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“I would do it, God wot,” and he roared with
the fun, “But I haven't a shirt to my back.”
'Each day to the king the reports came in
Of his unsuccessful spies,
Passed daily under his eyes.
And he grew ashamed of his useless life,
And his maladies hatched in gloom ; He opened his windows and let the air
Of the free heaven into his room.
And out he went in the world, and toiled
In his own appointed way; And the people blessed him, the land was glad,
And the king was well and gay.
WHEN I was a child seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my little pocket with coppers. I went directly toward a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way, in the hands of another boy, I offered him all my money for one.
I then came home and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family.
My brothers and sisters and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me that I had given four times as much for the whistle as it was worth.
This put me in mind of what good things I might have bought with the rest of my money; and they all laughed at me so much for my folly that I cried bitterly with vexation; and this thought gave me more trouble than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression continuing in my mind, so that often when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, “ Don't give too much for the whistle ;” so I saved my money.
MISTLETOE AND HOLLY
“ The mistletoe hung in the castle hall
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall.”
The mistletoe and holly are both plants which have been used at sacred festivals, the mistletoe by the Druids in their pagan celebrations, the
holly by Christian people ever since the early days of the church in Rome.
Both grow in many different countries, but in our own the holly is found along the Atlantic
coast as far south as Virginia, while the mistletoe is a southern plant, growing in the Carolinas, Georgia and Kentucky.
The holly's roots go deep down into the ground. Its straight gray trunk shoots up thirty or forty feet into the air, bearing broad branches covered with glossy, green, spiny leaves, and dotted with
bright red berries which have grown from the tiny white flowers of the summer.
But the mistletoe does not behave as well as the holly. Instead of sending its roots into the ground, it sends them into the bark of a walnut, an oak, or some other tree on which it feeds and lives. It is a parasite.
Perhaps, though, it cannot help its bad habits. The birds probably carry the seeds of the sticky white berries on their feet, and drop them into the crevices of the bark of these trees. The seeds send little rootlike portions through the bark into the living tissue beneath, for the food on which they live and grow.
But the holly, besides giving its leaves and berries for decoration, gives the white, satiny wood beneath its bark for screens, paper cutters, handles of knives, and other beautifully carved articles, and for inlaying other woods in making pieces of furniture and ornament. When dyed it sometimes masquerades as ebony. But I think the mistletoe has no other use but to wish us a Merry Christmas.