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bishop of Pampeluna (Sandoval) who relates this apparition, as told him by the Prior, Fray Martin de Angulo himself, expresses his doubts as to whether it was a strange bird or a marvellous creation, and he inclines to the latter view of the case, on account of its five regular appearances and disappearances.
Shorn of all mysterious associations, the bird in question would appear to have been simply a stork in search of a roosting place. The black part of the body was the wings. When this female stork selects a place for roosting, it calls the male by throwing back the head and striking the long mandibles of its bill against one another, by which means it makes a loud noise almost like a dog barking. But the male bird does not always like the spot selected by the lady bird; and it would appear that on this occasion, it was in vain that the female endeavoured five different times to entice its companion to adopt the roof of the chapel as a resting or an abiding place. The Easterns, it is well known, attach a superstitious idea in connection with the spot favoured by the selection of the stork for roosting or for its nest, as the Romans did with regard to swallows. On the other hand, it has always been held as a sign of misfortune when the same birds overlooked or abandoned a place, as the storks did the Monastery of Yuste.
An anonymous monkish chronicler, attached to the same monastery, and who both saw and heard the above recorded ornithological prodigy, does not hesitate, however, to assign to it an altogether supernatural origin, and he was all the more strengthened in his absurd conviction, because, he says, another monk assured him that this swan, half-black and half-white, had appeared a second time at the death of the Queen of Hungary. The worthy monk arrived, therefore, at the natural and logical conclusion, that Heaven by a comet, the earth by a lily, and the air by a bird, had united to celebrate the death of the Emperor.
A HAPPY NEW YEAR.
"IT was New Year's Eve everywhere. All over the world it was New Year's Eve. The settlers away in America and Australia came to the doors of their huts, and wished those at home a happy New Year. On the tossing ocean the sailors pledged each other and drank to sweethearts and wives. The soldier in the messroom roused up from his pipe and remembered the order home had grown a year nearer.
'A happy New Year!'"sang the whole round world; nature had decked it in a bridal robe to meet her lord; from the vivid blushes of the south, to the spotless veil flung over its barrenness in the less kindly north, all was beautiful, rejoicing, and glorious. Men's hearts were glowing and saying, 'A happy New Year.'
"In English homesteads hand was outstretched to hand, and loving words melted in the air, and melted all into one great joyfulness."
I, Jane Smith, spinster, flung down the paper in a temper! True, it was New Year's Eve everywhere, it was New Year's Eve in my small poorly-furnished lodging; but where was the outstretched hand, where were the loving words? Yes, there was a veil over the earth's barrenness, it was snowing hard and miserably cold.
'A happy New Year!'-don't wish me a happy New Year, anybody; it would be a horrible farce; what could the words mean to me,-Jane Smith, aged thirty, unmarried, daily governess, very poor, very plain, and no belongings? I had belongings once, a mean little headstone in the cemetery testifies I had a father who, by calculation, must have died when I was five. My mother died before that. I never heard of any other relations. A small schoolmistress in the outskirts of London took me on the strength of all the little money left by my father, and educated me. had not been payment enough, so from eighteen to twenty-five I paid her with my services. She retired from business then, and I came to these lodgings-Brixton-and go out every day giving lessons. I have been here five years! Can you believe it? I earn very little money; I lead a monotonous life; my name is Jane Smith, I am becoming an old maid, I have no friends-and can you wish me a happy New Year?
Still, it is New Year's Eve. I have taken up a magazine (I am niggardly with my money, that all my little savings may go
in books and papers), and have read that rambling senseless paragraph. It stings me somehow; its is cruel; "Sweethearts and Wives." I have no one on the sea, no one far away, no one near, to think of me to-night, and wish me a happy New Year.
The landlady broke in upon me there, she was a kind woman was Mrs. Robinson.
"Oh, Miss Smith; I wish you'd come and sit with us tonight; I can't bear to think of you all alone-and New Year's Eve too!"
I went because it was so dull by myself. They were so cosy and comfortable round their great kitchen fire, a contrast to my starved gentility. Old Robinson had been a butler in some grand family once, but had retired, like my old schoolmistress; he only did a little waiting now and then. The daughter was a pretty young girl, and she looked so happy to-night because her sweetheart was spending his New Year's Eve with her. Two big boys were roasting chestnuts on the bars, and a smaller girl burning her face by looking on.
"Please, have one, Miss Smith," said the lads half shyly; and Annie, the eldest daughter, got me a comfortable chair and set my cold feet on the fender. I had my knitting with me, and, leaning back, all warm and comfortable, idly moved the needles, while I listened to the homely clatter around me. They had known me a good five years now; Mrs. Robinson has nursed me through an occasional cold or sharp headache, and so there was no constraint between us. It was kind of them to let me break on their home circle that night of all the year. What was I to them? only their lodger; a poor governess, and a miserable farce called ladyhood to
make the breach wider.
"I can't but fret about poor things all alone on New Year's Eve," said the landlady as she stirred the fire. There's that good gentleman, Mr. Browning, all by hisself to-night, not as I wouldn't rather he were, than going and coming at all hours. He pays reg'lar, and has bin as old a lodger as you, Miss Smith. Still, I've often fretted over you both. You've neither kith nor kin, seeming."
I met him in the passage sometimes-he had the downstairs rooms. He would open the door for me and say good morning; sometimes we had a few minutes' chat on the steps; they were my one cheery moment. Oh, it was so great a thing to hear a friendly word; he always sent me his Times upstairs to read. He was a drawing-master, poor and solitary-yes, I suppose he, too, had no one to wish him a happy New Year.
"Poor Mr. Browning!" said Annie softly, and looked into her sweetheart's face with a smile.
"Poor Mr. Browning!" I echoed, quite as softly-no—perhaps it was sadly. I know I did not smile.
"Do have supper with us now, Miss Smith," said Mrs. Robinson. We're not gentle folk as you ought to be sitting down with -but I don't like to send it up to you all alone to-night."
We made merry over the Christmas good cheer, the mincepies, the cold beef; and one of the boys took Mr. Browning's bread and cheese and ale up to him.
At twelve o'clock good old Robinson held out his hand to me. A happy New Year to you, Miss Smith !"-but I, I Jane Smith, spinster, could not answer. I a plain, practical, hard-working woman of thirty ought to have been ashamed of myself. This was what upset me, Annie's sweetheart had given her such a kiss.
My name is Phillip Browning, and I am a drawing-master. Drawing is all I care about; I have no friends, I am all alone, I am growing old and cynical. Here am I, grey-haired and fortyfive, spending New Year's Eve as I spend every other night of the year, in a small duli lodging; no one to speak to. There's no one to care for me, no one to wish me-a happy New Year. True, I am getting on well at last, pupils increasing and income expanding, and I got something for that last picture. But what is the use of it all of what value is a grey colourless life like this, not one sparkle of light in the foreground-all shadow. I am weary of it.
Perhaps it is my own fault; if I had stuck to my workbah! How could I, clerk on a high stool? I might be a rich man now, but I didn't. I've wasted my days. I'm only a drawing
I, Philip Browning, sat that New Year's Eve, feeling my very heartstrings growing stiff for want of some of those loving New Year's greetings one reads about. Has God forgotten me? Oh, that they were mine!
Jack Robinson brought my supper up. Miss Smith is with us to-night," he said; "it's New Year's Eve, and mother couldn't abear for her to be all alone."
"That's well, my lad," I answered; "it's bad for people to be alone."
"Why is she all alone, sir? and why are you all alone?" he asked.
"Why, Jack?-why?" I said; for the life of me I could not tell him why.
New Year's Day. I, Jane Smith, at my solitary breakfast; no pleasant voices, no letters full of greeting to cheer me. My tea
and bread and butter almost choked me. I enjoyed it generally, but, you see, it was New Year's Day.
There was a knock at my door. I supposed Annie wanted to clear away. I had managed what I could; I was not hungry. I said "Come in."
Mr. Browning opened the door; he came straight in; he looked as if some one had been wishing him a happy New Year. He had never crossed my door before, but he seemed quite at home. He did not apologise for intruding; he just said, holding out his hand
"Miss Smith, I have come to wish you a happy New Year." "Me?" I stammered; "you are very kind. Won't you sit down."
That good man cannot have dreamt how he cheered my frozenup heart, how for a minute the whole room seemed full of light. I stammered again, "Indeed, I wish you a happy New Year too."
It was so strange to be receiving and giving greetings, such as I had only read about. He seemed to be looking at me all over, and I saw he smiled. I had never seen smiles in my dull room
"Miss Smith," he said, "you and I have been very unkind to each other for five years."
I was doing nothing but stam
"Listen," he answered; "sit down and I will tell you something. Two people lived with only a wall between them. They were both poor, and neither of them had any friends. I tell you they were withering up for want of a kind word, a kiss, a caress. On New Year's Eve the man was thinking how terrible this was, how hard and cruel the world was to both of them, both of them alone! A simple, thoughtless child said to him, Why are you both alone?' Jane, I have come upstairs to ask you why?" Do you remember what Annie's sweetheart did last night? Philip Browning came to me and gave me such a kiss!
I showed him that paragraph in the magazine, “It is true.” He said, "Do you hear the bells, they are singing a happy New Year? Do you see the sun giving the snow a brinal kiss? It looks like a bridal veil this morning, doesn't it. Jane, Jane, bid me a happy New Year again. Last night I knew it was your greeting I had learnt to crave for in these last five years."
The words came to my lips right readily. There was no contracting strings round my heart holding these back, they had all expanded. But that is enough for you. I will only add that I, ex Jane Smith, spinster, wish you all, from the bottom of my heart—
A Happy New Year.