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In the Arctic ocean near the coast of Norway is situated the famous Maelstrom or whirlpool. Many are the goodly ships that have been caught in its circling power, and plunged into the depths below. On a fine spring morning, near the shore opposite, are gathered a company of peasants. The winter and the long night have passed away, and, in accordance with their ancient custom, they are holding a greeting to the return of the sunlight, and the verdure of spring. Under a green shade are spread, in abundance, all the luxuries their pleasant homes could afford. In the grove at one side are heard the strains of music, and the light step of the dance.

At the shore lies a beautiful boat, and a party near are preparing for a ride. Soon all things are in readiness, and, amid the cheers of their companions on shore, they push gaily away. The day is beautiful, and they row on, and on. Weary, at length, they drop their oars to rest; but they perceive their boat still moving. Somewhat surprised — soon it occurs to them that they are under the influence of the whirlpool.

Moving slowly and without an effort — presently faster, at length the boat glides along with a movement far more delightful than with oars. Their friends from the shore perceive the boat moving, and see no working of the oars; it flashes upon their minds that they are evidently within the circles of the maelstrom. When the boat comes near they call to them, “Beware the whirlpool!” But they laugh at fear: they are too happy to think of returning. “When we see there is danger then we will return.” Oh, that some good angel would come with warning unto them, “Unless ye now turn back ye cannot be saved.” Like as the voice of God comes to the soul of the impenitent, “Unless ye mend your ways ye cannot be saved.”

The boat is now going at a fearful rate; but, deceived by the moving waters, they are unconscious of its rapidity. They hear the hollow rumbling at the water-pool’s center. The voices from the shore are no longer audible, but every effort is being used to warn them of their danger. They now, for the first time, become conscious of their situation, and head the boat toward shore. But, like a leaf in the autumn gale, she quivers under the power of the whirlpool. Fear drives them to frenzy! Two of the strongest seize the oars, and ply them with all their strength, and the boat moves toward the shore. With joy they cherish hope! and some, for the first time in all their lives, now give thanks to God — that they are saved. But suddenly, crash goes the oar! and such a shriek goes up from that ill-fated band, as can only be heard when a spirit lost, drops into perdition!

The boat whirls again into its death-marked channel, and skips on with the speed of the wind, The roar at the center grinds on their ears, like the grating of prison doors on the ears of the doomed. Clearer, and more deafening is that dreadful roar, as nearer and still nearer the vessel approaches the center; then whirling for a moment on that awful brink, she plunges with her freight of human souls into that dreadful yawning hollow, where their bodies shall lie in their watery graves till the sea gives up its dead!

*  From Living Thoughts in Words that Burn from Poet, Sage, and Humorist, Edited by Daphne Dale; 1891] Reprinted (pirated) as Classic Gems of Prose and Poetry; Chicago Star Publishing Company; [no date]; p. 29.

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