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but marvelled much that only now it stood there as a record of him, so many years after he had passed away ; also that that fine roof should have been so long left unfinished in respect to its decorations. They heard the divine organ play, and Dot saw the tears come into their mentor's eyes as he listened to those heavenly strains that swelled upwards from it. They mounted up to the top of that great dome, whence from the giddy height they gazed upon the mighty metropolis, all astir with restless activity, at their feet: from which the houses looked mere fragments of stone, the winding river but as streak, the human souls atoms only, down far, far below them. What a sight was that! how to be impressed upon the children's minds for always ! They visited that superb abbey, too, down by the river, and the houses where the legislators met; strolled through its cloisters, and marked those many tombs which stood over the illustrious dead, either mouldy with age, their inscriptions almost gone, or fresh from the sculptor's hands. Yet all the tombs were alike in this, that they registered nothing save an earthly fame. Old and new stood in this the same : they could give no clue as to whither those souls, gone they a hundred years before or but yesterday, had fled. That was beyond human ken to fathom, or for those stones to place on record.
The children went it may be said everywhere ; that is, to all places Great-heart chose in the hope that they might by their study further that good object he had in view for them.
With one exception, he never took them out after darkness had set in. It was his wish to avoid the pernicious habit of late hours for his little ones, the ill-effects of which he said he had so often seen reflected in after-life in precocious manners, and a premature weariness of the things of this world.
In this, the children, after it must be confessed some disappointment at first, understood the full wisdom and justice. The exception named was, when he took them to a theatre where they saw those prototypes of themselves, or as nearly such as their small minds could grasp, alluded to in the first chapter of this story, that one compiled by the children themselves, without aid from that mystic reviser and commentator subsequently called in to their aid. It must be confessed that this visit was, as far as the wholesome lesson the man hoped to read therefrom, a failure. Great-heart's experience of theatres dated back to some years before, when he had been a frequent attendant at them. Of the plays as presented to the public at the season now spoken of he knew nothing, except by hearsay. But the little ones had begged so hard to go “just once,”
if only to see what it were like, that he had not the heart to refuse them. So he consulted the list which appears daily in the chief journals of the day, and selected from it a play that he thought by its title, and the way it was spoken of, would suit his purpose. Unfortunately, it did not.
They secured a most commodious box, and the little people sat down in great glee. But they did not stop long. The instant the curtain went up, Great-heart saw he had been imposed upon. He hoped to witness a piece of the nature one could reasonably expect from the way it was put forward, by its name and the enconiums passed upon it by those who ought to know what to recommend to the public. Alas! he saw, with sadness and regret, beautiful scenery, dresses, lavish expenditure, wasted, perverted upon what was bad in every other sense.
Charming music, wedded to vulgar personalities, coarse allusions taking the place of wit, accepted, roared at as such by the audience, which crammed the place. Worse sights than these. Lovely forms and faces brought there but to attract by false show or gesture (beauty turned to so sad an account as
Fresh young voices of abundant richness carolling forth senseless words of double meaning. This was the taste of the time! Great-heart watched his charges anxiously. He did not want to spoil
their, to them, innocent enjoyment. Yet he quickly determined they should not drink too deeply of this unhealthy draught.
Happily he saw by the sweet open purity of their faces that the poisonous shafts passed unheeded; they perceived but the beauty of the scene around. Their guileless minds grasped naught else in their inexperience. But he would not let them stop, for all that. The visit should pass without comment, to leave he earnestly trusted no ill effects behind. They must go when the curtain fell for the first time; he could not risk what was to come, even if he himself had not already sickened by what he saw.
So he had to break it to the children gently that they must leave that gay spot. Just after the plaudits of the crowd had sent up the drop again to get yet one more glance at these favourites, just as the little ones turned round flushed and excited to pour forth their admiration and delight at it all, then he told them they must come away at once ! To them it seemed unkind, cruel even, thus to spoil their pleasure, cut off their enjoyment in its bud, to drag them forth from that hall of beauty. Trixie tossed her head angrily, and said it was too bad. Dot looked very much disappointed, and quite like crying. But the maidens saw their friend was in earnest, that in those sad eyes
sat a fixed determination they had not often seen before. He merely said, “It is for your good that you leave, children: come.”
So they left, after one lingering look around the theatre, then all alive with animated conversation.
In the cab Trixie burst out with, “Oh, Greatheart, why did you make us come away so soon?”
Dot whispered, “Were you not contented there, dear : did you not like the piece?"
“I cannot explain, little ones; I can only say that I acted as I thought for your best in leaving thus early. I was mistaken in my selection both of the piece and the theatre."
" Then you will take us again to another one?” eagerly inquired Trixie.
"Perhaps : I cannot promise!"
Dot's heart smote her when she came to think over all this good man had done for them, and of the selfish return she was thus making to him. She stole her little hand into his, then sunk her head upon his shoulder and asked forgiveness for her selfishness. Great-heart said,
“ I have nothing to forgive, darling. To you my conduct may with truth seem harsh. I am however but cruel to be kind.”
“I believe it," murmured Dot.