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It only seems to be warm.
But I know that a
sun,' said Kanker. fire is warm, because I can burn my fingers in it.' 'But if the sun feels warm, is not that as good as if it were really
For you it may be,' answered Kanker, but not for me. I care only for truth, and I don't choose to be warmed by anything I don't believe in. That is the reason I carry a sun-umbrella. Well, will you let me have your book?'
'It is no more use to me,' said Oscar, gloomily. whether you take it or not, or what becomes of it.'
I do not care
"You will find my arithmetic much more useful,' returned Kanker. 'Come outside and see me make my fire.'
But Oscar turned sullenly away.
Kanker went outside the cottage, with the book in his arms. After a moment, Oscar could not help going to the window to see what was being done.
Kanker had laid the book across two stones, and had gathered some bits of driftwood from the shore for kindlings to put underneath. Now he struck a match, and held it to the kindlings. But at that there was a sudden and mighty sound, like thunder, and also like a great voice speaking some solemn and awful word. And the book seemed to dissolve, and in its place arose a tall pillar of light, more dazzling than the lightning, which hung for a moment near the earth, and, to Oscar's amazed eyes, took on the likeness of a glorious and majestic figure, which bent upon him a look that made his heart tremble. Then the figure moved away through the air seaward, casting a radiance across the waters, and making the sun look red and dim. It drifted slowly away over the sea, and at last became as a bright star, further and further off, until it vanished in the depths of the sky. Then a great coldness fell upon Oscar, and the daylight became dusky to him, as if it were already evening; and he knew that the dazzling face which he had seen was the face of his father. Now he understood what the book had been; but it was too late.
THE SECRET OF THE WAVES.
It seemed to Oscar that many hours passed away while he remained crouched down on his knees in a dark corner, shivering and miserable. At last he looked up. It was evening, and a bitter wind was blowing outside; heavy clouds were driving across the sky, and rain was beating on the roof. Kanker was sitting in the middle of the room, with his chin upon his hands, staring at him.
"You had better go,' Oscar said. 'What other harm do you want
to do me?'
'It is you who have done harm to me,' replied Kanker, by giving
me a box of gunpowder to make a fire with. The explosion has cracked my spectacles. However, I bear no malice. What do you keep that jar of sea-water for?'
Ah! that is where Theeda lives,' exclaimed Oscar, rising, with some cheerfulness in his face. I had forgotten her.' Theeda? what is Theeda?' demanded Kanker. 'She is my playmate and companion,' Oscar said. to me than anything else in the world, and nothing in lovely as she.'
And do you mean to say she lives in the water? is she?'
'She is not so tall as your hand is long.'
She is dearer
the world is so
Pray, how big
'No such creature ever existed,' said Kanker, positively. In the first place, no one ever was made of that size, and in the second place, it is impossible for anyone to live under water. It is another of your hallucinations. There is no use in your denying it. I shall believe in her when I see her, and not before.'
'I will not let you see her,' replied Oscar.
'Just what I expected! When did you see her last yourself? 'Just before your shadow fell across the vase.'
'What language does she talk?'
'She does not talk at all, but I know all she thinks.'
'This is really too absurd! Have you ever touched her?'
'No. It is enough for me to look at her.'
'I'll tell you what it is,' said Kanker, lifting up one of his ugly fingers and holding it at the side of his little sharp nose. 'You are crazy-quite crazy! You have lived here by yourself until you don't know what is real from what isn't. Now, I will make this bargain. with you. If you will let me put my finger on this Theeda of yours, and I thereby prove to my own satisfaction that she exists, I will let you use me for your servant the rest of my life. Do you agree?'
Oscar waited a little while before answering. He hated Kanker, and he thought that if Kanker became his servant, he should be able to make him as miserable as Kanker had made him. He did not stop to think whether Theeda would like to be touched or not it seemed to him an easy way of being revenged on his enemy, and that was all. 'Yes, I agree!' he said.
'Very well!' returned Kanker. And of course, if I prove that Theeda does not exist, you are to become my servant for the rest of your life?"
'There is no danger in my promising that,' said Oscar. be so if you wish.'
Very well!' said Kanker again; and then they both went to the
• Where is she?' asked Kanker. 'I don't see her.'
Oh, she has gone into her shell; it is late-she must be asleep
by this time,' answered Oscar.
No. 608 (No. CXXVIII. N. s.)
That won't do!' said Kanker. The agreement was for this evening. If you back out, you become my servant.'
It shall be this evening, then,' replied Oscar; but you will regret it more than I!' And stooping over the vase, he called, 'Theeda! Theeda! wake up! come out!'
They waited a moment. There was no movement in the great pearl shell, and Theeda did not appear.
'Come! there's enough of this nonsense!' Kanker exclaimed. "You may as well make up your mind at once to being my servant.' 'Not yet!' said Oscar, scornfully, and he called in a louder voice, 'Come out, Theeda! Come out-I want you!'
The shell stirred slightly, but still Theeda did not appear. Kanker laughed.
Then Oscar grew angry, and in a harsh tone he cried, "Theeda, come out! or I shall not love you or believe in you any more!'
The sun had set long ago, and the room was almost dark; but now, through a break in the clouds, the moon shone down, white and clear, into the crystal vase. It gleamed upon the pearly shell; and in its cold lustre Oscar saw the tiny water-maiden, whom he had loved better than anything else in the world, and who was the most precious thing that the world contained, come slowly out of her shell, and stand downcast and drooping before him. Then he felt that, in his anger, and in his desire to be revenged on his enemy, he had done a wicked thing, which could not be forgiven. He had shown what was most sacred and dear to his own soul, to one who could neither believe in her nor reverence her. His heart was filled with bitter sorrow and repentance; but again it was too late.
For, as Theeda stood there in the moonlight, drooping amidst her shadowy mist of hair, Kanker put out his hideous red hand, that was less like a hand than like a crab's claw, and plunging it into the water, he tried to grasp Theeda round the waist. But his fingers met together, and behold! no Theeda was there. She had faded into nothingness where she stood; or else the shadow of a cloud which at that moment passed across the moon, and made the vase and the room dark again, had caused her to become invisible. Before she disappeared, however, she bent one sad reproachful look upon Oscar, and he knew that he had seen his mother's spirit in her eyes. He understood all then; but it was too late indeed!
'I told you how it would be!' said the harsh voice of Kanker, with his spluttering laugh, and now you are my servant!'
Yes, for I have lost my Theeda!' answered Oscar, with a heavy sigh.
But even as he spoke, he chanced to turn his eyes towards the sea. Beyond the moon he saw a pure white cloud drifting down the sky. To Oscar's fancy it took on the likeness of a female form-the form of someone whom he knew and loved. She seemed to beckon him to follow her to a far-off country, whither Kanker could not come, and where he would be free.
"Yes, I will follow her!' Oscar thought; and, in some way, he slipped from where he was, and left the cottage and Kanker behind him, and went down towards the ocean.
Kanker did not at first know that Oscar had escaped, for he had left something behind which resembled him, but was not really he. The next morning, when the sun peeped as usual into the crystal vase, neither Oscar. nor Kanker were to be seen. But, in the great pearl shell, where formerly Theeda had lived, sat a great ugly crab, twiddling its huge red claws, and peering this way and that with its malicious little eyes, which stuck far out of its head. Oscar was not in the cottage, nor on the shore, nor has he, from that day to this, ever reappeared there. But, if you should ever happen to visit the place, you will hear the waves murmur mysteriously to one another, as they gambol along the beach; and since they come from that faroff lime where the world meets the sky, they may possibly know more about Oscar and Theeda than people like Kanker would be apt to believe.
I stumbled blindly on a dark hill-side,
A mother and her lamb dissevered wide
Bleat answering eager bleat, hurrying to meet,
If lonely, helpless, wild with unknown fears,
P. P. A.
RUSSIA AND CHINA.
THE crisis which has been reached in the relations between these two great Empires calls for general attention. The spectacle of a war between two neighbouring Powers at a point removed three thousand miles from the capital of either would of itself be sufficient to create an interest in the dispute on the Kuldja frontier, where the Celestial and the Muscovite must sooner or later meet in conflict. The questions involved are of scarcely less importance to England than to the two countries at issue, and their solution must in many ways affect our views not only on the Central Asian question generally, but also on the equally important one of the Chinese trade. It will, therefore, not be without present interest if, in describing the position of affairs, we glance farther back over the three centuries that have elapsed since Russia and China first began in modern times their intercourse with each other. By so doing it will be made plain that the Russo-Chinese difficulty is a larger one than any dispute over the territory of Kuldja alone would be; and that a complete and satisfactory settlement cannot be brought about if the question is approached on purely local grounds.
The Chinese Government came to the decision six years ago to reconquer the Central Asian possessions which, during the great Mahometan upheaval of fifteen years before, had cast off its authority. Between Kansuh, the extreme North-Western province of China, and these districts lies the great desert of Gobi, or Shamo, which by reason of its vast expanse would seem at first sight to be the bulwark for an empire which a great people would most desire. The facts of history have shown such a belief in this case to be untenable, for from the earliest times the borders of Kansuh have been the scene of a fierce and never-ceasing struggle between the unsettled tribes of Central Asia and the civilised inhabitants of the Chinese provinces; so much indeed was this the case, and so troublesome, if not dangerous, had their periodical inroads become, that about the middle of the last century the great Emperor Keen Lung resolved to deal trenchantly with the difficulty by sending armies across the desert charged with the task of subduing these turbulent tribes to his rule. After several campaigns his wish was effected, and from 1760 until 1863 the Chinese Empire extended across Asia to the Pamir. On the west it was bounded by the Khanates, and on the north by Russian Siberia; but in the latter year, when Russia's successes were only on the eve of commencing in Turkestan, the Mahometans in Kuldja and Kashgaria, imitating the example set them by the Tungani in the countries between them and China Proper, rose up and massacred all the Chinese on whom they could lay their