Part 5 out of 9
that your property in this lower part of the town was quite unfit for
the habitation of human beings."
"Don't let your conscience trouble you on the score of that neglect,"
answered the deacon, his face flushing with anger, while he tried to
force a smile: "I shouldn't have paid the least attention to it if you
had. My firm opinion has always been that a minister's duty is to preach
the gospel, not meddle in the private affairs of the members of his
church; and if you knew all, Mr. Drake, you would not have gone out of
your way to make the remark. But that's neither here nor there, for it's
not the business as we've come upon.--Mr. Drake, it's a clear thing to
every one as looks into it, that the cause will never prosper so long as
that's the chapel we've got. We did think as perhaps a younger man might
do something to counteract church-influences; but there don't seem any
sign of betterment yet. In fact, thinks looks worse. No, sir! it's the
chapel as is the stumbling-block. What has religion got to do with
what's ugly and dirty! A place that any lady or gentleman, let he or she
be so much of a Christian, might turn up the nose and refrain the foot
from! No! I say; what we want is a new place of worship. Cow-lane is
behind the age--and _that_ musty! uw!"
"With the words of truth left sticking on the walls?" suggested Mr.
"Ha! ha! ha!--Good that!" exclaimed several.
But the pastor's face looked stern, and the voices dropped into rebuked
"At least you'll allow, sir," persisted Barwood, "that the house of God
ought to be as good as the houses of his people. It stands to reason.
Depend upon it, He won't give us no success till we give Him a decent
house. What! are we to dwell in houses of cedar, and the ark of the Lord
in a tent? That's what it comes to, sir!"
The pastor's spiritual gorge rose at this paganism in Jew clothing.
"You think God loves newness and finery better than the old walls where
generations have worshiped?" he said.
"I make no doubt of it, sir," answered Barwood. "What's generations to
him! He wants the people drawn to His house; and what there is in
Cow-lane to draw is more than I know."
"I understand you wish to sell the chapel," said Mr. Drake. "Is it not
rather imprudent to bring down the value of your property before you
have got rid of it?"
Barwood smiled a superior smile. He considered the bargain safe, and
thought the purchaser a man who was certain to pull the chapel down.
"I know who the intending purchaser is," said Mr. Drake, "and----"
Barwood's countenance changed: he bethought himself that the conveyance
was not completed, and half started from his chair.
"You would never go to do such an unneighborly act," he cried, "as----"
"--As conspire to bring down the value of a property the moment it had
passed out of my hands?--I would not, Mr. Barwood; and this very day the
intending purchaser shall know of your project."
Barwood locked his teeth together, and grinned with rage. He jumped from
his seat, knocked it over in getting his hat from under it, and rushed
out of the house. Mr. Drake smiled, and looking calmly round on the rest
of the deacons, held his peace. It was a very awkward moment for them.
At length one of them, a small tradesman, ventured to speak. He dared
make no allusion to the catastrophe that had occurred. It would take
much reflection to get hold of the true weight and bearing of what they
had just heard and seen, for Barwood was a mighty man among them.
"What we were thinking, sir," he said, "--and you will please to
remember, Mr. Drake, that I was always on your side, and it's better to
come to the point; there's a strong party of us in the church, sir,
that would like to have you back, and we was thinking if you would
condescend to help us, now as you're so well able to, sir, toward a new
chapel, now as you have the means, as well as the will, to do God
service, sir, what with the chapel-building society, and every man-jack
of us setting our shoulder to the wheel, and we should all do our very
best, we should get a nice, new, I won't say showy, but
attractive--that's the word, attractive place--not gaudy, you know, I
never would give in to that, but ornamental too--and in a word,
attractive--that's it--a place to which the people would be drawn by the
look of it outside, and kep' by the look of it inside--a place as would
make the people of Glaston say, 'Come, and let us go up to the house of
the Lord,'--if, with your help, sir, we had such a place, then perhaps
you would condescend to take the reins again, sir, and we should then
pay Mr. Rudd as your assistant, leaving the whole management in your
hands--to preach when you pleased, and leave it alone when you
didn't.--There, sir! I think that's much the whole thing in a
"And now will you tell me what result you would look for under such an
"We should look for the blessing of a little success; it's a many years
since we was favored with any."
"And by success you mean----?"
"A large attendance of regular hearers in the morning--not a seat to
let!--and the people of Glaston crowding to hear the word in the
evening, and going away because they can't get a foot inside the place!
That's the success _I_ should like to see."
"What! would you have all Glaston such as yourselves!" exclaimed the
pastor indignantly. "Gentlemen, this is the crowning humiliation of my
life! Yet I am glad of it, because I deserve it, and it will help to
make and keep me humble. I see in you the wood and hay and stubble with
which, alas! I have been building all these years! I have been preaching
dissent instead of Christ, and there you are!--dissenters indeed--but
can I--can I call you Christians? Assuredly do I believe the form of
your church that ordained by the apostles, but woe is me for the
material whereof it is built! Were I to aid your plans with a single
penny in the hope of withdrawing one inhabitant of Glaston from the
preaching of Mr. Wingfold, a man who speaks the truth and fears nobody,
as I, alas! have feared you, because of your dullness of heart and
slowness of understanding, I should be doing the body of Christ a
grievous wrong. I have been as one beating the air in talking to you
against episcopacy when I ought to have been preaching against
dishonesty; eulogizing congregationalism, when I ought to have been
training you in the three abiding graces, and chiefly in the greatest of
them, charity. I have taken to pieces and put together for you the plan
of salvation, when I ought to have spoken only of Him who is the way and
the life. I have been losing my life, and helping you to lose yours. But
go to the abbey church, and there a man will stir you up to lay hold
upon God, will teach you to know Christ, each man for himself and not
for another. Shut up your chapel, put off your scheme for a new one, go
to the abbey church, and be filled with the finest of the wheat. Then
should this man depart, and one of the common episcopal train, whose God
is the church, and whose neighbor is the order of the priesthood, come
to take his place, and preach against dissent as I have so foolishly
preached against the church--then, and not until then, will the time be
to gather together your savings and build yourselves a house to pray in.
Then, if I am alive, as I hope I shall not be, come, and I will aid your
purpose liberally. Do not mistake me; I believe as strongly as ever I
did that the constitution of the Church of England is all wrong; that
the arrogance and assumption of her priesthood is essentially opposed to
the very idea of the kingdom of Heaven; that the Athanasian creed is
unintelligible, and where intelligible, cruel; but where I find my Lord
preached as only one who understands Him can preach Him, and as I never
could preach Him, and never heard Him preached before, even faults great
as those shall be to me as merest accidents. Gentlemen, every thing is
pure loss--chapels and creeds and churches--all is loss that comes
between us and Christ--individually, masterfully. And of unchristian
things one of the most unchristian is to dispute and separate in the
name of Him whose one object was, and whose one victory will be
unity.--Gentlemen, if you should ever ask me to preach to you, I will do
so with pleasure."
They rose as one man, bade him an embarrassed good morning, and walked
from the room, some with their heads thrown back, other hanging them
forward in worshipful shame. The former spread the rumor that the old
minister had gone crazy, the latter began to go now and then to church.
I may here mention, as I shall have no other opportunity, that a new
chapel was not built; that the young pastor soon left the old one; that
the deacons declared themselves unable to pay the rent; that Mr. Drake
took the place into his own hands, and preached there every Sunday
evening, but went always in the morning to hear Mr. Wingfold. There was
kindly human work of many sorts done by them in concert, and each felt
the other a true support. When the pastor and the parson chanced to meet
in some lowly cottage, it was never with embarrassment or apology, as if
they served two masters, but always with hearty and glad greeting, and
they always went away together. I doubt if wickedness does half as much
harm as sectarianism, whether it be the sectarianism of the church or of
dissent, the sectarianism whose virtue is condescension, or the
sectarianism whose vice is pride. Division has done more to hide Christ
from the view of men, than all the infidelity that has ever been spoken.
It is the half-Christian clergy of every denomination that are the main
cause of the so-called failure of the Church of Christ. Thank God, it
has not failed so miserably as to succeed in the estimation or to the
satisfaction of any party in it.
But it was not merely in relation to forms of church government that the
heart of the pastor now in his old age began to widen. It is foolish to
say that after a certain age a man can not alter. That some men can
not--or will not, (God only can draw the line between those two _nots_)
I allow; but the cause is not age, and it is not universal. The man who
does not care and ceases to grow, becomes torpid, stiffens, is in a
sense dead; but he who has been growing all the time need never stop;
and where growth is, there is always capability of change: growth itself
is a succession of slow, melodious, ascending changes.
The very next Sunday after the visit of their deputation to him, the
church in Cow-lane asked their old minister to preach to them. Dorothy,
as a matter of course, went with her father, although, dearly as she
loved him, she would have much preferred hearing what the curate had to
say. The pastor's text was, _Ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin,
and have omitted the weightier matters of the law--judgment, mercy, and
faith_. In his sermon he enforced certain of the dogmas of a theology
which once expressed more truth "than falsehood, but now at least
_conveys_ more falsehood than truth, because of the changed conditions
of those who teach and those who hear it; for, even where his faith had
been vital enough to burst the verbally rigid, formal, and indeed
spiritually vulgar theology he had been taught, his intellect had not
been strong enough to cast off the husks. His expressions, assertions,
and arguments, tying up a bundle of mighty truth with cords taken from
the lumber-room and the ash-pit, grazed severely the tenderer nature of
his daughter. When they reached the house, and she found herself alone
with her father in his study, she broke suddenly into passionate
complaint--not that he should so represent God, seeing, for what she
knew, He might indeed be such, but that, so representing God, he should
expect men to love Him. It was not often that her sea, however troubled
in its depths, rose into such visible storm. She threw herself upon the
floor with a loud cry, and lay sobbing and weeping. Her father was
terribly startled, and stood for a moment as if stunned; then a faint
slow light began to break in upon him, and he stood silent, sad, and
thoughtful. He knew that he loved God, yet in what he said concerning
Him, in the impression he gave of Him, there was that which prevented
the best daughter in the world from loving her Father in Heaven! He
began to see that he had never really thought about these things; he had
been taught them but had never turned them over in the light, never
perceived the fact, that, however much truth might be there, there also
was what at least looked like a fearful lie against God. For a moment he
gazed with keen compassion on his daughter as she lay, actually writhing
in her agony, then kneeled beside her, and laying his hand upon her,
"Well, my dear, if those things are not true, my saying them will not
make them so."
She sprung to her feet, threw her arms about his neck, kissed him, and
left the room. The minister remained upon his knees.
THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE.
The holidays came, and Juliet took advantage of them to escape from what
had begun to be a bondage to her--the daily intercourse with people who
disapproved of the man she loved. In her thoughts even she took no
intellectual position against them with regard to what she called
doctrine, and Faber superstition. Her father had believed as they did;
she clung to his memory; perhaps she believed as he did; she could not
tell. There was time yet wherein to make up her mind. She had certainly
believed so once, she said to herself, and she might so believe again.
She would have been at first highly offended, but the next moment a
little pleased at being told that in reality she had never believed one
whit more than Faber, that she was at present indeed incapable of
believing. Probably she would have replied, "Then wherein am I to
blame?" But although a woman who sits with her child in her arms in the
midst of her burning house, half asleep, and half stifled and dazed with
the fierce smoke, may not be to blame, certainly the moment she is able
to excuse herself she is bound to make for the door. So long as men do
not feel that they are in a bad condition and in danger of worse, the
message of deliverance will sound to them as a threat. Yea, the offer of
absolute well-being upon the only possible conditions of the well-being
itself, must, if heard at all, rouse in them a discomfort whose cause
they attribute to the message, not to themselves; and immediately they
will endeavor to justify themselves in disregarding it. There are those
doing all they can to strengthen themselves in unbelief, who, if the
Lord were to appear plainly before their eyes, would tell Him they could
not help it, for He had not until then given them ground enough for
faith, and when He left them, would go on just as before, except that
they would speculate and pride themselves on the vision. If men say, "We
want no such deliverance," then the Maker of them must either destroy
them as vile things for whose existence He is to Himself accountable, or
compel them to change. If they say, "We choose to be destroyed," He, as
their Maker, has a choice in the matter too. Is He not free to say, "You
can not even slay yourselves, and I choose that you shall know the
death of living without Me; you shall learn to choose to live indeed. I
choose that you shall know what _I know_ to be good"? And however much
any individual consciousness may rebel, surely the individual
consciousness which called that other into being, and is the Father of
that being, fit to be such because of Himself He is such, has a right to
object that by rebellion His creature should destroy the very power by
which it rebels, and from a being capable of a divine freedom by
partaking of the divine nature, should make of itself the merest slave
incapable of will of any sort! Is it a wrong to compel His creature to
soar aloft into the ether of its origin, and find its deepest, its only
true self? It is God's knowing choice of life against man's ignorant
choice of death.
But Juliet knew nothing of such a region of strife in the human soul.
She had no suspicion what an awful swamp lay around the prison of her
self-content--no, self-discontent--in which she lay chained. To her the
one good and desirable thing was the love and company of Paul Faber. He
was her saviour, she said to herself, and the woman who could not love
and trust and lean upon such a heart of devotion and unselfishness as
his, was unworthy of the smallest of his thoughts. He was nobility,
generosity, justice itself! If she sought to lay her faults bare to him,
he would but fold her to his bosom to shut them out from her own vision!
He would but lay his hand on the lips of confession, and silence them as
unbelievers in his perfect affection! He was better than the God the
Wingfolds and Drakes believed in, with whom humiliation was a condition
She told the Drakes that, for the air of Owlkirk, she was going to
occupy her old quarters with Mrs. Puckridge during the holidays. They
were not much surprised, for they had remarked a change in her manner,
and it was not long unexplained: for, walking from the Old House
together one evening rather late, they met her with the doctor in a
little frequented part of the park. When she left them, they knew she
would not return; and her tears betrayed that she knew it also.
Meantime the negotiation for the purchase of the Old House of Glaston
was advancing with slow legal sinuosity. Mr. Drake had offered the full
value of the property, and the tender seemed to be regarded not
unfavorably. But his heart and mind were far more occupied with the
humbler property he had already secured in the town: that was now to be
fortified against the incursions of the river, with its attendant fevers
and agues. A survey of the ground had satisfied him that a wall at a
certain point would divert a great portion of the water, and this wall
he proceeded at once to build. He hoped in the end to inclose the ground
altogether, or at least to defend it at every assailable point, but
there were many other changes imperative, with difficulties such that
they could not all be coped with at once. The worst of the cottages must
be pulled down, and as they were all even over-full, he must contrive to
build first. Nor until that was done, could he effect much toward
rendering the best of them fit for human habitation.
Some of the householders in the lower part of the adjoining street shook
their heads when they saw what the bricklayers were about. They had
reason to fear they were turning the water more upon them; and it seemed
a wrong that the wretched cottages which had from time immemorial been
accustomed to the water, should be now protected from it at the cost of
respectable houses! It did not occur to them that it might be time for
Lady Fortune to give her wheel a few inches of a turn. To common minds,
custom is always right so long as it is on their side.
In the meantime the chapel in the park at Nestley had been advancing,
for the rector, who was by nature no dawdler where he was interested,
had been pushing it on; and at length on a certain Sunday evening in the
autumn, the people of the neighborhood having been invited to attend,
the rector read prayers in it, and the curate preached a sermon. At the
close of the service the congregation was informed that prayers would be
read there every Sunday evening, and that was all. Mrs. Bevis, honest
soul, the green-mantled pool of whose being might well desire a wind, if
only from a pair of bellows, to disturb its repose, for not a fish moved
to that end in its sunless deeps--I say deeps, for such there must have
been, although neither she nor her friends were acquainted with any
thing there but shallows--was the only one inclined to grumble at the
total absence of ceremonial pomp: she did want her husband to have the
credit of the great deed.
About the same time it was that Juliet again sought the cottage at
Owlkirk, with the full consciousness that she went there to meet her
fate. Faber came to see her every day, and both Ruber and Niger began
to grow skinny. But I have already said enough to show the nature and
course of the stream, and am not bound to linger longer over its noise
among the pebbles. Some things are interesting rather for their results
than their process, and of such I confess it is to me the love-making of
these two.--"What! were they not human?" Yes: but with a truncated
humanity--even shorn of its flower-buds, and full only of variegated
leaves. It shall suffice therefore to say that, in a will-less sort of a
way, Juliet let the matter drift; that, although she withheld explicit
consent, she yet at length allowed Faber to speak as if she had given
it; that they had long ceased to talk about God or no God, about life
and death, about truth and superstition, and spoke only of love, and the
days at hand, and how they would spend them; that they poured out their
hearts in praising and worshiping each other; and that, at last, Juliet
found herself as firmly engaged to be Paul's wife, as if she had granted
every one of the promises he had sought to draw from her, but which she
had avoided giving in the weak fancy that thus she was holding herself
free. It was perfectly understood in all the neighborhood that the
doctor and Miss Meredith were engaged. Both Helen and Dorothy felt a
little hurt at her keeping an absolute silence toward them concerning
what the country seemed to know; but when they spoke of it to her, she
pointedly denied any engagement, and indeed although helplessly drifting
toward marriage, had not yet given absolute consent even in her own
mind. She dared not even then regard it as inevitable. Her two friends
came to the conclusion that she could not find the courage to face
disapproval, and perhaps feared expostulation.
"She may well be ashamed of such an unequal yoking!" said Helen to her
"There is no unequal yoking in it that I see," he returned. "In the
matter of faith, what is there to choose between them? I see nothing.
They may carry the yoke straight enough. If there _be_ one of them
further from the truth than the other, it must be the one who says, _I
go sir_, and goes not. Between _don't believe_ and _don't care, I_ don't
care to choose. Let them marry and God bless them. It will be good for
them--for one thing if for no other--it is sure to bring trouble to
"Indeed, Mr. Wingfold!" returned Helen playfully.
"So that is how you regard marriage!--Sure to bring trouble!"
She laid her head on his shoulder.
"Trouble to every one, my Helen, like the gospel itself; more trouble to
you than to me, but none to either that will not serve to bring us
closer to each other," he answered. "But about those two--well, I am
both doubtful and hopeful. At all events I can not wish them not to
marry. I think it will be for both of them a step nearer to the truth.
The trouble will, perhaps, drive them to find God. That any one who had
seen and loved our Lord, should consent to marry one, whatever that one
was besides, who did not at least revere and try to obey Him, seems to
me impossible. But again I say there is no such matter involved between
them.--Shall I confess to you, that, with all her frankness, all her
charming ways, all the fullness of the gaze with which her black eyes
look into yours, there is something about Juliet that puzzles me? At
times I have thought she must be in some trouble, out of which she was
on the point of asking me to help her; at others I have fancied she was
trying to be agreeable against her inclination, and did not more than
half approve of me. Sometimes, I confess, the shadow of a doubt crosses
me: is she altogether a true woman? But that vanishes the moment she
smiles. I wish she could have been open with me. I could have helped
her, I am pretty sure. As it is, I have not got one step nearer the real
woman than when first I saw her at the rector's."
"I know," said Helen. "But don't you think it may be that she has never
yet come to know any thing about herself--to perceive either fact or
mystery of her own nature? If she is a stranger to herself, she cannot
reveal herself--at least of her own will--to those about her. She is
just what I was, Thomas, before I knew you--a dull, sleepy-hearted thing
that sat on her dignity. Be sure she has not an idea of the divine truth
you have taught me to see underlying creation itself--namely, that every
thing possessed owes its very value as possession to the power which
that possession gives of parting with it."
"You are a pupil worth having, Helen!--even if I had had to mourn all my
days that you would not love me."
"And now you have said your mind about Juliet," Helen went on, "allow me
to say that I trust her more than I do Faber. I do not for a moment
imagine him consciously dishonest, but he makes too much show of his
honesty for me. I can not help feeling that he is selfish--and can a
selfish man be honest?"
"Not thoroughly. I know that only too well, for I at all events am
"I don't see it; but if you are, you know it, and hate it, and strive
against it. I do not think he knows it, even when he says that every
body is selfish. Only, what better way to get rid of it than to love and
"Or to confirm it," said Wingfold thoughtfully.
"I shouldn't wonder a bit if they're married already!" said Helen.
She was not far from wrong, although not quite right. Already Faber had
more than hinted at a hurried marriage, as private as could be
compassed. It was impossible of course, to be married at church. That
would be to cast mockery on the marriage itself, as well as on what
Faber called his _beliefs_. The objection was entirely on Faber's side,
but Juliet did not hint at the least difference of feeling in the
matter. She let every thing take its way now.
At length having, in a neighboring town, arranged all the necessary
preliminaries, Faber got one of the other doctors in Glaston to attend
to his practice for three weeks, and went to take a holiday. Juliet left
Owlkirk the same day. They met, were lawfully married, and at the close
of the three weeks, returned together to the doctor's house.
The sort of thing did not please Glaston society, and although Faber was
too popular as a doctor to lose position by it, Glaston was slow in
acknowledging that it knew there was a lady at the head of his house.
Mrs. Wingfold and Miss Drake, however, set their neighbors a good
example, and by degrees there came about a dribbling sort of
recognition. Their social superiors stood the longest aloof--chiefly
because the lady had been a governess, and yet had behaved so like one
of themselves; they thought it well to give her a lesson. Most of them,
however, not willing to offend the leading doctor in the place, yielded
and called. Two elderly spinsters and Mrs. Ramshorn did not. The latter
declared she did not believe they were married. Most agreed they were
the handsomest couple ever seen in that quarter, and looked all right.
Juliet returned the calls made upon her, at the proper retaliatory
intervals, and gradually her mode of existence fell into routine. The
doctor went out every day, and was out most of the day, while she sat at
home and worked or read. She had to amuse herself, and sometimes found
life duller than when she had to earn her bread--when, as she went from
place to place, she might at any turn meet Paul upon Ruber or Niger.
Already the weary weed of the commonplace had begun to show itself in
the marriage garden--a weed which, like all weeds, requires only neglect
for perfect development, when it will drive the lazy Eve who has never
made her life worth _living_, to ask whether life be worth _having_. She
was not a great reader. No book had ever yet been to her a well-spring
of life; and such books as she liked best it was perhaps just as well
that she could not easily procure in Glaston; for, always ready to
appreciate the noble, she had not moral discernment sufficient to
protect her from the influence of such books as paint poor action in
noble color. For a time also she was stinted in her natural nourishment:
her husband had ordered a grand piano from London for her, but it had
not yet arrived; and the first touch she laid on the tall
spinster-looking one that had stood in the drawing-room for fifty years,
with red silk wrinkles radiating from a gilt center, had made her
shriek. If only Paul would buy a yellow gig, like his friend Dr. May of
Broughill, and take her with him on his rounds! Or if she had a friend
or two to go and see when he was out!--friends like what Helen or even
Dorothy might have been: she was not going to be hand-in-glove with any
body that didn't like her Paul! She missed church too--not the prayers,
much; but she did like hearing what she counted a good sermon, that is,
a lively one. Her husband wanted her to take up some science, but if he
had considered that, with all her gift in music, she expressed an utter
indifference to thorough bass, he would hardly have been so foolish.
One Saturday morning the doctor was called to a place a good many miles
distant, and Juliet was left with the prospect of being longer alone
than usual. She felt it almost sultry although so late in the season,
and could not rest in the house. She pretended to herself she had some
shopping to do in Pine Street, but it was rather a longing for air and
motion that sent her out. Also, certain thoughts which she did not like,
had of late been coming more frequently, and she found it easier to
avoid them in the street. They were not such as troubled her from being
hard to think out. Properly speaking, she _thought_ less now than ever.
She often said nice things, but they were mostly the mere gracious
movements of a nature sweet, playful, trusting, fond of all beautiful
things, and quick to see artistic relation where her perception reached.
As she turned the corner of Mr. Drew's shop, the house-door opened, and
a lady came out. It was Mr. Drew's lodger. Juliet knew nothing about
her, and was not aware that she had ever seen her; but the lady started
as if she recognized her. To that kind of thing Juliet was accustomed,
for her style of beauty was any thing but common. The lady's regard
however was so fixed that it drew hers, and as their eyes met, Juliet
felt something, almost a physical pain, shoot through her heart. She
could not understand it, but presently began to suspect, and by degrees
became quite certain that she had seen her before, though she could not
tell where. The effect the sight of her had had, indicated some painful
association, which she must recall before she could be at rest. She
turned in the other direction, and walked straight from the town, that
she might think without eyes upon her.
Scene after scene of her life came back as she searched to find some
circumstance associated with that face. Once and again she seemed on the
point of laying hold of something, when the face itself vanished and she
had that to recall, and the search to resume from the beginning. In the
process many painful memories arose, some, connected with her mother,
unhappy in themselves, others, connected with her father, grown unhappy
from her marriage; for thereby she had built a wall between her thoughts
and her memories of him; and, if there should be a life beyond this, had
hollowed a gulf between them forever.
Gradually her thoughts took another direction.--Could it be that already
the glamour had begun to disperse, the roses of love to wither, the
magic to lose its force, the common look of things to return? Paul was
as kind, as courteous, as considerate as ever, and yet there was a
difference. Her heart did not grow wild, her blood did not rush to her
face, when she heard the sound of his horse's hoofs in the street,
though she knew them instantly. Sadder and sadder grew her thoughts as
she walked along, careless whither.
Had she begun to cease loving? No. She loved better than she knew, but
she must love infinitely better yet. The first glow was gone--already:
she had thought it would not go, and was miserable. She recalled that
even her honeymoon had a little disappointed her. I would not be
mistaken as implying that any of these her reflections had their origin
in what was _peculiar_ in the character, outlook, or speculation of
herself or her husband. The passion of love is but the vestibule--the
pylon--to the temple of love. A garden lies between the pylon and the
adytum. They that will enter the sanctuary must walk through the garden.
But some start to see the roses already withering, sit down and weep and
watch their decay, until at length the aged flowers hang drooping all
around them, and lo! their hearts are withered also, and when they rise
they turn their backs on the holy of holies, and their feet toward the
Juliet was proud of her Paul, and loved him as much as she was yet
capable of loving. But she had thought they were enough for each other,
and already, although she was far from acknowledging it to herself, she
had, in the twilight of her thinking, begun to doubt it. Nor can she be
blamed for the doubt. Never man and woman yet succeeded in being all in
all to each other.
It were presumption to say that a lonely God would be enough for
Himself, seeing that we can know nothing of God but as He is our Father.
What if the Creator Himself is sufficient to Himself in virtue of His
self-existent _creatorship_? Let my reader think it out. The lower we go
in the scale of creation, the more independent is the individual. The
richer and more perfect each of a married pair is in the other relations
of life, the more is each to the other. For us, the children of eternal
love, the very air our spirits breathe, and without which they can not
live, is the eternal life; for us, the brothers and sisters of a
countless family, the very space in which our souls can exist, is the
love of each and every soul of our kind.
Such were not Juliet's thoughts. To her such would have seemed as unreal
as unintelligible. To her they would have looked just what some of my
readers will pronounce them, not in the least knowing what they are. She
was suddenly roused from her painful reverie by the pulling up of
Helen's ponies, with much clatter and wriggling recoil, close beside
her, making more fuss with their toy-carriage than the mightiest of
tractive steeds with the chariot of pomp.
"Jump in, Juliet," cried their driver, addressing her with the greater
_abandon_ that she was resolved no stiffness on her part should deposit
a grain to the silting up of the channel of former affection. She was
one of the few who understand that no being can afford to let the
smallest love-germ die.
Juliet hesitated. She was not a little bewildered with the sudden recall
from the moony plains of memory, and the demand for immediate action.
She answered uncertainly, trying to think what was involved.
"I know your husband is not waiting you at home," pursued Helen. "I saw
him on Ruber, three fields off, riding away from Glaston. Jump in, dear.
You can make up that mind of yours in the carriage as well as upon the
road. I will set you down wherever you please. My husband is out too, so
the slaves can take their pleasure."
Juliet could not resist, had little inclination to do so, yielded
without another word, and took her place beside Helen, a little shy of
being alone with her, yet glad of her company. Away went the ponies, and
as soon as she had got them settled to their work, Helen turned her face
"I _am_ so glad to see you!" she said.
Juliet's heart spoke too loud for her throat. It was a relief to her
that Helen had to keep her eyes on her charge, the quickness of whose
every motion rendered watchfulness right needful.
"Have you returned Mrs. Bevis's call yet!" asked Helen.
"No," murmured Juliet. "I haven't been able yet."
"Well, here is a good chance. Sit where you are, and you will be at
Nestley in half an hour, and I shall be the more welcome. You are a
great favorite there!"
"How kind you are!" said Juliet, the tears beginning to rise. "Indeed,
"You _used_ to call me Helen!" said that lady, pulling up her ponies
with sudden energy, as they shied at a bit of paper on the road, and
nearly had themselves and all they drew in the ditch.
"May I call you so still?"
"Surely! What else?"
"You are too good to me!" said Juliet, and wept outright.
"My dear Juliet," returned Helen, "I will be quite plain with you, and
that will put things straight in a moment. Your friends understand
perfectly why you have avoided them of late, and are quite sure it is
from no unkindness to any of them. But neither must you imagine we think
hardly of you for marrying Mr. Faber. We detest his opinions so much
that we feel sure if you saw a little further into them, neither of you
would hold them."
"But I don't--that is, I--"
"You don't know whether you hold them or not: I understand quite well.
My husband says in your case it does not matter much; for if you had
ever really believed in Jesus Christ, you could not have done it. At all
events now the thing is done, there is no question about it left. Dear
Juliet, think of us as your friends still, who will always be glad to
see you, and ready to help you where we can."
Juliet was weeping for genuine gladness now. But even as she wept, by
one of those strange movements of our being which those who have been
quickest to question them wonder at the most, it flashed upon her where
she had seen the lady that came from Mr. Drew's house, and her heart
sunk within her, for the place was associated with that portion of her
history which of all she would most gladly hide from herself. During the
rest of the drive she was so silent, that Helen at last gave up trying
to talk to her. Then first she observed how the clouds had risen on all
sides and were meeting above, and that the air was more still and sultry
Just as they got within Nestley-gate, a flash of lightning, scarcely
followed by a loud thunder-clap, shot from overhead. The ponies plunged,
reared, swayed asunder from the pole, nearly fell, and recovered
themselves only to dart off in wild terror. Juliet screamed.
"Don't be frightened, child," said Helen. "There is no danger here. The
road is straight and there is nothing on it. I shall soon pull them up.
Only don't cry out: that will be as little to their taste as the
Juliet caught at the reins.
"For God's sake, don't do that!" cried Helen, balking her clutch. "You
will kill us both."
Juliet sunk back in her seat. The ponies went at full speed along the
road. The danger was small, for the park was upon both sides, level
with the drive, in which there was a slight ascent. Helen was perfectly
quiet, and went on gradually tightening her pull upon the reins. Before
they reached the house, she had entirely regained her command of them.
When she drew up to the door, they stood quite steady, but panting as if
their little sides would fly asunder. By this time Helen was red as a
rose; her eyes were flashing, and a smile was playing about her mouth;
but Juliet was like a lily on which the rain has been falling all night:
her very lips were bloodless. When Helen turned and saw her, she was far
more frightened than the ponies could make her.
"Why, Juliet, my dear!" she said, "I had no thought you were so
terrified! What would your husband say to me for frightening you so! But
you are safe now."
A servant came to take the ponies. Helen got out first, and gave her
hand to Juliet.
"Don't think me a coward, Helen," she said. "It was the thunder. I never
could bear thunder."
"I should be far more of a coward than you are, Juliet," answered Helen,
"if I believed, or even feared, that just a false step of little Zephyr
there, or one plunge more from Zoe, might wipe out the world, and I
should never more see the face of my husband."
She spoke eagerly, lovingly, believingly. Juliet shivered, stopped, and
laid hold of the baluster rail. Things had been too much for her that
day. She looked so ill that Helen was again alarmed, but she soon came
to herself a little, and they went on to Mrs. Bevis's room. She received
them most kindly, made Mrs. Faber lie on the sofa, covered her over, for
she was still trembling, and got her a glass of wine. But she could not
drink it, and lay sobbing in vain endeavor to control herself.
Meantime the clouds gathered thicker and thicker: the thunder-peal that
frightened the ponies had been but the herald of the storm, and now it
came on in earnest. The rain rushed suddenly on the earth, and as soon
as she heard it, Juliet ceased to sob. At every flash, however, although
she lay with her eyes shut, and her face pressed into the pillow, she
shivered and moaned.--"Why should one," thought Helen, "who is merely
and only the child of Nature, find herself so little at home with her?"
Presently Mr. Bevis came running in from the stable, drenched in
crossing to the house. As he passed to his room, he opened the door of
his wife's, and looked in.
"I am glad to see you safely housed, ladies," he said. "You must make
up your minds to stay where you are. It will not clear before the moon
rises, and that will be about midnight. I will send John to tell your
husbands that you are not cowering under a hedge, and will not be home
He was a good weather-prophet. The rain went on. In the evening the two
husbands appeared, dripping. They had come on horseback together, and
would ride home again after dinner. The doctor would have to be out the
greater part of the Sunday, and would gladly leave his wife in such good
quarters; the curate would walk out to his preaching in the evening, and
drive home with Helen after it, taking Juliet, if she should be able to
After dinner, when the ladies had left them, between the two clergymen
and the doctor arose the conversation of which I will now give the
substance, leaving the commencement, and taking it up at an advanced
"Now tell me," said Faber, in the tone of one satisfied he must be
allowed in the right, "which is the nobler--to serve your neighbor in
the hope of a future, believing in a God who will reward you, or to
serve him in the dark, obeying your conscience, with no other hope than
that those who come after you will be the better for you?"
"I allow most heartily," answered Wingfold, "and with all admiration,
that it is indeed grand in one hopeless for himself to live well for the
sake of generations to come, which he will never see, and which will
never hear of him. But I will not allow that there is any thing grand in
being hopeless for one's self, or in serving the Unseen rather than
those about you, seeing it is easier to work for those who can not
oppose you, than to endure the contradiction of sinners. But I know you
agree with me that the best way to assist posterity is to be true to
your contemporaries, so there I need say no more--except that the
hopeless man can do the least for his fellows, being unable to give them
any thing that should render them other than hopeless themselves; and
if, for the grandeur of it, a man were to cast away his purse in order
to have the praise of parting with the two mites left in his pocket, you
would simply say the man was a fool. This much seems to me clear, that,
if there be no God, it may be nobler to be able to live without one;
but, if there be a God, it must be nobler not to be able to live
without Him. The moment, however, that nobility becomes the object in
any action, that moment the nobleness of the action vanishes. The man
who serves his fellow that he may himself be noble, misses the mark. He
alone who follows the truth, not he who follows nobility, shall attain
the noble. A man's nobility will, in the end, prove just commensurate
with his humanity--with the love he bears his neighbor--not the amount
of work he may have done for him. A man might throw a lordly gift to his
fellow, like a bone to a dog, and damn himself in the deed. You may
insult a dog by the way you give him his bone."
"I dispute nothing of all that," said Faber--while good Mr. Bevis sat
listening hard, not quite able to follow the discussion; "but I know you
will admit that to do right from respect to any reward whatever, hardly
amounts to doing right at all."
"I doubt if any man ever did or could do a thing worthy of passing as in
itself good, for the sake of a reward," rejoined Wingfold. "Certainly,
to do good for something else than good, is not good at all. But perhaps
a reward may so influence a low nature as to bring it a little into
contact with what is good, whence the better part of it may make some
acquaintance with good. Also, the desire of the approbation of the
Perfect, might nobly help a man who was finding his duty hard, for it
would humble as well as strengthen him, and is but another form of the
love of the good. The praise of God will always humble a man, I think."
"There you are out of my depth," said Faber. "I know nothing about
"I go on then to say," continued the curate, "that a man may well be
strengthened and encouraged by the hope of being made a better and truer
man, and capable of greater self-forgetfulness and devotion. There is
nothing low in having respect to such a reward as that, is there?"
"It seems to me better," persisted the doctor, "to do right for the sake
of duty, than for the sake of any goodness even that will come thereby
"Assuredly, if self in the goodness, and not the goodness itself be the
object," assented Wingfold. "When a duty lies before one, self ought to
have no part in the gaze we fix upon it; but when thought reverts upon
himself, who would avoid the wish to be a better man? The man who will
not do a thing for duty, will never get so far as to derive any help
from the hope of goodness. But duty itself is only a stage toward
something better. It is but the impulse, God-given I believe, toward a
far more vital contact with the truth. We shall one day forget all about
duty, and do every thing from the love of the loveliness of it, the
satisfaction of the rightness of it. What would you say to a man who
ministered to the wants of his wife and family only from duty? Of course
you wish heartily that the man who neglects them would do it from any
cause, even were it fear of the whip; but the strongest and most
operative sense of duty would not satisfy you in such a relation. There
are depths within depths of righteousness. Duty is the only path to
freedom, but that freedom is the love that is beyond and prevents duty."
"But," said Faber, "I have heard you say that to take from you your
belief in a God would be to render you incapable of action. Now, the
man--I don't mean myself, but the sort of a man for whom I stand
up--does act, does his duty, without the strength of that belief: is he
not then the stronger?--Let us drop the word _noble_."
"In the case supposed, he would be the stronger--for a time at least,"
replied the curate. "But you must remember that to take from me the joy
and glory of my life, namely the belief that I am the child of God, an
heir of the Infinite, with the hope of being made perfectly righteous,
loving like God Himself, would be something more than merely reducing me
to the level of a man who had never loved God, or seen in the
possibility of Him any thing to draw him. I should have lost the mighty
dream of the universe; he would be what and where he chose to be, and
might well be the more capable. Were I to be convinced there is no God,
and to recover by the mere force of animal life from the prostration
into which the conviction cast me, I should, I hope, try to do what duty
was left me, for I too should be filled, for a time at least, with an
endless pity for my fellows; but all would be so dreary, that I should
be almost paralyzed for serving them, and should long for death to do
them and myself the only good service. The thought of the generations
doomed to be born into a sunless present, would almost make me join any
conspiracy to put a stop to the race. I should agree with Hamlet that
the whole thing had better come to an end. Would it necessarily indicate
a lower nature, or condition, or habit of thought, that, having
cherished such hopes, I should, when I lost them, be more troubled than
one who never had had them?"
"Still," said Faber, "I ask you to allow that a nature which can do
without help is greater than a nature which can not."
"If the thing done were the same, I should allow it," answered the
curate; "but the things done will prove altogether different. And
another thing to be noted is, that, while the need of help might
indicate a lower nature, the capacity for receiving it must indicate a
higher. The mere fact of being able to live and act in more meager
spiritual circumstances, in itself proves nothing: it is not the highest
nature that has the fewest needs. The highest nature is the one that has
the most necessities, but the fewest of its own making. He is not the
greatest man who is the most independent, but he who thirsts most after
a conscious harmony with every element and portion of the mighty whole;
demands from every region thereof its influences to perfect his
individuality; regards that individuality as his kingdom, his treasure,
not to hold but to give; sees in his Self the one thing he can devote,
the one precious means of freedom by its sacrifice, and that in no
contempt or scorn, but in love to God and his children, the multitudes
of his kind. By dying ever thus, ever thus losing his soul, he lives
like God, and God knows him, and he knows God. This is too good to be
grasped, but not too good to be true. The highest is that which needs
the highest, the largest that which needs the most; the finest and
strongest that which to live must breath essential life, self-willed
life, God Himself. It follows that it is not the largest or the
strongest nature that will feel a loss the least. An ant will not gather
a grain of corn the less that his mother is dead, while a boy will turn
from his books and his play and his dinner because his bird is dead: is
the ant, therefore, the stronger nature?"
"Is it not weak to be miserable?" said the doctor.
"Yes--without good cause," answered the curate. "But you do not know
what it would be to me to lose my faith in my God. My misery would be a
misery to which no assurance of immortality or of happiness could bring
any thing but tenfold misery--the conviction that I should never be good
myself, never have any thing to love absolutely, never be able to make
amends for the wrongs I had done. Call such a feeling selfish if you
will: I can not help it. I can not count one fit for existence to whom
such things would be no grief. The worthy existence must hunger after
good. The largest nature must have the mightiest hunger. Who calls a
man selfish because he is hungry? He is selfish if he broods on the
pleasures of eating, and would not go without his dinner for the sake of
another; but if he had no hunger, where would be the room for his
self-denial? Besides, in spiritual things, the only way to give them to
your neighbors is to hunger after them yourself. There each man is a
mouth to the body of the whole creation. It can not be selfishness to
hunger and thirst after righteousness, which righteousness is just your
duty to your God and your neighbor. If there be any selfishness in it,
the very answer to your prayer will destroy it."
"There you are again out of my region," said Faber. "But answer me one
thing: is it not weak to desire happiness?"
"Yes; if the happiness is poor and low," rejoined Wingfold. "But the man
who would choose even the grandeur of duty before the bliss of the
truth, must be a lover of himself. Such a man must be traveling the road
to death. If there be a God, truth must be joy. If there be not, truth
may be misery.--But, honestly, I know not one advanced Christian who
tries to obey for the hope of Heaven or the fear of hell. Such ideas
have long vanished from such a man. He loves God; he loves truth; he
loves his fellow, and knows he must love him more. You judge of
Christianity either by those who are not true representatives of it, and
are indeed, less of Christians than yourself; or by others who, being
intellectually inferior, perhaps even stupid, belie Christ with their
dull theories concerning Him. Yet the latter may have in them a noble
seed, urging them up heights to you at present unconceived and
inconceivable; while, in the meantime, some of them serve their
generation well, and do as much for those that are to come after as you
"There is always weight as well as force in what you urge, Wingfold,"
returned Faber. "Still it looks to me just a cunningly devised fable--I
will not say of the priests, but of the human mind deceiving itself with
its own hopes and desires."
"It may well look such to those who are outside of it, and it must at
length appear such to all who, feeling in it any claim upon them, yet do
not put it to the test of their obedience."
"Well, you have had your turn, and now we are having ours--you of the
legends, we of the facts."
"No," said Wingfold, "we have not had our turn, and you have been
having yours for a far longer time than we. But if, as you profess, you
are _doing_ the truth you see, it belongs to my belief that you will
come to see the truth you do not see. Christianity is not a failure; for
to it mainly is the fact owing that here is a class of men which,
believing in no God, yet believes in duty toward men. Look here: if
Christianity be the outcome of human aspiration, the natural growth of
the human soil, is it not strange it should be such an utter failure as
it seems to you? and as such a natural growth, it must be a failure, for
if it were a success, must not you be the very one to see it? If it is
false, it is worthless, or an evil: where then is your law of
development, if the highest result of that development is an evil to the
nature and the race?"
"I do not grant it the highest result," said Faber. "It is a failure--a
false blossom, with a truer to follow."
"To produce a superior architecture, poetry, music?"
"Perhaps not. But a better science."
"Are the architecture and poetry and music parts of the failure?"
"Yes--but they are not altogether a failure, for they lay some truth at
the root of them all. Now we shall see what will come of turning away
from every thing we do not _know_."
"That is not exactly what you mean, for that would be never to know any
thing more. But the highest you have in view is immeasurably below what
Christianity has always demanded of its followers."
"But has never got from them, and never will. Look at the wars, the
hatreds, to which your _gospel_ has given rise! Look at Calvin and poor
Servetus! Look at the strifes and divisions of our own day! Look at the
"All granted. It is a chaos, the motions of whose organization must be
strife. The spirit of life is at war with the spasmatical body of death.
If Christianity be not still in the process of development, it is the
saddest of all failures."
"The fact is, Wingfold, your prophet would have been King of the race if
He had not believed in a God."
"I dare not speak the answer that rises to my lips," said Wingfold. "But
there is more truth in what you say than you think, and more of
essential lie also. My answer is, that the faith of Jesus in His God and
Father is, even now, saving me, setting me free from my one horror,
selfishness; making my life an unspeakable boon to me, letting me know
its roots in the eternal and perfect; giving me such love to my fellow,
that I trust at last to love him as Christ has loved me. But I do not
expect you to understand me. He in whom I believe said that a man must
be born again to enter into the kingdom of Heaven."
The doctor laughed.
"You then _are_ one of the double-born, Wingfold?" he said.
"I believe, I think, I hope so," replied the curate, very gravely.
"And you, Mr. Bevis?"
"I don't know. I wish. I doubt," answered the rector, with equal
"Oh, never fear!" said Faber, with a quiet smile, and rising, left the
But what a morning it was that came up after the storm! All night the
lightning had been flashing itself into peace, and gliding further and
further away. Bellowing and growling the thunder had crept with it; but
long after it could no more be heard, the lightning kept gleaming up, as
if from a sea of flame behind the horizon. The sun brought a glorious
day, and looked larger and mightier than before. To Helen, as she gazed
eastward from her window, he seemed ascending his lofty pulpit to preach
the story of the day named after him--the story of the Sun-day; the
rising again in splendor of the darkened and buried Sun of the universe,
with whom all the worlds and all their hearts and suns arose. A light
steam was floating up from the grass, and the raindrops were sparkling
everywhere. The day had arisen from the bosom of the night; peace and
graciousness from the bosom of the storm; she herself from the grave of
her sleep, over which had lain the turf of the darkness; and all was
fresh life and new hope. And through it all, reviving afresh with every
sign of Nature's universal law of birth, was the consciousness that her
life, her own self, was rising from the dead, was being new-born also.
She had not far to look back to the time when all was dull and dead in
her being: when the earthquake came, and the storm, and the fire; and
after them the still small voice, breathing rebuke, and hope, and
strength. Her whole world was now radiant with expectation. It was
through her husband the change had come to her, but he was not the rock
on which she built. For his sake she could go to hell--yea, cease to
exist; but there was One whom she loved more than him--the one One whose
love was the self-willed cause of all love, who from that love had sent
forth her husband and herself to love one another; whose heart was the
nest of their birth, the cradle of their growth, the rest of their
being. Yea, more than her husband she loved Him, her elder Brother, by
whom the Father had done it all, the Man who lived and died and rose
again so many hundred years ago. In Him, the perfect One, she hoped for
a perfect love to her husband, a perfect nature in herself. She knew how
Faber would have mocked at such a love, the very existence of whose
object she could not prove, how mocked at the notion that His life even
now was influencing hers. She knew how he would say it was merely love
and marriage that had wrought the change; but while she recognized them
as forces altogether divine, she knew that not only was the Son of Man
behind them, but that it was her obedience to Him and her confidence in
Him that had wrought the red heart of the change in her. She knew that
she would rather break with her husband altogether, than to do one
action contrary to the known mind and will of that Man. Faber would call
her faith a mighty, perhaps a lovely illusion: her life was an active
waiting for the revelation of its object in splendor before the
universe. The world seemed to her a grand march of resurrections--out of
every sorrow springing the joy at its heart, without which it could not
have been a sorrow; out of the troubles, and evils, and sufferings, and
cruelties that clouded its history, ever arising the human race, the
sons of God, redeemed in Him who had been made subject to death that He
might conquer Death for them and for his Father--a succession of mighty
facts, whose meanings only God can evolve, only the obedient heart
On such a morning, so full of resurrection, Helen was only a little
troubled not to be one of her husband's congregation: she would take her
New Testament, and spend the sunny day in the open air. In the evening
he was coming, and would preach in the little chapel. If only Juliet
might hear him too! But she would not ask her to go.
Juliet was better, for fatigue had compelled sleep. The morning had
brought her little hope, however, no sense of resurrection. A certain
dead thing had begun to move in its coffin; she was utterly alone with
it, and it made the world feel a tomb around her. Not all resurrections
are the resurrection of life, though in the end they will be found, even
to the lowest birth of the power of the enemy, to have contributed
thereto. She did not get up to breakfast; Helen persuaded her to rest,
and herself carried it to her. But she rose soon after, and declared
herself quite well.
The rector drove to Glaston in his dog-cart to read prayers. Helen went
out into the park with her New Testament and George Herbert. Poor Juliet
was left with Mrs. Bevis, who happily could not be duller than usual,
although it was Sunday. By the time the rector returned, bringing his
curate with him, she was bored almost beyond endurance. She had not yet
such a love of wisdom as to be able to bear with folly. The foolish and
weak are the most easily disgusted with folly and weakness which is not
of their own sort, and are the last to make allowances for them. To
spend also the evening with the softly smiling old woman, who would not
go across the grass after such a rain the night before, was a thing not
to be contemplated. Juliet borrowed a pair of galoshes, and insisted on
going to the chapel. In vain the rector and his wife dissuaded her.
Neither Helen nor her husband said a word.
The chapel in the park at Nestley, having as yet received no color, and
having no organ or choir, was a cold, uninteresting little place. It was
neat, but had small beauty, and no history. Yet even already had begun
to gather in the hearts of two or three of the congregation a feeling of
quiet sacredness about it: some soft airs of the spirit-wind had been
wandering through their souls as they sat there and listened. And a
gentle awe, from old associations with lay worship, stole like a soft
twilight over Juliet as she entered. Even the antral dusk of an old
reverence may help to form the fitting mood through which shall slide
unhindered the still small voice that makes appeal to what of God is yet
awake in the soul. There were present about a score of villagers, and
the party from the house.
Clad in no vestments of office, but holding in his hand the New
Testament, which was always held either there or in his pocket, Wingfold
rose to speak. He read:
"_Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For
there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that
shall not be know_."
Then at once he began to show them, in the simplest interpretation, that
the hypocrite was one who pretended to be what he was not; who tried or
consented to look other and better than he was. That a man, from
unwillingness to look at the truth concerning himself, might be but
half-consciously assenting to the false appearance, would, he said,
nowise serve to save him from whatever of doom was involved in this
utterance of our Lord concerning the crime. These words of explanation
and caution premised, he began at the practical beginning, and spoke a
few forceful things on the necessity of absolute truth as to fact in
every communication between man and man, telling them that, so far as he
could understand His words recorded, our Lord's objection to swearing
lay chiefly in this, that it encouraged untruthfulness, tending to make
a man's yea less than yea, his nay other than nay. He said that many
people who told lies every day, would be shocked when they discovered
that they were liars; and that their lying must be discovered, for the
Lord said so. Every untruthfulness was a passing hypocrisy, and if they
would not come to be hypocrites out and out, they must begin to avoid it
by speaking every man the truth to his neighbor. If they did not begin
at once to speak the truth, they must grow worse and worse liars. The
Lord called hypocrisy _leaven_, because of its irresistible, perhaps as
well its unseen, growth and spread; he called it the leaven _of the
Pharisees_, because it was the all-pervading quality of their being, and
from them was working moral dissolution in the nation, eating like a
canker into it, by infecting with like hypocrisy all who looked up to
"Is it not a strange drift, this of men," said the curate, "to hide what
is, under the veil of what is not? to seek refuge in lies, as if that
which is not, could be an armor of adamant? to run from the daylight for
safety, deeper into the cave? In the cave house the creatures of the
night--the tigers and hyenas, the serpent and the old dragon of the
dark; in the light are true men and women, and the clear-eyed angels.
But the reason is only too plain; it is, alas! that they are themselves
of the darkness and not of the light. They do not fear their own. They
are more comfortable with the beasts of darkness than with the angels of
light. They dread the peering of holy eyes into their hearts; they feel
themselves naked and fear to be ashamed, therefore cast the garment of
hypocrisy about them. They have that in them so strange to the light
that they feel it must be hidden from the eye of day, as a thing
_hideous_, that is, a thing to be hidden. But the hypocrisy is worse
than all it would hide. That they have to hide again, as a more hideous
"God hides nothing. His very work from the beginning is _revelation_--a
casting aside of veil after veil, a showing unto men of truth after
truth. On and on, from fact to fact divine He advances, until at length
in His Son Jesus, He unveils His very face. Then begins a fresh
unveiling, for the very work of the Father is the work the Son Himself
has to do--to reveal. His life was the unveiling of Himself, and the
unveiling of the Son is still going on, and is that for the sake of
which the world exists. When He is unveiled, that is, when we know the
Son, we shall know the Father also. The whole of creation, its growth,
its history, the gathering total of human existence, is an unveiling of
the Father. He is the life, the eternal life, the _Only_. I see it--ah!
believe me--I see it as I can not say it. From month to month it grows
upon me. The lovely home-light, the One essence of peaceful being, is
"He loves light and not darkness, therefore shines, therefore reveals.
True, there are infinite gulfs in Him, into which our small vision can
not pierce, but they are gulfs of light, and the truths there are
invisible only through excess of their own clarity. There is a darkness
that comes of effulgence, and the most veiling of all veils is the
light. That for which the eye exists is light, but _through_ light no
human eye can pierce.--I find myself beyond my depth. I am ever beyond
my depth, afloat in an infinite sea; but the depth of the sea knows me,
for the ocean of my being is God.--What I would say is this, that the
light is not blinding because God would hide, but because the truth is
too glorious for our vision. The effulgence of Himself God veiled that
He might unveil it--in his Son. Inter-universal spaces, aeons,
eternities--what word of vastness you can find or choose--take
unfathomable darkness itself, if you will, to express the infinitude of
God, that original splendor existing only to the consciousness of God
Himself--I say He hides it not, but is revealing it ever, forever, at
all cost of labor, yea of pain to Himself. His whole creation is a
sacrificing of Himself to the being and well-being of His little ones,
that, being wrought out at last into partakers of His divine nature,
that nature may be revealed in them to their divinest bliss. He brings
hidden things out of the light of His own being into the light of ours.
"But see how different _we_ are--until we learn of Him! See the tendency
of man to conceal his treasures, to claim even truth as his own by
discovery, to hide it and be proud of it, gloating over that which he
thinks he has in himself, instead of groaning after the infinite of God!
We would be forever heaping together possessions, dragging things into
the cave of our finitude, our individual self, not perceiving that the
things which pass that dreariest of doors, whatever they may have been,
are thenceforth but 'straws, small sticks, and dust of the floor.' When
a man would have a truth in thither as if it were of private
interpretation, he drags in only the bag which the truth, remaining
outside, has burst and left.
"Nowhere are such children of darkness born as in the caves of
hypocrisy; nowhere else can a man revel with such misshapen hybrids of
religion and sin. But, as one day will be found, I believe, a strength
of physical light before which even solid gold or blackest marble
becomes transparent, so is there a spiritual light before which all
veils of falsehood shall shrivel up and perish and cease to hide; so
that, in individual character, in the facts of being, in the densest of
Pharisaical hypocrisy, there is nothing covered that shall not be
revealed, nothing hid that shall not be known.
"If then, brother or sister, thou hast that which would be hidden, make
haste and drag the thing from its covert into the presence of thy God,
thy Light, thy Saviour, that, if it be in itself good, it may be
cleansed; if evil, it may be stung through and through with the burning
arrows of truth, and perish in glad relief. For the one bliss of an evil
thing is to perish and pass; the evil thing, and that alone, is the
natural food of Death--nothing else will agree with the monster. If we
have such foul things, I say, within the circumference of our known
selves, we must confess the charnel-fact to ourselves and to God; and if
there be any one else who has a claim to know it, to that one also must
we confess, casting out the vile thing that we may be clean. Let us make
haste to open the doors of our lips and the windows of our humility, to
let out the demon of darkness, and in the angels of light--so abjuring
the evil. Be sure that concealment is utterly, absolutely hopeless. If
we do not thus ourselves open our house, the day will come when a
roaring blast of His wind, or the flame of His keen lightning, will
destroy every defense of darkness, and set us shivering before the
universe in our naked vileness; for there is nothing covered that shall
not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known. Ah! well for man
that he can not hide! What vaults of uncleanness, what sinks of dreadful
horrors, would not the souls of some of us grow! But for every one of
them, as for the universe, comes the day of cleansing. Happy they who
hasten it! who open wide the doors, take the broom in the hand, and
begin to sweep! The dust may rise in clouds; the offense may be great;
the sweeper may pant and choke, and weep, yea, grow faint and sick with
self-disgust; but the end will be a clean house, and the light and wind
of Heaven shining and blowing clear and fresh and sweet through all its
chambers. Better so, than have a hurricane from God burst in doors and
windows, and sweep from his temple with the besom of destruction every
thing that loveth and maketh a lie. Brothers, sisters, let us be clean.
The light and the air around us are God's vast purifying furnace; out
into it let us cast all hypocrisy. Let us be open-hearted, and speak
every man the truth to his neighbor. Amen."
The faces of the little congregation had been staring all the time at
the speaker's, as the flowers of a little garden stare at the sun. Like
a white lily that had begun to fade, that of Juliet had drawn the eyes
of the curate, as the whitest spot always will. But it had drawn his
heart also. Had her troubles already begun, poor girl? he thought. Had
the sweet book of marriage already begun to give out its bitterness?
It was not just so. Marriage was good to her still. Not yet, though but
a thing of this world, as she and her husband were agreed, had it begun
to grow stale and wearisome. She was troubled. It was with no reaction
against the opinions to which she had practically yielded; but not the
less had the serpent of the truth bitten her, for it can bite through
the gauze of whatever opinions or theories. Conscious, persistent wrong
may harden and thicken the gauze to a quilted armor, but even through
that the sound of its teeth may wake up Don Worm, the conscience, and
then is the baser nature between the fell incensed points of mighty
opposites. It avails a man little to say he does not believe this or
that, if the while he can not rest because of some word spoken. True
speech, as well as true scripture, is given by inspiration of God; it
goes forth on the wind of the Spirit, with the ministry of fire. The sun
will shine, and the wind will blow, the floods will beat, and the fire
will burn, until the yielding soul, re-born into childhood, spreads
forth its hands and rushes to the Father.
It was dark, and Juliet took the offered arm of the rector and walked
with him toward the house. Both were silent, for both had been touched.
The rector was busy tumbling over the contents now of this now of that
old chest and cabinet in the lumber-room of his memory, seeking for
things to get rid of by holy confession ere the hour of proclamation
should arrive. He was finding little yet beyond boyish escapades, and
faults and sins which he had abjured ages ago and almost forgotten. His
great sin, of which he had already repented, and was studying more and
more to repent--that of undertaking holy service for the sake of the
loaves and the fishes--then, in natural sequence, only taking the loaves
and the fishes, and doing no service in return, did not come under the
name of hypocrisy, being indeed a crime patent to the universe, even
when hidden from himself. When at length the heavy lids of his honest
sleepy-eyed nature arose, and he saw the truth of his condition, his
dull, sturdy soul had gathered itself like an old wrestler to the
struggle, and hardly knew what was required of it, or what it had to
overthrow, till it stood panting over its adversary.
Juliet also was occupied--with no such search as the rector's, hardly
even with what could be called thought, but with something that must
either soon cause the keenest thought, or at length a spiritual
callosity: somewhere in her was a motion, a something turned and
twisted, ceased and began again, boring like an auger; or was it a
creature that tried to sleep, but ever and anon started awake, and with
fretful claws pulled at its nest in the fibers of her heart?
The curate and his wife talked softly all the way back to the house.
"Do you really think," said Helen, "that every fault one has ever
committed will one day be trumpeted out to the universe?"
"That were hardly worth the while of the universe," answered her
husband. "Such an age-long howling of evil stupidities would be enough
to turn its brain with ennui and disgust. Nevertheless, the hypocrite
will certainly know himself discovered and shamed, and unable any longer
to hide himself from his neighbor. His past deeds also will be made
plain to all who, for further ends of rectification, require to know
them. Shame will then, I trust, be the first approach of his
Juliet, for she was close behind them, heard his words and shuddered.
"You are feeling it cold, Mrs. Faber," said the rector, and, with the
fatherly familiarity of an old man, drew her cloak better around her.
"It is not cold," she faltered; "but somehow the night-air always makes
The rector pulled a muffler from his coat-pocket, and laid it like a
scarf on her shoulders.
"How kind you are!" she murmured. "I don't deserve it."
"Who deserves any thing?" said the rector. "I less, I am sure, than any
one I know. Only, if you will believe my curate, you have but to ask,
and have what you need."
"I wasn't the first to say that, sir," Wingfold struck in, turning his
head over his shoulder.
"I know that, my boy," answered Mr. Bevis; "but you were the first to
make me want to find its true.--I say, Mrs. Faber, what if it should
turn out after all, that there was a grand treasure hid in your field
and mine, that we never got the good of because we didn't believe it was
there and dig for it? What if this scatter-brained curate of mine should
be right when he talks so strangely about our living in the midst of
calling voices, cleansing fires, baptizing dews, and _won't_ hearken,
won't be clean, won't give up our sleep and our dreams for the very
bliss for which we cry out in them!"
The old man had stopped, taken off his hat, and turned toward her. He
spoke with such a strange solemnity of voice that it could hardly have
been believed his by those who knew him as a judge of horses and not as
a reader of prayers. The other pair had stopped also.
"I should call it very hard," returned Juliet, "to come so near it and
yet miss it."
"Especially to be driven so near it against one's will, and yet succeed
in getting past without touching it," said the curate, with a flavor of
asperity. His wife gently pinched his arm, and he was ashamed.
When they reached home, Juliet went straight to bed--or at least to her
room for the night.
"I say, Wingfold," remarked the rector, as they sat alone after supper,
"that sermon of yours was above your congregation."
"I am afraid you are right, sir. I am sorry. But if you had seen their
faces as I did, perhaps you would have modified the conclusion."
"I am very glad I heard it, though," said the rector.
They had more talk, and when Wingfold went up stairs, he found Helen
asleep. Annoyed with himself for having spoken harshly to Mrs. Faber,
and more than usually harassed by a sense of failure in his sermon, he
threw himself into a chair, and sat brooding and praying till the light
began to appear. Out of the reeds shaken all night in the wind, rose
with the morning this bird:--
Lord, I have laid my heart upon Thy altar,
But can not get the wood to burn;
It hardly flares ere it begins to falter,
And to the dark return.
Old sap, or night-fallen dew, has damped the fuel;
In vain my breath would flame provoke;
Yet see--at every poor attempt's renewal
To Thee ascends the smoke.
'Tis all I have--smoke, failure, foiled endeavor,
Coldness, and doubt, and palsied lack;
Such as I have I send Thee;--perfect Giver,
Send Thou Thy lightning back.
In the morning, as soon as breakfast was over, Helen's ponies were
brought to the door, she and Juliet got into the carriage, Wingfold
jumped up behind, and they returned to Glaston. Little was said on the
way, and Juliet seemed strangely depressed. They left her at her own
"What did that look mean?" said Wingfold to his wife, the moment they
were round the corner of Mr. Drew's shop.
"You saw it then?" returned Helen. "I did not think you had been so
"I saw what I could not help taking for relief," said the curate, "when
the maid told her that her husband was not at home."
They said no more till they reached the rectory, where Helen followed
her husband to his study.
"He can't have turned tyrant already!" she said, resuming the subject of
Juliet's look. "But she's afraid of him."
"It did look like it," rejoined her husband. "Oh, Helen, what a hideous
thing fear of her husband must be for a woman, who has to spend not her
days only in his presence, but her nights by his side! I do wonder so
many women dare to be married. They would need all to have clean
"Or no end of faith in their husbands," said Helen. "If ever I come to
be afraid of you, it will be because I have done something very wrong
"Don't be too sure of that, Helen," returned Wingfold. "There are very
decent husbands as husbands go, who are yet unjust, exacting, selfish.
The most devoted of wives are sometimes afraid of the men they yet
consider the very models of husbands. It is a brutal shame that a woman
should feel afraid, or even uneasy, instead of safe, beside her
"You are always on the side of the women, Thomas," said his wife; "and I
love you for it somehow--I can't tell why."
"You make a mistake to begin with, my dear: you don't love me because I
am on the side of the women, but because I am on the side of the
wronged. If the man happened to be the injured party, and I took the
side of the woman, you would be down on me like an avalanche."
"I dare say. But there is something more in it. I don't think I am
altogether mistaken. You don't talk like most men. They have such an
ugly way of asserting superiority, and sneering at women! That you never
do, and as a woman I am grateful for it."
The same afternoon Dorothy Drake paid a visit to Mrs. Faber, and was
hardly seated before the feeling that something was wrong arose in her.
Plainly Juliet was suffering--from some cause she wished to conceal.
Several times she seemed to turn faint, hurriedly fanned herself, and
drew a deep breath. Once she rose hastily and went to the window, as if
struggling with some oppression, and returned looking very pale.
Dorothy was frightened.
"What is the matter, dear?" she said.
"Nothing," answered Juliet, trying to smile. "Perhaps I took a little
cold last night," she added with a shiver.
"Have you told your husband?" asked Dorothy.
"I haven't seen him since Saturday," she answered quietly, but a pallor
almost deathly overspread her face.
"I hope he will soon be home," said Dorothy. "Mind you tell him how you
feel the instant he comes in."
Juliet answered with a smile, but that smile Dorothy never forgot. It
haunted her all the way home. When she entered her chamber, her eyes
fell upon the petal of a monthly rose, which had dropped from the little
tree in her window, and lay streaked and crumpled on the black earth of
the flower-pot: by one of those queer mental vagaries in which the
imagination and the logical faculty seem to combine to make sport of the
reason--"How is it that smile has got here before me?" she said to
She sat down and thought. Could it be that Juliet had, like herself,
begun to find there could be no peace without the knowledge of an
absolute peace? If it were so, and she would but let her know it, then,
sisters at least in sorrow and search, they would together seek the
Father of their spirits, if haply they might find Him; together they
would cry to Him--and often: it might be He would hear them, and reveal
Himself. Her heart was sore all day, thinking of that sad face. Juliet,
whether she knew it or not, was, like herself, in trouble because she
had no God.
The conclusion shows that Dorothy was far from hopeless. That she could
believe the lack of a God was the cause unknown to herself of her
friend's depression, implies an assurance of the human need of a God,
and a hope there might be One to be found. For herself, if she could but
find Him, she felt there would be nothing but bliss evermore. Dorothy
then was more hopeful than she herself knew. I doubt if absolute
hopelessness is ever born save at the word, _Depart from me_. Hope
springs with us from God Himself, and, however down-beaten, however sick
and nigh unto death, will evermore lift its head and rise again.
She could say nothing to her father. She loved him--oh, how dearly! and
trusted him; where she could trust him at all!--oh, how perfectly! but
she had no confidence in his understanding of herself. The main cause
whence arose his insufficiency and her lack of trust was, that all his
faith in God was as yet scarcely more independent of thought-forms,
word-shapes, dogma and creed, than that of the Catholic or Calvinist.
How few are there whose faith is simple and mighty in the Father of
Jesus Christ, waiting to believe all that He will reveal to them! How
many of those who talk of faith as the one needful thing, will accept as
sufficient to the razing of the walls of partition between you and them,
your heartiest declaration that you believe _in Him_ with the whole
might of your nature, lay your soul bare to the revelation of His
spirit, and stir up your will to obey Him?--And then comes _your_
temptation--to exclude, namely, from your love and sympathy the weak and
boisterous brethren who, after the fashion possible to them, believe in
your Lord, because they exclude you, and put as little confidence in
your truth as in your insight. If you do know more of Christ than they,
upon you lies the heavier obligation to be true to them, as was St. Paul
to the Judaizing Christians, whom these so much resemble, who were his
chief hindrance in the work his Master had given him to do. In Christ we
must forget Paul and Apollos and Cephas, pope and bishop and pastor and
presbyter, creed and interpretation and theory. Care-less of their
opinions, we must be careful of themselves--careful that we have salt in
ourselves, and that the salt lose not its savor, that the old man, dead
through Christ, shall not, vampire-like, creep from his grave and suck
the blood of the saints, by whatever name they be called, or however
little they may yet have entered into the freedom of the gospel that God
is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
How was Dorothy to get nearer to Juliet, find out her trouble, and
"Alas!" she said to herself, "what a thing is marriage in separating
THE OLD HOUSE OF GLASTON.
The same evening Dorothy and her father walked to the Old House. Already
the place looked much changed. The very day the deeds were signed, Mr.
Drake, who was not the man to postpone action a moment after the time
for it was come, had set men at work upon the substantial repairs. The
house was originally so well built that these were not so heavy as might
have been expected, and when completed they made little show of change.
The garden, however, looked quite another thing, for it had lifted
itself up from the wilderness in which it was suffocated, reviving like
a repentant soul reborn. Under its owner's keen watch, its ancient plan
had been rigidly regarded, its ancient features carefully retained. The
old bushes were well trimmed, but as yet nothing live, except weeds, had
been uprooted. The hedges and borders, of yew and holly and box, tall
and broad, looked very bare and broken and patchy; but now that the
shears had, after so long a season of neglect, removed the gathered
shade, the naked stems and branches would again send out the young
shoots of the spring, a new birth would begin everywhere, and the old
garden would dawn anew. For all his lack of sympathy with the older
forms of religious economy in the country, a thing, alas! too easy to
account for, the minister yet loved the past and felt its mystery. He
said once in a sermon--and it gave offense to more than one of his
deacons, for they scented in it _Germanism_,--"The love of the past, the
desire of the future, and the enjoyment of the present, make an
eternity, in which time is absorbed, its lapse lapses, and man partakes
of the immortality of his Maker. In each present personal being, we have
the whole past of our generation inclosed, to be re-developed with
endless difference in each individuality. Hence perhaps it comes that,
every now and then, into our consciousnesses float strange odors of
feeling, strange tones as of bygone affections, strange glimmers as of
forgotten truths, strange mental sensations of indescribable sort and
texture. Friends, I should be a terror to myself, did I not believe that
wherever my dim consciousness may come to itself, God is there."
Dorothy would have hastened the lighter repairs inside the house as
well, so as to get into it as soon as possible; but her father very
wisely argued that it would be a pity to get the house in good
condition, and then, as soon as they went into it, and began to find how
it could be altered better to suit their tastes and necessities, have to
destroy a great part of what had just been done. His plan, therefore,
was to leave the house for the winter, now it was weather-tight, and
with the first of the summer partly occupy it as it was, find out its
faults and capabilities, and have it gradually repaired and altered to
their minds and requirements. There would in this way be plenty of time
to talk about every thing, even to the merest suggestion of fancy, and
discover what they would really like.
But ever since the place had been theirs, Dorothy had been in the habit
of going almost daily to the house, with her book and her work, sitting
now in this, now in that empty room, undisturbed by the noises of the
workmen, chiefly outside: the foreman was a member of her father's
church, a devout man, and she knew every one of his people. She had
taken a strange fancy to those empty rooms: perhaps she felt them like
her own heart, waiting for something to come and fill them with life.
Nor was there any thing to prevent her, though the work was over for a
time, from indulging herself in going there still, as often as she
pleased, and she would remain there for hours, sometimes nearly the
whole day. In her present condition of mind and heart, she desired and
needed solitude: she was one of those who when troubled rush from their
fellows, and, urged by the human instinct after the divine, seek refuge
in loneliness--the cave on Horeb, the top of Mount Sinai, the closet
with shut door--any lonely place where, unseen, and dreading no eye, the
heart may call aloud to the God hidden behind the veil of the things
that do appear.
How different, yet how fit to merge in a mutual sympathy, were the
thoughts of the two, as they wandered about the place that evening!
Dorothy was thinking her commonest thought--how happy she could be if
only she knew there was a Will central to the universe, willing all that
came to her--good or seeming-bad--a Will whom she might love and thank
for _all_ things. He would be to her no God whom she could thank only
when He sent her what was pleasant. She must be able to thank Him for
every thing, or she could thank Him for nothing.
Her father was saying to himself he could not have believed the lifting
from his soul of such a gravestone of debt, would have made so little
difference to his happiness. He fancied honest Jones, the butcher, had
more mere pleasure from the silver snuff-box he had given him, than he
had himself from his fortune. Relieved he certainly was, but the relief
was not happiness. His debt had been the stone that blocked up the gate
of Paradise: the stone was rolled away, but the gate was not therefore
open. He seemed for the first time beginning to understand what he had
so often said, and in public too, and had thought he understood, that
God Himself, and not any or all of His gifts, is the life of a man. He
had got rid of the dread imagination that God had given him the money in
anger, as He had given the Israelites the quails, nor did he find that
the possession formed any barrier between him and God: his danger, now
seemed that of forgetting the love of the Giver in his anxiety to spend
the gift according to His will.
"You and I ought to be very happy, my love," he said, as now they were
He had often said so before, and Dorothy had held her peace; but now,
with her eyes on the ground, she rejoined, in a low, rather broken
"Because we are lifted above the anxiety that was crushing us into the
very mud," he answered, with surprise at her question.
"It never troubled me so much as all that," she answered. "It is a great
relief to see you free from it, father; but otherwise, I can not say
that it has made much difference to me."
"My dear Dorothy," said the minister, "it is time we should understand
each other. Your state of mind has for a long time troubled me; but
while debt lay so heavy upon me, I could give my attention to nothing
else. Why should there be any thing but perfect confidence between a
father and daughter who belong to each other alone in all the world?
Tell me what it is that so plainly oppresses you. What prevents you from
opening your heart to me? You can not doubt my love."
"Never for one moment, father," she answered, almost eagerly, pressing
to her heart the arm on which she leaned. "I know I am safe with you
because I am yours, and yet somehow I can not get so close to you as I
would. Something comes between us, and prevents me."
"What is it, my child? I will do all and every thing I can to remove
"You, dear father! I don't believe ever child had such a father."
"Oh yes, my dear! many have had better fathers, but none better than I
hope one day by the grace of God to be to you. I am a poor creature,
Dorothy, but I love you as my own soul. You are the blessing of my days,
and my thoughts brood over you in the night: it would be in utter
content, if I only saw you happy. If your face were acquainted with
smiles, my heart would be acquainted with gladness."
For a time neither said any thing more. The silent tears were streaming
from Dorothy's eyes. At length she spoke.
"I wonder if I could tell you what it is without hurting you, father!"
"I can hear any thing from you, my child," he answered. "Then I will
try. But I do not think I shall ever quite know my father on earth, or
be quite able to open my heart to him, until I have found my Father in
"Ah, my child! is it so with you? Do you fear you have not yet given
yourself to the Saviour? Give yourself now. His arms are ever open to
"That is hardly the point, father.--Will you let me ask you any question
"Assuredly, my child." He always spoke, though quite unconsciously, with
a little of the _ex-cathedral_ tone.
"Then tell me, father, are you just as sure of God as you are of me
standing here before you?"
She had stopped and turned, and stood looking him full in the face with
wide, troubled eyes.
Mr. Drake was silent. Hateful is the professional, contemptible is the
love of display, but in his case they floated only as vapors in the air
of a genuine soul. He was a true man, and as he could not say _yes_,
neither would he hide his _no_ in a multitude of words--at least to his
own daughter: he was not so sure of God as he was of that daughter, with
those eyes looking straight into his! Could it be that he never had
believed in God at all? The thought went through him with a great pang.
It was as if the moon grew dark above him, and the earth withered under
his feet. He stood before his child like one whose hypocrisy had been
proclaimed from the housetop.
"Are you vexed with me, father?" said Dorothy sadly.
"No, my child," answered the minister, in a voice of unnatural
composure. "But you stand before me there like, the very thought started
out of my soul, alive and visible, to question its own origin."
"Ah, father!" cried Dorothy, "let us question our origin."
The minister never even heard the words.
"That very doubt, embodied there in my child, has, I now know, been
haunting me, dogging me behind, ever since I began to teach others," he
said, as if talking in his sleep. "Now it looks me in the face. Am I
myself to be a castaway?--Dorothy, I am _not_ sure of God--not as I am
sure of you, my darling."
He stood silent. His ear expected a low-voiced, sorrowful reply. He
started at the tone of gladness in which Dorothy cried--
"Then, father, there is henceforth no cloud between us, for we are in
the same cloud together! It does not divide us, it only brings us closer
to each other. Help me, father: I am trying hard to find God. At the
same time, I confess I would rather not find Him, than find Him such as
I have sometimes heard you represent Him."
"It may well be," returned her father--the _ex-cathedral_, the
professional tone had vanished utterly for the time, and he spoke with
the voice of an humble, true man--"it may well be that I have done Him
wrong; for since now at my age I am compelled to allow that I am not
sure of Him, what more likely than that I may have been cherishing wrong
ideas concerning Him, and so not looking in the right direction for
"Where did you get your notions of God, father--those, I mean, that you
took with you to the pulpit?"
A year ago even, if he had been asked the same question, he would at
once have answered, "From the Word of God;" but now he hesitated, and
minutes passed before he began a reply. For he saw now that it was not
from the Bible _he_ had gathered them, whence soever they had come at
first. He pondered and searched--and found that the real answer eluded
him, hiding itself in a time beyond his earliest memory. It seemed
plain, therefore, that the source whence first he began to draw those
notions, right or wrong, must be the talk and behavior of the house in
which he was born, the words and carriage of his father and mother and
their friends. Next source to that came the sermons he heard on Sundays,
and the books given him to read. The Bible was one of those books, but
from the first he read it through the notions with which his mind was
already vaguely filled, and with the comments of his superiors around
him. Then followed the books recommended at college, this author and
that, and the lectures he heard there upon the attributes of God and the
plan of salvation. The spirit of commerce in the midst of which he had
been bred, did not occur to him as one of the sources.
But he had perceived enough. He opened his mouth and bravely answered
her question as well as he could, not giving the Bible as the source
from which he had taken any one of the notions of God he had been in the
habit of presenting.
"But mind," he added, "I do not allow that therefore my ideas must be
incorrect. If they be second-hand, they may yet be true. I do admit that
where they have continued only second-hand, they can have been of little
value to me."
"What you allow, then, father," said Dorothy, "is that you have yourself
taken none of your ideas direct from the fountain-head?"
"I am afraid I must confess it, my child--with this modification, that I
have thought many of them over a good deal, and altered some of them not
a little to make them fit the molds of truth in my mind."
"I am so glad, father!" said Dorothy. "I was positively certain, from
what I knew of you--which is more than any one else in this world, I do
believe--that some of the things you said concerning God never could
have risen in your own mind."
"They might be in the Bible for all that," said the minister, very
anxious to be and speak the right thing. "A man's heart is not to be
trusted for correct notions of God."
"Nor yet for correct interpretation of the Bible, I should think," said
"True, my child," answered her father with a sigh, "--except as it be
already a Godlike heart. The Lord says a bramble-bush can not bring
"The notions you gathered of God from other people, must have come out
of their hearts, father?"
"Out of somebody's heart?"
"Just so," answered Dorothy.
"Go on, my child," said her father. "Let me understand clearly your
"I have heard Mr. Wingfold say," returned Dorothy, "that however men may
have been driven to form their ideas of God before Christ came, no man
can, with thorough honesty, take the name of a Christian, whose ideas of
the Father of men are gathered from any other field than the life,
thought, words, deeds, of the only Son of that Father. He says it is not
from the Bible as a book that we are to draw our ideas of God, but from
the living Man into whose presence that book brings us, Who is alive
now, and gives His spirit that they who read about Him may understand
what kind of being He is, and why He did as He did, and know Him, in
some possible measure, as He knows Himself.--I can only repeat the
lesson like a child."
"I suspect," returned the minister, "that I have been greatly astray.
But after this, we will seek our Father together, in our Brother, Jesus
It was the initiation of a daily lesson together in the New Testament,
which, while it drew their hearts closer to each other, drew them, with
growing delight, nearer and nearer to the ideal of humanity, Jesus
Christ, in whom shines the glory of its Father.
A man may look another in the face for a hundred years and not know him.
Men _have_ looked Jesus Christ in the face, and not known either Him or
his Father. It was needful that He should appear, to begin the knowing
of Him, but speedily was His visible presence taken away, that it might
not become, as assuredly it would have become, a veil to hide from men
the Father of their spirits. Do you long for the assurance of some
sensible sign? Do you ask why no intellectual proof is to be had? I tell
you that such would but delay, perhaps altogether impair for you, that
better, that best, that only vision, into which at last your world must
blossom--such a contact, namely, with the heart of God Himself, such a
perception of His being, and His absolute oneness with you, the child of
His thought, the individuality softly parted from His spirit, yet living
still and only by His presence and love, as, by its own radiance, will
sweep doubt away forever. Being then in the light and knowing it, the
lack of intellectual proof concerning that which is too high for it,
will trouble you no more than would your inability to silence a
metaphysician who declared that you had no real existence. It is for the
sake of such vision as God would give that you are denied such vision as
you would have. The Father of our spirits is not content that we should
know Him as we now know each other. There is a better, closer, nearer
than any human way of knowing, and to that He is guiding us across all
the swamps of our unteachableness, the seas of our faithlessness, the
desert of our ignorance. It is so very hard that we should have to wait
for that which we can not yet receive? Shall we complain of the shadows
cast upon our souls by the hand and the napkin polishing their mirrors
to the receiving of the more excellent glory! Have patience, children of
the Father. Pray always and do not faint. The mists and the storms and
the cold will pass--the sun and the sky are for evermore. There were no
volcanoes and no typhoons but for the warm heart of the earth, the soft
garment of the air, and the lordly sun over all. The most loving of you
can not imagine how one day the love of the Father will make you love
even your own.
Much trustful talk passed between father and daughter as they walked
home: they were now nearer to each other than ever in their lives
"You don't mind my coming out here alone, papa?" said Dorothy, as, after
a little chat with the gate-keeper, they left the park. "I have of late
found it so good to be alone! I think I am beginning to learn to think."
"Do in every thing just as you please, my child," said her father. "I
can have no objection to what you see good. Only don't be so late as to
make me anxious."
"I like coming early," said Dorothy. "These lovely mornings make me feel
as if the struggles of life were over, and only a quiet old age were
The father looked anxiously at his daughter. Was she going to leave him?
It smote him to the heart that he had done so little to make her life a
blessed one. How hard no small portion of it had been! How worn and pale
she looked! Why did she not show fresh and bright like other young
women--Mrs. Faber for instance? He had not guided her steps into the way
of peace! At all events he had not led her home to the house of wisdom
and rest! Too good reason why--he had not himself yet found that home!
Henceforth, for her sake as well as his own, he would besiege the
heavenly grace with prayer.
The opening of his heart in confessional response to his daughter,
proved one of those fresh starts in the spiritual life, of which a man
needs so many as he climbs to the heavenly gates.
PAUL FABER'S DRESSING-ROOM.
Faber did not reach home till a few minutes before the dinner hour. He
rode into the stable-yard, entered the house by the surgery, and went
straight to his dressing-room; for the roads were villianous, and
Ruber's large feet had made a wonderful sight of his master, who
respected his wife's carpet. At the same time he hoped, as it was so
near dinner-time, to find her in her chamber. She had, however, already
made her toilet, and was waiting his return in the drawing-room. Her
heart made a false motion and stung her when she heard his steps pass
the door and go up stairs, for generally he came to greet her the moment
he entered the house.--Had he seen any body!--Had he heard any thing? It
was ten dreadful minutes before he came down, but he entered cheerily,
with the gathered warmth of two days of pent-up affection. She did her
best to meet him as if nothing had happened. For indeed what had
happened--except her going to church? If nothing had taken place since
she saw him--since she knew him--why such perturbation? Was marriage a
slavery of the very soul, in which a wife was bound to confess every
thing to her husband, even to her most secret thoughts and feelings? Or
was a husband lord not only over the present and future of his wife, but
over her past also? Was she bound to disclose every thing that lay in
that past? If Paul made no claim upon her beyond the grave, could he
claim back upon the dead past before he knew her, a period over which
she had now no more control than over that when she would be but a
portion of the material all?
But whatever might be Paul's theories of marriage or claims upon his
wife, it was enough for her miserable unrest that she was what is called
a living soul, with a history, and what has come to be called a
conscience--a something, that is, as most people regard it, which has
the power, and uses it, of making uncomfortable.
The existence of such questions as I have indicated reveals that already
between her and him there showed space, separation, non-contact: Juliet
was too bewildered with misery to tell whether it was a cleft of a
hair's breadth, or a gulf across which no cry could reach; this moment
it seemed the one, the next the other. The knowledge which caused it had
troubled her while he sought her love, had troubled her on to the very
eve of her surrender. The deeper her love grew the more fiercely she
wrestled with the evil fact. A low moral development and the purest
resolve of an honest nature afforded her many pleas, and at length she
believed she had finally put it down. She had argued that, from the
opinions themselves of Faber, the thing could not consistently fail to
be as no thing to him. Even were she mistaken in this conclusion, it
would be to wrong his large nature, his generous love, his unselfish
regard, his tender pitifulness, to fail of putting her silent trust in
him. Besides, had she not read in the newspapers the utterance of a
certain worshipful judge on the bench that no man had any thing to do
with his wife's ante-nuptial history? The contract then was certainly
not retrospective. What in her remained unsatisfied after all her
arguments, reasons, and appeals to common sense and consequences, she
strove to strangle, and thought, hoped, she had succeeded. She willed
her will, made up her mind, yielded to Paul's solicitations, and put the
whole painful thing away from her.
The step taken, the marriage over, nothing could any more affect either
fact. Only, unfortunately for the satisfaction and repose she had
desired and expected, her love to her husband had gone on growing after
they were married. True she sometimes fancied it otherwise, but while
the petals of the rose were falling, its capsule was filling; and
notwithstanding the opposite tendency of the deoxygenated atmosphere in
which their thoughts moved, she had begun already to long after an
absolute union with him. But this growth of her love, and aspiration
after its perfection, although at first they covered what was gone by
with a deepening mist of apparent oblivion, were all the time bringing
it closer to her consciousness--out of the far into the near. And now
suddenly that shape she knew of, lying in the bottom of the darkest pool
of the stagnant Past, had been stung into life by a wind of words that
swept through Nestley chapel, had stretched up a hideous neck and
threatening head from the deep, and was staring at her with sodden eyes:
henceforth she knew that the hideous Fact had its appointed place
between her and her beautiful Paul, the demon of the gulfy cleft that
The moment she spoke in reply to his greeting her husband also felt
something dividing them, but had no presentiment of its being any thing
"You are over-tired, my love," he said, and taking her hand, felt her
pulse. It was feeble and frequent.
"What have they been doing to you, my darling?" he asked. "Those little
demons of ponies running away again?"
"No," she answered, scarce audibly.
"Something has gone wrong with you," he persisted. "Have you caught
cold? None of the old symptoms, I hope?"
"None, Paul. There is nothing the matter," she answered, laying her head
lightly, as if afraid of the liberty she took, upon his shoulder. His
arm went round her waist.
"What is it, then, my wife?" he said tenderly.
"Which would you rather have, Paul--have me die, or do something
"Juliet, this will never do!" he returned quietly but almost severely.
"You have been again giving the reins to a morbid imagination. Weakness
and folly only can come of that. It is nothing better than hysteria."
"No, but tell me, dear Paul," she persisted pleadingly. "Answer my
question. Do, please."
"There is no such question to be answered," he returned. "You are not
going to die, and I am yet more certain you are not going to do any
thing wicked. Are you now?"
"No, Paul. Indeed I am not. But----"