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THE ABCBOOK

 

THERE was a man who had written some new verses for the ABCbooktwo lines for every letteras in the old ABCbookshe thought that one ought to have something newthe old verses were so staleand he always thought so well of his ownThe new ABCbook was as yet only in manuscriptand it was placed beside the old printed one in the big bookcasein which stood so many learned and interesting booksbut the old ABCbook would not be a neighbour to the new oneand so it had sprung from the shelfand at the same time had given the new one a pushso that it also lay upon the floor with all its loose leaves scattered round aboutThe old ABCbook was open at the first pageand it is the most importantall the letters stand therethe big and the littleThat pag contains everything that all the other books live uponthe alphabetthe letterswhich really rule the worldthey have a terrible powerIt entirely depends on how they are commanded to standthey can give lifeput to deathgladdenand afflietPlaced separately they signify nothingbut placed in ranksahWhen our Lord caused them to be placed under His thoughtswe learned more than we had strength to bearwe bowed ourselves deeplybut the letters had the strength to bear it

There the books lay nowfacing upwardsAnd the cock in the capital A shone with redblueand green feathershe thrust out his chestfor he knew what the letters meantand knew that he was the only living thing amongst them

When the old ABCbook fell on the floorhe flapped his wingsflew outand set himself on the edge of the book-casepreened his feathers and crowedso that echo rang with itEvery book in the book-casewhich at other times stood day and night as in a doze when not in useheard the trumpetcalland then the cock talked clearly and distinctly about the injustice which had been done to the worthy old ABCbook

Everything must now be newbe different,”he said,“everything must be so advancedChildren are so cleverthat they can now read before they know the letters

They shall have something new,”said he who wrote the new ABCverseswhich lie there scattered on the floorI know themMore than ten times have I heard him read them aloud to himselfIt was such a pleasure to himNomay I beg to have my own versesthe good old ones with Xanthusand the pictures which belong to themthese will I fight forthese will I crow forEvery book in the bookcase knows them wellNow I shall read the new ones he has writtenread them with all calmnessand then let us agree that they are no good!”

 

AAYAH

 

An Ayah has an Eastern air

And others'children are her care

 

BBOOR

 

A Boor in former days but toiled

Now he's somewhat proud and spoiled

That versenowI think wonderfully flat!”said the cock,“but I will read on!”

 

CCOLUMBUS

 

Columbus sailed across the main

And earth became as large again

 

DDENMARK

 

Of Denmark's kingdom it is told

God over it His hand will hold

Many will think that beautiful!”said the cock,“but don'tI find nothing beautiful hereLet us read on!”

 

EELEPHANT

 

The Elephantthough young it be

Can tread but heavilywe see

 

FFLOOD

 

When rain makes rivers rise in Flood

It may do harmbut also good

 

GGOOSE

 

A Goosethough ne’er so wisely taught

Is always slow in learning aught

 

HHURRAH

 

Hurrah is used to mark applause

And often for but trifling cause

How's a child to understand that now?”said the cock,“there certainly stands on the title-pageABCbook for big and little’but the big ones have other things to do than read ABCversesand the little ones cannot possibly understand itThere is limit to everythingLet us go on!”

 

IISLAND

 

Our earth an Island is in space

And we but atoms on its face

 

KKINE

 

The Kine are kindred to the bull

And with their calves the fields are full

How can one explain to children the relationship of these to each other?”

 

LLION

 

In deserts wild the Lions roam

But we have other lions at home

 

MMORNING SUN

 

The Morning sun its beams has shown

But not because the cock has crown

Now I am being insulted!”said the cock,“but I am in good companyin company with the sunLet's go on!”

 

NNEGRO

 

Black is the Negro past all hope

One cannot wash him white with soap

 

OOLIVE

 

The Olive leaf of Noah's dove

Must rank all other leaves above

 

PPOST

 

The Post conveys from land to land

The work of many a head and hand

 

QQUEY

 

A Quey will one day be a cow

And so is worth the having now

 

RROUNDTOWER

 

One may as stout as Roundtower stand

And yet have neither name nor land

 

SSWINE

 

Be not too proudthough all the Swine

That in the forest feed are thine

Allow me to crow now!”said the cock,“it tries one's strength to read so muchone must take a breath!”and he crowedso that it rang like a brass trumpetand it was a great delight to hear itfor the cock

 

TTEA-KETTLE

 

Though lowly the Tea-kettle's place

It sings with all a Teaurn's grace

 

UURANUS

 

Though far as Uranus we fly

Beyond is still the endless sky

 

WWASHERWOMAN

 

A Washerwoman may wash so long

That things will tearhowever strong

 

XXANTHIPPE

 

Here he hasn't been able to invent anything new.”

A stormy cliff in wedlock's seas

Xanthippe proved to Socrates

He had to take Xanthippebut Xanthus is better

 

YYGDRASIL

 

'Neath Ygdrasil the gods did dwell

The tree is deadand the gods as well

 

ZZEPHYR

 

The Danish Zephyr from the west

Can blow through fur-lined coat and vest

 

There it endedBut it is not done withNow it is to be printedAnd then it is to be readIt is to be offered instead of the worthy old letter-verses in my bookWhat says the meetinglearned and unlearnedsingle and collected worksWhat says the bookcaseI have spokennow the others can act!”

And the books stood and the bookcase stoodbut the cock flew down again into his capital Aand looked about him proudly.“I talked wellI crowed well!—that the new ABCbook cannot do after meit will certainly dieit is dead alreadyit has no cock!”

 


 

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