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It may be thought that the notes that deal with the derivation of words are a little beyond the readers for whom this book is intended. Unless aided by oral explanation, this, no doubt, will be the case. But many teachers know by experience how eagerly children listen to the history of a word that can be set forth picturesquely, and it has been thought well to draw attention here to a few such words.
Plenty of poems for learning by heart are inserted in each Reader. Nos. III. and IV. consist of simple narratives in prose and verse. In the Advanced Reading-books, V. and VI., a few dramatic scenes will be found, and it is hoped that these books will meet a difficulty often found by teachers in Schools where the study of English Literature is seriously carried out. A single play or book is apt to prove somewhat tedious to both pupil and teacher before the term is over. In these Books two or three longer extracts will be included that may serve together as materials for more detailed study than the rest, and so afford the change of subject that is needed.
Reading Book No. VI. is intended also to serve as a help to composition. Passages of very different styles will be set side by side for comparison. Purely narrative and purely descriptive passages will be distinguished. A series of letters on interesting topics, and a series of short model prose passages, suitable for learning by heart, will be included.
The books are arranged in order of difficulty, and are drawn up so as to meet the requirements of the various Codes issued by the Committees of Council on Education, each book being numbered after the Standard to which it corresponds.
From The Chronicles
From The Story of the
THE LEGEND OF ST. CHRISTOPHER.
As for me, there is so very much to do between the printing, and the house, and our dear mother's ill health, and the baby, and the boys, who tear their clothes in such incomprehensible ways, that I feel more and more how utterly hopeless it is for me ever to be like any of the saints—unless, indeed, it is St. Christopher, whose legend is often a comfort to me, as our grandmother used to tell it to us, which was in this
way: Offerus was a soldier, a heathen, who lived in the land of Canaan. He had a body twelve ells long. He did not like to obey, but to command. He did not care what harm he did to others, but lived a wild life, attacking and plundering all who came in his way. He only wished for one thing, to sell his services to the mightiest; and as he heard that the emperor was in those days the head of Christendom, he said, “Lord Emperor, will you have me? To none less will I sell my heart's blood.”
The emperor looked at his Samson strength, his giant chest, and his mighty fists, and said, “If thou wilt serve me for ever, Offerus, I will accept thee.”
Immediately the giant answered, “To serve you for ever is not so easily promised; but as long as I am your soldier, none in east or west shall trouble you."
Thereupon he went with the emperor through all the land, and the emperor was delighted with him. All the soldiers, in the combat as at the wine-cup, were miserable, helpless creatures compared with Offerus.
Now the emperor had a harper who sang from morning till bed-time; and whenever the emperor was weary with the march, this minstrel had to touch his harp-strings. Once, at eventide, they pitched the tents near a forest. The emperor ate and drank lustily; the minstrel sang a merry song. But as, in his song, he spoke of the evil one, the emperor signed the cross on his forehead. Said Offerus aloud to his comrades, “What is this? What jest is the prince making now?” Then the emperor said, “Offerus, listen: I did it on account of the wicked Fiend, who is said often to haunt this forest with great rage and fury.” That seemed marvellous to Offerus, and he said, scornfully, to the emperor, “I have a fancy for wild boars and deer. Let us hunt in this forest.” The emperor said softly, “Offerus, no! Let alone the chase in this forest, for in filling thy larder thou mightst harm thy soul.” Then Offerus made a wry face, and said, “The grapes are sour; if your highness is afraid of the devil, I will enter the service of this lord, who is mightier than you.” Thereupon he coolly demanded his pay, took his departure with no very ceremonious leave-taking, and strode off cheerily into the thickest depths of the forest.