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There is music, again, if you will listen, in the soft tread of these hundred horse-hoofs upon the spungy, vegetable soil. They are trotting now in common time. You may hear the whole Croats' March (the finest trotting march in the world) played by those iron heels; the time, as it does in the Croats' March, breaking now and then, plunging, jingling, struggling through heavy ground, bursting for a moment into a jubilant canter as it reaches a sound spot.
The hounds feather a moment round Malepartus, puzzled by the windings of Reinecke's footsteps. I can hear the flap and snort of the dogs' nostrils as they canter round me; and I like it. It is exciting; but why—who can tell ?
THERE they stand in thousands, the sturdy Scots, colonizing the desert in spite of frost, and gales, and barrenness; and clustering together, too, as Scotsmen always do abroad, little and big, every one under his neighbour's lee, according to the good old proverb of their native land, 'Caw me, and I'll caw thee.'
I respect them, those Scotch firs. I delight in their forms, from James the First's gnarled giants, up in Bramshill Park—the only place in England where a painter can learn what Scotch firs aredown to the little green pyramids which stand up out of the heather, triumphant over tyranny, and the strange woes of an untoward youth. Seven years on an average have most of them spent in ineffectual efforts to become a foot high. Nibbled off by hares, trodden down by cattle, cut down by turf parers, seeing hundreds of their brethren cut up and carried off in the turffuel, they are as gnarled and stubbed near the ground as an old thorn-bush in a pasture. But they have conquered at last, and are growing away, eighteen inches a year, with fair green bushes silver-tipt, reclothing the wilderness with a vegetation which it has not seen for-how many thousand years ?
Still, I wish it were easier to ride through. Stiff are those Scotchmen, and close and stout they stand by each other, and claw at you as you twist through them, the biggest aiming at your head, or even worse, at your knees; while the middle-sized slip their brushes between your thigh and the saddle, and the little babies tickle your horse's stomach, or twine about his forefeet. Whish-whish; I am enveloped in what seems an atmosphere of scrubbing-brushes. Fain would I shut my eyes; but dare not, or I shall ride against a tree. Whish-whish ; alas for the horse which cannot wind and turn like a hare! Plungestagger. What is this? A broad line of ruts; perhaps some Celtic trackway, two thousand years old, now matted over with firs; dangerous enough out on the open moor, when only masked by a line of higher and darker heath: but doubly dangerous now when masked by dark undergrowth. You must find your own way here, mare. I will positively have nothing to do with it. I disclaim all responsibility. There are the reins on your neck ; do what you will, only do something—and if you can, get forward, and not back.
SEA AND RAILROAD.
Five long minutes; there is a breath of air ; a soft distant inurmur; the white horses curve their necks, and dive and vanish; and rise again like snowy porpoises, nearer, and nearer, and nearer. Father and sons are struggling with that raving, riotous, drunken squaresail forward ; while we haul away upon the main-sheet.
When will it come? It is dying back-sliding past us. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.' No, louder and nearer swells
the voice of many waters, the countless laugh of ocean,' like the mirth of ten thousand girls, before us, behind us, round us ; and the oily swell darkens into crisp velvet-green, till the air strikes us, and heels us over; and leaping, plunging, thrashing our bows into the seas, we spring away close-hauled upon the ever-freshening breeze, while Claude is holding on by ropes and bulwarks, and I, whose, sea-legs have not yet forgot their craft, am swinging like a pendulum as I pace the deck, enjoying, as the Norse vikings would have called it,' the gallop of the flying sea-horse, and the shiver of her tawny wings.'
SEA AND RAILROAD.
Exquisite motion! more maddening than the smooth floating stride of the race-horse, or the crash of the thorn-hedges before the stalwart hunter, or the swaying of the fir-boughs in the gale, when we used to climb as schoolboys after the lofty hawk's nest; but not so maddening as the new motion of our age—the rush of the express-train, when the live iron pants and leaps and roars through the long chalk cutting ; and white mounds gleam cold a moment against the sky, and vanish; and rocks, and grass, and bushes, fleet by in dim blended lines; and the long hedges revolve like the spokes of a gigantic wheel; and far below, meadows, and streams, and homesteads, with all their lazy auld-warld life open for an instant, and then rush away; while awe-struck, silent, choked with the mingled sense of pride and helplessnsss, we are swept on by that great pulse of England's life-blood, rushing down her iron veins; and dimly out of the future looms the fulfilment of our primæval mission, to conquer and subdue the earth, and space too, and time, and all things,-even, hardest of all tasks, yourselves, my cunning brothers; ever learning some fresh lesson, except that hardest one of all, that it is the Spirit of God which giveth you understanding.
Yes, great railroads, and great railroad age, who would exchange vou, with all your sins, for any other age ? For swiftly as rushes matter, more swiftly rushes mind,- -more swiftly still rushes the heavenly dawn up the eastern sky. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.' • Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching !'
WATER-BABIES. AND Tom?'
Ah, now comes the most wonderful part of this wonderful story. Tom, when he woke, for of course he woke—children always wake after they have slep exactly as long as is good for them-found himself swimming about in the stream, being about four inches, or —that I may be accurate—3:87902 inches long, and having round the parotid region of his fauces a set of external gills (I hope you understand all the big words) just like those of a young eft,
which he mistook for a lace frill, till he pulled at them, found he hurt himself, and made up his mind that they were part of himself, and best left alone.
In fact, the fairies had turned him into a water-baby.
A water-baby? You never heard of a water-baby. Perhaps not. That is the very reason why this story was written. There are a great many things in the world which you never heard of; and a great many more which nobody ever heard of; and a great many things, too, which nobody will ever hear of.
‘But there are no such things as water-babies.'
How do you know that? Have you been there to see? And if you had been there to see, and had seen none, that would not prove that there were none. If Mr. Garth does not find a fox in Eversley Wood—as folks sometimes fear he never will—that does not prove that there are no such things as foxes. And as Eversley Wood to all the woods in England, so are the waters we know to all the waters in the world. And no one has a right to say that no water-babies exist, till they have seen no water-babies existing; which is quite a different thing, mind, from not seeing water-babies; and a thing which noboby ever did, or perhaps ever will do.
* But surely if there were water-babies, somebody would have caught one ac least ? '
Well. How do you know that somebody has not ?
‘But they would have put it into spirits, or into the Illustrated News, or perhaps cut it into two halves, poor dear little thing, and sent one to Professor Owen, and one to Professor Huxley, to see what they would each say about it?'
Ah, my dear little man! that does not follow at all, as you will see before the end of the story.
* But a water-baby is contrary to nature.'
Well, but, my dear little man, you must learn to talk about . such things, when you grow older, in a very diffèrent way from that. You must not talk about ain't' and can't' when you speak of this great wonderful world round you, of which the wisest man knows only the very smallest corner, and is, as the great Sir Isaac Newton said, only a child picking up pebbles on the shore of a boundless ocean.
There are dozens and hundreds of things in the world which we should certainly have said were contrary to nature, if we did not
see them going on under our eyes all day long. If people had never seen little seeds grow into great plants and trees, of quite different shape from themselves, and these trees again produce fresh seeds, to grow into fresh trees, they would have said, “The thing cannot be; it is contrary to nature.' And they would have been quite as right in saying so, as in saying that most other things cannot be.
The truth is, that folks' fancy that such and such things cannot be, simply because they have not seen them, is worth no more than a savage's fancy that there cannot be such a thing as a locomotive, because he never saw one running wild in the forest. Wise men know that their business is to examine what is, and not to settle what is not. They know that there are elephants; they know that there have been flying dragons; and the wiser they are, the less inclined they will be to say positively that there are no water-babies.
No water-babies, indeed? Why, wise men of old said that everything on earth had its double in the water; and you may see that that is, if not quite true, still quite as true as most other theories which you are likely to hear for many a day. There are land-babies—then why not water-babies ? Are there not waterrats, water-flies, water-crickets, water-crabs, water-tortoises, water-scorpions, water-tigers and water-hogs, water-cats and water-dogs, sea-lions and sea-bears, sea-horses and sea-elephants, sea-mice and sea-urchins, sea-razors and sea-pens, sea-combs and sea-fans; and of plants, are there not water-grass, and water-crowfoot, water-milfoil, and so on, without end ?
• But all these things are only nick-names; the water things are not really akin to the land things ?'
That's not always true. They are, in millions of cases, not only of the same family, but actually the same individual creatures. Do not even you know that a green drake, and an alder-fly, and a dragon-fly, live under water till they change their skins, just as Tom changed his? And if a water animal can continually change into a land animal, why should not a land animal sometimes change into a water animal? Don't be put down by any of Cousin Cramchild's arguments, but stand up to him like a man, and answer him (quite respectfully, of course) thus: