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- Fifty Famous People - 4/24 -
resting or eating his dinner.
One dark night James Hogg was on the hilltop with a flock of seven hundred lambs. Sirrah was with him. Suddenly a storm came up. There was thunder and lightning; the wind blew hard; the rain poured.
The poor lambs were frightened. The shepherd and his dog could not keep them together. Some of them ran towards the east, some towards the west, and some towards the south.
The shepherd soon lost sight of them in the darkness. With his lighted lantern in his hand, he went up and down the rough hills calling for his lambs.
Two or three other shepherds joined him in the search. All night long they sought for the lambs.
Morning came and still they sought. They looked, as they thought, in every place where the lambs might have taken shelter.
At last James Hogg said, "It's of no use; all we can do is to go home and tell the master that we have lost his whole flock."
They had walked a mile or two towards home, when they came to the edge of a narrow and deep ravine. They looked down, and at the bottom they saw some lambs huddled together among the rocks. And there was Sirrah standing guard over them and looking all around for help "These must be the lambs that rushed off towards the south," said James Hogg.
The men hurried down and soon saw that the flock was a large one.
"I really believe they are all here," said one.
They counted them and were surprised to find that not one lamb of the great flock of seven hundred was missing.
How had Sirrah managed to get the three scattered divisions together? How had he managed to drive all the frightened little animals into this place of safety?
Nobody could answer these questions. But there was no shepherd in Scotland that could have done better than Sirrah did that night.
Long afterward James Hogg said, "I never felt so grateful to any creature below the sun as I did to Sirrah that morning."
When James Hogg was a boy, his parents were too poor to send him to school. By some means, however, he learned to read; and after that he loved nothing so much as a good book.
There were no libraries near him, and it was hard for him to get books. But he was anxious to learn. Whenever he could buy or borrow a volume of prose or verse he carried it with him until he had read it through. While watching his flocks, he spent much of his time in reading. He loved poetry and soon began to write poems of his own. These poems were read and admired by many people.
The name of James Hogg became known all over Scotland. He was often called the Ettrick Shepherd, because he was the keeper of sheep near the Ettrick Water.
Many of his poems are still read and loved by children as well as by grown up men and women. Here is one:--
A BOY'S SONG
Where the pools are bright and deep, Where the gray trout lies asleep, Up the river and o'er the lea, That's the way for Billy and me.
Where the blackbird sings the latest, Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest, Where the nestlings chirp and flee, That's the way for Billy and me.
Where the mowers mow the cleanest, Where the hay lies thick and greenest, There to trace the homeward bee, That's the way for Billy and me.
Where the hazel bank is steepest, Where the shadow falls the deepest, Where the clustering nuts fall free, That's the way for Billy and me.
Why the boys should drive away, Little maidens from their play, Or love to banter and fight so well, That's the thing I never could tell.
But this I know, I love to play In the meadow, among the hay-- Up the water, and o'er the lea, That's the way for Billy and me.
THE CALIPH AND THE POET
Once upon a time there was a famous Arab [Footnote: Ar'ab.] whose name was Al Mansur. He was the ruler of all the Arabs, and was therefore called the caliph. [Footnote: Caliph (_pronounced_ ka'lif).]
Al Mansur loved poetry and was fond of hearing poets repeat their own verses. Sometimes, if a poem was very pleasing, he gave the poet a prize. One day a poet whose name was Thalibi [Footnote: Thal i'bi.] came to the caliph and recited a long poem. When he had finished, he bowed, and waited, hoping that he would be rewarded.
"Which would you rather have" asked the caliph, "three hundred pieces of gold, or three wise sayings from my lips?"
The poet wished very much to please the caliph. So he said, "Oh, my master, everybody should choose wisdom rather than wealth."
The caliph smiled, and said, "Very well, then, listen to my first wise saying: When your coat is worn out, don't sew on a new patch; it will look ugly."
"Oh, dear!" moaned the poet. "There go a hundred gold pieces all at once." The caliph smiled again. Then he said, "Listen now to my second word of wisdom. It is this: When you oil your beard, don't oil it too much, lest it soil your clothing."
"Worse and worse!" groaned the poor poet. "There go the second hundred. What shall I do?"
"Wait, and I will tell you," said the caliph; and he smiled again. "My third wise saying is--"
"O caliph, have mercy!" cried the poet. "Keep the third piece of wisdom for your own use, and let me have the gold."
The caliph laughed outright, and so did every one that heard him. Then he ordered his treasurer to pay the poet five hundred pieces of gold; for, indeed, the poem which he had recited was wonderfully fine.
The caliph, Al Mansur, lived nearly twelve hundred years ago. He was the builder of a famous and beautiful city called Bagdad.
"BECOS! BECOS! BECOS!"
Thousands of years ago the greatest country, in the world was Egypt.
It was a beautiful land lying on both sides of the wonderful river Nile. In it were many great cities; and from one end of it to the other there were broad fields of grain and fine pastures for sheep and cattle.
The people of Egypt were very proud; for they believed that they were the first and oldest of all nations.
"It was in our country that the first men and women lived," they said. "All the people of the world were once Egyptians."
A king of Egypt, whose name was Psammeticus, [Footnote: Psammeticus (_pro._ sam met'i kus).] wished to make sure whether this was true or not. How could he find out?
He tried first one plan and then another; but none of them proved anything at all. Then he called his wisest men together and asked them, "Is it really true that the first people in the world were Egyptians?"
They answered, "We cannot tell you, O King; for none of our histories go back so far."
Then Psammeticus tried still another plan.
He sent out among the poor people of the city and found two little babies who had never heard a word spoken. He gave these to a shepherd and ordered him to bring them up among his sheep, far from the homes of men. "You must never speak a word to them," said the king; "and you must not permit any person to speak in their hearing."
The shepherd did as he was bidden. He took the children far away to a green valley where his flocks were feeding. There he cared for them with love and kindness; but no word did he speak in their hearing.
They grew up healthy and strong. They played with the lambs in the field and saw no human being but the shepherd.
Thus two or three years went by. Then, one evening when the shepherd came home from a visit to the city, he was delighted to see the
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