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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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“And you seem glad that they are coming to battle us back?” spake the
maiden, rebukingly.

“Yes, if they prolong our companionship. I can not rejoice in a speed
that hastens our parting.”

The last sentence died on the chaplain’s paling lips with a sigh.

The maiden turned her eyes full on the speaker, then slowly, meditatively
answered:

“I shall be sorry, too, at our parting!”

“‘Sorry!’ Ah! that’s no word for me, this time; agonized is better!” was
the young missioner’s quick rejoinder.

The maiden was pained, but she mastered her feelings and pleaded:

“The parting must come some time; do not let such repinings make it
harder for both. It is wiser, when confronting what one does not desire,
but can not help, to court the balm of forgetfulness. So do I ever,
especially now.”

“And like all attempted silencings of the heart, by cold philosophy,
mocked at last by failure!”

“My philosophy can not mock me, since it accords with the stern facts
which confront us. I’ll be as frank now as a sister, Cornelius. Our
diverging missions part us. You go to Jerusalem to preach the cross; I,
to a narrower field, at Bozrah, to attempt the rekindling of love on one
lone altar of wedlock. God orders it thus, and I submit unquestioningly;
for it is not for one who can scarcely touch the hem of His garment to
challenge His wisdom by a murmur.”

“But time, Miriamne, may leave you free, your work being completed in the
Giant City?”

“Even so. There is a gulf between us; we may love across it but not pass
it, in body, in this life.”

“And I can not see the gulf?”

“I am in faith, after all, an Israelite; enlightened to be sure, but not
likely to renounce the ancient beliefs. You are a Christian; nor would I
wish you otherwise. Now, amid the miseries I’ve witnessed in my own home,
I can not but be admonished against any attempt at fusing, by the fire of
adolescent, transitory loving, two lives guided by faiths so constantly
in antagonisms.”

“The faith of Jesus and Mary, truly lived, never failed to fuse hearts
sincerely loving. You may call yourself what you like; in substance of
faith we are in accord.”

“The chaplain reasons well; better than I can, and yet he does not
convince me! I can only plead that he do not persist, and so make the
parting harder. It must be; though my heart break, I must suffer the
immolation. I’ve asked this question in the awful sincerity of a soul as
it were at the bar of judgment: ‘_What wilt Thou have me to do?_’ I know
the answer. I must seek to bring father and mother together.”

“And then?”

“Seek to know if the Messiah has indeed come.”

“And then?”

“If I find He has, some way tell His people Israel, as only a Jewess can,
of the Light Everlasting.”

“And then?”

“Why, that’s sufficient to measure the lives of generations; but if I
survive beyond that work, I have vaguely passing through my mind the
coming of a millennial day when all mankind will be akin; all righteous,
all just, and the tears of womankind assuaged.”

“I pray for that, but how can we hasten joy by breaking our own hearts?”

“I do not know what lies beyond; how that day of glory is to come, but
this I know, the spirit of Chivalry was from God. It had, and has a deep,
impressive meaning. In contact with it at the west, I felt all the time
as if it were blind, but a Samson still, feeling for the pillars of some
mighty wrong. I wonder if I may not be the giant’s true guide. Or, better
still, may I not be, under God, the giantess to do the very work. Perhaps
the world awaits a woman Samson!”

“What Miriamne says is to me all mysticism! Explain.”

“I do not know how, beyond this: I’m God’s bride by consecration, and He
will keep me for His work.”

“Can’t I share it?” almost piteously, the chaplain asked.

“Truly, yes, wherever you may be, with me or not.”

“Oh, Miriamne, your passionate enthusiasm entrances me. You are an
inspiration to me. I fear I shall languish aside from you.”

“I shall love you more, Cornelius, as you are more grandly, heroically
self-sacrificing.”

“Any thing to win Miriamne’s constant love!”

“I shall love you, Cornelius, in a deep, holy way, only and forever. I’d
be ashamed to be thus frank, but that I have a love that is as pure as
the heaven of its birth. Be true to your God, to your mission; a little
while and then at the City of Light, life’s brief dream over, the first,
after God, I’ll ask for will be the faithful man whom my heart knows.”

“Ah, what can I do? I’m all zeal; willing to go, but the glow of your
cheeks, the flash of your eyes, even in the midst of such noble converse,
drag me away from my resolves. That that stimulates me, unmans me, or
reminds me I am a man and a lover.”

“You ought to teach me, not I you; but you remember you told me of the
belief of some in ‘penetrative virginity.’ That is the purity of Mary
passing somehow into others. Oh, all I am that’s good, be in you, and
more, even all that she was whom you so revere; I mean the mother of the
Christ.”

“In my soul I reverently exclaim ‘amen,’ but then again, how strange the
question will not down, ‘must we part?’” And so saying he flung his arm
about the woman, passionately embracing her. He thought for a moment he
had overcome her, but the kiss on her lips not resisted, was the end; for
slowly untwining his arms and holding his hands at arm’s length, she
questioned: “Will you promise me one thing?”

“Surely, yes, name it.”

“That you will think of me as a friend, sister, henceforth, and let me go
my way without further misery?”

The man struggled with himself for a time; then gazed into her eyes with
a most piteously appealing gaze.

She was firm.

“Yes—I promise, but say affianced, to be wed in heaven?”

“God bless you,” was her instant response. Their lips met and the debate
was ended.

And so for the time they separated, persuading themselves that the whole
matter between them had been finally sealed. They had all faith in their
pledges mutually given, each to live apart from the other. As yet they
had no just conception of the power of a rebel heart constantly uprising.
Of course, they both foresaw a measure of wretchedness in the future as
a consequence of their decision, but distant pain foreseen by the young,
is ever dimmed by hope, and very different from present pain. These twain
comforted themselves, at first, by the thought that they were martyrs,
and it is always agreeable to feel ourself a martyr, especially when
expecting a martyr’s reward; at least it is so until the reality of the
martyrdom comes.

The sky grew darker, night shut down about the ship, the winds increased,
and that sense of awful loneliness, felt on the eve of an impending
night-storm at sea, came to all hearts but those of the sailors. The
latter were too busy to think of aught but their duties. Then their
captain had his reckonings, and assured them by his bearing that he felt
confident that he could outride this storm as he had often before similar
ones. Miriamne, yielding not more to the captain’s command, than to the
entreaties of Woelfkin, went below to her cabin. She soon courted sleep
to help her forget the war of the tempest, praying a prayer most fitting,
meanwhile. The prayer was a meditation, like unto this: “He that cares
for all will care for helpless me, and come what may, keep me until that
last great day.” The storm strengthened, and she began to be anxious for
her father, and her friend. She had said to herself the latter title
should define Cornelius. But her heart forgot its fear a moment in a
mysterious, merry peal of laughter; such laughter is very real, but it is
never heard by human ears. We know it only in those exalted moments when
we try fine introspections; when there seems to be two of us; the one
observing and entering into the other. Miriamne heard that laughter when
she meditated, “Cornelius is just a friend.” Presently she became more
anxious for those aloft. Then a troop of imperious inner questions came
to her: “Might I not stand by him, if the danger increases? Would it be
wrong to show him that I am brave and loving?”

“Will he think me cowardly and stony-hearted?” Resolution was being
assailed, and weakened. The questionings increased in number and
imperiousness: “What if to-night we are all to perish?” Then she let
imagination take the rein. She thought of a scene that might be if she
and her beloved were as betrothed, soon to be wed, lovers. In the scene
she fancied herself, her lover and her father all together in a last
embrace, going down into the yawning waves. “Would my lover try to save
me?” For the moment there were two of her again, and it was the one that
awhile ago laughed so merrily, that now seemed to be saying: “Would my
lover try to save me?” The one self heard the question, and by silence,
without sign of rebuke, seemed to give the other self plenary indulgence.
Then came a free play of her imagination. She saw herself lying in coral
palaces, beneath the moaning waves of the Mediterranean, still clasping
her lover and her parent. Then she thought of how her friends would
receive the news of her demise. Perhaps some poet would embalm the event
in deathless poems, and thousands read of the three that perished side by
side. Her mind ran back to London. She imagined a memorial service at the
chapel of the Palestineans and the Grand Master there saying: “Miriamne
de Griffin was lost at sea; in the path of glorious duty, loyally pursued
to the end.”

Then she thought of Bozrah and the old stone house, with her mother
and her brothers, its sole occupants; the mother in mourning garbs,
her spirit subdued, and she often tenderly saying to the fatherless,
sisterless boys, “Miriamne was a good girl, a faithful daughter, a noble
woman.”

But after all, these excursions were unsatisfactory to the young woman.
And naturally so. When she thought of lying a corpse, with weed-winding
sheets, for years, in the caves of the sea, she was repelled. Thoughts
of her memorials, possibly to transpire at London and Bozrah, were not
very comforting. She was too young, too free from morbidness, too deeply
enamored, to court, assiduously, posthumous honors.

Then came thought of a wreck and rescue, and it was very welcome. It
grew out of the possibility of the youth she loved and she alone, of
all on board, being saved. She thought of drifting about for days on
a raft! Would she recall her resolutions and his, or would he say to
her: “Miriamne, I saved you from the deep; now you are mine entirely
and forever!” Would she believe his claim paramount? Would duty’s
requirements be satisfied? Then she was as two again. One voice said
‘yes,’ and the other did not concur, neither did it gainsay. She could
not pronounce a verdict and there were tears flowing.

The storm grew stronger, but the laboring ship rose and fell on the
billows at intervals, and she was lulled to sleep. Her last thoughts, as
she passed into dreamland, were that it would have been a useless pain,
both endured, if now they were to be lost; the pain of determining,
as they had, to live apart. As she so thought she wished almost that
they had not resolved as they had. Conscience and desire were in their
ceaseless warfare. Then sleeping brought a dream of joy, the blessing
that comes often to the heart that is clean. The dream was colored by
events preceding.

Cornelius had reminded her the day before, as they were sailing along
the coast of Cyprus, that, at Paphos, on that island, there was once a
temple to Venus, the fabled goddess of love. That divinity, surrounded by
multitudes paying her homage, came before the dreamer’s mind in all those
ravishing splendors of person that are so attractive to human desires.
Around the goddess, and very close to her, were hosts of young men and
maidens, their actions as boisterous and ecstatic as those intoxicated.
Outside of the throngs of youths were others older: and outside of these
were others still; those far away from the goddess, seemingly bowed with
years. The company of youths was constantly increased by new arrivals who
crowded back those there before them.

But there was a depletion as well as augmenting of the vast, surging
congregation; for anon, as if mad, some nearest the deity rushed away,
both of the men and the maidens, nor did those fleeing stop until they
found violent deaths by leaping from cliffs or into the sea.

Then the ancients, crowded continually back by the new arrivals, one
after another, with expressions of disappointment and disgust on their
features, seemed to melt away into a surrounding forest of trees that
were very black and very like shadows. The dreamer in her dream betook
herself to prayer that the God of mercy might change what she saw.

Then she beheld the Paphian goddess in all the splendor of her form, a
perfect triumph of nature, just as depicted by bard and painter, looking
out contemptuously, pitilessly, toward her former votaries, now aged and
pushed aside. There came then a voice as if from above: “_God is love._”

Immediately on the face of the divinity there was an expression as of
terror, and she began sinking. Before the mind of the dreamer, the
beautiful creature, and her retinue of nude, bold-faced attendants, with
all that appertained to them and their queen went down, ingulfed in a
foaming, roaring whirlpool. As they went down lightnings from above
shot after them. And the dreamer looked aloft to see from whence the
voice and the lightning came. As she gazed upward she saw a man of noble
form, reverently bowing, as a son might bow in the presence of a mother
revered and loved, before a woman of noble mien and beautiful beyond all
compare.

But this one’s beauty had no similitude to that of the departed deity.
As the maiden gazed she discerned that the man was the one her heart
called lover, the woman the one she had enshrined as the ideal of her
soul, Mary. The twain stood above her, on a plain, apparently of clouds
very bright, rising in graceful curve from the earth and stretching away
in measureless vistas, filled with flowered parks, silvery rivers and
stately mountains. Along the rivers, amid the flowery plains and on the
verdant mountains, there were numerous buildings; but these latter were
inviting; not palatial, nor stately. They were homes surrounded by family
groups. And the dreamer discerned true love triumphant and fruitful. She
lingered in this presence, anon longing for a presentment of her self
amid the scenes of pleasure, until all was suddenly dissolved by a mighty
lurch of the ship that awakened her. She started from her couch and all
immediately before the dream came back to her mind.

“We’re in a storm on the Mediterranean, and the captain is anxious!” Her
nerves were now unstrung; a woman’s timorousness was upon her. She could
hear confused noises aloft, but no voices. For a moment she questioned:
“What if all but myself have been swept away?” Then she thought of
herself as drifting about in a ship, sailless, helmless, alone! The
thought was suffocating. The noises aloft continued, and she gave
strained attention to catch the sound of a voice. There was nothing to be
heard but the creaking of timbers, the dashing of waves, the shrieking
of winds and vague thumpings, as if parts of the vessel were beating
each other to pieces.

“I’ll not lie still in this coffin!” she exclaimed, and with a bound
she made her way to the deck. As she arrived there she thought she saw
dark forms, some crouching as if for shelter, and others as if engaged
in a great struggle. Were these demons, or the crew in a struggle for
life? She could not say. Then there came a cry from the direction of the
forward part of the ship; she thought it was her father’s voice, but it
was very hoarse and scarcely recognizable.

She listened again to the cry: “Ho, ho; ye Olympian demons! tear up the
sea, charge now! Ha, ha; have at us!” The cry thrilled her. Again the
wild voice rose above the storm:

“Bury her, my darling, if ye dare! What matter! her white soul has
eternal wings!”

She was certain it was her father. She longed to rush to his side, but
she doubted whether she could find him in the darkness; then, too, even
in the terrors of the moment, her maiden modesty asserted itself. She
remembered that she was but partly clad.

Again came that voice, wilder than before: “Ye billows, dare ye smite a
knight in the face? I’ll meet your challenge, and single-handed, in your
midst, fight!”

Miriamne’s heart was almost paralyzed by the thought, “The boisterousness
has overcome my father. He’s contemplating leaping into the sea!”

Just then a vivid flash of lightning made every thing visible. It seemed
to cut under the clouds, which, rain-charged, were running near the
billow crests, and at the same time enswathed the ship from the mast tips
to the partially exposed keel, in flame.

The maiden saw by that flash her father standing on the head-rail,
one hand clinging to a stay rope, the other with clinched fist, as if
menacing the boiling waters that leaped away from the plunging prow. His
face was livid, his hair wind-tossed, his eyes glaring. With a scream she
bounded toward him; her scream and appearance terrifying the sailors.
It was so unexpected and they had forgotten the presence of a woman
on board. They only saw a white form, with disheveled hair and with a
motion light and swift as a creature on wings, passing from companion-way
forward.

But the fright was but momentary. Cornelius, who had been vainly
endeavoring to calm the knight, knew the form, and loud enough to be
heard by all cried:

“Miriamne de Griffin!”

He was by her side in an instant.

The young woman uttered pleadingly one sentence, but it thrilled all who
heard it:

“My father!”

Cornelius exultingly answered:

“Saved! See, the captain holds him and has summoned the watch!” Then he
could do no less, forgetting as he did in the present surprise, all old
resolves, so he drew the trembling form to his heart as closely as he
could. She drew back a little, but he whispered, “Miriamne.” What else he
might have said was lost, for she fluttered a little, then rested, but on
the bosom of her companion.

She was a woman in peril, in fright, storm-drenched, and in love. What
otherwise or less could she have done than nestle in the shelter that
gave love for love and promised her all else?

“Are you not alarmed, Cornelius?”

“No.”

“How strange! You have changed places with me. In the evening you
trembled when I left you, and I thought I was very brave. Now I tremble;
do you not?”

“I cowered a while ago from the cross you presented me; it seemed to
bring a lingering death.”

Just then the ship’s prow plunged under a mountainous billow. Miriamne
clung to her support and fearfully questioned:

“Shall we be overwhelmed?”

“No; I’ve a token.”

“From the captain?”

“Not from the one who guides this ship alone.”

A flash of lightning revealed the lover’s face to Miriamne. She saw his
eyes turned devoutly upward, and she understood his meaning. They had
withdrawn to a shelter by the vessel’s side meanwhile. Presently the
young missioner spoke again;

“Our Heavenly Father keeps vigil, I think, sometimes with especial care
over this highway between the outer world and the desolate habitations of
His chosen people.”

“Hark, the sailors are singing! How strange it is to sing in such
perils,” spoke the maiden.

“They’re as happy now as the wave-walking petrels. The Levant has done
its worst; they know this by the coming of the rain, hence they sing
their ‘Lightning Song.’”

“Lightning song?” queried the maiden.

“Listen! How they explode their vocalized breaths in hissings, whizzings,
followed by the prolonged crash made by stamping feet and clapping hands
at the end of every stanza. That chorus is meant to imitate those
heralds of the thunder, the flashing lightnings.”

“But it seems presumptuous to me. The lightning is so dreadful!”

“Not that which comes as ‘a funeral torch to Euroclydon,’ as the sailors
say. Some of them call it ‘the winking and blinking of St. Elmo going to
sleep.’”

“Oh, Cornelius, the storm is breaking! I see a star; yes two!”
rapturously cried the maiden.

“Truly, yes; ‘Castor and Pollux,’ the ‘Twins,’ the ‘Sailor’s Delight!’
They say these stars are storm rulers and friends of the mariner. Now
hear how they shout their song! They see the stars!”

Above the subsiding wind and waves, rose the words of the singers:

“Now to our harbor safe going;
Riding the billows, pushed by the gale:
The torch of the Twins bright glowing—
Tipping our mast and gilding each sail.”

“And do these stars assure, Cornelius?”

“I saw a star no cloud can ever hide, through the darkest part of the
storm.”

“A star?”

“Yes, ‘Mary, Star of Sea.’”

“I do not comprehend you.”

“God’s love! He that guided the maiden orphan of Bethlehem through the
besetments of her life, amid the tempests of Jewry and Rome, purely,
safely, gloriously, to the end; while many of noble birth and having
every earthly good went down to ruin, walks ever on the wave where faith
voyages.”

“And you thought of the Holy Mother in the storm?”

“Yes, this Adriatic is full of angels, that come in thoughts, or before
the eyes! You remember Paul, tempest tossed a day and a night on this
sea, was found by the Divine Messenger that night when the darkness was
thickest?”

“And this ‘Star of the Sea?’”

“It tells me mother-love was carried by a dying Savior into the heart of
the Triune, Eternal God, and we are His children, and He became Father
and Mother to us. You have seen the hen gather her chickens, as human
mother shelters with her arm or apron her child in pain or peril?”

“How touching! Think you He felt for us like tenderness in the height of
the storm?”

“He sought in His plenteous wisdom mother love to sustain Himself, during
the pain and perils of His incarnation, and will ever surely grant a love
and care to His own beloved ones in suffering or danger as tender as that
He sought and needed for Himself.”

“Surely this is a grateful, natural reasoning; but do you believe Mary
presides over the sailor especially?”

“It is enough for me to know that the Father through Mary exemplified His
motherliness.”

“I’ll never more call yon bright luminaries Castor and Pollux, but rather
Jesus and Mary, the guides and the defenders!” And for a long time they
gazed at the double stars, the storm slowly abating. Once the youth,
drawing the maiden closely to himself, questioned:

“Can not we call the stars in conjunction, ‘Cornelius and Miriamne’?”

They had been watching, in sweet converse, there, a long time; there were
faint traces of dawn in the east, and Miriamne had just been thinking,
“Palestine receives us with illumination;” then she bethought herself
that she and the man with her were going hither to proclaim the Gospel
of eternal light. The question of her lover recalled the converse of the
day before. That seemed fact, unchanged; all occurring since, dream. She
arose, pointed eastward, and firmly said: “There lies our work, our all.
May a glorious day enhalo all God’s chosen country ere long. Cornelius,
yesterday we promised solemnly that we dare not turn from now; especially
after our wonderful deliverance!” She glided away to her cabin, leaving
the man alone to contemplate the poor comfort of being praised as a
martyr, on a cross of self-sacrifice; the pains of which, if not as awful
as those of Calvary, were destined to be more prolonged. His face was
as if sprinkled with white ashes; it was so pale, so blank. After the
tempest they spoke very little with each other. Miriamne waved away any
attempt at re-opening the subject, with a motion of the finger to the
lips, signaling silence, and a glance all tenderness, but full of pitiful
pleadings to be spared. The young man but once or twice essayed the
discussion, fearing on the one hand to trust himself to speak, and on the
other hand feeling that any effort to change his fate would be hopeless.



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 26 of 40)