Images de page
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The proud Oak rustled a kindly sigh :

Nay, climb an thou wilt,” said he ;
“ But beware! there are perils up here on high

That do not threaten thee,

[merged small][graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors]

“Oh, I fear not the storm, nor the lightning-flash,

Nor flood, nor fire, nor steel ;
And I'd rather be slain by the woodman's axe

Than be crushed by the woodman's heel.”

And so it came that the Ivy won,

And encircled the Oak's broad breast, And it throve apace, as the years rolled on,

Finding nurture and guidance and rest.
But the Oak throve not, as in the past,

And the woodman, passing by,
Said, “The old tree's covered with Ivy at last,

'Tis time that it should die!"

And one morning's toil felled the monarch old,

And the woodman sighed, and said :
“ 'Tis pity! but once the Ivy takes hold,

An Oak is as good as dead !”
Now, old folk say (though I doubt the tale)

That this legend a moral tells :
The Ivy's a Woman ; the Oak, a Male

When he yields to her 'witching spells'!

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

1. HE tide was turning in the river and beginning to run up;

and a boisterous and indiscriminating wind was blowing down. The broad stream leaped up in white-crested wavelets, a praiseworthy imitation of the great sea whose savour it was just beginning to taste; and people stood on the bridge holding their hats on firmly with one hand and their jackets together by the other, sniffing the fresh air with pleasant reminiscences of the last summer holiday. One or two little boats were scudding about above the

bridge, and below the white-sailed yachts were running out past Chatham Ness to race in the broad reach beyond; but the barges that came perpetually up from somewhere down the river, to return from upper waters laden with cement and chalk, after one or two ineffectual efforts to shoot the three bridges, with their great masts lowered, mostly gave up the attempt and anchored in mid-stream in a little flotilla, waiting till the wind should change.

But one of these, more venturesome or more fortunate than the rest, managed to drive her way under the two railways and the road, and emerged from under the feet of the onlookers sitting on the parapet, full in the teeth of the wind and with her “way” nearly spent. She was partially laden, and lay low in the water ; and this, together with the turning tide, kept her a moment stationary in midstream, just clear of the bridge.

Two men bent to the windlass in her bows, and as it clanked musically round the strong rope tautened, and the mass of spars and brown sails lying along the deck reared slowly into the air. The tip of the mast came up just free of the arch of the bridge, and the spectators above began to exchange remarks on the probability of the barge getting off before the wind blew her back again.

“Wind's catching the sails now," observed one man presently, as the brown canvas bulged out; “now she'll tack."

“It'll be a squeak if she gets her way in time," said another; and similar remarks passed along the parapet.

And then some one cried out, “Now she's moving!

She was beginning to move, slowly and heavily, along the face of the bridge, while the men in her bows strained every muscle to get the mast fully up, so that she might feel the full effect of the wind. But in a second or two it became apparent that she was also being slowly blown back, attacked sideways by the furious breeze, on to the bridge.

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »