Page:Chandos, Ouida volume 1.djvu/12

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CHANDOS.


the night. Above, the sky was dark, and little illumined by the crescent of a young and golden moon; but across the darkness mnv and then, across the narrow strip that piled roofs and towering spires and crushed-up walls alone gave sight of, a falling star shot swiftly down the clouds— in fleeting memento and reminder of all the glorious world of forest and of lake, of rushing river and of deep fern glades, of leafy shelter lining cool in mountain shadows, and of sea waves breaking upon wet brown rocks, which lay beyond, and were forgotten here, in the stress of trade, in the strife of crowds, in the cramped toil of poverty, and in the wealth of mingled nations. Few in town that night looked up at the shooting star as it flashed its fiery passage above the dull, leaden, noxious, gas-lit streets; none, indeed, except perhaps here and there a young dreamer, with threadbare coat and mad but sweet ambitions for all that was impossible—or some woman, haggard, painted, half drunk, whose aching eyes were caught by it, and whose sodden memory went wearily back to a long-buried childhood, when the stars were out over the moorland of a cottage home, and childish wonder had watched them rise over the black edge of ricks through the little lozenge of the lattice, and sleep had come under their light, happily, innocently, haunted by no terrors, to the clear music of a mother's spinning-song. Save these, none thought of the star as it dropped down above the jagged wilderness of roofs; the crowd was