Then one morning it happened that the monk descended from the library into the cloister garden, and there he saw a little bird perched on the bough of a tree, singing sweetly, like a nightingale. The bird did not move as the monk approached her, till he came quite close, and then she flew to another bough, and again another, as the monk pursued her. Still singing the same sweet song, the nightingale flew on; and the monk, entranced by the sound, followed her out of the garden into the wide world.
At last he stopped, and turned back to the cloister; but every thing seemed changed to him. Every thing had become larger, more beautiful, and older,—the buildings, the garden; and in the place of the low, humble cloister church, a lofty minster with three towers reared its head to the sky. This seemed very strange to the monk, indeed marvelous; but he walked on to the cloister gate and timidly rang the bell. A porter entirely unknown to him answered his summons, and drew back in amazement when he saw the monk.
The latter went in, and wandered through the church, gazing with astonishment on memorial stones which he never remembered to have seen before. Presently the brethren of the cloister entered the church; but all retreated when they saw the strange figure of the monk. The abbot only (but not his abbot) stopped, and stretching a crucifix before him, exclaimed, “In the name of Christ, who art thou, spirit or mortal? And what dost thou seek here, coming from the dead among us, the living?”
The monk, trembling and tottering like an old man, cast his eyes to the ground, and for the first time became aware that a long silvery beard descended from his chin over his girdle, to which was still suspended the key of the library. To the monks around, the stranger seemed some marvelous appearance; and, with a mixture of awe and admiration, they led him to the chair of the abbot. There he gave the key to a young monk, who opened the library, and brought out a chronicle wherein it was written that three hundred years ago the monk Urban had disappeared; and no one knew whither he had gone.
“Ah, bird of the forest, was it then thy song?” said the monk Urban, with a sigh. “I followed thee for scarce three minutes, listening to thy notes, and yet three hundred years have passed away! Thou hast sung to me the song of eternity which I could never before learn. Now I know it; and, dust myself, I pray to God kneeling in the dust.” With these words he sank to the ground, and his spirit ascended to heaven.
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Copy the last paragraph, omitting all marks of punctuation.
Close the book, and punctuate what you have written. Compare your work with the printed page.
If thou wouldst live long, live well; for folly and wickedness shorten life.
From “Poor Richard’s Proverbs"
The older I grow—and I now stand upon the brink of eternity—the more comes back to me the sentence in the catechism which I learned when a child, and the fuller and deeper becomes its meaning: “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”