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first, as if to see where his voice his whole being seemed warmed came from — yet in a moment with their kind looks and good answered, with what seemed al- wishes. He could hear them, too, most an outcry of response and all talking together and saying, greeting, saying "Good morning,” “It is one of the travellers,” to and “God bless you !” eagerly. which the others answered again, Then one made himself the spokes- “God save him !” as if it was man of a group, and advanced a the greeting of that country to step towards him, yet still with all that went through. an uncertainty, and eyes that did Thus he went on again, always not exactly meet his, but wavered keeping his course towards the as if unable to fix his face. “ Are western end of the valley, and you going to our town?” he said ; pleased with this encounter, even can any
of us be of use to you ?” though there was that something and there was a murmur among in it which startled him, as he all as of assent, “any of us,” as seemed to have startled them. if to press help upon him if he Looking across the river at the needed it: but he required no help city, with all its white terraces -it was only recognition that he shining in the sun, and its high wanted, a kind word. “No,” he towers and pinnacles against the said; “I am going there," and he sky, and the river at its feet repointed towards the farther end flecting every point and shining of the valley. A number had height, as if it were another city gathered round him, all looking at the feet of the true town, he at him with great kindness, but thought he had never with the same uncertainty of gaze, beautiful a place; but what town all eagerly bending toward him to it was or who the people were who hear what he said. Their looks dwelt there he knew not. All he warmed his heart, yet a little knew that they were his repelled him too, as if there was fellows, that they had bidden God something between him and them bless him, that they wished him which made it better to go on, well: and this gave him great reand try no further communication. freshment as he went on, feeling “I am going there,” he repeated, no fatigue, but now more than ever moving a step onward : and imme- wondering that though he did not diately they all spoke together in a know where he was going, he was wonderful accord of voices, saying, yet going on straight and swift as “God be with you! God save if he were sure of the way. For you! God bless you !” some of a little time the road ran by the them so much in earnest that river, but then parted from its there seemed to him to be tears winding course, and presently in their eyes. There was some- broke into several ways, where a thing in these words which seemed stranger in that place might so to urge him on, and he resumed easily have lost himself, not knowhis journey, passing through, and ing which to take. But he found looking back upon them, and no difficulty, nor even paused to waving his hand to them in sign choose his way, going lightly on of farewell
. And they all stood without any hesitation, as one who looking after him, calling after knew exactly how the bearings lay. him "God bless you !” and “God By this time the sun was lower save you !” until the sense of dis- in the heavens, and a sweet look tance from them melted away, and of evening had come over the
sky—the look which suggests home thoughts of a goodness to come, going, and that labours of all kinds which should be perfect as the and travel should be drawing to face of nature, and the purity of some end of rest and ease. And the air and the sky. He said to since the pause he had made on himself that never again his journey, short as it was, and again! though his recollection his second setting forth, there had failed him when he tried to make stolen into his mind a wonderful clear to himself what it was which sense that he was going, not upon should never again be. an excursion into an unknown vague to him, leaving only a sense world, but home. The sensation that all had not been as this was
one that he did not know about to be ; but yet the fervour of how to explain to himself, for he his conviction of the better things knew that it was not the home to come was as intense as if he had from which he had come, nor any perfectly conceived what there was accustomed place. And he did
And he did to be done, and what there had not know where it was, nor what been. Never again, never again!he might find there; but the im- no more as of old : but all perfect pression grew upon
more and spotless in the new. These and more strongly as he went on, resolutions distilled into his mind And many thoughts came with like dew, they shed themselves this thought. He did not think
He did not think through his being like some deof the home from which he had lightful balm, refreshing him as
It appeared to him as though his heart had grown dry, something far, far away, and but now was filled with calm and different from all that he saw or a quiet happiness of hoping and that surrounded him now. But anticipation, though he did not the thought that he was going know what he anticipated any home, though not there, brought more than what it was which had a seriousness into his thoughts made a shadow in the past. which he had not been conscious In this mood he began again of when he set forth first in to ascend a little upon a path the morning, in all the enthu- which broke off from the highway siasm of the beautiful unknown towards one of the little towns or place into which he marched villages raised above the level of forward confident and full the valley, with towers and trees of cheer.
mingling on the little height, which He became more serious now. made him think of an old Tuscan Vaguely there came into his mind picture. He went towards it, with a recollection that his former goings an eagerness rising within him and home had not been always happy. a confidence that it was here that There had been certain things in his destination was. All the day which he was to blame. He could long he knew that he had been not have said what things, nor travelling to this spot, and recoghow this was, his consciousness and nised it though he knew it not. memory being a little blurred, as He went on unhesitating, gradually if something had come between making out the ranges of building, him and the former things which which were of beautiful architechad moved his life; but yet he was ture, though in a style unknown vaguely aware that he had been to him, with graceful pinnacles to blame. And his mind filled rising as light as foam against the with all manner of resolutions and sky, and open arcades and halls,
cool and bright, where every door with this place, and with all that stood open, and he could see sheer was here. above him as he mounted the wind- They stood looking far along ing way the groups of men and the valley from that height, and women in the houses, and many asking each other, “Do you see faces at the windows looking out, him? do you see him ?” but they as if on the watch for some one did not seem to be aware that he who was coming. Were any of was there, standing close to them, them looking out for him he won- looking at them with eager eyes. dered to himself ? without any He stood silent for a moment, sense that it was unlikely there thinking they must perceive him, should be watchers looking for him yet wondering how they would in a place where he had never been know him, having never seen him before, in an unknown country before : but soon became impatient which was strange to all his pre- and troubled by that pause, and, vious knowledge,
vexed to be overlooked, said sudBut no restraining conscious- denly, “I am here—if perhaps you ness like this was on him as he
are looking for me.” hastened up the steep way, and They were startled, and turned suddenly turning round the corner their faces towards him, but with of the wall, which was wreathed that strange wistful look as if they with blossoming plants in a glow saw him not which he had reof colour and fragrance, came in marked in the people whom he met sight of the wide and noble gate- by the bridge—and then they came way all open, with its pillars glow. hastily forward and surrounded ing in the westering light, and no him as if with an angelic guard, sign of bolt or bar or other hin- and he saw with a strange tremor drance to shut out any wayfarer. that tears had come into their eyes. In front of it stood a group of “Oh our brother !” said one, in a figures, which seemed to be on the voice so full of pity that it seemed watch for some one. Did they ex- to him that he pitied himself, pect some prince or lordly visitor? though he knew not why, in were they the warders of the gate? sympathy. And “Speak," said They stood two and two, beautiful the others, “speak, that we may in the first glow of youth, their know you." While, “Oh my fair, tall, elastic forms clothed in brother,” cried the first again, "it white, with the faint difference is not thus we hoped to see you.” which at that lovely age is all that This voice seemed to pierce into seems to exist between the maiden his inmost heart, and sadness came and the youth. They were like over him as if his hope had fallen each other as brothers might be, away from him, and this after all and the traveller felt suddenly was not his home. with a strange bound of his heart "This is who I am,” he said ; that he knew these faces, though and he told them his name, and not whom they belonged to, nor that he had come from afar off, who they were. They were as the and had come straight here withfaces of others whom he had known out a pause, thinking that this in the land that was so far off be- was his home. hind him : and all at once he knew They surrounded him closely, as that they were looking for no prince closely as if they would embrace or potentate but for himself, all him, and said to him, but with strange as he was, unacquainted tears, one speaking with another,
“ It is your home: and we are your could not make another step. His
those that come home, must first “I cannot tell what you mean,"
be clothed with the building of he said, with a trembling coming God, the house not made with over him. “If I am your brother, hands; those who are unclothed, why do you not take me in? I as you are, alas ! they cannot have travelled far to-day, from the come in. Brother, we have no very opening of the valley, and power, and you have no power. never paused — always thinking The doors are open, and the hearts that there was home at the end- are open, and would to God you and now you stand between me could come in; but oh, my brother ! and the door, and weep, and will what can I say? It is not for us not let me in."
to speak; you know" “Brother," they said all to- “I know," he said, and stood gether, “ brother ! "
It seemed as still among them silent, his heart if in that word lay all sweetness hushed in his bosom, his head and consolation and pity and love. bowed down with trouble, hearing The circle seemed to open round them weeping round him, and well him, leaving the great wide door- aware that he could not go up, way full of the low sunshine from not had he the strength of a giant. the west clear before hini, and He stood awhile, and then he said,
out and stood “My home was never closed to upon the threshold and stretched me before; never have I failed of out his hands, calling to him, “ My entrance there and welcome, and son, my son!”
my mother's light always burning It seemed to the
to guide me. She would have that it wanted but a few steps to torn me from these stones, and carry him to the arms of this man brought me in had she been here. who called to him, and to whom Never, never, was there a queshis heart went out as if it would tion! And yet," he cried, burst from his breast. But he wildly, "you called that earth, that had walked so lightly all day and this you call heaven !” This long and felt no weariness, found he cried, not knowing what he himself now as one paralysed, in- said : for never before had there capable of another step. He stood been any thought in his mind and gazed piteously at the wide what the name of this country open gate, and him who stood there, and knew that this was the Then his sister called him by place to which he had been travel- his name, and the sound of his ling, and the home he desired, and name half consoled him, and half the father that he loved. But he made the contrast more bitter, re
minding him of that place from them from him, and hurried down whence he came, where his was the winding way which he had the innermost seat and the best ascended with so light a heart. welcome, while here he was kept There were still the faces at the outside. “Do not be so sore dis- windows looking out; but though couraged,” she said, " for one day he would not look at them, he you will come and enter at the saw that they were troubled, and gate with joy, and nothing will be many voices sounded out upon the withheld from you ; and we will sweet air, calling to him, “God go to the Great Father and plead save you! God bless you !” over with Him, that it may be soon, and over again, till the whole and then your spirit will be no world seemed full of the sound. longer unclothed, and all will be But he took no heed of it as he well.
fled along the way in indignation “ Unclothed !'
he cried ;
“I and bitter disappointment, saying know not what you mean, and to himself, “And that was called he turned from them, pushing earth, and this they say is heaven.”
At the foot of the hill was a rid even of himself and his conwood encircling its base, with sciousness in that soft and sheltermany winding paths going through, ing shade; but all the while and yet here and there masses of knowing, as he bad often discovered shadow from the trees, in which a before, that however you might man might hide himself from every cover your eyes, and even burrow eye, and even from the shining of in the earth, you could not escape the daylight, which seemed to the from that most intimate companion, young man in all the glory of the nor shut your ears to his reasonsunset to mock him as he fled ings or his upbraidings. Elsewhere, away from the place which was when one of those moments came, his home. It was the dimness and and himself confronted and seized the shadow that attracted him himself, there had always been now, and not the gl ry of the those at hand who helped him out western sky or the daz, ling of the of this encounter. The crowd, or light. In the very heart of the the tumult and conflict of living, wood, kept by a circle of great or pleasure, or pain, or some other trees standing all around like a creature, had stolen in and stopped bodyguard, there was a little open- that conflict. But now was the ing-a grassy bank like velvet, hour in which there was nothing all soft with mosses, with little to intervene. woodland blossoms creeping over And at first what was in his the soil, and all the woodland mind was nothing but bitter disscents and fragrance and sound appointment and rage and shame. and silence, far from any sound He, whose coming back had always or sight of men. The young man been with joy, even when it came pushed through the copses and with tears, before whom every door between the great boles of the had been thrown open, and whom trees, and flung himself upon the all about him had thanked with cool and soft and fragrant bank; wistful looks for coming home: he flung himself upon his face and but now he was shut out. This hid it there, with a longing to be was too great an event, too un