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On sunny noons upon the deck's smooth face,
On stormy nights when wild northwesters rave,
Where lies the land to which the ship would go
? Far, far ahead, is all her seamen know. And where the land she travels from ? Away, Far, far behind, is all that they can say.
- ARTHUR Hugh CLOUGH.
THE CZAR AND THE ANGEL
SOMEWHERE, nowhere, in a certain empire, time out of mind, and in no land of ours, dwelt a Czar who was so very proud that he feared neither God nor
He listened to no good counsel, but did only that which was good in his own eyes, and no one dared to put him right. And all his ministers and nobles grieved exceedingly, and all the people grieved likewise.
One day the Czar went to church and he listened to the priest who was reading from the Scriptures.
Now there were certain words in the holy book which pleased not the Czar. “Why say such words to me ?” thought he, “ words that I can never forget, though I grow gray-headed.” After service the Czar went home, and bade his servants send the priest to him. The priest came.
“ How darest thou to read such words to me?” asked the Czar.
“ They were written to be read,” replied the priest.
“ Written, indeed ! And wouldst thou then read everything that is written ? Blot out those words and never dare to read them again, I command thee!”
66 It is not I who have written the words of the Holy Scripture, your Majesty," said the priest ; “nor is it for me to blot them out."
“What! thou dost presume to teach me? . I am the Czar, and it is thy duty to obey me.”
“In all things will I obey thee, O Czar, save only in sacred things. God is over them; men cannot alter them,” answered the priest.
“Not alter them !” roared the Czar; “if I wish them altered, altered they must be. Strike me out those words instantly, I say, and never dare read them in church again. Dost thou hear?”
“ I dare not,” said the priest. “I have no will in the matter."
“I command thee, fellow !” “I dare not, O Czar!”
Well,” said the Czar, “I'll give thee three days to think about it. On the evening of the fourth day appear before
me, and I'll strike thy head from thy shoulders if thou dost not obey me!”
Then the priest bowed low and returned to his home.
The third day was already drawing to a close and the priest knew not what to do. It was no great terror to him to die for the faith, but what would become of his wife and children ? He walked about, and wept, and wrung his hands :
“Oh, woe is me! woe is me!”
At last he lay down on his bed, but not until dawn did he close his eyes in sleep. Then he saw in a dream an angel standing at his head.
“Fear nothing !” said the angel. “God hath sent me down on earth to protect thee!”
So, early in the morning, the priest rose up full of joy and prayed gratefully to God.
The Czar also awoke early in the morning, and shouted to his huntsmen to gather together and go hunting with him in the forest.
So away they went to the hunt, and it was not long before a stag leaped out of the thicket beneath the very eyes of the Czar.
of the Czar. He galloped after it. Every moment the stag seemed to be faltering, and yet the Czar could never quite come up with it. Eager with excitement, he spurred on his horse.
“Faster, faster!” he cried ; “now we have him!”
But here a stream crossed the road, and the stag plunged into the water. The Czar was a good swimmer. “Surely I shall take him now,” thought he. “A little longer, and I shall hold him by the horns.”
So the Czar took off his clothes, and into the water he plunged after the stag. The stag swam across to the opposite bank, but just as the Czar was extending his hand to seize him by the horns, there was no longer any stag to be seen. It was the angel who had taken the form of a stag. The Czar was amazed. He looked about him on every side, and wondered where the stag had gone.
At that moment he saw some one on the other side of the river, putting on the Czar's royal clothes, and presently he mounted the Czar's own horse and galloped away. The Czar thought it was some evil doer, but it was the self-same angel, who had now gone away to collect the huntsmen and take them home. As for the Czar, he remained all naked and solitary in the forest.
At last he looked about him and saw, far, far away, smoke rising above the forest, and something like a dark cloud standing in the clear sky.