A SONG OF BIRDS AND BEASTS
I gaed awa' to Holyrood and there I build a kirk,
And a'the birds of a' the air they helpit me to work.
The waup wi' her lang bill she dug up the stane,
The dove wi' her shor bill she brought it hame,
The pyet was a wily bird and raised up the wa',
The corby was a silly bird and she gar'd it fa',
And bye cam' auld Tod Lowrie and skelpit them a'!
I gaed and I gaed and I cam' to London town,
And a' the beasts of a' the earth were met to pull it down.
The cock wi' his loud voice he raised a fearfu' din,
The dragon he was dumb, but he crepit slyly in,
The ramping tramping unicorn he clattered at the wa',
The bear he growled and grumbled and scrabbled wi' his claw,
Till bye cam' said Tod Lowrie and dang them a'!
The leopard and the wolf were fechtin' tooth and nail,
The bear wad be a lion but he couldna raise a tail,
The geese they heard the brattle and yammered loud and lang,
The corby flyin' owre them he made his ain sand,
The lion chased the unicorn by holt and by glen,
Tod Lowrie met the hounds and he bade them com ben—
But the auld red rascal had twa holes tae his den!
The wolf lap in the fold and made havoc wi' the flock,
The corby cleaned the banes in his howf on the rock,
The weasel sacked the warren but he couldna grow fat,
The cattie met a pullet and they never found that.
They made a wicker boothie and they tethered there a goose,
And owre the wee bit lintel they hung a braided noose,—
But auld Tod Lowrie he sat in his aim hoose!
NOTE: There is a pun in the third verse, as "Tail" is
an old word for a retinue or following. Albert the
Bear was a margrave of Brandenburg, for the leopard was
the emblem of Anjou, and the wolf in medieval fables
stands for the feudal baron. The unicorn was the
legendary beast of Scotland, and the dragon that of
Wales. The cock stands for France. Henry II, is
satirized as the bold and cunning fox, Tod Lowrie. The
allusion to the trap in the last three lines is to the
offer of the throne of the Holy Roman Empire to the
English monarch, during a time of general international
hostility and disorder.
A DYKE IN THE DANELAW
HOW DAVID LE SAUMOND CHANGED THE COURSE OF ANCIENT NUISANCE
ARMER APPLEBY was in what he called a fidget.
He did not look nervous, and was not. But the word,
along with several others he sometimes used, had come
down to him from Scandinavian forefathers. The very
name with iits ending "by" showed that his farm was a
part of the Danelaw.
Along the coast, and in the part of England fronting
the North Sea, Danish invaders had imposed their own
laws and customs on the country, and were strong enough
to hold their own even in the face of a Saxon King. I
was only a few years since the Danegeld, the tax
collected from all England to ward off the raids of
Danish sea-rovers, had been abolished. But Ralph
Appleby was as good as Englishman as any.
Little by little the Danelaw was yielding to the common
law of England, but that did not worry an Appleby. He
did not trouble the law courts, nor did they molest
him. The cause of his fidget was a certain law of
nature by which water seeks the shortest way down. One
side of his farm lay along the river. Like most of the
Danish, Norse, Icelandic or Swedish colonists, his
long-ago ancestor had settled on a
 little river
in a marsh. First he made camp on an island; then he
built a house on the higher bank. Then the channel on
the near side of the island filled up, and he planted
the rich soil that the river had brought with orchards,
and pastured fat cattle in the meadows. Three hundred
years later the Applebys owned one of the most
prosperous farms in the neighborhood.
Now and then, however, the river remembered that it had
a claim on that land. The soil, all bound and matted
with tough tree-roots and quitch-grass, could not be
washed away, but the waters took their toll in produce.
The year before the orchards had been flooded and
two-thirds of the crop floated off. A day or two
later, when the flood subsided, the apples were left to
fatten Farmer Kettering's hogs, rooting about on the
next farm. Hob Kettering's stubborn little Saxon face
was all a-grin when he met Barty Appleby and told of
it. It speaks well for the friendship of the two boys
that there was not a fight on the spot.
That was not all. The stone dyke between the river and
the lowlands had been undermined by the tearing
current, and must be rebuilt, and there were no
stone-masons in the neighborhood. Each farmer did his
own repairing as well as he could. The houses were of
timber, plaster, some brick and a little rude masonry.
There were not enough good masons in the country to
supply the demand, and even in building castles and
cathedrals the stone was sometimes brought, ready cut,
from France. In some parts of England the people used
stone from old Roman walls, or built on old
foundations, but in Roman times this farm had been
under water in the marsh. The building of Lincoln
Cathedral meant a procession
 of stone-barges
going up the river loaded with stone for the walls,
quarried in Portland or in France. When landed it was
carried up the steep hill to the site of the building,
beyond reach of floods that might sap foundations. It
was slow work building cathedrals in marsh lands.
The farmer was out in his boat now, poling up and down
along the face of the crumbling wall, trying to figure
on the amount of stone that would be needed. He never
picked a stone out of his fields that was not thrown on
a heap for possible wall-building, but most of them
were small. It would take several loads to replace
what the river had stolen—and then the whole thing
might sink into the mud in a year or two.
"Hech, master!" said a voice overhead "Are ye wantin'
a stone-mason just now?"
Ralph Appleby looked up. On the little bridge, peering
down was a freckled, high-cheek-boned man with eyes as
blue as his own, and with a staff in one big- hard
muscled hand. He wore a rough, shabby cloak of ancient
fashion and had a bundle on his shoulder.
"I should say I be," said the surprised farmer. "Be
you wanting the job?"
The stranger was evidently a Scot, from his speech, and
Scots were not popular in England then. Still, if he
could build a wall he was worth day's wages. "What's
yer name?" Appleby added.
"Just David," was the answer. I'm frae Dunedin.
There's muckle stone work there."
"I make my guess they've better stuff for building than
that pile o' pebbles," muttered the farmer, leaping
 kicking with his foot the heap of
stone on the bank. "I've built that wall over again
three times, now."
The newcomer grinned, not doubtfully but confidently,
as if he knew exactly what the trouble was. "We'll
mend all that," he said, striding down to peer along
the water-course, The wriggling stream looked harmless
"You've been in England some time?" queried Appleby,
"Aye," said David. "I learned my trade overseas and
then I came to the Minster, but I didna stay long. Me
and the master mason couldna make our ideas fit."
Barty, sorting over the stones, gazed awestruck at the
stranger. Such independence was unheard-of.
"What seemed to be the hitch?" asked the farmer coolly.
"He was too fond o'making rubble serve for buildin'
stone," said David. Then he'd face it with Portland
ashlars to deceive the passer-by."
"Ye'll have not cause to worry over that here," said
Ralph Appleby dryly. "I'm not using ashlars or whatever
ye call them, in my orchard wall. Good masonry will
"Ashlar means a building stone cut and dressed,"
explained David. "I went along that wall of yours
before you came. If you make a culvert up stream with
a stone-arched bridge in place of the ford yonder,
ye'll divert the course of the waters from your land."
If I put a bridge over the Wash, I could make a weir to
catch salmon," said the startled farmer. "I've no cut
stone for arches."
"We'll use good mortar and plenty of it, that's all,"
said David. "I'll show ye."
The things that David accomplished with rubble, or
mis-  cellaneous scrap-stone, seemed like magic to
Barty. He trotted about at the heels of the mason, got
very tired and delightfully dirty, asked numberless
questions, which were always answered, and considered
David the most interesting man he had ever met. David
solved the building-stone problem by concocting mortar
as there was stone, but the wedge-shaped pieces were so
fitted that the greater the pressure on the arch the
firmer it would be. Laborers were set to work digging
a channel to let the stream through this gully under
the arches, and it seemed glad to go.
"When I'm a man, David," announced Barty, lying over
the bridge-rail on his stomach and looking down at the
waters that tore through the new channel, "I shall be a
mason just like you. The river can't get our apples
now, can it?"
David grinned. "Water never runs up hill," he said.
"And it will run down hill if it takes a thousand
years. You learn that first, if you want to be a
"But everybody knows that,"Barty protested.
"Two and two mak' four, but if you and me had twa
aipples each, and I ate one o' mine, and pit the ither
with yours to mak' fower and didna find it out it was
be a sign ye didna know numbers," retorted David,
growing more and more Scotch as he explained. "And
when I see a mason lay twa-three stones to twa-three
mair and fill in the core wi' rubble I keen he doesna
reckon on the water seeping in"
"But you've put rubble in those arches, David," said
Barty, using his eyes to help his argument.
"Spandrel, spandrel, ye loon," grunted David. "Ye'll
 learn to be a mason if ye canna mind the names
o' things. The space between the arch and the beam's
filled wi' rubble and good mortar, but the weight
doesna rest on that—it's mostly on the arches where we
used the best of our stanes. And there's no great
travel ower the brig forbye. It's different with a
cathedral like yon. Ye canna build siccan a mighty
wall wi' mortar alone. The water's aye searchin' for a
place to enter. When the rocks freeze under the
foundations they crumble where the water turns to ice
I' the seams. When the rains come the water'll creep
in if we dinna make a plave for it to rin awa' doon the
wa.' That's why we carve the little drip-channels
longways of the arches, ye see. A wall's no better
than the weakest stane in it, lad, and when you've
built her you guard her day and night, summer and
winter, frost, fire and flood, if you want her to last.
And a Minster like York or Lincoln—the sound o' the
hammer about her walls winna cease till Judgment Day."
Barty looked rather solemnly at the little, solid,
stone-arched bridge, and the stone-walled culvert.
While it was a-building David had explained that if the
streem overflowed here it would be over the reedy
meadows near the river, which would be non the worse
for a soaking. The orchards and farm lands were safe.
The work that they had done seemed to link itself in
the boy's mind to cathedral towers and fortress-castles
and the dykes of Flanders of which David had told
The loose stone from the ruined wall was used to finish
a wall in a new place, across the corner of the land by
which the river still flowed. This would make a wharf
for the boats.
 "This mortar o' yours might ha' balked the Flood
o' Noah, belike," said Farmer Appleby, when they were
mixing the last lot.
"I wasna there, and I canna say," said David. "But
there's a way to lay the stones that's worth knowing
for a job like this. Let's see if ye ken your lesson
David's amusement at Barty's intense interest in the
work had changed to genuine liking. The boy showed a
judgment in what he did, which pleased the mason. He
had always built walls and dams with the stones he
gathered when his father set him at work. His favorite
playground was the stone-heap. Now he laid selected
stones so deftly and skillfully that the tiny wall he
was raising was almost as firm as it mortar had been
"You lay the stones in layers or courses," he
explained, "the stretcher stones go lengthwise of the
wall and the headstones with the end on the face of the
wall, and you lay first one and then the other,
"cordin' as you want them. When the big stones and the
little ones are fitted so the top of the layer is
pretty level it's coursed rubble, and that's better
than just building anyhow."
"What wey is better?" interposed David.
Barty pondered. "It looks better anyhow. And then if
you want to put cut stone, or beams, on top, you're all
ready. Besides, it takes some practice to lay a wall
that way, and you might as well be practicing all you
The two men chuckled. A part of this, of course,
Farmer Appleby already knew, but he had never explained
The boy went on. "The stones ought to be fitted so
that the face of the wall is laid to a true line. If
you slope it a
 little it's stronger, because that
makes it wider at the bottom. But if you slope it too
much the water won't run off and the snow will lie. If
you've got any big stones put them where they will do
the most good, 'cause you want the wall to be strong
everywhere. A bigger stone that is pretty square, like
this, can be a bond stone, and if you use one here and
there it holds the wall together. david says the
English gener'lly build a stone wall with a row of
headers and then a row of stretchers, but in Flanders
they lay a header and then a stretcher in every row."
"How many loads of stone will it take for this wall?"
asked David. Barty hesitated, measured with his eye,
and then made a guess. "How much mortar?" He guessed
again. The estimate was so near Farmer appleby's own
figures that he was betrayed into a whistle of
"He's gey canny for a lad," said David, grinning.
"He's near wise as me. We've been at that game for a
"Never lat on, but aye lat owre,
Twa and twa they aye mak' fowre."
Barty quoted a rhyme from David.
"I reckon you've earned over and above your pay," said
Farmer Appleby. He foresaw the usefulness of all this
lore when Barty was a little older. The boy could
direct a gand of heavy-handed laborers nearly as well
as he could.
"Any mason that worth his salt will dae that," said
Barty was experimenting with his stone-laying when a
hunting-party of strangers came down the bridle-path
from the fens, where they had been hawking for a day.
 of the Appleby culvert had spread
through the country, and people often came to look at
it, so that no one was surprised. The leader of the
group was a middle-aged stout man, with close-clipped
reddish hair, a full curly beard and a masterful way of
speaking; he had a bow in his hand, and paced to and
fro restlessly even when he was talking.
"Who taught you to build walls, my boy?" asked a young
man with bright eyes and a circle over his shoulder.
"David," said Barty. "He's a Scot. When he was in
France they dalled him David Saumond because of his
leaping, He can dance fine."
"And who taught David?" inquired the stranger.
"The birds," Barty answered with a grin. "There's a
Let's have it," laughed the minstrel, and Barty sang.
"I gaed awa' to Holyrood, and there I bug a kirk,
And a' the birds o' a' the air they helpit me to work.
The whaaup wi' her hang bill she pried out the stane,
The dove wi' her short bill she brought them hame,
The pyet was a wily bird and bug up the wa',
The corby was a silly bird and pu'd it down ava,
And then can' auld Tod Lowrie and skelpit them a'."
"What's all that Ranulph?" queried the masterful man,
pausing in his walk. Ranulph translated, with a
mischievous twinkle in his eye, for there was more in
the song than Barty knew. Each of the birds stood for
one or another of the Scotch lords who had figured in
the recent trouble between William of Scotland and the
English King, and Tod Lowrie is the popular Scotch name
for the red fox. It is not every
 king who cares
to hear himself called a fox to his face, even if he
behaves like one. David and Farmer Appleby, coming
through the orchard, were rather aghast.
As they came to a halt, and made proper obeisance to
their superiors, the King addressed David in Norman
such as the common folk used.
"So you hold it folly to pull down a wall? There's not
one stone left on another in Milan since Frederick
Barbarossa took the city."
"Ou ay," said David coolly. "If he had to build it up
again he's no be so blate, I'm thinkin'."
The King laughed and so did the others. "I wish I had
had you seven years ago," he said, "when we dyked the
Loire. There were thirty miles of river bank at
Angers, flooded season after season, when a well-built
river wall would have saved the ruin. A man that can
handle rubble in a marsh like this ought to be doing
"I learned my trade on that ####," said David. "They
Norman priors havena all learned theirs yet. I was at
the Minster yonder, and if I'd built my piers like they
said, the water would ha' creppit under in ten years'
"And in ten years, that Prior hopes to be Archbishop
without doubt," said the King with a shrug. "Was that
"Nay," said David. "Their ashlars are set up for
vanity and to be seen o' men. Ye must have regard to
the disposition of the building-stone when ye build for
goo an' all. It doesna like to be stood up just
anyhow. Let it lie as it lay in the quarry, and it's
Barty was watching the group, his blue eyes blazing
and the apple-red color flushing his round cheeks.
 was talking to David as if he were
pleased, and David, though properly respectful, was not
in the least afraid. The Plantagenets were a race of
building Kings. They all knew a master mason when they
"So you changed the ancient course of the flood into
that culvert, did you?" the King inquired, with a
glance at the new channel.
"Aye," said David. "No man can rule the waters of the
heavens, and it's better to dyke a flood than to dam
it, if ye can." The King, with a short laugh, borrowed
tablet and ink-born from his scribe and made a note or
"When I find a Scotch mason with an English apprentice
building Norman arches in the Danelaw," said Henry, "it
is time to set him building for England. I hear that
William, whom they call the Englishman, is at work in
Canterbury. When you want work you may give him this,
and by the sight of God have a care that there is peace
among the building-stones."
'IT IS TIME TO SET HIM BUILDING FOR ENGLAND.'
David must have done so, for on one of the stones in a
world-famed cathedral may be seen the mason's mark of
David le Saumond and the fish which is his token.
LONDON BRIDGE (1066)
It was almost an hundred years ago,
When Ethelred was King. This town of London
Was held by Danes. Olaf the King of Norway
Came with his host to fight for Ethelred
And with his galleys rowed beneath the bridge,
Lashed cables round the piers, and caught the tide
That lent the strength of Ocean to their strength
Rowing down-stream. Ah, how the strong oars beat
The waters into foam—and how the Danes
Above upon the bridge fought furiously
With stones and arrows—but the bridge went down—
The bridge went down. So Ethelred was King.
And now the bridge has been built up again.
'Tis not a thing of timbers, or hewn stone;
It is a weaving of men's hopes and dreams
From shore to shore. It is a thing alive.
The men of Surney and the men of Kent,
The men of Sussex and Northumberland,
The shepherds of the downs, the Wealden forges,
Fishermen, packmen, bargemen, masons, all
The traffickers of England made our bridge.
It is a thing enchanted by the thoughts
Of all our people.
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