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There was a high seat in the catacombs, and Death-the fleshless figure with the earthen crown--sat down upon it. But this was not the highest seat; there was one higher still, but he dared not sit on that, for it was claimed by one who was ruler over Death himself. They say that Death comes in many shapes to man, and there were many figures there. There was an old man, whose hair was white, and who leaned upon a stick; the stick had a heavy iron ferrule, worn very much, and it had on the top an iron crook. Next to him, there was a young man, hot and angry looking; his eyes were bright, and he seemed restless, as though he would depart, but dared not stir. Then came a maiden, whose cheeks were covered with a damask blush, whose eyes were bright like the evening star, whose gentle tread could scarce be heard, and whose soft touch could scarce be felt. A gloomy-looking man sat next to her; he was rude in his speech, and wore a knife and pistol in his belt, and a thin rope about his neck. Then came a strong, tall woman, dressed in black, and a youth with a silver cup in his hand; and a thousand more, with looks and dresses all varying, yet Sir Aubrey felt that their mission was alike.
more had been put within his power; he hath brought fifty under thy dominion, and he hath inscribed upon this roll the names of fifty more. Alas! my lord,” said he, “thy servant hath but the gleanings of many reapers,-a few scattered stalks which other hands have left after they have passed through the fields, -what can be expected from thy servant, when some here present cut down the stalks while they are yet green? Fifty hath thy servant brought,” continued the old man, “and he hath conquered where all else have failed ; for some of these stalks are gashed with other sickles, which they withstood, but at last thy servant cut them down; it is, at least, something, that he hath succeeded where all other's have failed."
“Are there any notable persons,” said the monarch, “amongst those whom thou hast subjected to our sway?”
“Notable persons there are, O king!” replied the grey-haired old man, reading out some of the names inscribed upon the parchment roll. “ There is Crusos, whom I tore away from a golden pillar to which he clung; and Senex, who was held so fast by his children's children, that I thought at one time I must have left him, for I had no power over the young; long, indeed, might he have withstood me, had it not been for Puretos, who drew away the children,-and then thy servant was enabled to accomplish his design."
“My servants' work is seldom light," responded the king; "and that which seems the easiest to accomplish is often toilsome and very hard."
“It is true, o king," said the old man; " and for many a year have I carried on my labours on these two, whose names have just been read. It was marvellous to see Crusos sitting day by day amid his gold, and sleeping on it at night; and, though I never left him, he never thought that he should die."
“ And how was he brought hither at the last?"
“The price of bread rose a triling coin, and he grudged the loss. For three days he waited for the markets to fall again, and lived on the crumbs which were in his bag; then I had him at a vantage; and, as on the fourth morning he held a coin in his hand and kissed it, before he parted from his store, I found that he was within my grasp, and I stole the light out of his eyes even while they were fixed upon the coin ...."
“So please you,” interrupted Puretos, “ but the work was slowly done."
“It was slowly done,” replied the king,
The first voice heard was that of the monarch, as he rose from his throne: “Our trusty friends," said he, “our cousins, yea, our very selves, all know upon what terms we hold our sway; we pay homage as is our wont;”-and then he laid his earthen crown upon the step of the seat upraised above him. All now was silent in the hall, and a hand was put forth, which crowned the king with his diadem of clay again. “And now that we have owned the highest lord, we would hear the numbering of the dead, as touching what we have gained since last we met within these walls."
Then the king beckoned Sir Aubrey to his side, and said, “ Thou art my guest to-night; it is thy soul's last chance; be taught by the numbering of the dead."
The first that stood up was the old man whose hair was so white, and who leaned so heavily upon his staff. Slowly and carefully he unfolded a parchment roll, and, having read from it some fifty names, addressed the monarch in a feeble voice,
“ Thy servant," said he hath done but little ; much more would he have done, if
“ but it was done surely. But how was it priests who have perished amongst the sick; with Senex ?"
but all the rest are from the poor." “ Senex!” replied the old man, “was at one “ Thou hast done too much," interrupted the time easy to be overcome, even before he came king; "an alarm will be raised, and thou wilt to my lot; he waited for me as though I were a be driven forth ere long." friend; so calm and even was he in his spirit, "Pardon, my lord !” said the young man. that when Puretos ran upon him, and endea “ Thou wilt see that all the names are of the voured to supplant me, he could have him at poor, and where the poor dwell I am always no advantage. He often thought that it would
safe.” be sweet to leave the world, when I called : hel " Thou art not safe," said the king, “ if the said that it was the sunsetting of a fitful day; poor dwell near the rich; for, if the stricken it was the fruit-gathering of a laden tree; it | poor be near the rich, then the rich, for their was peace, and sleep, and rest! Yes!” con own sake, will drive thee from the poor." tinued the old man, “but he was like the “But herein is my stronghold,” replied the evening sky, which at times is lit up with a young man, “ that I am dwelling in alleys and second brightness, before it shrouds itself in in courts, where no rich men come; the water night: he was like the tree that throws out a is measured out, and the light has no entrance; second blossom after the fruit has been gathered and all that I require is fitted to my hand. If in; his children had children born to them, | my lord wants proof of my being safe, let it and then he became young again, and he suffice that there are weeks in which I slay the thought of me no more. He might not have father and the mother, with the children, and been in the roll to-day, O king, had it not no one hears or heeds what I have done. They been that Puretos killed the children, and then will not disturb me," said he, with energy, I brought away the old man from life. He “ for, of the thousand upon this roll, five hunfell into my arms. The storm that uprooted dred died without a drop of water to quench the little sprouts around the stem also shed the their burning thirst. I heard them often ask autumn blossoms upon them, and we gained that they might be supplied, but they were them all at once.”
answered that their houses had not paid; and Then the king said, “I will take the roll ;" then I knew that I was safe." and the old man, with a low obeisance, laid it "Let me see the roll,” said the king; and he by his side.
outstretched his hand, and took it from the “We will next hear,” said the monarch, young man's burning grasp. "what Puretos hath done;" and as quick as “Who are these? Here are the names of thought the young man started to his feet. Industria, of Miseria, and Sacerdos. Where are His hands were dry and burning, and he held their coffins; are they around us in the hall ?” nervously in them a roll, much larger than the “ They are not," said Puretos ; "they are in old man's.
the portion of the cemetery allotted to the "May it please the king," said the speaker, poor.” " there are a thousand names upon this list. "Is not Sacerdos here ?” said the king. I have been driven from the palace, and from “Nay," said Puretos ; "he had given away the houses of the nobles, but I have found a all that he possessed ; he had not a coin in his home where nothing interferes with my daily possession when he died; and, as no one knew work. Thrice have I essayed to do something him save the poor, who were unable to help, at the court; but, at the mere mention of my he was buried amongst those for whom he name, every precaution was taken that I might lived, and no one could tell his grave from be foiled. They knew my mortal enemies, and theirs." they called them in to drive me forth. I could "We will hear," said the king, "of thy not grapple with the light which oppressed success with these three names." me, and the air which chilled me, and the "Industria," said Puretos quickly, “was the water which deluged every foot-print that I mother of three children. She wrought from made within its walls; then I retired to where morning to night, and almost from night to the menials lodged, but even thence I was morning. She had once been rich, but her driven, without having gained one name upon husband died, and then she had to work for this roll ; until, in despair, I took up my their support. They were a long time before home amongst the poor, and from thence I they came within my domain ; but, like the gathered almost all that I have brought. Some moth, when he is doomed for the flame, they names there are of those who have been mad came nearer every day. As they lost all their dened by speculation ; and there are three goods, they had to change from house to house,
and each was more wretched than the one a lustre, that none would believe the sick
Consumptia ; she was so gentle, like himself;
Then the young man handed the king the All then read the contents of their long rolls,
safely stored up until he held his court again.
While the attendants at Death's court gave
misery in the world, that his own was nothing
concerning all the cases on which the old man, Puretos, and Consumptia had dwelt, that the baronet might learn from death a lesson concerning life,
Tempus, who had wings upon his shoulders and his feet, and a measuring line in his hand, drew from his girdle a roll, which was written with ink so pale, that no mortal eye could have deciphered its contents.
“What saith it of Crusos ? " said the king.
“ Had Crusos lived but one week more, tempted by the high price of bread, he would have purchased up all the corn in the city; and so fast would he have held it, that thousands must have perished for want of food.”
- What saith it of Senex and of the three children?”
“ Had the children lived, the old man would have never been content to die: he would have been wedded to the earth, and have lost his soul."
"What is written concerning Industria ?”
“ Had Industria remained in affluence, there were two demons commissioned to slay her soul with haughtiness and pride ; but, under the guidance of a maiden called Paupertas, who was sent to draw her from their reach, she has escaped, and Puretos has finished the kindly work."
"Sacerdos also died young! What is written of the priest ?"
“Had Sacerdos lived, the fame of his doings amongst the poor would have reached the ears of the high ones of the land, and being bent upon rewarding merit, they would have preferred him to a post of honour and of wealth ; then Sacerdos must have fallen from his simplicity and charity, and only through a long course of trial and of chastisement, far more bitter than any death, could he have been restored again."
“ Thou hearest," said the king, as he turned to Sir Aubrey, "that all that we have done hath been both just and good. Go back to life, and live for death."
Then the king received from the hand that had crowned him a roll, on which were in scribed the names of such as were to die before they all met there again, and portioning out the names amongst his court, he dismissed them to carry out their work.
been very aged, and whose hair was white, as though it had been silvered with the snows of many years. His name was Sapiens ; and although so young, he had read and studied more than many of the wise men of the city, and had been a philosopher of no small renown. Only a year before, he had been an oracle of wisdom; now his intellect was shattered, the home of thought was desolated, and its tenant had for ever fied. The pockets of the stranger were filled with many small articles of clothing, such as would be used by a little girl of three or four years old, and he held some broken toys most carefully in his hands. Amongst them was a ball of many colours, which had apparently been unused as yet.
“Give me back my child, O Death !" said he; “I never gave thee leave to keep her here so long. Have I not written much in thy praise; then why requite me by stealing my only joy?”
Then he listened, but no one answered ; and he cried out again and again, until the heavy velvet on the coffins seemed to absorb the sounds, and they loomed back heavily upon his heart, like the beatings of a muffled drum.
At last he grew weary of his exertions, and sat down opposite the coffin of a child. It was that which held the form of the one he had loved so well. When he had seated himself, he drew from his pockets all his store, and spread them out upon the ground. First, he settled them in one way, and then he changed them to another, until he had made them as attractive as he could; then he stole gently to the coffin, and put his mouth close to it, and whispered in a low, sweet voice, " Amie! we will have no books to-day, but it shall be all sport until the evening comes. Come, Amie, come; for here are Amie's clothes, and Amie's little toys."
He listened for a while, as though he expected to receive an answer, and then returned to his seat, and took up a little toy : it was the figure of a woman, whose dress was bedizened with much tawdry gold, but which had once seemed very fine. He spent a few minutes arranging its ruffled dress and burnishing the dimmed lace upon its cloak, and then rose from his seat, and said, “ Come, Amie; here is your favourite! the maid of honour to the queen! Come and play with her again !" Then he took the figure's arms, and made its wooden hands beat upon the coffin-lid. “Here, Amie, she is alive; she is trying to wake you ; come and play again." Then he listened as he had done before, but there was no answer. It was in vain that he tried every art: he
XIV. Long while might Sir Aubrey have remained in the catacombs, had not a loud knocking been now heard at the gates. Violently were they shaken to and fro, and in strode a man whose tall figure was bent as though he had
rolled the coloured ball into the dark recesses have been there, he was allowed to return to
nant of his fortune, and his energies and time, But Sapiens had been missed, and he had in softening the hardships of the poor, and in been traced to the catacombs; and now his reconciling them to their lot; and when the attendants came to take him home; and there relation that robbed him of his estate was dead, they found Sir Aubrey cold and stiff.
and it was found that the baronet had been They thought that he was dead, for the cold i left his heir, the only change that it made to of the vaults had stiffened his damp clothes, Sir Aubrey was one of place: he carried out and he was so numbed, that at first he gave no on his own broad domains, until he died, the signs of life. With care, however, the keeper lessons which he had learned from “ The of the cemetery succeeded in restoring him ; Schoolmaster of the Catacombs !" and having explained how he happened to !
THE MYSTERIES OF A FLOWER.
BY PROFESSOR R. HUNT.
FLOWERS have been called the stars of the into the repose of quiet thought becomes a earth; and certainly, when we examine those luxury. The nervous system is strung to beautiful creations, and discover them, analyz endure only a given amount of excitement; ing the sunbeam, and sending back to the if its vibrations are quickened beyond this eye the full luxury of coloured light, we must measure, the delicate harp-strings are broken, confess there is more real appropriateness in or they undulate in throbs. To every one the the term than even the poet who conceived contemplation of natural phenomena will be the delicate thought imagined. Lavoisier beau found to induce that repose which gives vigour tifully said—“The fable of Prometheus is but | to the mind,-as sleep restores the energies of the outshadowing of a philosophic truth a toil-exhausted body. And to show the adwhere there is light there is organization and i vantages of such a study, and the interesting life; where light cannot penetrate, Death for lessons which are to be learned in the fields of ever holds his silent court.” The flowers, and, nature, is the purpose of the present essay. indeed, those far inferior forms of organic vege The flower is regarded as the full developtable life which never flower, are direct de ment of vegetable growth; and the consipendencies on the solar rays. Through every deration of its mysteries naturally involves a stage of existence they are excited by those careful examination of the life of a plant, subtle agencies which are gathered together from the seed placed in the soil to its full in the sunbeam; and to these influences we maturity, whether it be as herb or tree. may trace all that beauty of development For the perfect understanding of the phywhich prevails throughout the vegetable world. | sical conditions under which vegetable life is How few there are, of even those refined carried on, it is necessary to appreciate, in its minds to whom flowers are more than a sym- fulness, the value of the term growth. It has metric arrangement of petals harmoniously been said that stones grow,--that the formacoloured, who think of the secret agencies for tion of crystals was an analogous process to ever exciting the life which is within their the formation of a leaf; and this impression cells, to produce the organized structure—who has appeared to be somewhat confirmed, by reflect on the deep, yet divine philosophy, witnessing the variety of arborescent forms which may be read in every leaf :-- those into which solidifying waters pass, when the tongues in trecs, which tell us of Eternal external cold spreads it as ice over our windowgoodness and order.
panes. This is, however, a great error; stones The hurry of the present age is not well | do not grow-there is no analogy even between suited to the contemplative mind; yet, with the formation of a crystal and the growth of a all, there must be hours in which to fall back leaf. All inorganic masses increase in size