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Into your chests. Look not incredulously:
Heaven works in darkness and in sleep; and I
Feel that my tongue has spoken prophecy."

The host made answer in a courteous tone;
And now the guests into their rooms are shown,
And mirth and light have vanished from the hall,
And sleep lies heavy on the souls of all
All but that murderous thief, who sits and stares
Into the lamp's broad flame, that idly flares,
Shaking the shadows like a ghostly hand.
He thinks upon the scheme which he has plann'd:
He listens to the stillness round about:
He hears the stirring of the wind without,
The chirping of the crickets far beneath,
The sighing sedge upon the neighbouring heath.
He takes his lamp, and stealthily he goes;
The silent house seems conscious in repose:
Along the stairs the shadows shift and glide;
They cling like shrouded devils at his side:
The marble columns, in their spectral white,
Come heavily through the glooms to meet the light:
A dreary quiet lies upon the place.
That living Avarice, with his crafty face,
Enters the hall, deserted now and cold,
And fills a bag with jewels and with gold,
And takes whatever pleases him the best;
Then places his own diamonds with the rest,
And in the court-yard stows all privily.

Now, wake, ye sleepers; for there's Murder nigh!
A devil is in the house who, while you sleep,
About the basement noiselessly doth creep,
And makes a fire with faggots and with straw;
And soon the flames will gather strength, and flaw
Those solid stones, and wrap them like a cloak,
And glare and lighten through their night of smoke!
Even now the terror hath advanced its head:
The infant mischief carefully is fed:
A scorching tongue halh fastened on the walls
Farewell the joy! Farewell the festivals!
Up, through the beams, the sharp flames gnaw and
Out at the window peering like a snake;
The massive pillars fiercely are embraced;
The leaden conduits slowly melt and waste;
Forth leaps the nimble fire, and hastily
Its bloody writing scores upon the sky!
Forth leap the flames; forth rush the sparks o'erhead;
Forth rolls the smoke, and burns to heavy red;
Forth bursts the steady glare,— and all the night has fled!

A sense of fire has gone throughout the house.
The host, the guests, and all the servants, rouse;
And from their rooms tumultuously they pour,
A wild and stumbling crowd, and through the door
Pass into the court-yard. They look around,
And see their dwelling as with serpents wound,
And weep, and wring their hands, and cry "Alas!"

Meanwhile, the spoiler, seeking to amass
More treasure still, goes groping here and there
In empty chambers, and all places where
The fire has not yet reached; until at last
He hears the house awake, and knows his chance is
He cries aloud, "I am undoneundone!"
And towards the threshold he attempts to run,
And meets the vengeful fire upon the way,
And glares against its glare, and stands at bay.
It is the master now, and he the slave!
He flies before it; his lips moan and rave;

He runs about; he traces to and fro;
He calls for help; he knows not where to go;
He gnashes like a wild beast in a cage.
The cruel flames come roaring in their rage,
And scorch his robe. He howls, "I cannot flee !
The fire which I have kindled, eateth Me!"
The pavements glow; the hot air sings and flares;
For very life he dashes up the stairs,
And runs toward a window at the back,
And far away beholds the cloudy rack
Weltering like blood. One chance alone he sees:
He leaps straight out and falls between the trees.
Half-stunn'd, and bruis'd, he rises yet again,
Making strange sounds, and cursing in his pain.
He reels and stumbles, yet still holds his flight,
And fades away into the distant night.

The noise and clamour have at length awoke
The neighbours round, who see the glare and smoke,
And rise, and cast up water on the flames;
And soon the fierce destruction shrinks and tames.
Back goes the scarlet light from far and nigh;
Back comes the natural darkness to the sky.
The empty windows, with their inward red,
Glow like strange eyes within a dusky head,
And gleam, and glance, and lingeringly die out.
Then, with a joyful cry, the hasty rout
Enter the house, and find the larger part
Whole, and unhurt; and each man in his heart
Rejoices, and makes merry at the sight.
And now the master of that palace bright
Looks round, and finds his household all are there.
Safe from the fire, uninjured in a hair,
Except that aged merchant: only he
Is absent; and no traces can they see,
Although they search the empty rooms and all
The smoking ruins huddled 'gainst the wall.
They think— "He did not wake in time to fly;"
Till in a heap of charr'd wood they descry
His lamp, and see that there the fire began,
And say among themselves "This was the man
Who lit the flames that might have been our death!"
And at that instant, in the self-same breath,
Some others in the open court-yard find
The plunder which the wretch had left behind;
And lo! the store is wondrously increas'd
By a small box of diamonds of the East,
In value greater than a prince's crown.

A proclamation was sent up and down
The neighbouring land, to see if any claim
Were made upon these gems; but no one came.
The true possessor durst not reappear,
To make his title to the jewels clear.
And so, in time, they rightfully belong'd
To him who had so grievously been wrong'd
By the first owner: and their worth was higher,
A thousand fold, than what was burnt by fire.

Thus joy was born out of calamity;
And that old merchant, when he meant to lie,
In very truth had spoken prophecy.


WHEN I first took my seat as a clerk in our
Bank, the state of the country was far less
safe than it is now. The roads were not only
unconscious of Macadam, and fatal in many
places to wheels and springs, but dangerous
to a still more alarming degree from the
outrages and robberies to which travellers were

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