; for they imagined that everyone else could see this exquisite piece of workmanship.
"How is this?" said the Emperor to himself. "I can see nothing! This is indeed a terrible affair! Am I a simpleton, or am I unfit to be an Emperor? That would be the worst thing that could happen—Oh! the cloth is charming," said he, aloud. "It has my complete approbation." And he smiled most graciously, and looked closely at the empty looms; for on no account would he say that he could not see what two of the officers of his court had praised so much. ....
.... The Emperor was accordingly undressed, and the rogues pretended to array him in his new suit; the Emperor turning round, from side to side, before the looking glass.
"How splendid his Majesty looks in his new clothes, and how well they fit!" everyone cried out. "What a design! What colours! These are indeed royal robes!"
"The canopy which is to be borne over your Majesty, in the procession, is waiting," announced the chief master of the ceremonies......
So now the Emperor walked under his high canopy in the midst of the procession, through the streets of his capital; and all the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, "Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor's new clothes! What a magnificent train there is to the mantle; and how gracefully the scarf hangs!" in short, no one would allow that he could not see these much-admired clothes; because, in doing so, he would have declared himself either a simpleton or unfit for his office....
"But the Emperor has nothing at all on!" said a little child.
"Listen to the voice of innocence!" exclaimed his father; and what the child had said was whispered from one to another.
"But he has nothing at all on!" at last cried out all the people. The Emperor was vexed, for he knew that the people were right; but he thought the procession must go on now! And the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.
(Source: Hans Christian Anderson)
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