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THE ASSUAGING OF THE WATERS.
In order to ascertain how far the flood had abated, Noah opened the window of the ark and sent forth a raven. He also sent forth a dove, but, finding no rest for her foot, she speedily returned. After this, "he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive-leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth."* The elements had now ceased their desolating conflict, and the waters floated in undisturbed supremacy over a depopulated world. The brightness of the sun, the calmness of the liquid mirror beneath, the loveliness of the sky, fringed with a drapery of transparent clouds, seem but as the smiles of lamentation and the mockery of woe. Like funereal lamps casting their clear light through the solitary gloom of the sepulchre, they only serve to show more distinctly the surrounding devastation. The shoreless waste reflects the splendors of the scene above, as if to mask the horrors that had been but too palpably realized in the depths beneath. Here nature appears in her gentlest repose at the very moment that her capacious womb is teeming with the dilacerations of a once beautiful world. The clouds which had gathered upon the horizon disperse before the rising sun, that pours a flood of light upon the vast liquid expanse, through which small patches of vegetation from the mountain tops appear to break the measureless uniformity of the watery waste. The waters had begun to subside. The dove hovers over an olive branch, which it is about to pluck and bear to the ark that appears faintly in the distance.