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I were you, I would not look in it again. I can tell you all you need to know about yourself. But I think we had better attend to getting away from here now. There seems to be a hole through the wall just where we are standing. It must lead into the next room.' 'Let us creep through then,' said Calladon. ture will not be likely to follow us there; looks more comfortable there than here. from Abra, and that is reason enough for going.'
That flying crea
and as well as I can see, it At all events, it is further
'Mind that the lamp doesn't go out, then,' said Callia, and come along!"
They crawled through the opening (which was, in reality, one of the five windows of Cada) and found themselves standing in something soft and slippery, like mud. The walls were covered with damp mould an inch thick; spotted toadstools grew in the crevices of the stones, and festoons of decaying weeds hung from the roof. There was a low crackling sound in the air, like the noise of burning wood, and hot puffs of steamy vapour were wafted into the children's faces, smelling like the inside of a pig-sty. Strange to say, however, neither Calladon nor Callia appeared to find this odour disagreeable, but quite the contrary; and they went onwards with evident gratification.
"The more I think about it, Callia,' said Calladon, 'the surer I am that this must be the real Abra. Could anything be more delightful than this thick air, that you can see as well as breathe; and this floor, all soft and sticky-not hard and dry like the other; and these beautiful walls, covered with that curious green stuff; and then the toadstools and the weeds? What a lucky thing that we thought of coming!"
'And how much wiser we are than we were before!' added Callia. 'When I was in that dreadful white place, I used to feel as if I knew almost nothing, and as if the great lamp were the only light in the world. But now that we have a light of our own, it is easy to see that we know almost everything, and by the time we have explored this place, there will be nothing we do not know.'
This mud must be very valuable,' said Calladon, after a while; 'for I never saw anything like it before. Don't you think it would be a good thing if we were to smear ourselves all over with it, and then hang some of those lovely weeds round our necks?'
Callia was delighted with this idea, and the two forthwith sat themselves down in the softest mud-heap they could find, and began to cover themselves with mud very diligently. After this had gone on for some time, however, Callia suddenly gave a shriek.
"What is the matter?' asked Calladon.
'The snake! the snake!' cried Callia. It is winding itself all round me!'
And round me too!' screamed Calladon. 6 we do!'
Ob, what shall
In fact, the mud with which they had covered themselves had
become alive, and was coiling itself tightly about them in the form of serpents. There were already scores of them, and more seemed to be coming to life every moment. They tried to run away, but the serpents twined about their limbs and tripped them up. There seemed to be no escape; and now, to make matters worse, Calladon's lamp flickered and went out.
• We shall die!' moaned the children. 'Oh, will no one help us?' Then a sound was heard like an earthquake, and the walls that separated them from Abra were rent asunder, and a terrible white light streamed forth, and fell upon the unhappy children. In that light they looked at one another, and saw that they were deformed and hideous beyond the power of words to describe. The next instant the walls closed together again, but a faint illumination still remained, in which Calladon and Callia again seemed to themselves to resume their natural form. But even then, Calladon caught a glimpse of himself in the enchanted mirror; and there was once more the crookbacked, grisly-faced dwarf that had frightened him in Cada, now made more ugly yet by the serpent-mud of Bra.
Oh, Callia, it is the truth!' groaned he. Our own eyes have deceived us, and our lamp has led us astray; but in the mirror is the light of the great lamp, and it shows me as I really am.' 'Yes, it is the truth!' answered Callia. It must be so!'
'It is well that you have found it out, even so late as this,' said a stern voice close behind them; and looking round, the children saw a tall, threatening figure, with angry eyes, and in his hand a heavy whip.
Who is it?' faltered the children to each other, with trembling
I am he who built Abracadabra,' replied he of the angry eyes, brandishing his whip. I built it clean and wholesome, and you have made a place of mud and serpents, and all unclean things. This dirt in which you have wallowed is the evil that has come out of your own minds and hearts, and these snakes were called into life by the light of the lamp which you stole from the lamp of Abra. Therefore your doom is, to repair the mischief you have done. You shall cleanse these rooms that you have defiled, until they are as pure as they appeared when you looked on them through the alabaster wall. From this hour, too, you shall see each other no more until your work is done. As you were given to each other for happiness, so, since you have disobeyed the law by which alone your happiness could be everlasting, you shall be separated to do your penance. And I will stand over you with the whip; and every time you pause to breathe or rest, you Ishall be driven onwards with a blow.'
Scarcely had the tall man uttered these awful words, than Calladon saw Callia suddenly vanish from his side; and at the same moment he felt the heavy stroke of the whip across his shoulders, and heard the stern voice bidding him work. So to work he went with all his might; and with his bare hands-for no tools were given him-he
strove to scrape away the mud from the floor, and to clear the mould from the walls, and to pull down the decaying weeds that dangled from the roof. But, for a long time, he seemed to make no progress; the mud rose before him in mountains; the mould collected on the walls as fast as he swept it down, and the weeds hung from the roof in thicker masses. Nevertheless, if he stopped to take breath or rest, down came the heavy whip with relentless blows; his skin was cut and bleeding, his face was bruised, and the bones of his back were broken. With tears and groans he struggled on; and ever and anon in the darkness near him, his ear caught the sound of sobbing and piteous cries, and the voice that uttered them reminded him of the voice of Callia.
Thus he strove for many weary hours; and at last it seemed to him that he could strive no more, yet half his work was still undone. But the thought that, unless it were finished, he would see Callia no more, gave him new strength, and he fell to again, and worked like a whirlwind; and the mountains of mud gave way before him, and the mould fell from the walls in showers, and the dangling weeds were swept down in mighty heaps. And although the blows of the whip still fell, they no longer weakened him as before, but made his strength greater. Indeed, it seemed to him as if he were inspired with a strength not his own, and as if, when the work were done, it would be the achievement not of himself, but of a mightier than he. In the midst of these thoughts the gloom suddenly brightened, and he saw that his work was done.
'Well, Calladon, what do you think of yourself?' said the tall man, in a somewhat less stern tone than before; Are you as handsome as you once were?'
So Calladon looked at himself; and he saw that he was begrimed with dirt, and that his back had been broken by the whip, and one shoulder made higher than the other; and his face was bruised and covered with sores. There was nothing beautiful about him.
'I have become what the mirror has already showed me that I was,' he said humbly. But I would rather seem as ugly as I am, than seem beautiful when I am ugly.'
'Calladon,' said the tall man again, your work is done, and you deserve some reward. You may choose what it shall be; but I will tell you beforehand that, if you choose to be made beautiful again as you were before, it shall be done.'
'I would rather be made happy,' replied Calladon, and it would make me happy if I could see Callia once more.'
'So be it!' said the tall man, kindly. Come with me!'
He took Calladon by the hand, and instantly the light grew brighter; the dark walls grew white; there was a sound of music in the air, and a delicate perfume of flowers came to Calladon's nostrils. He looked up and saw that he was in Abra; and the great lamp burned in the centre as before.
'Oh, not here!' he exclaimed, shrinking back and hiding his face. 'I am not fit to be seen in the light of Abra!'
'Take courage,' said his guide. Callia is here. See, she is asleep. Go to her, Calladon, and look in the mirror on her bosom.'
So Calladon drew near, and looked into the magic mirror. But instead of a hideous and misshapen little dwarf, it showed him the image of a noble and beautiful boy, with rosy cheeks and bright eyes. At the same moment Callia awoke; and seeing Calladon, she sprang up with a cry of joy and kissed him. She was as lovely as the day.
"The mirror tells you the truth now as always, Calladon,' said the Master's loving voice-for it was he, and he laid his hand upon him, and instantly the deformed shell in which Calladon was clothed fell from him, and he was more beautiful than ever. From that time forth there was no unhappiness for either Callia or Calladon any more, because they had learnt that the light of Abra was the only true light, and that their strength was not their own.
THE SEQUELE OF THE GENERAL ELECTION.
THE late General Election is reported by experts to have been the most costly on record. One million sterling used to be the figure at which the constituencies of Great Britain and Ireland were enabled to play their humble part in the constitutional system under which we live. But we have changed all that. The urgency of the questions at issue in the spring of 1880 was so great, that the election could not be done at less than double the money. The electorate required an expenditure of a couple of millions to enable them to exercise their constitutional functions; the candidates bled to that extent without a murmur. Where all the money came from it is impossible to state. Much of it, especially on the victorious side, was found by the candidates themselves and in the localities. But a good deal of it, especially on the side of the vanquished, if we may judge by the revelations of the Oxford petition, came out of what is called the Party fund, a fund apparently for election and party purposes, managed by the mysterious body called the Carlton Club.' But though we must remain in ignorance as to whence the money came, there is less room for doubt as to where it went. In the counties and the larger and more respectable constituencies the lion's share of the portion of the two millions expended in these places went into the pockets of the local lawyers, and in the smaller and less reputable constituencies into the pockets of the publicans and the lowest class of voters. The local lawyers, jobmasters, newspaper proprietors, publicans, printers, and corrupt electors, are richer by about a million and three-quarters sterling than they were at the beginning of the year, and some twelve hundred candidates for Parliamentary honours are proportionably poorer. So much the trials of the recent election petitions have disclosed. It will be more easy to gauge with accuracy the distribution of the money spent after the various Commissions, the appointment of which it will be the duty of the Attorney-General to move shortly, have reported their evidence to Parliament in the spring. But enough has been shown already to prove that the Corrupt Practices Acts, the Ballot Act, and the extension of the suffrage have done little, if anything, to check actual corruption in the old constituencies of England and Ireland, and that some of the new constituencies in England and Scotland are already tainted with the same disease.
Forty petitions were filed after the general election: two more were presented against the return of those gentlemen who had ousted the Home Secretary and the Lord Advocate when they went for reelection; one was presented against the successor to Mr. KnatchbullHugessen when he vacated Sandwich on his elevation to the peerage; second petitions have been filed in the cases of Evesham and Wal