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Consolation

THERE was moonlight on the water. The wind blew cold from the south-east and sent a gleaming ripple across the bay. Far out the dark outline of an island stood in silhouette against the sky; and from the bush came the plaintive cry of the curlew. A narrow jetty ran away out to the deep water. Upon it a man sat fishing; his line loose in his hand and a deep frown upon his forehead.

Fate had been cruel that day. The man had told himself in the morning that he would confess his love to the most adorable woman on earth, and ask her to be his wife.

But circumstances conspired, and he had found no opportunity to speak with her alone. And now, as he sat looking down at the shadows on the water, he heard voices—a man and woman were singing, away up at the hotel on the cliff. The voice of the man was that of his dearest friend, and the woman's voice was the voice of her he loved.

Hushed by the distance, he heard the deep tones of the man as he sang:

Dear one, dost thou love me true!
Tell me true, tell me true!

And her voice, how sweet it was!—

Must I then my secret tell!—
Yes, I love thee well.

Then their voices blended:

We are pledged to love for ever,
Let the world say what it may;
Nought but death our hearts can sever,
Love with life shall pass away.

And the man on the jetty sighed.

The music ceased; there was a sound of a door opened and closed; and the figures of the singers came down the hillside


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together. The fisherman in the shadow heard their voices as they came toward him. They spoke of music, of poetry, of love; and he knew as he listened that he had only dreamed of happiness.

After a while the woman said, “How cold it is!” and gave a little shiver. And the man by her side took off his coat and threw it over her shoulders. She protested, but he fastened it about her throat.

As his fingers—a man's fingers—fumbled at the button he said: “Let me keep you from the cold—dear—for always.” And she looked up at him, and he clasped her in his arms and kissed her lips.

The man sitting looking into the water felt that there was nothing left for him to live for. Now he had not even a friend. But he kept the line in his hand.

Back up the hill went the lovers with arms entwined. And he was alone with his grief.

Presently his line tightened with a jerk. He rose quickly to his feet, and hand over hand he drew it in. The strain was great, and the frown disappeared from his brow. Steadily now he hauled in—cautiously—easy—ah! Before him lay the great, shining, scaly fish.

He smiled. His face was lit up with the smile.

He baited another hook, threw in his line, and sitting down again looked fixedly into the water.

There are many good fish in the sea.

G. J. V. MACKAY.

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