THE CLOSE OF THE DAY.
. THE SUNSET AND SOME REFLECTIONS. : & story . Tuns among the Maoris that in the lifetime of their great hero, Maui, the days were nmch. shorter than now, and that the sun galloped across the sky' at a fSerJrfic' pace. Main,- finding the days too short for his many pranks and incantations, set out' one? day; accompanied: "by his" brothers, all armed with ropeSj with which to chain, the sun. They travellett by night and hid in- -ffie Haytime,]est the ogreßa (the sun) shouldsee them, and suspect their object. When they arrived at the supreme east, and ifche starting-point of the sun wh.en he arose at the dawn, they built two high mud walls, one on either side of the cave in which the sun spent tie night. 'Across the two walls they Btretched the" ropes, and. the brothers remained pefcmd one of-the walls, while Slaui hid- belaud the other. At the dawn, up rose the sun, and, as Be got higher and higher,- his head and neck, and "then his body, were caught in the noose in the ropes. Then Maui and his brothers pulled the ropes tighter and tighter until the; poor, sun roared out "with pain. Saving secured, .the ogre, Maui, who. never did anything; by Salves, Began to Belabourhim with.stfeks Tnrhil the quite exhausted sun. .-moaned for" mercy. "You go too" fast/" said Maui, "and you are to hot. If you promise to travel much slower, I will let you go." The sun had no option but io promise and Hani loosened the noose and let lim.go. Maui, however, was suspicious, and,;being afraid that the sun might soon forget his promise and go galloping across the sky again,, he tied him to the earth, by means of magical Orr a wet day or in a mist at sunset, you may of ten see iaintf streaks running from; the eurf. fo- the earth.. We call these beams;, but,thV Maoris say iney ara the lopes -witk -vtifch' Slam chained: the eun. thus giving tntrelleiß ftj-iad
fro on the earth longer days in "which to accomplish their wanderings. All day long the wanderer is busySfghts, and sounds, and thoughts, all. full of' interest and novelty, crowd around, though one may be merrier in one' spot and quieter and less enthusiastic in another, in all there is that search: after novelty, which, like the bump of curiosity, being- largely developed in all tourists, keeps one far too busy to permit of homesickness. But there is an hour—a little, hour, that comes in the daily rush and bustle, during which- the heart cries out for home. For home and friends, and for the caress of a> hand and of a voice that are far, far awa?, doing the daily duties in the eorri'e rof the world we each know best— at home. At the hour of sunset, most especially on a summer day, there seems to be a lull in the restless activity of nature and of human life. As the great lifegiver dips behind the hills, or drops into the sea, over all the earth there: comes a breathless hush, not that anyone is afeared that he will not return, but because the realisation is borne in upon one that another day is gone. Alas! how often it is a consciousness that another day has been' idled away. I have known the most garrulous of men and women, the most egotistical of bores, to grow silent when the heavens grew grey and pink, and the hush of sunset was on the winds. I have known- them to become for an hour honestly contemplative of a beauty that was raised above their silly gush, and to come nearer to a belief in lives worthier and more noble than their own proud selfishness allowed. At sea, in the tropics, the sun sets quickly—he almost pops into the water before you are aware of it. But the wonderful afterglow—that glorious trail of radiance, which he leaves behind, draws one and all to the bulwarks. As we lean over the side and look out across the lonely expanse of ocean to the warm glow in the heavens, the very beauty of it all sends a rush of home longing to each heart, and thoughts speed away and away to every corner of the earth. So the wanderer thinks longingly of the peace and comfort and love at home. No wonder a little • weariness. creeps into his heart—-a liftle weariness of the restlessness of travel. At such times the most fractious child becomes bidable, the sternest man a little more humane, the careless flirt a little more tender, perhaps a little more genuine. In my storehouse of memories there are- several sunsets that seemed at the time almost prophetic, and certainly were typical. There was a day—the last of an unblemished holiday—when the sim, setting behind some New Zealand hills, cast a brilliant sliadow into a dark river. We were all there—all who had •spent those memorable days together— and that brilliant golden shadow seemed, as we watched it, typical of the bright weeks "of our holiday. The slender dark streaks cast on the golden stream marked the few and passing worries that had so lightly touched our happiness. At the furthermost corner of the river was a. wide, bright band of glistening water, surely a promise of another holiday equally bright, equally golden, equally delightful, as the one that was so speedily drawing to a close. A clear moonlight night will draw more spontaneous confessions from weary human .lips—weary lips asking for comthe most glowing sunset. But [ remember a Norwegian sunset that drew- from the lips of a tired man a tale of hopeless love. And as we watched the great Hbrnelen grow dark, and the radiant crimson sky turn to grey, there came across the sky a sudden gleam of golden light, just one little vivid golden ray from God's great life-giver. It seemed to flash its brilliancy right into that man's tired heart, and superstitiously he took it as an omen of a; coming brightness in his grey life; a promise of at least a flash of happiness somewhere stored up in the future for him. One has but to drift on to the Rangoon lakes at sunset, and to watch the masses of changing colours in the sky, to understand the Burmese love of colour. How speedily is the monotony of our days on the Irrawaddy River forgotten in the memory of the three brilliant sunsets we saw. One night it was a golden sunset —all the wondrous wealth of the world's gold reflected in the skies. The next it was a crimson sunset—all the blood spilt in the fight for the world's gold dying the soft blue clouds. Then, on the last evening, came the. promise of rest from need and strife reflected in the softest fading of brilliant gold through pink to those beautiful purple greys we have all seen at the dawn of a cummer's day. As to every day there comes a time of sunset, so in every journey there comes a time when travellers, who have met by the way must part. No matter how* long the voyage, or how prosperous, there is always the end, which is looked forward to eagerly, and the day of separation, when regretfully we say good-bye to newfound friends with the hope that we shall meet again. And so these journeyings of mine must be brought to a close. They have extended much further than I intended when I set out upon the task of writing these notes, and though memories of many other places of interest that remain undescribed crowd in uport mc, 1 realise that, however pleasant a voyage may be, it is apt to grow wearisome when too much prolonged; that th 6 most delightful companions may become tiree6m€, for man is inherently a creature ■vfh'o loves change. Such thoughts in relation to the readers' who have followed mc through these rambliugs have lately pressed in upon my mind. If for some I have revived memories of golden days that they have themselves! spent in many lands, and for others roused an interest in the far-away countries, and strengthened their desire to see these spots and gain the wider sympathies which travel undoubtedly bestows, then indeed I am fully satisfied.- So, if for no other reason than the danger of becoming tiresome, it is well that we should part for a while, with the hope that some day We may set out on our travels together again. (The End.)
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