Many years ago in Holland there was an artist named Rembrandt. He loved people and he loved the beauty of the countryside. In his time artists usually painted pictures of kings and queens and other rich and important people. The people in the paintings did not look like the people we see every day. Rembrandt wanted his pictures to show people as they really are. Many of his paintings and drawings show ordinary people doing everyday things.
Throughout his life Rembrandt experimented with light and shadow in his paintings. The faces in his portraits glow with light from a surrounding darkness, showing their inner spirit and his paintings of groups seem to shimmer with life. One of the Rembrandt’s well known paintings is called ” The Night Watch.” It shows a group of soldiers coming out of an arched gateway. At first people complained that they couldn’t see all the faces in the painting clearly. Rembrandt said that of course they couldn’t. He explained that when men are coming out of a dark place the light shows on some faces more than it does on others.
Rembrandt is also famous for his self-portraits, or pictures of himself. Today three hundred years later-people still go to art museums to look at this great artist’s paintings.
Where do all the colors of the rainbow come from?People have wondered about that ever since the world began. When there are things that people don’t understand many stories are invented to explain them. And so it has been with rainbows too.
Ancient Greeks thought rainbows were special signs put in the sky by the gods to tell people when terrible wars or storms would happen. Some people believed a rainbow was a bridge built so that the gods could walk easily from the sky down to Earth and back again. Other people said and this is a story that is still told today-that if a person could travel to the end of a rainbow, he would find a pot of gold waiting for him there.
Of course there is no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.( There isn’t even any end to some rainbows! If you were flying high in an airplane or a space capsule, you might look down and see a rainbow as a circle.) What is a rainbow, really? A rainbow is colored light. We usually see a rainbow after a storm-when the sun has come out to shine again but there is still a little rain in the air.
All the colors of the rainbow are found mixed together in sunlight. And when sunlight passes through raindrops the sunlight is broken up into its different colors-all the colors of the rainbow! Rainbows are always in the part of the sky that is away from the sun. So the only way to see a rainbow is to stand with the sun behind you. Most rainbows appear in the early in the morning or late afternoon, when the sun isn’t too high.
You don’t have to wait for rain to see a little rainbow. You might see one in the spray of a fountain or in a waterfall. You can even make your own rainbow, Turn on a garden hose just enough to spread the spray. (Don’t forget to aim the hose away from the sun.) No matter what causes a rainbow, it’s one of the most cheerful sights you can see. It usually means the end of a storm, with the air clearing up and good weather ahead.
“Don’t look now. Cover your eyes. Wait until we’ve gone around the curve. Now look.”If you were traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota for the first time, walking or riding through the lovely pine and birch forests and you took just the right turn in the road and looked up, you might not believe what you saw. Starting down at you from high up on a mountain would be four giant faces.
They are the biggest sculptured faces in the world. Carved into the rock of the mountainside, the granite faces are 60 feet high-as tall as a six story building. Even the pupil of each eye is as big as a basketball. These huge heads are of four Presidents of the United States-George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The mountain is called Mount Rushmore and the land around it has been turned into a national park. Every year thousands of people come to see these great stone faces.
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The artist who carved the faces was Gutzon Borglum. It took him and his helpers many years to do the work because it was so difficult. Few people had ever carved into a mountain before. First,Mr. Borglum had his men make marks on the side of the mountain. There was a mark where the tip of the nose would be. There was a mark for the eyes and one for the point of the chin. The men were lowered by steel roped over the side of the mountain to chip and drill away the rock. They drilled holes in the granite a few inches apart until the side of the cliff looked like a gigantic honeycomb.
With a machine called an electric bumper they smoothed down the sides of each hole in the honeycomb. This smoothed the surface of the rock. The nose, forehead and chin of the first face began to appear. Sometimes the rock could not be broken with hand tools. Then small charges of dynamite were used. But the workmen had to be careful. Too much dynamite and they might blow up all they had carved! The head of Abraham Lincoln was almost finished when the workmen ran into a large crack. Work on that part of the cliff had to be given up. The head had to be dynamited to erase it.
Later it was recarved on another part of the mountainside. When people praised his work, Mr. Borglum made a little joke.”I did’t do much,” he said.” The faces were always in the mountain. I just had some of the rock knocked away so that the faces could be seen. When the last of the four heads was finished, thousands of people gathered at the foot of the Mt. Rushmore. Powerful search-lights lit up the great stone faces one by one. Mr. Borglum had created a monument to United States history that would lat as long as the mountain lasted.
At different times and in different places in the world men have carved other huge sculptures. About 3,000 years ago in Egypt the giant forms of sitting figures were carved into a rock cliff in front of the temple of an Egyptian leader, Ramses II. When the Aswan High Dam was built, the engineers said it would make the biggest man made lake in the world. To keep the water from covering the famous carvings, they were cut into pieces and lifted to the top of the cliff and put together again. You can see them there today.
The Great Sphinx is a huge statue built in ancient Egypt. This one wasn’t cut into a rock cliff. The Sphinx is a fantastic creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. It is 2540 feet long from paws to tail. It was built of stone and was meant to guard the tombs of the kings in the pyramids. The Statue of Liberty is another huge statue and this one is not so old. It is a copper and iron statue of a woman holding a torch high in the air. She stands 150 feet tall at the entrance to New York harbor. The statue was given to the United States by the people of France as a sign of friendship.
Rabbits have things that keep them safe-Long ears for hearing the slightest sound,Sharp claws for digging a nest in the ground, Big eyes for looking to see what’s around, strong legs for running in case they are found. The kind of a rabbit you’re most likely to see has a little white nub of a tail, like a fluff of cotton. That’s why it’s called a cotton tail rabbit.
The mother rabbit is gentle when she’s taking care of her babies.Before they’re born she builds a soft padded nest in a hollow scraped out under the grass or in a burrow between the big roots of a tree. She carefully shreds leaves and collects grass for a nest lining. Then she pulls bits of a fur from her thick coat to make a warm, snug bed. Baby rabbits can’t see at first. And they haven’t any fur. So the mother never leaves the nest without covering it with more leaves and grass to keep her babies safe.
Rabbit mothers aren’t gentle when their babies are in danger from other animals-such as dogs, foxes, snakes, owls or hawks. They kick hard with their feet and they bite! Jackrabbits and snowshoe rabbits don’t build nests. Their homes are flat places in the grass under tree or in brush heaps. Their babies have fur and can see from birth.
But then they aren’t rabbits. They’re called rabbits. They look like rabbits. But they’re hares. They’re bigger and fatter. Their ears are longer. Their legs are so much longer they could jump across a big living room in one jump..which is about twice as far a rabbit can jump! Snowshoe rabbits turn white in the winter so their enemies can’t easily find them in the snow.
Both rabbits and hares hunt for food at night-juicy green plants and crops in warm weather, berries and bark from trees in the winter. They hide during the day. And if you’ve heard the story about the rabbit jumping into a thorny bush to stay safe..it’s true. They make twisting paths through thorny under brush where their enemies can’t follow.
Many years ago a story was written about a man in Spain was wanted to be hero and help people who were in danger. This man wanted to be a knight and ride around dressed in armor. The trouble was that there just weren’t any more knights. The world had changed and men didn’t wear shiny armor and have magical adventures in strange lands any longer. But this did not stop Don Quixote. He decided to dress up in his great grandfather’s rusty armor and go off in search of adventure. And he did’t care what other people thought of his ideas.
One day when Don Quixote was in his armor and mounted on his bony old horses even his best friend, Sancho Panza laughed until his sides were aching. But Don Quixote didn’t care. “Do you want me to make you the king of some distant land Sancho?”asked the knight. Suddenly Sancho stopped laughing. “Yes,yes,” he cried. “Well, get on your donkey and come,” said Don Quixote. “We’ll have some wonderful adventures together.”
After many days of riding, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza came to a large field. “Look at the giants!” cried the knight. “What giants?” Sancho said. “Over there! with the gigantic outstretched arms.” “I don’t see any giants,” said Sancho.” All I see are windmills. Sancho was right. Don Quixote was pointing at the windmills. But his head was so full of magic and adventures that he thought the windmills were giants.
“You are stupid, Sancho,” said Don Quixote.” They are giants and I am going to fight them.” He charged forward on his horse, lowering his sword. Just as he came to the first windmill the wind began to blow, and the great arms began to creak slowly around. “Watch out, Don Quixote!” yelled Sancho. But it was too late. The arms of the windmill came around and poor Don Quixote couldn’t stop. His sword stuck into one of the windmill’s blades and he was swept up into the air. He fell with a loud clang to the ground.
“Didn’t I tell you they were windmills?” Sancho as he ran over to help the knight. “They were changed into windmills by magic,” said Don Quixote.” They are really giants.” Then Don Quixote had an idea.” Get me my magic bowl,Sancho. I’ll show these giants they can’t fool me. Sancho went over to his horse and got the bowl. It was filled with soft fruit-prunes and peaches and such.
“Give me the bowl,” said the brave knight. ” I’ll put in on my head and turn the windmills back into giants. “But sir the bowl is full of…. It was too late. Don Quixote had already put the bowl on his head and crushed fruit began to drip over his face. ” My brains are melting! Sancho, my brains are melting!” “Oh, Don Quixote! Sancho couldn’t stop laughing.” Let’s go home, ” he said finally.
“All right. We’ll go. But just until I can get my brains fixed. I’m not giving up. I’ma knight and someday I’ll be a hero. There are many more stories about this lovable knight who wanted so much to help people. Perhaps when you are older you want to read more about Don Quixote. Then you may find out why he acted so strangely-and why he wasn’t as silly as he seemed.
From the top of a high cliff, the soldiers in a great stone fort looked down at some enemy soldiers on a little island in the river. The soldiers in high fort thought they were safe up there. They thought the cliff was too steep to climb. After many days the soldiers on the island found a narrow goat path. At night they climbed the cliff that no one thought could be climbed. In the morning they surprised the soldiers at the top and fought a great battle on the Plains of Abraham.
That was 200 years ago. But the fort is still there and you can visit it. The men on a little island in the river were English. The men in the high fort were French. The English won the battle that day. But even now many of the people in the city around the old fort still live the way French people do and speak the French language.
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The river that flows by the fort, and the city it protected is a big river. Here 400 miles from the ocean, it rises and falls with the tides. Ocean ships from all over the world sail up this river. Porpoises and sometimes even whales swim in from the ocean almost to the city. Winters are cold here. The river freezes so thick that you could skate on it-if you could find a place where there was a snow. The city one of the oldest in North America is Quebec, Canada. The river is the St. Lawrence.
Growing on a porcupine’s tail and its back are a lot of quills that are like long sharp needles. When it is in danger, the porcupine makes these quills stand out from its body. But it can’t shoot them away from itself and it doesn’t have to. The quills are so loosely fastened to its body that they come out when they press against anything. The barbed ends stick into the skin of any unlucky animal that tries to catch the porcupine.
The quills make a porcupine look like a living pincushion with the long pins sticking out the wrong way.-the pointed end out! with these quills a porcupine can win a fight almost every time. But still it is a peaceful animal and will run away if it can. Not like another that has quills. Not like the porcupine’s cousin the hedgehog.
Bang! bang! bang! When hunters shoot, most animals will run to hide but not the hedgehog. The hedgehog has only to hear a frightening noise or feel a touch,and it curls up into a small, tight ball, with all its needles or quills sticking out in every direction. Its quills are so sharp that no animal with any sense at all would try to bite it. The hedgehog just stays there quietly not moving until the danger is over. Then it stretches out to its full length and walks away.
Hedgehogs are smaller than porcupine. Two hedgehogs could easily hide behind one big porcupine with room to spare. Hedgehogs don’t eat twigs and tree bark as porcupine do. The little hedgehogs have noses made just right for digging up ants and bugs for dinner. They also eat plants, fruits, eggs, frogs, toads and even wiggly snakes.
And hedgehogs use their quills for more than protection from other animals. In the winter they sleep most of the time, as groundhogs and some mice do. It is a special kind of sleep called hibernating in which they barely breathe. They sleep in a leaf nest in a hole in the ground or under tree roots or wherever they can find some protection in the gardens or woods where they live. When cold rains come, the quills serve as a raincoat to help keep them dry.
Unless you live in Europe or Asia, you may never see a hedgehog. But if you should ever find one, walk softly or all you’ll see is a ball of needles.
The big trees in the forests couldn’t stop them. Wide rivers couldn’t stop them. Fires on the grassy plains couldn’t stop them. Ice and snowslides and avalanches in the high mountains couldn’t stop them. It took Indians to stop them. Two hundred Indians stopped 5,000 men from the building a railroad across the great, lonesome country of Canada.All this happened about 100 years ago. The Indians pitched their tents or tepees at the end of the railroad and sat there with guns and bows and arrows. They wouldn’t let the men build the railroad any farther.
“We need the railroad,” the builders told the Indians.” We need it to carry people into the West and to carry out lumber and grain and coal and everything else to people all over the world. “The white men are taking our land and killing our buffalo,” the Indian chief answered.”We do not want the white men in our country. One day two men in red coats came riding on horseback. The coats were so red that the Indians could see them from a long way off. With their red coats the men wore blue trousers with gold stripes down the sides.
The two men stopped their horses. One said to the Indians,”You have to move your tents so that the railroad can be built.” “We will not move,” chief replied. “We know how you feel,” the man went on,” but the railroad must be built. There was much arguing and some scuffling but at last Indians gave in. They moved their tents and the men in red coats promised that they would treat the Indians fairly which they did.
This king of thing was happening in different places all over the vast western land of Canada. A few men in red coats were bringing law to places where they had been no law before. Many times they rode to help the Indians-chasing away the outlaws who gave the Indians poisonous whiskey to drink and stole the Indians’ fur. Who were these red-coated riders who moved quietly through this threat lonely land and settled the problems of white men,Indians and Eskimos-usually without shooting their guns or even shouting?
They were men of the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police-often called Mounties. The Canadian Mounties were much more than policeman. To become a Mountie a man had to spend long months in hard training. When he was finished he was more like a soldier than a policeman. A very special soldier. One who tried to keep trouble from starting in the first place. A soldier trained as an explorer, woodsman, mountain climber, nurse, cook, detective, map maker and reporter. He could ride a horse like a cowboy. He could paddle a canoe like an Indian. He could travel on snowshoes and drive a dog team like an Eskimo.
There were only 300 Mounties to start with-300 to keep people safe in land so vast it went all the way from the northern borders of the United States almost to the North Pole. The Canadian West at that time was even wilder than the West in the United States. The Indian Chief Sitting Bull and thousands of his warriors had crossed over into Canada after winning a great battle against General Custer’s army in the United States. Everybody was afraid that the famous chief would lead the Canadian Indians in a war against the white men.
They might have except for the Mounties. In the United States people had lied to the Indians and cheated them and taken their land without paying for it. There were many cruel and terrible wars because of this. But in Canada there were no big Indian wars. This was partly because the Indians found that the Mounties” played fair”. They told the truth. If they promised something they kept their word. So the Indians trusted them and called them their white brothers.
Today the Mounties serve all of Canada, and their name been changed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They don’t wear their famous red coats anymore except in parades and on special days of celebration. Most Mounties today travel in jeeps or airplanes or helicopters or speedboats instead of on horseback. But they are still trained to ride horses, and a few still patrol far and silent places by canoe or dogsled.
At least half the people in the world eat potatoes. And they eat them often nearly every day. But that wasn’t always so. Four hundred years ago only the people who lived in Peru and Ecuador two countries in South America knew about potatoes.
The Spaniards came and explored that great faraway continent. When they sailed back to Spain, they had barrels of potatoes on board their ships along with the other treasures that they had found in South America. The people standing around the docks in Spain, watching the adventures unload the cargo from their ships, must have wondered. They saw shining silver, gleaming gold, fire colored jewels and in the midst of all these riches were those dull, drab, funny, bumpy, ball-shaped things. They didn’t look much like treasure!
But afterward the people were glad that some of the valuable space on the ships had been filled with potatoes. They found that potatoes taste very good and can be cooked in many ways. And they grow quickly.
Long ago, in a faraway country there lived a king who had 12 daughters. He loved them all dearly and guarded them with great care. They slept in one great bedroom and the king made sure each night that the door was locked and bolted. One morning when he opened the door, he saw 12 pairs of worn-out shoes lined up in a row.It seemed that the princesses had left their room and danced all night long.
It went on this way night after night. Each morning when the king unlocked the door, he found 12 pairs of worn-out shoes. At last he sent a messenger throughout the kingdom. “Hear ye, hear ye!” shouted the king’s messenger. “If any man can discover how the king’s daughters leave their room and where they dance at night he may choose one of them to be his wife. And when the king dies, the man will then become king.”
Many princes answered the king’s call for help. Each stayed near the princesses’ bedroom for three days and three nights but each morning the worn out shoes were lined against the wall. In some mysterious way the princesses continued to escape from the palace and dance all night long.About this time a poor soldier just home from the wars walked along the road toward the town where the king lived. On his way he met an old woman who stopped him and asked,” Where are you going young man?”
The soldier laughed at this because he had nowhere to go and no money. “Why can’t you see?” he said jokingly.” I am going to discover where the 12 dancing princesses go each night. I plan to marry one of them just as the king promised and be king myself one day.”To his surprise the old woman didn’t laugh. “Just don’t drink the wine the princesses give you,” she warned,” for it will put you to sleep.” She then gave the soldier a little cape.” Take this,” she said.” When you wear it nobody can see you. In that way you can follow the princesses and find out where they go.”
The soldier thanked the old woman and put the little cape away in his pack. He continued his journey and at last came to the palace, where he told the king that he had come to solve the mystery and marry one of the princesses. The king shook his head sadly, for by his time many men had tried and failed to discover his daughters’ secret. But he took the soldier to room near the princesses’ bedroom and introduced him to the 12 lovely maidens. After that he locked and bolted princesses’ door for the night.
Before long the oldest brought the soldier wine.”From my sisters and me,” she said smiling sweetly. But he had tied a sponge under his chin and was ready for this. The sponge was hidden by his collar. When he lifted the cup and pretended to drink the wine, he let it run down into the sponge. “Thank your, Tour Highness.” He yawned as he felt sleepy. The oldest princes tiptoed back to the bedroom where her sisters were waiting. The soldier heard the youngest princess say,” I have the funniest feeling that something terrible is going to happen tonight.”
“The oldest princess made fun of her.” Oh, you’re always afraid of something,” she said. “Come and look at the man for yourself.” The soldier closed his eyes tightly and listened while all 12 of them tiptoed into his room. “You see?” the oldest princess said.” Listen to him snore! I hardly needed to give him the wine. Why, he’s so tired that nothing could keep him awake. As the soon the princesses went back to their room, the oldest knocked on her bed three times. Immediately it sank down through the floor leaving a large hole. The princesses stepped through the hole and the soldier quickly put on the cape that made him invisible and followed them.
The youngest princess was the last in line and in dark the soldier stepped on her dress by mistake. “Oh,! she called in fright.” Something pulled at my dress.” ” Nonsense, child,” cried the oldest princess.” You caught it on splinter, that’s all. At last they reached the bottom of flight of stairs and there the soldier saw a road which led through a forest of beautiful trees. The leaves on the the trees were made of solid silver. “I never saw anything like this! thought the soldier. ” I must take some of these leaves home,or no one will believe me.”
He tried to break off a branch quietly but the silver leaves tinkled against each other. “Did you hear that?’ the youngest princess cried nervously. “Yes,” said the oldest princess impatiently.” They are so glad we have come that they are ringing bells to welcome us.” The next passed through a forest of trees with golden leaves then a forest with leaves made of diamonds. Each time the soldier took a branch and each time the youngest princess cried out at the sound.
At last they came to wide, dark lake. Twelve boats were waiting and the soldier could see a handsome prince in each one.” Greetings, beautiful princesses,” they called. The princes helped the princesses into the boats. Because of his magic cape nobody could see the soldier as he sat down in the boat that carried the youngest princess. Soon they reached the opposite shore where a great castle stood.The soldier followed them into a great ballroom where an orchestra of trumpets and drums played strange, lively music.
By three o’clock in the morning the princesses’ shoe were all worn out and the music came to an end. The 12 princes helped them into the boats again and rowed them back to the far shore. Reaching the palace ahead of the princesses the soldier took of his magic cape and pretended to sleep in his bed. The first thing the princesses did when they came up the magic stairs was to look at him. “You see?” the oldest princess said. ” He sound asleep and hasn’t heard a thing.The soldier followed the princesses for three night in a row. On the third morning the king came to the princesses room and unlocked it. The worn out shoes were lined up as usual and the king shook his head sadly.
“I suppose you slept through all this,” he said to the soldier. “Not at all,” the soldier replied. He put his hand into his jacket and pulled out a branch of silver leaves a branch of golden leaves and a branch of diamond leaves. “These leaves came from three enchanted forests,” he explained.” Each night the princesses met 12 enchanted princes who took them to a great castle. There they danced to strange music until three o’clock in the morning.” So this is what the old woman wanted me to know! the king cried in amazement. He then told the soldier bout an old woman who had once come to the palace with a strange story.
“She told me that my daughters could not escape the magic spell until a man watched them dance three nights in a row and now you have done just that! the enchantment is broken forever. I am more grateful to you than I can say.Which of my daughters will you take to be your wife?” The soldier thought a bit.” I am not a young man,” he said.” I should pick the oldest princess. But I have become rather fond of the youngest for she has sharper eyes and ears that the others. I will pick her to be may wife.
The soldier and the youngest princess were married and soon afterward the other princesses found husbands too. When the old king die, the soldier became king. He was very good king and was loved by his people.