The outer world lies dimly round Baby; within, strange shadows are flitting by. The wee body is pressing heavily upon the spirit; Baby is becoming conscious of the burthen. He will be quiet for hours on his little cot; he does not sleep, but he dreams. Earth’s joys and lights are fast fading out of those resilient eyes; Baby’s spirit is waiting on the shores of eternity, and already hears “the mighty waters rolling evermore.”
The broken toys are swept away into a corner, a silence and fear has fallen upon the household, black servants weep, their mistress seeks refuge in headache and smelling salts, the hard father feels a strange, an irrepressible welling up of little memories. He loves the golden haired boy; he hardly knew it before. If he could only hear once more the merry laugh, the chatter and the shouting! But he cannot hear it any more; he will never hear his child’s voice again. Baby has passed into the far-away Thought-World. Baby is now only a dream and a memory, only the recollection of a music that is heard no more. Baby has crossed that cloudy, storm-driven bourn of speculation and fear whither we are all tending.
A few white bones
upon a lonely sand,
A rotting corpse beneath the meadow grass,
That cannot hear the footsteps as they pass,
Memorial urns pressed by some foolish hand
Have been for all the goal of troublous fears,
Ah! breaking hearts and faint eyes dim with tears,
And momentary hope by breezes framed
To flame that ever fading falls again,
And leaves but blacker night and deeper pain,
Have been the mould of life in every land.
Baby is planted out for evermore in the dank and weedy little cemetery that lies on the outskirts of the station where he lived and died. Those golden curls, those soft and rounded limbs, and that laughing mouth, are given up to darkness and the eternal hunger of corruption. Through sunshine and rain, through the long days of summer, through the long nights of winter, for ever, for ever, Baby lies silent and dreamless under that waving grass. The bee will hum overhead for evermore, and the swallow glance among the cypress. The butterfly will flutter for ages and ages among the rank flowers—Baby will still lie there. Come away, come away; your cheeks are pale; it cannot be, we cannot believe it, we must not remember it; other Baby voices will kindle our life and love, Baby’s toys will pass to other Baby hands. All will change; we will change.
Yet, darling, but come back to me;
Whatever change the years have wrought,
I find not yet one lonely thought
That cries against my wish for thee.
ALI BABA, K.C.B.
THE RED CHUPRASSIE
OR, THE CORRUPT LICTOR[R]
[October 18, 1879.]
The red chuprassie is our Colorado beetle, our potato disease, our Home ruler, our cupboard skeleton, the little rift in our lute. The red-coated chuprassie is a cancer in our Administration. To be rid of it there is hardly any surgical operation we would not cheerfully undergo. You might extract the Bishop of Bombay, amputate the Governor of Madras, put a seton in the pay and allowances of the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, and we should smile.