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LXXXVII.-DEATH OF ABSALOM.
1. And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai, the Gittite.
2. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also. But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us; but now thou art worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that thou succor us out of the city. And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best, I will do.
3. And the king stood by the gate-side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands. And the king commanded Joab, and Abishai, and Ittai, saying, Deal gently, for my sake, with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.
4. So the people went out into the field against Israel ; and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country; and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
5. And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven
and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
6. And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak. And Joab said unto the man that told him, And behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver and a girdle.
7. And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, yet would I not put forth my hand against the king's son; for, in our hearing, the king charged thee and Abishai, and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. Otherwise, I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life; for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldst have set thyself against
8. Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And ten young men that bare Joab's armor compassed about, and smote Absalom, and slew him. And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel; for Joab held back the people.
9. And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him; and all Israel fled, every one to his tent. *** Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and
10. And behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king; for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee. And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe?
And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.
11. And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! would to God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
12. Alas! my noble boy, that thou shouldst die!
Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair!
13. Cold is thy brow, my son, and I am chill.
Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress thee,
14. The grave hath won thee. I shall hear the gush Of music, and the voices of the young;
And life will pass me in the mantling blush,
To meet me, Absalom!
15. And O, when I am stricken, and my heart, Like a bruised reed, is waiting to be broken, How will its love for thee, as I depart,
Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep token! It were so sweet, amid death's gathering gloom, To see thee, Absalom!
16. And now, farewell! 'Tis hard to give thee up, With death, so like a gentle slumber, on thee; And thy dark sin! O, I could drink the cup,
If from this woe its bitterness had won thee. May God have called thee, like a wanderer home, My erring Absalom!
NATHANIEL PARKER WILLIS.
LXXXVIII.-MACARONI AND VERMICELLI.
1. Not far from Naples are a large number of establishments where macaroni is manufactured. I visited some of these manufactories one day, to see how this article, so abundant in Italy, is made; for I confess that Egyptian darkness had previously pervaded my mind in relation to this matter.
2. I could as easily have solved the vexed problem how milk gets into the cocoanut, as I could have told you how the little cylinder called macaroni came into existence. Well, some beams of light were that day thrown into the dark chamber of my understanding touching the whole subject of macaroni, and you shall have the benefit of them.
3. It is to be presumed that you are not quite as ignorant of the origin of this article as the fine lady in Paris was, who asked a gentleman of her acquaintance, recently returned from a visit to Italy, "On what sort of trees macaroni grew?" still, it would not be strange if your knowledge of the subject were as limited as mine; so I will begin with the alphabet of the science of macaroni.
4. The article so called is made from a peculiar kind of wheat called grano duro, or hard grain. It was formerly imported at great cost from the Russian territories
on the Black Sea; but now the farmers in southern Italy raise this kind of wheat themselves.
5. The kernel, in its outward appearance, is much like that which is common among us, except that it is much smaller. While the Italians make most of their macaroni from this kind of wheat, I understand they are sometimes tempted to mix with it the common soft wheat; and that they do not always muster sufficient principle to combat the temptation.
6. "But how do they spin out the long threads of macaroni?" you ask. O, that is one of the simplest processes in the world, when you come to see it, and understand it. We will suppose the grain is ground; with the addition of water alone a paste is formed. This paste is kneaded for a long time by a very lazy sort of process, which would make some of my brevet-making friends laugh, I fancy, until their faces were as red as a beet.
7. When this paste has been sufficiently kneaded, it is forced, by simple pressure, through a number of small circular holes, the sizes of which, respectively, determine the name to be given to its substance. The paste which is pressed through the largest holes is called macaroni; that which goes through smaller holes, takes the name of vermicelli.
8. The macaroni, as you know, is hollow throughout; and, until my visit to this establishment, I was not a little puzzled to know how it was thus made. I will let you into this secret, too. On the side of the trough, over each of the larger holes, (those intended for macaroni,) a small copper bridge is placed. This is sufficiently high to allow the paste to pass under it into the hole. From this bridge is suspended a copper wire, which goes right through the hole, and of course leaves hollow the paste passing through that hole.