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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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can, truly, proclaim two, neither having committed the deadly sin, apart.”

“This separate living is their constant sin?”

“He that starts wrongly repeats the wrong anew each time that, by act or
thought, he approves the wrong first done. Sin’s name is truly legion.”

“What an awful thing is sin!”

“True, daughter. It blinds its victims here, and its wages hereafter is
death.”

“That’s why I fear to disobey my mother; what if it be sin to do so?”

“The command, my child, is ‘children obey your parents—_in the Lord_.”

“What does ‘in the Lord’ mean?”

“I’ll tell thee, my little catechumen; there comes a time to some youths,
in pious life, when duty to God compels disobedience of parents; as it
came to Jonathan, son of Saul. God is Father and mother to the righteous,
and His law must be first. Mary left home and every thing, first and
last, to follow Jesus. Her way was the Christian’s.”

“I thought once I was right in obeying my mother without question. Now I
think I may be right in disobeying without question. The old and the new
law are at war within me.”

“Amid these Bashan hills Paul, the Holy Saint, traveled, led of God from
thinking that directly opposite to his former beliefs, the truth. Jesus
met him then on the way to Damascus, in power and in glory; Paul had been
for a long time a profound scholar, a Pharisee of thy people. On this
journey, enlightened by the spirit, he asked and learned sincerely to
ask, the question of questions in this life; ‘_Lord what wilt thou have
me to do?_’ I beseech thee to ask it daughter, as thy hourly prayer.”

“Did God answer Paul?”

“Yea.”

“How?”

“The blessed apostle tells all! ‘When it pleased God who separated me
from my mother’s womb to reveal His son in me, that I might preach among
the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, ... but
I went into Arabia.’ Neither wife, friend, child, nor Ephesian Elders,
clinging with tears, could hold him back from duty. Then he preached
through this wild country.”

“But I’m not Paul, and only a woman.”

“‘Only a woman!’ She out of whom went seven devils, a woman, was the
herald of the resurrection, and the church; God’s glory in the earth, is
likened unto a woman. Oh, when a woman is clothed with the Sun, there is
nothing more resplendent, and as for power, naught prevails against her.
It seems to me if thou dost emulate her who said to God’s messenger:
‘_Be it unto me according to thy word_’ thou wilt go ere long to thy
father; but thou must now return!”

“Return whither? This spot of all earth alone tolerates me!”

“No, that’s changed! Thou art the Child of a King. Go home; ay, rise to
tell of the One that hath risen in thy heart.”

“Dare I? Must I?” Miriamne soon answered, by action, her own questions.

The young woman started homeward; at first with fearfulness. Then there
came to her great calmness and courage, as she thought: “If I was wrong
in going, I’m right in returning. My mother scared me from home into
God’s arms. I can tell her that.” The new life had quickened within her
the springs of affection. In all her life before she had not been so long
apart from her mother. She said to herself, “I’ll just spring into her
arms, when I meet her!” And she would have, if permitted.

The mother with a face like a stone, emotionless, saw her approach. When
the latter stood by the threshold, the parent freezingly said: “Well;
what dost thou want here?”

A dozen answers pressed for utterance. Some like those shaped by an
angry or reckless girl; some such as might come to a politic woman,
having recourse ever to cunning against the odds of power. The first
thoughts were not of love, the last not of truth. In an instant Miriamne
remembered her new personality. She was the missionary! She dared, being
right, face any thing, even her mother’s wrath; but in her soul she dared
not let bitterness rule. She knew as well that she dared not tell the
truth so as to convey a false impression. She might have done so once;
but not now. “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” the golden prayer was
on her lips and she had instant grace to say quietly: “I was doing no
wrong.”

“Was where?”

How brave the girl had become. Her reply was calm and courageous. “I was,
for a time praying to God; but safe, for God was with me in the Spirit
and good Father Adolphus in the flesh.”

“The Old Clock Man!”

“Yea.”

“The wizard! I so suspected. Here is more of this bad work;” and Rizpah
angrily thrust before Miriamne a scroll. “That fawning, heretic-priest
came here and left this with mock piety saying: ‘I, being the mother,
might read it!’ I had no humor to converse with him; but of thee I demand
the full meaning. Now, no avoidance, girl; dost thou hear!” Miriamne was
not only not abashed, but in her new-found courage took the letter, and
without a quaver of the voice, read:

“TO THE GRAND MASTER OF THE TEMPLE, LONDON.

“_Faithful Knight and Son of the Church_:

“GREETING—I herewith commend to thee and thy most pious and
chivalrous offices, my beloved catechumen, Miriamne de Griffin,
of Bozrah. She is the truly noble daughter of an English
nobleman, now living somewhere in London. He is, I fear,
prodigal toward God, and an exile from his family; perhaps in
the distress of bodily ailment, most grievous. Prompted by holy
desires, this young woman, whom I commend, may come to thy
city in the hope of finding her father, for the compassing of
his restoration to health, his family and righteousness. Had I
the power, I would command the thousand liveried angels, said
ever to attend the Holy Virgin, to encompass ever this sweet
and pious daughter of Knight de Griffin; but being impotent to
direct the angel guard, I serenely commit my daughter in the
spirit, to the watch, care and chivalrous regard of thyself and
thy companion knights.

“All saints salute thee. My benediction be on thee. _In pace._

“ADOLPHUS VON GOMBARD.”

“And _thou_ dost think thou couldst go alone, half round the world, find
that renegade wanderer, bring him here, make him good, tolerable, and
re-unite our family? THOU?” Rizpah stopped, her voice almost at the pitch
of a scream; her utterance ending in a groan that died with a hiss.

Miriamne responded calmly: “I can not tell what I may achieve, that is
with God; but I know what I must attempt. The path of duty is clear, and
I enter it unwaveringly.”

“And I, as unwaveringly, forbid.”

“I expected this command, and in all love for thee, my mother, shall
disobey it.”

Rizpah turned pale, her eyes became leaden. She was for an instant like
one stunned by a sudden, heavy blow, and disarmed. The little submissive
child that she deemed her daughter to be, was suddenly transformed before
her; changed in fact to a firm, strong, brave woman. But the elder
quickly recovered, and while clearly perceiving that violence would be
futile, had recourse to the last arm of the half-defeated, to ridicule.

“Disobedience, oh, I see, this is a part of this superior religion of
thine and that old ‘Old Clock Man;’ this Gombard, ha! ha! It was always
so. New religions please by freeing from law! What an old idiot that
Solomon of the ancients! He taught ‘forsake not the law of thy mother.’”

“Mother, I have two parents and obligations to both. I find our home
shattered, and I for most of my life half orphan. I have thereby great
and lasting loss. My brothers and you suffer as well. I am led of God,
in a desire to seek a remedy for our troubles. I would gladly obey your
edicts, but first I must obey my Maker and King.”

“Girl, false teachings lure thee to a curse.”

“You know mother, you yourself cursed the memory of Herod not long ago,
when we wandered amid the ruins at Kauawat and saw the remnants of his
image, as angry Christians left it, shattered years ago. That day you
said a curse on him that broke up families or made innocents mourn,
whether he lived anciently or now.”

“Well?”

“I say a curse, bitter, on every act that breaks up or beclouds a home!
But not I, it is God that curses!”

Rizpah was speechless and withdrew from the room, motioning silence
with a stately, angry wave of her hand. She was defeated in the debate,
but not subdued. The next day Rizpah renewed the subject, but this time
adopting the tactics of kindness.

“My darling, since yesterday I’ve been thinking thy good intentions
worthy of approval for their spirit of love. I’d approve thy purpose did
I not forsee that the great sacrifice on thy part would be fruitless. Thy
father and I could never live together! If thou foundst him thou couldst
not love him as he is, and, as for reforming him, that were impossible!”

“I must try.”

“’Tis useless; a woman as wise, as patient, and as earnestly seeking
that result as thou, gave years of devotion, deep as her life, to that
purpose. They failed utterly.”

“Was that woman my mother?”

“Yes, listen. In the glorious romances of youth I met Sir Charleroy.
I pitied him coming to our house a defeated Crusader, a refugee. Pity
gave way to admiration. There were few about me whom I could love; I had
no mother. In some way I gave him her part of my heart first, then the
rest of it. I admired him for his soldier-like bravery. He was older and
vastly wiser than I. All my ambitions seemed to be satisfied in climbing
up with his thoughts. He was able to teach me a thousand things I never
before heard of. Heart and mind were intoxicated. I unconditionally
surrendered all to him, with an almost worshipful devotion. I could not
have made a more complete committal if my God had come in human form
and sought me for His everlasting companionship. I fled with him from
my father’s home. In the wild Lejah and this Bozrah we lived for a time
together, until he changed from lover to hater! Here my unnatural love
was murdered by inches. I can now reason better than then, and yet the
past seems like a nightmare. Thy father knew a great deal, intended to
be kind but did not comprehend the dangerous responsibility of taking to
his care such a passionate, imaginative, impressible creature as I was.
He did not realize that there is a period in a woman’s life when she
may be literally made into another being. In every generation women are
walking by thousands through a sort of passion week. I walked in mine,
ready to be molded almost into any form; but he tried to have me profess
to be a Christian, live like a devotee of Astarte and be as Anata of the
Assyrians to her husband, but the echo of himself. I might have done all
this, but he tried to hasten me by force, and then all fell to ruins like
those amid which we lived. That glorious structure of love which romance
built, became the saddest ruin here in those days.

“I was then a young woman, just entering the perilous, exhaustive periods
of maternity. I was weak and nervous, and sometimes may have tried his
patience, but I thought then that he ought to have borne with me. I am
now certain he ought. After he left, I was for a time glad. I had renewed
freedom from arguments, rasping and crossing of purposes. Then I felt
the martyr’s joy. I felt I was left, a girl-wife, with babe in arms, to
battle alone, for God’s sake, for thy sake. It seemed often that the
arching heavens above were smiling upon baby and me; that sustained me.
But, daughter, my moral training had been as thorough as has been thine.
My idea of the solemnity and life-bindingness of the marriage tie could
be no higher than it was. I believed it divine to be forgiving, and
finally was impelled to turn from our broken home, to find, if possible,
my recreant spouse. Dominated by convictions of duty, and often by a
revived, wild, soul-possessing love for Sir Charleroy, I went to far
off, strange London, I hunted out Sir Charleroy and was ready to be all
things, any thing for his sake. He received me tenderly, only to soon
change to cruelty. Your brothers were born there, adding to my load new
burdens; but I was without help. He never seemed to study my comfort,
pleasure nor needs. In a nation of strangers, with strange ways, I was
alone. He knew scores; I knew only that one man. Repulsed by him I
drank again and again the depths of misery, having no heart in all the
great city to counsel nor love me. Then thy father took delight in vice.
I was crucified for months; my only comfort communing in memory with
the Sir Charleroy that had been, the tender, loving, brave Palestine
knight. In those dark days, I found there was a place where persecuted
Israelites secretly met; a sort of cleft-rock synagogue. Thither I went
for consolation. I was wedded anew to my religion, because it was mother,
father, husband and all to me; when there was none but God left to me. I
came to long, daily, for the time to go to that meeting place of a few
Hebrews just to pray God for two things. One, the most pitiful of prayers
for a mother, that He would care for my children and keep them from being
like their father; the other that I might be permitted soon to die! Thy
father grew constantly more brutal, taciturn and fitful! At last I had
an explanation. I found by unmistakable signs that he was going mad. I
saw further that that madness took the shape of a murderous antipathy
for me and the children. Under the advice of the rabbi, leader of our
people at London, I determined, as the only alternative, to return to
our Bozrah home and leave him to the care of his companion knights. In
blank, leaden grief I left London. I came to these scenes of desolation
with a heart as broken as any that ever survived its pains. I could have
died. I returned, my fate fixed, the cup of my retribution for having
disobeyed my parent full. Once a queenly, blithesome girl, petted and
loved by hundreds, changed to a lone, sad widow and prematurely old. A
wife without a husband, a Jew without the recognition of my people. How
utterly isolated! Thou know’st the rest, daughter.”

The two women were silent. Miriamne was moved by the revelation to a
wondrous pity; but her royal sentence: “_Lord, what wilt thou have me to
do?_” seemed to be written on the air just before her uplifted eyes.

Then questioned the elder, “And thou my daughter, a woman, wilt not also
leave me? It’s a woman’s heart that pitifully questions.”

“I’ll never forsake my mother!”

“And never leave?”

“Except, only as God commissions!”

“Oh, say that thou wilt never leave me in life! I said this in cruel
pains for thee, Miriamne. Miriamne, daughter, here by the couch in which
thou wert born, I plead.” So saying the mother dropped on one knee, flung
one arm over the bed by her side, and stretched out the other toward her
daughter.

The maiden was profoundly moved, her loving heart seemed to be swelling
within her, all her emotional nature ready to exclaim, “I’ll tarry,”
but again her royal sentence: “_Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?_”
controlled.

“Loved mother, I am not my own. God has bought me, and in His dear love
I go. The story of sorrow I’ve just heard confirms me in my purpose. I’m
called, I know, to work out a new and brighter day for mother and father!”

Rizpah was both pained and chagrined, and burying her face in her
_pepulum_ moaned, “God, pity me!”

“He does, I know, and sends a daughter to bear thee proof, my mother.”

The mother, as if not hearing the latter words, continued, growing
vehement: “The necromancy of that Nazarine priest has hastened the
workings of heredity’s curse! Girl, thy father’s distemper is taking root
in thy brain; thou too, art going mad! This scheme of peril, foredoomed
to failure, is worthy of a bedlamite only. Oh, Jehovah, my shepherd, thou
lead’st me now by bitter waters!”

“Mother, you called me at my birth, ‘Marah,’ ‘bitterness.’ You know how
the people murmured by the bitter springs of Marah, in the wilderness,
but God showed Moses a tree that sweetened the water. I’ve seen that
tree and felt its power. It grows on the mount called Calvary, and is
immortal.”

“Be considerate now, daughter, since I meet thee kindly. To one not
believing thy Nazarene doctrine, it is useless to appeal with Christian
figures.”

“Well, mother, you remember Jeptha? He had a daughter, and she was
all-influential with him.”

“He was the cause of her death, as thy father will be of thine.”

“But Jeptha’s daughter became a heroine.”

“When dost thou depart?” questioned Rizpah.

“Next Lord’s day I say my last prayers in Bozrah.”

“Farewell. As well now as later. I can not bear a long parting, and after
to-day we shall speak no more of this.” Miriamne was amazed by the sudden
change.

“Do I go in peace?”

“Ah, daughter, what a question? A mother’s undiminished love will follow
thee even unto death, winging a thousand daily prayers to Israel’s
Shepherd in thy behalf. Yet, I shall condemn thy going, rebuke thy
disobedience, perhaps frown upon thee, and even say, ‘I disown thee!’
But, though I do all this, there will be tears in my voice and kisses
in my heart, for my first-born. All my authority as a mother cries
against thy going, and all my mother-heart embraces. I’ll not kiss thee
as thou departest, but waft hundreds after thee when thou art gone. I’m
not Rizpah, devotee of Rizpah now. I’m only a woman, a parent, a voice
uttering two decrees; one of the head and one of the heart!”

Miriamne was inexpressibly rejoiced by the words she had heard, as they
betokened the breaking down of the strong opposition to her purpose; but
she could not trust herself further than to say, as she affectionately
embraced her mother, “And I can only cry as did that noble Bethlehem
mother to God’s messenger: ‘_Be it unto me according to thy word._’ He
leads, I follow.”

[Illustration: By W. Holman Hunt.

THE YOUTH JESUS YIELDING TO THE WISHES OF HIS MOTHER.]




CHAPTER XXV.

CONSOLATRIX AFFLICTORUM.

“Furl we the sail and pass with tardy oar
Through these bright regions, casting many a glance
Upon the dream like issues and romance
Of many-colored life that Fortune pours
Round the Crusaders till, on distant shores,
Their labors end.”—WORDSWORTH.


Miriamne’s welcome at the “Retreat of the Palestineans,” at London, was
most cordial. The Grand Master of the returned knights and his wife
received her as a daughter; the companion knights vied with each other in
efforts to serve the child of their once honored comrade, Sir Charleroy
de Griffin. But the maiden never for a moment lost sight of her mission.
No sooner had she been bidden to rest than she questioned as to her
father’s welfare. The Grand Master attempted to assure her that she might
recuperate after her journey, but she only the more urged her desire to
be taken to her parent at once.

“Worthy Master, dalliance would not be rest, but torture, to me. Being
now so near my father, I’m filled with a ruling, all-exciting longing to
see him, at once!”

“Be patient, daughter, for a little season; all is done for him that can
be. The princely revenues of the knights of Europe are at the behest of
each of our veterans, as he hath need.”

“Ah! but your wealth can not provide him what I bring—a daughter’s love!”

“And yet, daughter, since you press me, I must explain that he is under a
cloud which would make thy offering vain at present.”

“There is no need, kind commander, to make evasive explanations. I have
been forewarned of my father’s troubles of mind.”

“But he is violent at times, and we are compelled to keep him secluded in
the asylum of our brotherhood.”

“Good Master, that but the more increases my ardor to hasten a meeting
with him. I want to try the cure of love upon him; I’ve all faith in its
efficacy. When may I go?”

The foregoing was a sample of Miriamne’s words each day. Her appeals
touched all hearts and finally over-persuaded the medical attendants,
who, in fact, began to fear lest refusal would unsettle the maiden’s
mind. She was all vehemence and urgency on this subject.

The meeting was a sorrowful and brief one.

She was not prepared for such a spectacle as her father presented, and
her cry, “Take me to him,” was changed to one more vehement now:

“Take me away!”

Terror supplemented her utter disappointment. To both feelings there
was added a sense of humiliation. She imagined her return to Bozrah,
empty-handed; the possible gibes of her mother and others. Her great
faith seemed fruitless and her enthusiasm ebbed. Then she began to
question within herself whether or not, after all, the new faith she
had embraced was not a splendid illusion! She was in “Doubting Castle,”
with “Giant Despair,” and the mighty, impelling question, “What wilt
Thou have me to do?” little by little lost its grip on her will. It had
seemed to her the voice of God; now it seemed little more than the echo
of words heard in a dream. She was moved now by a desire to get away from
something, but she could not define the thing. Certainly she desired to
escape her disappointment, but not knowing how, she sought to get away
from its scene. If she could have run away from herself she would have
been glad to have done so. She fled from the asylum, as soon as night
came to hide her flight. She had not strength to go far, and the Asylum
park of many acres of lawns and groves, afforded her solitude; that that
she now chiefly desired. The night the desolate girl thus went forth was
a lovely one; a reflection of that other night of sorrow when she fled
from the old stone-house home to the chapel of Adolphus at Bozrah. And
the memory of that night returned to the girl with some consoling. Again
she looked up to the firmament and was calmed by the eternal rest that
seemed on all above, and again she yearned to go up further to the only
seeming haven of righteousness and peace.

Then came the reaction; the prolonged tension had done its work, and the
young woman dropped down on the earth. How long she lay in her blank
dream she knew not. If during its continuance she in part recovered
consciousness, she had no desire nor strength to rise or throw off her
weakness.

Ere long her absence was known at the Grand Master’s and an eager search
was instituted. Foremost in the quest was the young chaplain of the
knights and his quest brought him first to the object of search.

“Can I aid my lady?” said the chaplain, in kindly tones, standing a
little distance away from her, in part through a feeling of delicacy akin
to bashfulness, and in part fearing lest by any means he should affright
her.

The young woman lay motionless; her eyes closed; her face as the face of
the lifeless. Receiving no answer, the man questioned within himself:
“Is she dead?” Fear emboldened him, and he essayed active assistance.
Delicately, gently, firmly he raised up the prostrate woman. She seemed
to realize that some one was assisting her, but she was very passive.
Her head, drooping, rested on the young man’s shoulder, and she sighed a
weary, broken sentence:

“I’m so glad you came, Father Adolphus!”

“Not Father Adolphus, but one rejoiced to serve a friend of his.”

The maiden was silent a few moments, as if listening to words coming
to her from a distance, through confusions. Memory was struggling to
re-enforce semi-consciousness. Then came comprehension; she realized
the presence of a stranger, and, with an effort, stood erect. Her eyes
turned on the chaplain’s face with questionings, having in them mingled
surprise, timidity and rebuke. The man interpreted her glance and made
quick reply:

“At my lady’s services, the Chaplain of the Palestineans. We are all
anxious at the Grand Master’s concerning yourself.”

“Anxious for me!” She found words to say that much, and hearing her own
words she recalled her recent thoughts of herself, as one being very
miserable and very worthless. She turned her eyes from the young man
toward the woodland, in the darkness appearing like a gateway to black
oblivion. She yearned to bury herself in the oblivion utterly, and her
looks betrayed the thought. The youth gently touched her arm, saying:



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 23 of 40)