A pouring day! Luckily the Cubs
remained in the sunny land of dreams till eight.
Meals had to be in the bell-tent.
This was great fun! There was just room for a
council circle, only you had to be careful not to put
your feet in other people’s porridge, or let
your head rub against the tent. If you did, a
stream of water soon began to run down your neck, and
Akela said it served you right.
Every now and then the rain nearly
stopped, and everybody dashed out for a few minutes;
but no sooner were you out, than the weather-fairy
seemed to say, “Yah! Sold again!”
and down came another sheet of rain that sent everyone
scuttling for shelter.
The Cubs decided that it would be
a good day to have a concert, and that there might
be a rehearsal in the morning and the grand performance
later on. So they sat round and made a lovely
row; and some people sang some very pretty solos but
I will tell you about them when I tell you about the
It cleared up for a little while before
dinner, and the Cubs went out for a search for dry
wood. Some of them went down to the shore, and
there they found some boys with donkeys and ponies
for hire, so they had some lovely rides up and down
the sand, and no one fell off. Just as they got
home the rain started again in torrents.
In the tent they found two visitors old
friends who had once known them in London. This
made them think how lucky it was they had had a rehearsal,
for now they would be able to give the visitors a concert,
and then they would not be disappointed because of
the rain. So after dinner the concert began.
First the whole Pack shouted the camp
chorus the same one which I told you they
sang in the train. They then sang “John
Peel.” Then Bunny sang a solo called “Hush
thee, my Baby.” This was followed by a very
pretty duet by Patsy and Mac “’Tis
the Last Rose of Summer” (Mac sang the alto
very well). Then the whole Pack sang a song called
“Robin Hood,” which Akela had once made
up for them. After that Bunny recited Brutus’
speech from Shakespeare’s play, “Julius
Caesar” he made you feel he really
was Brutus, and everyone clapped him. Then
four Cubs sang “Annie Laurie,” in parts.
Then they all made Spongey sing a song. Spongey
was very shy, and said he couldn’t. But
in the end he sang a very short song, in a very deep
voice, called, “Oh-oh-oh, it’s a Loverly
War.” Of course, everyone cheered themselves
Then the Pack sang “The Golden
Vanity” right through all its many verses.
This was followed by a solo from Mac a sad
little Irish song and another duet by Mac
and Patsy, “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,”
followed by “Oh Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast,”
sung in parts by Jack, Patsy, and Mac. Then everyone
The visitors enjoyed it very much.
By the end of the programme it was
quite impossible for the Cubs to sit still for another
moment. You can’t get much exercise in a
wet bell-tent. So Akela had a bright idea.
If you were in the sea the rain couldn’t
wet you what about a bathe? Everyone
cheered, and got into their coats and macs, and
ran down to the Stable, where they changed into their
bathing things. The sea felt awfully warm, and
everyone shrieked and splashed and made such a row
that the visitors, all shut up stuffy and cross in
their lodgings, looked out of their windows and wondered
who could be so cheerful on such a day.
Coming back to tea, the Cubs were
delighted to find their Scoutmaster sitting on the
floor of the bell-tent, a large bun in one hand and
a mug of tea in the other. He had tramped all
the way over from Quarr to see how far the whole camp
had been drowned. In case there were any survivors,
he brought two enormous bags of sweets.
That night all the Cubs prayed very
hard for a real, proper, hot day for their last in
camp. It certainly did not look possible.
But Spongey put the matter in a nutshell when he stood
in his long night-shirt, one eye shut as usual, and
remarked: “I think it’ll sunshine
to-morrer, ’cos I’ve prayed very hard
The Cubs had turned in early, to get
out of the wet world into their dry, cosy beds.
There was plenty of time for a good long story, and
they settled down with wriggles of satisfaction and
waited for Akela to begin.
THE STORY OF ST. PATRICK
Nearly four hundred years after Our
Lord had gone up to heaven, and left His disciples
and their followers to carry on, a boy was born who
was destined to be one of God’s greatest Saints,
and to bring thousands and thousands of pagans into
the Christian Faith. This boy was St. Patrick,
called the Apostle of Ireland, because he turned the
whole of Ireland Christian. For many hundreds
of years after St. Patrick had died, Ireland was like
a fruitful garden in which sprang up hundreds of Saints
and holy and learned men, who helped to spread the
knowledge and love of Christ all over the world.
So St. Patrick was truly an Apostle, and, like St.
John and St. Andrew and the others, one of the foundation-stones
of Christ’s great Church.
But though he ended in being
so very important, and doing things that made a great
difference to the whole world, he began as an
ordinary boy and rather a naughty one,
as he tells us himself. We know a great deal
about St. Patrick, and we know it is quite true, because
when he was over one hundred years old he wrote it
all down himself. He called the book his “Confession,”
and though he told us such a lot about himself, beginning
with the adventures of his boyhood, there is one thing
he did not put down in the book. Can you guess
what? Well, he did not put down how good he was.
For, you see, the Saints never thought themselves
good, because, instead of comparing themselves with
people less good than themselves, as we are
all so fond of doing, they kept on comparing themselves
with Our Blessed Lord, and of course, that made them
seem very, very far from perfect.
When St. Patrick was a boy he did
not love God or believe all his Christian teachers
told him, nor was he obedient or ready to do his
best. One day some fierce pirates raided the
land where he lived with his father and mother, and
carried him off captive with lots of other boys.
Sailing across the sea to Ireland, the pirates sold
the boys as slaves.
St. Patrick was bought by a great
chief called Milcho, and sent out on to the hill-sides
to watch the sheep. Do you think he was lonely
and afraid? No. For, when torn away from
his home, from the friends who loved him, he had discovered
that there is one Friend that you can’t be dragged
away from, and Who can be with you even in the midst
of the tossing green sea, on a pirate ship. For,
though Patrick had forgotten God, God had not forgotten
Patrick. “The Lord,” he says, “showed
me my unbelief, and had pity on my youth and ignorance.”
So when he trudged out on to the mountain-side,
he was not sad and alone, but glad in the knowledge
that his unseen Friend was with him.
“Christ with me, Christ
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ above me, Christ beneath me,
Christ in the chariot, Christ in the fort,
Christ in the ship.”
That is a prayer St. Patrick made
up himself. There, on the rough mountain-side,
the boy St. Patrick spent all his lonely days talking
to God, so that, he says, “more and more the
love of God and His faith and fear grew in me, and
my spirit was stirred.” He tells us that
he would recite one hundred prayers in one day, and
nearly as many in the night.
He had to sleep out with the sheep
in some rough cave or hut. “Before the
dawn,” he says, “I was called to pray by
the snow, the ice, and the rain.” But he
did not mind this outward cold, because of the burning
heart within him.
St. Patrick had learnt his lesson the
lesson of where to find the only comfort and friendship
and help worth having. God wanted him, now, for
the great work he was to do. One night a mysterious
voice told him that if he went to a certain place
he would find a ship ready to take him home.
The place was about two hundred miles away, and St.
Patrick had never been there. However, trusting
in God’s help, he started off. At last,
after a long tramp, he reached the town, and, sure
enough, there was a ship at the quay about to set
sail. St. Patrick asked to be taken on board,
but when the sailors heard he had no money they refused
him a passage. St. Patrick went sadly away, but
as he went he prayed. Before long he heard someone
coming after him. Turning round, he found it was
one of the sailors, who said after all they would take
I can’t tell you now of the
adventures St. Patrick had on his way home, but after
being shipwrecked and nearly starved, and each time
wonderfully saved by God, he reached his father’s
house. But though he was home again with those
he loved, he did not forget the Friend Who had been
his all in those cold, hard days in Ireland. He
thought of Him all day, and of how best to please
Him. He had already begun studying for a life
in God’s service, when he had a wonderful vision
of the people of Ireland calling him to come to their
help, and he knew it was a sign from God that this
was the work he was to do. You can imagine how
impatient he must have been to get a ship and go sailing
back to Ireland to tell the people about the true
God, and how Christ had died on the Cross for them,
and all the rest; but for such a difficult and dangerous
job he needed a lot of training not only
in learning, but in the strength and holiness and
obedience to God which should make him able to face
the task before him. How long do you think God
kept him at his training? Thirty-eight years!
At the end of this time a holy man
who was his friend and guide was sent to preach in
Britain. St. Patrick went with him. This
was the first step, and it ended in his being made
a Bishop and sent at last to
the lifework he had so long waited for, the conversion
When St. Patrick’s ship came
to shore, the wild men of Leinster would not let him
land. So, trusting as usual to God, he sailed
out again to sea, and landed a little farther to the
south. There seemed to be nobody about, to stop
him; and, tired out, I suppose, with a day of exploring
in the strange land, St. Patrick lay down and fell
asleep. A little Irish boy chanced to come along,
and, seeing a stranger asleep, crept up on tip-toe
to look at him. What a lovely, kind face he had!
The boy thought to himself that he had never before
seen anybody who looked so nice, and he longed to
do him some good turn. He couldn’t think
of anything to do for someone who was asleep, but
at last he got an idea. Picking all the best
flowers he could find, he put them round St. Patrick
for a surprise for him.
When St. Patrick woke up you can imagine
how pleased he was with the flowers, and still more
pleased to see a little Irish boy smiling at him shyly
from among the bushes. Before long St. Patrick
and the boy had become great friends, and the boy
simply wouldn’t go away, but stuck to St. Patrick.
Then God made known a secret of the future to St. Patrick,
and he said: “Some day he will be the heir
to my kingdom.” And, sure enough, the boy,
whose name was Benignus, succeeded St. Patrick
as Bishop of Armagh. Don’t you wish you
were that boy, always to stay with St. Patrick?
After this the most wonderful adventures
began to befall St. Patrick; but even more wonderful
than the adventures were the miracles by which he
managed to escape out of them, not only alive, but
Getting into his ship again, St. Patrick
landed farther north. Once more the fierce Irish
set on him and his little band, and their chief, Dichu,
raised his sword to bring it crashing down on St. Patrick’s
head. But, somehow, his arm stayed stiff in mid-air,
and he could not strike the blow. Dichu was an
honest man, and soon understood that such a miracle
must be a sign from the true God. If once you
believe in God well, the only possible
thing is to serve Him. So Dichu became a Christian,
and humbly learned from St. Patrick how he should
Then St. Patrick went to the house
of the very chief who had kept him as a slave, and
converted his children to the true Faith. But
it was at Easter that something very thrilling happened,
and was the beginning of St. Patrick’s real
The Chief-King of Erin (as Ireland
was called) was just going to hold his solemn festival
at Tara. All the Irish princes and all the priests
of the pagan religion had collected together.
One of their ceremonies was the lighting of fire at
dawn, with magic rites and ceremonies. It happened
to be Holy Saturday, and on that day the Christians
used to light a beacon. St. Patrick lit his holy
fire, as usual. The King saw it blazing on a
hill-top, and was very angry. One of his priests
(or Druids, as they were called) said: “If
that fire is not put out before morning, it never
will be put out,” and he meant the Christian
Faith. So the King sent for St. Patrick.
Surrounded by his Druids and bards,
and all the Irish princes, the King sat, fierce and
proud, and awaited the strangers. It was Easter
morning, so, as St. Patrick and his little band advanced,
they chanted the Easter litanies. So noble and
holy did St. Patrick look that one of the bards rose
as he drew near. This little act of politeness
on the part of the bard brought him special grace
from heaven, and he accepted the Christian Faith.
Standing quietly in the midst of the
circle of priests and princes, St. Patrick looked
around him. He met countless pairs of fierce eyes
fixed upon him, as the princes sat in silence, “with
the rims of their shields against their chins”;
and as he looked at them he longed to win them all
for God, and he prayed for grace and power to do what
was needed. Then he told them why he had come
The King left his Druids to reply.
They did so by doing all sorts of horrible magic.
And certainly they made things happen, much as people
called “spiritists” do nowadays; but it
was not by God’s power, so it must have been
the Devil who helped them. Whatever the Druids
did, St. Patrick undid, and then did something more
wonderful. The Druids were furious, and no one
knows what might have happened had not St. Patrick
caused an earthquake to happen, by God’s power.
So terrified were the Irish that they went half mad
and began killing each other, and St. Patrick and
his men escaped.
But the next day St. Patrick boldly
came back, though he knew the King meant to kill him.
He was given a cup of poisoned wine to drink.
Well, what of that? Did not Our Lord say to His
disciples, when He sent them out to convert the world,
“If you drink any deadly thing it shall not
hurt you”? St. Patrick made the sign of
the cross over the cup and drank it, and nothing happened.
Then the Druids arranged a horrible
test. They laid two great fires, one of dry faggots
and the other of wet, green wood. On the dry wood
they laid the boy Benignus, dressed in a Druid’s
white robe. On the green they put a Druid, clad
in St. Patrick’s cloak. Then they said they
would set fire to both piles. St. Patrick accepted
the challenge. (If you had been the boy, would you
have “got the wind up,” do you think, or
would you have trusted St. Patrick?)
Well, they set fire to the two piles
of wood. Strange to say, the green wood blazed
up, with many sizzlings and cracklings and much smoke,
but the dry wood simply wouldn’t light.
There was, however, a sudden flame, and the Druid’s
robe on the boy flared up and was soon burnt to ashes,
leaving Benignus quite all right, and, I expect,
very pleased with himself! Meanwhile, horrible
noises had been coming from the other pile, and when
the smoke and flames died down there were only charred
cinders where there had once been a Druid. But
St. Patrick’s cloak had not been burnt at all.
As the King still would not believe,
St. Patrick had to make another earthquake happen,
which swallowed up so many of the King’s subjects
that he gave in, and said St. Patrick might preach,
though he himself never accepted the Faith.
So, on the green plains of Tara, St.
Patrick preached a wonderful sermon to the Irish,
who by this time had come crowding round to see the
stranger who could beat the Druids at their own game.
During this sermon St. Patrick stooped down and picked
a leaf of shamrock, and, holding it up, showed the
people how the little green leaf was three and
yet one. He said that would help them
to understand how the Blessed Trinity is three God
the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost and
yet is really only one God. That is why
the Irish wear shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day
Many more miracles did St. Patrick
which I can’t tell you about now; and he went
from place to place, winning thousands of men for Christ,
and giving spiritual life to their souls by baptizing
One Shrove Tuesday St. Patrick went
up on to the top of a lonely, rugged mountain above
the sea, and there he stayed without any food all through
Lent till Easter. And all the time he prayed and
prayed and prayed for the men of Ireland and their
fate on the Judgment Day. At the end of his long
and painful time of prayer God sent an angel to tell
him his request was granted. So, with his heart
full of joy, St. Patrick knelt and blessed Ireland,
and as he gave his blessing hundreds of poisonous
snakes came out of their holes and went slithering
away into the sea, where they were all drowned. (That
is why you see pictures of St. Patrick with snakes.)
And now, every year, thousands of Irish people go
on pilgrimage up that mountain.
Before I end I must just tell you
one little story about a young Irish Prince who didn’t
give in to himself. This Prince and his followers,
after hearing St. Patrick preach, decided to become
followers of Christ and be baptized. St. Patrick,
being a Bishop, carried a thing called a crozier a
kind of long staff, like a shepherd’s crook,
because Bishop means shepherd.
St. Patrick’s crozier had rather a sharp point
at the end, and during the ceremony of Baptism, somehow,
by accident, he pierced the Prince’s bare foot
with it, but did not notice what he had done.
The Prince said nothing, and did not wince or seem
surprised. Afterwards, when St. Patrick found
out what he had done, and asked the Prince why he
had said nothing, the Prince replied: “I
thought it was the rule of faith.” A bit
of poetry has been written about it, which puts it
rather nicely. The Prince says, in it:
“I thought, thus called
to follow Him Whose Feet
Were pierced with nails, haply the blissful
Some little pain included.”
Everywhere St. Patrick went he was
loved, and soon the fame of him had spread through
the whole country. The superstitious religion
of the Druids altogether died down, and Ireland became
a Christian country. St. Patrick made a set of
wise laws, and by these the Irish were governed for
a thousand years.
At last came the time when his great
work was finished. The little boy, Benignus,
had grown up and taken over St. Patrick’s work.
St. Patrick had written his “Confession.”
And now, at one hundred and twenty, he was quite ready
for the rest and the reward of heaven. He was
very happy; his great work had been accomplished.
God had been very good to him. And so, satisfied,
he lay down to die, knowing that all the men of Ireland
were praying for their beloved father.
So, on March 17th, in the year 493,
St. Patrick passed from this world into the glory