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more heavily than I intended; he staggered, and fell plump orer the steep side of the Mound. I rushed down after him; he was senseless, and looked quite dead. I believed I had murdered him, and my only thought was how to get away. I stole back to the house, and hurriedly equipped myself for a journey. 'I took what little money I possessed, and a few things which I valued, and managed to gain the high road by a side gate. I set off for Southam with all possible speed, resolving to put into execution my longcherished scheme of going to sea !”
“Did you really kill the child ?”
“Thank God, no! He was only stunned and bruised, and in a few days or weeks was none the worse ; but I did not know that till long afterwards. My home henceforth was closed to me, and I became a wanderer upon the face of the earth, or rather upon the face of the sea ; for after I once took to salt-water I was never for long together upon dry land."
“And so you met Captain Vassall ?”
“So I met him. Of course no respectable ship would take in a runaway, as I palpably was; I was afraid too of being detained and sent home as a prisoner. I managed at last to get on board a schooner just going to sail, and obtained service as cabin-boy. Ah! 1 little knew what cabin-boy life, in such a wretched vessel, and under such a captain, or skipper rather, meant. No story of boys ill-used at sea was ever worse than my experience; I was starved, beaten, tortured, robhed! the only wonder is I did not die. I should have died doubtless but for the kindness of a young man who himself suffered severely from the tyranny and insolence of the skipper. He often stood between me and the heartless cruelty of my tormentors; he fed me by stealth, when else I should have sunk from sheer exhaustion ; he nursed me when I was sick, and lay untended in my miserable hammock, slung in a filthy hole of a cabin, the air of which was nothing short of poison! I need not say my friend was Hugh Vassall. He had suffered himself, and his was always a noble, generous nature, and to succour the afflicted was to him a matter of course.”
" How long did you sail with this wicked man, the master of the schooner?”
“Only for one voyage, but it was a long one. Not being under articles, I got away as soon as we got into port, and Hugh, who had served his time, went with me. We found berths together in another and a better vessel, and under a kind though strict captain; and, as we both tried to do our duty, we prospered and rose in the ranks. Hugh and I became fast friends; as David's soul was knit unto Jonathan's, so was my soul knit unto Hugh Vassalls. At last he rose to be captain, and I proudly sailed under him. After a while he married ; I went to the wedding, for of course I must be best man! Oh, what a lovely creature she was! I have never beheld so perfectly beautiful a woman since, though I bare seen many fair ladies of high degree, and though my own sweet wife was as bonnie a lassie as ever stepped, but not to compare in point of actual beauty with Nellie Vassall! The last time we sailed together, he told me that he had a little son, who was named Hugh, after him. Our next voyage was to be made in a far finer vessel, and I was to be first-mate; my future and his promised brightly. While we were lying becalmed in the South Seas, hundreds of miles from land, he fell sick with cholera and dysentery, and in spite of all our care,—for every sailor, man and boy, on board worshipped him, and hoped to go with him to the new ship,-in spite of prayers, and tears, and watching, he died on the third day; and the next morning at sunrise we committed his body to the deep. I read the service of the Church of England over him. I helped lower him into the sea. I have known many happy days since then, and I have loved and been loved in return, and to some extent fortune has smiled upon me; but I have never forgotten the memory of the man whom I loved and reverenced above all created beings."
“Did you ever try to find out his widow and child ?”
“Of course I did! I meant to work for them, to be to her as a brother, to the boy as a father, if it might be. But I could not return to England at once; it was months before I again set foot on my native shores; and then when I went to seek Mrs. Vassall, she was gone, no one knew whither; and there was a strange tale about her in the lonely and remote sea-side village where she had lived."
" What was it?"
“They said she had gone away with a rich and titled gentleman, taking her child with her. She had married this man, they said-at least they "only hoped it was all right;' and a rumour had reached the place that she had deserted the boy. I made further inquiries, for at least I thought I might befriend the child; but I could get no clue, and in a short time I had to sail again for South America. From that day to this I have heard no tidings of Nellie, nor of her child; but when I saw you this afternoon, after you were dressed, I thought I saw Hugh Vassall once more. My next thought was, that you must be the child of whom he spoke with so much pride and tenderness in our last voyage together. None but father and son could so resemble each other."
And then I told him all the truth. How could I withhold it? I felt that my father would have wished me to confide in this man, who had been his own most trusted friend. I related every circumstance that I could think of, and we did not end our talk till the church clock chimed three-quarters after three; and in common prudence we went to bed, deferring all further conferences until next day—or rather till we had slept and risen again ; for Christmas-day was over, and the 26th of December had well commenced.
(To be continued.)
MUSIC IN NATURE.
“Go forth, under the open sky, and list
BRYANT. Music is sometimes called the daughter of heavenly spheres ; but if that is her true home, then men must have come from very different spheres, for in none of the arts do we meet with a greater variety of tastes. Chinese singing sounds to our ear like heartrending squealing; and a Persian ambassador not so very long ago listened with delight to the tuning of instruments in the orchestra of the great opera at Paris, but lost his enthusiasm as soon as the overture began, and left the house disgusted with the discordant noises.
Nature does not guide us, for the sounds she produces differ mainly in the greater or lesser regularity with which they are repeated. The pattering of rain-drops on the roof is a spasmodic explosion of short dissonant notes; in the purling of a brook, and the rustling of leaves, the transitions are softer and less sudden, while the howling of the wind presents sounds which change continually, rising and sinking gradually, but without regularity or rhythm. Hence the difference between mere noise and a sourd. If we let a piece of wood fall on the ground we hear a noise; but if we drop seven small pieces of equal size, but different thickness, in the same manner, we hear distinctly a regular scale, although each sound by itself does not produce a musical impression. The socalled straw-fiddle, consisting of wooden staves which are struck with cork hammers, does not sound unpleasantly. The Chinese even string small pebbles on wires, and strike them in a prescribed order with a small mallet; the music is sweet enough to please even fastidious ears. In our orchestras also there are instruments the sole use of which is the marking of time by rhythmical noises ; such are the cymbals, castanets, and kettle-drums.
Inorganic nature produces only noises—no musical sounds. The rolling thunder, the fury of the tempest, the rustling of leaves in a forest, the pleasant prattle of a mountain brook, and the mighty roar of the ocean-all these are nothing more than a mass of confused noises. It is only occasionally that mere accident lends to these sounds a musical character. Such were the utterances of the Memnon statue at the rising of the sun, and such are the sounds heard in the famous Fingal Cave on the island of Staffa. The rear of this cave is dark, and perfectly cut off from the outer world, while prismatic pillars of basalt form something which resembles an organ. Upon penetrating to the farthest end of the cave, a wide opening is seen almost on a level with the surface of the water, from which harmonious sounds are heard whenever the waves wash over the edge, and water falls into the abyss beyond. It is this circumstance which has given the grotto in Welsh the name of Llaimhbinn, or Cave of Music.
In like manner the winds of heaven may be forced to utter har. monious sounds by offering them a so-called Æolian harp, invented by Athenasius Kircher. The instrument consists simply of a wooden frame, with a thin sounding-board, and an arbitrary number of catgut strings stretched over two bridges near the small end. If this wind-harp, as it is often called, is placed in such a manner before a half-open window, or in an opening of a turret, that the current of air strikes it sideways, it sends forth a great variety of harmonious notes in several octaves. The telegraph-wires of our day produce, for like reasons, a humming noise, which is not always unmusical; but here electricity is said to lend its powerful aid.
The animal world abounds, on the contrary, in countless noises, from the coarse and repulsive grunt to the exquisite music of accomplished songsters. Many animals, it is well known, learn to imitate human speech, but there remains always this difference between the speech of man and that of animals, that the voice of the former is free and at his command, while the latter cry, and howl, and sing as a matter of necessity. No animal utters a sound without being forced to do so by some affection, be it love, or wrath, or suffering. Even when birds hear a harp or a flute, and then begin to vie with their sounds, it is only because their imagination has been so violently excited that they cannot remain silent any longer.
On the other hand, it cannot be denied that most animals speak very intelligibly for each other. The warning cluck of the hen, the absurd gobbling of the wild turkey, the bell of the deer-all these voices are well understood by those for whom they are intended. It is true they only convey sentiments, and not ideas, but in this they resemble the utterances of very young children. The storks assemble on convenient meadows, range themselves in large
half-circles, and listen to speeches delivered by their elders, or hold solemn council with each other. A woodpecker laughs almost like a man; the mocking bird literally mocks other animals by parodying their voices; and the cock of the barn-yard converses with his hens, like a sultan in his harem.
Jules Richard tells us of a humble official in a public hospital, who claimed to be able to converse with cats, dogs, and especially monkeys. The narrator received an invitation from him to accompany him to the Jardin des Plantes, and followed him to the barrier around the famous monkey-house. The old man uttered a most extraordinary sound, deep down in his tbroat, and immediately four monkeys sat down in front of him. He spoke again, and three
He repeated the same sounds, and at last the whole population of the colossal cage sat in long rows before the strange
Then he addressed them soberly and solemnly; the brutes crossed their hands on their knees, laughed, gesticulated, andanswered. When the old man at last made a motion to go away, the monkeys became evidently alarmed, and, upon his leaving the open space before the house, real cries of anguish were heard. The animals climbed up on the wires and poles, and looked after their friend from their vantage-ground as long as he could be seen.
Among animals, birds are most liberally endowed by nature in point of voice. Parrots, it is well known, imitate the human voice to perfection, but they repcat everything they hear, and the stories about their superior intelligence are all more or less fabulous. A French sea-captain, who loved music without being able to distinguish correct or false notes, had a parrot, who sang after him the refrain of an old drinking song
“Quand je bois du vin clairet,
Tout tourne au cabaret," and copied the false notes of its master so faithfully, that he excited invariably the inexhaustible laughter of all who knew the bird and its owner. No man could ever have been able to sing so admirably false.
Birds which have a thick, rounded tongue, like the jay, the pie, and the raven, learn to speak more or less distinctly, while birds with cloven tongues learn more easily to whistle. The American mocking-bird surpasses them all; he sings and speaks not only with equal facility, but imitates all noises, from the flute-like song of the nightingale to the rumbling of a heavily-laden cart on the pavement of a street, and even gesticulates at the time, as if he knew what he was doing. The nightingale is the queen of European birds; her song is unsurpassed in real beauty and sweetness of sound, and, withal, so loud that it reaches as far as the human voice. Pliny tells us that the sons of the Emperor Claudius owned