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through the cloudy chambers of heaven, seeming to scorn the power exerted
over its terror by the illustrious Franklin! Even the boisterous winds
unanimously came forth from their mystic homes, and blustered about as if to
enhance by their aid the wildness of the scene.
At such a time, so dark, so dreary, for human sympathy my very spirit sighed;
but instead thereof, “My dearest friend, my counsellor, my comforter and
guideMy joy in grief, my second bliss in joy,” came to my side.
She moved like one of those bright beings pictured in the sunny walks of fancy’s
Eden by the romantic and young, a queen of beauty unadorned save by her own
transcendent loveliness. So soft was her step, it failed to make even a sound, and
but for the magical thrill imparted by her genial touch, as other unobtrusive
beauties, she would have glided away unperceived-unsought. A strange
sadness rested upon her features, like icy tears upon the robe of December, as
she pointed to the contending elements without, and bade me contemplate the
two beings presented.
This nightmare occupied some ten pages of manuscript and wound up with a
sermon so destructive of all hope to non-Presbyterians that it took the first prize.
This composition was considered to be the very finest effort of the evening. The
mayor of the village, in delivering the prize to the author of it, made a warm
speech in which he said that it was by far the most “eloquent” thing he had ever
listened to, and that Daniel Webster himself might well be proud of it.
It may be remarked, in passing, that the number of compositions in which the
word “beauteous” was over-fondled, and human experience referred to as “life’s
page,” was up to the usual average.
Now the master, mellow almost to the verge of geniality, put his chair aside,
turned his back to the audience, and began to draw a map of America on the
blackboard, to exercise the geography class upon. But he made a sad business of
it with his unsteady hand, and a smothered titter rippled over the house. He
knew what the matter was and set himself to right it. He sponged out lines and
re-made them; but he only distorted them more than ever, and the tittering was
more pronounced. He threw his entire attention upon his work, now, as if
determined not to be put down by the mirth. He felt that all eyes were fastened
upon him; he imagined he was succeeding, and yet the tittering continued; it
even manifestly increased. And well it might. There was a garret above, pierced
with a scuttle over his head; and down through this scuttle came a cat,
suspended around the haunches by a string; she had a rag tied about her head
and jaws to keep her from mewing; as she slowly descended she curved upward
and clawed at the string, she swung downward and clawed at the intangible air.
The tittering rose higher and higher-the cat was within six inches of the
absorbed teacher’s head-down, down, a little lower, and she grabbed his wig
with her desperate claws, clung to it and was snatched up into the garret in an
instant with her trophy still in her possession! And how the light did blaze
abroad from the master’s bald pate-for the sign-painter’s boy had gilded it!
That broke up the meeting. The boys were avenged. Vacation had come.
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