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"Boy! I had loved her too,—nay, more,
Twas I who loved her first; For months—for years—the golden thought
Within my soul was nursed; He came—he conquered—they were wed;—
My air-blown bubble burst!
"Then on my mind a shadow fell,
And evil hopes grew rife;
And cut me like a knife,
Should be another's wife!
"By heaven! it was a fearful thing
lo see my brother now,
Forever on his brow,
I am more loved than thoul
"I left my home—I left the land—
I crossed the raging sea ;—
My memory went with me;—
In memory seemed to be.
"I came again—I found them here—
Thou'rt like thy father, bov—
I've seen them kiss and toy,—
Wrapped in delirious joy!
"He disappeared—draw nearer child;—
He died—no one knew how;
The tale is hushed up now;
The hand that struck the blow.
"It drove her mad—yet not his death,—
No—not his death alone:
Knew well that there was none;—
That froze her into stone I
"I am thv uncle, child,—why stare
So frightfully aghast?—
Tis nothing but the blast?
Ill show thee what thy mother saw,—
I feel 'twill ease my breast,
Suits with the purpose best;—
To open this old chest.
"It has a secret spring; the touch
Is known to me alone;
What see you that you groan
A bare-ribbed skeleton."
A sudden crash—the lid fell down,
"Oh God! it is my brother's self
His grasp of lead is on my throat,
That night they laid him on his bed,
In Riving madness tossed;
Blasphemed the Holy Ghost;
A sinner's soul was lost.
THE DEAD LIGHT-HOUSE KEEPER.—Wabe.
Out, out at sea, the light (so typical of God, seeing it evei watches man, and shines to warn him from the world of death) burns year by year, tended by willing hands. Ol such a light I have a tale to tell. I would it were not true, but it is; yet, if you will not believe it so, 'tis wise, perhaps, for 'tis well to think life's tragedies are few.
This light-house which I speak about hath long since yielded to the sea; but at the time I speak of it was strong, stout oak. It was far away from shore, and the mad sea when slightly moved elsewhere, raged around this light Sometimes through three long months the two keepers saw no other human faces than their own. What talked they of? There could be no news; the weather, sea, and passing ships were all in all to them. Did they quarrel, no one saw; had one of them murdered the other, no human voice was there to whisper, "Cain, where is thy brother?"
It was a Christmas eve, and the two watchers looked toward the shore, which in the day was rocky, far-off haze. The weather was rough, and likely to be rougher. Gay were the men, for you must understand that those who watch in distant light-houses live so long at the light, so long on shore. It was a coming holiday for those two men, Bo they were merry. At last the boat had come.
Much laughter was there; for one of the arriving watchers, a great, rough man, of over six feet high, was sad—quite downcast. They said this Hal was deep in love, and piqued at leaving his young mistress several months. Few words he answered; he lumbered up the light-house steps, leaving his comrade and the men chatting village gossip blithely at the bottom of the stairs cut in the rock.
"Good-night," the boat's crew Kmg out loudly when the food for three long months, and the large cans of oil for the beneficent lamp, all had been landed; for they were hurried, the wind growing lusty. "Good-night," once more they said, but never answer came from the hght-house. They laughed again; then, with quick-pulsing oar, they pulled toward land, whence blew the fierce, fierce wind.
The second watcher, comrade to Hal, stood, the water lapping around about his feet, watching the lessening boat and softening sound of the oars. At last he turned and went up the flight of stairs into the light-house. There he saw Hal, stretched at length on the rough wood floor. "Hal!" No answer came. "Hal!" in a louder voice. No answer. "Hal!" half fear, half anger. Still the man lying on the ground spoke not. "What! surly, Hal? Why, come, look up, my lad!" Yet no reply. He then pushed him with his foot. The body yielded and returned. Then the man, ter>or-stmck, leaned down and swept the face up to the light.
Great God! bubbling at the mouth, he sees a torrent o/ red blood! The man was ailing ere he came, and come, he died; a great, broad-shouldered man, in his full prime, yet dead. Down, down the slippery steps fled the living tender of the light, and hoarsely called to the far-distant boat. They saw the broad flood of light pour from the door as it was open ed, and guessing that rough Hal had tardily come to wish the boat good-night, they sang, " All's well I" which swept across the waves.
The same wind which carried the sweet sounds to him who helpless called, carried his voice far out to sea; for the wind set from land, and the boat neared it. He was quite alone with the dead man I His fear was terrible; it was so still. He shrank away, indeed he trembled. Then he thought it moved. He cried, " Old Hal!" once more, and then he was afraid again.
At last, all fear being gone, he took the mute body in his arms and kissed it. Then he wept, and called the dead man "Poor old Hal!" Then again, a dread panic seized him He crouched far away from the dead man, and the ice-sweat stood on his forehead. Then for a short time he was mad, remembering that if he cast Hal into the sea, the world might tell his children he was a murderer; and in his madness, he piled over the dead all things that came to hand.
Yet still he saw the awful outline of the dead. Then once again, he caught it in his arms and wept; and so the first night passed, and Christmas day had come. Three months must pass ere human life would once more bless him with its presence. They seemed thrice three hundred years. He notched the days on a stick; and so lost was he sometimes, he gave a week a dozen days at least.
In one way alone could he have gained the human help he needed: by letti 11^ out the lamp, and thus giving the alarm. This he would not do, and every night the light shone out, a comfort to all mariners. At last he scarce knew how the time went on.
Down the steps with the tide he moved, and came back only with it, so that he might be as far away as possible from that which daily grew more and more terrible. He played cards with himself, and quarreled with himself, that rrr
he might hear a human voice. Then, as ships passed far ofl, he waved to them white drapery j and if he heard a cheer, it was a red-letter day.
So the time passed, from miserable day to day; and all this time, each eve the light shone clear, as true as God. The winter passed, the spring had come, and the three months were gone. On that blessed day, when they were passed, he wept for very joy. The hours lagged at first, but as the good sun declined, they fled as panic-stricken. Had he not lived for this dear liberating day? He drew the limit oJ his future at this date; and he had grown so sure of liberation on this day, that to think he still must live with it was madness. "Oh, holy Heaven, pity me!" (for he had learned to pray heartily while in this tomb.)
The sun set calmly saying, " Peace ;" but he was all unrestful. He had endured three months of nights, he could endure no more. His haggard eyes streamed in terror shor*»ward, over the vacant waves. The twilight coming, he to the rocks fell prone amid the heaving tide. He sought death; he would never rise again. Twilight was gone, and night had come. For the first time the " Light" was blind.
As he lay, the water rising, he thought he heard the grating of a keel upon the rocks. Yet turned he not, for he had often thought the same when it was the wind. Then ho heard human voices: 'twas still the mocking wind. Then, his eyes still closed, he felt lifted; 'twas the rising tide, he thought. Breath! he felt warm, human breath upon hia face! He opened his eyes, saw brethren near, near him I 4 Oh, God i" he cried; "the boat I the boat! the boat 1"
HOW THE GENTLEMEN DO BEFORE MARRIAGE
Oh ! then they come flattering,