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INDEX TO AUTHORS.
Hickham, Charles D.
Werner's Readings No. 24.
Werner's Readings and Recitations
A LIE FOR A LIFE.
GEORGE HENRY GALPIN.
(From "Threads from the Woof,” by permission of the author.]
The words came impatiently from the lips of a
woman reclining upon the gay cushions of a gondola in fair old Venice.
The Cathedral, Pasquale! Hurry—we shall be late!” Obediently, the man sent the boat gliding swiftly toward the church.
It was the day of the first communion, and many of the onlookers could point proudly to a little white-robed“ bambina in veil and cotton gloves, marching solemnly toward the church.
The procession of communicants had just arrived, and the gondola of Madame was not allowed to approach until after the children had passed, which they soon did, and entered the church,—the crowd bowing their heads and becoming instantly quiet and most devout. Soon the organ began to chant, which was taken quickly up by those in the church. Gradually, the crowd in the vestibules and the corridors joined in, then the mass of beggars and hangers-on assembled on the outside added their voices to the grand anthem, until the whole multitude was singing, as if with one voice:
“ Verbum caro, panem verum
Verbo carnem effecit,
Fitque sanguis Christi merum
Et si sensus defecit:
Sola fides sufficit.”
The interior presented a sight more beautiful than any work of a master. The bowed heads of the dark-robed multitude, the glittering brasses and fringes, the tall, black columns, the small, white figures before the altar steps, the richly robed priests and bishops, all formed parts of this beautiful picture, while over the bowed heads and spotless robes of the little band of communicants fell, in a glorious shower, the tinted beams of light from the colored windows.
The archbishop passed slowly along the line of bowed faces.
The subdued light from the swinging lamps and the intoxicating aroma arising from the hundred censers lent an indescribable atmosphere to it all, the charm of which was felt by everyone and even had the power to soften the hard lines about Madame's mouth, as she stood erect and scornful in the shadow of a pillar.
Some distance from the children and half concealed by a brazier of candles, stood a silent figure clad in the garments of a priest. The face and the attitude denoted the student, the eyes alone excepted. Deep set, full of a fiery pathos, they seemed to kindle and flame with each thought of the owner, as well as with each move of one of the childish figures kneeling at the altar steps-save when he met the child's eyes and answered the look in them by one so gentle and compassionate that one knew—aye; saw—the tears that dimmed them.
As the services ended and the crowd filed slowly out, he bowed his head in prayer until the organ ceased. With a sigh, sad as the lines about the mouth through which it came, he rose and turned, to behold standing before him,-Madame, a mocking smile upon her lips, a sneer upon her fair face.
“Mon Dieu! Celeste! What means it? Ah! Could you not spare me even this day? our day—not yours?” The woman laughed.
Come, come, monsieur, this is no time or place for scenes. I would have a word with you. Take me to some quiet corner of
your old rookey here, where there is a seat. And mind it's a cool corner, for the sun is broiling hot.”