Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/473

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their rigid limbs. Home’s every comfort could not shut out the haunting vision of that disconsolate mother, who once hung over a dying child, amid dreary darkness, without one ray of light to give back the features she had loved to gaze upon in other and happier days. God help the poor, when December’s snows are upon the earth!

On such a night as this, the Old and New Year met—both struggling for supremacy—each unwilling to accord to the other unlimited sway.

“I have been, and I am yet a monarch,” said the Old Year; “one, too, whose subjects are almost countless. You may not number the tongues which have sung of my exploits; and the length of days which has been mine has given me a knowledge and wisdom, of which thou knowest nothing. What? resign my throne to thee, thou stripling! never!!” and echo caught up the last word as it fell, and “never” reverberated throughout the universe.

“Truly,” replied the New Year, “thy deeds have rendered thee immortal, and Time that bears all things down on his vast bosom, shall transmit thy name to generations yet to come; but now, thou art old and enfeebled, and thy sceptre trembles in thy hand. Thy Spring and Summer, nay, the Autumn of thy days are gone for ever, while mine are yet to come. Would it not be wise then, for thee to retire from the active scenes of life, giving the power to one whose strength will be sufficient for the future, be what it may.”

“Strength!” and the Old Year drew his form up to its loftiest height—“am I not strong? The blood may not course through my veins as rapidly as thine, but I tell thee, the current is deeper. Strength! why this arm can boast sinews and muscles that might, like the fancied lever of Archimedes, raise the world. Look upon my eye—does it not tell that the fire of my soul burns brightly still? Ay, youth—tells it not that Time hath no power over such light—that he does not quench it?

“Thou art vain, Old Year. Pause one moment and look back—dost thou not remember when thou wert as I am now, in Life’s glowing spring-time, and when one like thee clung to his power, unwilling to resign to thee thy rightful claims. His course was