+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

Forth from the house. One darkness fill'd the air;
But from that great Oblivion in the heavens
Look'd out the crowding eyes of endless space.
A still wind slowly breath'd along the fields,
Like some dim music older than the world ;
And the trees stirr'd, and talk'd among themselves.

So, in close darkness, went the good Zeid forth,
Even as a thief; and took from his own heap
A dozen sheaves of com, and laid them with
Ali's ; and softly to his bed return'd.

And at that moment Ali woke, and shook
The clinging drowsiness from his wife, and said :--
"A good, glad thought has come to me in sleep.
My brother is a lonely man, unblest
With wife or children, who might yield to him
Aid in day-labour, company at eve;
While God has crown'd me with a living joy,
And natural help, and solace against age.
It is not therefore right that we should bear
As many sheaves as he from off the field,
Since we have more of the fair fruits of life:
And so I did bethink me, in a dream,
To take a certain number of our sheaves,
And add to his. Now say, shall it be so ?"

She hearken'd, and was glad it should be so :
And Ali rose, and went from out the house
Through the still night ; and took from his own
A dozen sheaves, and laid them secretly
With Zeid's ; and softly to his bed return'd.

Next morning, both the brothers went afield ;
When, lo! the sheaves were equal as before.

Night after night they did the same good deed,
Yet still the sheaves were equal as before ;
Till, greatly marvelling at the mystery,
Upon the same night each resolv'd to watch.

Darkness and sleep again were on all things,
As Zeid and Ali reach'd the open field.
Quickly they did according to their wont;
When, in the middle of the way between,
Each saw a dusky figure in the gloom,
Moving uneasily beneath a weight.
They paus'd, each fearing that the thing he saw
(In the confus'd air looking vague and vast)
Might be some angel, dangerous to be met,
Whose eyes would kill with access of new sense.
Forward they moved again : then, with a cry,
(As one who finds a subtle truth in a dream,
After long search and travail all the day),
Their hearts flew out, as they stood face to face,
Each with his loving burden on his back.

Oh green and vital Mystery of Love,
Still budding in the garden of the heart!
Thou ever-working miracle of God,
Not sent to clash with universal law,
But, with thy life, the world's bare mechanism
To kindle into beauty absolute,
And light, and flame-like glory, and quick thought,
And warmth, and odour, and a music-voice,
Which else were wanting!—Spirit young and
fresh !
In these Arabian brothers thou didst find
Thy perfect type and full development.

What need to tarry longer on the scene?—
Even as their love was heaven-like, so their joy
Took wings that were not earthly, as they stood
Beneath the sacred darkness and the stars.



OUR Phantom Ship has deposited our friend,
Henry Rubley, Esquire, at Adelaide, and has
now returned to China.

Since a typhoon occurs not much oftener
than once in about three years, it would be
odd if we should sail immediately into one ;
but we are fairly in the China seas, which are
the typhoon's own peculiar sporting ground,
and it is desperately sultry, and those clouds
are full of night and lightning, to say nothing
of a fitful gale and angry sea. Look out !
There is the coast of China. Now for a telescope
to see the barren, dingy hills, with clay
and granite peeping out, with a few miserable
trees and stunted firs. That is our first sight
of the flowery land, and we shall not get
another yet, for the spray begins to blind us;
it is quite as much as we can do to see each
other. Now the wind howls and tears the
water up, as if it would extract the great
waves by their roots, like so many of old
Ocean's teeth ; but he kicks sadly at the operation.
We are driven by the wild blast that
snaps our voices short off at the lips and
carries them away; no words are audible.
We are among a mass of spars and men wild
as the storm on drifting broken junks ; a vessel
founders in our sight, and we are cast, with
dead and living, upon half a dozen wrecks
entangled in a mass, upon the shore of Hong
Kong;—ourselves safe, of course, for we have
left at home whatever could be bruised upon
the journey. How many houses have been
blown away like hats, how many rivers have
been driven back to swell canals and flood the
fields, (whose harvest has been prematurely
cropped on the first warning of the typhoon's
intended visit,) we decline investigating. The
evening sky is very wild, and we were all last
night under the typhoon at sea ; to-night we
are in the new town of Victoria, and will be
phantom bed-fellows to any Chinaman who
has been eating pork for supper. The Chinese
are very fond of pork, or anything that causes
oiliness in man. A lean man forfeits something
in their estimation; for they say, " He must
have foolishness ; why has he wanted wisdom
to eat more ?"

Hong Kong was one of the upshots of our
cannonading in the pure and holy Chinese
war; and as for the new town of Victoria, we
shall walk out of it at once, for we have not
travelled all this way to look at Englishmen.
The island itself is eight or ten miles long, and
sometimes two or sometimes six miles broad.
It is the model of a grand mountain region
on a scale of two inches to the foot. There
are crags, ravines, wild torrents, fern-covered
hills ; but the highest mountain does not rise
two thousand feet. We stand upon it now.
Quite contrary to usual experience, we found,
in coming up, the richest flowers at the greatest
elevation. The heat and dryness of the air
below, where the sun's rays are reflected from