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court, and thence into the presence - chamber of the Ruler of the realm.

"My Lord Sovereign," he said in anxious tones, as he made obeisance, "there is a wayfarer who pleads for admission here, but he hath no passport such as I can know and recognise."

"Then there can be no entrance," was the stern answer. "Surely thou know'st that, after thy many years of faithful service."

"Nay, but my Lord," pleaded the old man," the wayfarer hath presented me with this writing, and such was the fervour of his manner and the expression on his noble countenance, that I knew not how to refuse to kneel before thee on his behalf."

Then the great Ruler read the writing on the tablet.

"I have waited,"" he said aloud. "What can that mean?" "I have waited," repeated wonderingly those assembled around him.

A great silence fell on all that gracious company. One might have heard the soft sighing of the tiniest flower. And meanwhile the wayfarer tarried outside, lost in anxious meditation.

"Can it be," thought he, "that my pent-up sadness may find expression at last, and my mind ease itself of all its grievous unfulfilments?" And whilst thus wrapt up, the old custodian touched him on the arm.

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barriers, and lo! he stood before the dread Ruler in the throned presence-chamber. It may be that his steps faltered somewhat, as we all must needs falter before the Unknown. But his heart never wavered, and his courage never failed, for he knew that his cause was just, or at least he believed it was such-and where shall we find that faint line of demarcation 'twixt what is true for us and what is reality in itself? he faced the Sovereign unflinchingly, and glanced with quiet confidence at the blessed follow


ers whose credentials had been of safer and surer worth than his.


Speak," said the Ruler, "and unravel the mystery of thy strange message. And when we have heard, we will give our answer."

Then the wayfarer spoke.

"My Lord," he said, "I thank thee for this gracious favour. My story is a brief one, and though it may seem an unusual one, I do not claim that it is my story only. It belongs to countless others, but chance has so willed it that I should be the one to tell the legend for all those who are in this, my woeful plight."

แ "Then thou hast come as an ambassador?" asked the Ruler. "Nay," he answered. "I cannot aspire to be so impersonal. My own great necessity has urged me hither. But as time sped on its way, I have learned what to me was a startling revelation—that mine was not the only necessity of the self-same kind."

He paused, and the Ruler signed to him to proceed further, and there seemed a suppressed

excitement among the countless followers, as though something unwonted were being enacted— some strange departure from the customs of the realm.

"This is my story," said the wayfarer. "To have known myself gifted above the ordinary in every incarnation through which, by the fixed laws of development, I have passed as a matter of course. To have known and humbly recognised those gifts, striven for them, fostered them, protected them as far as I could from adverse influences, and from my own lower self, that worst of evil influences; and when they were damaged almost beyond recognition, by wanton sin and by unconscious errors of judgment, then to have grasped them once more, and by tender and penitent nursing to have brought them back to the beauty which was all their own. And yet through the long long years to have had no fulfilment I speak not of failure, my Lord. To fail at least means that one has been into the battle and lost. But it has ever been my cruel fate to be forced away from the field, and to watch hungrily the favoured ones of Circumstance and Chance rush eagerly towards victory or defeat. my life has been one weary long waiting for the gracious opportunity which has never been vouchsafed me. And I have come hither to raise my voice in protest-to ask why these things should be why we should be given beautiful powers and forbidden to use themwhere the sense of it can be, and where the justice? And if there be hidden sense in the


ordination and hidden justice, then at least I claim that those few words inscribed on the tablet should be as potent a passport as a long record of deeds attempted and accomplished, and of deeds attempted and failed in. Failure, I know, hath entered these fair realms and been comforted, and yet, my Lord, thou canst surely realise that her burden is but a light one compared with mine. Nay, it is not that I would have grudged her any solace-beautiful sad-eyed Failure-but to me her lot seems enviable indeed."

Now it so happened that, though the wayfarer knew it not, Failure was resting there and recovering strength for her many struggles in the great world beyond. She came from time to time and learnt the real meaning of her name, and then passed out joyous and vigorous again. She now arose and knelt before the Lord Sovereign.

"My Lord," she said in her deep-toned voice, "I know this stranger well, and he hath told but a part of his sad record, every word of which is only too true. I knew him first as a Poet, with the world's sufferings ringing in his ears, with the world's joys carolling in his heart. Great thoughts possessed him, great abilities to give them expression. But he died-his tale untold, his message undelivered; he had only just begun to shape the message when his call came. Then I knew him in another incarnation, with the Painter's beautiful Fancy added to the Poet's Spirit. Pictures he planned and scenes of high ideality. He had worked, lived, striven, and al

most attained-then suddenly "Ah, my Lord, what more the light faded from his eyes, should I say!" he answered, and his deft hand hung nerve- sadly. "Failure hath indeed less by his side. And never told my life's history, and hearagain came back the power to ing it, my heart is too full to do and be and create. Nothing plead or protest further. Thou remained save the knowledge know'st all." Then the Sovthat the field of life's activities ereign communed with his own was for others and not for him. heart, and as he communed, the Then I knew him as a states- very air seemed redolent of sweet man with a passionate sense of fragrance, fit harbinger of mercinational honour-brave, clear- ful thoughts and gracious underseeing, impersonal. But im standing. And then he spoke. peded by conditions and circumstances, hampered by narrow means and private obligation, he had the bitterness of seeing others stroll into the places of authority, by means of birth or wealth or influence. And not theirs the enthusiasm of soul, nor theirs the pride of nation, nor theirs the inborn understanding. Then a great war broke out, and the beloved country lost its honour and dignity amongst the nations of the world. Yet he could have saved her. But though he worked and waited and strove, and built up his knowledge and strength, yet the opportunity, longed for and prayed for, was never vouchsafed him. Ah, and I could add only too easily to his sad record of unfulfilments; but surely, my Lord Sovereign, these suffice of themselves, and thou wilt consider the justice of his protest."

She ceased, and again there was a hushed silence in the presence-chamber, and all eyes were riveted on the wayfarer, who stood as one transfixed by thought and memory.

"And what canst thou add to our beloved Failure's words?" asked the Sovereign with ineffable tenderness and sympathy.

"My son," he said, "I have meditated on thy sad record, and this is my decree. Henceforth those words I have waited shall be a royal passport into these realms. these realms. For the patient striving, and waiting with no chance of fulfilment, is the heaviest trial of all. And thou hast indeed earned thy entrance. Therefore welcome. . But stay, though thou art welcome here a thousand-fold, a sudden thought possesses me. I will give thee a still greater boonthe greatest boon for which thy heart could wish the gift of fulfilment. Hasten, therefore, into the world, and fling thyself into the battle lists. Thou shalt experience the glow of expression, the rapture of action: thou shalt have thy thrill at last. And then, when failure or success has fallen to thy lot, come hither once more and take thy rest."

The wayfarer fell on his knees and stretched out his arms in gratitude.

"Oh, my Lord Sovereign," he cried, passionately, "how can I ever thank thee for giving me my very heart's desire?"

And he rose, buoyant with new-born manhood and happiness, and sped on his way.


WHEN General van de Burg was ordered to return to the East, where he had already covered himself with glory, his chief concern was for the daughter whom he must leave behind him in Holland. Marie van de Burg was now nineteen, and in some respects she was older than girls of nineteen usually are, inasmuch that for two years and more she had been her father's companion, and the sharer of his triumphs. Her mother (whom she could not remember) was а van Heesteren, which is as much as to say that she made a love match, for that great House was not likely in usual course to have allied itself with the obscure, though quite respectable, Zeeland family of van de Burg. But the Captain of Artillery even so early displayed the masterful qualities that were to make the name of Michiel van de Burg a terror in the Indian Ocean, and the little lady, who had never walked in the streets of The Hague or Arnhem unaccompanied by governess or companion, was swept away from the shelter of her family by the lord and master of her heart. She fought his fortunes at his side in India bravely, until a wandering fever caught her in her weakness after the birth of Marie, and left the soldier mourning.

The General's elder brother, Dr Maarten van de Burg, was



married and settled in a practice on the meadowlands to the north of Amsterdam, and in the same village lived his sister, the delightful Tante Lotje. When Marie was sent home from India, her mother's family promptly found for her a school in the city of Arnhem,

"A positive well of accomplishments," the General was informed.

"So I should suppose, judging from the guilders it swallows up," he wrote back in his brusque way.

It was, indeed, a school of manners, which, as every one knows, fetch a high price, and within its walls Marie learned the deportment of van Heesteren worlds-a graceful descent from her equipage, an elegant passage over the puddles on the "smallstones," the varying shades of warmth and veneration to be discovered in a salute, and the like. As the name of her brilliant father rose steadily like a planet over the Eastern horizon, Marie was given increasing opportunity of practising these arts in the society of uncles and aunts mother's side. She grew rusty in them during long holidays spent in the houses of Uncle Maarten and Tante Lotje, who had no social distinction save kinship with the illustrious General; but there were other things picked up there to compensate for the neglect. In this

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on her

way Marie grew up with an instinct an unenlightened passion even for the accomplishments and duties of the varying conditions in which people may find themselves in this life. When the General returned to Europe to well-earned and distinguished repose, settling down for it with Marie in the famous house in the Voorhout, which is pointed out as his residence to this day, he found her everything homely, orderly, obedient, that her holidays in the village had taught her to be, and that he, as a van de Burg, had been brought up to cherish; and at the same time (and most serviceably so for him) skilled in all the arts of a world which throws itself at the feet of victorious generals. There existed thus between the two an easy and companionable affection which made this second parting bitter. There was no question of taking Marie with him. He should not have been going East now had there not sprung up imperative need for the iron hand with which, and with good reason, the General was credited. It was not an expedition for women to join. Equally, there was no thought of exiling Marie to Uncle Maarten's village; and no invitation had arrived for her from the van Heesteren households, to which, it may be noted, even the General's self-constituted rights of billeting did not extend. Tante Lotje, said the General, must come to The Hague and play duenna to her niece, and accordingly Tante Lotje received her marching orders, with the precise hour at which she was to report herself

with her baggage, and a roster of her duties. Tante Lotje had made arrangements-much in the high-handed manner of the General-for a certain clucking dorking to present her with a brood on a date some ten days off, and on receiving the General's letter she appealed to heaven and an extensive audience standing round if that was an appointment in which she could possibly fail. She had had her boxes packed, and was herself in a flurried condition of mind, ready, pending the dorking's fulfilment of the engagement, to pay her annual week's visit to the family Zwart in Nymegen; and she spent the next few days in unpacking, demanding the while if she knew her own mind so ill that she would change the labels on her boxes at anybody's dictation. "Not one step to The Hague should she go. Was it likely that she should?-a lady of her time of life, forsooth! and to that city of foolishness.” To make this protestation she paid a visit several visits-to each of her acquaintance in the village; visits, however, which closed in protesting farewells. For Tante Lotje stood in great awe of her brother Michiel, who, indeed, had a short way with mutineers. She repacked her boxes, pasted together the pieces into which she had torn the roster, confided the expected fowls to the care of Dr Maarten's man, Gerrit, and alighted to the minute on the platform of The Hague where the General, with Marie, his private staff, was drawn up to receive her.

Experience of The Hague had

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