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selves, walking here and there in search of the stone or the flower. We shall not shut ourselves up in a stolid, rock-like self-command and bless the stoics. We shall not hold up murders, arsons, crimes, and wail and say, “All is vanity of vanities.” We shall see the undraped soul, the good and the bad, the stone and the flower; and blending all, make harmony out of the very discord. Let us live.
To-day's sorrow is but the pioneer of tomorrow's joy. Tantalus shall yet drink his fill, Prometheus roam unbound, and Sisyphus sit smiling on the conquered stone. There are no foundations. Roots are but branches, and have their very essence in the dead leaves of a forgotten and petrified growth. How we feel in front of us, that we shall not stumble on the little fabrics upbuilt around us, and disturb and unsettle. What have we to do with caution ? Things are woven of cobwebs, and universality is evanescent. We shall not fall. There is no precipice. What a way we have of twisting and warping and pantomiming, saying, “This is the proper angle. Now the light falls aptly. How we shine! How we reflect !” Oh, brother, do you forget ihat the eyes of the well-painted portrait, let the light be where it may, seem ever to look into your face ? You do not need to turn the prism, its reflection falls forever as it lies. Human nature is exalted ; and though it stand out cumbered with weeds, the skilled hand shall uncover and find beneath the few flowers which no time or neglect can dim, but which live on and lend fragrance and vitality to all moral and intellectual manhood.
We sigh so for companionship, and are fearful of loneliness. What is man that he should hold out his hand and plead with his fellows, “Oh, brothers, come to us, we are so weary of our oneness, and our hearts are numb and filled with ashes”? Let be. The great life overlaps all mankind and pierces infinity. It should not fret because there is no warm hand or tender glad greeting. You shall not spare this body or count its ease. Though you shatter it, rack it, crush it, until it groan and writhe with pain and fatigue, 'tis well, so you shall lift upon its ruins the mind exalted to all the fulness and richness of unmeasured intellectual enlightenment. It has been well said, “Ye shall seek no satisfaction upon earth.” Live under the call of your higher, better faculties; and though you walk in loneliness, yet that ye seek not shall come in a fourfold abundant harvest, because the work you do has merit in itself. Pascal said, “I shall die alone.” Zimmermann said, “ I am dying, leave me alone." You say: “Let us live while we live, for tomorrow we die." There is no death ; death is birth. Death is your friend, you shall not fear him. I could go down upon the green turf of the grave, and fling my hands amongst its unurned bones; for out of death shall brightly bloom the life of the soul. Death is a reality; the grave a verity: at least these are ours, they cannot dodge us. Do we live? We know not. This we call existence may be a mockery, and each day's work may leave its blot upon the soul's exalted life, like the deep-eaten scar of an ulcer; but in the hot being of the body comes the painless, upsoaring, healthy repose of the soul. Death and birth are twin laws of being. And the proudest work of mankind is that lofty and enduring power which walks us unblenched though blindfolded over the test of gleaming ploughshares, so filled are we with the consciousness within. Let us live. Let us make our lives full, rich, grand, sonorous, ringing through age after age; for even the toad, it is said, has a jewel in its head, and life is what we make it.
MORTIMER F. TAYLOR.
friend Winter was a man of many oddities. Whatever wbim
or caprice seized upon his fancy quite mastered him for the time, and he would lay aside everything else to gratify the freak of the moment. Being an unmarried man, and having no one to check him in these passing fancies, he was able to indulge himself on all such occasions, where the great obstacle of an empty pocket did not intervene. As his means were more than sufficient for a man whose extravagances always resulted from peculiarities of individual taste, and not from any propensity to display, this difficulty did not often occur.
Once, towards the close of December, he took a fancy to celebrate the Christmas holidays in some less hackneyed way than that in which we, his personal friends, were all forced to commemorate the joyful event which tradition has assigned to that time of the year.
His idea was to go to New Orleans, and see if he could find there in some quaint nook any traces of the old ceremonies which belonged to mediæval life. Knowing how many old customs, handed down through many generations, were still kept up in the French and Spanish families of the city, he felt confident that such an inveterate antiquarian as he was would, by a sort of instinct, stumble upon some place in which there were vestiges of the ancient ways; and he trusted to his powers of address to procure him an admission at least to the view of these solemn ceremovies.
He was wonderfully favored by fortune in attaining his wish, and yet in the simplest way imaginable.
He went, on reaching the city, to the Restaurant Antoine, his usual place of stay. It was an excellent place for his purposes, furnishing admirable dishes in the best French style at any time he chose to call for them, and affording him also a sufficiently comfortable room for sleeping Besides, it is in the French quarter of the city, and so he was enabled 10 bave easy access to all those quaint, old-fashioned, and foreign aspects of New Orleans which he so greatly enjoyed.
He spent several days, as was his habit on every visit to the city, in roaming about through the neigboring streets, and those strange alleys in which the upper galleries and balconies on the opposite sides jutting over approach one another so closely as almost to allow the clasping of hands across. In these wanderings he remarked many usages which he had before known of as only to be observed in some of the most conservative parts of western and southern Europe.
On Christmas eve a little adventure happened to him which put him in possession of exactly what he wanted, and bore yet greater fruits besides. He had retired early, and was aroused perhaps about half an hour after he had fallen asleep by a considerable disturbance just outside his door. Listening, he soon discovered that a party newly arrived had been assigned the room opposite, and that, when they were ready to retire, the key brought up by the domestic had failed to open the door. There had ensued a good deal of running to and fro; the mistress of the establishment had come up to remedy the difficulty; the attendants were hurrying in different directions with flaring candles, seeking for the right key; but all to no purpose.
Whilst he was meditating whether he should offer the key of his own room, a little afraid at the same time of startling the party, whom he perceived by their voices to be ladies, he had leisure to get out of bed and take a peep from behind the gauze curtain which covered his window opening on the passage between the rooms. He had a full view of the group, and saw with a throb of delight, which he used to declare afterwards must have been instinct, that the future occupants of the room were an elderly lady of good style and pleasing face, though somewhat inclined to embor point, and a young lady of very attractive features and elegant form, whose decided likeness in the face to the other at once assured him that she must be her daughter. There was a Spanish softness about her eyes, veiled as they were with her long lashes, and a stateliness of mien, not haughty, but simply graceful and lady-like, which still more piqued his curiosity, and caused him to long to make her acquaintance. This revelation of the loveliness of one at least of the persons in trouble, decided him at once, though he had only wavered because of a doubt whether the kindness proffered would not be unwelcome as coming from a gentleman unknown, and certainly not in a presentable state.
But at the moment when he was making up his mind, the whole party began to retreat towards the staircase, as if they had come to the conclusion that they must find some other room ; and this withdrawal relieved him from the scruple of propriety which had kept him back hitherto.
Hastening to the door of his room, he opened it just far enough to admit his arm, and, taking out the key, he offered it to the retreating group, calling out in such French as he could muster at the moment (for he never was sure of his spoken French), “Prouvez ce clef-ci, mesdames, je vous prie.” The idea was caught at in an instant, and, several voices crying “Merci, monsieur,” the key was taken from him by one of the domestics, and he had the pleasure presently of hearing the refractory door unlocked, and the newly arrived ladies ushered in, amid much lively chattering of French and some sweet laughter of relief, which he of course attributed to the fair unknown.
He did not get to sleep again for some time, and it is to be supposed that the incident, slight as it was, had gathered such importance in his mind from the undoubted charms of the lady he had been so fortunate as to assist, that he was kept awake by a multitude of romantic fancies and wild anticipations of something remarkable springing from this trifling occurrence.
For once romance had its course, and castles in the air proved to be built of durable material and to rise from a firm foundation. The next morning he happened to enter the dining salon at the very moment when Madame and her daughter were about to seat themselves at their breakfast-table. The elder lady seemed to have already made inquiry, and to have ascertained who had done the kindness of last night, for she came forward at once and thanked him with a profusion of thanks for her daughter and herself, at the same time inviting him to join them at her table. This is the Day of Glad Tidings, said she in substance, and we must all be sociable and fraternal, and especially to one who has shown such courtesy to ladies and friendli. ness to strangers as to make it evident that he is a gentleman. Her graceful way of saying this, though Winter's merely book-acquaintance with French made it a little difficult for him to catch all she said, put him entirely at his ease; and he gladly sat down beside them.
The old lady's talk, which flowed on in an unintermitting stream, though with a chirpy freshness and geniality about it which made it pleasant to listen to, apprised him of much he wanted to know. He learned that the young lady's name was Félicie Lepetit-Rey, that the family was of mixed French and Spanish lineage and highly respectable, that mother and daughter made it a settled custom, as their forefathers had done, of coming into the city every year to hold the Christmas festival with their nearest kindred there, that they usually stopped at the St. Louis Hotel just opposite, but had found it crowded to overflowing on this occasion, and had accordingly come to the Restaurant Antoine, and that the feast of the day was observed in a peculiar manner by their family, more according to ancient Spanish usages than French.
Here was just what Winter wanted and had come expressly to the city to find; but he was conscious by this time of being infinitely better pleased with being in the society of the lovely Felicie, who sat not altogether silent, but putting in a few words modestly and sweetly every time her mother appeaied to her in the midst of her monologue. Winter thought it the most melodious voice he had ever heard.
Madame Lepetit-Rey invited him to join them in the evening, <when the preparations for the family festival would be complete, and ..accompany them to the house of her uncle, Señor Juan Garcia-Mora, at which the various members of the family were to assemble, give glory to God, and enjoy themselves. Winter gladly accepted the invitation, and congratulated himself on the bewitching look with which Mademoiselle Félicie seconded her mother's request for his escort. He Aattered himself that there was something even appeali ing in it, and began to fancy that here perhaps was a case of love at first sight on both sides; for it was a peculiar characteristic of Winter's that the older he grew the more romantic he seemed to become He was now in a strange state of exhilaration for a bachelor of so many years' standing; and when the ladies left the table he put on his hat and sauntered out with a sensation of having found a merry Christmas indeed. He roamed about the French part of the city full of pleasant dreams, and more in love with the old-fashioned look of almost every object before his eyes than ever.
I shall not trouble the reader, who is perhaps very reasonable and may at this moment be thinking of the next investment he has in view, or wondering why dinner is so late, with all the disjointed and almost ejaculatory thoughts of my friend as he wandered to and fro, the ecstatic reveries he indulged in, the sense of something elevating and delicious in his heart, the number of times he said to himself that Félicie was a beautiful, beautiful name, the very few ideas that made him happy with perpetual recurrence, the utter forgetfulness of all his yesterday's plans, which proved how one theme absorbed all his thoughts, the cool indifference with which he even saw a stranger buy the Cyrano de Bergerac in the old-book store of Exchange Alley, which he had intended to bargain for to-day, the feverish eagerness with which he longed for the evening to come, and the rest of his monomania.
We have all had some experience in these matters, and we all know how impossible it is to describe that peculiar transport, and that when it is put into words it will somehow sound silly. But it is all very real the moment we put ourselves into dreamland and revive the past, or fall into the same state and realise it as a present possession.
So that without any set description the reader may understand that Winter was wholly given up to thoughts that end either in marriage or grievous disappointment, and was certainly longing for the coming of evening
It came at last, however long it seemed to his eager mind to be in coming, and Madame Lepetit-Rey sent to inform him that they were ready. The house of Señor Garcia-Mora was not very far away ; and when they entered it, the scene which struck Winter's eyes, under a blaze of light from chandeliers above and wax-tapers set about in every direction, was so new and strange to him that for a moment even the all-absorbing sense of Félicie's loveliness gave way to an impulse of curiosity and delight.
The guests were gathered in the hall, and the door of the principal room in the house had just been thrown open to reveal the scene of what the Spainards call El Nacimiento, for the time of the Adoration and of the peculiar glory of the Virgin's maternity is selected to express most strikingly the Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Men which the feast of our Saviour's Birth is intended to commemorate.
In a cradle of delicate silver-work lay a waxen image of the Infant Jesus. Over it were bending an aged man with flowing beard, and a lovely woman, who were enacting the parts of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mother. Through a door at the opposite end of the room came at this moment three persons richly dressed, who represented Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior, the three Magi, one very old, the next in