صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

This makes a nation great and strong and certain to

endure, This subtle inner voice that thrills a man and makes

him sure,

Which makes him know there is no north or south or

east or west But that his land must ever stand the bravest and the best.

W. D. NESBIT.

THE CHEERFUL LOCKSMITH

From the workshop of the Golden Key there issued forth a tinkling sound, so merry and good-humored, that it suggested the idea of some one working blithely, and made quite pleasant music. Tink, tink, tink — clear as a silver bell, and audible at every pause of the streets' harsher noises, as though it said, “I don't care; nothing puts me out; I am resolved to be happy."

Women scolded, children squalled, heavy carts went rumbling by, horrible cries proceeded from the lungs of hawkers; still it struck in again, no higher, no lower, no louder, no softer; not thrusting itself on people's notice a bit the more for having been outdone by louder sounds — tink, tink, tink, tink, tink.

It was a perfect embodiment of the still small voice, free from all cold, hoarseness, huskiness, or unhealthiness of any kind. Foot passengers slackened their pace, and were disposed to linger near it; neighbors who had got up splenetic that morning, felt good humor stealing on them as they heard it, and by degrees became quite sprightly; mothers danced their babies to its ringing ; — still the same magical tink, tink, tink came gayly from the work shop of the Golden Key.

Who but the locksmith could have made such music? A gleam of sun shining through the unsashed window and checkering the dark workshop with a broad patch of light, fell full upon him, as though attracted by his sunny heart. There he stood working at his anvil, his face radiant with exercise and gladness, his sleeves turned up, his wig pushed off his shining forehead — the easiest, freest, happiest man in all the world.

Beside him sat a sleek cat, purring and winking in the light and falling every now and then into an idle doze, as from excess of comfort. The very locks that hung around had something jovial in their rust, and seemed like gouty gentlemen of hearty natures, disposed to joke on their infirmities. There was nothing surly or severe in the whole

It seemed impossible that any one of the innumerable keys could fit a churlish strong box or a prison door. Storehouses of good things, rooms where there were fires, books, gossip, and cheering laughter — these were their proper sphere of action. Places of distrust and cruelty and restraint, they would have quadruple locked forever.

scene.

Tink, tink, tink. No man who hammered on at a dull, monotonous duty could have brought such cheerful notes from steel and iron; none but a chirping, healthy, honest-hearted fellow, who made the best of everything and felt kindly toward everybody, could have done it for an instant. He might have been a coppersmith, and still been musical. If he had sat in a jolting wagon, full of rods of iron, it seemed as if he would have brought some harmony out of it.

- CHARLES DICKENS.

From Barnaby Rudge.

THE LOST CHILD.

AN AUSTRALIAN STORY

Four or five miles up the river from Garoopna stood a lonely hut sheltered by a lofty bare knoll, round which the great river chafed among the bowlders. Across the stream was the forest, sloping down in pleasant glades from the mountain. Behind the hut rose a plain four or five hundred feet overhead, seeming to be held aloft by the blue stone columns which rose from the river side.

In this hut lived a shepherd and his wife and

VIII.-11

one little boy, their son, about eight years old — a strange, wild little bush child, without any knowledge of the world, and without acquaintance with any human beings save his father and mother. He was unable to read a line; he had never received any religious training of any sort or kind. He was, in fact, as entire a little savage as you could find, and yet he was beautiful to look upon; he was as active as a wild deer, and as fearless as a lion.

As yet too young to begin labor, all the long summer days he would wander about the river bank, up and down the beautiful rock-walled paradise between the water's edge and the high level plain. Sometimes he looked eagerly across the water at the waving forest boughs, and fancied that he could see other children beckoning to him to cross and play in that merry land of shifting lights and shadows.

It grew quite into a passion with the little man to get across and play there, and one day when his mother was busy with her work he said to her:

“Mother, what country is that across the river ?” « The forest, my child.”

“ There are plenty of wild flowers and ripe raspberries over there, are there not, mother? Why may I not go across and play there?”

“ The river is too deep, child, and an ugly elf lives in the water under the stones."

“Who are the children that play across there?
“ Black children, likely.”
si No white children?

“ No, none but pixies. Don't go near them ; they will lure you on and on, nobody knows where. Don't try to cross the river or you will be drowned.”

But next day the longing was stronger with him than ever. Quite early on the glorious, cloudless, midsummer day, he was down by the river side, sitting on a rock, with his shoes and stockings off, paddling his feet in the clear, tepid water, and watching the millions of little fish in the shallows, leaping and flashing in the sunlight.

There is no pleasure like a child's midsummer holiday. There sat our little boy, barelegged, watching the forbidden ground beyond the river. He sat so still that a red kingfisher perched quite close, and dashing into the water came forth with a fish, and fled like a ray of light along the winding river. A colony of little parrots, too, crowded on a bough and twittered, and ran to and fro, as though they said to him, “ We don't mind you, my dear, you are one of us.'

Never had the river been so low. He stepped in ; it scarcely reached his ankle. Now, surely, he might get across. He stripped himself, and, carrying his clothes, waded through, — the water never reaching

« السابقةمتابعة »