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And the brier rose and the orchis died
Amid the summer's glow;
And the aster in the wood,
In autumn beauty stood,
As falls the plague on men, And the brightness of their smile was gone
From upland, glade, and glen.
And now, when comes the calm, mild day,
As still such days will come, To call the squirrel and the bee
From out their winter home; When the sound of dropping nuts is heard,
Though all the trees are still,
The waters of the rill,
Whose fragrance late he bore,
And by the stream no more.
And then I think of one, who in
Her youthful beauty died,
And faded by my side.
When the forest cast the leaf,
Yet not unmeet it was that one,
Like that young friend of ours,
Should perish with the flowers.
DEFINITIONS. Wāil'ing, lamenting, mourning. Sēar, dry, withered. Glāde, an open place in the forest. Glén, a valley, a dale. Un meet', improper, un fitting.
THE THREE HUNDRED SPARTANS.
BY CHARLOTTE M. Yonge.
Many hundreds of years ago there ruled over Persia, then the most powerful nation in the world, an ambitious king named Xerxes. He had long desired to conquer Greece and to add that country to his already broad empire, and for that purpose he collected a great army from all parts of his dominions. There were to be seen gathered together men of many nations : Medes and Persians, woolly-haired negroes, and the swarthy natives of India, — nearly two millions of fighting men, - each one armed with his own kind of weapons.'
This was the largest army that had ever been brought together; and, in his pride, the king believed that he could easily overcome the few thousand warriors which Greece would be able to muster. But the Greek warriors were all free men, fighting for liberty and their families, while the Persian army was mostly made up of men who had been forced to leave their homes to fight for an Eastern tyrant.
Four years had been spent by Xerxes in making ready for the war.
He caused a bridge of boats to be made
over the Hellespont, but the waves dashed it in pieces. He then made a stronger one of ships, and his men began to march across into Europe. The number of soldiers was so great that it was seven days and nights before the entire army could pass over the bridge.
Now there was only one way of entering Greece from the northeast coast, and that was by a narrow pass through the mountains.
This pass was called Thermopylæ, because there were some hot springs there ; it was about five miles long, but very narrow at each end. Within the pass, and only a little way from the entrance, there was a wall which had been built a long time before, and here the Greeks resolved that they would make a stand and bar the way of the invaders. So they sent a force of about four thousand men, under the command of Leonidas, to hold the pass.
Leonidas was the king of Sparta, one of the most southern of the Greek states, and he had with him three hundred chosen warriors, every one of whom was ready to die for his country. Two of these Spartans, however, Eurytus and Aristodemus, were troubled with a disease in their eyes which nearly destroyed their sight, and they were obliged to leave their posts and retire to Alpenus, a town at the southern end of the pass. The rest of the little army was made up of soldiers from Thebes, Thespia, and other states of Greece.
When Xerxes marched upon Thermopyla with his great host, he supposed that the Greeks would fly in terror at the sight of him. He sent forward a single horseman to see what they were doing. Now the Spartans wore long hair, which they always kept smooth and carefully parted; and the horseman peering into the
pass, saw them behind the wall, some of them quietly combing their hair, while others were exercising themselves in feats of strength.
There was with Xerxes one Demaratus, a former king of Sparta who had taken refuge at his court; and when the horseman had returned and told the Persians what he had seen, Xerxes asked if it were possible that this handful of men expected to make a stand against his great army. “They certainly mean to fight,” answered Demaratus, " for it is the custom among my countrymen always to arrange their hair before going into battle.”
But the king would not believe him, and waited four days, hoping that the Spartans would come out of the pass and give themselves up. At length, as they showed no signs of doing so, he sent out a body of troops with orders to capture them and bring them in chains to his feet. But the Spartans, firmly standing at the narrow entrance, and wielding their long spears, drove them back with dreadful slaughter.
Xerxes was seated upon a lofty throne whence he could see the battle, and he now ordered his own bodyguard to go forward to the attack. But they also had to give way before the steady courage of the Spartans. The battle lasted all day long, and such was the destruction and slaughter of his finest troops that the king, filled with rage, came down from his throne and returned disappointed to his camp.
Now there was a narrow path over the mountains, known to but a few of the Greeks themselves ; and when Leonidas heard of it, he posted some troops on the hills to guard it. A treacherous Greek made the secret known to Xerxes, who at once sent Hydarnes,
the captain of his bodyguard, to follow the guidance of the traitor, and enter the pass at the southern end, so that the Greeks would be hemmed in.
The Persians set out at nightfall, marching as silently as they could ; but the night was very still, and the sound of their feet crunching over the dead leaves that strewed the path alarmed the Greeks posted there. Hydarnes paused, for he feared that they might be Spartans ; but when the traitor Ephialtes assured him that they were not, he forced his way past them and soon reached in safety the southern side of the mountain.
At daybreak the sentinels on the heights brought word to Leonidas that the secret path had been discovered by the enemy. There was still time for him to retreat, but no true Spartan would think of that ; so both he and his three hundred companions resolved to stay at their posts and resist to the last the invaders of their country.
Early in the morning Xerxes once more ordered his troops to advance upon the pass. But Leonidas, now knowing that death was certain, rushed on his foes, overthrowing them as they advanced. Many of the Persians, crowded together, were trampled under foot ; yet still more driven
up to the combat by the lashes of their officers. The brave Leonidas was killed, and a desperate fight took place over his body; and there were but very few of the three hundred left alive. The spears of these were broken, and their swords blunted ; and yet they fought as bravely as if they had felt confident of victory.
Suddenly the Greeks perceived that Hydarnes, with the king's bodyguard, had entered the pass behind them. The Spartans, retiring behind the wall, drew up on a