A BOY, only six years old, was sailing with his father down the Danube. All day long they had been sailing past crumbling ruins, frowning castles, cloisters hidden away among the crags, towering cliffs, quiet villages nestled in sunny valleys, and here and there a deep gorge that opened back from the gliding river, its hollow distance blue with fathomless shadow, and its loneliness and stillness stirring the boy's heart like some dim and vast cathedral. They stopped at night at a cloister, and the father took little Wolfgang into the chapel to see the organ. It was the first large organ he had ever seen, and his face lit up with delight, and every motion and attitude of his figure expressed a wondering reverence.

"Father," said the boy, "explain to me those pedals at the organ's foot, and let me play!" Well pleased, the father complied. Then Wolfgang pushed aside the stool, and when his father had filled the great bellows, the elfin organist stood upon the pedals, and trod them as though he had never needed to have their management explained.

How the deep tones woke the somber stillness of the old church! The organ seemed some great uncouth creature, roaring for very joy at the caresses of the marvelous child.

The monks, eating their supper in the refectory, heard it, and dropped knife and fork in astonishment. The organist of the brotherhood was among them; but never had he played with such power and freedom. They listened; some grew pale; others crossed themselves; till the prior rose up, summoned all his courage, and hastened into the chapel. The others followed, but when they looked up into the organ loft, lo! There was no form of any organist to be seen, though the deep tones still massed themselves in new harmonies, and made the stone arches thrill with their power. "It is the devil himself," cried the last one of the monks, drawing closer to one of his companions, and giving a scared look over his shoulder to the darkness of the aisle.

"It is a miracle!" said another. But when the boldest of them mounted the stairs to the organ loft, he stood as if petrified with amazement. There stood the tiny figure, treading from pedal to pedal, and at the same time clutching the keys above with his little hands, gathering handfuls of those wonderful chords as if they were violets, and flinging them out into the solemn gloom behind him. He heard nothing, saw nothing besides; his eyes beamed like stars, and his whole face lighted up with impassioned joy. Louder and fuller rose the harmonies, streaming forth in swelling billows, till at last they seemed to reach a sunny shore, on which they broke; and then a whispering ripple of faintest melody lingered a moment in the air, like the last murmur of a wind-harp, and all was still.


The boy was John Wolfgang Mozart.




Christian Intelligeneer.