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“ Did yonder sniffling hypocrite thrust my darling from his door? The villain! I'll set twenty fiends to torment him till he offer thee his daughter on his bended knees !”
“ No, mother,” said Feathertop, despondingly ; "it was not that."
“ Did the girl scorn my precious one ?” asked Mother Rigby, her fierce eyes glowing like two coals of Tophet. “I'll cover her face with pimples ! Her nose shall be 855 as red as the coal in thy pipe! Her front teeth shall drop out!
In a week hence she shall not be worth thy having!”
“Let her alone, mother,” answered poor Feathertop ; "the girl was half won; and methinks a kiss 860 from her sweet lips might have made me altogether human. But,” he added, after a brief pause and then a howl of self-contempt, “I've seen myself, mother ! I've seen myself for the wretched, ragged, empty thing I am! I'll exist no longer ! "
Snatching the pipe from his mouth, he flung it with all his might against the chimney, and at the same instant sank upon the floor, a medley of straw and tattered garments, with some sticks protruding from the heap, and', a shriveled pumpkin in the midst. The 870 eyeholes were now lusterless ; but the rudely carved gap, that just before had been a mouth, still seemed to twist itself into a despairing grin, and was so far human.
“Poor fellow ! ” quoth Mother Rigby, with a rueful 875 glance at the relics of her ill-fated contrivance. My poor, dear, pretty Feathertop ! There are thousands upon thousands of coxcombs and charlatans in the world made up of just such a jumble of wornout, for
gotten, and good-for-nothing trash as he was !
Yet 880 they live in fair repute, and never see themselves for what they are. And why should my poor puppet be the only one to know himself and perish for it?”
While thus muttering, the witch had filled a fresh pipe of tobacco, and held the stem between her fingers, 885 as doubtful whether to thrust it into her own mouth or Feathertop's.
“ Poor Feathertop !” she continued. “I could easily give him another chance and send him forth again tomorrow. But no ; his feelings are too tender, his sen-890 sibilities too deep. He seems to have too much heart to bustle for his own advantage in such an empty and heartless world. Well ! well!
Well ! well ! I'll make a scarecrow of him after all. 'Tis an innocent and useful vocation, and will suit my darling well ; and, if each of 895 his human brethren had as fit a one, 'twould be the better for mankind ; and as for this pipe of tobacco, I need it more than he.”
So saying, Mother Rigby put the stem between her lips. “ Dickon !” cried she, in her high, sharp tone, 900 6 another coal for my pipe !
EXERCISES The exercises of this book are simply suggestive. Their purposes are to guide the learner to a more thorough understanding of the thought of the selection than is obtained from the first hasty reading, and to stimulate the habit of seeking artistic literary values. The exercises afford a means of arousing a spirit of thoughtful effort toward definite and comprehensive attainment. Students who adopt the general plan of the text will not omit the parts they do not understand. They will seek by their own guided energy to be in active sympathy with the thoughts and emotions that inspired the writer when the words came throbbing from his mind and heart.
In all probability, the teacher will give additional work. Other questions than those given will grow out of spirited contact. The learner should not rest until his inquisitiveness is satisfied.
The student who lets the spirit of intelligent and diligent inquiry become a fixed habit is on the true highway to education, whatever be the time, place, or subject. The exercises are designed to bring the learner to feel that even a little work at a time, well done, and so thoroughly mastered that it may be made a stepping-stone to future progress, is immeasurably better than a loose, don't-care, skip-it-and-go-on spirit which begets habits of carelessness and unfaithfulness.
I. GENERAL EXERCISES
1. Read the entire story without stopping to look up any new words or allusions. What ma the story interesting? How many characters are there in the story? Give a brief account of each. How much of the story may have been true? Are the fictitious parts wholly false?
2. What is a legend ? What is a “moralized” legend? Give reasons why the principal character was called “ Feathertop.” Why is the title a good one? Do you think the story is well begun ?
3. When and where did the incidents of this story take place? Give reference to the text to prove your answer.
4. Name five steps or stages in the transformation of Feathertop. Why are these stages not sharply distinguished? What purpose did the smoke serve? In what respects was Feathertop superior to other puppets Mother Rigby had made? By what kinds of appeals did Mother Rigby induce Feathertop to do as she wished ? Do people still use similar ways of accomplishing their purposes? Give illustrations. What does the mirror symbolize?
5. Why did the mysterious message have such power over Justice Gookin? Why could Feathertop win the Justice's daughter so easily?
6. How many gifts did Mother Rigby bestow upon Feathertop before sending him out into the world? What was the general character of those gifts ?
7. Who were the only beings to discover the illusive character of Feathertop? Why did not the old and experienced people perceive the deception? Is the story true to life in these two respects ?
8. What can be said in regard to the development and effect of
Feathertop's personal charms ? What do you consider the climax of his career? Show that the story is properly concluded.
9. Select passages which seem humorous.
10. What do you consider the principal moral idea embodied in the story? (Note. — The expression “ moral idea” does not mean a discussion of any abstract question of right or wrong actions or thoughts; but any idea which has the power of an accepted principle of life, which shall determine character, whether good or bad.) State three minor moral ideas that are woven into the story. Is the principal moral idea of the story new to you? If not, what is the value of the story? What is the relation of the story to the chief moral idea?
II. SPECIAL EXERCISES Note. One benefit to be derived from a study of English literature is that one may acquire a wider knowledge of one's own language, and thus increase one's vocabulary. There are three possible steps in mastering a new word: to understand the meaning and force of the word as it is used by an author in a certain connection with other words; to be able to give a definition of the word itself; to be able to use the word in expressing one's own thought. In these exercises the words printed in italics are to be mastered.
Page 13. 11. What kind of “hearth” is referred to? 13. forthwith. 18. invisible. What is the effect of the pronoun “I”? 20. quote.
Page 14. 22. What are scarecrows? How are they usually made ? 31. contrive. 33. Explain “its sentinel's duty.” 35. cunning, potent. 37. What is suggested by the reference to the minister? 39. dulcified. What is the distinction between “further” and “farther"? 41. Why are the words “ beautiful ” and “splendid” used in addition to “fine”? 43. hobgoblin. 46. marvelous. 48. variety. 52. “ of the period” means what? 54. enumerate.
Page 15. 55. What does " composition mean here? Study the derivation of the word. 57. item. 58. Is it often true that the most important thing makes but little show? Illustrate. 59. Explain “many an airy gallop at midnight.” (Look up Witchcraft in the encyclopedia.) 62. Describe a “flail,” and tell how it was (and is still) used? What does “disabled” suggest ? 63. Who was “Goodman Rigby”? spouse. 65. What was pudding stick”? 68. undistinguished, miscellaneous. Why are these adjectives necessary?
72. corporosity. Is this word considered good usage now? 73. admirably. 76. What was the “bluish-colored knob" that passed for a nose ? 80. Is this part of the moralizing of the legend ? 82. Compare Shakespeare's line, “* For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” Hamlet, Act I, Sc. 3. How does Shakespeare's line differ from the statement in the story? 85. relics. 86. What are the “pocket flaps” of a coat ? lamentably.
Page 16. 88. threadbare. 89. What is meant by “a star of nobility”?
90. What is signified by “hot heart”? 92. Who was the “Black Man"? Why should he wish to appear at the governor's table? 96. What is a “waistcoat”? 97. ample. 98. foliage. 101. What were “scarlet breeches”? 102. Locate Louisburg. What historical event took place there? 103. Louis XIV, called le Grand (the Great), was king of France from 1643 to 1715. His reign was noted for extravagant magnificence, numerous wars, and ambitious tyranny, which paved the way for the French Revolution in 1789. 104. small clothes. 105. What is meant here by “ an Indian powwow”? What would be the modern way of expressing “a gill of strong waters”? 109. unsubstantial. What is the force of the comparison ? 111. apparent. 117. Explain “its yellow semblance of a visage.” Make a list, as you read, of the author's various expressions used to refer to Feathertop's face? 118. Is there any pun in the word " nobby"?
Page 17. 123. puppet. 124. “methinks,” not “I think,” but “it seems to me.” 125. by the by. 132. bedizened. 136. What is meant by “a jest at mankind "? 141-144. What sort of a picture is here suggested to the mind? 145–147. Why did the author not make this explanation at the beginning of the story? Page 18. 158. Who are the
of straw” in the world? 159. bustling. 166. shirk. 171. crevice. Comment on the author's use of this word here. 175. exhortation. 181. dexterity, duly. 182. credibility. 183. incidents. 186. bade. 183-187. What is the relation of this statement to all that follows?
Page 19. 189. preceding. 195. spell. 197. Explain the modifier “pungently aromatic.” As you read, make a list of all the expressions used by the author to mean “ tobacco” or “ tobacco smoke.” 198. exhaled. 199. Why is the word “volley” so expressive here? 202. motes, convulsive. 209. fantastic. 212. perceptible. 214. ill-defined. 213-216. How does this sentence add to the effect already produced by the preceding statement? 219. sordid.