will not be noticed. The wine-sellers should think much of the comet-year.'
The sky was full of clouds for fourteen days and nights. The comet could not be seen, but it was there.
The old schoolmaster sat in his little room, close by the schoolroom. The grandfather's clock, which had belonged to his parents, stood in the corner ; the heavy leaden weights neither rose nor fell, the pendulum did not move. The little cuckoo, which used to come forward to cuckoo the hour, had for several years sat silent behind closed doors : all was quiet and silent there, the clock went no more. But the old piano close by, which had also belonged to his parents, still had life, and the strings could sound, though certainly a little hoarse, the melodies of a whole generation. The old man remembered so many of them, both joyful and sorrowful, in the years from the time when he was a little boy and saw the comet, till now when it was here again. He remembered what his mother said about the shroud in the candle, he remembered the lovely soap-bubbles he blew; every one was a year of life, he had said, how radiant, how rich in colour ! everything lovely and joyful he saw there ; childish games and youthful pleasure, the whole of the wide world open in the sunshine, and he should go out in it ! that was the bubble of the future. As an old man he heard melodies of the vanished times from the strings of the piano : the bubbles of remembrance with memory's colour tints ; there sounded Grandmother's knitting song :
'Twas certainly no Amazon That knitted first a stocking.
There sounded the song which the old servant had sung for him as a child :
There are so many dangers
Wherein the young may fall, Who are of years but tender
And understanding small.
Now sounded the melodies from the first ball, a minuet and Polish dance ; now sounded soft, sorrowful tones, which brought tears into the eyes of the old man; now rushed a battle-march, now a psalm tune, now gay tones,