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O, they listened, dumb and breathless,
And they caught the sound at last; Faint and far beyond the Goomtee
Rose and fell the piper's blast! Then a burst of wild thanksgiving
Mingled woman's voice and man's; “God be praised ! the march of Havelock !
The piping of the clans !” Louder, nearer, fierce as vengeance,
Sharp and shrill as swords of strife, Came the wild MacGregor's clan-call,
Stinging all the air to life. But when the far-off dust-cloud
To plaided legions grew,
The pipes of rescue blew !
Moslem mosque and Pagan shrine,
The air of "Auld Lang Syne." O'er the cruel roll of war-drums
Rose that sweet and home-like strain; And the tartan5 clove the turban,
As the Goomtee cleaves the plain. Dear to the corn-land reaper
And plaided mountaineer,
The piper's song is dear.
O'er mountain, glen, and glade;
T. G. Whittier
THE CONTRACTING CHAMBER.
“At a time not very long ago," began Maurice, “and in a country not very far off, there was a palace built on very peculiar principles. Indeed, some people said it was not built at all, but grew. The queen of this palace was very amiable and benevolent, and did what she could to make every one around her happy. She expected that all her courtiers should do the same. All her court-ladies, therefore, while they were provided with the most beautiful suites of apartments in the palace (the furniture and situation of each being exactly suited to the tastes of the occupants), were expected to make these apartments in some way work-rooms for the good of their country. That country had been sadly misgoverned by the preceding dynasty, and there was a great deal to be set right.
“All the apartments of the court-ladies, therefore, were also offices for some work of charity. The title of each was written on the door under the name of the occupant, so that there could be no mistake about it for applicants or inmates. One, for instance, was the office for the blind, another for the deaf and dumb, another for sick children
“ And another for ragged schools, no doubt," interrupted Winnie.
“No doubt," said Maurice. "The singular thing, however, about these apartments was, that if the possessor did not attend to the benevolent work assigned to her, but used them only for herself and her own pleasure, the whole suite gradually contracted, until they became so narrow as slowly to stifle the inmate, and finally to crush her into dust; when, from beautiful homes, they became narrow, crumbling mausoleums." 2
“If many of the ladies made a bad use of their apartments, the palace must have had a very forlorn look," observed Winnie.
"Not in the least," Maurice replied. “The instant the unfaithful occupant had been crushed and buried, the mausoleum also crumbled into dust, and a new dwelling rose on the site."
“Very uncomfortable,” said Winnie, "for the new ladies to be living on the graves of the old ones.”
"Not at all," said Maurice. "They knew nothing about it. Every one everywhere is always living over the graves of somebody or something, and very few think of it."
"I think nothing of the amiability and benevolence of that queen," resumed Winnie, with considerable vehemence. “I think she was a hardhearted wretch.”
“Not at all," said Maurice. “The queen had nothing to do with it. The apartments, as I told you, were self-acting. It was their nature to do as they did. No one could help it. They contracted in this way by the same kind of law which makes the earth go round, and the tides ebb and flow.”
“But,” rejoined Winnie, “those court-ladies must have been exceedingly foolish. When they saw the apartments contracting, if they did not like to do their work, why did they not escape in time?"
“They never did see the apartments contracting," said Maurice. “They saw their neighbours' apart- ments contracting sometimes from the outside, but never their own; and for this reason,—The rooms were full of mirrors and paintings on glass, arranged in such a way as to cause a strange optical delusion. As window after window was slowly and silently crushed out, it was replaced by a mirror, which made the wretched occupant think that, whatever was happening outside, all was right within. The world was growing narrower and narrower, she thought, but inside all was spacious and beautiful as ever. And so she went on admiring herself more and more in the mirrors, as window after window into the outer world vanished, until at last the stifling air of the poor narrow chamber overpowered her, and she fainted away, and was crushed, and never heard of more."
From Winifred Bertram,
A'SWAN HUNT.* A FEW days brought our travellers to the settle. ment of Red River, where they made but a very short stay; and, having procured a few articles which they stood in need of, they resumed their journey, and floated on towards Lake Winnipeg.1 The swans were seen in greater numbers than ever. They were not less shy, however, and François, as before, in vain tried to get a shot at one.
He was very desirous of bringing down one of these noble birds, partly because the taste he had had of their flesh had given him a liking for it; and partly because their shyness had greatly tantalized him. One is always more eager to kill shy game, both on account of the rarity of the thing, and the credit one gets for his expertness. But the voyageurs? had now got within less than twenty miles of Lake Winnipeg, and François had not as yet shot a single swan. It was not at all likely the eagles would help him to another. So there would be no more roast swan for supper.
Norman, seeing how eager François was to shoot one of these birds, resolved to aid him by his advice.
“ Cousin Frank,” said he, one evening as they floated along, "you wish very much to get a shot at the swans ?”
From The Young Voyageurs (by kind permission of Messrs. George Routledge & Sons).