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Then he became silent, seeming to feel that it was the other's turn to speak and give account of himself. But thought made no headway in the vast brain, melancholy weighed upon it and would not permit the floodgate of passionate recollection to open. At last he found speech, and though the little man made a movement as though to interrupt him, slowly withdrew his hands from his chin, let them fall heavily on his knees and said hoarsely:
"Fate tricks herself in many a shape. It is wonderful,—absolutely wonderful-"
"That fate has united us by a common bond and that we should here chance upon one another. All my life have I brooded over the idea of finding one human heart that could beat responsive to mine, could understand me; and as the years passed and no sign was given I doubted and despaired. Now I find it; it is next to me, and in such different embodiment from what I pictured it. We hardly meet before we tell one another our secret thoughts. It is marvellous-marvellous!"
"What is wonderful?" asked his lis- money for the best seats, for the inferior tener. seats, children and those in the army half price. Can you not imagine that one would be happy to forget his name after having heard it for years screamed out by the criers at all the fairs as the name of the biggest man in the world. And then when the booth was full to have to come in and mount the stand and be stared at by stupid peasants and schoolboys and nursery maids; and to keep one's feet still, not to kick out when the crowd grew venturesome, and thrust out their hands and felt my legs to see if they were made of bone and muscle and not of cotton batting with a stick in the middle. Aye, sir, that is what I had to endure for ten long years. And that is called a human existence,-to be gaped at, to do nothing, to accomplish nothing more than to be big, to wear shoes larger than the military size, and so be stared at-and admired. Oh heavenly justice!"
Again he sank into his melancholy reflection, but suddenly he started up so wildly and fiercely that his little companion's finely-acquired courage for the moment forsook him.
The dwarf's face pictured astonishment. This new acquaintance, whose garb indicated the forester or raftsman, giving vent in such language to this wild outburst of rage and despair, was an unexpected phenomenon. "Pardon me," he said at last, "will you not be good enough to tell me with whom I have the pleasure—”
"Word for word, your case is mine. Thrust aside from my fellow-men, stared at, scoffed at, cursed at, followed by the children in the street. Outlawed, excluded from the pleasant haunts of men like a malefactor who dares not face the light. One of Nature's merry humors that escaped her in a mad orgy and now stands forta in its abnormity to mock and shame her. To be doomed to a useless, aimless existence, to raise one's clinched hands to heaven and ask where dwells that merciful and gracious Father who sent this long-limbed, broad-shouldered son out into the world and then barred the way from all entrance into life's joys and consolations. Have you not wondered a thousand times how your being harmonizes with the idea of righteous justice of which this world is supposed to be a manifestation?"
"What difference can it make to you?" interrupted his companion hoarsely. "My name, thank God, has disappeared. It figured long enough on posters next to vile pictures of myself, and underneath notice of the entrance
"True, true," said the little man with a serious nod. "I have had such thoughts many a time. Fortunately I have been spared a fate like yours. But when I used to read in the papers of the human midgets on exhibition a shudder would run through me, and I could almost feel the coarse, greedy hand lifting me on the table, and hear the showman's high pitched voice as he cried out the wonder of the living toy. From such an ordeal, as I say, my good mother and my merciful Creator saved me. Why did you yield to such a life? You are stronger than I. In your place I would have burst my iron cage like a tortured lion and found refuge in the nearest wilderness."
The big man laughed, and his laughter speculation consumed them. In their was not a pleasant thing to hear.
"The merciful Creator! I have been forced to the conclusion that of his bungling handiwork he is more inclined to be merciful to the small than to the large specimens. The big ones, he thinks, can make their way through the world, they have been given fists for that purpose. Though it is doubtful in my mind whether he has anything to say about the affairs entrusted to blind, unreasoning old Mother Nature. When I have reproached him—as I have many a time-for having made me a show piece and nothing else, and he answered me never a word, treating all my prayers and taunts with utter contempt, I have often thought to myself-poor being! (if he really does exist)-perhaps he is no better off than many a human father who has a wicked wife and, for peace sake, lets her do as she chooses. Ir he could do as he wished, surely he would show old Dame Nature who plays such crazy pranks, that he was master. But she is too strong for him, and he must bend to her, just as my earthly father had to cringe to my mother if she bu raised her finger. So you may imagine I did not exercise much free-will in that household."
great, barren skulls there was not room for so much brains as to teach them their duty to their children and children's children. My father came of a family who prided themselves on their extraordinary size, but his forebears were not a worthless set; they were good, honest workers, carpenters or blacksmiths. My father proved the first exception in the family; not regarding size, for he was a larger man than my grandfather, but in his aversion to honest toil. Instead of taking his place at the anvil and swinging the iron bar he fell upon the happy expedient of making his hugeness his fortune, and so one fine day he started forth into the world and put himself on exhibition. Truly, he was very proud of the disgrace with which he was covering himself. It seemed to him not only comfortable and paying to stand on a platform and make a show of himself, but an honorable thing as well. Then, at one of the fairs he chanced upon a woman who played ball with a hundred pound weight and held a live calf on her outstretched arm; and self-interest prompted him to offer her his hand in the hope of a son who would be worth double the entrance money. His expec
"And your mother could have had the tations were fulfilled, but he had to pay heart to""
dearly for his rash act. His lazy days were over. He had to serve the woman like a beast of burden, and never a word of thanks or a kind glance in return. She despised him, for all his height, and told him to his face he was a weakling. And so he was. He had never exercised his enormous limbs, they had sufficed for his support without exercise, and he was on the bill for the large man, not the strong. Matters went from bad to worse, he took to drinking, and died one day with as little apparent cause as a hollow tree falls to the ground with never a wind to shake it from the roots. Do you think that his widow shed a tear over him? She was provided for, even after she had grown so fat that her shortness of breath prevented her walking. I was there; the dear son who had grown to be even taller than his father. Well, then, it fell to my turn to support my mother, and to that end I had to work, or rather be stared at, ten hours
"Heart? Are you quite sure that she had a heart? I know not how it is with other women, and whether that which they call a heart is any thing else than a suction pump to send the blood through the veins. But of this woman who brought me into the world—”
He stopped. His great chest heaved with mighty throes, the veins on his forehead stood out dangerously, and his fist came down with a terrific blow on the stone step.
"No," he said at last breaking the silence, "the fourth commandment is absurd. Honor thy father and mother-well enough for those whose fathers and mothers are honorable and entitled to honor. Mine-they are in their graves -and, if there be a judgment-day I will not be their accuser; that is all I shall do for them, though they do not deserve even that. For from the moment they first saw me, miserable, hard-hearted
a day. You are surprised at the confession. You believe that had I but wished I could have run off and worked with my grandfather at the smithy; but you must bear in mind that you never had the pleasure of an acquaintance with my mother, nor had a strong woman for your mother. Can you realize the degradation for a grown up man whose mother-but no, of that I may not speak. At one thing I am surprised, that I bore it, that I did not hang myself to the nearest tree."
Again he paused, and the little man at his side felt powerless to utter a word of sympathy in the presence of so deep, so bitter a sorrow. It began to snow, and the dwarf buttoned his overcoat closer round his throat.
"Let her rest," said the giant at last. "I have forgiven her. Besides, her last years were so miserable owing to her frightful corpulency that her bitterest foe must have felt pity for her. But she whom I have not forgiven is my old step-mother Nature, and if I could but speak to her I would tell her thingsthings"
"It is going to snow heavily to-night," he said as he rose. "It is of no consequence to me even though I have a long road before me. Such a perambulating tower as I am is not so easily covered with snow. But you, Mr. Hinze, might find the walking somewhat difficult. Let me see you home. If you are of my mind, this is not the last time we shall meet."
that that is rather cold comfort. Even if there be a paradise, which I doubt, mind you, would I be a jot better off than here? If I am to remain as I amand that I must if there is any meaning in the bodily resurrection-the angels in heaven will stare at monstrous me with mouths as wide as the peasants at the fairs. And even supposing that matters were made more equal up above, could all the heavenly joys make amends for the abject life I have led here below?" "Ah, I did not mean it that way. You are young. How old are you-may I ask?"
"Why, you are three years younger than I. Who can say what life has in store for you yet? In good time you may find a wife, buy a smithy and follow the trade of your forefathers who lea happy, contented lives."
He shook his brawny fists impotently that I could make her my wife, perhaps in the air. to have a son who would reproach me with: How could you have the heart, my father, to perpetuate your own misfortune? Was not life hard enough for you to bear? Had you no mercy?"
"It will afford me much pleasure to continue the acquaintance, Mr. Magnus," returned the little man effusively, as he tried to keep step with his companion. "The story you have told me has excited my deepest sympathy, and yet I am happy to think you have reposed such confidence in me. There is a similarity about our lives, and yet what a profound difference. I almost fear to tell you of mine, it has run in so much happier a channel, and again you will be arraigning Providence for its unrighteousness and injustice. But let us hope that compensation will come at last."
"A wife!" cried the giant with a boisterous laugh. "Where could I find a decent woman willing to marry a monstrosity like me? And if one were to be found who reached up to my shoulder, do you think I have so little conscience
This outburst reduced the little man to silence. His stick struck the stones of the pavement more sharply, he pulled his hat further over his eyes, and gave a rasping cough as one who has to swallow a little pill and finds it worse than he expected. During the rest of the walk no word was exchanged between the two. Finally Mr. Hinze led the way into a narrow street, that served as connecting link to two of the main thoroughfares, and paused before a tall house opposite which stretched the wall and trees of one of the finest gardens in the town, though the night and the weather combined to render it, at that moment, a mere blot on the landscape.
"This is where I live," said the manikin as he drew a key from his pocket and turned his dark lantern upon the door. The key-hole was so far above his head that no stretching and strain"In the hereafter? Permit me to say ing would have enabled him to make use
of it, so to suit his Liliputian dimensions a narrow little doorway had been contrived in the lower panel, so deftly that it was all but invisible to the casual observer.
"I regret very much, Mr. Magnus," said the little man, that I cannot invite you in; I question whether my separate entrance would suit you, and it would be hardly the thing to wake my landlord at this hour. But if you will come this way to-morrow night I will arrange it so that you can get in through the large door; though, now that I think of it, my room is in the mansard, and whether you can get up there without stooping-My landlord is by no means a tall man, and he can easily touch the roof with his hand. You'll not find it uncomfortable when you are seated, though, and it would be very good of you if you would pay me a visit. It seems to me that we have much to say to each other, and I know I have something to say to you in answer to that last bitter speech of yours, but this snow and wind are too much for me. So may I hope-"
"I will come," interrupted the big man in a harsh voice, "if you wish it. You will then have to honor my dwelling-it is a short hour from town and not very comfortable at this time of year for spoilt city folk, but I will see that you reach the place without accident. Good night, Mr. Hinze."
"Good night. Auf wiedersehen." The dwarf opened the little door, nodded a friendly farewell, and disappeared within. The other turned slowly away, the fast-falling snow and his own mournful thoughts for company.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
From The Church Quarterly. THE POETRY OF GEORGE MEREDITH.1
What distinguishes Mr. Meredith-of whose works a new and complete edition is now appearing-what distinguishes Mr. Meredith among living writers is not so much his possession of this or that quality, the intensity and variety of his sympathies, the power or peculiarity of his style; it is that in an era of talent, in an era in which we may be
said to suffer from a plethora of talent, his work is so unmistakably beyond the reach of talent, so far, too, beyond the reach of labor added to ambition and desire it is so unmistakably the work of genius. Readers of Mr. Meredith's novels long ago discovered in him the man with the key to a new garden of romance which matched the best loved of old, to a new gallery in art whose portraits might hang unabashed beside those of the old masters. From a little clan the readers of his prose have grown into an army; but for the readers of his verse, these may even now easily be numbered. Yet it is not beyond possibility-though the Meredith of to-day is indisputably the novelist-that the Meredith of the twentieth century may be the poet. "All novels in every language," said De Quincey, "are hurrying to decay"-a judgment not without a germ of truth. Posterity, at all events, if one may venture to predict the future from the present-posterity will possess a considerable body of literature of its own, and will be necessarily impatient, as the present generation is impatient, of surplusage and bulk in the literature of the past; will do honor to the works of justest proportions, and harbor prejudices in favor of beauties apparent at first sight, and of excellence displayed in narrow ground. And in some sense poetry is excellence displayed in narrow ground, and may be regarded as prose cleared of the superfluous, transfigured prose, the sublimated essence, its precious sentiment close packed and embalmed for a long journey down the stream of time.
It cannot be said of Mr. Meredith that no writer of his century has challenged the like serious attention in the field of poetry as well as of fiction. To leave a great name-that of Scott-out of account, there are other and not inconsid
11 Poems and Lyrics of the Joy of Earth. By George Meredith. (London, 1883.) 2 Ballads and Poems of Tragic Life. By George Meredith. (London, 1887). 3 A Reading of Earth. By George Meredith. (London, 1888).
4 Poems. The Empty Purse, with Odes to the Comic Spirit, To Youth in Memory and Verses By George Meredith. (London, 1892).
5 Modern Love: a Reprint. By George Meredith. (London, 1892).
the outlook and the inlook of life. To Mr. Meredith's poetry belongs therefore a special, because a near and personal. interest; it supplements his prose, as has been said, and stands to it somewhat in the relation of interpretative criticism. Not the ignoble curiosity which pries into the private life of an author, but a legitimate intellectual curiosity is here satisfied. One is grateful to possess the individual view of so ardent and so brilliant a student of life, especially if, as in Mr. Meredith's case, no discord is introduced into the harmony of the entire impression received from his work. The predominant note in Mr. Meredith's work as a whole, both prose and verse, is its invincible fortitude, its cheerful acceptance of things as they are. He belongs to that company of artists who have looked the world in the face, and expressed neither disappointment nor dissatisfaction therewith. In an epoch in which poets are neither few nor insignificant, Mr. Meredith shares with Browning the distinction that he has never for the briefest season dwelt in the melancholy shade. Here is poetry in which prevails no sense of sadness, no overpowering sentiment of pity for the vexed human race, no Virgilian cry with its sense of tears in mortal things, no wistful regrets, no torturing doubts. Even so interesting and so great a writer as Count Tolstoi suffers at times a sense of hopelessness to overcome him, and involves us in his own despair. But Mr. Meredith's citadel of mind and heart is impregnable, and, while he will have us see the naked truth, fortifies us for its reception. In this poetry there is ever scant sympathy dispensed for weak nerves and apprehensive hearts. Read "Earth and Man," or this "Whisper of Sympathy":
erable rivals. But Mr. Meredith has achieved a strikingly uniform success, such a success as makes it difficult to place his prose above his poetry, or his poetry above his prose, without misgivings that the verdict may be reversed by the critical court of the later generations. One thing is indisputable and noteworthy: Mr. Meredith's verse bears a very close relationship to his proseit supplements, reinforces, and interprets his prose. Essentially a dramatic artist, he has none the less experienced the lyrical passion for the deliverance of his own soul, and in his verse has set free his thought in his own person. It is precisely the dramatic artist entering through his imaginative sympathy into the characters and situations of his dramatis persone who presents "the imaginary utterances of so many imaginary persons, not his," and suppresses himself the while; it is precisely the dramatic artist, we may naturally suppose, in whom the impulse toward selfrevelation exists most strongly. He is the wide and clear-eyed spectator of life who sees and pictures it best, but is for the most part content to remain unknown behind his creations. And in Mr. Meredith's fiction, as in Shakespeare's, a persistent and impenetrable irony veils the artist himself; the author lurks undiscovered behind the humorist. So was it not with Thackeray, who steps forward ever and anon to speak in propria persona. So was it not with Scott, whose sympathies there is no mistaking. Shakespeare in his sonnets, the popular theory has it, laid aside the mask of humor, and "with the sonnetkey unlocked his heart." Let this be so or not, it is certain that Mr. Meredith lays aside in his verse the mask of humor worn in his novels. His poetry is more essentially serious than his prose; it is grave almost throughout; a personal utterance, the expression of the individual philosophy of the man. The reader of the novels is in contact with the dramatic artist, the spectator and student of life; the poems are the outspoken utterance of the man who is himself one of the dramatis persona in personal relation with the facts of the world. Taken together, this prose and this verse constitute an autobiography
Hawk or shrike has done this deed
So hard it seems that one must bleed Because another needs will bite! All round we see cold nature slight The feelings of the totter-knee'd.
O it were pleasant, with you