Lady Jane of Lorn
Lady Jane of Lorn lived long, long ago among the hills of Scotland. She was beautiful and good. She had many lovers. One of them was a wealthy chieftain named Maclean. Lady Jane did not love him. She loved another man who was good, but poor. Her father, brothers and friends did not want her to marry the poor man. They made her take Maclean for her husband because he was rich and powerful. They were proud people and did not want a poor relation. Lady Jane was not happy and by and by Maclean became tired of his wife. He wanted to get rid of her. So he contrived to have her placed upon a large rock near the seashore and left her there alone. He knew when the tide came in the water would cover the rock and drown his wife. The next day he thought that she was dead. He prepared a coffin and placed stones and dirt in it. Then he called Lady Jane’s friends and relations to come to the funeral. He told them that Lady Jane had been sick and died. He pretended to be very sorry and wept. The friends of Lady Jane said nothing. They wrapped their plaids about them and silently followed the coffin to the grave.
Now it happened that Lady Jane was discovered on the rock by the sea before the tide came in and rescued. She went to her father’s house and told them about the cruel Maclean. So when Maclean told them that Lady Jane was dead they knew that he lied. They pretended to believe him until they reached the grave.
Maclean asked them why they were so silent and why they kept their plaids wrapped around them. Suddenly each one opened his plaid and each had a long dagger in his hand. Maclean was very frightened and turned very pale. Lady Jane’s kinsmen demanded that the coffin be opened. Then they saw the stones and dirt and asked Maclean why he had deceived them. He could say nothing but threw himself upon his knees before them and begged them to spare his life. They stabbed him with their daggers and killed him there. They put his body into the empty coffin and buried him in the grave he had meant for his wife. He was punished for his cruelty and treachery.
Long, long ago, it is said, Echo was a beautiful maiden but not very wise.
Stories of long ago tell us about Diana, who was a goddess and lived in the forests and dells. Echo also lived among the hills and woods and was a favorite of Diana. They were often seen together, for wherever Diana went, Echo was sure to follow.
Now, Echo was very loquacious. That is, she loved to talk. Her tongue never seemed to get weary. She was young and silly, and by and by she fell into the bad habit of talking back at people. When she was in the company with older and wiser persons and discussing grave matters, Miss Echo would insist on having the last word.
She also tattled and often changed the words that she had heard. So it is no wonder, she was disliked on account of her bad habits.
Juno, it is said, was the chief of the goddesses. One time Echo heard Juno say something very nice and reported her wrong. It made the goddess very angry and she determined to punish the saucy maid. She declared that Echo, on account of her folly, should no longer talk like other people. She should never again say anything first herself, but all she should say would be in reply to others or to repeat what others said. This was a terrible punishment for poor Echo, for she was lively and loved to talk, nevertheless she could not escape. Soon after this Echo met one, Narcissus, whom she wished very much to please. She tried again and again to speak to him but to her sorrow, she found that she was mute. She could not utter a word. At another time, Narcissus, seeing Echo was very beautiful, spoke to her, but she could only repeat his words and seemed to mock him, so he became very angry and left her. He never spoke to her again.
Poor Echo wondered about the dells on the mountain sides. She was very sad and pined away in her sorrow. She grew smaller and smaller until at last, her form disappeared entirely. Her voice however was immortal and could not die. It is living still and often people can hear the voice of Echo. When they shout they can hear the voice repeating their words and when they laugh Echo will laugh back at them. Often she repeats the words again and again and makes the mountain sides fairly ring with music and strange sounds. When people are tempted to tattle to tattle and gossip they should remember the story of Echo, for, like her, they might be punished for what they say.
Long ago people believed there were many gods and goddesses. Minerva was the goddess of all liberal arts. This included spinning, weaving, sewing, and embroidery. None could spin, weave, sew or embroider as well and skillfully as Minerva.
There was a young woman named Arachne, the daughter of a dyer. She learned to sew and embroider when she was very young and became skillful. Her friends flattered her and said that Minerva, the goddess, must have been her teacher. Arachne denied this and said she learned herself without a teacher. She was very vain of her needlework. She boasted that she could sew and embroider as well as the goddess. She even challenged Minerva to a trial of skill.
Now, in those days it was considered very wicked for anyone to compete with the gods and goddesses and they were usually severely punished for so doing. Arachne knew all this but she was willing to suffer if she failed to do better work than Minerva.
Minerva heard of Arachne’s boastings and was much displeased. She assumed the form of an old woman and went to see the foolish maiden. She warned her not to compete with the goddess. Arachne was angry and told the old woman to mind her own business. She said she was not afraid of the goddess. Then Minerva threw off her disguise and the company knew it was the goddess herself. All bowed down before her. Arachne, alone, stood defiant. She still resolved to compete with the goddess. The contest began at once. Each put up her piece of embroidery and began to work on the designs. Both worked very fast. The skillful fingers moved rapidly over the surface of the web. With her needle Minerva wrought some beautiful scenes of the gods and goddesses. All her work was pure and noble. She also embroidered scenes where mortals contested with the gods and were punished. She hoped Arachne would give up before it was too late.
Arachne wrought in her web pictures to show the weakness and foolishness of the gods and goddesses. When Minerva saw these pictures of the presumptious maid, she was very angry. She struck the embroidery with a shuttle and tore it from the frame. She then touched Arachne on the forehead and caused her to feel her folly and guilt. Arachne could not endure this, so she went and hanged herself. Minerva pitied her. She told her, she should live, but she and all her descendants should continue to hang by a thread forever. Then she sprinkled the juice of a plant over her, and immediately Arachne’s form began to change. Her body shrunk up. Her head grew small. Her fingers grew to her sides and served as legs. She continued to spin but the threads were made out of her own body. With these she suspended herself and made webs in the air. Alas, poor Arachne! she had been changed into a spider.
Vanlander and Amilias
Vanlander was a famous smith. He was the Scandinivian Vulcan. Vanlander was at the court of King Nidung. His fame as a smith became known there. This caused the king’s smith, Amilias, to become jealous of Vanlander. He wanted the people to think him the best smith in the kingdom. Accordingly he challenged Vanlander to a trial of skill. Amilias was to make a suit of armor and Vanlander a sword. If Vanlander’s sword could cut through Amilias’s armor then Amilias’s life should be forfeited to Vanlander. But if Vanlander’s sword could not pierce the armor, then Vanlander’s life should be forfeited to Amilias. Twelve months were allowed for the trial.
Amilias worked at his armor the whole twelve months but Vanlander did not begin his task until two months before the trial. Then he went to his smithy and forged a beautiful sword which was very large and heavy. He showed it to the king. The king admired its beauty. To test the sword, Vanlander took a cushion, filled with wool, one foot thick. He put this cushion in a stream and allowed it to float down against the edge of the sword. The sword cut the cushion in two. The sword cut it in two. The king thought it was a remarkable sword but Vanlander did not think it was good enough. He took it back to his smithy and filed it all up. He made a new sword out of the filings. This he took to the king. They tried the new word as before but this time the cushion was two feet thick. The sword cut it in two easily. King Nidung thought the sword was surely good enough now but Vanlander was not satisfied. He returned to his smithy and again filed down the sword and made a new one. This time it was the proper size. It was polished and adorned with jewels. He took it to the king who admired its beauty and workmanship. They took it to the river and now they had a cushion three feet thick. This cushion floated down against the edge of the sword and was cut in two without stopping a moment. Vanlander was now satisfied.
The day for the test arrived. Amilias put on his new armor. It was made of double plates of steel. He felt sure Vanlander’s sword could not pierce it. Amilias seated himself in a chair before the king and his court. He bade Vanlander to do his best. Vanlander took his sword and stood behind his rival. He lifted the sword and smote Amilias on the helmet with all his might. Then he asked Amilias if he felt anything. He said he felt as if cold water was running through him. “Shake yourself,” said Vanlander. Amilias did so and his head felt asunder. The terrible sword had cleft both the armor and his head to the chin. So Vanlander won the contest with his wonderful sword.
The Lady of the Lawn
The lady of the lawn was very pretty. She was tall and graceful. She wore a beautiful green dress, with sleeves which were very large and spreading. They were covered with fine lines and net-work. In fact, her sleeves were large enough for wings. The dress was fastened with knots of emerald and sapphire bows. Her eyes were large and lustrous. Her feet were small and encased in dainty bootees. Indeed, she was always well and tastefully dressed and scrupulously clean. She was, as you see, a very interesting little thing. The lady was a musician, too, and her songs were often heard by her neighbors.
This interesting little lady lived on a most lovely lawn at the edge of a shady wood. Her home was protected by tall ferns and bamboos and fragrant flowers adorned the paths through her yard and gardens. Her food consisted of the tenderest parts of maize and various grains. She was also passionately fond of “greens.” In fact she was strictly a vegetarian and she disdained the taste of meat of any kind. She always had the appearance of being plump and sweet, so I suppose, she did not need animal food.
Now, I suppose you are very anxious to know who this interesting little lady was. Well, her name was Miss Katy-Did. She seemed to be very proud of her name too for often she was heard out on the lawn repeating in sharp tones. “Katy-Did,” “Katy-Did,” “Katy-Did.”
Tibet is in Asia, north of India. The people who live there are Buddhists. They worship Buddha, who lived and taught the people long before Jesus came to be our Saviour. The priests of Buddha are called Llamas. They live in the temples of Buddha and also in monasteries.
Not long ago a noted Russian traveler, named Nicholas Natovich, was traveling in the mountains of Tibet. One day he had the misfortune to break his leg. He was carried to a Buddhist monastery and taken care of by the Llama in charge. While the traveller was at the monastery he learned that they had a very old story, in their own language of the life of Christ. This was the Buddhist account of Jesus. Mr. Natovich tried very hard to buy the manuscript but the Llama would not sell at any price. He, however, allowed Mr. Natovich to have a translation of it. The Buddhists call Christ the prophet Issa, and this is the way they tell the story:
Issa was born of Israeli parents who were poor but very pious. They were unfortunate in life but they never doubted God’s goodness. From his childhood Issa preached one God. He never married. At the age of thirteen, he fled from his father’s house and went with some merchants to Sindah. When he was fourteen years old, he lived with the Arians in India. The people were Brahmins. They worshipped Para Brahma. Issa rebuked them and told them that their god Brahmin and their holy book Veda were not divine. After this Issa learned the Pali language and all the mysteries of Buddhism. Then he went westward and preached against idols. He was twenty-nine years old when he returned to Judea. He began to preach and became very popular. The people liked him. Pontius Pilate, the ruler of Judea, was alarmed. Pilate commanded the priests and wise men to try Issa. The court examined Issa and decided that he was innocent of any wrong.
Issa continued to preach to the people. He told them to obey Caesar and to respect all womankind. Pilate set spies to watch Issa. The spies reported that great multitudes assembled to hear him preach. The governor was alarmed. He thought Issa was trying to become ruler of Judea in his place. So Pilate caused him to be put in prison and tortured. He also had him tried before the Sanhedrim, the Jewish court. Two thieves betrayed Issa and told lies about him in order to please Pilate. One of the thieves said that Issa claimed to be the king of Israel. Issa blessed this man and told him he should be forgiven because his words came not from the heart. Issa then told Pilate he was able to condemn an innocent man without bribing thieves to lie. This made Pilate very angry and he ordered that Issa be put to death on the cross.
The judges told Pilate that Issa was innocent and it was a great sin to condemn him. Then the priests and wise men went out and washed their hands in a holy vessel, saying, “We are innocent of the death of a just man.” Issa and the two thieves were crucified. They were placed in their tombs, but on the third day Issa’s sepulchre was found to be open and empty.
And this is the story of Christ as told by the Buddhists in Tibet.