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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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But he and she were full of inner conflicts. Then their pathways seemed
stony, brier-tangled. They had both elected, for Guide and Ideal, Jesus
and Mary; they were both going toward the cross in a noble consecration
of their lives. But they denied themselves that that sustained Jesus,
home love, such as he found at Bethany; conjugal love, such as sustained
Mary, the wife and the mother, as well as the disciple. They had as their
loftiest ambition the purpose of making the world happier and better,
and began by making misery for themselves. They had read that a star led
the wise men of the East to Christ in a cradle, the light of the Gospel
rising first in a little home circle. They looked at the double stars
above them after the storm that night almost until dawn, and then turned
away to go, each into the dark like a lone wandering star. Each was in
part the victim of a fabricated conscience, and of a misconception of
duty.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE QUEEN IN THE VALLEY OF SORROWS.

“They led him away to crucify him.”—MARK.

“There followed him a great company of ... women, who also
bewailed him.”—LUKE.

GABRIEL: “Hail, highly favored among women blessed!”

MARY: This is my favored lot!
My exaltation to affliction high!—MILTON.


For many days Sir Charleroy and Miriamne tarried at Acre, the latter
seeking to banish repining on account of him whom she had sent away at
the behest of conscience, by ministries for her parent. With alacrity she
joined the tours of her knightly father, visiting the scenes where he
once battled, listening, from time to time, with unaffected delight, to
his recitals. The tides of fanatical conquests had wrought few changes
on the face of the city, and the realism of those days of siege, of
the stern compacts made in the last hours of the Crusaders, the solemn
religious services before the last battle, the death struggle and the
disordered retreat, was complete. The excitement of revived memories
seemed to lift up the knight from the syncope of ill health. This
encouraged the maiden to solicit the reviews and recitals of her father.
The night before their departure from Acre, as determined, the knight and
his daughter stood together contemplating the sacred pile which stood
in the moonlight and shadows, mostly in shadows. The soldier of fortune,
having told its story over and over, was now silent, dreaming of the past.

“_Selamet!_”

They both started, for the voice was like one from the tomb, none but
themselves being apparent.

“I’m afraid here; let’s be going, father,” whispered Miriamne, essaying
to withdraw.

Thereupon there glided out of the shadows a stately form who, drawing
near to the father and daughter, spoke:

“Fear not, lady! Knight, they can not be foes who court kindred memories
and hope of like colors at the same shrine!”

“Thou speakest with Christian allusions the ‘peace’ word of the Turk.”

“I wear the Turkish ‘_selamet_,’ as I do this Turkish harness, a loathed
necessity, but without; the peace I pray and feel is the mystic inner
peace.”

“As a Christian?”

“Yea; nor do I fear confession, since I am speaking to those who abhor
the Crescent.”

“A pious Jew would as soon adhere to Astarte with her orgies as to bow to
the mooned-crown she wore.”

“Jews? No, not Jews! Such would not sooner run from the moon-mark than
they would from the shadows which fall down about you from yon grand and
awful sign.”

The speaker pointed to the crossed spire above, as he spoke.

“No more avoidance; we are brethren. I’m Sir Charleroy de Griffin,
Teutonic knight.”

“And not unknown. The story of thy valor, even here, lives in the bosoms
of true companions. I’m a Knight Hospitaler of Rhodes, yet fameless.”

The two men came closely together; there were a few secret tests. The
Hospitaler said:

“_In hoc signo vinces!_”

Sir Charleroy crossed his feet, stretched out his arms and murmured
something heard only by his comrade. It made the other’s eyes lighten
with pleasure.

To Miriamne it was a dumb show; but the tokens given and received were
useful to pilgrims in those perilous times.

“Whither, Sir Charleroy?”

“To-morrow, toward Joppa.”

“So, ho! By interpretation, _The Watch-tower of Joy_. From thence one may
see Jerusalem! And then?”

“And then? God knows where! A useless life, like mine, is ever aimless.”

“No, no, father!” interrupted the daughter; “not useless. No life that
God prolongs is useless.”

“True; the girl is right, Teuton. Aspiration will cure thee, since it’s
the mother of immortality. I go to Joppa also.”

“They say, Hospitaler, its sea-side is full wild; its reefs like barking
Scylla and Charybdis? I hope it may be so; I’d like a terrible uproar.”

“The sea is the emblem of change; from calm to weary moan, to howling
terrors and back again.”

“But the people? They say Joppa’s outside is fine, naturally, though,
within, the life of its people is mean, colorless; a charnel-house whose
activity is that of grave worms!” And Sir Charleroy shuddered with
disgust at his own figure.

“I think the legend of Andromeda, said to have been chained to Joppa’s
sea-crags for a season, to be persecuted by a serpent, then freed,
prophetic. Joppa may have a future.”

“How?”

“Oh, the chained maiden was boasted by her fond mother as more beautiful
than Neptune’s Nereids, hence the persecution. Crescent faiths have been
the persecutors of Joppa and all the other beautiful Andromedas of this
land.”

“And the chains are riveted?”

“No, not certainly. There was, in the myth, a Perseus of winged feet,
having a helmet that made invisible and a sickle from Minerva, goddess of
wisdom; he slew the serpent, then wed the victim.”

“Now the key, further.”

“When wrongs overwhelm all, women suffer most; but time brings their
deliverance.”

“The myths are as full of women as the women full of myths!” exclaimed
Sir Charleroy.

“But Andromeda, the woman, was blameless!”

“Yet it’s strange that in all men’s fightings, as in their religions,
constantly the woman appears,” replies Sir Charleroy.

“I’d have thee think, knight, of the legend; it tells how men, in those
dark times, tied their faith to the sure conviction that right would
triumph, wrong be slain, and the martyrs at last go up among the stars.
See how they placed their Andromeda in the constellation now above us.
Perseus was a Christian, or rather a Christian was a Perseus.”

“Now, thou art merry!”

“No; I mean St. Peter; he was a Perseus. Hearken to the word:

“‘Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha: this woman was
full of good works and alms-deeds.

“‘And it came to pass that she died.

“‘The disciples sent unto Peter two men, desiring him that he would not
delay to come to them.

“‘When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the
widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which she
made, while she was with them.

“‘But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning
him to the body, said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when
she saw Peter, she sat up.

“‘And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up; and when he had called the
saints and widows, he presented her alive.

“‘And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.’”

“Why, Hospitaler, thou hast a memory like an elephant or an emperor and a
tongue like a sacrist!”

“Well, the time for swords being past I have taken to books; their leaves
are wings. The world will be conquered yet by the words of the Swordless
King.”

“And thou wouldst liken Tabitha to Andromeda?”

“Wasn’t she a real beauty, as her name is interpreted? Beautiful old
soul! She robed the poor! Peter bringing her to the truth of the new life
smote the dragon at Joppa, as a very Perseus.”

“A woman! a woman, again leading the army of salvation!”

“After that Peter slept on the house top of Simon the Tanner, and God
gave him the vision of Jew and Gentile, bond and free, rich and poor;
all, as one family coming into the benign rays of the Sun whose wings are
full of healing.”

“And will that day come, Sir Hospitaler? I’m feeling almost a frenzy of
desire for it!”

“Surely as the morning to Acre; but we must hie homeward; good-night;
I’ll see you at the quay to-morrow.”

From Acre, Miriamne and her father, next day, set sail. The companions on
the journey from Acre by Joppa arrived at Jerusalem, there to separate
soon, for Miriamne, with every ingenious device, urged her father
forward. Bozrah was constantly uppermost in her mind.

“We part, Sir Charleroy, to-morrow?” said the Hospitaler.

“If thou dost elect to stay in sad Jerusalem, surely.

“Yes; I’d go mad here from doing nothing but wrestling with my thoughts.
In fact, I guess I’d go mad anywhere, if long there. I think, sometimes,
that my mind’s in a whirlpool, moving not like others; yet, round and
round in some consistency, carrying its befooling creeds, hopes, dreams,
visions, phantasmagoria in a pretty fair march. I’m sure, more than sure,
that if I once stopped moving, my brain would rest like a house after
a land-slide, tilted over, while all the things in the whirlpool would
drift about in hopeless confusion.”

“Thou dost talk like a physician, gone mad with philosophy!”

“No doubt of it; that’s all because I’ve been idling here a month; a week
longer and God knows who could set me going again, rightly.”

Then the knight laughed merrily; very merrily, in fact, for a man who had
trained himself to morbidness. The Hospitaler replied:

“I see nothing for me beyond the Holy City and its historic surrounds.
I’m training myself to proclaim God’s kingdom and must begin at that
pre-eminent, world over-looking point, Jerusalem.”

“But there are no schools to fit one there?”

“The most informing and man-expanding on earth; the deathless examples of
the worthies; best studied where they lived their mightful living. I go
now to Golgotha.”

“Golgotha? ‘The Place of the Skull?’”

“Even so, sometimes called the Valley of Jehosaphat.”

Sir Charleroy rubbed his head as one well puzzled, and was silent.

“Oh, knight, thou hast forgotten the goings forward of Ezekiel’s mind,
prophetically. It was in Kidron, the Golgotha Valley, that he had the
vision of the dry bones. Let me read:

“‘Behold, there were very many bones in the open valley; and, lo, they
were very dry.

“‘And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered,
O Lord God, thou knowest.

“‘Again He said unto me, Prophesy;

“‘Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath
to enter into you, and ye shall live:

“‘As I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones
came together, bone to his bone.

“‘The sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them.

“‘Then said he unto me, say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; come
from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they
may live.

“‘So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and
they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.’”

“And now, soldier, turned exegete, tell me what thou dost make of the
strange phantasm?”

“That God will work in this world a marvelous transformation; those
living-dead, all around us and beyond, to the ends of the earth, shall
stand in new life. The scene is laid to be in this Kidron valley, to
bring all minds to the ‘Light of the World,’ who passed in painful
triumph along it, even unto Calvary.”

“But this may not be so, yet it so seems?”

“Hearken again to the prophet’s happy ending:

“‘Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an
everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them,
and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

“‘My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and
they shall be my people.’

“All this,” continued the Hospitaler, “is what is to come, is coming. The
dawn of this day began when Jesus passed over Kidron!”

“And yet, Rhodes, I’m doubtful. Do not the correspondences remote,
mislead thee?”

“If a crusade leader sent a summons like this wouldst thou respond,
trusting? ‘Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy
mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the
LORD cometh, for _it is_ nigh at hand?’”

“The Hospitaler knows I would.”

“Well; God by His Prophet-Herald, Joel, so alarms the nations. And more,
we have a broader summons,” and the preacher soldier read again:

“‘Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the
Lord is near in the valley of decision.

“‘Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehosaphat:
for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

“‘Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.

“‘The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw
their shining.

“‘The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from
Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord _will_
be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

“‘So shall ye know that I _am_ the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my
holy mountain.

“‘Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears:
let the weak say, I am strong.’”

Then the Hospitaler closed his eyes, turned his face upward as in prayer,
and began speaking like unto one in a rapture or trance:

“When souls would measure themselves for judgment, they must stand by
the scenes wrought out by Him that died for men; just hereabouts, when
the last judgment comes, the multitudes of earth, tried by the measure
of the God-man, will be brought face to face with God’s standard of
moral grandeur, sublimely once displayed here. Before its splendor the
stars, the finest of men, shall wax dim; human philosophy, the sun of the
world, go out, and human religion, ever the child of human desire, shall
fade as the setting, waning moon, that emblem of the concupiscent. Then
Charity, that never fails, shall come to her throne, the last implement
of war be beaten into services of love, while the weak, no more dominated
by giant brutality, shall rise to the pre-eminence of moral strength.
Adam and Eve, the fallen pair, passed through the valley of sorrow and
sin, downward; Christ and Madonna, the new ideals, passed through the
valley of sorrow and salvation, upward.”

“Oh, Rhodes, the whirl of my brain is as if touched by the swellings of
an anthem. I’ll come right yet, if thou dost enravish me so!” cried Sir
Charleroy.

And Miriamne’s face shone as if the sun were on it, but it was not. She
was looking away, in soul, to the future. The Hospitaler continued:

“Truly, all heads, as well as hearts, are righted here, where the touch
of the Cross makes the dry bones live. Here get I my schooling; this
place of the Cross, where the depths of sin, the heights of love, are
manifest; from which radiates all holiest tenets, to which and from
which flow the streams of Scriptural truth. If only we could get all
men to stand sincerely on this lofty hill of vision, overlooking all
times to come, all histories past, all mysteries would be explained, all
prophecies become clear, and there never would be need on earth again
for wars of faith or the burning of heretics. Pilate spake welcome words
to the ages when he cried: ‘_Miles, expedi Crucem_’—‘Soldiers, speed the
Cross.’ Its speed is light’s speed.”

As they conversed, the three had slowly journeyed along the _Via
Dolorosa_—the road to the Cross.

“Here,” said the Hospitaler, “it is reported that Jesus yearningly
looking back to the weeping women that followed him Cross-ward, cried:
‘_Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and
children._’”

“The woman again in religion!” exclaimed Sir Charleroy.

“Immanuel spoke to the world, then. When truth goes to crucifixion, women
and children—the weaker—may well weep. It’s the Giant’s hour. So children
and women ever have been the chief followers of Jesus. No wonder that
children brought palms of peace to Him and shouted His praises, while
women anointed Him with tears. They knew, by an holy intuition, that
somehow He was the King of Love, the defender of weakness.”

“I begin to think, Sir Knight Hospitaler, that the sun of this country
has wrapped its gold about thy brain.”

“Oh, father, don’t prevent; these words of his are balm to my soul,”
quoth Miriamne.

“Speak on, for the girl’s sake, knight. Speak on; I’ll be silent.”

The Hospitaler continued:

“Daughter, thou dost follow the story as those holy women followed Jesus,
afar off; but with tenderness. As they found later unutterable nearness,
so shalt thou; God willing.”

“The woman in religion! It’s so. I, a man; this Miriamne, a woman,
a girl, my daughter. I’m like a pupil to her, yet I professed this
cross-faith more than a score of years before she was born. I’d need a
millennium to overtake her, in glory, if we both died now. I’m like poor
old David, who fled from his rebellious son, Absalom, over the hills
that skirt Kidron. I’m dethroned.”

“Remember, rather, that He who glorified Kidron was ‘obedient unto
death.’ Mother and son, together all loving, all loyal in that dread
hour, here attested that in David’s kingdom, at the last, at its best,
there will be no trampling on the family ties, Sir Charleroy.”

“Wonderful! I never thought of this before, after this manner. But still,
the woman leads the world in religion!”

“_The_ woman! Yes, but only when she takes her place, as did Mary, as a
follower of Jesus to Calvary.”

“But how, now, about Astarte, Diana, Baaltis?”

“They had their day; rude, gross phantoms; conceived in the hot souls of
low and lecherous men; but I told thee, here we might overlook the world.
In this valley Athaliah, daughter of cruel Jezebel, Queen of Ahab, and,
like her mother, an Astarte-socialist, worshiped the lewd ideal, Baaltis.
Death, in shocking form, took off that heathen queen of Israel. God’s
revenge, this was.

“And now, I remember that the queen mother of Asa, here, in Kidron, set
up the worship of Ashera with its Phallic mysteries; but Asa, the youth,
pure of mind and led of God, not only tore down, root and branch the
groves and woven booths of licentiousness, but dethroned the woman who
had set them up. Just here, in finest contrasts, I remember the Virgin
Mary, the pure mother, the ideal woman, who, in this valley of decision,
rose for all time the exemplification of truest womanhood—a wife, a
mother. Mary has broken forever the idols of Baaltis. While Mary’s
memory lasts, part of the enduring, sacred history, toward which all
Christian eyes turn, Astarte can never rise under any name or form for
long toleration. She is forever broken, and her creed of lust fated to
reprobation.

“Wherever this gospel story, eternal and eternally new, is told, there
will come to the minds of the hearers a vision of those associated in
the last dread hours of the Divine Martyr, in a fellowship of sympathy
and sorrow. Among these will stand pre-eminent the women. Simon, the
Cyrenian, compelled by the soldiers, aided the trembling sorrow-burdened
Christ to bear the cross. And it is easy to believe that the wife of that
Simon, who appears later, for a moment, in the praiseful salutations of
Paul, as the parent of Christian sons, she reverently called by the great
apostle mother, was among the women that were most sorrowful and nearest
the dying Saviour. Then there were Mary, the mother of James, Salome,
Mary Magdalene, and possibly Claudia the wife of Pilate—that brave woman
who advocated Christ’s cause before the proud, implacable Sanhedrim, the
howling mob and Imperial Rome’s representatives. What fitting mourners in
that touching, yet august funeral march!

“Women are fully capable by nature, through their finest, tenderest
chords, ever responsive in woe, to express the whole of grief, however
deep! The sex which loves most, loves longest, mourns most easily as well
as most sincerely, and has made sorrow sacred by the lavish bestowals of
it, whene’er its founts were touched.

“There is an holy, perfumed anointing in their tears. This
crucifixion-time was woman’s hour supremely. Mary with _magnificent_
self-possession, heart-broken, yet strong in faith; weeping in eye and
soul, but intruding no wild howlings amid those who wept for custom’s
sake; tearful, yet retiring in her grief, here passes before our minds
at once the most fascinating, winsome, yet pity-begetting woman known to
man.”

“Father,” cried Miriamne, restraining but little her own tears: “Are you
listening?”

“Yes, yes; oh, yes. The glory of Eden’s noon has fallen on the tongue and
brain of Rhodes, and yet I cannot gainsay him; nor would I try to dispel
his wise and honored sayings. I can only wonder and wonder how it is that
woman rises at the very front when any grand advance is made.”

“Good Rhodes, go on,” spoke Miriamne.

[Illustration: B. Plockhorst.

MARY AND ST. JOHN.]

“I’m easily persuaded, for there is something of a savory sweetness to
this grief—welcome mother of true penitence, that comes over souls, who,
in imagination, follow the steps to the cross. I’ve heard that Mary
followed her son from the Judgment Hall to Calvary. He moved at slow
pace, and well He might; worn by months of toil for needy humanity; by
watchings, teachings and the like; until now ready to drop down under the
thorn-crown, the scourging and the cross. But the blessed Virgin, still
a woman, still a mother, faltered by the way. Sometimes she hid her eyes
from the scourging, sometimes she was pushed aside by those who knew her
not, or those who knowing hated her because of her goodness. Tradition
tells us she fainted several times overcome by the terrors of that sad
journey through the valley. She had small strength to witness the climax
of brutality when cruel hands drove the awful nails into that One she
loved! The history of that dread hour has often wrung tears from stout
hearts; and he who understands in any degree a mother’s heart, easily
believes that she was absent when the mob raised the victim on His cross.
But, mother-like, nothing could keep her from the final parting, which
death brought to her and her son.

“Sorrow sharpens the language of love to a deep expressiveness; when the
end was approaching, Mary and John stood side by side and near to the
One, who, to them, was dearer than all. I have heard, and I believe that
a sign from the Christ had hurried John away, just before His death,
to bring mother to the heart that was yearning not more to give than
to receive, the comforts that both needed, the assurance of undying
affection. The man on the cross, stripped of all earthly except His
flesh, even robbed of the tunic that Mary had made, and for which the men
of war gambled, as war has often gambled for the patrimony of the King of
Men, had little or nothing of earth to give, other than His rights in the
hearts of mother and John.

“These were His farewell keepsakes to each. It needs no strained
imagination to fathom His heart, for He opened it all in His dying cry,
‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ This was not as the cry of
a victor, but that of a broken heart; not as a strong man, but typical
humanity, alone, facing death as a child. The language He used then was
not that usually His, it was the language of His childhood. In every
syllable of that cry, one may read, I fear that God, even God, has
forsaken me; but mother, my own loved mother! mother, mother, oh, my
dying, human heart, leans as a babe on thy bosom!’”

“Here, here!” cried Sir Charleroy. “Quick! Take this cross of a Teutonic
Knight of St. Mary; bury it when I’m gone by her grave in Gethsemane!
I have praised myself as her champion, and son, and devotee. Heavens!
I’m abashed by thy splendid revelation! I never have even dreamed of her



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 27 of 40)