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Now at last the day is dawning when Serapion makes his gift ;
Felix kneels before the threshold, hardly dares his eyes to lift.
Now the cavern door uncloses, now the saint above him stands,
Blesses him without a word, and leaves a token in his hands.
’T is the guerdon of thy waiting— look i thou happy pilgrim, look !—
Nothing but a tattered fragment of an old papyrus book.
Read! perchance the clue to guide thee tangled in the words may lie:
“ ‘Raise the stone, and thou shalt find Me; clea‘ve the ‘wood, and there am I."
Can it be the mighty Master spake such simple words as these 1’
Can it be that men must seek Him, at their toil, ’mid rocks‘ and trees ?
Disappointed, heavy-hearted, from the Mountain of the Bird
Felix mournfully descended, questioning the Master’s word.
Not for him a sacred dwelling, far above the haunts of men :
He must turn his footsteps backward to the common life again.
From a quarry by the river, hollowed out below the hills,
Rose the clattering voice of labour, clanking hammers, clinking drills.
Dust, and noise, and hot confusion made a Babel of the spot :
There, among the lowliest workers, Felix sought and found his lot.
Now he swung the ponderous mallet, smote the iron in the rock ——
Muscles quivering, tingling, throbbing—blow on blow and shock on shock ;
Now he drove the willow wedges, wet them till they swelled and split,
With their silent strength, the fragment—sent it thundering down the pit.
Now the groaning tackle raised it; now the rollers made it slide;
Harnessed men, like beasts of burden, drew it to the river-side.
Now the palm-trees must be riven, massive timbers hewn and dressed—
Rafts to bear the stones in safety on the rushing river’s breast.
Axe and auger, saw and chisel, wrought the will of man in wood:
’Mid the many-handed labour Felix toiled, and found it good.
Every day the blood ran fleeter through his limbs and round his heart;
Every night his sleep was sweeter, knowing he had done his part.
Dreams of solitary saintship faded from him; but, instead,
Came a sense of daily comfort, in the toil for daily bread.
Far away, across the river, gleamed the white walls of the town
Whither all the stones and timbers, day by day, were drifted down.
There the workman saw his labour taking form and bearing fruit,
Like a tree with splendid branches rising from a humble root.
Looking at the distant city, temples, houses, domes, and towers,
Felix cried in exultation: “ All the mighty work is ours.
“ Every mason in the quarry, every builder on the shore,
Every chopper in the palm-grove, every raftsman at the oar—
“Hewing wood and drawing water, splitting stones and cleaving sod—
All the dusty ranks of labour, in the regiment of God,
“March together toward His triumph, do the task His hands prepare:
Honest toil is holy service; faithful work is praise and prayer.”
So through all the heat and burden Felix felt the sense of rest
Flowing softly, like a fountain, deep within his weary breast.
Felt the brotherhood of labour, rising round him
at his side.
Oft he cheered them with his singing at the breaking of the light,
Told them tales of Christ at nooning, taught them words of prayer at night.