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A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

Mary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus online

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having known, should have sometimes gone back to paganism? Thou dost
remember that God’s chosen people, after enjoying marvels of His
Providence, plunged headlong into idolatry in the very presence of His
splendor at Sinai?”

“With shame I remember it. I marvel as well that this record, which
evokes the ridicule of the grosser heathen, was made part of our Holy
writings.”

“God’s compensation! The people stripped themselves of their jewels to
make the calf; then of their garments to worship it according to the lewd
rites of Apis. God since has lashed them naked around the world, as it
were, by giving their history to all times. ‘_Be sure your sin will find
you out_,’ is a stern truth haunting the conscience of the evil doer;
but though exposure is a bitter medicine it is a saving one. God as such
applies it.”

“I think the devil crazed the people at Sinai.”

“Yes, Rizpah, but Human Desire was his name. The revelers made their
devil as well as their calf, that day.”

“But it is said ‘they rose to play.’ If so disobedient and heaven-defying
how could they have found heart to play?”

“Odious, significant word that one is, here. It was a ‘_play_’ that
engulphed all purity. No wonder they ceased to observe the ‘burning
mountain!’ Only the pure in heart can see God.”

“Thank God! that thy people and mine have finally escaped, my husband.”

“So far as we have escaped, I thank Him; but, alas, the evangels of
Egypt’s scarlet heresies still go about, and there are many, everywhere,
led away in chains that seem of flowers at first, but are found to be of
galling iron at last.”

“I did not know this?”

“Oh, these modern perverters disguise their horrible tenets with many
refined phrases; yet He that overwhelmed gross Sodom and the jewelless,
naked dancers about the golden bull, sees through all their thin drapings
and will judge the free lover, corrupt socialist and libertine as He
did those ancients. The Assyrian and Egyptian representations of Venus
generally appeared holding a serpent; a sort of bitter admission of the
curse in the hand of perverted love and the fierce lashings that follow
it.”

“I fail to connect the ancient with the present heresies, my good
teacher.”

“I pause to-day here, reminded of their common origin and consequences.
God put it into the hearts of His creatures to love women, honor
motherhood, and worship Him. Read Sinai’s law, and this is all manifest.
There came a perversion; the love of woman was degraded, motherhood was
denied its honor, and men became God-defying. There was a confusion
worse than that of Babel, and the worshiping was transferred, first, to
symbolized lust; then degraded. They that adored Venus, knowing how her
adoration had depraved themselves, came to believe that she scandalized
the heaven they imagined. Then came a time when her earthly rites even
scandalized the wiser pagans.”

“My husband leads me along strange ways. Is it wise to do so?”

“I see a grand end; follow me. There is a deep significance in the fact
that among the pagans there constantly appeared this adoration of woman
on account of her power of motherhood. I take this adoration as proof of
a conscious need feeling after a vaguely discerned truth. The yearning
is suggested by the paired gods. Assyria had its Beltis, consort of
Bel-nimrud; and there were Allelta of the Arabians, the many-breasted
Diana of the Ephesians, the Aphrodite of the Greeks, Ceres and Venus
of Rome, this Astarte of the Giants; beyond all, in utter odiousness
Khem, the Phallic god of Egypt. Amid all these false ideals, the divine
home with its pure love and our immortality by grace’s mystery, were
overslaughed in human thought. The glaring passions, that were unwilling
to believe in other immortality than that that comes through posterity,
other heaven than that of sensuous pleasure, fascinated and dominated
hearts and souls.”

“And worshiping women-gods did this.”

“Worshiping beings with the form of women did it! Reverence for true
womanhood ever exalts and never degrades. But these ancients adored very
gorgons with snakes for hair, and having tearing, brazen claws. They set
these gorgons with the Harpies, in their mythologies, at the gates of
dark Pluto’s palace. Alas, where men are led by ill-flavored women, is
ever more Pluto’s gateway.”

“The up-digging of these ancient soils, knight, give forth foul odors.
Did they not dread a just and jealous God?”

“No. It is the constant voice of history that false belief concerning
these things of which I have spoken, brings both blindness and
degradation. Unbelief comes swiftly in the wake of impurity. The gorgons
had but one eye and that had the malign power of turning to stone all
upon whom its glance fell. When men deify a fallen woman then look for a
cataclysm of evils. Rizpah has seen little of the world, but this in time
she’ll find true; the man whose cult or faith bends toward the libidinous
is on the way to utter atheism. So these old-time free-lovers, like
those of to-day, push out of the universe in their belief, the Great,
Beautiful, First Cause. The pure in heart see God; the impure can not
even pray to Him. The latter must be aided by an Immaculate One. They
make a gulf betwixt their souls and heaven, which Great Mercy alone can
bridge.”

“Ah, knight, I’d dread a return of those gross idolatries, knowing
mankind’s trend, but that I knew that Shiloh was to come as a Reformer.”
The knight caught at the words of his wife to lead her toward his own
dear belief.

“If He came to Rizpah in the form of a man, unique because of his virgin
purity, unlike any other in being all unselfish, and accompanied by a
peerless woman, exemplifying all that is best in the gentle sex; between
Himself and that woman a love deep to love’s last depth, pure as a
sunbeam, enduring as eternity itself, would Rizpah welcome Him!”

“That would be a wondrous coming; but I’d welcome Him.”

“Does Rizpah believe such an appearing desirable?”

“Oh, on my soul, yes! If he should so come, methinks the rites which have
gone on in the secrecy of the groves, under the uncertain light of the
moon, would be driven from the earth, and men come to worship God, taking
that man for the ideal of manhood, that woman as woman’s pattern.”

“Dost thou see that stone with eight lines crossing, lying just there by
the image of Astarte?”

“I see it and the lines; but what of them?”

“In the far East, the land of the Fire Worshipers, on almost all
the handiwork of man that symbol is placed. It is to represent an
eight-pointed star, the Assyrian sign of immortality.”

“Eight lines crossing to represent immortal life? This is inane!”

“Not quite. I had its explanation from my wandering Jew, Ichabod, learned
by much travel in the lore of many peoples. He thus interpreted the
symbol as the Assyrians understood it; man, a four-pointed star; his four
radiate limbs suggesting that likeness. Thou knowest that the Israelites
have been wont to call men stars? The Assyrians, not having the sure
word, were led to seek by human philosophy a theory of immortality,
and they got no further than twice four, two human beings in union; so
eight or a double star, their symbol of marriage, represented the only
immortality they were able to find; that that comes from reproduction. At
least that was the only reality, the rest being very vaguely believed,
and believed only because they thought that the mystery of a new life
coming forth, was a hint of a spiritual method analogous to the
material. They then fell to worshiping the sun, the great fructifier
and light of nature; fire, the essence of passion, became their highest
god. It is said that those Magi of the East, that arrived long ago at
Bethlehem, were fire worshipers, and that in answer to a cry for light,
constantly uttered by their race, they took their journey to Judah,
seeking it.”

“The world must turn to Israel ever for the truth, Sir Charleroy.”

“For some truth; not all; but there is a tradition that the star the
wise men followed was a double one, two planets in conjunction. There is
a fitness in the legend, for the seekers of light were brought to the
cave where lay a mother and babe; the latter God’s finest presentment of
immortality, the Incarnation; the fruit of the Divine in union with the
human. I stand overcome with wonder and reverence when I remember that
they of the East had some light from the Jews they held captive ages
before. They lost most of what they had, then, longing for its return,
God answered their prayer by taking them to the finest of schools, a
blessed home circle. Behold all the East looking for light at Bethlehem!”

Rizpah evaded her husband’s graceful attempt to impress on her Christian
tenets, by replying: “I prefer the Jewish choice number Seven, though I
can not give it fine interpretations, as thou to the Eight of the East.”

“Rizpah prefers it because it is Jewish, and I prefer Seven because I
read therein a covenant; for Seven is the sacred covenant number of God’s
Word. Let me interpret: There is a Triune God, symbolized by Three; then
man, the child of chance, the being tossed hither and thither by the four
winds, a complex union himself of body, mind, animal life and immortal
spirit. Four is his representative number, or symbol. The Assyrians
paired fours; the Jews vaguely discerned a grander path to eternal
felicity through the conjunction of God and man, the Three and the Four.
From this they derived their covenant number, Seven.”

“These are charming explanations, Sir Charleroy; especially so, if sure
ones!”

“But the truths are fairer than my poor words. I read that at creation
the morning stars—meaning the beings that know no night, the very sons
of God—shouted for joy! They saw an immortality having its springs
in the being of the Eternal, and were glad. Since then the race has
diverged into two lines. The gross and unbelieving, seeking to effect
the apotheosis of human lust, have gone their ways reveling under the
moonlight, and building their fanes in the groves which fade, while the
believing and God-taught have walked in a covenant toward Him, ‘Who
only hath immortality dwelling in light.’ Rizpah, some day that home
group at Bethlehem, a father, mother, and child, surrounded by angels,
overshadowed by God, will come to be thought the finest ideal of this
life. Yea, a picture of Heaven itself!”

The knight’s wife fixed her piercing, dark eyes on his, there were
expressed in her countenance admiration and fearfulness. She was charmed
by his lofty sentiments, yet apprehensive of being led into some
dangerous, Christian heresy. Fanaticism always has a terror of heresy,
so-called, even though it seemed to be full of white truth. Presently she
questioned:

“So Og, great as a mountain of flesh, and Astarte, goddess of the
pleasure that kills, only, of all Kunawat’s ancients, have left enduring
names?”

“One other name endures, the ages brightening its luster—Job, loyal to
the last, in spite of the devil and a virago wife.”

“Poor woman! say I of Job’s wife. None have told her side of her family
troubles. May be Job haunted the grove of the moon-crowned?”

“May be? Never! His splendid orations bespoke a man walking nigh Jehovah.
Listen: ‘If I beheld the moon walking in brightness, if my heart hath
been secretly enticed, or my mouth kissed my hand, let thistles grow
instead of wheat.’ He said this amid the votaries of the Lust-Queen.”

“And Job may be praised, not only as proof that there has been one
patient man on earth, but as proof that a good man will stand pure to the
last, though the world about acclaim the praise of delightful sins?”

“He stood because entranced by his beautiful ideal. He loved Him whose
name is Holiness.”

“Heaven comes at last to such.”

“Job was God’s best friend on earth in his day, and his Heavenly Father
gave him as his reward His best earthly gift—a new, pure, happy, fruitful
home.”

“Are we through now with the fascinating image, knight?”

“Yes, Rizpah, if we take to heart its warnings. May we preserve our
integrity, and have a home as our reward finer than that of the Man of
Uz; yea, verily, as fine in its tempers and virtues as that of Bethlehem.”

So saying, the knight led Rizpah toward their abode.




CHAPTER XVI.

A BATTLE OF GIANTS AT BOZRAH.

“Sleep—the ghostly winds are blowing!
No moon abroad—no star is glowing.
The river is deep and the tide is flowing
To the land where you and I are going!
We are going afar,
Beyond moon or star,
To the land where the sinless angels are!

I lost my heart to your heartless sire
(’Twas melted away by his looks of fire),
Forgot my God, and my father’s ire,
All for the sake of a man’s desire;
But now we’ll go
Where the waters flow,
And make our bed where none shall know.”—“_The Mother’s Last
Song._”—BARRY CORNWALL.

“How shall we order the child, and how shall we do.”—Judges
xiii. 12.


Sir Charleroy and his consort took up their abode in one of the many
deserted ancient stone houses of the city of Bozrah. The latter, situated
in one of the most fertile plains of earth, once having upward of one
hundred thousand inhabitants, several times having risen to metropolitan
splendor, ages ago sank into neglect, decay and desolation. But with
wonderful persistence that city preserves the records, or relics, of
what it was in better, greater days. The antiquarian to-day finds in and
around Bozrah the dwellings, palaces and temples of many and various
peoples, some piled in strata-like courses, one above the other, each
layer the tombstone of its predecessor; some as fine as they were
forty centuries ago. The annalist there has at hand as an open book
the achievements of some of the mightiest men of earth, physically.
The latter were contemporary with that line of God’s moral giants,
of which Abraham, Moses and David were representative leaders first,
and Christ finally. The strata of Bozrah tell of differing policies,
politics, religions; all alike in one thing—the attempt to build upon
the buttresses of giant force; but they present in the end the one
result—failure; all being equally dead at the last, if not equally
herculean at the first. Sheer robustness in the armies of Rome, the
Turk, Alexander, and Og wrought out their best about the Bashan cities,
and in that theater played the eternally losing game of all such. It
seems as if God had chosen that part of all the world to illustrate
this great lesson of His providence. The Roman, Mohammedan, Greek, and
others like them, there had their brutal and sensuous existence. There
the Crusader carried also his banners; but the end of the Rephaim was
the forerunner and prophecy of all the other giantesque gatherings that
followed after them. Each passing race and dynasty left its monuments and
tokens of possession; but of all, those of the first, the giants, are the
most enduring, most wonderful. These dateless, huge, rugged, fort-like
dwellings, standing just as they did four thousand years ago, except
that they are mostly unoccupied, are impressive monuments and reminders
of the mighty denizens who once abode within them. There are ruins of
temples, palaces, houses of commerce and places of amusement, but chiefly
of homes; the latter, significantly, instructively, being the best
preserved of all. Sir Charleroy observed this circumstance, and casually
remarked to Rizpah, as they bestowed their effects in one of the ancient
domiciles:

“If ever I take to building, I’ll build abiding places for people, only.
Such are the most lasting.”

But while he came thus near to a royal truth, he did not make it his
own. It passed through his mind and he felt its light, as one might
that from the wing of a ministering spirit, while his eyes were holden
and his back turned. He immediately left the angelic thought, to go
wandering through years of misery, before coming back face to face with
it again. Sir Charleroy and Rizpah, a western soldier and a woman of
Israel, two giants in their way, began a new career at Bozrah. It was
providential. Measuring power by the only available test at hand, namely,
what it accomplishes, it was manifest long ago to all that the brawn of
the Cyclops was not the master force of the word. Hercules cleansed the
earth of mythical, not real evils. Sir Charleroy and Rizpah are fittingly
brought to the theater of the giants for the purpose of testing the
potency of giantesque sentimentality and stubborn, mighty ardor. To this
end, two will do as well as a nation, and a decade will be as conclusive
as a score of generations. The husband and wife entered Bozrah gladly,
and quickly adapted themselves to their new surroundings. They were both
very impressible, and there were many things in their new environments
that impressed and stimulated them. Nature’s face and locations may
be changed by man, but he can not change her heart. She, on the other
hand, is invincible in her conquests of both his face and inner being.
Climate and environments determine the characters and careers of the
majorities. The sleets of the North, in time, will goad the sensuous
Turk or Hottentot to high activity, while the Cossack or Esquimaux,
under tropical suns soon fall into luxuriousness and laziness. Bozrah
began its molding of the knight and his wife. Rizpah and Sir Charleroy
were at first attracted to Giant Land by the hugeness of its monuments
and ghostly greatness of its record. They received at Bozrah their first
impulse to settle and make a home. Probably they were largely influenced
by the conviction that, in its way, there was nothing more entrancing
or majestic beyond. For the best results to them, the second selection
was altogether unfortunate. They had made their home in the midst of
battle-fields, and the atmosphere that hung over all things was like
that over a defeated army, sullenly submitting. The new comers from the
beginning, in their new home, were immersed in ghostly memories, and that
atmosphere so like the breath of a bound yet struggling giant. They were
affected more than they realized by all these things.

“No more tours, no more worlds, for us to conquer!” exclaimed the knight.

Rizpah, her cheerfulness of mind largely recovered, replied to this
remark of Sir Charleroy with a bantering laugh, at the same time pointing
upward. Quickly, and with retort cruel as a giant’s javelin, he cried:

“Alas, so soon Rizpah seeks my final departure from her!”

The cavalier was no more; it was the brusque and gross within him that
spoke. Had he been courtly, even without being Christian, he would have
been considerate enough not to have cruelly jested concerning that which
lay in his wife’s heart as a possible and sad fact. Often the thought of
eternal separation from her husband, even from eternal hope, haunted her
now. Her husband knew this.

For a moment his answer seemed to stun her; then the affectations of
pouting on her mobile face, coming when she pointed upward, changed into
lines of anger. A hot flush mounting up to the roots of her hair, hung
out the warning signal.

The knight, pretending not to observe the change, twined his arms about
his wife and mockingly sighed:

“Poor girl! I can find no wings on thee. I once thought thou hadst such.
They must have dropped off.”

There was no reply. He then began to retreat, to placate, and to that
intent drew her closer and closer to his heart, until, embracing her, his
hands clasped; but, for the first time since the event near Gerash, when
the Arabs were vanquished, his caress was without response. He tried a
thrust thus:

“Well, beloved, since thou dost banish me, bestow a kiss of long
farewell.”

Quickly, Rizpah flung aside his embracing arms and cried: “Shechemite!
I’m no Dinah, won by false professions!”

“_Shechem was more honorable than all the house of his father_,” quoted
the knight in reply.

“He loved himself, his passions; to these gods he gave up with all
devotion, and they immolated him. That was good!”

“Why, Rizpah, thou art pettish.”

“‘Rizpah!’ Thou art adroit in using bitter similes; a brutalizing power,
when brutally used! Now, call me ‘Jarnsaxa.’ Thou toldst me, yesterday,
how that mighty male god of the Norse, Thor, while hating her people,
to the death, stole Jarnsaxa. Yea, and how many giants fell for women.
Perhaps thou didst want me to pity thee. We are in Giant Land now, and
thou canst begin to play Colossus!”

The knight was startled, and quickly entreated: “My queen, lets drop
the masks; no more of this; forget my sarcasm, and I’ll forgive the
recriminations. A truce and pardon, in the name of love. What says
Esther?”

“‘Esther?’ Thou calledst me that when cavalier, turning lover. Thou art
neither now!” The sentence ended in a petulant sob.

“Oh, stay now. It was playfulness. I—there, now! Canst thou not brook a
little playfulness from me?”

“Playfulness? Bah! Ye men play so like lions, forgetting to keep the
claws cushioned! But, now thou hadst better be going, saint—the only
one here. Go, now, right along to heaven. They want thee there. They
want thee, not me.” Then she choked back another sob, but instantly
thereafter, dashing the rising tear from her eyes, she bitterly
exclaimed: “At any rate, thou’lt have company!”

“Whom, pray?”

“The begetter and chief of all restless vagabonds!”

“So; I never heard of him. Has he a name, my dear?”

The knight was sarcastic, because he was nettled.

Rizpah’s eyes glittered with the fire of offended pride, and she quickly
began in measured tone, as if in soliloquy, and alone, to quote Job’s
record of satan’s joining the assembly of the sons of God:

“_There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before
the Lord, and satan came also. And the Lord said whence camest thou? Then
satan said from going to and fro in the earth and from walking up and
down in it._”

“My wife responds to my penitence with bitterness; but even the pagans
were wiser. They ever took the gall from the animals offered to Juno,
goddess of wedlock.”

“Thy wife promised to be thy helpmate and give thee all she had. Now,
just forget thy fine paganism, being a Christian long enough to remember
that I’m thy helpmate in all things, even in bitterness. I give thee all,
even returning thy giving.”

“Thou shouldst not make so much of my little misstep.”

“Nothing is little with which one must constantly live. Great breaks
grow from little fractures. One may stand a blow, but its the constant
fretting that roughs the heart-strings to woe unendurable. Thou hast a
habit of playfully hurting.”

“Well, this has been a day at school; there ought to be a school for
husbands! We do not half understand the fine, sensitive creatures that
companion us.”

“Oh, thou thoughtst thou wert a woman-reader!”

“Were I to see an angel with a body like a harp, eyes like the
unsearchable ocean, heart of flame, arms like flowering vines, covered
with prismatic wings, I’d be no more puzzled and abashed than I am now
by my high-strung, fine-tempered Rizpah.”

“Puzzled! abashed! I’d help thee pity thy wounded conceit, but that I
know that thou art soon to ascend. Art thou going now!”

“I’m afraid not, since I’ve so many more sins than graces. When elephants
soar with butterfly wings, thou mayst look for my departure. Till then
I’ll stay here and practice the patience of Job, beset with his rambling
devil.”

“How elegantly the cavalier uses simile in coining epithets.”

“Heavens! Rizpah, thou dost twist my meanings! Why distort, instead of
pardoning my blunders, making both of us miserable!”

“Oh, then, thou hast grace enough not to liken me to thy besetting, evil
spirit, at least in words?”

“No, no, ’tis refined cruelty to put me on the defense as to that.
Believe it or not, Rizpah of Gerash and Rizpah of Bozrah are the same. My
heart to its core says so!”

This second quarrel, that should not have been begun, had the merit of
ending, as it should, in reconciliation, tears, embraces and a great
many excellent pledges. Yet Sir Charleroy did not greatly profit by



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 14 of 40)