The story of one of the highest peaks, El Capitan, is very interesting. One day some Indian boys went fishing in a beautiful lake in the Yosemite, and after they had grown tired they lay down in the sun upon a rock beside the lake. They soon fell fast asleep. How long they slept they did not know, but when they awoke they found that during their sleep the rock on which they lay had been stood on end, so that they were now nearly a mile high in the air and had no means of getting down. They were in a bad plight.
But the animals in the valley which were friendly to mountaineers saw their misfortune and held a conference as to how to help the boys get down. They decided that the only thing to do was to try to climb up the face of the cliff. But the rock, was too steep, and so they tried to jump up. First the raccoon tried it, then the bear, then the squirrel, then the fox, and finally the mountain-goat. It was all to no avail, however, and they gave up in discouragement, and were about to leave the boys to perish, when the inch-worm came along and offered her services. The animals laughed her to scorn. What could she do, with her snail-pace, when they all, who were so fleet of foot, had to give it up!
But she would not be laughed out of her purpose, and she began to climb up the cliff. Slowly, inch by inch, she crawled up, so slowly that it seemed as if she would take a thousand years to get there. But as she passed crag after crag the animals below ceased making fun of her and began to shout encouragement. At last she reached the top. And then the Great Spirit turned her into a huge butterfly so strong that she flew down, with the boys on her back, to safety.
There is a verse in the Old Testament which says that the race is not always to the swift, which means that it is not always the strongest who win. It is the one who keeps at it. Many a bright boy fails in school because the lessons come so easily he does not work. Many a dull boy wins because he sticks to it and plods away.
If you are tempted to trust too much to your brightness, remember the animals who made fun of the inch-worm. If you are dull, remember the inch-worm, take courage, and plod away. You will get there sometime.
I want to tell you to-day of one of the bravest deeds ever done by a boy.
It happened this way. Back in the year 1793, when the French people were having trouble with their king and queen, and finally put them to death, the rulers called in soldiers from other nations to help them against their own people. The foreign soldiers met the French troops before a town called Maubeuge, and there a fierce battle was fought.
The fiercest part of the fighting was carried on against Hungarian Grenadiers, who held the market-place of the town. During this charge a drummer-boy in the French army saw that his countrymen were having a hard time of it, so he slipped around back of these Hungarian soldiers to the other side of the market-place, right in the thick of the enemy, and there drummed the charge, in order to make his comrades think that some of the French soldiers had already pushed through the enemy’s ranks, and so encourage the others to push on.