Part 4 out of 9
assiduously. I served him not a little in the time of my prosperity,
with confidence and show, and then in my adversity with fears and
complaints. Our Lord tells us expressly that we are to take no thought
for the morrow, because we can not serve God and Mammon. I have been
taking thought for a hundred morrows, and that not patiently, but
grumbling in my heart at His dealings with me. Therefore now He has cast
"How do you know that He has cast you off?" asked the curate.
"Because He has given me my own way with such a vengeance. I have been
pulling, pulling my hand out of His, and He has let me go, and I lie in
"But you have not told me your grounds for concluding so."
"Suppose a child had been crying and fretting after his mother for a
spoonful of jam," said the minister, quite gravely, "and at last she set
him down to a whole pot--what would you say to that?"
"I should say she meant to give him a sharp lesson, perhaps a reproof as
well--certainly not that she meant to cast him off," answered Wingfold,
laughing. "But still I do not understand."
"Have you not heard then? Didn't Dorothy tell you?"
"She has told me nothing."
"Not that my old uncle has left me a hundred thousand pounds and more?"
The curate was on the point of saying, "I am very glad to hear it,"
when the warning Dorothy had given him returned to his mind, and with it
the fear that the pastor was under a delusion--that, as a rich man is
sometimes not unnaturally seized with the mania of imagined poverty, so
this poor man's mental barometer had, from excess of poverty, turned its
index right round again to riches.
"Oh!" he returned, lightly and soothingly, "perhaps it is not so bad as
that. You may have been misinformed. There may be some mistake."
"No, no!" returned the minister; "it is true, every word of it. You
shall see the lawyers' letter. Dorothy has it, I think. My uncle was an
ironmonger in a country town, got on, and bought a little bit of land in
which he found iron. I knew he was flourishing, but he was a churchman
and a terrible Tory, and I never dreamed he would remember me. There had
been no communication between our family and his for many years. He must
have fancied me still a flourishing London minister, with a rich wife!
If he had had a suspicion of how sorely I needed a few pounds, I can not
believe he would have left me a farthing. He did not save his money to
waste it on bread and cheese, I can fancy him saying."
Although a look almost of despair kept coming and going upon his face,
he lay so still, and spoke so quietly and collectedly, that Wingfold
began to wonder whether there might not be some fact in his statement.
He did not well know what to say.
"When I heard the news from Dorothy--she read the letter first," Mr.
Drake went on, "--old fool that I was I was filled with such delight
that, although I could not have said whether I believed or not, the very
idea of the thing made me weep. Alas! Mr. Wingfold, I have had visions
of God in which the whole world would not have seemed worth a salt tear!
And now!--I jumped out of bed, and hurried on my clothes, but by the
time I came to kneel at my bedside, God was away. I could not speak a
word to Him! I had lost all the trouble that kept me crying after Him
like a little child at his mother's heels, the bond was broken and He
was out of sight. I tried to be thankful, but my heart was so full of
the money, it lay like a stuffed bag. But I dared not go even to my
study till I had prayed. I tramped up and down this little room,
thinking more about paying my butcher's bill than any thing else. I
would give him a silver snuff-box; but as to God and His goodness my
heart felt like a stone; I _could not_ lift it up. All at once I saw how
it was: He had heard my prayers in anger! Mr. Wingfold, the Lord has
sent me this money as He sent the quails to the Israelites: while it was
yet, as it were, between my teeth, He smote me with hardness of heart. O
my God! how shall I live in the world with a hundred thousand pounds
instead of my Father in heaven! If it were only that He had hidden His
face, I should be able to pray somehow! He has given me over to the
Mammon I was worshiping! Hypocrite that I am! how often have I not
pointed out to my people, while yet I dwelt in the land of Goshen, that
to fear poverty was the same thing as to love money, for that both came
of lack of faith in the living God! Therefore has He taken from me the
light of His countenance, which yet, Mr. Wingfold, with all my sins and
shortcomings, yea, and my hypocrisy, is the all in all to me!"
He looked the curate in the face with such wild eyes as convinced him
that, even if perfectly sane at present, he was in no small danger of
losing his reason.
"Then you would willingly give up this large fortune," he said, "and
return to your former condition?"
"Rather than not be able to pray--I would! I would!" he cried; then
paused and added, "--if only He would give me enough to pay my debts and
not have to beg of other people."
Then, with a tone suddenly changed to one of agonized effort, with
clenched hands, and eyes shut tight, he cried vehemently, as if in the
face of a lingering unwillingness to encounter again the miseries
through which he had been passing.
"No, no, Lord! Forgive me. I will not think of conditions. Thy will be
done! Take the money and let me be a debtor and a beggar if Thou wilt,
only let me pray to Thee; and do Thou make it up to my creditors."
Wingfold's spirit was greatly moved. Here was victory! Whether the
fortune was a fact or fancy, made no feature of difference. He thanked
God and took courage. The same instant the door opened, and Dorothy came
in hesitating, and looking strangely anxious. He threw her a
face-question. She gently bowed her head, and gave him a letter with a
broad black border which she held in her hand.
He read it. No room for rational doubt was left. He folded it softly,
gave it back to her, and rising, kneeled down by the bedside, near the
foot, and said--
"Father, whose is the fullness of the earth, I thank Thee that Thou hast
set my brother's heel on the neck of his enemy. But the suddenness of
Thy relief from holy poverty and evil care, has so shaken his heart and
brain, or rather, perhaps, has made him think so keenly of his lack of
faith in his Father in heaven, that he fears Thou hast thrown him the
gift in disdain, as to a dog under the table, though never didst Thou
disdain a dog, and not given it as to a child, from Thy hand into his.
Father, let Thy spirit come with the gift, or take it again, and make
him poor and able to pray."--Here came an _amen_, groaned out as from
the bottom of a dungeon.--"Pardon him, Father," the curate prayed on,
"all his past discontent and the smallness of his faith. Thou art our
Father, and Thou knowest us tenfold better than we know ourselves; we
pray Thee not only to pardon us, but to make all righteous excuse for
us, when we dare not make any for ourselves, for Thou art the truth. We
will try to be better children. We will go on climbing the mount of God
through all the cloudy darkness that swaths it, yea, even in the face of
the worst terrors--that when we reach the top, we shall find no one
there."--Here Dorothy burst into sobs.--"Father!" thus the curate ended
his prayer, "take pity on Thy children. Thou wilt not give them a piece
of bread, in place of a stone--to poison them! The egg Thou givest will
not be a serpent's. We are Thine, and Thou art ours: in us be Thy will
As he rose from his knees, he saw that the minister had turned his face
to the wall, and lay perfectly still. Rightly judging that he was
renewing the vain effort to rouse, by force of the will, feelings which
had been stunned by the strange shock, he ventured to try a more
authoritative mode of address.
"And now, Mr. Drake, you have got to spend this money," he said, "and
the sooner you set about it the better. Whatever may be your ideas about
the principal, you are bound to spend at least every penny of the
The sad-hearted man stared at the curate.
"How is a man to do any thing whom God has forsaken?" he said.
"If He had forsaken you, for as dreary work as it would be, you would
have to try to do your duty notwithstanding. But He has not forsaken
you. He has given you a very sharp lesson, I grant, and as such you must
take it, but that is the very opposite of forsaking you. He has let you
know what it is not to trust in Him, and what it would be to have money
that did not come from His hand. You did not conquer in the fight with
Mammon when you were poor, and God has given you another chance: He
expects you to get the better of him now you are rich. If God had
forsaken you, I should have found you strutting about and glorying over
"Do you really think that is the mind of God toward me?" cried the poor
man, starting half up in bed. "_Do_ you think so?" he repeated, staring
at the curate almost as wildly as at first, but with a different
"I do," said Wingfold; "and it will be a bad job indeed if you fail in
both trials. But that I am sure you will not. It is your business now to
get this money into your hands as soon as possible, and proceed to spend
"Would there be any harm in ordering a few things from the
tradespeople?" asked Dorothy.
"How should there be?" returned Wingfold.
"Because, you see," answered Dorothy, "we can't be sure of a bird in the
"Can you be sure of it in your hands? It may spread its wings when you
least expect it. But Helen will be delighted to take the risk--up to a
few hundreds," he added laughing.
"Somebody may dispute the will: they do sometimes," said Dorothy.
"They do very often," answered Wingfold. "It does not look likely in the
present case; but our trust must be neither in the will nor in the
fortune, but in the living God. You have to get all the _good_ out of
this money you can. If you will walk over to the rectory with me now,
while your father gets up, we will carry the good news to my wife, and
she will lend you what money you like, so that you need order nothing
without paying for it."
"Please ask her not to tell any body," said Mr. Drake. "I shouldn't like
it talked about before I understand it myself."
"You are quite right. If I were you I would tell nobody yet but Mr.
Drew. He is a right man, and will help you to bear your good fortune. I
have always found good fortune harder to bear than bad."
Dorothy ran to put her bonnet on. The curate went back to the bedside.
Mr. Drake had again turned his face to the wall.
"Sixty years of age!" he was murmuring to himself.
"Mr. Drake," said Wingfold, "so long as you bury yourself with the
centipedes in your own cellar, instead of going out into God's world,
you are tempting Satan and Mammon together to come and tempt you.
Worship the God who made the heaven and the earth, and the sea and the
mines of iron and gold, by doing His will in the heart of them. Don't
worship the poor picture of Him you have got hanging up in your
closet;--worship the living power beyond your ken. Be strong in Him
whose is your strength, and all strength. Help Him in His work with His
own. Give life to His gold. Rub the canker off it, by sending it from
hand to hand. You must rise and bestir yourself. I will come and see you
again to-morrow. Good-by for the present."
He turned away and walked from the room. But his hand had scarcely left
the lock, when he heard the minister alight from his bed upon the floor.
"He'll do!" said the curate to himself, and walked down the stair.
When he got home, he left Dorothy with his wife, and going to his study,
wrote the following verses, which had grown in his mind as he walked
silent beside her:--
WHAT MAN IS THERE OF YOU?
The homely words, how often read!
How seldom fully known!
"Which father of you, asked for bread,
Would give his son a stone?"
How oft has bitter tear been shed,
And heaved how many a groan,
Because Thou wouldst not give for bread
The thing that was a stone!
How oft the child Thou wouldst have fed,
Thy gift away has thrown!
He prayed, Thou heardst, and gav'st the bread:
He cried, it is a stone!
Lord, if I ask in doubt or dread
Lest I be left to moan--
I am the man who, asked for bread,
Would give his son a stone.
As Dorothy returned from the rectory, where Helen had made her happier
than all the money by the kind words she said to her, she stopped at Mr.
Jones' shop, and bought of him a bit of loin of mutton.
"Shan't I put it down, miss?" he suggested, seeing her take out her
purse.--Helen had just given her the purse: they had had great fun, with
both tears and laughter over it.
"I would rather not--thank you very much," she replied with a smile.
He gave her a kind, searching glance, and took the money.
That day Juliet dined with them. When the joint appeared, Amanda, who
had been in the kitchen the greater part of the morning, clapped her
hands as at sight of an old acquaintance.
"Dere it comes! dere it comes!" she cried.
But the minister's grace was a little longer than she liked, for he was
trying hard to feel grateful. I think some people mistake pleasure and
satisfaction for thankfulness: Mr. Drake was not so to be taken in. Ere
long, however, he found them a good soil for thankfulness to grow
in.--So Amanda fidgeted not a little, and the moment the grace was
"Now 'en! now 'en!" she almost screamed, her eyes sparkling with
delight. "'Iss is dinner!--'Ou don't have dinner every day, Miss
"Be quiet, Ducky," said her aunt, as she called her. "You mustn't make
"Ducky ain't makin' no marks," returned the child, looking anxiously at
the table-cloth, and was quiet but not for long.
"Lisbef say surely papa's sip come home wif 'e nice dinner!" she said
"No, my ducky," said Mr. Drake: "it was God's ship that came with it."
"Dood sip!" said the child.
"It will come one day and another, and carry us all home," said the
"Where Ducky's yeal own papa and mamma yive in a big house, papa?" asked
Amanda, more seriously.
"I will tell you more about it when you are older," said Mr. Drake. "Now
let us eat the dinner God has sent us." He was evidently far happier
already, though his daughter could see that every now and then his
thoughts were away; she hoped they were thanking God. Before dinner was
over, he was talking quite cheerfully, drawing largely from his stores
both of reading and experience. After the child was gone, they told
Juliet of their good fortune. She congratulated them heartily, then
looked a little grave, and said--
"Perhaps you would like me to go?"
"What!" said Mr. Drake; "does your friendship go no further than that?
Having helped us so much in adversity, will you forsake us the moment
prosperity looks in at the window?"
Juliet gave one glance at Dorothy, smiled, and said no more. For
Dorothy, she was already building a castle for Juliet--busily.
After tea, Mr. Drake and Dorothy went out for a walk together--a thing
they had not once done since the church-meeting of acrid memory in which
had been decreed the close of the minister's activity, at least in
Glaston. It was a lovely June twilight; the bats were flitting about
like the children of the gloamin', and the lamps of the laburnum and
lilac hung dusky among the trees of Osterfield Park.
Juliet, left all but alone in the house, sat at her window, reading. Her
room was on the first floor, but the dining-room beneath it was of low
pitch, and at the lane-door there were two steps down into the house, so
that her window was at no great height above the lane. It was open, but
there was little to be seen from it, for immediately opposite rose a
high old garden-wall, hiding every thing with its gray bulk, lovelily
blotted with lichens and moss, brown and green and gold, except the
wall-flowers and stone-crop that grew on its coping, and a running plant
that hung down over it, like a long fringe worn thin. Had she put her
head out of the window, she would have seen in the one direction a
cow-house, and in the other the tall narrow iron gate of the garden--and
that was all. The twilight deepened as she read, until the words before
her began to play hide and seek; they got worse and worse, until she was
tired of catching at them; and when at last she stopped for a moment,
they were all gone like a troop of fairies, and her reading was ended.
She closed the book, and was soon dreaming awake; and the twilight world
was the globe in which the dream-fishes came and went--now swelling up
strange and near, now sinking away into the curious distance.
Her mood was broken by the sound of hoofs, which she almost immediately
recognized as those of the doctor's red horse--great hoofs falling at
the end of long straight-flung steps. Her heart began to beat violently,
and confident in the protection of the gathering night, she rose and
looked cautiously out toward the side on which was the approach. In a
few moments, round the furthest visible corner, and past the gate in the
garden-wall, swung a huge shadowy form--gigantic in the dusk. She drew
back her head, but ere she could shape her mind to retreat from the
window, the solid gloom hurled itself thundering past, and she stood
trembling and lonely, with the ebb of Ruber's paces in her ears--and in
her hand a letter. In a minute she came to herself, closed her window,
drew down the blind, lighted a candle, set it on the window-sill, and
opened the letter. It contained these verses, and nothing more:--
My morning rose in laughter--
A gold and azure day.
Dull clouds came trooping after,
Livid, and sullen gray.
At noon, the rain did batter,
And it thundered like a hell:
I sighed, it is no matter,
At night I shall sleep as well.
But I longed with a madness tender
For an evening like the morn,
That my day might die in splendor,
Not folded in mist forlorn--
Die like a tone elysian,
Like a bee in a cactus-flower,
Like a day-surprised vision,
Like a wind in a summer shower.
Through the vaulted clouds about me
Broke trembling an azure space:
Was it a dream to flout me--
Or was it a perfect face?
The sky and the face together
Are gone, and the wind blows fell.
But what matters a dream or the weather?
At night it will all be well.
For the day of life and labor,
Of ecstasy and pain,
Is only a beaten tabor,
And I shall not dream again.
But as the old Night steals o'er me,
Deepening till all is dead,
I shall see thee still before me
Stand with averted head.
And I shall think, Ah sorrow!
The _might_ that never was _may!_
The night that has no morrow!
And the sunset all in gray!
Juliet laid her head on her hands and wept.
"Why should I not let him have his rosy sunset?" she thought. "It is all
he hopes for--cares for, I think--poor fellow! Am I not good enough to
give him that? What does it matter about me, if it is all but a vision
that flits between heaven and earth, and makes a passing shadow on human
brain and nerves?--a tale that is telling--then a tale that is told!
Much the good people make out of their better faith! Should _I_ be
troubled to learn that it was indeed a lasting sleep? If I were dead,
and found myself waking, should I want to rise, or go to sleep again?
Why should not I too dare to hope for an endless rest? Where would be
the wrong to any? If there be a God, He will have but to wake me to
punish me hard enough. Why should I not hope at least for such a lovely
thing? Can any one help desiring peace? Oh, to sleep, and sleep, and
wake no more forever and ever! I would not hasten the sleep; the end
will surely come, and why should we not enjoy the dream a little
longer--at least while it is a good dream, and the tossing has not
begun? There would always be a time. Why wake before our time out of the
day into the dark nothing? I should always want to see what to-morrow
and to-morrow and to-morrow would bring--that is, so long as he loved
me. He is noble, and sad, and beautiful, and gracious!--but would
he--could he love me to the end--even if--? Why should we not make the
best of what we have? Why should we not make life as happy to ourselves
and to others as we can--however worthless, however arrant a cheat it
may be? Even if there be no such thing as love, if it be all but a
lovely vanity, a bubble-play of color, why not let the bubble-globe
swell, and the tide of its ocean of color flow and rush and mingle and
change? Will it not break at last, and the last come soon enough, when
of all the glory is left but a tear on the grass? When we dream a
pleasant dream, and know it is but a dream, we will to dream on, and
quiet our minds that it may not be scared and flee: why should we not
yield to the stronger dream, that it may last yet another sweet,
beguiling moment? Why should he not love me--kiss me? Why should we not
be sad together, that we are not and can not be the real man and woman
we would--that we are but the forms of a dream--the fleeting shadows of
the night of Nature?--mourn together that the meddlesome hand of fate
should have roused us to consciousness and aspiration so long before the
maturity of our powers that we are but a laughter--no--a scorn and a
weeping to ourselves? We could at least sympathize with each other in
our common misery--bear with its weakness, comfort its regrets, hide its
mortifications, cherish its poor joys, and smooth the way down the
steepening slope to the grave! Then, if in the decrees of blind fate,
there should be a slow, dull procession toward perfection, if indeed
some human God be on the way to be born, it would be grand, although we
should know nothing of it, to have done our part fearless and hopeless,
to have lived and died that the triumphant Sorrow might sit throned on
the ever dying heart of the universe. But never, never would I have
chosen to live for that! Yes, one might choose to be born, if there were
suffering one might live or die to soften, to cure! That would be to be
like Paul Faber. To will to be born for that would be grand indeed!"
In paths of thought like these her mind wandered, her head lying upon
her arms on the old-fashioned, wide-spread window-sill. At length, weary
with emotion and weeping, she fell fast asleep, and slept for some time.
The house was very still. Mr. Drake and Dorothy were in no haste to
return. Amanda was asleep, and Lisbeth was in the kitchen--perhaps also
Juliet woke with a great start. Arms were around her from behind,
lifting her from her half-prone position of sorrowful rest. With a
terrified cry, she strove to free herself.
"Juliet, my love! my heart! be still, and let me speak," said Faber.
His voice trembled as if full of tears. "I can bear this no longer. You
are my fate. I never lived till I knew you. I shall cease to live when I
know for certain that you turn from me."
Juliet was like one half-drowned, just lifted from the water, struggling
to beat it away from eyes and ears and mouth.
"Pray leave me, Mr. Faber," she cried, half-terrified, half-bewildered,
as she rose and turned toward him. But while she pushed him away with
one hand, she unconsciously clasped his arm tight with the other. "You
have no right to come into my room, and surprise me--startle me so! Do
go away. I will come to you."
"Pardon, pardon, my angel! Do not speak so loud," he said, falling on
his knees, and clasping hers.
"Do go away," persisted Juliet, trying to remove his grasp. "What will
they think if they find us--you here. They know I am perfectly well."
"You drive me to liberties that make me tremble, Juliet. Everywhere you
avoid me. You are never to be seen without some hateful protector. Ages
ago I put up a prayer to you--one of life or death to me, and, like the
God you believe in, you have left it unanswered. You have no pity on the
sufferings you cause me! If your God _be_ cruel, why should you be cruel
too? Is not one tormentor enough in your universe? If there be a future
let us go on together to find it. If there be not, let us yet enjoy what
of life may be enjoyed. My past is a sad one--"
"Ah, my beautiful, you too have suffered!" he went on. "Let us be angels
of mercy to each other, each helping the other to forget! My griefs I
should count worthless if I might but erase yours."
"I would I could say the same!" said Juliet, but only in her heart.
"Whatever they may have been," he continued, "my highest ambition shall
be to make you forget them. We will love like beings whose only eternity
is the moment. Come with me, Juliet; we will go down into the last
darkness together, loving each other--and then peace. At least there is
no eternal hate in my poor, ice-cold religion, as there is in yours. I
am not suffering alone, Juliet. All whom it is my work to relieve, are
suffering from your unkindness. For a time I prided myself that I gave
every one of them as full attention as before, but I can not keep it up.
I am defeated. My brain seems deserting me. I mistake symptoms, forget
cases, confound medicines, fall into incredible blunders. My hand
trembles, my judgment wavers, my will is undecided. Juliet, you are
"He saved my life," said Juliet to herself, "and that it is which has
brought him to this. He has a claim to me. I am his property. He found
me a castaway on the shore of Death, and gave me _his_ life to live
with. He must not suffer where I can prevent it."--She was on the point
The same moment she heard a step in the lane approaching the door.
"If you love me, do go now, dear Mr. Faber," she said. "I will see you
again. Do not urge me further to-night.--Ah, I wish! I wish!" she added,
with a deep sigh, and ceased.
The steps came up to the door. There came a knock at it. They heard
Lisbeth go to open it. Faber rose.
"Go into the drawing-room," said Juliet. "Lisbeth may be coming to fetch
me; she must not see you here."
He obeyed. Without a word he left the chamber, and went into the
drawing-room. He had been hardly a moment there, when Wingfold entered.
It was almost dark, but the doctor stood against the window, and the
curate knew him.
"Ah, Faber!" he said, "it is long since I saw you. But each has been
about his work, I suppose, and there could not be a better reason."
"Under different masters, then," returned Faber, a little out of temper.
"I don't exactly think so. All good work is done under the same master."
"Who is your master, then?"
"My conscience. Who is yours?"
"The Author of my conscience."
"A legendary personage!"
"One who is every day making my conscience harder upon me. Until I
believed in Him, my conscience was dull and stupid--not half-awake,
"Oh! I see You mean my conscience is dull and stupid."
"I do not. But if you were once lighted up with the light of the world,
you would pass just such a judgment on yourself. I can't think you so
different from myself, as that that shouldn't be the case; though most
heartily I grant you do your work ten times better than I did. And all
the time I thought myself an honest man! I wasn't. A man may honestly
think himself honest, and a fresh week's experience may make him doubt
it altogether. I sorely want a God to make me honest."
Here Juliet entered the room, greeted Mr. Wingfold, and then shook hands
with Faber. He was glad the room was dark.
"What do you think, Miss Meredith--is a man's conscience enough for his
guidance?" said the curate.
"I don't know any thing about a man's conscience," answered Juliet.
"A woman's then?" said the curate.
"What else has she got?" returned Juliet.
The doctor was inwardly cursing the curate for talking shop. Only, if a
man knows nothing so good, so beautiful, so necessary, as the things in
his shop, what else ought he to talk--especially if he is ready to give
them without money and without price? The doctor would have done better
to talk shop too.
"Of course he has nothing else," answered the curate; "and if he had, he
must follow his conscience all the same."
"There you are, Wingfold!--always talking paradoxes!" said Faber.
"Why, man! you may only have a blundering boy to guide you, but if he is
your only guide, you must follow him. You don't therefore call him a
"What a logomachist you are! If it is a horn lantern you've got, you
needn't go mocking at it."
"The lantern is not the light. Perhaps you can not change your horn for
glass, but what if you could better the light? Suppose the boy's father
knew all about the country, but you never thought it worth while to send
the lad to him for instructions?"
"Suppose I didn't believe he had a father? Suppose he told me he
"Some men would call out to know if there was any body in the house to
give the boy a useful hint."
"Oh bother! I'm quite content with my fellow."
"Well, for my part I should count my conscience, were it ten times
better than it is, poor company on any journey. Nothing less than the
living Truth ever with me can make existence a peace to me,--that's the
joy of the Holy Ghost, Miss Meredith.--What if you should find one day,
Faber, that, of all facts, the thing you have been so coolly refusing
was the most precious and awful?"
Faber had had more than enough of it. There was but one thing precious
to him; Juliet was the perfect flower of nature, the apex of law, the
last presentment of evolution, the final reason of things! The very soul
of the world stood there in the dusk, and there also stood the foolish
curate, whirling his little vortex of dust and ashes between him and
"It comes to this," said Faber; "what you say moves nothing in me. I am
aware of no need, no want of that Being of whom you speak. Surely if in
Him I did live and move and have my being, as some old heathen taught
your Saul of Tarsus, I should in one mode or another be aware of Him!"
While he spoke, Mr. Drake and Dorothy had come into the room. They stood
"That is a weighty word," said Wingfold. "But what if you feel His
presence every moment, only do not recognize it as such?"
"Where would be the good of it to me then?"
"The good of it to you might lie in the blinding. What if any further
revelation to one who did not seek it would but obstruct the knowledge
of Him? Truly revealed, the word would be read untruly--even as The Word
has been read by many in all ages. Only the pure in heart, we are told,
shall see Him. The man who, made by Him, does not desire Him--how should
he know Him?"
"Why don't I desire Him then?--I don't."
"That is for you to find out."
"I do what I know to be right; even on your theory I ought to get on,"
said Faber, turning from him with a laugh.
"I think so too," replied Wingfold. "Go on, and prosper. Only, if there
be untruth in you alongside of the truth--? It might be, and you are not
awake to it. It is marvelous what things can co-exist in a human mind."
"In that case, why should not your God help me?"
"Why not? I think he will. But it may _have_ to be in a way you will not
"Well, well! good night. Talk is but talk, whatever be the subject of
it.--I beg your pardon," he added, shaking hands with the minister and
his daughter; "I did not see you come in. Good night."
"I won't allow that talk is only talk, Faber," Wingfold called after him
with a friendly laugh. Then turning to Mr. Drake, "Pardon me," he said,
"for treating you with so much confidence. I saw you come in, but
believed you would rather have us end our talk than break it off."
"Certainly. But I can't help thinking you grant him too much, Mr.
Wingfold," said the minister seriously.
"I never find I lose by giving, even in argument," said the curate.
"Faber rides his hobby well, but the brute is a sorry jade. He will find
one day she has not a sound joint in her whole body."
The man who is anxious to hold every point, will speedily bring a
question to a mere dispute about trifles, leaving the real matter, whose
elements may appeal to the godlike in every man, out in the cold. Such a
man, having gained his paltry point, will crow like the bantam he is,
while the other, who may be the greater, perhaps the better man,
although in the wrong, is embittered by his smallness, and turns away
with increased prejudice. Human nature can hardly be blamed for its
readiness to impute to the case the shallowness of its pleader. Few men
do more harm than those who, taking the right side, dispute for personal
victory, and argue, as they are sure then to do, ungenerously. But even
genuine argument for the truth is not preaching the gospel, neither is
he whose unbelief is thus assailed, likely to be brought thereby into
any mood but one unfit for receiving it. Argument should be kept to
books; preachers ought to have nothing to do with it--at all events in
the pulpit. There let them hold forth light, and let him who will,
receive it, and him who will not, forbear. God alone can convince, and
till the full time is come for the birth of the truth in a soul, the
words of even the Lord Himself are not there potent.
"The man irritates me, I confess," said Mr. Drake. "I do not say he is
self-satisfied, but he is very self-sufficient."
"He is such a good fellow," said Wingfold, "that I think God will not
let him go on like this very long. I think we shall live to see a change
upon him. But much as I esteem and love the man, I can not help a
suspicion that he has a great lump of pride somewhere about him, which
has not a little to do with his denials."
Juliet's blood seemed seething in her veins as she heard her lover thus
weighed, and talked over; and therewith came the first rift of a
threatened breach betwixt her heart and the friends who had been so good
to her. He had done far more for her than any of them, and mere loyalty
seemed to call upon her to defend him; but she did not know how, and,
dissatisfied with herself as well as indignant with them, she maintained
an angry silence.
It was a long time since Mr. Drake and Dorothy had had such a talk
together, or had spent such a pleasant evening as that on which they
went into Osterfield Park to be alone with a knowledge of their changed
fortunes. The anxiety of each, differing so greatly from that of the
other, had tended to shut up each in loneliness beyond the hearing of
the other; so that, while there was no breach in their love, it was yet
in danger of having long to endure
Like gold to airy thinness beat."
But this evening their souls rushed together. The father's anxiety was
chiefly elevated; the daughter's remained much what it was before; yet
these anxieties no longer availed to keep them apart.
Each relation of life has its peculiar beauty of holiness; but that
beauty is the expression of its essential truth, and the essence itself
is so strong that it bestows upon its embodiment even the power of
partial metamorphosis with all other vital relations. How many daughters
have in the devotion of their tenderness, become as mothers to their own
fathers! Who has not known some sister more of a wife to a man than she
for whose sake he neglected her? But it will take the loves of all the
relations of life gathered in one, to shadow the love which, in the
kingdom of heaven, is recognized as due to each from each human being
_per se_. It is for the sake of the essential human, that all human
relations and all forms of them exist--that we may learn what it is, and
become capable of loving it aright.
Dorothy would now have been as a mother to her father, had she had but a
good hope, if no more, of finding her Father in heaven. She was not at
peace enough to mother any body. She had indeed a grasp of the skirt of
His robe--only she could not be sure it was not the mere fringe of a
cloud she held. Not the less was her father all her care, and pride, and
joy. Of his faults she saw none: there was enough of the noble and
generous in him to hide them from a less partial beholder than a
daughter. They had never been serious in comparison with his virtues. I
do not mean that every fault is not so serious that a man must be
willing to die twenty deaths to get rid of it; but that, relatively to
the getting rid of it, a fault is serious or not, in proportion to the
depth of its root, rather than the amount of its foliage. Neither can
that be the worst-conditioned fault, the man's own suspicion of which
would make him hang his head in shame; those are his worst faults which
a man will start up to defend; those are the most dangerous moral
diseases whose symptoms are regarded as the signs of health.
Like lovers they walked out together, with eyes only for each other, for
the good news had made them shy--through the lane, into the cross
street, and out into Pine street, along which they went westward,
meeting the gaze of the low sun, which wrapped them round in a veil of
light and dark, for the light made their eyes dark, so that they seemed
feeling their way out of the light into the shadow.
"This is like life," said the pastor, looking down at the precious face
beside him: "our eyes can best see from under the shadow of
"I would rather it were from under the shadow of God's wings," replied
"So it is! so it is! Afflictions are but the shadow of His wings," said
her father eagerly. "Keep there, my child, and you will never need the
afflictions I have needed. I have been a hard one to save."
But the child thought within herself, "Alas, father! you have never had
any afflictions which you or I either could not bear tenfold better than
what I have to bear." She was perhaps right. Only she did not know that
when she got through, all would be transfigured with the light of her
resurrection, just as her father's poverty now was in the light of his
Little more passed between them in the street. All the way to the
entrance of the park they were silent. There they exchanged a few words
with the sweet-faced little dwarf-woman that opened the gate, and those
few words set the currents of their thoughts singing yet more sweetly as
they flowed. They entered the great park, through the trees that
bordered it, still in silence, but when they reached the wide expanse of
grass, with its clumps of trees and thickets, simultaneously they
breathed a deep breath of the sweet wind, and the fountains of their
deeps were broken up. The evening was lovely, they wandered about long
in delight, and much was the trustful converse they held. It was getting
dark before they thought of returning.
The father had been telling the daughter how he had mourned and wept
when his boys were taken from him, never thinking at all of the girl who
was left him.
"And now," he said, "I would not part with my Dorothy to have them back
the finest boys in the world. What would my old age be without you, my
Dorothy's heart beat high. Surely there must be a Father in heaven too!
They walked a while in a great silence, for the heart of each was full.
And all the time scarce an allusion had been made to the money.
As they returned they passed the new house, at some distance, on the
highest point in the park. It stood unfinished, with all its windows
"The walls of that house," said Mr. Drake, "were scarcely above ground
when I came to Glaston. So they had been for twenty years, and so they
remained until, as you remember, the building was recommenced some three
or four years ago. Now, again, it is forsaken, and only the wind is at
home in it."
"They tell me the estate is for sale," said Dorothy. "Those
building-lots, just where the lane leads into Pine street, I fancy
belong to it."
"I wish," returned her father, "they would sell me that tumble-down
place in the hollow they call the Old House of Glaston. I shouldn't mind
paying a good sum for it. What a place it would be to live in! And what
a pleasure there would be in the making of it once more habitable, and
watching order dawn out of neglect!"
"It would be delightful," responded Dorothy. "When I was a child, it
was one of my dreams that that house was my papa's--with the wild garden
and all the fruit, and the terrible lake, and the ghost of the lady that
goes about in the sack she was drowned in. But would you really buy it,
father, if you could get it?"
"I think I should, Dorothy," answered Mr. Drake.
"Would it not be damp--so much in the hollow? Is it not the lowest spot
in the park?"
"In the park--yes; for the park drains into it. But the park lies high;
and you must note that the lake, deep as it is--very deep, yet drains
into the Lythe. For all they say of no bottom to it, I am nearly sure
the deepest part of the lake is higher than the surface of the river. If
I am right, then we could, if we pleased, empty the lake altogether--not
that I should like the place nearly so well without it. The situation is
charming--and so sheltered!--looking full south--just the place to keep
open house in!"
"That is just like you, father!" cried Dorothy, clapping her hands once
and holding them together as she looked up at him. "The very day you
are out of prison, you want to begin to keep an open house!--Dear
"Don't mistake me, my darling. There was a time, long ago, after your
mother was good enough to marry me, when--I am ashamed to confess it
even to you, my child--I did enjoy making a show. I wanted people to
see, that, although I was a minister of a sect looked down upon by the
wealthy priests of a worldly establishment, I knew how to live after the
world's fashion as well as they. That time you will scarcely recall,
"I remember the coachman's buttons," answered Dorothy.
"Well! I suppose it will be the same with not a few times and
circumstances we may try to recall in the other world. Some
insignificant thing will be all, and fittingly too, by which we shall be
able to identify them.--I liked to give nice dinner parties, and we
returned every invitation we accepted. I took much pains to have good
wines, and the right wines with the right dishes, and all that kind of
thing--though I dare say I made more blunders than I knew. Your mother
had been used to that way of living, and it was no show in her as it was
in me. Then I was proud of my library and the rare books in it. I
delighted in showing them, and talking over the rarity of this edition,
the tallness of that copy, the binding, and such-like follies. And where
was the wonder, seeing I served religion so much in the same
way--descanting upon the needlework that clothed the king's daughter,
instead of her inward glory! I do not say always, for I had my better
times. But how often have I not insisted on the mint and anise and
cummin, and forgotten the judgment, mercy and faith! How many sermons
have I not preached about the latchets of Christ's shoes, when I might
have been talking about Christ himself! But now I do not want a good
house to make a show with any more: I want to be hospitable. I don't
call giving dinners being hospitable. I would have my house a
hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest. That would be to
be hospitable. Ah! if your mother were with us, my child! But you will
be my little wife, as you have been for so many years now.--God keeps
open house; I should like to keep open house.--I wonder does any body
ever preach hospitality as a Christian duty?"
"I hope you won't keep a butler, and set up for grand, father," said
"Indeed I will not, my child. I would not run the risk of postponing the
pleasure of the Lord to that of inhospitable servants. I will look to
you to keep a warm, comfortable, welcoming house, and such servants only
as shall be hospitable in heart and behavior, and make no difference
between the poor and the rich."
"I can't feel that any body is poor," said Dorothy, after a pause,
"except those that can't be sure of God.--They are so poor!" she added.
"You are right, my child!" returned her father. "It was not my
poverty--it was not being sure of God that crushed me.--How long is it
since I was poor, Dorothy?"
"Two days, father--not two till to-morrow morning."
"It looks to me two centuries. My mind is at ease, and I have not paid a
debt yet! How vile of me to want the money in my own hand, and not be
content it should be in God's pocket, to come out just as it was wanted!
Alas! I have more faith in my uncle's leavings than in my Father's
generosity! But I must not forget gratitude in shame. Come, my child--no
one can see us--let us kneel down here on the grass and pray to God who
is in yon star just twinkling through the gray, and in my heart and in
yours, my child."
I will not give the words of the minister's prayer. The words are not
the prayer. Mr. Drake's words were commonplace, with much of the
conventionality and platitude of prayer-meetings. He had always objected
to the formality of the Prayer-book, but the words of his own prayers
without book were far more formal; the prayer itself was in the heart,
not on the lips, and was far better than the words. But poor Dorothy
heard only the words, and they did not help her. They seemed rather to
freeze than revive her faith, making her feel as if she never could
believe in the God of her father. She was too unhappy to reason well, or
she might have seen that she was not bound to measure God by the way her
father talked to him--that the form of the prayer had to do with her
father, not immediately with God--that God might be altogether adorable,
notwithstanding the prayers of all heathens and of all saints.
Their talk turned again upon the Old House of Glaston.
"If it be true, as I have heard ever since I came," said Mr. Drake,
"that Lord de Barre means to pull down the house and plow up the garden,
and if he be so short of money as they say, he might perhaps take a few
thousands for it. The Lythe bounds the estate, and there makes a great
loop, so that a portion might be cut off by a straight line from one arm
of the curve to the other, which would be quite outside the park. I will
set some inquiry on foot. I have wished for a long time to leave the
river, only we had a lease. The Old House is nothing like so low as the
one we are in now. Besides, as I propose, we should have space to build,
if we found it desirable, on the level of the park."
When they reached the gate on their return, a second dwarfish figure, a
man, pigeon-chested, short-necked, and asthmatic--a strange, gnome-like
figure, came from the lodge to open it. Every body in Glaston knew
Polwarth the gatekeeper.
"How is the asthma to-night, Mr. Polwarth?" said the pastor. He had not
yet got rid of the tone in which in his young days he had been
accustomed to address the poor of his flock--a tone half familiar, half
condescending. To big ships barnacles will stick--and may add weeks to
the length of a voyage too.
"Not very bad, thank you, Mr. Drake. But, bad or not, it is always a
friendly devil," answered the little man.
"I am ast---- a little surprised to hear you use such----express
yourself so, Mr. Polwarth," said the minister.
The little man laughed a quiet, huskily melodious, gently merry laugh.
"I am not original in the idea, and scarcely so in my way of expressing
it. I am sorry you don't like it, Mr. Drake," he said. "I found it in
the second epistle to the Corinthians last night, and my heart has been
full of it ever since. It is surely no very bad sign if the truth should
make us merry at a time! It ought to do so, I think, seeing merriment is
one of the lower forms of bliss."
"I am at a loss to understand you, Mr. Polwarth," said the minister.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Drake. I will come to the point. In the passage
I refer to St. Paul says: 'There was given to me a thorn in the flesh,
the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above
measure:'--am I not right in speaking of such a demon as a friendly one?
He was a gift from God."
"I had not observed--that is, I had not taken particular notice of the
unusual combination of phrases in the passage," answered Mr. Drake. "It
is a very remarkable one, certainly. I remember no other in which a
messenger of Satan is spoken of as being _given_ by God."
"Clearly, sir, St. Paul accepted him as something to be grateful for, so
soon as his mission was explained to him; and after that, who is to say
what may not be a gift of God! It won't do to grumble at any thing--will
it, sir?--when it may so unexpectedly turn out to be _given_ to us by
God. I begin to suspect that never, until we see a thing plainly a gift
of God, can we be sure that we see it right. I am quite certain the most
unpleasant things may be such gifts. I should be glad enough to part
with this asthma of mine, if it pleased God it should depart from me;
but would I yield a fraction of what it has brought me, for the best
lungs in England? I trow not!"
"You are a happy man, Mr. Polwarth--if you can say that and abide by
"I _am_ a happy man, sir. I don't know what would come of me sometimes,
for very gladness, if I hadn't my good friend, the asthma-devil, to keep
me down a bit. Good night, sir," he added, for Mr. Drake was already
He felt superior to this man, set him down as forward, did not quite
approve of him. Always ready to judge involuntarily from externals, he
would have been shocked to discover how much the deformity of the man,
which caused him discomfort, prejudiced him also against him. Then
Polwarth seldom went to a place of worship, and when he did, went to
church! A cranky, visionary, talkative man, he was in Mr. Drake's eyes.
He set him down as one of those mystical interpreters of the Word, who
are always searching it for strange things, whose very insight leads
them to vagary, blinding them to the relative value of things. It is
amazing from what a mere fraction of fact concerning him, a man will
dare judge the whole of another man. In reality, little Polwarth could
have carried big Drake to the top of any hill Difficulty, up which, in
his spiritual pilgrimage, he had yet had to go panting and groaning--and
to the top of many another besides, within sight even of which the
minister would never come in this world.
"He is too ready with his spiritual experience, that little man!--too
fond of airing it," said the minister to his daughter. "I don't quite
know what to make of him. He is a favorite with Mr. Wingfold; but my
experience makes me doubtful. I suspect prodigies."
Now Polwarth was not in the habit of airing his religious experiences;
but all Glaston could see that the minister was in trouble, and he
caught at the first opportunity he had of showing his sympathy with him,
offering him a share of the comfort he had just been receiving himself.
He smiled at its apparent rejection, and closed the gate softly, saying
to himself that the good man would think of it yet, he was sure.
Dorothy took little interest in Polwarth, little therefore in her
father's judgment of him. But, better even than Wingfold himself, that
poor physical failure of a man could have helped her from under every
gravestone that was now crushing the life out of her--not so much from
superiority of intellect, certainly not from superiority of learning,
but mainly because he was alive all through, because the life eternal
pervaded every atom of his life, every thought, every action. Door nor
window of his being had a lock to it! All of them were always on the
swing to the wind that bloweth where it listeth. Upon occasions when
most would seek refuge from the dark sky and gusty weather of trouble,
by hiding from the messengers of Satan in the deepest cellar of their
hearts, there to sit grumbling, Polwarth always went out into the open
air. If the wind was rough, there was none the less life in it: the
breath of God, it was rough to blow the faults from him, genial to put
fresh energy in him; if the rain fell, it was the water of cleansing and
growth. Misfortune he would not know by that name: there was no _mis_
but in himself, and that the messenger of Satan was there to buffet. So
long as God was, all was right. No wonder the minister then was
incapable of measuring the gate-keeper! But Polwarth was right about
him--as he went home he pondered the passage to which he had referred
him, wondering whether he was to regard the fortune sent him as a
messenger of Satan given to buffet him.
THE SURGERY DOOR.
That Juliet loved Faber as she had at one time resolved never to love
man, she no longer attempted to conceal from herself; but she was far
from being prepared to confess the discovery to him. His atheism she
satisfactorily justified herself in being more ready to pity than to
blame. There were difficulties! There were more than difficulties! Not a
few of them she did not herself see how to get over! If her father had
been alive, then indeed!--children must not break their parents' hearts.
But if, as _appeared_ the most likely thing, that father, tenderly as
she had loved him, was gone from her forever, if life was but a flash
across from birth to the grave, why should not those who loved make the
best of it for each other during that one moment "brief as the lightning
in the collied night"? They must try to be the more to one another, and
the time was so short. All that Faber had ever pleaded was now
blossoming at once in her thought. She had not a doubt that he loved
her--as would have been enough once at all events. A man of men he
was!--noble, unselfish, independent, a ruler of himself, a benefactor of
his race! What right had those _believers_ to speak of him as they did?
In any personal question he was far their superior. That they
undervalued him, came all of their narrow prejudices! He was not of
their kind, therefore he must be below them! But there were first that
should be last, and last first!
She felt herself no whit worthy of him. She believed herself not for a
moment comparable to him! But his infinite chivalry, gentleness,
compassion, would be her refuge! Such a man would bear with her
weaknesses, love her love, and forgive her sins! If he took her God from
her, he must take His place, and be a God-like man to her! Then, if
there should be any further truth discoverable, why indeed, as himself
said, should they not discover it together? Could they be as likely to
discover it apart, and distracted with longing? She must think about it
a little longer, though. She could not make up her mind the one way, and
would not the other. She would wait and see. She dared not yet.
Something might turn up to decide her. If she could but see into his
heart for a moment!
All this later time, she had been going to church every Sunday, and
listening to sermons in which the curate poured out the energy of a
faith growing stronger day by day; but not a word he said had as yet
laid hold of one root-fiber of her being. She judged, she accepted, she
admired, she refused, she condemned, but she never _did_. To many souls
hell itself seems a less frightful alternative than the agony of
resolve, of turning, of being born again; but Juliet had never got so
far as that: she had never yet looked the thing required of her in the
face. She came herself to wonder that she had made any stand at all
against the arguments of Faber. But how is it that any one who has been
educated in Christianity, yet does not become the disciple of Jesus
Christ, avoids becoming an atheist? To such the whole thing must look so
unlike what it really is! Does he prefer to keep half believing the
revelation, in order to attribute to it elements altogether unlovely,
and so justify himself in refusing it? Were it not better to reject it
altogether if it be not fit to be believed in? If he be unable to do
that, if he dare not proclaim an intellectual unbelief, if some
reverence for father or mother, some inward drawing toward the good
thing, some desire to keep an open door of escape, prevent, what a
hideous folly is the moral disregard! "The thing is true, but I don't
mind it!" What is this acknowledged heedlessness, this apologetic
arrogance? Is it a timid mockery, or the putting forth of a finger in
the very face of the Life of the world? I know well how foolish words
like these must seem to such as Faber, but for such they are not
written; they are written for the men and women who close the lids of
but half-blinded eyes, and think they do God service by not denying
that there is not a sun in the heavens. There may be some denying Christ
who shall fare better than they, when He comes to judge the world with a
judgment which even those whom He sends from Him shall confess to be
absolutely fair--a judgment whose very righteousness may be a
consolation to some upon whom it falls heavily.
That night Juliet hardly knew what she had said to Faber, and longed to
see him again. She slept little, and in the morning was weary and
exhausted. But he had set her the grand example of placing work before
every thing else, and she would do as he taught her. So, in the name of
her lover, and in spite of her headache, she rose to her day's duty.
Love delights to put on the livery of the loved.
After breakfast, as was their custom, Dorothy walked with her to the
place where she gave her first lesson. The nearest way led past the
house of the doctor; but hitherto, as often as she could frame fitting
reason, generally on the ground that they were too early, and must make
a little longer walk of it, Juliet had contrived to avoid turning the
corner of Mr. Drew's shop. This day, however, she sought no excuse, and
they went the natural road. She wanted to pass his house--to get a
glimpse of him if she might.
As they approached it, they were startled by a sudden noise of strife.
The next instant the door of the surgery, which was a small building
connected with the house by a passage, flew open, and a young man was
shot out. He half jumped, half fell down the six or eight steps, turned
at once, and ran up again. He had rather a refined look, notwithstanding
the annoyance and resentment that discomposed his features. The mat had
caught the door and he was just in time to prevent it from being shut in
"I will _not_ submit to such treatment, Mr. Faber," cried the youth. "It
is not the part of a gentleman to forget that another is one."
"To the devil with your _gentleman!_" they heard the doctor shout in a
rage, from behind the half-closed door. "The less said about the
gentleman the better, when the man is nowhere!"
"Mr. Faber, I will allow no man to insult me," said the youth, and made
a fierce attempt to push the door open.
"You are a wretch below insult," returned the doctor; and the next
moment the youth staggered again down the steps, this time to fall, in
awkward and ignominious fashion, half on the pavement, half in the road.
Then out on the top of the steps came Paul Faber, white with wrath, too
full of indignation to see person or thing except the object of it.
"You damned rascal!" he cried. "If you set foot on my premises again, it
will be at the risk of your contemptible life."
"Come, come, Mr. Faber! this won't do," returned the youth, defiantly,
as he gathered himself up. "I don't want to make a row, but--
"_You_ don't want to make a row, you puppy! Then _I_ do. You don't come
into my house again. I'll have your traps turned out to
you.--Jenkins!--You had better leave the town as fast as you can, too,
for this won't be a secret."
"You'll allow me to call on Mr. Crispin first?"
"Do. Tell him the truth, and see whether he'll take the thing up! If I
were God, I'd damn you!"
"Big words from you, Faber!" said the youth with a sneer, struggling
hard to keep the advantage he had in temper. "Every body knows you don't
believe there is any God."
"Then there ought to be, so long as such as you 'ain't got your deserts.
_You_ set up for a doctor! I would sooner lose all the practice I ever
made than send _you_ to visit woman or child, you heartless miscreant!"
The epithet the doctor really used here was stronger and more
contemptuous, but it is better to take the liberty of substituting this.
"What have I done then to let loose all this Billingsgate?" cried the
young man indignantly. "I have done nothing the most distinguished in
the profession haven't done twenty times over."
"I don't care a damn. What's the profession to humanity! For a wonder
the public is in the right on this question, and I side with the public.
The profession may go to--Turkey!"--Probably Turkey was not the place he
had intended to specify, but at the moment he caught sight of Juliet and
her companion.--"There!" he concluded, pointing to the door behind him,
"you go in and put your things up--_and be off_."
Without another word, the young man ascended the steps, and entered the
Juliet stood staring, motionless and white. Again and again Dorothy
would have turned back, but Juliet grasped her by the arm, stood as if
frozen to the spot, and would not let her move. She _must_ know what it
meant. And all the time a little crowd had been gathering, as it well
might, even in a town no bigger than Glaston, at such uproar in its
usually so quiet streets. At first it was all women, who showed their
interest by a fixed regard of each speaker in the quarrel in turn, and a
confused staring from one to the other of themselves. No handle was yet
visible by which to lay hold of the affair. But the moment the young man
re-entered the surgery, and just as Faber was turning to go after him,
out, like a bolt, shot from the open door a long-legged, gaunt mongrel
dog, in such a pitiful state as I will not horrify my readers by
attempting to describe. It is enough to say that the knife had been used
upon him with a ghastly freedom. In an agony of soundless terror the
poor animal, who could never recover the usage he had had, and seemed
likely to tear from himself a part of his body at every bound, rushed
through the spectators, who scattered horror-stricken from his path. Ah,
what a wild waste look the creature had!--as if his spirit within him
were wan with dismay at the lawless invasion of his humble house of
life. A cry, almost a shriek, rose from the little crowd, to which a few
men had now added themselves. The doctor came dashing down the steps in
pursuit of him. The same instant, having just escaped collision with the
dog, up came Mr. Drew. His round face flamed like the sun in a fog with
anger and pity and indignation. He rushed straight at the doctor, and
would have collared him. Faber flung him from him without a word, and
ran on. The draper reeled, but recovered himself, and was starting to
follow, when Juliet, hurrying up, with white face and flashing eyes,
laid her hand on his arm, and said, in a voice of whose authoritative
tone she was herself unconscious,
"Stop, Mr. Drew."
The draper obeyed, but stood speechless with anger, not yet doubting it
was the doctor who had so misused the dog.
"I have been here from the first," she went on. "Mr. Faber is as angry
as you are.--Please, Dorothy, will you come?--It is that assistant of
his, Mr. Drew! He hasn't been with him more than three days."
With Dorothy beside her, Juliet now told him, loud enough for all to
hear, what they had heard and seen. "I must go and beg his pardon," said
the draper. "I had no right to come to such a hasty conclusion. I hope
he will not find it hard to forgive me."
"You did no more than he would have done in your place," replied Juliet.
"--But," she added, "where is the God of that poor animal, Mr. Drew?"
"I expect He's taken him by this time," answered the draper. "But I must
go and find the doctor."
So saying, he turned and left them. The ladies went also, and the crowd
dispersed. But already rumors, as evil as discordant, were abroad in
Glaston to the prejudice of Faber, and at the door of his godlessness
was from all sides laid the charge of cruelty.
How difficult it is to make prevalent the right notion of any thing! But
only a little reflection is required to explain the fact. The cause is,
that so few people give themselves the smallest trouble to understand
what is told them. The first thing suggested by the words spoken is
taken instead of the fact itself, and to that as a ground-plan all that
follows is fitted. People listen so badly, even when not sleepily, that
the wonder is any thing of consequence should ever be even approximately
understood. How appalling it would be to one anxious to convey a
meaning, to see the shapes his words assumed in the mind of his
listening friend! For, in place of falling upon the table of his
perception, kept steady by will and judgment, he would see them tumble
upon the sounding-board of his imagination, ever vibrating, and there be
danced like sand into all manner of shapes, according to the tune played
by the capricious instrument. Thus, in Glaston, the strangest stories of
barbarity and cruelty were now attributed to a man entirely incapable of
them. He was not one of the foul seekers after knowledge, and if he had
had a presentiment of the natural tendency of his opinions, he would
have trembled at the vision, and set himself to discover whether there
might not be truth in another way of things.
As he went about in the afternoon amongst his sick and needy, the curate
heard several of these ill reports. Some communicated them to ease their
own horror, others in the notion of pleasing the believer by revolting
news of the unbeliever. In one house he was told that the poor young man
whom Dr. Faber had enticed to be his assistant, had behaved in the most
gentlemanly fashion, had thrown up his situation, consenting to the loss
of his salary, rather than connive at the horrors of cruelty in which
the doctor claimed his help. Great moan was made over the pity that
such a nice man should be given to such abominations; but where was the
wonder, some said, seeing he was the enemy of God, that he should be the
enemy of the beasts God had made? Much truth, and many wise reflections
were uttered, only they were not "as level as the cannon to his blank,"
for they were pointed at the wrong man.
There was one thing in which Wingfold differed from most of his
parishioners: he could hear with his judgment, and make his imagination
lie still. At the same time, in order to arrive the more certainly at
the truth, in any matter presented to him, he would, in general, listen
to the end of what any body had to say. So doing he let eagerness
exhaust itself, and did not by opposition in the first heat of
narration, excite partisan interest, or wake malevolent caution. If the
communication was worthy, he thus got all the worth of it; if it was
evil, he saw to the bottom of it, and discovered, if such were there,
the filthy reptile in the mud beneath, which was setting the whole ugly
pool in commotion. By this deliberateness he also gave the greater
weight to what answer he saw fit to give at last--sometimes with the
result of considerable confusion of face to the narrator. In the present
instance, he contented himself with the strongest assurance that the
whole story was a mistake so far as it applied to Mr. Faber, who had, in
fact, dismissed his assistant for the very crime of which they accused
himself. The next afternoon, he walked the whole length of Pine street
with the doctor, conversing all the way.
Nor did he fail to turn the thing to advantage. He had for some time
been awaiting a fit opportunity for instructing his people upon a point
which he thought greatly neglected: here was the opportunity, and he
made haste to avail himself of it.
THE GROANS OF THE INARTICULATE.
The rest of the week was rainy, but Sunday rose a day of perfect summer.
As the curate went up the pulpit-stair, he felt as if the pulse of all
creation were beating in unison with his own; for to-day he was the
speaker for the speechless, the interpreter of groans to the creation of
He read, _Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them
shall not fall on the ground without your Father_, and said:
"My friends, doth God care for sparrows? Or saith He it altogether for
our sakes, and not at all for the sparrows? No, truly; for indeed it
would be nothing to us if it were not every thing to the sparrows. The
word can not reach our door except through the sparrow's nest. For see!
what comfort would it be to us to be told we were of more value than
ever so many sparrows, if their value was nothing--if God only knew and
did not care for them? The saying would but import that we were of more
value than just nothing. Oh, how skillful is unbelief to take all the
color and all the sweetness and all the power out of the words of The
Word Himself! How many Christians are there not who take the passage to
mean that not a sparrow can fall to the ground without the _knowledge_
of its Creator! A mighty thing that for the sparrow! If such a Christian
seemed to the sparrow the lawful interpreter of the sparrow's Creator,
he would make an infidel of the sparrow. What Christ-like heart, what
heart of loving man, could be content to take all the comfort to itself,
and leave none for the sparrows? Not that of our mighty brother Paul. In
his ears sounded, in his heart echoed, the cries of all the creation of
God. Their groanings that could not be uttered, roused the response of
his great compassion. When Christ was born in the heart of Paul, the
whole creation of God was born with him; nothing that could feel could
he help loving; in the trouble of the creatures' troubles, sprang to
life in his heart the hope, that all that could groan should yet
rejoice, that on the lowest servant in the house should yet descend the
fringe of the robe that was cast about the redeemed body of the Son.
_He_ was no pettifogging priest standing up for the rights of the
superior! An exclusive is a self-excluded Christian. They that shut the
door will find themselves on the wrong side of the door they have shut.
They that push with the horn and stamp with the hoof, can not be
admitted to the fold. St. Paul would acknowledge no distinctions. He saw
every wall--of seclusion, of exclusion, of partition, broken down. Jew
and Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond and free--all must come in to his
heart. Mankind was not enough to fill that divine space, enlarged to
infinitude by the presence of the Christ: angels, principalities, and
powers, must share in its conscious splendor. Not yet filled, yet
unsatisfied with beings to love, Paul spread forth his arms to the whole
groaning and troubled race of animals. Whatever could send forth a sigh
of discomfort, or heave a helpless limb in pain, he took to the bosom of
his hope and affection--yea, of his love and faith: on them, too, he saw
the cup of Christ's heart overflow. For Paul had heard, if not from His
own, yet from the lips of them that heard Him speak, the words, _Are not
five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten
before God?_ What if the little half-farthing things bear their share,
and always have borne, in that which is behind of the sufferings of
Christ? In any case, not one of them, not one so young that it topples
from the edge of its nest, unable to fly, is forgotten by the Father of
men. It shall not have a lonely deathbed, for the Father of Jesus will
be with it. It _must_ be true. It is indeed a daring word, but less
would not be enough for the hearts of men, for the glory of God, for the
need of the sparrow. I do not close my eyes to one of a thousand
seemingly contradictory facts. I misdoubt my reading of the small-print
notes, and appeal to the text, yea, beyond the text, even to the God of
the sparrows Himself.
"I count it as belonging to the smallness of our faith, to the poorness
of our religion, to the rudimentary condition of our nature, that our
sympathy with God's creatures is so small. Whatever the narrowness of
our poverty-stricken, threadbare theories concerning them, whatever the
inhospitality and exclusiveness of our mean pride toward them, we can
not escape admitting that to them pain is pain, and comfort is comfort;
that they hunger and thirst; that sleep restores and death delivers
them: surely these are ground enough to the true heart wherefore it
should love and cherish them--the heart at least that believes with St.
Paul, that they need and have the salvation of Christ as well as we.
Right grievously, though blindly, do they groan after it.
"The ignorance and pride which is forever sinking us toward them, are
the very elements in us which mislead us in our judgment concerning
them, causing us to imagine them not upon a lower merely, but upon an
altogether different footing in creation from our own. The same things
we call by one name in us, and by another in them. How jealous have not
men been as to allowing them any share worthy the name of reason! But
you may see a greater difference in this respect between the lowest and
the highest at a common school, than you will between them and us. A
pony that has taught itself without hands to pump water for its thirst,
an elephant that puts forth its mighty lip to lift the moving wheel of
the heavy wagon over the body of its fallen driver, has rather more to
plead on the score of intellect than many a schoolboy. Not a few of them
shed tears. A bishop, one of the foremost of our scholars, assured me
that once he saw a certain animal laugh while playing off a practical
joke on another of a different kind from himself. I do not mention the
kind of animal, because it would give occasion for a silly articulate
joke, far inferior to his practical one. I go further, and say, that I
more than suspect a rudimentary conscience in every animal. I care not
how remotely rudimentary. There must be in the moral world absolute and
right potent germinal facts which lie infinitudes beyond the reach of
any moral microscope, as in the natural world beyond the most powerful
of lenses. Yet surely in this respect also, one may see betwixt boys at
the same school greater differences than there are betwixt the highest
of the animals and the lowest of the humans. If you plead for time for
the boy to develop his poor rudimentary mollusk of a conscience, take it
and heartily welcome--but grant it the animals also. With some of them
it may need millions of years for any thing I know. Certainly in many
human beings it never comes plainly into our ken all the time they walk
the earth. Who shall say how far the vision of the apostle reached? but
surely the hope in which he says God Himself subjected the creature to
vanity, must have been an infinite hope: I will hope infinitely. That
the Bible gives any ground for the general fancy that at death an animal
ceases to exist, is but the merest dullest assumption. Neither is there
a single scientific argument, so far as I know, against the continued
existence of the animals, which would not tell equally against human
immortality. My hope is, that in some way, concerning which I do not now
choose to speculate, there may be progress, growth, for them also. While
I believe for myself, I _must_ hope for them. This much at least seems
clear--and I could press the argument further: if not one of them is
forgotten before God--and one of them yet passes out of being--then is
God the God of the dead and not of the living! But we praise Thee, we
bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for
Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty! Thy
universe is life, life and not death. Even the death which awoke in the
bosom of Sin, Thy Son, opposing Himself to its hate, and letting it
spend its fury upon Him, hath abolished. I know nothing, therefore care
little, as to whether or not it may have pleased God to bring man up to
the hill of humanity through the swamps and thickets of lower animal
nature, but I do care that I should not now any more approach that
level, whether once rightly my own or not. For what is honor in the
animals, would be dishonor in me. Not the less may such be the
punishment, perhaps redemption, in store for some men and women. For
aught I know, or see unworthy in the thought, the self-sufficing
exquisite, for instance, may one day find himself chattering amongst
fellow apes in some monkey-village of Africa or Burmah. Nor is the
supposition absurd, though at first sight it may well so appear. Let us
remember that we carry in us the characteristics of each and every
animal. There is not one fiercest passion, one movement of affection,
one trait of animal economy, one quality either for praise or blame,
existing in them that does not exist in us. The relationship can not be
so very distant. And if theirs be so freely in us, why deny them so much
we call ours? Hear how one of the ablest doctors of the English church,
John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's in the reign of James the first,
Man is a lump where all beasts kneaded be;
Wisdom makes him an ark where all agree;
The fool, in whom these beasts do live at jar,
Is sport to others, and a theater;
Nor scapes he so, but is himself their prey;
All which was man in him, is eat away;
And now his beasts on one another feed,
Yet couple in anger, and new monsters breed.
How happy's he which hath due place assigned
To his beasts, and disaforested his mind!
Impaled himself to keep them out, not in;
Can sow, and dares trust corn where they have been;
Can use his horse, goat, wolf, and every beast,
And is not ass himself to all the rest!
Else man not only is the herd of swine,
But he's those devils, too, which did incline
Them to an headlong rage, and made them worse;
For man can add weight to heaven's heaviest curse.
"It astonishes me, friends, that we are not more terrified at
ourselves. Except the living Father have brought order, harmony, a
world, out of His chaos, a man is but a cage of unclean beasts, with no
one to rule them, however fine a gentleman he may think himself. Even in
this fair, well-ordered England of ours, at Kirkdale, in Yorkshire, was
discovered, some fifty years ago, a great cavern that had once been a
nest of gigantic hyenas, evidenced by their own broken bones, and the
crushed bones of tigers, elephants, bears, and many other creatures. See
to what a lovely peace the Creating Hand has even now brought our
England, far as she is yet from being a province in the kingdom of
Heaven; but see also in her former condition a type of the horror to
which our souls may festering sink, if we shut out His free spirit, and
have it no more moving upon the face of our waters. And when I say a
type, let us be assured there is no type worth the name which is not
poor to express the glory or the horror it represents.
"To return to the animals: they are a care to God! they occupy part of
His thoughts; we have duties toward them, owe them friendliness,
tenderness. That God should see us use them as we do is a terrible
fact--a severe difficulty to faith. For to such a pass has the worship
of Knowledge--an idol vile even as Mammon himself, and more
cruel--arrived, that its priests, men kind as other men to their own
children, kind to the animals of their household, kind even to some of
the wild animals, men who will scatter crumbs to the robins in winter,
and set water for the sparrows on their house-top in summer, will yet,
in the worship of this their idol, in their greed after the hidden
things of the life of the flesh, without scruple, confessedly without
compunction, will, I say, dead to the natural motions of the divine
element in them, the inherited pity of God, subject innocent, helpless,
appealing, dumb souls to such tortures whose bare description would
justly set me forth to the blame of cruelty toward those who sat
listening to the same. Have these living, moving, seeing, hearing,
feeling creatures, who could not be but by the will and the presence of
Another any more than ourselves--have they no rights in this their
compelled existence? Does the most earnest worship of an idol excuse
robbery with violence extreme to obtain the sacrifices he loves? Does
the value of the thing that may be found there justify me in breaking
into the house of another's life? Does his ignorance of the existence of
that which I seek alter the case? Can it be right to water the tree of
knowledge with blood, and stir its boughs with the gusts of bitter
agony, that we may force its flowers into blossom before their time?
Sweetly human must be the delights of knowledge so gained! grand in
themselves, and ennobling in their tendencies! Will it justify the same
as a noble, a laudable, a worshipful endeavor to cover it with the
reason or pretext--God knows which--of such love for my own human kind
as strengthens me to the most ruthless torture of their poorer
relations, whose little treasure I would tear from them that it may
teach me how to add to their wealth? May my God give me grace to prefer
a hundred deaths to a life gained by the suffering of one simplest
creature. He holds his life as I hold mine by finding himself there
where I find myself. Shall I quiet my heart with the throbs of another
heart? soothe my nerves with the agonized tension of a system? live a
few days longer by a century of shrieking deaths? It were a hellish
wrong, a selfish, hateful, violent injustice. An evil life it were that
I gained or held by such foul means! How could I even attempt to justify
the injury, save on the plea that I am already better and more valuable
than he; that I am the stronger; that the possession of all the
pleasures of human intelligence gives me the right to turn the poor
innocent joys of his senses into pains before which, threatening my own
person, my very soul would grow gray with fear? Or let me grant what
many professional men deny utterly, that some knowledge of what is
called practical value to the race has been thus attained--what can be
its results at best but the adding of a cubit to the life? Grant that it
gave us an immortal earthly existence, one so happy that the most
sensual would never wish for death: what would it be by such means to
live forever? God in Heaven! who, what is the man who would dare live a
life wrung from the agonies of tortured innocents? Against the will of
my Maker, live by means that are an abhorrence to His soul! Such a life
must be all in the flesh! the spirit could have little share therein.
Could it be even a life of the flesh that came of treason committed
against essential animality? It could be but an abnormal monstrous
existence, that sprang, toadstool-like, from the blood-marsh of
cruelty--a life neither spiritual nor fleshey, but devilish.
"It is true we are above the creatures--but not to keep them down; they
are for our use and service, but neither to be trodden under the foot of
pride, nor misused as ministers, at their worst cost of suffering, to
our inordinate desires of ease. After no such fashion did God give them
to be our helpers in living. To be tortured that we might gather ease!
none but a devil could have made them for that! When I see a man who
professes to believe not only in a God, but such a God as holds His
court in the person of Jesus Christ, assail with miserable cruelty the
scanty, lovely, timorous lives of the helpless about him, it sets my
soul aflame with such indignant wrath, with such a sense of horrible
incongruity and wrong to every harmony of Nature, human and divine, that
I have to make haste and rush to the feet of the Master, lest I should
scorn and hate where He has told me to love. Such a wretch, not content
that Christ should have died to save men, will tear Christ's living
things into palpitating shreds, that he may discover from them how
better to save the same men. Is this to be in the world as He was in the
world! Picture to yourselves one of these Christian inquirers erect
before his class of students: knife in hand, he is demonstrating to them
from the live animal, so fixed and screwed and wired that he cannot find
for his agony even the poor relief of a yelp, how this or that writhing
nerve or twitching muscle operates in the business of a life which his
demonstration has turned from the gift of love into a poisoned curse;
picture to yourself such a one so busied, suddenly raising his eyes and
seeing the eyes that see him! the eyes of Him who, when He hung upon the
cross, knew that He suffered for the whole creation of His Father, to
lift it out of darkness into light, out of wallowing chaos into order
and peace! Those eyes watching him, that pierced hand soothing his
victim, would not the knife fall from his hand in the divine paralysis
that shoots from the heart and conscience? Ah me! to have those eyes
upon me in any wrong-doing! One thing only could be worse--_not_ to have
them upon me--to be left with my devils.
"You all know the immediate cause of the turning of our thoughts in this
direction--the sad case of cruelty that so unexpectedly rushed to light
in Glaston. So shocked was the man in whose house it took place that, as
he drove from his door the unhappy youth who was guilty of the crime,
this testimony, in the righteous indignation of his soul, believing, as
you are aware, in no God and Father of all, broke from him with
curses--'There ought to be a God to punish such cruelty.'--'Begone,' he
said. 'Never would I commit woman or child into the hands of a willful
author of suffering.'
"We are to rule over the animals; the opposite of rule is torture, the
final culmination of anarchy. We slay them, and if with reason, then
with right. Therein we do them no wrong. Yourselves will bear me witness
however and always in this place, I have protested that death is no
evil, save as the element of injustice may be mingled therein. The sting
of death is sin. Death, righteously inflicted, I repeat, is the reverse
of an injury.
"What if there is too much lavishment of human affection upon objects
less than human! it hurts less than if there were none. I confess that
it moves with strange discomfort one who has looked upon swarms of
motherless children, to see in a childless house a ruined dog, overfed,
and snarling with discomfort even on the blessed throne of childhood,
the lap of a woman. But even that is better than that the woman should
love no creature at all--infinitely better! It may be she loves as she
can. Her heart may not yet be equal to the love of a child, may be able
only to cherish a creature whose oppositions are merely amusing, and
whose presence, as doubtless it seems to her, gives rise to no
responsibilities. Let her love her dog--even although her foolish
treatment of him should delay the poor animal in its slow trot towards
canine perfection: she may come to love him better; she may herself
through him advance to the love and the saving of a child--who can tell?
But do not mistake me; there are women with hearts so divinely
insatiable in loving, that in the mere gaps of their untiring
ministration of humanity, they will fondle any living thing capable of
receiving the overflow of their affection. Let such love as they will;
they can hardly err. It is not of such that I have spoken.
"Again, to how many a lonely woman is not life made endurable, even
pleasant, by the possession and the love of a devoted dog! The man who
would focus the burning glass of science upon the animal, may well mock
at such a mission, and speak words contemptuous of the yellow old maid
with her yellow ribbons and her yellow dog. Nor would it change his
countenance or soften his heart to be assured that that withered husk of
womanhood was lovely once, and the heart in it is loving still; that she
was reduced to all but misery by the self-indulgence of a brother, to
whom the desolation of a sister was but a pebble to pave the way to his
pleasures; that there is no one left her now to love, or to be grateful
for her love, but the creature which he regards merely as a box of
nature's secrets, worthy only of being rudely ransacked for what it may
contain, and thrown aside when shattered in the search. A box he is
indeed, in which lies inclosed a shining secret!--a truth too radiant
for the eyes of such a man as he; the love of a living God is in him and
his fellows, ranging the world in broken incarnation, ministering to
forlorn humanity in dumb yet divine service. Who knows, in their great
silence, how germane with ours may not be their share in the groanings
that can not be uttered!
"Friends, there must be a hell. If we leave scripture and human belief
aside, science reveals to us that nature has her catastrophes--that
there is just so much of the failed cycle, of the unrecovered, the
unbalanced, the incompleted, the fallen-short, in her motions, that the
result must be collision, shattering resumption, the rage of unspeakable
fire. Our world and all the worlds of the system, are, I suppose, doomed
to fall back at length into their parent furnace. Then will come one end
and another beginning. There is many an end and many a beginning. At one
of those ends, and that not the furthest, must surely lie a hell, in
which, of all sins, the sin of cruelty, under whatever pretext
committed, will receive its meed from Him with whom there is no respect
of persons, but who giveth to every man according to his works. Nor will
it avail him to plead that in life he never believed in such
retribution; for a cruelty that would have been restrained by a fear of
hell was none the less hellworthy.
"But I will not follow this track. The general conviction of humanity
will be found right against any conclusions calling themselves
scientific, that go beyond the scope or the reach of science. Neither
will I presume to suggest the operation of any _lex talionis_ in respect
of cruelty. I know little concerning the salvation by fire of which St.
Paul writes in his first epistle to the Corinthians; but I say this,
that if the difficulty of curing cruelty be commensurate with the horror
of its nature, then verily for the cruel must the furnace of wrath be
seven times heated. Ah! for them, poor injured ones, the wrong passes
away! Friendly, lovely death, the midwife of Heaven, comes to their
relief, and their pain sinks in precious peace. But what is to be done
for our brother's soul, bespattered with the gore of innocence? Shall
the cries and moans of the torture he inflicted haunt him like an evil
smell? Shall the phantoms of exquisite and sickening pains float
lambent about the fingers, and pass and repass through the heart and
brain, that sent their realities quivering and burning into the souls of
the speechless ones? It has been said somewhere that the hell for the
cruel man would be to have the faces of all the creatures he had wronged
come staring round him, with sad, weary eyes. But must not the divine
nature, the pitiful heart of the universe, have already begun to
reassert itself in him, before that would hurt him? Upon such a man the
justice in my heart desires this retribution--to desire more would be to
be more vile than he; to desire less would not be to love my
brother:--that the soul capable of such deeds shall be compelled to know
the nature of its deeds in the light of the absolute Truth--that the
eternal fact shall flame out from the divine region of its own
conscience until it writhe in the shame of being itself, loathe as
absolute horror the deeds which it would now justify, and long for
deliverance from that which it has made of itself. The moment the
discipline begins to blossom, the moment the man begins to thirst after
confession and reparation, then is he once more my brother; then from an
object of disgust in spite of pity, he becomes a being for all tender,
honest hearts in the universe of God to love, cherish, revere.
"Meantime, you who behold with aching hearts the wrongs done to the
lower brethren that ought to be cherished as those to whom less has been
given, having done all, stand comforted in the thought that not one of
them suffers without the loving, caring, sustaining presence of the
great Father of the universe, the Father of men, the God and Father of
Jesus Christ, the God of the sparrows and the ravens and the oxen--yea,
of the lilies of the field."
As might be expected, Mrs. Ramshorn was indignant. What right had he to
desecrate a pulpit of the Church of England by misusing it for the
publication of his foolish fancies about creatures that had not reason!
Of course nobody would think of being cruel to them, poor things! But
there was that silly man talking about them as if they were better
Christians than any of them! He was intruding into things he had not
seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.
The last portion of these remarks she made in the hearing of her niece,
who carried it home for the amusement of her husband. He said he could
laugh with a good conscience, for the reading of the passage, according
to the oldest manuscripts we have, was not "the things he hath not
seen," but "the things he hath seen," and he thought it meant--haunting
the visible, the sensuous, the fleshly, so, for, the satisfaction of an
earthly imagination, in love with embodiment for its own sake,
worshiping angels, and not keeping hold of the invisible, the real, the
true--the mind, namely, and spirit of the living Christ, the Head.
"Poor auntie," replied Helen, "would hold herself quite above the
manuscripts. With her it is the merest sectarianism and radicalism to
meddle with the text as appointed to be read in churches. What was good
enough for the dean, must be far more than good enough for an
But the rector, who loved dogs and horses, was delighted with the
Faber's whole carriage and conduct in regard to the painful matter was
such as to add to Juliet's confidence in him. Somehow she grew more at
ease in his company, and no longer took pains to avoid him.
By degrees Mr. Drake's mind grew quiet, and accommodated itself to the
condition of the new atmosphere in which at first it was so hard for him
to draw spiritual breath. He found himself again able to pray, and while
he bowed his head lower before God, he lifted up his heart higher toward
him. His uncle's bequest presenting no appropriative difficulties, he at
once set himself to be a faithful and wise steward of the grace of God,
to which holy activity the return of his peace was mainly owing. Now and
then the fear would return that God had sent him the money in
displeasure, that He had handed him over all his principal, and refused
to be his banker any more; and the light-winged, haunting dread took
from him a little even of the blameless pleasure that naturally
belonged to the paying of his debts. Also he now became plainly aware of
a sore fact which he had all his life dimly suspected--namely, that
there was in his nature a spot of the leprosy of avarice, the desire to
accumulate. Hence he grew almost afraid of his money, and his anxiety to
spend it freely and right, to keep it flowing lest it should pile up its
waves and drown his heart, went on steadily increasing. That he could
hoard now if he pleased gave him just the opportunity of burning the
very possibility out of his soul. It is those who are unaware of their
proclivities, and never pray against them, that must be led into
temptation, lest they should forever continue capable of evil. When a
man could do a thing, then first can he abstain from doing it. Now, with
his experience of both poverty and riches, the minister knew that he
must make them both follow like hounds at his heel. If he were not to
love money, if, even in the free use of it, he were to regard it with
honor, fear its loss, forget that it came from God, and must return to
God through holy channels, he must sink into a purely contemptible
slave. Where would be the room for any further repentance? He would have
had every chance, and failed in every trial the most opposed! He must be
lord of his wealth; Mammon must be the slave, not Walter Drake. Mammon
must be more than his brownie, more than his Robin Goodfellow; he must
be the subject Djin of a holy spell--holier than Solomon's wisdom, more
potent than the stamp of his seal. At present he almost feared him as a
Caliban to whom he might not be able to play Prospero, an Ufreet
half-escaped from his jar, a demon he had raised, for whom he must find
work, or be torn by him into fragments. The slave must have drudgery,
and the master must take heed that he never send him alone to do love's
"I am sixty," he said, to himself, "and I have learned to begin to
learn." Behind him his public life looked a mere tale that is told; his
faith in the things he had taught had been little better than that which
hangs about an ancient legend. He had been in a measure truthful; he had
endeavored to act upon what he taught; but alas! the accidents of faith
had so often been uppermost with him, instead of its eternal fundamental
truths! How unlike the affairs of the kingdom did all that
church-business look to him now!--the rich men ruling--the poor men
grumbling! In the whole assembly including himself, could he honestly
say he knew more than one man that sought the kingdom of Heaven
_first_? And yet he had been tolerably content, until they began to turn
against himself!--What better could they have done than get rid of him?
The whole history of their relation appeared now as a mess of untruth
shot through with threads of light. Now, now, he would strive to enter
in at the strait gate: the question was not of pushing others in. He
would mortify the spirit of worldly judgments and ambitions: he would be
humble as the servant of Christ.
Dorothy's heart was relieved a little. She could read her father's
feelings better than most wives those of their husbands, and she knew he
was happier. But she was not herself happier. She would gladly have
parted with all the money for a word from any quarter that could have
assured her there was a God in Heaven who _loved_. But the teaching of
the curate had begun to tell upon her. She had begun to have a faint
perception that if the story of Jesus Christ was true, there might be a
Father to be loved, and being might be a bliss. The poorest glimmer of
His loveliness gives a dawn to our belief in a God; and a small amount
indeed of a genuine knowledge of Him will serve to neutralize the most
confident declaration that science is against the idea of a God--an
utterance absolutely false. Scientific men may be unbelievers, but it is
not from the teaching of science. Science teaches that a man must not
say he knows what he does not know; not that what a man does not know he
may say does not exist. I will grant, however, and willingly, that true
science is against Faber's idea of other people's idea of a God. I will
grant also that the tendency of one who exclusively studies science is
certainly to deny what no one has proved, and he is uninterested in
proving; but that is the fault of the man and his lack of science, not
of the science he has. If people understood better the arrogance of
which they are themselves guilty, they would be less ready to imagine
that a strong assertion necessarily implies knowledge. Nothing can be
known except what is true. A negative may be _fact_, but can not be
_known_ except by the knowledge of its opposite. I believe also that
nothing can be really _believed_, except it be true. But people think
they believe many things which they do not and can not in the real
When, however, Dorothy came to concern herself about the will of God, in
trying to help her father to do the best with their money, she began to
reap a little genuine comfort, for then she found things begin to
explain themselves a little. The more a man occupies himself in doing
the works of the Father--the sort of thing the Father does, the easier
will he find it to believe that such a Father is at work in the world.
In the curate Mr. Drake had found not only a man he could trust, but one
to whom, young as he was, he could look up; and it was a trait in the
minister nothing short of noble, that he did look up to the
curate--perhaps without knowing it. He had by this time all but lost
sight of the fact, once so monstrous, so unchristian in his eyes, that
he was the paid agent of a government-church; the sight of the man's own
house, built on a rock in which was a well of the water of life, had
made him nearly forget it. In his turn he could give the curate much;
the latter soon discovered that he knew a great deal more about Old
Testament criticism, church-history, and theology--understanding by the
last the records of what men had believed and argued about God--than he
did. They often disagreed and not seldom disputed; but while each held
the will and law of Christ as the very foundation of the world, and
obedience to Him as the way to possess it after its idea, how could they
fail to know that they were brothers? They were gentle with each other
for the love of Him whom in eager obedience they called Lord.
The moment his property was his availably, the minister betook himself
to the curate.
"Now," he said--he too had the gift of going pretty straight, though not
quite so straight as the curate--"Now, Mr. Wingfold, tell me plainly
what you think the first thing I ought to do with this money toward
making it a true gift of God. I mean, what can I do with it for somebody
else--some person or persons to whom money in my hands, not in theirs,
may become a small saviour?"
"You want, in respect of your money," rejoined the curate, "to be in the
world as Christ was in the world, setting right what is wrong in ways
possible to you, and not counteracting His? You want to do the gospel as
well as preach it?"
"That is what I mean--or rather what I wish to mean. You have said
it.--What do you count the first thing I should try to set right?"
"I should say _injustice_. My very soul revolts against the talk about
kindness to the poor, when such a great part of their misery comes from
the injustice and greed of the rich."
"I well understand," returned Mr. Drake, "that a man's first business is
to be just to his neighbor, but I do not so clearly see when he is to
interfere to make others just. Our Lord would not settle the division of
the inheritance between the two brothers."
"No, but he gave them a lesson concerning avarice, and left that to
work. I don't suppose any body is unjust for love of injustice. I don't
understand the pure devilish very well--though I have glimpses into it.
Your way must be different from our Lord's in form, that it may be the
same in spirit: you have to work with money; His father had given Him
none. In His mission He was not to use all means--only the best. But
even He did not attack individuals to _make_ them do right; and if you
employ your money in doing justice to the oppressed and afflicted, to
those shorn of the commonest rights of humanity, it will be the most
powerful influence of all to wake the sleeping justice in the dull
hearts of other men. It is the business of any body who can, to set
right what any body has set wrong. I will give you a special instance,
which has been in my mind all the time. Last spring--and it was the same
the spring before, my first in Glaston--the floods brought misery upon
every family in what they call the Pottery here. How some of them get
through any wet season I can not think; but Faber will tell you what a
multitude of sore throats, cases of croup, scarlet-fever, and
diphtheria, he has to attend in those houses every spring and autumn.
They are crowded with laborers and their families, who, since the
railway came, have no choice but live there, and pay a much heavier rent
in proportion to their accommodation than you or I do--in proportion to
the value of the property, immensely heavier. Is it not hard? Men are
their brothers' keepers indeed--but it is in chains of wretchedness they
keep them. Then again--I am told that the owner of these cottages, who
draws a large yearly sum from them, and to the entreaties of his tenants
for really needful repairs, gives nothing but promises, is one of the
most influential attendants of a chapel you know, where, Sunday after
Sunday, the gospel is preached. If this be true, here again is a sad
wrong: what can those people think of religion so represented?"
"I am a sinful man," exclaimed the pastor. "That Barwood is one of the
deacons. He is the owner of the chapel as well as the cottages. I ought
to have spoken to him years ago.--But," he cried, starting to his feet,
"the property is for sale! I saw it in the paper this very morning!
Thank God!"--He caught up his hat.--"I shall have no choice but buy the
chapel too," he added, with a queer, humorous smile; "--it is part of
the property.--Come with me, my dear sir. We must see to it directly.
You will speak: I would rather not appear in the affair until the
property is my own; but I will buy those houses, please God, and make
them such as His poor sons and daughters may live in without fear or
The curate was not one to give a cold bath to enthusiasm. They went out
together, got all needful information, and within a month the
title-deeds were in Mr. Drake's possession.
When the rumor reached the members of his late congregation that he had
come in for a large property, many called to congratulate him, and such
congratulations are pretty sure to be sincere. But he was both annoyed
and amused when--it was in the morning during business hours--Dorothy
came and told him, not without some show of disgust, that a deputation
from the church in Cow-lane was below.
"We've taken the liberty of calling, in the name of the church, to
congratulate you, Mr. Drake," said their leader, rising with the rest as
the minister entered the dining-room.
"Thank you," returned the minister quietly.
"I fancy," said the other, who was Barwood himself, with a smile such as
heralds the facetious, "you will hardly condescend to receive our little
"I shall not require it, gentlemen."
"Of course we should never have offered you such a small sum, if we
hadn't known you were independent of us."
"Why then did you offer it at all?" asked the minister.
"As a token of our regard."
"The regard could not be very lively that made no inquiry as to our
circumstances. My daughter had twenty pounds a year; I had nothing. We
were in no small peril of simple starvation."
"Bless my soul! we hadn't an idea of such a thing, sir! Why didn't you
Mr. Drake smiled, and made no other reply.
"Well, sir," resumed Barwood, after a very brief pause, for he was a
man of magnificent assurance, "as it's all turned out so well, you'll
let bygones be bygones, and give us a hand?"
"I am obliged to you for calling," said Mr. Drake, "--especially to you,
Mr. Barwood, because it gives me an opportunity of confessing a fault of
omission on my part toward you."
Here the pastor was wrong. Not having done his duty when he ought, he
should have said nothing now it was needless for the wronged, and likely
only to irritate the wrong-doer.
"Don't mention it, pray," said Mr. Barwood. "This is a time to forget
"I ought to have pointed out to you, Mr. Barwood," pursued the minister,
"both for your own sake and that of those poor families, your tenants,