Page images
PDF
EPUB

I have a wife and children three;
And, for their sake, I must control
The generous impulse of my soul.
Yet trust me, Brown, most willingly,
Nay, with unfeigned alacrity,
This life-preserver I'd resign,
Were my case yours, or your case mine!”
“Dear Jones, your reasons,” Brown replied,
“ Are good, and cannot be denied.
All that

your words imply is true :
I have no wife nor child like you.
But, Jones, I have a tie to life
Far stronger—do not start—than wife
Or child, though dear, could ever be :
I mean my great Cosmogony,'
Of which, as you have doubtless heard,
One volume is to come—the third,
Oh, were that mighty task complete
Down to the last corrected sheet,
Believe me, Jones, to save your life
To your dear family and wife,
I'd yield to you, un murmuring,
This frail support to which we cling !
But what are wife and children threc
Compared with a Cosmogony?
Or what-confess it, dearest Jones-
Are many wives' and children's moans
To that loud cry of grief and woe
With which the learned world shall know
That it can never hope to see
The long expected Volume Three?"
“Quite true,” sighed Jones ; "and yet-and yet-
I think, dear Brown, that you forget
The theory of average
As held in this enlightened age.
Had all the mighty men of old-
Kings, scholars, statesmen, heroes bold-
Suffered untimely taking off
With measles, croup, or whooping-cough,

Think you that this great earth would then
Have nourished only common men ?
Had Homer died a stripling lad,
Should we have lost the Iliad ?
Would Shakespeare's early, timeless death
Have cost us IIamlet, Lear, Macbeth ?
The voice of reason answers, ‘No;
Wrong not prolific Nature so!'
Now, if this theory is true,
It must apply, dear Brown, to you ;
And fearless, you may leave behind
This master-product of your mind
(Though all unfinished, as you say),
Assured that at no distant day,
Another will be found to do
The work so well begun by you ;
But I

“ Allow me!” struck in Brown,
“The ship is plainly going down;
And ere she sinks beneath us, I
Would most decidedly deny
The theory of which you speak;
It is ingenious, but weak-
A vain though pleasing fallacy,
That never has deluded me.
Besides, the theory, if true,
Applies with equal force to you;
For, dearest Jones, if you are drowned,
Doubtless another will be found
To comfort your dear wife, and be
A father to your children three !”
“ Nay, nay!” cried Jones, “you jest, dear Brown—"
But at this point the ship went down;
The arguments of both, you see,
Balanced to such a nicety,
So fine, so subtle, so profound,
They both held on,—and both were drowned.

Catching the Cat.

(Verse printed as Prose.) The mice had met in council, they all looked haggard and worn, for affairs had become too terrible to be any longer borne.

Not a family out of mourning—there was crape on every hat. They were desperate-something must be done, and done at once, to the cat.

An elderly member rose and said :—“It might prove a possible thing to set the trap which they set for us—that one with the awful spring !” The suggestion was applauded loudly by one and all, till somebody squeaked, “That trap would be about ninety-five times too small !”

Then a medical mouse suggested—a little under his breaththey should confiscate the very first mouse that died a natural death, and he'd undertake to poison the cat if they'd let him prepare that mouse.

“ There's not been a natural death,” they cried, "since that cat came into the house !"

The smallest mouse in the council arose with a solemn air, and, by way of increasing his stature, rubbed up his whiskers and hair. He waited until there was silence all along the pantry shelf, and then he said with dignity :-“I will catch that cat myself! When next I hear her coming, instead of running away, I shall turn and face her boldly, and pretend to be at play; she will not see her danger, poor creature! I suppose; but as she stoops to catch me, I shall catch her by the nose !"

The mice began to look hopeful, yes, even the old ones; when a grey-haired sage said slowly, “and what will you do with her then?” The champion, disconcerted, replied with dignity—“Well, I think, if you'll excuse me, 't will be wiser not to tell! We all have our inspirations,”—this produced a general smirk—" but we are not all at liberty to explain just how they'll work. I ask you, then, to trust me; you neel have no further fears; consider our enemy done for !”—the council

three cheers. “I do believe she is coming !” said a small mouse nervously. “Run if you like,” said the champion, “but I shall wait and see !” And sure enough she was coming—the mice all scampered away, except the noble champion who had made up his mind to stay

gave

The mice had faith, of course they had—they were all of them noble souls; but a sort of general feeling kept them safely in their holes until some time in the evening; then the boldest ventured out, and saw in the hazy distance the cat prance gaily about!

There was dreadful consternation, till some one at last said, “Oh, he's not had time to do it, let us not prejudge him so !” “I believe in him, of course I do,” said the nervous mouse with a sigh, “but the cat looks suspiciously happy, and I wish I did know why!”

The cat, I regret to acknowledge, still prances about that house, and no message, letter, or telegram has come from the champion mouse. The mice are a little discouraged, the demand for crape goes on; they feel they'd be happier if they knew where the champion mouse has gone.

This story has a moral—it is very short, you'll see; so, of course, you all will listen to it, for fear of offending me. It is well to be courageous and valiant and all that, but—if you are mice-you'd better think twice 'ere you try to catch the cat.

The Well of St. Keyne. A well there is in the west country, and a clearer one never was seen: There is not a wife in the west country, but has heard of the well

of St. Keyne. An oak and an elm-tree stand beside, and behind does an ash-tree

grow, And a willow from the bank above droops to the water below. A traveller came to the Well of St. Keyne; joyfully he drew nigh, For from cock-crow he had been travelling, and there was not a

cloud in the sky. He drank of the water so cool and clear, for thirsty and hot was he; And he sat him down upon the bank, under the willow tree. There came a man from the neighbouring town, at the Well to fill

his pail ; On the Well-side he rested it, and he bade the stranger hail. 'Now, art thou a batchelor, stranger ? " quoth he ; " for, an' if thou

hast a wife, The happiest draught thou hast drunk this day that ever thou didst

in thy life :

Or has thy good woman-if one thou hast-ever here in Cornwall

been ? For, an' if she have, I'll venture my life she has drunk of the Well

of St. Keyne.” “I have left a good woman who never was here,” the stranger he

made reply; “But that my draught should be better for that, I pray you answer

me why “St. Keyne," quoth the Cornish-man, "many a time drank of this

crystal Well, And before the angel summoned her, she laid on the water a spell: If the husband, of this gifted Well, shall drink before his wife, A happy man henceforth is he, for he shall be master for life; But if the wife should drink of it first-heaven help the husband

then!” The stranger stooped to the Well of St. Keyne, and drank of the

water again. “You drank of the Well, I warrant, betimes ?” he to the Cornish

man said : But the Cornish-man smiled as the stranger spake, and sheepishly

shook his head : “I hastened as soon as the wedding was done, and left my wife in

the porch; But i' faith! she had been viser than I, for she took a bottle to church.”

PROSE.

(A) SERIOUS,

The Blank Bible.

I thought I was at home, and that, on taking up my Bible one morning, I found, to my surprise, what seemed to be the old familiar book was a total blank: not a character was inscribed in it or upon it. On going into the street, I found everyone complaining in similar perplexity of the same loss; and before night it became evident that a great and wonderful miracle had been wrought in the world: the hand which had written its awful menace on the walls of Belshazzar's palace had reversed the miracle, and expunged from our Bibles every syllable they contained :—thus reclaiming the most precious gift that Heaven had bestowed, and ungrateful man had abused.

« PreviousContinue »