Imatges de pÓgina


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“I'm here by the window.”

“Oh, for pity's sake, have you lost your mind ? Clear out from there, this moment. The very children in arms know it is fatal to stand near a window in a thunder-storm. Dear, dear, I know I shall never see the light of another day ! Mortimer?

“What is that rustling?"
“It's me.
“ What are you doing ?”
" Trying to find the upper end of my pantaloons."

“Quick! throw those things away! I do believe you would deliberately put on those clothes at such a time as this; yet you know perfectly well that all authorities agree that woolen stuffs attract lightning. Oh, dear, dear, it isn't sufficient that one's life must be in peril from natural causes, but you must do everything you can possibly think of to augment the danger. Oh, don't sing! What can you be thinking of ?"

“Now where's the harm in it?"

“Mortimer, if I have told you once, I have told you a hundred times, that singing causes vibrations in the atmosphere which interrupt the flow of the electric fluid, and What on earth are you opening that door for?”

"Goodness gracious, woman, is there any harm in that?"

Harm ? There's death in it. Anybody that has given this subject any attention knows that to create a draught is to invite the lightning. You haven't half shut it; shut it tight,--and do hurry, or we are all destroyed. Oh, it is an awful thing to be shut up with a lunatic at such a time as this. Mortimer, what are you doing?”

“Nothing. Just turning on the water. This room is smothering hot and close. I want to bathe my face and hands."

“You have certainly parted with the remnant of your mind! Where lightning strikes any other substance once, it strikes water fifty times. Do turn it off. Oh, dear, I am sure that nothing in this world can save us. It does seem to me that-Mortimer, what was that?”

" It was a-it was a picture. Knocked it down.”

[ocr errors]

had a

" Then you are close to the wall! I never heard of such imprudence! Don't you know that there's no better conductor for lightning than a wall? Come away from there! And you came as near as anything to swearing, too. Oh, how can you be so desperately wicked, and your family in such peril? Mortimer, did you order a feather bed, as I asked you to do ?”

No. Forgot it.”

Forgot it! It may cost you your life. If you feather bed, now, and could spread it in the middle of the room and lie on it, you would be perfectly safe. Come in here,-come quick, before you have a chance to commit any more frantic indiscretions."

I tried, but the little closet would not hold us both with the door shut, unless we could be content to smother. I gasped awhile, then forced my way out. My wife called out:

* Mortimer, something must be done for your preservation. Give me that German book that is on the end of the man. tle-piece, and a candle; but don't light it; give me a match; I will light it in here. That book has some directions in it."

I got the book,—at cost of a vase and some other brittle things; and the madam shut herself up with her candle. I had a moment's peace; then she called out:

“Mortimer, what was that ?” "Nothing but the cat."

“The cat! Oh, destruction! Catch her, and shut her up in the wash-stand. Do be quick, love ; cats are full of electricity. I just know my hair will turn white with this night's awful perils."

I heard the muffled sobbings again. But for that, I should not have moved hand or foot in such a wild enterprise in the dark.

However, I went at my task,-over chairs, and against all sorts of obstructions, all of them hard ones, too, and most of them with sharp edges,—and at last I got kitty cooped up, at an expense of over four hundred dollars in broken furniture and shins. Then these muffled words came from the closet:

“ It says the safest thing is to stand on a chair in the middle of the room, Mortimer; and the legs of the chair must be insulated with non-conductors. That is, you must set



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ا ، ان

the legs of the chair in glass tumblers. [Ftz!-boom-bang! smash !] Oh, hear that! Do hurry, Mortimer, before you are struck."

I managed to find and secure the tumbiers. I got the last four-broke all the rest. I insulated the chair legs, and called for further instructions.

"Mortimer, it says, 'Während eines Gewitters entferne man Metalle, wie z. B., Ringe, Uhren, Schlüssel, etc., von sich und halte sich auch nicht an solchen Stellen auf, wo viele Metalle bei einander liegen, oder mit andern Körpern verbunden sind, wie an Herden, Oefen, Eisengittern u. dgl.' What does that mean, Mortimer? Does it mean that you must keep metals about you, or keep them away from you ?"

"Well, I hardly know. It appears to be a little mixed. All German advice is more or less mixed. However, I think that that sentence is mostly in the dative case, with a little genitive and accusative sifted in, here and there, for luck; so I reckon it means that you must keep some metals about you."

“Yes, that must be it. It stands to reason that it is. They are in the nature of lightning-rods, you know. Put on your fireman's helmet, Mortimer; that is mostly metal.” I got it and put it on, –

,-a very heavy and clumsy and uncomfortable thing on a hot night in a close room. Even my night-dress seemed to be more clothing than I strictly needed.

“Mortimer, I think your middle ought to be protected. Won't you buckle on your militia sabre, please ?"

I complied.

“ Now, Mortimer, you ought to have some way to protect your feet. Do please put on your spurs.”

I did it,-in silence,-and kept my temper as well as I could.

* Mortimer, it says, ' Das Gewitter läuten ist sehr gefähr. lich, weil die Glocke selbst, sowie der durch das Läuten veranlasste Luftzug und die Höhe des Thurmes den Blitz anziehen könnten.' Mortimer, does that mean that it is dangerous not to ring the church bells during a thunder-storm ?”

* Yes, it seems to mean that,-if that is the past participle of the nominative case singular, and I reckon it is. Yes, I think it means that on account of the height of the church

[ocr errors]




tower and the absence of Luftzug it would be very dangerous (xhr gefährlich) not to ring the bells in time of a storm; and moreover, don't you see, the very wording”

* Never mind that, Mortimer; don't waste the precious time in talk. Get the large dinner-bell; it is right there in the hall. Quick, Mortimer dear; we are almost safe. Oh, dear, I do believe we are going to be saved, at last!"

Our little summer establishment stands on top of a high range of hills, overlooking a valley. Several farm-houses are in our neighborhood,—the nearest some three or four hundred yards away:

When I, mounted on the chair, had been clanging that dreadful bell a matter of seven or eight minutes, our shutters were suddenly torn open from without, and a brilliant bull's-eye lantern was thrust in at the window, followed by a hoarse inquiry :

"What in the nation is the matter here?

The window was full of men's heads, and the heads were full of eyes that stared wildly at my night-dress and my war-like accoutrements.

I dropped the bell, skipped down from the chair in confusion, and said :

“There is nothing the matter, friends,-only a little discomfort on account of the thunder-storm. I was trying to keep off the lightning."

“Thunder-storm ? Lightning? Why, Mr. McWilliams, have you

mind? It is a beautiful starlight night; there has been no storm."

I looked out, and I was so astonished I could hardly speak for awhile. Then I said :

"I do not understand this. We distinctly saw the glow of the flashes through the curtains and shutters, and heard the thunder.”

One after another those people lay down on the ground to langh,- and two of them died. One of the survivors remarked:

" Pity you didn't think to open your blinds and look over to the top of the high hill yonder. What you heard was cannon; what you saw was the flash. You see, the telegraph brought some news, just at midnight; our man's nominated,-and that's what's the matter!"

lost your



A traveler, from journeying

In countries far away,
Repassed his threshold at the closo

Of one calm Sabbath day;
A voice of love, a comely face,

A kiss of chaste delight,
Were the first things to welcome him

On that blessed Sabbath night.
He stretched his limbs upon the hearth,

Before its friendly blaze,
And conjured up mixed memories

Of gay and gloomy days;
And felt that none of gentle soul,

However far he roam,
Can e'er forego, can e'er forget,

The quiet joys of home.
“ Bring me my children !" cried the sire,

With eager, earnest tone;
“I long to press them, and to mark

How lovely they have grown;
Twelve weary months have passed away

Since I went o'er the sea,
To feel how sad and lone I was

Without my babes and thee."
“Refresh thee, as 'tis needful,” said

The fair and faithful wife,
The while her pensive features paled,

And stirred with inward strife;
“Refresh thee, husband of my heart,

I ask it as a boon;
Our children are reposing, love;

Thou shalt behold them soon.”
She spread the meal, she filled the cup,

She pressed him to partake;
He sat down blithely at the board,

And all for her sweet sake;
But when the frugal feast was done,

The thankful prayer preferred,
Again affection's fountain flowed;

Again its voice was heard.

[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinua »