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The Light That Failed.


I suffered a hair-raising experience several years ago when I was organist of a church in a large town in the Midlands, the name of which—for obvious reasons—I will omit. The organ had been restored at considerable cost, the whole parish helping loyally, and we were justly proud of the result of our endeavors. We had arranged a grand re-opening service, and the Bishop was to dedicate the practically new instrument. I was worrying over one or two of the reeds in the swell-box, which, owing probably to variation in temperature, were slightly out of tune; and on the day preceding the service I went to the church to put it right. I had provided myself with about three inches of candle, as the organ chamber was rather dark. Lighting this, I climbed up to the swell-box, and stuck it on the top of a wooden pipe opposite.

When I had completed the tuning to my satisfaction, I discovered that it was past dinner time, and I was hungry; so I locked up carefully, returning the church door key to the verger, who lived near by. I was in the middle of my dinner when a sudden thought struck me, which chilled the marrow in my bones. I had left the candle burning on one of the wooden pipes of the organ. The next thing I remember was tearing up the street, hatless, with a crowd of small boys after me. I gave up everything for lost, as I rounded the corner where my church was situated, and saw a volume of black smoke rising into the air. However, it was a factory chimney, and I breathed again. I reached the church door, and remembered that the key was at the verger’s house in the next street; I stood for a moment to relieve my feelings in a few well chosen phrases, then rushed off again.

Three minutes later I was in the organ chamber. The end of the tale is exceedingly tame. The candle had burned out, but the charred woodwork to this day reminds me what a terrible escape I had. I suddenly found my legs trembling, and collapsed into the nearest pew. Then I remembered my dinner, and thought I would go home and finish it before it got cold.—Musical Herald.

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