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•whom it was intended was no longer there, and many a league tliencc in mid-ocean a fate was shaping itself, and in another corner of the earth an unlooked-for visitant was drawing near.
It was on a sultry day in August that Walter Cleasby came once again to the place that had been his home. The sun was blazing over the wide expanse of heath as he drove up to the little house they called the Parsonage. He had telegraphed from London, and his sister would be expecting him. It was nearly nine months since he had parted from her. Though as yet he did not know it, he was coming home to prosperity and riches; in his banishment he had so often yearned after Gnsly's voice and the touch of her handa, and yet now, as he drove up and saw her standing at the door, he could not even summon up a smile for the sickness of apprehension that was upon him.
Augusta was standing upon the narrow doorstep, with the flush of agitation upon her cheeks, and a look in her eyes which had not only love and welcome, but compassion in it too. They neither of them spoke, as she kissed him, and drew him after her through the passage into the tiny drawing-room. He sat down on the sofa beside her, and put with his eyes the inquiry which his lips could not frame. Then he saw that there was something she was seeking to hide. She looked at him still with that strange pitiful regret; she had manifested no surprise; she had received him as if his arrival had nothing unexpected about it; there was something which had superseded her natural gladness and agitated joy at seeing him again.
"You are tired, Walter," she said, with a quiver in her voice. She was clinging to him and leaning her head upon his shoulder, perhaps that he might not see her face. "Oh, Walter, I have wanted you so often."
"Gusty, what is it? Ton are keeping something from me."
Then she made an effort to speak, and gathered up her strength to tell him aa best she might.
"I will tell you the truth, Walter," she said; "I do not know how to put it into words: Christina is very ill."
•• You mean that she is dead? " he said hoarsely, staring blankly at her.
"No, no, not that," she said; and then she burst into tears. "No, not that; bat they say — they cannot give us hope."
"It is false," he said, standing up suddenly, and putting her from him. "It is
false; it is impossible I You mean to say that I have killed her. Where is she?" "She is at home. But, Walter 1" "Let me go," he said, freeing himself from her detaining hand. The little boarded passage resounded to his tread, as he turned abruptly and made his way out of the house. Augusta, no one, could do anything for him now. As he had sown so he must reap; it seemed'impossible that a way was no longer open to him: but he must act alone; no one else could save him.
"Walter, where are you going? You will come back V"
"Come back 1 yes I" but he did not know what he was saying. She had said that there was little hope; but yet as he rapidly made his way across the heath, his heart was still beating fast with the excited fear which only belongs to hope. He was come back to recall her to life; for the time there was room for no other thought but this, and that undefined apprehension and horror which suspense brings with it. The sky was one great burning vault above ins head; it was still too early in the afternoon for any freshness to come to him in the evening breeze, and the level heath was bare of shadows. It seemed to him that there was something awful in the stillness and the unshaded light. The White House dazzled his eyes; the gale was shut; there was no sign of human life; but the windows were all opon to the sultry air. tie walked up the garden path, not knowng what he was about to do, and stayed lis hand for a moment, dreading by any sudden sound to break the stillness; aud as he hesitated a shadow darkened the doorway, and Bernard Oswestry stood upon the threshold.
"Stop there I " he said, standing as if to
i.-ir his entrance, with his hands against
he door-posts. Walter looked at him as
f he had been a stranger; indeed, at the
moment, he did not recognize him.
"Can Mrs. North see me?" he said; 'you will not refuse to take my message '.'"
"I will take uo message," said Bernard, with a ring of passionate scorn. His hands were clenched tightly over the edges of the wood-work with an effort at self-control, >ut his face was bloodless.
"What do you mean V" said Captain
leasby. He did not put the question with any anger or impatience, nor yet with a shrinking from the answer; he had forgotten his sin and his remorse, and everything but the fierce anxiety and desire of he moment. The pale faces confronted each other and the eyes met — Bernard's gleaming with passion and scorn; Walter Cleasby's made intense by suspense and pain.
"You mean," he repeated, "you will take no message, because —"
"Because she is dying, and you have killed her."
Bernard had spoken in the low tones of passion-; but every word fell distinctly as it was uttered. It made no difference to Walter; it brought no change over his face; such words could be nothing to him now. He made no answer, but after a moment's thought he tore a leaf from his pocket-book and wrote a few words upon it. Then he laid his hand upon the belt. The flash of passion had died out of Bernard's face, as he stood still in the passage, looking on.
"Wait," he said, as he saw Captain Cleasby's purpose; "I have been wrong. God knows, this is no time . . . Give me your note; if you wait here, I will take it." He had hated the man, and for the moment his hatred had flamed out, when they stood so suddenly face to face ; but it could not but die out in the presence of a paramount Borrow, and almost within the wates of death.
Walter Cleasby never knew how long he waited. He lay upon the parched grass beside the door in the shadow of the wall; and the shadow lengthened, and the breeze began to flutter in the leaves, and the evening glow spread itself over the land. He was not unconscious, and he had sufficient manliness not to long for unconsciousness, or to seek in any way to escape from the darkness and horror which was closing him in. The palpitating fear and the whirl of recollections and the horrible certainty had made chaos in his mind: he was altogether confused, and nothing could take a distinct shape in his imagination. He looked back to the time when he had spoken to her first; he looked back to their parting, and to her words and his own; but it was as if he had been looking back at some one else's life; he had suddenly risen to a height of suffering which left those things in the far distance. Some one had told him a dreadful thing; it was not true; it was quite impossible; he did not for a moment believe it; but yet it had made him forget everything else. He tried to remember, and he could not. He had had a horrible dream : some one had come and told him that Christina was dying; that he had killed her. It was false; it was a lie: she could not be dying; she would come to the door presently and speak to him; she would come with her old smile,
and with her hands stretched out; she would call him by his name.
But the stillness was not broken; it never would be broken by her voice thrilling his heart through the summer air. Everything was still as death, still as the grave ; but it could not be that she was dying, with peacefulness all around her — with the sun setting behind the hill, and the shadows slowly creeping further towards the east. Why had they said it? What was it they had said? He could not remember. And then, in the midst of his j bewilderment, a picture rose up before his mind. The vision which had so long haunted him did not come back to him now; he did not see Christina as when they parted; but it seemed to him that he was once more walking in the spring-time through the tangled wood, in the hollow between the hills, and she was coming to meet him with the light of happiness in her eyes, ami that smile upon her lips, and the fresh green bought above her head making quivering shadows on her path. It could not be that she wonld never tread that path again. Some one had wanted to take her away; some cruel hand had been outstretched to drag her beneath the cold waters, but he had come back to save her, and he would not let her go. Who was it that said she was dying 1 She could not be dying; he would not let her die!
He saw the white curtains blowing in the wind, he heard the swing of the gate, he saw Mr. Warde pass into the house, and was vaguely conscious that he was gone to pray for her. It was not true; but still, they thought that Christina was dying. He could not pray for her himself, because everyone was against him; he would keep her, but no one else could. He was struggling, and we cannot pray when one wild rebellion against God has filled our hearts.
It seemed as if he might have been lying there for days or weeks, when at last the summons came. It was Mrs. North who called to him by hia name, and met his dazzled, bewildsred, horrorstricken eyes with that louk of patient endurance which is more pathetic than tears.
"It could not have been if there bad been hope, Captain Cleasby," she said; "but nothing can hurt her now. If it is any comfort for you to come, I will not deny it to you. She cannot be harmed. She will not know you." This was not the trembling, murmuring woman he had known before; he hardly recognized her in the dignity of sorrow. He did not believe it even now, as she motioned to him to follow her. He stepped softly up the old oak staircase; he passed along the winding passage, where the light fell in glimmering patches and the corners remained in darkness; he stood at the open door of the little room, where the wind was blowing through from the window; and there be paused and clasped his cold hands together and shuddered; for in the stillness he heard the sweet low voice, and the wandering talk.
"The birds are singing so loud," it said; "the clouds are moving so fast. I am going . . . they will come too. . . . Keep me safe, O Lord God, this night and for evermore. Amen. Bless my father and mother, and Bernard, and all Thy people. ... I am so tired ... I have forgotteu my prayers . , . where is the book, mother? . . . forgive us our sins."
O God 1 this was what they meant — it had come to him now. The truth was flashed upon him, and he could no longer hide his eyes from it. Struggle as he might it must remain; his passion was strong, but death was stronger. It had not conquered as yet, but he felt that it would be victorious. The strife was still manifest in his face amidst the anguish, when Mrs. Oswestry signed to him to come forward; but hope had already given place to a crushing certainty.
He came forward in the silence, and knelt down by the bed.
They thought that she could not know him; the last prayer had been offered up; the last moment was near at hand.
She lay raised up upon the pillows, and her breath came in gasps. The soft wind, blowing through the creepers which clustered round the window, stirrred her brown waves of hair; her hands were clasped together; her lips were slightly parted, and her rapt eyea fixed upon the glow which lay like a glory over the heath.
"Christina," he said, with a moaning cry, "stay with me — stay here! Pray to stay, and God will hear. Come back Christina, because I cannot die with you."
She turned her eyes upon him for a moment and smiled. "God bless Walter," she said softly, as if ending her prayer. She looked again towards the glow: the large leaves of the magnoli:i framed it in; the scent of the blossoms was in the air; the bare room, with the narrow white bed and the uncarpeted floor and the scanty curtain drawn aside, was flooded by the splendour of the sinking sun. Christina's eyes were looking be
yond it. He felt that she was already gone from him. His cry could not reach | her. Life and sin, parting and misery, and the passion of his love lay already far behind her. He could not bring her back. The mysterious halo of death was round her head; the glory of eternity was within her grasp; heaven was opening to her eyes; she must enter in and the golden gates must be shut and he must remain outside. Yet there was a Presence within the room which forbade him to cry out — and awe had silenced his anguish. They waited in the stillness, knowing that they stood in the valley of the shadow of Death.
There is a grave in the little churchyard upon the heath, and a cross which marks the place, and letters which tell that Christina North, aged twenty years, died on the first of August, 1854.
They give to strangers the common record of a girl's life cut short: but there are others to whom they tell a longer story. And some, whilst the winds are blowing in the woods, the sun blazing on the road, and the children's laughter coming up from the valley, are unconscious of all except that the White House is empty; the gate broken from its hinges; the shutters closed and the rooms silent and deserted.
The Vicar's little children are making daisy-chains upon the lawn at the Park; their mother watches them from the Terrace. The place belongs to her brother, but people say that he will never live there again; he comes to England every year, but they say that there is a history belonging to that grave in the churchyard which makes it impossible for him to live at his home. He is a rich man now, but his riches do not seem to have brought him happiness; he looks sadder, and his mouth has grown stern, like that of a man who has suffered. For a time his sister hoped that he would come back and live with her; but now it is said that he is going to be married, aud will always remain abroad.
The separation is a great grief to his sister, for she was always so fond of him, and she is not fond of many people. She often goes to the Homestead on the Hill; but it is almost the only house in Overton in which she is a familiar guest.
The Homestead is as peaceful as ever; a place for roses and bees and sunshine; aud Mrs. Oswestry is not lonely, for her son lives with her still. Bernard is prospering in his profession; the beauty of boyhood still lingers about him; his smile is as winning as ever ; it is only in his eyes that their is a shadow of patient waiting and a memory of pain. He will meet life bravely, for that other life is near at band; he walks through the woods where they wandered hand in hand as little children, and across the meadows where her feet have trod; the lilies which they planted blossom every spring under the garden wall, and the blessed memories are close around him. He will pass through life alone; and yet not alone, because Christina is near him still. She will live for ever in his heart, though hidden from his sight.
"It is the living we have ceased to love; Not the beloved dead are lost to us."
And she has passed from Death to Life; passed to *her rest: above the imperfect harmonics of earth; beyond the sunsets, beyond the hills.
From The Spectator.
Wrong With The Sun.
When we consider the intense heat which has prevailed in Europe during July, and the circumstance that in America also the heat has been excessive, insomuch that in New York the number of deaths during the week ending July 6 was three times greater than the average, we are naturally led to the conclusion that the Sun him'elf is giving out more heat than nsual. Though not endorsing such an opinion, which, indeed, is not warranted by the facts, since terrestrial causes are quite sufficient to explain the recent unusual heats, we cannot refrain from noting, as at the least a curious coincidence, that at the very time when the heat has been so great, the great central luminary of the Solar system has been the scene of a very remarkable disturbance, — an event, in fact, altogether unlike any which astronomers have hitherto observed.
It will not be unknown to our readers (in these days, when every one knows everything about the Sun) that astronomers no longer confine their attention to the actual aspect of the solar orb. By a contrivance which need not here be described, the astronomer can tell what is going on in a certain gaseous envelope surrounding the sun, which to ordinary telescopic research is altogether invisible, except during eclipses. This envelope, some four or five thousand miles deep, is called the chromosphere (by purists, the
chromatosphere), and consists in the main of glowing hydrogen, but in its lower strata contains the glowing vapours of sodium, magnesium, and many other elements. These, however, are ordinarily Bo low down that they can scarcely be recognized under the ordinary conditions of tbe new method of observation, except here and there round the sun's disc. It is as though our earth were examined by some highly ingenious astronomers in Venus or Mercury, who could recognize at times the vapour of water in oar air, where it rose pretty freely and to a considerable height above oceans, but not over the continents, because less vapour there arose into the air. Only, in thu sun's case the vapours are not, like the vapour of water on earth, at a cool and pleasant temperature, but are such vapors as rise above the molten surface of metal in our furnaces. They are at so high a temperature that a wind of such vapour, blowing, as such winds do, over the surface of the sun, would be competent to reduce our earth in a few seconds to vapour likewise.
Now certain Italian Bpectroscopists — Bespighi, Secchi, Tacchini, and others — have set themselves the task of keeping a continual watch upon the solar chromatosphere. They draw pictures of it, and of the mighty coloured prominences which are from time to time upreared out of, or through, the chromatospheric envelope. They note the vapours which are present, as well as what can be learned of the heat at which these vapours exist, their pressure, their rate of motion, and other like circumstances. It was while engaged in some of the more difficult and delicate of these tasks that Tacchini noticed the strange occurrence now to be described.
"I have observed a phenomenon," be says, "which is altogether new in the whole series of my observations. Since May 6, I had found certain regions in the Sun remarkable for the presence of magnesium." Some of these extended halfway round the sun. This state of things continued, the extension of these magnesium regions gradually growing greater, until at length, "on June 18," says Tacchini, "I was able to recognize the presence of magnesium quite round the sun, — that is to say, the chromatospbere was completely invaded by the vapour of this metal. This ebullition was accompanied by an absence of the coloured prominences, while, on the contrary, the names of the chromatosphere were very marked and brilliant. It seemed to me as though I could tee the surface of our great source oj light renewing itntlf." While this was going on Tacchini noticed (a8 had frequently happened before in his experience) that the bright streaks on the sun which are called facula were particularly brilliant close to those parts of the edge of the disc where the flames of the chromatosphere were most splendid and characteristic. The granulations also, which the astronomer can recognize all over the sun, when a large telescope ia employed, were unusually distinct.
Tacchini concludes (and the inference seems just) that there had not been a number of local eruptions of magnesium vapour, but complete expulsions. Only we would venture to substitute for the word "expulsion " the expression "outflow " or "uprising," since it may well be that these vapours rise by a quiet process resembling evaporation, and not by any action so violent that it could properly be regarded aa expulsive.
In whatever way, however, the glowing rapour of magnesium thus streamed into the envelope of the sun, it would seem that the aspect of our luminary was modified by the process, — not indeed in a very striking manner, or our observers in England would have noticed the change, yet appreciably. •' More than one person," says Tacchini, " has told me that the light of the snn has not at present its ordinary aspect; and at the Observatory we have judged that we might make the same remark. The change must be attributed to magnesium."
It is impossible to consider attentively the remarkable occurrence recorded by Tacchini without being struck by the evidence which it affords of solar mutability. We know that during thousands of years our Sod has poured forth his light and heat upon the worlds which circle around him. and that there has been no marked iDtermittence of the supply. We hear, indeed, of occasions when the sun has been darkened for a while; and we have abundant reasons for believing that he has at times been so spot-covered that there has been a notable diminution of the supply of light and heat for several days together. Yet we have had no reasons for anticipating that our sun might permanently lose Bo much of his heat and lustre that the inhabitants of earth would suffer. Tacchini's observation reminds ua, however, that processes are at work upon the sun •which admit of being checked or increased, interrupted altogether or exaggerated so violently (as it were), that the whole aspect of the Sum, his condition as the fire
and lamp of the planetary system, may be I seriously affected.
If we only remember that our Sun is one of the stars, not in any way distinguished, unless perhaps by relative insignificance, from the great bulk of the stars which illuminate our skies at night, or are revealed by the telescope, we shall learn to recognize the possibility that he may undergo marked changes. There are stars which, after shining with apparent steadiness, for thousands of years (possibly for millions of years before astronomy was thought of), have become suddenly much reduced in brightness, or after a few Bickerings (as it were) have gone out altogether. There are others which have shone with equal steadiness, and have then suddenly blazed out for awhile with a lustre exceeding a hundredfold that which they formerly possessed. It would be equally unpleasant for ourselves whether the sun suddenly lost the best part of his light, and presently went out altogether, or whether he suddenly grew fifty-fold brighter and hotter than he now is. Yet in the present position of sidereal astronomy, it is quite impossible to assert confidently that one event or the other might not take place at any time.
Fortunately, we may view thia matter (just as astronomers have learned to view the prospect of mischievous collisions with comets), as a question of probabilities. Among so many thousands of stars there have been so many sudden outbursts of light and fire, so many sudden defalcations of splendour. Our sun is one of those thousands, and so far as we know takes his chance with the rest. Precisely, then, as we derive confidence from the law of probabilities, that since so many only out of so many millions perish by lightning or any other specified form of injury, any individual person is unlikely to perish in that particular way; so may we reason about our Mmi. — that since only a small proportion of his fellow suns undergo disastrous changes, he is unlikely to be one of the unfortunates. It may be that one of these days, when we obtain clearer ideas of the structure of the sidereal universe than we at present possess, we may obtain more satisfactory reasons for confidence. The analysis of stars with the spectroscope, the recently proposed processes of stargauging, the application bf new methods of determining star-motions, these and other researches may show what are the conditions which render a sun's tenure of office precarious. Let it be hoped that when this has been accomplished, a large