When the Count and his friends came in to dinner, the first thing they saw was the yellow lion.
“What a beautiful work of art!” they cried. “None but a very great artist could ever carve such a figure; and how odd that he should choose to make it of butter!” And then they asked the Count to tell them the name of the artist.
[Illustration: “The servants crowded around to see it.”]
“Truly, my friends,” he said, “this is as much of a surprise to me as to you.” And then he called to his head servant, and asked him where he had found so wonderful a statue.
“It was carved only an hour ago by a little boy in the kitchen,” said the servant.
This made the Count’s friends wonder still more; and the Count bade the servant call the boy into the room.
“My lad,” he said, “you have done a piece of work of which the greatest artists would be proud. What is your name, and who is your teacher?”
“My name is Antonio Canova,” said the boy, “and I have had no teacher but my grandfather the stonecutter.”
By this time all the guests had crowded around Antonio. There were famous artists among them, and they knew that the lad was a genius. They could not say enough in praise of his work; and when at last they sat down at the table, nothing would please them but that Antonio should have a seat with them; and the dinner was made a feast in his honor.
The very next day the Count sent for Antonio to come and live with him. The best artists in the land were em-ployed to teach him the art in which he had shown so much skill; but now, instead of carving butter, he chis-eled marble. In a few years, Antonio Canova became known as one of the greatest sculptors in the world.
Many years ago there was a poor gentleman shut up in one of the great prisons of France. His name was Char-ney, and he was very sad and un-hap-py. He had been put into prison wrong-ful-ly, and it seemed to him as though there was no one in the world who cared for him.
He could not read, for there were no books in the prison. He was not allowed to have pens or paper, and so he could not write. The time dragged slowly by. There was nothing that he could do to make the days seem shorter. His only pastime was walking back and forth in the paved prison yard. There was no work to be done, no one to talk with.
One fine morning in spring, Char-ney was taking his walk in the yard. He was counting the paving stones, as he had done a thousand times before. All at once he stopped. What had made that little mound of earth between two of the stones?
He stooped down to see. A seed of some kind had fallen between the stones. It had sprouted; and now a tiny green leaf was pushing its way up out of the ground. Charney was about to crush it with his foot, when he saw that there was a kind of soft coating over the leaf.