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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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“Despair has no place here; the Palestineans vanquish it.”

She then looked down toward where she had been lying, both nerves and
will weakening. It seemed to her a bed, even on the earth, were inviting,
especially so if she could take there a sleep that knew no waking.

The young man had ministered to his fellow-beings long enough to have
become a good interpreter of hearts. He discerned the thoughts of the one
before him, and offered prompt remedies, words wisely spoken:

“Our faith makes us all hope to see our guest happy ere long.”

Then she gave way to a flood of tears. The tears moved the man to
exercise His professional function, and forgetting all else he spoke
as a comforter to a sorrowing woman. She listened, but, except for her
sobs, was silent until he questioned: “Shall I stay to guide back to the
‘Refuge,’ or return to send help?”

She answered by turning toward him a face pale and blank, lighted alone
by eyes all appealing. He interpreted the look and continued: “I’ll tarry
to aid. Shall we now seek the ‘Refuge?’”

Then she exclaimed, “Alas, there seems no refuge for me!”

“The troubles of Miriamne de Griffin enlist all hearts at this place, I
assure you.”

“And this, your kindness, with your happiness ever before me, but makes
to myself my own desolation more manifest! Ah, I’m but a hulk in a dark
tide!”

“Lady, say not so, I beseech you. Look, there!” Languidly, mechanically,
she turned her eyes in the direction the speaker pointed; then suddenly
drew back from sight of a white apparition, standing out boldly from a
background of dark shrubbery. Her nerves all unstrung were for the moment
victimized by superstitious dreads.

“Only, calm, pure marble; a fear-slayer; not fear-invoker! Look
at its pedestal!” assuringly spoke the chaplain. The maiden
did as bidden and slowly read, repeating each word aloud:
“_Sancta-Maria-Consolatrix-Afflictorum._”

“By easy interpretation: ‘Mother of Jesus, consoler of the sorrowing!’”
responded the young man.

“Ah, like all consolations nigh to me, this is only stone and set in deep
shadows! It can not come to me!”

“True, yon form is passionless stone; but the truth eternal, which it
emblemizes, is living and fervent.”

“Life and fervor? Death and sorrow submerge both!”

“There is mother-love in the heart of God; to one so nearly orphan as my
friend, it must be comforting to look up believing that in heaven there
are fatherhood, motherhood and home! This is the sermon in yon stone.”

Then the chaplain gently, reverently drew the sorrow stricken maiden
toward the “Refuge” and she followed, unresisting. As they moved along,
she essayed to seek further acquaintance with her guide.

“May I know the chaplain’s name?”

“Certainly; to those that are intimates, ‘Brother’ or ‘Friend;’ for such
I’ve renounced my former self and name.”

“But if I should need and wish to send for you? I might. I could not call
for ‘Brother.’”

“Ah, I’m by right, ‘Cornelius Woelfkin;’ yet the names are misnomers,
since I’m not kin to the wolf, nor am I ‘a heart-giving light’ as my name
implies; at least if I give light it is but dim.”

The meeting of the young people, apparently accidental, was in fact an
incident in a far-reaching train of Providences. The young woman was in
trouble and needing such sympathy as one who was both young and wise
could give; the young man was courteous, pure-minded, wise beyond his
years, free from the conceits common to young men of capacity, and being
a natural philanthropist, naturally sympathetic. The young woman was at
the age that yearns for a girl friend, and needs a mother’s counsel; the
young man had much of his mother in his make-up; enough to fit him to win
his way into the confidence and fine esteem of a refined and trusting
young woman; but not enough to make him effeminate. Somehow he exactly
met the needs of Miriamne’s life. He could advise her as sincerely and
wisely as a mother and companion her as affectionately as a girl friend.
Having neither girl friend nor mother, the young chaplain became both to
her.

They were both impressible and inexperienced in the matters that belong
to the realms of the heart, in its grander emotions; therefore with a
charming simplicity they outlined their intentions and the limitations
of their relations. They assured each other, again and again, probably
in part to assure themselves, that they were to be very true and very
sensible young friends. Their converse often ran along after this manner.

“We understand each other so well!”

“Yes, and are so well adapted to each other!”

“We have had too much experience to spoil this helpful relation between
us, by giving away to any sway of the romantic emotions.”

“There has seldom been in the world a friendship between a young man and
young woman so exalted and wise as ours is.”

They agreed that she should call him “brother,” and he should call her
“sister.” At first they said they wished they were indeed akin by ties
of blood; though in time they were glad they were not. In this they were
like many another pair who have had such a wish, and in their case as in
many another like it, the wish, was a prediction of its own early demise.

Among the works of art in the park of the Palestineans was a commanding
bronze of Pallas-Athene, the goddess believed by her pagan devotees to
be the patroness of wisdom, art and science. She was the Virgin of the
Romans and the Greeks, their queenly woman, deemed by her wisdom ever
superior to Mars, god of war. She was represented bearing both spear
and shield; but these as emblems of her moral potencies. In a word, she
was the result of the efforts of those ancients to express a perfection
that was virgin and matchless, because too fine and exalted to have an
equal. Between the “White Madonna” and this Minerva, Chaplain Woelfkin
and the Maid of Bozrah often walked, back and forth, in very complacent
conversations. They desired themes, the ideals afforded them; they were
in a frame of mind that delighted in Utopianism, and the effigies of the
women guided their day-dreams. Youth, quickened by dawning, though as yet
unperceived, love, naturally begins building a Pantheon filled with fine
creations. That is the time of hero-worship in general; afterward comes
the iconoclastic period when every idol is cast down to make place for
the only one that the heart crowns. Cornelius praised sincerely Miriamne,
when she said she would be as the Græco-Roman goddess—very wise, very
pure, very strong. Day by day, he believed she was becoming like Minerva.
Then he thought it very fine for the maiden to emulate the goddess in
every thing, even her perpetual virginity. Again, walking near the
Madonna and discoursing of her as the ideal of womanhood, as the mother,
the minister, the saint, the maiden said she would emulate the latter;
the chaplain in his heart prayed that she might.

Once he finely said: “A pure, patient woman is God’s appointed and best
consoler of the afflicted. Miriamne, be like Mary, and Sir Charleroy will
find restoration.”

The young woman was encouraged by the words to increase her efforts in
her father’s behalf. Now she did so not only because prompted by a sense
of duty, but because filial love seemed a fine ornament for a maiden.
Birds in mating-times put on their finest plumage; men and women do
likewise. The chaplain was a humanitarian by profession, and naturally
joined the maiden in her efforts for her father’s recovery. So their
thoughts and their works ran in parallel lines. They had unbounded
delight in their companionship and common efforts. This delight they
innocently explained to themselves as the natural result and reward of
their fine, exalted, frank, wise, brother-like, sister-like friendship.
In hours of their supremest satisfaction they generously expressed
sorrow for the world at large, because so few in it knew how to attain
such bliss as they enjoyed. In a word, they were a very fine and a
very innocent pair, a complete contrast with Rizpah and Sir Charleroy
at Gerash. The latter took their course under the torrid influences of
Astarte of the brawny Giants, the former moved forward charmed and led by
those things that were held to be the belongings of the fine women whose
statues graced the park of the Palestineans. Miriamne asked wisdom later
of her elect counselor, and he advised her to send letters to Bozrah
urging her mother to join her in London, in efforts in behalf of their
insane kinsman.

The young man very wisely argued: “He is a fragment, flung out of a
wrecked home; his perturbed mind is clouded by the wild passions of a
misled heart. We must balance his brain by calming his heart. He is
filled with hatings, and love alone is hate’s cure. If the past losses be
recovered, he must be brought back to the place of loss.”

Miriamne wrote to her mother, glad to please her counselor by so doing,
and yet almost hopeless of gaining any answer that was favorable. The
maiden renewed her visit to her father’s lodge in the asylum. She was not
permitted, nor did she then desire, to see her parent. She shuddered when
she remembered the one dreadful meeting of the beginning, and was content
to sit outside the door of his cell or keep, day by day, to perform such
little services as she could. Sometimes she would call the insane man by
his name, or title; sometimes she would call out: “Father, would you like
to see Miriamne?” or “Father, your daughter is here.” At other times she
would sit near his door singing Eastern songs, especially such as she had
heard were favorites of her parents in their younger days.

Days passed onward, and there appeared no result beyond the fact that
when she was thus engaged the knight became very quiet. At the suggestion
of Chaplain Woelfkin, she changed her method, and began in hearing of
the knight a recital of the history of Crusader days. In this she was
encouraged, for an attendant told her that her father each day, when she
began, drew close to his barred door to listen. As she came near the
time of the Acre campaign, the knight’s face was flushed with interest.
Having followed the narrative up to the fall of the city and the flight
of Sir Charleroy and his comrades, she paused. Then she was surprised
and delighted at once, for the incarcerated man in a voice both calm and
natural, ejaculated the words: “Go on!”

Miriamne would have rushed to the prison door had not Cornelius, who
stood not far away, motioned her to remain seated and to continue. For a
moment she was at a loss how to proceed, but then she bethought herself
of an experiment. She described by a kind of a parable the career of her
father, as follows:

“And the noble knight, after years of illness, was found by his loving
daughter. Under her kindly care he recovered, and at her earnest request
he returned to his home in Palestine. There he spent many happy years
with his reunited family, consisting of a wife, daughter and twin sons.
He is living there now, and all that family agree that theirs is the most
happy and loving home on earth.”

“It’s a lie! a lie!” almost shouted the lunatic. “Sir Charleroy is
not there. He went mad; the devil stole his skull and left his brain
uncovered to be scratched by a million of bats. That’s why he went mad; I
know him; he went mad, and is mad yet, and you get away with your lying!”

The daughter fled in terror at the succeeding outburst of wild profanity;
but she was still rejoiced, that a chord of memory had been struck. It
gave a harsh response, yet it gave a response, and that was much. She
continued her efforts as before. The interviews were not fruitless,
but they were costing her fearfully. She complained to no one, yet her
youthful locks, in a few months streaked with silver, told the story of
suffering.

One day there was delivered at the Grand Master’s a huge package directed
to herself. Miriamne, filled with wonder, called help to open the case.
Just under the cover she beheld a letter. She knew the handwriting. It
was her mother’s. Her heart took a great leap, and as a flash of joy
there ran through her mind the thought:

“Mother has sent something to help. Perhaps it’s her clothing, and she is
coming!”

Tremblingly Miriamne read the epistle. How formal:

“MIRIAMNE DE GRIFFIN:—Thou went’st without my leave. Do not
return till sent for. Thou left’st a loving mother for a
worthless father, and this is a daughter’s reward. Thou dost
say Sir Charleroy is mad. I knew it, and think that the curse
is descending on thee. But I doubt not the man has cunning in
his madness, and has prompted thee to inveigle me into his
toils again. Once he had me in England, and there he put me on
the rack of his merciless temper and lust! Shame on him for
that time! Shame on me if he have opportunity to repeat it! I
send thee a comforter. Put it before his eyes, and tell him
that the woman of Bozrah is before him. Tell him that she, like
Rizpah of old, is true to the death to her sons, and, while
waking, never forgets to curse the vultures!”

No love was added. There was no name appended. Miriamne felt like one
disowned. She dreaded to examine the contents of the case; but a servant,
who began the opening just then, spread it out. As she suspected, after
she had read the letter, it was the (to her) hateful picture of ancient
Rizpah.

It was evening, and the maiden sought a refuge from her troubles in the
park. It was, on her part, another flight from the face of Rizpah of
Gibeah; another seeking of solitude from man that she might gain that
sense of nearness to the Eternal Father under the calm, silent stars of
His canopy. It was like that flight from the old stone house of Bozrah to
the chapel of Father Adolphus that she had made long before.

The maiden’s course brought her to the “White Madonna,” and there she
found her counselor and brother, the chaplain. He had heard that Miriamne
was desponding that day, and had bent his course hither, confident that
the “_Consolatrix Afflictorum_” would prove a tryst. The scenery around
Pallas Athene was the finer by far, but to a troubled heart there was the
more allurement in the place where the love of heaven was expressed.
The Minerva expressed self-sufficiency; the “White Madonna,” God’s
sufficiency. One expressed justice, culture, the perfection of human
gifts, regnant and victorious; the other spoke of welcome, healing,
mercy, and help for those who were in pitiable needs. The virgin evolved
by the philosophers of the Greeks was a concept touching but few of
humanity, and fitted to be crowned only in a world of perfections, such
as has not yet existed. The “White Madonna” depicted a real character who
had a human heart and heavenly traits, and that easily found acceptance
in human affections.

The maiden and her counselor sat together for a long time; she speaking
of her social miseries, he of God’s remedies; she describing the
thickness of the night about her; he telling her in beautiful parables
that there was a refuge and an asylum, though the night obscured all for
a time. As they conversed the rising moon flooded the “White Madonna”
with silvering light, and the chaplain rapturously exclaimed:

“See, the moon gets its light from the sun, and gives it to the image. We
do not see the sun, but we see its work and glory reflected! So God hands
down from heaven to His children, by His angels and ministers, the powers
and blessings that they need. Miriamne, we have a Father who forgets none
and is munificent to all!”

[Illustration: Paul Veronese.

THE WEDDING AT CANA.]




CHAPTER XXVI.

THE WEDDING AT CANA.

“I would I were an excellent divine
That had the Bible at my fingers’ ends;
That men might hear out of this mouth of mine
How God doth make His enemies His friends;
Rather than with a thundering and long prayer
Be led into presumption, or despair.”—BRETON.

“Hear ye Him. Whatever He saith unto you, do it.”—MARY.


Chaplain Woelfkin heard of Miriamne’s reply from her mother. He was both
glad and sorry thereat; sorry the heart he tenderly esteemed should have
been so wounded, and glad that the wounding afforded him opportunity to
show how gently and wisely he could comfort.

“Your trial came at a fortunate time, sister.”

“I can not see how such a rebuke can ever be timely, being unjust and
cruel.”

“True enough; but if fate must assail, it is well to have its hardships
fall on us when we are supported by dawning hopes. There are hopes near
for Miriamne.”

“Let not my brother’s warm heart give me false comfort. I’ve no sight of
hope.”

“Say not so; there is a surprise in store for you.”

“Now, pray, explain.”

“You will be permitted to meet your father at the chapel service
to-night.”

“Oh, but—!” and Miriamne bowed her head and waved her hand as if to repel
some unpleasant spectacle.

“Be not perturbed, sister. Let me explain: You came hither to seek
your demented parent, hoping that love would find a way to compass his
healing. The purpose and effort were alike noble and wise. You lost heart
because the results were slow to appear; but the good seed was sown, and
now for the fruit.”

“Has my father recovered?”

“He has improved, and to-night we’ll sit quietly while we apply the balm
of Gilead.”

“Now am I in a mystery.”

“Miriamne’s ministries have touched a responsive chord in Sir Charleroy’s
heart and fitted him to attend our mind-cure services. Love is the surest
remedy for a mind gone down under the ruins of the crushed heart. Sir
Charleroy calls his daughter ‘Naaman’s little maid,’ and but yesterday
said: ‘Ah, she’ll take me to healing Jordan yet!’”

“Blessed be God,” devoutly exclaimed the maiden, glancing heavenward.

“To which I say ‘amen,’ assured that great things will come through our
‘_Birth of Peace_.’”

“And what is that, pray?”

“We are trying to soothe the tumultuous minds of our asylum patients by
displaying sweet peace in picture garbs. To-night by the aid of a musical
and illustrative service we shall depict, in the chapel, the Birth of
Jesus. But I’ll not explain further now. Wait until the hour of service,
sister.”

When the people were gathered, Miriamne, glowing with hope, yet silenced
by anxiety, was in the midst of the assembly. The preliminary services
moved slowly along with a studied absence of hurry. Miriamne could not
give them her attention; she was disappointed because she did not see her
father present, and the chaplain himself was not there. Presently the
music of the occasion arrested her attention. She followed its movement
and found it gaining control of her feelings. There was an organ in soft,
quiet tones leading voices that murmured words of trust and rest. She
followed the flowing tide of melody again and again, each time further,
higher, more contentedly, until one strain, expressive of serene triumph,
lifted her to a very third heaven of satisfaction. There it left her
almost at a loss to say where the melody ceased and the remembering began.

At that instant, the chaplain passed by her side, robed in white,
hurriedly whispering so she alone could hear: “Your father is behind the
screen of Templar banners, quietly listening. Be hopeful and pray. God is
good!” The words to her soul were as rain whisperings to spring flowers
in a torrid noon.

Advancing to the raised platform, the young man told the story of
Bethlehem, ending with a beautiful description of the angel song of
“_Peace on earth, good will to men_.” The words of the speaker were
quietly spoken, and his address mostly like that of one conversing with
a few friends; but the words were very impressive. When all had bowed to
receive the benediction, Miriamne, lifting her eyes, beheld her father
sitting, with the flag screen thrown aside, full in view, but clad as
a knight and without manacle or guard. For a moment he sat thus, then
arose and calmly moved out of the chapel toward his lodge. She obeyed a
sudden impulse and rose to speed after him, but the restraining hand of
the Grand Master was laid on her arm:

“Wait; not yet, daughter.”

Renewed hope made it easy for her to comply, and she sat down again
filled with gratitude toward God. A series of similar services followed,
each bringing new causes for hopefulness to the maiden.

“We are going to Cana to-day, sister,” remarked the young chaplain some
weeks subsequent to the “Birth of Peace” service.

“To Cana?”

“To Cana, and for a purpose.”

“I can not fathom it, brother.”

Then the young man explained to his fair hearer the scripture event, and
the method devised for presenting it at the chapel, as intended that day.

The patients and their friends were assembled in the chapel again. Sir
Charleroy among them, but silent and absorbed with his own thoughts.

“We are going to try a device to gain his attention,” whispered the
chaplain to Miriamne. Just then the Grand Master, dressed in the full
regalia of a knight, ascended the platform and uncovered to view a huge
earthen vessel, remarking: “Friends, we want to exhibit this evening a
vessel, on its way now to France, but left for a time in our custody by
some of our comrade Crusaders, who brought it from Cana in Galilee.”

“Knights,” “Crusaders,” “Cana!” murmured Sir Charleroy, as if in
soliloquy. Miriamne observed her father’s eyes. They were no longer
leaden; they glowed with interest. “You all remember,” continued the
Grand Master, “how Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana? Tradition
informs us that this before us is one of the identical water-pots used
that time by our Savior; but I’ll leave our chaplain to tell the rest.”
The youth took his position at the pulpit and began informally to talk,
as if in conversation, but he had anxiously, carefully prepared for the
occasion.

He first pictured Cana, with its limestone houses, sitting on the side
of the highlands, a few miles north-east of Nazareth. “This place,” he
continued, “is the reminder of two instructive events. I have their
history here.” Thereupon, Cornelius turned to an illuminated volume and
began reading, with passing comments. As he read, Sir Charleroy closely
watched the reader; the puzzled look of the listener faded into satisfied
attention.

“Jesus was proclaimed the Lamb of God, near Cana, by that
vehement, self-starving Baptist John. But in habits and manner
of living John and Jesus were utterly dissimilar. There was
harmony in the great things, faith and charity in all things.”

The mad knight nodded inquiringly.

The student continued:

“Jesus, the organizer of the new kingdom, at Cana, unfolded one
part of His policy, for nigh here twain questioned: ‘_Where
dwellest thou?_’ Jesus instantly invited them to His own
abode. They dwelt with Him a day, and were won to be His loyal
disciples, thus attesting the power of Christ in the home. And
they got a home religion, for one of these, Andrew, at once
sought to win his brother Peter to discipleship. On the eve of
Cana’s wedding feast Jesus won Philip, saying, ‘_Follow me_,’
and Philip hasted to win Nathaniel, crying, ‘Come and see.’ To
these He spoke of a hereafter home with open doors and a holy
family. Each of Jesus’s true disciples was impelled to haste
and tell salvation’s story to his nearest kin. Christianity is
a feast beginning in the home circle and spreading to all the
earth.”

The mad knight, as he listened, cast a glance of inquiry over his
shoulder at those near him.

“Sir Charleroy applies the lesson to himself,” whispered the Grand Master
to Miriamne.

Cornelius went on:

“Cana was the home of Nathaniel. We see this poor man sitting
in seclusion under a fig tree. Except his doubts, he was alone.
To him Jesus went, and at the door of his own home the Master
met him. Because Nathaniel believed, on little evidence, God
gave him more, and promised him that he should see heaven open
and the angels ascending and descending, as in Jacob’s vision.
So are those winged messengers passing back and forth forever,



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 24 of 40)