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XXIV

A FINE DAY

Clear had the day been from the dawn,
All chequerd was the sky,
Thin clouds like scarfs of cobweb lawn
Veild heaven's most glorious eye.
The wind had no more strength than this,
That leisurely it blew,
To make one leaf the next to kiss
That closely by it grew.

M. Drayton

XXV

CASABIANCA

A True Story
The boy stood on the burning deck

Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck

Shone round him o'er the dead.

The flames rolld on. He would not go

Without his father's word; That father faint in death below,

His voice no longer heard.

He called aloud : “Say, father, say

If yet my task is done !'
He knew not that the chieftain lay

Unconscious of his son.

‘Speak, father !' once again he cried,

* If I may yet be gone !' And but the booming shots replied,

And fast the flames roll'd on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,

And in his waving hair,
And look'd from that lone post of death

In still, yet brave despair;
And shouted but once more aloud,

"My father! must I stay?" While o'er him fast through sail and shroud,

The wreathing fires made way.

They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,

They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child

Like banners in the sky.

Then came a burst of thunder-sound

The boy-oh! where was he? Ask of the winds that far around

With fragments strewed the sea,

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,

That well had borne their part;
But the noblest thing that perished there
Was that young faithful heart !

F. Hemans

XXVI

SIGNS OF RAIN

The hollow winds begin to blow,
The clouds look black, the glass is low,
The soot falls down, the spaniels sleep,
The spiders from their cobwebs peep:
Last night the sun went pale to bed,
The moon in halos hid her head;
The boding shepherd heaves a sigh,
For, see, a rainbow spans the sky:
The walls are damp, the ditches smell,
Closed is the pink-eyed pimpernel.
Hark how the chairs and tables crack !
Old Betty's joints are on the rack;
Loud quack the ducks, the peacocks cry,
The distant hills are seeming nigh.
How restless are the snorting swine;
The busy flies disturb the kine;
Low o'er the grass the swallow wings,
The cricket too, how sharp he sings;
Puss on the hearth, with velvet paws,
Sits wiping o'er her whiskered jaws.
Through the clear stream the fishes rise,
And nimbly catch the incautious flies.
The glow-worms, numerous and bright,
Illumed the dewy dell last night.
At dusk the squalid toad was seen,
Hopping and crawling o'er the green;
The whirling wind the dust obeys,
And in the rapid eddy plays;

The frog has changed his yellow vest,
And in a russet coat is dressed.
Though June, the air is cold and still,
The mellow blackbird's voice is shrill.
My dog, so altered in his taste,
Quits mutton-bones on grass to feast;
And see yon rooks, how odd their fight,
They imitate the gliding kite,
And seem precipitate to fall,
As if they felt the piercing ball.
'Twill surely rain, I see with sorrow,
Our jaunt must be put off to-morrow.

E. Jenner

XXVII HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD

NEWS FROM GHENT TO AIX sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; 'Good speed ! cried the watch, as the gate-bolts

undrew; ‘Speed !' echoed the wall to us galloping through; Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our

place; I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight, Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique

right, Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit, Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

;

'Twas moonset at starting; but, while we drew near
Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;
At Düffeld, 'twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the

half-chime,
So Joris broke silence with, “ Yet there is time !'

At Aerschot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper, Roland, at last,
With resolute shoulders each butting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray;

And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent

back For my voice, and the other pricked out on his

track; And one eye's black intelligence,--ever that glance O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance! And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and

anon

His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, ‘Stay

spur!

Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her, We'll remember at Aix'- for one heard the quick

wheeze Of her chest, saw the stretched neck, and staggering

knees, And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank, As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

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