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- The Evolution of Expression Vol. I - 5/20 -


lid--such is the influence of a bright example--performed a sort of jig, and clattered like a deaf and dumb young cymbal that had never known the use of its twin brother.

8. That this song of the kettle's was a song of invitation and welcome to somebody out of doors, to somebody at that moment coming on towards the snug, small home and the crisp fire, there is no doubt whatever. Mrs. Peerybingle knew it perfectly, as she sat musing before the hearth.

9. "It's a dark night," sang the kettle, "and the rotten leaves are lying by the way, and above all is mist and darkness, and below all is mire and clay, and there's only one relief in all the sad and murky air; and I don't know that it is one, for its nothing but a glare of deep and angry crimson, where the sun and wind together set a brand upon the clouds, for being guilty of such weather; and the widest open country is a long, dull streak of black; and there's hoar-frost on the finger-post, and thaw upon the track; and the ice isn't water, and the water isn't free; and you couldn't say that anything is what it ought to be; but he's coming, coming, coming!--"

10. And here, if you like, the cricket did chime in with chirrup, chirrup, chirrup of such magnitude, by way of chorus, with a voice so astoundingly disproportionate to its size, as compared with the kettle (size, you couldn't see it!)--that if it had then and there burst itself, like an overcharged gun, if it had fallen a victim on the spot, and chirruped its little body into fifty pieces, it would have seemed a natural and inevitable consequence, for which it had expressly labored.

11. The kettle had had the last of its solo performances. It persevered with undiminished ardor; but the cricket took first fiddle, and kept it. Good heaven, how it chirped! Its shrill, sharp, piercing voice resounded through the house, and seemed to twinkle in the outer darkness like a star.

12. There was an indescribable little thrill and tremble in it, at its loudest, which suggested its being carried off its legs, and made to leap again, by its own intense enthusiasm. Yet they went very well together, the cricket and the kettle. The burden of the song was still the same; and louder, louder, louder still they sang it in their emulation.

13. There was all the excitement of a race about it. Chirp, chirp, chirp! cricket a mile ahead. Hum, hum, hum--m--m! kettle making play in the distance, like a great top. Chirp, chirp, chirp! cricket round the corner. Hum, hum, hum-m-m! kettle sticking to him in his own way; no idea of giving in. Chirp, chirp, chirp, cricket fresher than ever. Hum, hum, hum-m-m! kettle slow and steady. Chirp, chirp, chirp! cricket going in to finish him. Hum, hum, hum-m-m! kettle not to be finished.

14. Until at last they got so jumbled together, in the hurry- scurry, helter-skelter of the match, that whether the kettle chirped and the cricket hummed, or the cricket chirped and the kettle hummed, or they both chirped and both hummed, it would have taken a clearer head than yours or mine to have decided with certainty.

15. Of this there is no doubt; that the kettle and the cricket, at one and the same moment, and by some power of amalgamation best known to themselves, sent each his fireside song of comfort streaming into a ray of the candle that shone out through the window, and a long way down the lane. And this light, bursting on a certain person, who, on the instant, approached towards it through the gloom, expressed the whole thing to him literally in a twinkling, and cried, "Welcome home, old fellow! welcome home, my boy!"

This end attained, the kettle, being dead beat, boiled over, and was taken off the fire.

CHARLES DICKENS.

THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN.

I.

Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, By famous Hanover city; The river Weser, deep and wide, Washes its wall on the southern side; A pleasanter spot you never spied; But, when begins my ditty, Almost five hundred years ago, To see the townsfolk suffer so From vermin was a pity.

II.

Rats! They fought the dogs, and killed the cats, And bit the babies in the cradles, And ate the cheeses out of the vats, And licked the soup from the cook's own ladles, Split open the kegs of salted sprats, Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, And even spoiled the women's chats, By drowning their speaking With shrieking and squeaking In fifty different sharps and flats.

III.

At last the people in a body To the Town Hall came flocking; "Tis clear," cried they, "our Mayor's a noddy; And as for our Corporation,--shocking To think we buy gowns lined with ermine For dolts that can't or won't determine What's best to rid us of our vermin! You hope, because you're old and obese, To find in the furry, civic robe ease? Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking, To find the remedy we're lacking, Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!"

IV.

At this the Mayor and Corporation Quaked with a mighty consternation. An hour they sat in council.

At length the Mayor broke silence: "For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell; I wish I were a mile hence. It's easy to bid one rack one's brain, I'm sure my poor head aches again, I scratched it so, and all in vain. Oh, for a trap, a trap, a trap!" Just as he said this, what should hap At the chamber door but a gentle tap. "Bless us!" cried the Mayor, "what's that? Anything like the sound of a rat Makes my heart go pit-a-pat."

V.

"Come in," the Mayor cried, looking bigger; And in did come the strangest figure; His queer long coat from heels to head Was half of yellow and half of red. And he himself was tall and thin, With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin, And light, loose hair, yet swarthy skin-- No tuft on cheek, nor beard on chin, But lips where smiles went out and in, There was no guessing his kith or kin; And nobody could enough admire The tall man and his quaint attire.

VI.

Quoth one, "It's as my great-grand-sire, Starting up at the trump of Doom's tone, Had walked this way from his painted tomb-stone." He advanced to the council-table: And, "Please your honors," said he, "I'm able, By means of a secret charm, to draw All creatures living beneath the sun, That creep, or swim, or fly, or run, After me so as you never saw.

VII.

"And I chiefly use my charm On creatures that do people harm,-- The mole, and toad, and newt, and viper,-- And people call me the Pied Piper; Yet," said he, "poor Piper as I am, In Tartary I freed the Cham Last June from his huge swarm of gnats; I eased in Asia the Nizam Of a monstrous brood of vampire-bats; And, as for what your brain bewilders, If I can rid your town of rats, Will you give me a thousand guilders?" "One? fifty thousand!" was the exclamation Of the astonished Mayor and corporation.

VIII.

Into the street the piper stept, Smiling first a little smile, As if he knew what magic slept In his quiet pipe the while; And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered, You heard as if an army muttered; And the muttering grew to a grumbling, And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling, And out of the houses the rats came tumbling,-- Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats, Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats, Grave old plodders, gay young friskers, Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, Families by tens and dozens, Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives,-- Followed the piper for their lives. From street to street he piped advancing,


The Evolution of Expression Vol. I - 5/20

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