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that, the ruler' is to this whispering, laughing, young troop.
The challenged are ranged on one side of the house; the challengers on the other. Back seats, middle seats, low, front seats, all filled. Some of the fathers and grandfathers, who could, no doubt, upon occasion,
‘Shoulder the crutch, and show how fields were won,'
occupy the bench of honor near the desk.
Now for the preliminaries: the reputed best speller on each side “chooses.' 'Susan Brown! Out comes a round-eyed little creature, blushing like a peony. Who'd have thought it! Such a little thing, and chosen first.
• Moses Jones!' Out comes Moses, an awkward fellow, with a shock of red hair, shockingly harvested, surmounting his broad brow. The girls laugh at him, but what he doesn't know in the ' Elementary,' isn't worth knowing.
• Jane Murray! Out trips Jane, fluttered as a bride, and takes her place next to the caller. She's a pretty girl, but a sorry speller. Don't you hear the whispers round the house? Why, that's John's
• sweetheart.' John is the leader, and a battle lost
with Jane by his side, would be sweeter than a victory won, without her.
And so they go on, 'calling names,' until five or six champions stand forth ready to do battle, and the contest is fairly begun.
Down goes one after another, as words of three syllables are followed by those of four, and these again, by words of similar pronunciation and divers significations, until only Moses and Susan remain.
The spelling-book has been exhausted, yet there they stand.
Dictionaries are turned over-memories are ransacked, for
•Words of learned length and thundering sound,'
until, by and by, Moses comes down like a tree, and Susan flutters there still, like a little leaf aloft, that the frost and the fall have forgotten.
Polysyllable follows polysyllable, and by and by Susan hesitates just a breath or two, and twenty tongues are working their way through the labyrinth of letters in a twinkling. Little Susan sinks into the chink left for her on the crowded seat, and there is a lull in the battle.
Then, they all stand in solid phalanx by schools, and the struggle is, to spell each other down. And
down they go, like leaves in winter weather, and the victory is declared for our District, and the school is dismissed.'
Then comes the hurrying and bundling, the whispering and glancing, the pairing off and the tumbling in. There are hearts that flutter and hearts that ache ; ‘mittens' that are not worn, secret hopes that are not realized, and fond looks that are not returned. There is a jingling among the bells at the door; one after another the sleighs dash up, receive their nestling freight, and are gone.
Our Master covers the fire, and snuffs out the candles—don't you remember how daintily he used to pinch the smoking wicks, with fore-finger and thumb, and then thrust each hapless luminary, head first, into the tin socket?-and we wait for him.
The bells ring faintly in the woods, over the hill, in the valley. They are gone. The school house is dark and tenantless, and we are alone with the night. Merry, care-free company!
Some of them are sorrowing, some are dead, and all, I fear, are changed. SPELL! Ah! the spell' that has come over that crowd of young dreamers-over you, over me-will it ever, ever be dissolved ? In the white radiance of Eternity!
How, like the shadow upon the dial, thought is ever returning to the place of beginning! Where we first began to live-where we first began to love ; to the trysting-place and the homestead, the play-ground and the grave-yard:
The Children of the Sun, where'er they roam,
WHILE I write, a strange, sad scene is being enacted, one which hangs over the mind, as I think of it, a sombre cloud of thought. A noble being, in the full maturity of life, is nearing the last hours of his existence, and from present indications, ' by the turn of the tide,' to-night, he will cease to be a mariner of life.
To see the strong limbs settle into the repose of death, is sad at any time, but there are circumstances connected with this, which invest it with an unwonted and melancholy interest.
He is the last of Ten, who, within a single year, have died, one after another, and but a little whilea few days apart! I remember them all; I knew them well, and many a day have I passed with them during this eventful year. First (I will not mention names,) an old man died; but his locks were white, and his pulses chilled, and the tears of the mourners fell slow and freezingly round the shallow grave. The old, like withered leaves, hold to life by a frail tenure : there comes a husky breath, and they are