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The Heavenly Twins   By:

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THE HEAVENLY TWINS

BY MADAME SARAH GRAND AUTHOR OF "IDEALA," ETC. ETC.

"They call us the Heavenly Twins." "What, signs of the Zodiac?" said the Tenor. "No; signs of the times," said the Boy.

The time is racked with birth pangs; every hour Brings forth some gasping truth, and truth new born Looks a misshapen and untimely growth, The terror of the household and its shame, A monster coiling in its nurse's lap That some would strangle, some would starve; But still it breathes, and passed from hand to hand, And suckled at a hundred half clad breasts Comes slowly to its stature and its form, Calms the rough ridges of its dragon scales, Changes to shining locks its snaky hair, And moves transfigured into Angel guise, Welcomed by all that cursed its hour of birth, And folded in the same encircling arms That cast it like a serpent from their hold!

Oliver Wendell Holmes .

PROEM.

Mendelssohn's "Elijah." [Illustration: (musical notation); lyrics: He, watch ing o ver Is ra el, slumbers not, nor sleeps.]

From the high Cathedral tower the solemn assurance floated forth to be a warning, or a promise, according to the mental state of those whose ears it filled; and the mind, familiar with the phrase, continued it involuntarily, carrying the running accompaniment, as well as the words and the melody, on to the end. After the last reverberation of the last stroke of every hour had died away, and just when expectation had been succeeded by the sense of silence, they rang it out by day and night the bells and the four winds of heaven by day and night spread it abroad over the great wicked city, and over the fair flat country, by many a tiny township and peaceful farmstead and scattered hamlet, on, on, it was said, to the sea to the sea, which was twenty miles away!

But there were many who doubted this; though good men and true, who knew the music well, declared they had heard it, every note distinct, on summer evenings when they sat alone on the beach and the waves were still; and it sounded then, they said, like the voice of a tenor who sings to himself softly in murmurous monotones. And some thought this must be true, because those who said it knew the music well, but others maintained that it could not be true just for that very reason; while others again, although they confessed that they knew nothing of the distance sound may travel under special circumstances, ventured, nevertheless, to assert that the chime the people heard on those occasions was ringing in their own hearts; and, indeed, it would have been strange if those in whose mother's ears it had rung before they were born, who knew it for one of their first sensations, and felt it to be, like a blood relation, a part of themselves, though having a separate existence, had not carried the memory of it with them wherever they went, ready to respond at any moment, like sensitive chords vibrating to a touch.

But everything in the world that is worth a thought becomes food for controversy sooner or later, and the chime was no exception to the rule. Differences of opinion regarding it had always been numerous and extreme, and it was amusing to listen to the wordy warfare which was continually being waged upon the subject.

There were people living immediately beneath it who wished it far enough, they said, but they used to boast about it nevertheless when they went to other places just as they did about their troublesome children, whom they declared, in like manner, that they expected to be the death of them when they and their worrying ways were within range of criticism. It was a flagrant instance of the narrowness of small humanity which judges people and things, not on their own merits, but with regard to their effect upon itself; a circumstance being praised to day because importance is to be derived from its importance, and blamed to morrow because a bilious attack makes thought on any subject irritating.

Other people liked the idea of the chime, but were not content with its arrangement; if it had been set in another way, you know, it would have be so different, they asserted, with as much emphasis as if there were wisdom in the words... Continue reading book >>




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