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conduce to the good of humanity, is disallowed in the world above. That which is written for sensation alone, for low and selfish ends, ranks little higher than the monstrous efforts of an impure and perverted genias, which vainly tries to glorify infidelity and godless living, and which dresses vice in fair and delicate hues, and teaches immorality and imparity under the specious guise of a pretended virtae clothed in the gaudy array of the world's conventionalities. If the responsibility of trao anthorship be terrible, its dignity is great and lasting ; its reward unspeakable.
And if the mass of intending contributors would but seriously ponder these traths—as I am fally persuaded they are there would be in the futare but small need to “pity the sorrows of an Editor," and there would be far less anprofitable inkshed, and far more genuine and honourable author ship.
CLARISSA'S TANGLED WEB.
BY BEATRICE BRISTOWE,
CHAPTER XI.-SAVED ! Such was the confasion, anxiety, and terror without Broad Street Hall. Our story must go back an hour or so to tell what had been the course of events within. The room was on this particular evening quite fall, though not densely crowded. The chairmanW. Hant, Esq., glass manufacturer—had delivered a speech which had been listened to with that sort of resigned inattention frequently accorded to the speeches of chairmen, notwithstanding that in subsequent addresses the gentleman occapping the chair is complimented apon having "strack the true key-note” of the whole proceedings. Next a report had been read, and its adoption moved, seconded, and carried.
Then, in the absence of Mr. Morgan, suddenly summoned to London, Mr. Weatherill was called upon to move the second resolation, and he rose and spoke for fifteen minutes with a force and clearness which gave no indication of hasty preparation, and withont any needless, and therefore irrelevant, apologies. To him succeeded Mr. Fuller, and his address was to be followed by the speech of the evening from the London orator.
Bat Edward did not remain to listen, caring nothing for the first address, and willing to forego the second, that he might fulfil his
promise to Clarissa of returning as soon as possible. So he quietly moved to the back part of the platform, descended the steps, and, going into the committee-room, passed down throngh the sidepassage, emerging again at the lower end of the hall, where he paused for a moment to listen to the thunders of applause with which the speech was greeted. Then deftly making his way through a small standing crowd round the door, he passed out.
He had not taken three steps before he was aware of a strange smell and a sense of oppression. An instant dread flashed on his mind, and lifting his eyes, he saw smoke, a confused running near the entrance of the alley, then a burst of flame. Where was it ? King's oil and colour warehouse, he was sure.
What should he do? Could there be time for the people to escape before the way was impassable? Ten minutes, fifteen, it often took to clear the room when there was perfect order: flame-blocked the way might be in less time than that; and was perfect order likely in the known presence of such a danger ? What would be the horrors of a panic at that narrow doorway, in that long narrow passage. It could not be! The nature of the peril must be concealed if possible; the people be got out, somehow, through the houses at the back. Words are slow; thought rapid. In one flash all this had passed through his mind, and the conclusion had been reached. At this moment he saw a man rashing up the alley at frantic speed. Gaessing his purpose he ran forward to meet and stop him.
“Fire! fire!” shouted the man, trying to pass; but Weatherill caught and held him back. “Silence, man," he said, sternly. "Let me pass—I must pass ! I'm going to tell them to come out before they are all borned,” and he struggled violently, still shouting “Fire!” With his left band Weatherill drew out a large pocket-knife and opened it with his teeth. “Cry · Fire' once more; struggle, and you are a dead man! Foo),” he added, as his captive turned pale and cowered down, “a panic there; what then ? Go and give the alarm at Soow Hill Station, and mind not a word by the way."
“I will—I will go. I won't speak," and, released, the man rushed a way down the passage, passing four police officers and two other men who, to his great relief, Weatherill saw coming np with quick steps and resolate faces.
There was a hasty consultation, in which it was arranged that two of the police-officers should keep guard at the door, preventingingress or egress which might give knowledge of the danger; two, with the workmen, were to force such passage as was possible at the back, through doors and windows and over yard walls ; while to Mr. Weatherill was entrusted the duty of conveying to the chairman intimation of the necessity of immediately ending the meeting, and endeavouring that this should be so communicated to the andience as not to create alarm and confusion. A signal was agreed upon, whereby he should know when the preparations were completed and the actual dismissal might begin; for dreadful as was the need for speed, safety equally depended upon arrangements being perfected before any movement was made. Edward re-entered the room, and stood for a brief moment on the platform stairs to arrange his plans. He was not a man of prayer; but there are moments when the most self-confident feel the need of help; and as the thought of all that was at stake rose vividly before his mind, a strong appeal went up to God for strength and guidance. Then he pencilled a few clearly-written words on a leaf of his note-book, and moving quietly towards the table with a courteous apology to gentlemen he had to pass, he held the page before the chairman, so standing that any sadden movement or change of countenance might be, as far as possible, concealed from view. There was need. The chairman turned deadly pale and half-rose from the chair, though he yielded to a firm pressure from Edward's hand on his shoulder, and sank back with a helpless, appealing look. “Can you command your
face and manner sufficiently, sir; or shall I try?" asked Edward.
"I-I-I can't,” he whispered. “I can keep quiet myself, but -bat-not make others. Can you ?”
"I will try,” and placing a decanter and a vase of flowers so as to shade the chairman's agitated countenance, he moved to the front and stood beside Mr. Fuller, who was still speaking, and in the midst of a personal anecdote.
“Excuse me, sir,” he said, gently touching his arm, “but some one wants to speak with you in the committee-room, immediately ; the business must be urgent, I feel sare.”
The popular speaker turned round sharply. He was somewhat alarmed by an unexpected summons, quite as much disappointed to be interrapted in his story, the point being the high esteem in which he had been universally held in a former sphere of labour. Then he faced the audience again and made a long and impressive pause.
“My dear friends," he said, “I am summoned away. For what I know not. Bat to me, this is no strange thing happening. I am called to the sick and to the dying, to the rich and the poor, to the learned and the illiterate. I am called to wipe away the tears of sorrow, to advise the perplexed, to solve the doubts of the doubting, to smile with the joyons. I go to see what is the need that calls me now. But yet, let me pause to say one word.
of you, my friends, need me; if any map, woman, or child in this noble town of Kingsport needs me, be it by day or by night, in storm or in sunshine, in summer heat or winter cold--here am I, send for me," and amid thunders of applause the speaker lifted his hand over the people as in benediction, bowed low to the chairman, descended the platform stairs into the committee-room, and within three minutes had scrambled through a half-opened window and was safe in Narrow Street; saying, perhaps believing, that he thus harried to obtain fresh assistance.
Edward had stood during this peroration and the following applause with his thin lips tightly compressed ; yet thinking that to-night he must himself speak words chosen, not to convey but to conceal fact, and attempt to engage attention and fill up time by wordiness.
“Ladies and gentlemen," he said, “you have, I am sure, felt great regret that the eloquent address you have so warmly applauded was interrupted, so that it was nearly as short as sweet. And now, by the request of our chairman, I have to make a communication which will cause, if possible, even greater disappointment. By a concurrence of unfortunate circumstances, we are destined to lose, for this evening, the great pleasure of listening to Mr. Harman.”
There was a movement, an audible murmur of dissatisfaction among the audience, and the expectant orator looked up with startled surprise.
“Yet the pleasure is not exactly lost,--only postponed. It has been found desirable to adjourn this meeting until next Monday, seven o'clock, in this place. You will wish for an explanation of such an unexpected arrangement,-you have a right to ask it. Yon will surely stay for that,” he continued quickly, noticing with alarm that some were rising to depart. Again there was attention.
“Things have a tendency to occur at inopportune conjunctures. An cbstraction to the ordinary traffic of Broad Street has anfortunately arisen, and this would necessarily increase the tediousness of dismissal from this room, a tediousness of which we are all so well aware. It has been, in fact, felt that the slowness of progression would be so much greater than usual, and the inconvenience in Broad Street be so seriously increased by the outflow from this meeting, that it has been thought advisable to dismiss this assembly through the less used way into Narrow Street."
There was a feeling of perplexity among the people; they had not been aware of the existence of any passage into Narrow Street, but the quiet, matter-of fact manner in which it was spoken of, created a belief in many minds that such a way there must be, after all. While he spoke, Weatherill was also watching intently
for the signal that the dismissal might commence, though he scarcely yet expected it; but he allowed himself no pause in speaking, wishing to engage the attention of the audience, and so to prevent them from following their own thoughts. “You will find the way, I fear, a little inconvenient; the fact is, you know," he said, affecting a confidential tone, “this is not the most convenient meeting place in all the world. But,” raising his voice, “ Broad Street Rooms, with all thy faults, I love thee, still !” Several voices cried, “Hear! hear!” and loud applause followed.
“Before we go,” he resumed, not waiting for the stamping and clapping wholly to cease, “let as sing the National Anthem. But one word first. I am awaiting a signal that the rarely used way is ready; when that signal is given the dismissal will at once commence, although we may be singing. And observe," there was a change in his manner which indicated that now his words were not only to be listened to, bat were to be obeyed. “It is indispensable that perfect order be observed. You will leave seat by seat; no one will move except as directed by the gentlemen superintending the arrangements. The friends in the gallery,” and be turned towards them, “will keep their places; the gallery door is closed to prevent a cross stream; another way will be opened for them. Now 'God save our gracious Queen !'” and his voice started the familiar strain, which was heartily taken up and carried on by the company.
As soon as he saw that it was so, he motioned to six men on whose steady promptness he felt he could rely-two from the platform, where everyone had sat still in bewildered sarprise, and four from below.
“Weatherill, what is the danger? Fire?” whispered one of them.
“ Panic!” he replied; "that is the danger, the only danger we have anything to do with. Bat it is fire; no time to be lost. We mast get them out as quickly as possible.” And he gave clear directions as to the order of departure, so arranging that the people should gradually move forward, filling the places, row by row, of those who had gone out.
Now all was ready, how long the signal seemed in coming ! And not to Edward only did it seem long, for it is not to be supposed but that there were some in the assembly who felt sure that argent need there must be for a procedare so extraordinary. Vague suspicions of imminent peril, though not universal, were becoming somewhat general; but the idea of danger had dawned so gradually that time had been given for the consideration that, if cause for fear there were, order and collectedness would give the best chance of safety. So they sang on-some in happy unconsciousness, but many of set purpose, to conceal oneasiness and keep ap courage in themselves and in one another.