Copyright
A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

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

. (page 25 of 40)
Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 25 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


to minister to and comfort needy man. One may be lost to the
world, to friends, to himself, but never lost to the Good
Shepherd, who is like the one in the parable leaving the ninety
and nine to follow the lamb that was straying.”

Sir Charleroy’s head bowed, and Miriamne was glad, for she saw the tears
falling thick and fast down his pallid cheeks.

A sign from the attending physicians brought the services quietly to a
close. They had seen the emotion of the knight, and desired that the
feelings aroused be permitted to quietly ebb.

A few days later, by their advice, the Grand Master summoned the chaplain
of the Palestineans to hold another service like the last. “Sir Charleroy
was blessed that last day. He evinces interest and natural reasonings.
Since the former service he has repeated the story of Cana over and over,
together with the substance of thy discourse thereon. Besides that, he
never tires of inquiring about the ‘ruddy priest of the sweet words,’”
said the physician.

“I obey, my Master, it’s God’s will. What shall be my theme?”

“Oh, Cana continued; De Griffin is constantly inquiring as to when the
ruddy priest of the sweet words is to continue the tale of the Cana,”
said the Grand Master.

“Praise the Day Spring that hath visited us!”

“You echo the thought of all our souls, Cornelius.”

And it was so that on the day following the chapel of the “House of Rest”
was filled with much the same company that met there the last time.

Miriamne arrived early and eagerly questioned Cornelius as he passed her
on his way to his robing-room:

“Oh, brother, hast thou a message of grace and hope for me, to-day?”

“_The entrance of thy word giveth light_,” was his quiet reply; and he
passed on, not daring to tarry near the woman that so strangely moved
him. He felt very serious, and hence avoided that which might distract
his attention.

But Miriamne felt assured, while Cornelius was all faith in the efficacy
of the Divine word in working the cure of minds perturbed.

Presently he stood behind his reading-desk and, waiting until the organ
tone had died away, commenced by reading these words:

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the
mother of Jesus was there:

“And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.”

Sir Charleroy had entered the chapel, and was moving toward a lonely
seat; his motions were languid; his action listless, except when at
intervals he gazed into the empty air and hissed some incoherent words
at imaginary people. But the word “Cana” arrested his attention. He
looked up, smiled, and then exclaimed: “Oh, the red-faced! That’s it;
tell us more, more of Cana!”

Cornelius complied. “We have here a story of two lives in the most
precious tie on earth, marriage.”

Then the chaplain read:

“We see Christ at a Jewish wedding, and the Hebrew marriage was
ever an occasion of great joy. Not only so, but the weddings
of that people were characterized by very instructive and
impressive ceremonies. Let me explain. The day before the
wedding both bride and groom fasted, confessed their sins and
made ceremonial atonement for the errors of their past lives.
They were to be part of each other, and felt that each owed
it to the other to be free from burden or taint of the past.
Both bride and groom at the wedding wore wreaths of myrtle, the
emblem of justice, constantly to typify that virtue as supreme
in wedlock.”

“Oh, young priest, thou art an angel!”

The voice startled all but Sir Charleroy. He had spoken, yet his face
indicated only placidity and interest. Cornelius proceeded:

“The bride, veiled from head to foot to show that her beauty
was to be seen only by him to whom she gave herself, decked
with a girdle, emblem of strength and subjection, was led in
triumph from the home of her father to the home of him who was
to possess her. Before she took her departure, kindly hands
anointed her with sweet perfumes and gave her priceless jewels;
while on her way she was met by all her friends, singing songs
and bearing torches to gladden her journey toward her new
abode. Thus they that loved the bride did bestir themselves
to bestow bounties and make the maiden most choice. There was
no detraction, no defiling, no effort to belittle. Were wives
aided like brides there would be fewer broken hearts among
wedded women.”

“Wondrous true, ruddy priest!” It was the mad knight’s voice. Cornelius
continued:

“The feast of the wedding lasted seven days. To such a
gathering Jesus once went. Probably this was the marriage of
a kinsman. Thus, immediately after His temptation and His
baptism, with His mighty redemptional work all before Him,
our Lord deemed it a leading duty to give proper attention to
this wedding ceremonial, one of the lesser things that make
up so much of life. With man supreme selfishness, or natural
littleness, engenders apathy to all except some pre-occupying
purpose, but He, in whom all fullness dwells, entered into
and embraced around about all life. He was as glorious when
meddling with human joys and making the waters of Cana blush
to wine, as when grappling with the sorrows of sin and setting
Himself up on Calvary the beacon and light of the ages.”

Miriamne felt the illumination again that first came to her that
Easter-day at Bozrah, while Sir Charleroy’s face glowed with intelligence
and peace. This was a full, round gospel which Cornelius was proclaiming,
and every soul present was fed.

After pausing for an interlude of soothing music he again proceeded with
his discoursing as one conversing:

“At Cana, Christ bound as a captive, natural law. How He did so we do not
know, but we do know that while destroying no part of nature’s system
he mysteriously made it serve for human happiness in a way unusual and
marvelous. It seems to me that the story of Cana is a fireside story. No
matter how miserable a home may be, it may have faith that in welcoming
the Divine guest it welcomes assured miraculous joy. Life’s waters may
blush everywhere to heaven’s wine!”

The mad knight murmured: “Oh, ruddy priest! if thou couldst only preach
this in Bozrah.”

The Grand Master, who was sitting by Miriamne, pressed her hand and
whispered: “Memory is reviving—praise to the Day-Spring!”

Cornelius again read his parchment.

“And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have
no wine.

“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is
not yet come.”

“So,” said the reader, “these folks were likely poor, the supply meager,
though no man ever yet had enough of the wine of joy at his wedding until
it was blessed by the God of marriage.”

Just then Sir Charleroy, standing up, solemnly said: “Young man, I’d have
thee tell these people why He said ‘Woman, what have I to do with thee?’
He, the man, was master, that was it, eh?”

“Oh, motion to Cornelius not to debate,” whispered Miriamne to the Grand
Master; but Cornelius was already adroitly replying:

“True, knight of Saint Mary, but this Master of ceremonies was Divine.
Then He was not talking to his wife. He had not wed this woman, hence
was not bound by the law of being her other self. Besides that we must
not forget that they had often conversed intimately before the wedding;
she with all the tenderness of a woman’s heart, which in its love ever
naturally outruns all plans, all reasonings, to bestow all it has at once
upon the all-beloved. She hurried Christ in the way of giving. This to
her credit, if her wisdom is reproved.”

The knight settled back in his seat, his face very pale but not
anger-marked.

Cornelius continued: “The term ‘woman’ is often used, as here, in all
tenderness. Our rugged language ill translates the original. When a
people has not fine moods in its living, its language becomes like
sackcloth, unfit to clothe the angel-like thoughts of those who live on
more exalted planes. The gross degrade all their companions, whether such
be beings or merely words.”

The leader again read:

“His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

“This shows the good, motherly Mary supplementing the Master’s
work. Doubtless, she had her partisans, some who would have
sided with her had she chosen to rebuke her Son. But she
desired harmony at the feast and in the home. This was the
chief end, and for it she was willing to serve and wait.”

“Very true! Our Lady was always right and good.” It was the voice of the
mad knight.

Cornelius continued:

“These were the finest words Mary ever spoke; they were the
key to her whole life; indeed, the spirit of the ideal woman
ever more standing nearer to Christ than any other being; at a
wedding, the very climax of fullest human love, the gateway to
home, the counterpart of heaven, Mary points all to the Christ,
exclaiming, ‘_Hear ye Him!_’”

“Our Lady was always a wise, brave, loving, submissive woman,” exclaimed
Sir Charleroy.

“It is an old tradition,” replied Cornelius, “that this was the wedding
of John, the beloved and confidant of Jesus. It is interesting to
remember that that blessed disciple, in his Gospel, presents the one whom
he loved as a mother but twice—once at this wedding, the other time at
the crucifixion; the places of highest joy, and deepest sorrow; a way of
saying from the altar to the cross, is woman’s course; a parable-like
presentment of the doctrine that the wife and mother are to appear at
these two points, so opposite, so common to all; the lowest dip, the
highest heaven.”

The mad knight suddenly interrupted them.

“What did Joseph think of all this?”

Perhaps this odd query was fortunate, for it brought smiles to all. The
knight laughed out until his eyes were flowing with tears.

Cornelius, self-possessed, quietly replied: “It is said that Joseph was
dead long ere this wedding, and that Mary was exhaling the perfumes of
her consecrated widowed life to gladdening in pious ministries the people
about her. Widowhood has such purposes.”

“Ah, she was the Rose,” cried the knight. “If Joseph were not dead, he
might well stand back, behind such a wife!”

The chaplain of the Palestineans closed with a well-worded climax,
recalling the fact that this event made a lasting impression on the
Son of God, as evinced by the wondrous tropes of the Apocalypse, where
eternal goodness and eternal joy are pictured under the similitude of a
wedding-feast.

The mad knight cried out: “Grand, grand! Oh, ruddy priest, I worship
thee!”

The Grand Master signaled the conclusion. The worshipers and patients
were slowly retiring, Sir Charleroy moving toward his lodge seemingly
wrapped in contemplation of some engrossing problem.

He passed near the picture of “Rizpah Defending Her Relatives,” which by
some mischance had been left near the chapel door. Instantly the knight’s
attention was fixed; he became excited, then suddenly turning to an
attendant, exclaimed:

“Here, tell me, where am I? Is this London or Bozrah?”

“London, good Teuton.”

Again he gazed at the picture, and his transformation was startling.
His face was distorted, his body became rigid and swayed as that of the
hooded snake making ready to strike a victim. Then bounding to the Grand
Master’s side he snatched the latter’s sword from its hilt, quickly
returned to the picture, and before any could prevent him began to hack
it to pieces.

One tried to restrain him, but was overpowered, two, then three were
flung aside. Presently he was pinioned but not silenced.

“Away! Unhand me!” he shouted. “In the name of the King of Jerusalem, the
defenders of the Sepulcher, unhand me! Do you not see? There! they’ve
come to make riot at the feast of Cana! Ruddy priest, come quickly. Help!
This fearful gang will all be loose in a moment; they be the ghosts of
the giants, and war everlastingly against the peace of homes; against our
Mary and her Son’s kingdom.”

He was breathless for a moment, and all were anxious lest he be
permanently unsettled. Some were praying for him, others holding him.
Then he broke forth again as before.

“Unhand me, infidels! God wills it! Let me cut to pieces yon horrible
thing fresh from hot hell; painted by the gory and beslimed hands of
devils! See! it’s bewitched, and the woman and the hanging men and the
vultures are all alive! They’ll be at us! One of those black birds has
feasted on my heart for years, and yon woman has nightly beaten my bare
brain with her club.”

They tried to calm him; his daughter pressed to his side, and flinging
her arms about the knight, beseechingly cried: “Father! father! it is I!
Miriamne!”

“Miriamne? Ha! ha!” cried the excited man. “More mockery! More witchery!
Miriamne is lost, eternally lost! Yon group of demons tore her from me!
Oh, God, if thou lovest a soldier of the cross, hear me, and blast with
burning, swift and quenchless lightnings, yon monsters, and with them all
who separate hearts and wreck homes!”

“Father, so say we all; let us pray together,” pleaded the girl.

“Father! Who says ‘father’ to me?”

“It is I, your daughter, Miriamne!”

Suddenly, Sir Charleroy became calm and curiously observed the maiden.
“Art thou Sir Charleroy’s daughter? I knew him once in Palestine. He died
afterward in London and left me his body. But it’s not much use. It’s
sick most of the time. I carry it about, though, hoping he’ll come for
it. If thou dost want it thou canst have it.”

The daughter humored the fancy, and quickly replied: “I do want it. I
love it. I’ll help you take care of it. Let me now hug it to my heart.”

Then he permitted her to twine about him her arms, and when she kissed
him the second time he returned the salutation, and tears ran down his
hot cheeks.

“Blessed be the God of peace,” fervently ejaculated Cornelius. “The day
dawns; after tears, light.”

The knight continued after a time, addressing Miriamne:

“Sir Charleroy was my friend; and thou art his daughter? Thou wouldst
not deceive me, I know. Tell me in a few words,” he said, meanwhile
furtively glancing about, “Who am I?”

Miriamne again humored him, and pressing her lips nigh his ear, in a
whisper replied: “Sir Charleroy, Teutonic knight, my father.”

The old man held her off a little way, gazed at her a moment, doubtfully,
then said: “Thou art large for a baby! Miriamne is a little thing.”
Then he continued: “But thy eyes, they are Miriamne’s; and so honest! I
believe them! Then thou art Miriamne and I Sir Charleroy?”

“Truly.” And again she kissed her father.

“But thou dost not want me—a wreck, a pauper!”

“I do, and the boys do; all Bozrah wants you, needs you.”

“Not thy mother! Oh, no; I murdered her long ago!”

“Not so, dear father.”

“I did, indeed. See,” and he pointed to the painting, “I’ve killed her
again, to-day.”

“That’s but a miserable painting, and I hate it as much as you do; but
it’s harmless, henceforth.”

“Are all the devils in it dead; the vultures that ate up my heart?”

“Yes, yes; who cares for them?”

“Then I shall get better.”

The mad knight suffered himself to be led away quietly. There was great
joy among the Palestineans that night. And so Miriamne carried the spirit
of Mary, that presided at Cana’s feast, into the misery of that English
asylum. She had given her life to ministering for others, had begun in
her own home circle, her life motto: “_Hear ye Him_”—“_Whatsoever He
saith unto you, do it._” Now she was rewarded, and began to hope that
there would be the renewal of wedding chimes at Bozrah, that the wine of
its joy would be renewed and sweetened. She questioned the chaplain for
advice. “Tell the Master there is no wine in the old stone house, and
‘_whatsoever He saith, do it_,’” was the young man’s answer.




CHAPTER XXVII.

“THE STAR OF THE SEA.”

“Rocked in the cradle of the deep,
I lay me down in peace to sleep,
Secure, I rest upon the wave,
For Thou, oh Lord, hast power to save.
I know Thou wilt not slight my call,
For Thou dost mark the sparrow’s fall,
And calm and peaceful be my sleep,
Rocked in the cradle of the deep.
And such the faith that still were mine
Tho’ stormy winds swept o’er the brine,
Or tho’ the tempest’s fiery breath
Roused me from sleep to wreck and death;
In ocean’s caves still safe with Thee,
Those gems of immortality,
And calm and peaceful be my sleep
Rocked in the cradle of the deep.”


Like the morning dawn on a calm sea, after a night of fierce storm, so
came now great peace to Miriamne. The heaviest sorrow of her life was
lifting. Her father was recovering; his mind becoming rational; and chief
of Miriamne’s joys, was the fact that his convalescence was accompanied
by the appearance of a deep trusting love for herself. He seemed to
lean on his daughter for help; cling to her for hope and aim, by every
way, not only to express his sense of dependence on but his deep and
abiding gratitude toward the patient, chief minister, in the mission
of his recovery. He seemed for a long time to be haunted by a fear of
relapse into some great misery that he but dimly remembered and could not
define, beyond a shudder. He dreaded to be alone, and often clung to his
daughter with furtive glances of fear, even as a terrified child clings
to its mother. One day, months after he had begun to be rational, he
addressed Miriamne: “We must soon seek another abiding place, daughter.
Our Grand Master has discharged with overflowing payment, every debt of
hospitality.”

“True, father, and I’m glad; the thought for weeks in my mind, is now in
yours. But where shall we go?”

“I think, to France, and immediately.”

“France?”

“Yes, there I’ll seek out some of the De Griffins. They may be able to
mend my shattered fortunes, and if I find none of my kin, I shall not be
lacking in any thing, for there are many of our Teutonic knights. While
they prosper, no want shall harass me or mine.”

“Father, I do not want to go to France.”

“Why, this is strange?”

“It seems far away, very far, to me.”

“Art thou dreaming, my Syrian Oriole?”

“No, awake! And very earnest.”

“Why, we could walk thither, were it not for the water.”

“But I can not go that way!”

“Well, we can not stay here, so where?”

“Eastward; Bozrah!”

“Wouldst thou ask a spirit, by mercy permitted escape from Tophet to
return?”

“Yes, even that, if the spirit had a mission and a safe conduct.”

“Thou art nobler, braver than I. I can’t trust the land of giants and
vultures.”

“The giants and vultures we must meet are in human forms, and such are
everywhere.”

“There are over many for the population, in Syria and beyond it.”

“But there have been many changes since you left that country,
especially, in our city,” persisted the maiden.

“Nothing changes in Palestine or Bozrah, daughter, except wives, and they
only one way; from bad to worse.”

The young chaplain seconded Miriamne’s efforts.

Sir Charleroy was spasmodically the stronger, but Miriamne by patience
and persistence prevailed. In time, she won her cause, and the three
took sail for the Holy Land, the knight protesting that he would go as
far as Acre and no further. The journey was slow but not monotonous,
for the English trader on which they journeyed stopped at various
ports. Cornelius on his part was enjoying a serene delight that had no
shadow except when he remembered that voyaging with Miriamne was to
have an end; Miriamne on her part had three-fold pleasure; delight in
her companionship with the young missionary, delight in the continued
improvement of her father’s health, and greater delight still in the
glowing hope of the success of her mission of peace to her home-circle.
As for Sir Charleroy it suited him well to be sailing. He was ever
exhilarated by change; each day brought it. He was in theory a fatalist,
and the staunch ship pushing onward day and night to its destination,
carrying all along, was an expression of the inexorable. Then the
conditions about him rested him, for he was freed from any need of
bracing of his will to choose or execute any thing. He went forward
because the ship went. That was all and enough. Only once during the
voyage did he assert himself or express a desire to change his course.
THAT WAS WHEN PASSING CYPRUS.

“Here,” he cried, “let me disembark!”

Persuasively, Miriamne protested.

“But I must! I’ve a mission. I want to curse the memory of the recreant
Lusignan, the coward ‘King of Jerusalem;’ he that clandestinely stole
away from Acre on the eve of those last days!”

“But, father, Cyprus is called the ‘horned island.’ I do not like the
name!”

“I’ve heard it better named, ‘the blessed isle.’ There the hospitable
knights had a refuge for pilgrims, and it still abides.”

Just then some of the sailors cried, “Olympus!” They had caught sight of
that ancient mountain, the fabled home of the gods.

Miriamne adroitly used the cry to divert her father’s mind, saying:

“Let those admire Olympus who will; as for me, I prefer holy, fragrant
Lebanon.”

She pointed eastward, and they saw the dim outlines of Palestine’s famous
range. The knight’s attention was fixed on Lebanon, and they sailed past
Cyprus quietly without further objection on his part.

Miriamne and Cornelius, as the night began to settle down, stood together
by the ship’s side, feasting on glimpses of the distant shore. There were
signs of a coming storm, perceived intuitively by those accustomed to
the sea, by the young watchers best discerned in the anxious looks of the
seamen.

“The captain says the sky and sea are preparing for a duel. You noticed
how the blue changed to dark brown in the water this afternoon? He says
that, and the muddy appearance of the sky, betoken a tempest.”

“How like polished silver the wings of those gulls glisten as they
career!” was the maiden’s ecstatic reply.

“The wings are as they always are. They glisten now because they flash
against a murky background.”

“An omen, Cornelius, for good! I’ll call the sea-birds hope’s
carrier-pigeons with messages for us.”

“I would we had their wondrous power of outriding all storms. It is said
they can sleep on the waves, even during a tempest.”

“I’ve the heart of a sea-gull, to-night.”

“And not a dread or pang within?”

“No, no! Oh, come, any power, to hurry us to Acre! I’d give way to the
merriment of the becalmed sailors, who whistle for the wind, if I only
knew the notes of their call.”

“But the old sea-captain is very grave. See how the men at his command
are lashing up almost every stitch of our ship’s dress.”

“Oh, well, I’ll be grave, too, to please you; and yet I pray that Old
Boreas, and all the Boreadal, come in racing hurricanes, if need be, that
we may be sent gallantly into longed-for Acre!”

“A storm at sea is grand in a picture or in imagination; sometimes,
though rarely, in experience. To be enjoyed it must be terrible; there’s
the rub; it may come with overmastering fury.”

“Bird of ill omen! Why cry as in requiems? As for me, while you are
fearing going down, I’ll be thinking of going forward!”

“And be disappointed, certainly, on your part, as I hope I may be
mistaken on mine. We may not go down; we shall certainly not go forward!”

“Now, how like a wayward man! Since you can not have your way, cross me
by predicting my frustration!”

“Oh, do not lay the blame on me! there are broader shoulders to bear it.
Lay the blame on the Taurus and Lebanon ranges!”

“Well, this is an odd saying, surely!”

“Wait awhile, and you will find it very true, as well. We are to meet
to-night, most likely, the Levanter or off-shore gale, Paul’s Euroclydon,
charging down from its mountain castles. Taurus and Lebanon together form
a cave of the winds!”



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 25 of 40)