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LXXXI.

THE SCHOOL MASTER.

HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.

Great men stand like solitary towers in the city of God, and secret passages running deep beneath external nature give their thoughts intercourse with higher intelligences, which strengthens and consoles them, and of which the laborers on the surface do not even dream!

Some such thought as this was floating vaguely through the brain of Mr. Churchill as he closed his school-house door behind him; and if in any degree he applied it to himself, it may perhaps be pardoned in a dreamy, poetic man like him; for we judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. And, moreover, his wife considered him equal to great things. To the people in the village, he was the schoolmaster, and nothing more. They beheld in his form and countenance no outward sign of the divinity within. They saw him daily moiling and delving in the common path, like a beetle, and little thought that underneath that hard and cold exterior lay folded delicate golden wings, wherewith, when the heat of day was over, he soared and revelled in the pleasant evening air.

To-day he was soaring and reveling before the sun had set; for it was Saturday. With a feeling of infinite relief he left behind him the empty school-house, into which the hot sun of a September afternoon was pouring. All the bright young faces were gone; all the impatient little hearts were gone; all the fresh voices, shrill, but musical with the melody of childhood, were gone; and the lately busy realm was given up to silence, and the dusty sunshine, and the old gray flies that buzzed and bumped their heads against the window panes. The sound of the outer door, creaking on its hebdomadal hinges, was like a sentinel's challenge, to which the key growled responsive in the lock; and the master, casting a furtive glance at the last caricature of himself in red chalk on the wooden fence close by, entered with a light step the solemn avenue of pines that led to the margin of the river.

At first his step was quick and nervous; and he swung his cane as if aiming blows at some invisible enemy. Though a meek man, there were moments when he remembered with bitterness the unjust reproaches of fathers and their insulting words; and then he fought imaginary battles with people out of sight, and struck them to the ground, and trampled upon them; for he was not exempt from the weakness of human nature, nor the customary vexations of a schoolmaster's life.

Unruly sons and unreasonable fathers did sometimes embitter his else sweet days and nights. But as he walked, his step grew slower, and his heart calmer. The coolness and shadows of the great trees comforted and satisfied him, and he heard the voice of the wind as it were the voice of spirits calling around him in the air; so that when he emerged from the black woodlands into the meadows by the river's side, all his cares were forgotten.

LXXXII.

SHERIDAN'S RIDE.

THOMAS BUCHANAN REED.

Up from the South at break of day,
Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,
The affrighted air with a shudder bore,
Like a herald in haste, to the chieftain's door,
The terrible grumble and rumble and roar,
Telling the battle was on once more,
And Sheridan twenty miles away.

And wilder still those billows of war

Thundered along the horizon's bar,
And louder yet into Winchester rolled
The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,
Making the blood of the listener cold
As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray,
With Sheridan twenty miles away.

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But there is a road from Winchester town,
A good, broad highway leading down;
And there through the flash of the morning light,
A steed as black as the steeds of night,
Was seen to pass as with eagle flight-
As if he knew the terrible need,
He stretched away with the utmost speed;
Hills rose and fell--but his heart was gay,
With Sheridan fifteen miles away.

Still sprung from these swift hoofs, thundering South,
The dust, like the smoke from the cannon's mouth,
Or the trail of a comet sweeping faster and faster,
Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster;
The heart of the steed and the heart of the master
Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls,
Impatient to be where the battle-field calls;
Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play,
With Sheridan only ten miles away.

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Under his spurning feet the road
Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed,
And the landscape sped away behind
Like an ocean flying before the wind;
And the steed, like a bark fed with furnace ire,
Swept on with his wild eyes full of fire,
But, lo! he is nearing his heart's desire-
He is sậuffing the smoke of the roaring fray,
With Sheridan only five miles away.

The first that the General saw were the groups
Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops;
What was done-what to do- a glance told him both,
And striking his spurs with a terrible oath,
He dashed down the line 'mid a storm of huzzahs,
And the wave of retreat checked its course there because
The sight of the master compelled it to pause.
With foam and with dust the black charger was gray,
By the flash of his eye, and his red nostril's play,
He seemed to the whole great army to say,
“I have brought you Sheridan all the way
From Winchester down to save the day!”

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Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber-door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I mutter'd, “ tapping at my chamber-door-

Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow: vainly I had sought to borrow
From nay books surcease of sorrow --sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the raro and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore-

Nameless here forevermore.

And the silker, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain, Thrill'd me--fill'd me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating, 66°T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber-door,-Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber-door;

That it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer, “Sir," said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rappivg,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber-door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”_here I open’d wide the door:

Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whisper'd word “Lenore!"
This I whisper'd, and an echo murmur'd back the word “ LENORE !

Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before.

Surely,” said I, "surely that is something at my window-lattice;
Let me see then what thereat is, and this mystery explore,
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore;

'Tis the wind, and nothing more.”

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Open then I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepp'd a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stop'd or stay'd he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door, --
Perch'd upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door-

Perch'd, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven;
Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore,
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore?

Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!'

Much I marvl'd this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning little relevancy bore;
For we can not help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was bless'd with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as 6 Nevermore !!!

But the raven sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he utter'd- not a feather then he flutter'd

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