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though it was through that incomprehensible whirl of space, and threading the unseen path from
star to star.
But that wild impulse, others, died away. A man, be he ever so rebellious, learns to know that the impossible hedges all his steps and he sank back upon his tree, suppressing himself, binding himself into the submission which he knew at the bottom of his heart was his only hope.
felt no fatigue, notwithstanding his long journey and the dreadful disappointment at the end. None of those imperious needs of the flesh which fill up so much of the time and distract so many of the thoughts of earth, moved him at all. He was free from everything, weariness and pain, and food and sleep and shelter. No thought of these things filled his mind. He did not even remark his exemption, so natural it seemed. knew only the impossibility that girded him round and round. He could not change the condition he had come to. No one could change it. Such as it was he had to endure it, to find the reason for it, to discover the compensation. To go mad, and dash his head against the confines of the world, and force a reversal from God of his sentence was impossible. Ah! he fell low again, with his face hidden in the softly rustling grass. The impossible girt him round with its circle of iron. Rebel, submit, content himself, go mad these were all things that could be done. But reverse God's sentence, no! not if he had the strength of giants, not if he had the power of the whole world, upon a little sod of whose surface his wounded spirit lay.
Presently he had controlled him self, and was sitting again with his back against his tree and his head leaning on his hands, gazing out upon the night yet seeing nothing.
And as he sat there all his life rolled out before him like a long panorama-his little life with all its broken scenes, of which he had never known the meaning. Often he had thought they had no meaning, as certainly they had no intention, no plan, but only a foolish impulse, a touch from some one here and there, who had pushed him unthinking to one side or another not the straight way. What a succession of accidents it was to end in this! no purpose in it-no meaning: all a foolish rush here or there haphazard, the affair of a moment, although fate had taken up the changeful threads and woven it into certainty for ever. He saw himself a boy, hesitating with one foot on the upper slope, drawn back by errant fancy, by curiosity, by accident-always by accident!
then, finding the lower road the easier, the higher hard to begin, putting off till to-morrow and tomorrow-but no meaning in it, oh, no purpose, no settled plan of rebellion, no intention to offend. He went over this again and again, till he felt himself a deeply injured man. Never had he meant any harm: he had even tried not to hurt any one else while he took his own pleasure, and he remembered the words that had been in the air following him wherever he went
nobody's enemy but his own. That was true, that was true! He had not tempted any one, nor ever defied God, whom he never doubted, for whose name, had there been need for that, he felt that he could have died rather than have been apostate to it. The tears came into his eyes with this thought. He had been wrong, very wrong: he had always known that, and hated it-yet done the same again but never with any blasphemous meaning, never defying God, always knowing that the other way was the best, and
hoping one day when his hour of pleasure was over And what had he not paid already for his folly of all that he might have done in the other life, he had done nothing; of all that he might have attained, nothing. He had wrought no deliverance in the earth. It was all loss, loss, miserable failure and hearts breaking, his own as well as the rest. But no purpose in it. He had never intended any day of his disobedience, from first to last, to deny his Maker or insult Him. Never, never! It was the one thing he was certain of amid all the doubts and changes, all the confusions in his life.
And, perhaps, this was how it happened, that when he had set out on his journey that morningwas it still the same morning, not twenty-four hours off, the morning of yesterday?—his heart had been so light. He had anticipated nothing but good. He had made sure that all the links of his old habits would be broken, that he would be lifted without effort of his to a better sphere. He had not said this to himself in words, nor, indeed, was he clear in his mind that he expected anything definite, or what it was he expected-but only something good, happiness that would bring back all that he had missed in the time that was past. Of one thing he had been very sure, that he would not err again he had thought of the ways of men, so vain and melancholy, with a great relief in being done with them. And too glad and thankful he would have been to be done with them to take his place in the home where he believed he was going, and his share of all the duty there, whatever it might be. But now-no home, no duty, no life for him. He was nothing man, a Voice, and no more.
How many times, in what an infinity of time and leisure, did he go over these thoughts! The night stole on, all glorious in quiet and repose-some of the wondrous lights above gliding out of sight as the world in which he was ascended and descended, going down into the night, and then with a halfsensible turn and thrill turning round to the day-and some came up into sight in the great round of the firmament that had been unseen before. Then a thrill ran through the wood, and voices began to awaken in the trees - little
tongues of birds twittering, wakest thou, sleepest thou?among the branches, before all their little world was roused and the great hymn began. The young man had not been prepared for that hymn, and it took him strangely in a surprise and passion of sympathy: he said to himself that he had not known there were birds here, and the moisture came to his eyes. he tried to join with a note of his man's voice and startled them all, till he saw his mistake and tried instead a low and soft whistle, which they took for the note of a new comrade and burst forth again. The young man felt his spirit all subdued by that morning hymn, and tried to say his prayers in a great confusion, stammering, not knowing what words to use. The old prayers seemed so out of place. And then he remembered what all the people had said him- God save you!- and repeated it with a faltering and a trembling God save me! God save me! Not "give me this day my daily bread." Was that oldfashioned ? out of date? He trembled, and all his strength seemed to melt like water, and he said only, God save me! God save me! not knowing what he said.
All these strange emotions filled
the time and the world about him, yet was his mind free to note the growth of the morning, coming fresh as it seemed out of the hand of God: the great valley came slowly to life and to the light, and the silence filled with sound as water wells up in a fountain. As for himself, he did not stir, but watched, not now despairing, nor even questioning, but still a spectator wondering and looking on, hushed to the bottom of his heart, to see what all things did, having for himself no duty, no work; and feeling, so far as he felt at all, a nothingness, as if he were part of the mound on which he lay, where he fancied vaguely the grasses had begun already to grow over him. What would they do, they who were other than he, they to whom everything belonged, though to him nothing belonged? He watched what they would do, what the morning would bring to them, with much eagerness in his heart; but the thickness of the trees and the brushwood, which was very close in that direction, shut out his view. And perhaps his curiosity was not so great as he thought, for his mind filled with many thoughts which revolved about himself, and presently he forgot all that was around him, and became, still a spectator indeed, but a spectator of his own being, and of those things which were going on in it. And it seemed now that the thing most natural to him, who now possessed nothing of his own, was to go back upon the time when he possessed so much, love and companionship, and hope and the power of doing, and pleasure of every kind. His heart had grown sick of that life before he left it, and he had often felt it empty of everything, and that all was vanity. But now his heart returned to it, longing and wonder
VOL. CLXI.-NO. DCCCCLXXV.
ing how he should ever have been so weary. Then he had been a man, but now was nothing, a Voice only, no more. And when he remembered how, in the smallest thing as in the greatest, he had chosen and taken his own way, and had pleasure in his will and independence, and had done this and that because he pleased, with no other reason for it, and that now there was nothing for him to choose, nothing to do himself nothing, and all his ways nothing, a straw blown upon the wind! In the other life there had been threatenings of punishment and torture, but never of this-and he thought to himself, though with a shiver, that the fire and the burning would have been more easy to bear, and perhaps a fierce encounter with the devils who tormented lost souls - a rising up against them, and call for justice out of the pit. To fight, to struggle, to resist, these fierce joys seemed to attract him, to revive his heart. But here there was nothing-neither good nor evil, neither use nor destruction. The Power which he had offended despised him, would not lay a finger on him, left him to rot and perish. No! worse by far than that, to go on in nothingness for ever and ever, to be and not to be, at one and the same time
As these thoughts began to quicken and whirl through his brain-for though he began in quiet they gradually gained velocity and strength, till the rush was like the blazing of fire or the sweep of water in a flood, consuming and carrying him away- he became aware of an external sound which drove them away at once like a flight of birds careering out of sight. And looking up whence the sound came, he saw a movement as of some one searching amid the
brushwood, and presently the thick branches were pushed aside and a face suddenly appeared, looking in to the opening in which the young man sat. It was a face which awakened in him at first a great throb of loving and kindness, being a countenance he had longed for for many a day, thinking that had it shone upon him on earth it might have saved him from all his follies: but along with this there came a rush of resentment into his mind which checked the cry of "Father!" which had come to his lips. And he sat unmoving, allowing those eyes to search through the shade, though he knew that till he spoke he could never be found. It gave him a kind of angry pleasure to see the curves of anxiety round them, the eagerness of the look. Ah, he was sorry! but what was that when he had shut his door, when he had made no effort to bring the wanderer in. "My mother," said the young man, "would have been different: never would she have rested and left me outside;" but then there struck him like an arrow the thought of many moments in the past when he had said to himself, "If my father had been here!"
The other figure stood wistfully under the shadow of the tree-a man not old, full of the dignity and strength of life-like one who knew much and had seen much, and whose hands were full of serious affairs. You might have been sure that he had left for a moment many things that called for his care to come here on this quest. His eyes were clear, shining with truth and justice and honour. Such eyes shine like stars even in the earth, and the eyes of the helpless understand and the poor cry to them. Nothing could disturb the heavenly quiet in them, the look of a soul at peace; but the curves of the eyelids were troubled, and the
strain of anxious love was in his face. After a moment he said, the softness of his voice seeming to search through the silence as his eyes searched through the void, "My son! are you here, my son?"
The young man still paused a little, unwilling to relieve the other, yet not willing to lose the pleasure of revealing like a reproach his own abandoned state. "I am here," at last he said.
The father pushed through the trees and came to him quickly, and once more there came into the young man's mind the story of him who saw his son a long way off, and ran and fell upon his neck. Had he himself been as of old, this was what his father would have done-but how can a man embrace a voice? Yet the movement melted him, and made him rise to his feet to meet the other, though still with that unreasoning resentment in his mind, as though the door had been shut upon him, which was not shut, though he was unable to cross the threshold. There was authority and command, as of one used to rule, in the face of this man who was his father: but everything else was veiled with the great pity and love that was in his voice. "It was not thus we hoped to welcome you, my son, my son!" he cried, coming near, with his arms stretched out.
"How is it," cried the young man, "that I feel all my members from head to foot, and every faculty, and yet you see me not, touch me not? It makes a man mad to be, and yet not to be."
"God save you!" said the father, with tears. "God aid you! We know not how it is-nor can we do anything to help. It is for your purification, and because that which is must have its natural accomplishment. The sins of the flesh destroy the flesh, as is just.
But you, you are still able to love, to think, to adore your God in His works. My son, accept and submit --and the better day will come."
"Submit! to be nothing!" said the young man. And then he cried bitterly, "Have I any choice? It is stronger than I am. I must submit, since you will not help, nor any one. If my mother- -" and here his voice broke. It was not that his mind felt all the bitterness with which he spoke and he knew that no one could help him: yet having in him still all the humanness of a child, it gave him pleasure to wound one who might have helped him had things been otherwise, and to prove that he was abandoned and forsaken, he who hitherto had always been helped and forgiven. He looked for reproof, but none came. His father, standing so near him, looking at him with such tender pity, said nothing but "My son!" and as these two words, whether from the Most High God or from the faltering lips of a man, enclose all of love that words can carry, what was there more that could be said?
"My son," he said, "it is not permitted here that we should discuss or that we should justify the ways of our God. Though you cry out against them, you know that they are just and very merciful, punishing not, but permitting that this which must be, should be accomplished in you. Yet not without hope. All that is of the spirit is yours as before. You can judge, you can understand, you can know.
And above all you can love. What is greater than the mind and the heart? You are but naked of this frame, this body which is beloved and blessed because it is as the body of the Lord. But even for this not without hope. My child, the day will come when you will not think only of yourself.
"That are not me!-but who is so miserable as I?" cried the young man, covering his face with his hands.
The father paused for pity, looking at him with eyes that were full of tears. "It has not been given to you, oh my son," he said, "to pass by the Temple in the wood: yet still it may be. Heretofore you have done what you would, but not here: for here the will of God reigns alone, and man can contradict it no more. Yet from time to time," he said, "from time to time there is in this great Land of Suspense, as in all the worlds where the myriads of our brethren dwell, a day of grace, when the Lord Himself passes through. As he goes to visit the spheres of His dominions there is no place where He does not pass through, and hears every cry and heals every soul that comes to Him. Beloved be His name! Blessing and love breathe round about Him, and no one whom it touches can withstand that holy breath."
The young man looked up, and for a moment it seemed that the eyes of the heavenly man and of the spirit met, and that he who was in the body, that house of God not made with hands, saw him who was out of the body: for the eyes of the son were full of tears like those of the father, and he said with a broken voice, "So I have always been taught to think of Him. I am no stranger, my father, my father! I have sinned but yet I am of His house."
"God bless thee, my son," the father said.