Down Nature's Paths



THERE is plenty of drama in the dictionary. If you don't believe it, try reading the derivations of words given in the "big dictionary"—Webster's Unabridged. Recently I was seeking the exact meaning of "steward" and paused to read the history of the word preceding the definition. Then I laughed. "Steward" comes from the Anglo-Saxon words "sty" and "ward" (guardian). The "steward" is the "sty warden."

In Anglo-Saxon times the "sty" did not mean the domicile of the swine as it does today. The title used today for the gentleman, who is the manager of a great estate or a wealthy menage, or the nobleman who superintends a royal household, anciently meant the warden of a sty. But the word "sty" anciently meant a home, a house, a nobleman's hall, a palace. It is we who have narrowed down the application of the word to the malodorous environs of the pigs.

The whole human race are the guardians of the home the Creator gave them. When man was created, he was endowed with dominion over all the lower life. He was the "sty warden" of God's creation. And it was no sty, in the modern sense, over which he was given the responsibility of care and management. There were no death, no decay, no filth, no defilement, no bad odors, no carrion, no garbage, no stockyards to mis-scent a whole city, no contagion, no poison-secreting fear and hate.

But what a sty (in the modern meaning) man has made of the sty (Anglo-Saxon meaning) that God gave him! "The earth is defiled under the inhabitants thereof." The soil is soaked with blood, the ground littered with corpses. The air has become death laden, the waters so polluted that they destroy their indwellers. In many parts of the earth one smells the cities afar off. Good grain and fruit, God-given to feed earth's billions, man rots into alcohol that turns human beings into sots more filthy than wild beasts, which are naturally clean.

The pigsty itself is a human invention. Wild animals do not live in such filth as do "domesticated" hogs. Only those animals which, as a result of the sin introduced by man, have become carnivorous are filthy and malodorous in their living surroundings. The rookeries of the fish-eating water-birds are sties, but not the nests of the seed-eating and insect-eating songsters. The unpleasant defense mechanism of the peaceable skunk is the adaptation of a harmless creature to the conditions resulting from man's sin.

Man has been a pretty poor sty warden of creation. The Owner is going to disinfect the premises soon and rebuild according to the original blueprint. He is advertising now for sty wardens for His new earth who will not degrade His sty (home) into a sty (a place defiled by sin). Prospective applicants are expected to practice now cleaning up their present sties.