Copyright
A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

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

. (page 28 of 40)
Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 28 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


glorious worth!”

“Father, my father, be calm, be calm—calm for my sake; you fright me when
you so give way. Remember, we’re at the place where a wrong past ends at
the right beginning.”

“Thou art my good angel, Miriamne; but, oh, it’s twice sad! I’ve been a
madman half my life and a player in a farce the other half!”

“Be calm, Sir Knight, and look into the wonders of this place. Christ’s
coming to earth to pardon its errings, right its wrongs, and hang
unfading victory crowns on all futures. Listen: There was night when that
King died, and the dead arose and went about the city, attesting the
eternal fact that He was Ruler of all worlds. And it was the Feast of the
New Moon at Jerusalem; the Feast of Venus at Rome; of Khem in Egypt; but
the crescent was hidden.”

“I see, I see, Rhodes; Mary and Mary’s son were to come forth; all others
eclipsed!”

“It is attested by history that there was black darkness about the Sun
Temple at Heliopolis as Christ was bidding His mother and earth Death’s
good-night. The Egyptian city of Osiris, by miracle, witnessed of the
great event at Calvary. Some there were prompted to say: ‘Either the
world is coming to an end, or the god of nature suffers.’”

“And Mary, wise and erudite, Rhodes? Tell us more of her.”

“‘It is finished!’ cried her son, and she passed from the grief of those
who agonize amid somber, monster pangs impending, into that quiet,
subdued, ripening sadness that comes over those who have learned to say:
‘_Thy will be done._’ At Cana’s feast her Beloved told her: ‘_Mine hour
has not yet come._’ Now, she knew the meaning of the mystic words, and
saw His hour, with all its mighty imports, at last marked in full; all
the prophecies gathered as into a full-orbed sun; the cross rose like a
dial, mountains high, the shadows on it telling eternity’s time! Mary,
the singer of the ‘_Magnificat_,’ her imagination fired, her vision
inspired, as she stood by that interpreting, ghastly symbol, could see
the course of the sacred past emerging into meaning. Eve leading; the
wealth of her bloom no longer sacrificed to primeval, Astarte-like
intoxications; the wings of the real tree of life above her; the serpent
crushed beneath her heel. Then, following, Noah, the man of the ark,
symbol of sheltering covenants between God and man, covenants ever
circled by bows of hope, ever surmounted by dove-like peace. After these
Abraham, with his typical lamb, followed by a countless multitude of
priests, laying down at the cross, as they passed, their temple-pattern,
the symbols of its service realized and ellipsed! After these, Moses,
the law-giver, with face serene at law’s fulfillment, in company with
flaming prophets innumerable, all rejoicing in visions realized. Behind
all followed Captivity and Hades, Christ’s grandest trophies, forever in
chains! Teutonic Knight of St. Mary, thy queen saw all these, and as they
passed there rose to her view the White Kingdom of David. Now, stand here
where she stood; surrender mind and heart to the Spirit and Word, then
thou shalt behold the radiant procession, the coming glory!”

The Hospitaler ceased. Then softly, meanwhile waving his hand as if
entreating, Sir Charleroy spoke:

“Rhodes, wait a little; don’t say any more now. I want to watch that
procession. It seems to me I see it. Oh, wonderful, all wonderful!”

“He shall be called Wonderful.”

There was a long, long pause, broken gently by Miriamne, who, after a
while, said:

“We’d better return to the city; the day is very hot, and I’m—” She could
say no more.

Silently Sir Charleroy complied; silently all three journeyed to their
abodes. The Hospitaler was content with his effort to proclaim the
truths of Calvary, and Miriamne was glad to leave her father to the full
benefit of his sacred, all-engrossing thoughts. Miriamne, in heart, was
enraptured by her thoughts of the mother of Jesus.




CHAPTER XXIX.

TWO DEAD HEARTS UNITING TWO LIVING ONES

“Let us alone regret, ...
... Sorrow humanizes our race.
Tears are the showers that fertilize the world;
And memory of things precious keepeth warm
The heart that once did hold them.
They are poor that have lost nothing; they are far more poor
Who, losing, have forgotten; they most poor
Of all who lose and wish they might forget.”—JEAN INGELOW.


Under Miriamne’s adroit and patient guidance Sir Charleroy and his
attendants made goodly progress until they reached ancient Jabbock,
bordering Giant Bashan; but at that point the knight made a stubborn
stand, persisting that he would proceed no further Bozrah-ward.

“I smell Mohammedanism coming to me from the East, and, having had enough
of the Saracens in my day, I’ll tarry away from their haunts——

“I must go, beloved, to the tomb of my dear defender, Ichabod. I must go
to Gerash to do the pious offices of a mourner.”

The maiden brought forward every reason her ingenuity could invent
opposed to the proposed deflection in course. She enlisted the Druses
guides, whom she had employed to accompany them hitherto, to aid her in
raising objections, and they magnified the obstacles in the way to Gerash
with commendable loyalty to their employer, the maiden, if not with
strict regard to truth. They all encamped, and the debate was the sole
occupation for hours.

“Now, Miriamne, hitherto my good spirit, thou wouldst lure me to
perdition! I’ve been in the Lejah. I’m certain that black lava-sea is
hell’s mouth, and Bozrah’s its porch!”

“So be it; but if we go carrying the heavenly consciousness of doing our
Father’s will, we may carry heaven to those gates.”

“It’s not my duty to go thither. I passed through that purgatory once.
Its horrors blasted my life! To return thither would be presumption.”

“But you have forgotten the sunrise coming to you. Each day, for months,
as you have journeyed eastward, you have gained in health of body and
mind.”

“Dost thou mean that God blesses those who plunge headlong to
destruction, as the possessed swine that ran violently into the sea?”

“Can not my father let faith silence the disquietings of his wild
fancies? The memory of a past pain, though a persistent, is often a false
teacher.”

“Oh, I do remember. Some memories seem to scorch the very substance of my
brain! I pray when such come that God give me eternal forgetfulness. I’d
rather be an idiot than have the power of coherent thinking filled with
such reminiscences!”

“Ah, if we all, always, had the wisdom, while gazing into our dark, deep
pools, to gaze until we saw at their bottoms the image of the sky above!”

“Well said, daughter! Bozrah is a dark pool! I saw there only an image of
the sky, and that very far away!”

The day of the foregoing they were wandering along the flowery banks
and over the forest-covered hills that undulated away from Jabbock’s
ravine. As they moved along the maiden plucked a hyacinth blossom and
affectionately fastened it on her father’s bosom; just where he was wont
to wear, when in England, his knight’s cross.

“Rizpah once placed a lotus there; it made me drunk; a votary of
pleasure, mad; but Miriamne, her daughter, places there the flower of
serene, deathless affection! Sweet, thou art my good angel, the flower
says to Gerash!”

“Why, father! I do not understand!”

“Apollo unwittingly caused the death of a beautiful youth, the friend
of his heart, whose name was Hyacinthus. So says tradition, and it’s so
charming, I more than half believe it! Apollo, in loyal love, made a
flower grow from the grave of his friend. This is it! See; here’s the
color of the dead youth’s blood. This blossom is the flower of deathless
friendship and I love it.”

“A touching story, I’ll remember it; but it seems to me the flower says,
‘Bozrah,’ my father.”

“Take this leaf, girl; here.”

“And what of this?”

“There, on that leaf, behold those signs, ‘Ai’ ‘Ai’.”

“I think some markings are there like what you say, though never ’till
now did I so trace them.”

“That’s the Greek cry of woe. The perfumes of these flowers, in every
field of Gerash, remind me of my duty. I must go to the tomb of the man
that died in my defense.”

“A pious sentiment; but duty to the living can not be pushed aside by
such a call. You have other and living friends?”

“Yes, thou art my friend, lover, angel; but I’ll keep thee with me, my
lamb.”

“Rizpah and your sons!”

“Rizpah my friend? that would be amusing, if it were not such a grim
sarcasm. Oh, what a miserable race she led me!”

“Misery, like joy, in wedded life, is won or lost by the deed of two; not
one. I shall not acquit my mother; but were not there two to blame?”

“Two? no; only one. I could not be peaceful with a panther.”

“Be not too severe, and think a little; did not you, after all, do much
to make your wedded wife what she was at her worst?”

“What, I? Thou dost not think that?”

“Yes; I know the story of your espousal; your flight from Gerash, and
then your after conflicts. You knew before you determined against all
opposing, in the face of reasons most grave, and without any thought of
your adaptation to each other, to wed, that your tempers, tastes, and
trainings were in almost every thing apart.”

“Well, we loved each other sincerely; our marriage vows were honestly
taken.”

“Marriage; that settled it forever! Did you as honestly keep as you took
the vows, for better or worse?”

“Now that were impossible. Did you ever see your mother in rage, her
muscles rising in a sort of serpentine wavings from her feet upward?
Ugh! I hear her sibilant, hissing words of scorn, now. They’ll haunt me
forever. She was a lotus in love, and a boa in wrath.”

“I may have seen her so, but out on the love that lets such visions
displace memories of the best things; a daughter, nurtured by her, can
not; a husband sworn on hymen’s altar, dare not forget.”

“I tried to set her right, Miriamne.”

“Not always with kindness unfailing. I’ve seen the scourge-marks on her
heart. I’ve heard her moan as a wounded dove; no, more piteously, as
a deserted wife and mother. You tried to set her right by forcing her
to your faith, that, too, when the girl-wife was weak and exhausted by
early maternity. You have been wont ever to pity profoundly the holy
mother who recoiled fainting from the spectacle of her son scourged to
crucifixion. That pity is a fine feeling; but since Mary’s day is passed,
it is finer to evince a manly tenderness for living women moving toward
their Calvary. How you waste your emotions on the dead! Mary Hyacinthus,
Ichabod, have all, Rizpah nothing.”

“See here, daughter; let me look down into thy eyes. I’m of a mind to
think the sun has gotten into thy brain. It gets into every body’s in
this country.” So saying, he turned her face toward his own. It was a
bungling effort on his part to parry her thrusts with ridicule, the last
weapon of the defeated.

She was a little indignant, but yet too earnest to be diverted, and so
followed up her advantage.

“You were the stronger, every way, and fenced well against your other
self. The woman erred, sometimes grievously, perhaps, and you had your
sweet retaliations. How sweet you can tell. Each blow at her, fell on me,
my brothers and yourself. Oh, it’s the climax-revenge to lay open with
giant thrusts, monstrous and keen, vein and nerve. One may mar a good
purpose by pursuing it cruelly. Were not your efforts to set my mother
right severe, sometimes?”

“Did the eloquent Hospitaler put these fine words together for thee,
girl?” testily questioned Sir Charleroy.

“No matter who sent them, if they be true words. If you get angry, I’ll
be wounded. You need not try hard to hurt me. I will strive to be all
filial, while all loyal; but not more so to father than to mother.”

“Well, but she was a rheumatism to me.”

“So be it; still she was part of you. Does one dismember a limb that
aches, or give it tenderer care than all others?”

“‘It is better,’ said Solomon, ‘to dwell in the wilderness, than with a
contentious and angry woman.’ I got heartily weary of an ache that ached
because it ached.”

“I’ll place Joseph by Solomon.”

“Pray, how?”

“He espoused Mary and was with her, yet apart; thus showing God’s idea
of the needs of weary mothers in their trying hours, when giving their
strength to another being. Joseph was kept as a lover only, until after
Jesus was born, that his services might have a lover’s tenderness. I have
heard that the manhood of Jesus reflected the sweetness of Mary; Joseph
kept his wife in those days sweet, so the kindness of that noble spouse
lived after all, an immortal influence. Joseph, through Mary in part,
determined the bodily traits of the child Jesus; the latter influences
all time.”

“Why, truly, thou hast found a beautiful flower, Miriamne, and I’m
wondering that I never saw it before in Mary’s life. But, finally, I tell
thee I loved Rizpah as my soul at first.”

“Oh, yes; you both loved with almost volcanic ardor. My mother told me
so; but this very power and inclination of passionate loving gave you
each for the other power of dreadfully hurting.”

“Well, we’ll speak further of this, perhaps, another time. The hyacinth
lures me to Ichabod’s tomb.”

“The rose, emblem of Mary, flower of wedded love, is sweeter than the
hyacinth. Go home to Bozrah, father, I beseech you, so you may prove
yourself still a Knight of Saint Mary.”

“Home? I’ve none! Bozrah is grim ruins within, without. There, as only
fit and in fit dwellings, abide the cormorant and hyena. All hopes that
ever centred in that place for me were but dancing satyrs at the last;
all loves but eagles with hot-iron beaks, which devoured the hearts that
fed them, then fled away! I hate Bozrah!”

“You have a wife and children there. I a mother. Where the brood is,
there is home. Bozrah has no gloom for us, save such as we make for it.
It may be a glad place yet. Remember that Kidron and Golgotha were made
all beautiful by the fidelity of Mary and the cross-bearing of Jesus.”

“Miriamne, this parley is useless. Once for all, hear me. Before I wed
thy mother I took upon my soul an impious, almost desperate, vow, that
I’d possess her though the possessing ruined me. The strong, hopeful
Knight of the Cross was domineered over by his love. Before this I had
some commendable principles and a little piety. What am I now, after long
driftings about through wasted years of prime? I’m the wreck of a man;
less! a part of a wreck, trying to get made over in a meaner pattern out
of the fragments left. Thy mother unmade me!”

“Adam said something like that of Eve.”

“Don’t interrupt me, Miriamne. The Jewish maiden Zainab gave Mohammed,
of Bozrah, the poisoned lamp which ruined his health; the Jewish
Rizpah has such a lamp. See me, wrinkled, hair whitened, all too soon;
chivalry, morality and piety dragged out of me bit by bit. I stand here
the caricature of what I was or what I should be. I’m fit for neither
war nor courtship. I’d make a pretty show attempting to court Rizpah!
I’ve forgotten how such things are done, and, besides, I’m not the
original Sir Charleroy she wed. Let her find him, or his counterfeit,
and be happy. The original Sir Charleroy and Rizpah loved each other
desperately, but these that I know hate each other as desperately. I
tell thee it would be legalized adultery for these latter two to live
under the same roof, pleading as justification the vows of the other
two! Miriamne, I tell thee that thou mayst tell it on the house tops, or
hill tops, as I’ll cry it through eternity, if permitted, Sir Charleroy
and Rizpah, of Gerash and Bozrah, died long ago! The devil stole their
bodies, put an imp’s spirit in each, and then parted them forever. If
they ever meet it will be by the fiend’s device, that he may revel over
their warrings with each other! Ah, ha! What the Roman arena was to the
blood-thirsty populace, such to the fiends the homes of the world when
full of tumults!”

And Miriamne, alarmed by the outbreak, tried to calm her father:

“Oh, father, you will need mercy some day; merit it by bestowing it. You
suffer an unforgiving spirit to inflame your passion!”

“Forgiving? What’s the use? I’ve vainly tried mercy!”

“Try once more. The injured have resource so long as they have power to
forgive. Remember Him who in the great extremity cried: ‘_They know not
what they do!_’ Trust Rizpah once more!”

“I do not see the shadow of a peg on which to hang a trust.”

“You, a Teutonic Knight of St. Mary!”

“Thank God Mary was not a Rizpah!”

“Mary had the trust of Joseph in those dire days, when nothing but a
miracle could prove her integrity. She presents not only woman’s goodness
but that which even the loftiest wife needs, the constancy beyond measure
of her husband.”

“Joseph was advised by an angel. I not.”

“As you love your mother, honor the woman who mothers your children. They
bear your image, yet she alone, with a sublime self-forgetting, struggles
to have them grow up honorably, purely, and in the fear of God.”

“She wants to make them Israelites.”

“Perhaps so, and perhaps the Christian examples she has seen give her no
reason to wish otherwise. But after all, her way is better than to have
left them as their father left them, to become infidels or nothing. Oh,
father, do not think me bold. I speak because I love you; as perhaps no
other might care or presume to give utterance.”

“Well, girl, I guess I’m a double man; for, determined to oppose, I feel
a desire within to have thee win in this argument. I’m one compound of
contradictions. I was a sworn bachelor, then a sworn husband, now I’m
neither. I’m a widower, with a living wife; a parent of three children
with only one. I bewail my homelessness, yet run from an offered home.
I confess to being useless, yet see a mission most important at my own
door. Swearing loyalty to Mary, I disregard all she exemplified—of late
revealed to me; professing to be a Christian, I live a life that would
shame a decent Jew. I have a daughter, said by all to be much like me in
temper, feature, and mind, yet we are here utterly opposed in thought and
purpose. I’ve heard the profoundest teachers in grandest temples unmoved
to this duty, to-day presented; and, now, without the pale of any church,
in the wilds of Jericho, a mere girl, my daughter, instructs me well!
This all proves that I’m the caricature of Miriamne’s father. If I be Sir
Charleroy, then I’m beside myself!”

“A good half confession! Now for the atonement!”

“What, a bundle of contradictions making atonement? undoing the past!
more contradictions?”

“Righteousness displaces all the contradictions of life!”

“I could make no atonement except by contradicting a score of years, and
going to Bozrah! Now hear me finally; by the glory of God, alive, I’ll
never go to Rizpah’s house!”

Miriamne felt that further persuasion would be futile. She made a last
request, then.

“Will my father take me to the outskirts of that city? I’ll enter alone
to comfort the woman who, notwithstanding her faults, I believe to be the
noblest of mothers. She may not have a husband; she has a daughter.”

As the father and daughter rested at noon, not far from the Giant City,
some days after the foregoing events, they beheld a single horseman from
toward Bozrah speeding along the great southern highway.

“I think he’s a Jew and in peaceful pursuit. I’ll hail him,” said the
knight, “in the language of Galilee.”

The rider, hearing the call, halted. Glancing about him he discovered
the source of the call, and promptly reined his steed toward where the
pilgrims were sitting. Instantly he began in short, quick sentences:

“Wonder; the face of a Frank, the garb of a Turk, the voice of a Jew!
An old man, a young woman! A Moslem in company with his slave? No, she
sits by his side! A harem favorite? No! She is not veiled! Ye do not
look cunning enough for magicians, too cunning to be pilgrims; not pious
enough, old man, to be a priest, and too pious-looking to be a robber.”

“True, Laconic,” said the knight, “I’m at no loss as to thee.”

“So it seems! But pray, Christian, Jewish, Druses, Turks, who are ye?”

“We’re pilgrims, good runner.”

“Ha, ha; these pilgrims are a mad-lot, with piebald customs!”

“What news, runner?”

“What news! A plague in Bozrah! De Griffin’s twins are nigh to death—De
Griffin? May be thou knowest him? Thou dost look like him: but he’s
dead. Now his twins have no nurses nor mourners, but Rizpah, and I’m
racing to Gerash to see if I can find a soul to swell her wailings.”

The rider turned his horse and with a word, “_Selamet_,”—“peace,” was
gone.

Miriamne had heard enough, and now, with redoubled vehemence, reöpened
her arguments and appeals to her father to go to her home.

“I’ll not go into Rizpah’s house. I tell thee thou art inviting me into
hell!”

Miriamne, in turn, replied: “There is good anywhere for those that
earnestly seek it. Mohammed, they say, got his first inspiration in
Bozrah, and he a Moslem, a crescent devotee!”

“Yes; he wed a rich wife there, too, and she was a saint. I may envy him
in these things.”

The young woman hastily entered the city and stopped for a little time at
the mission house of Father Adolphus, briefly, hurriedly, to announce her
return, inquire the latest report concerning the illness of her brothers,
and to beseech the old priest to go out after her father; if possible, to
bring him into the city and to the desolate fireside.

“Well, well; there, now, I’d call thee bee or humming-bird, truly,
darting from point to point, subject to subject, if I didn’t know I was
talking to an angel.”

The sincere compliment was unheard by Miriamne, for she was gone ere it
was sounded. The old man shaded his eyes, looked after her a few moments,
then girding himself, hobbled down the street to seek at the city’s
outskirt the waiting knight.

And Miriamne, with heart beating high, sped on homeward. But as she
approached it she slackened her pace, with questionings as to how she
had best enter, so as to secure loving welcome and in no wise perturb
by sudden surprise. She saw her mother through the doorway, bowed and
swinging back and forth. The girl’s heart divined all; “My brothers
are dead!” The mother seemed oblivious to all about her, and Miriamne
hesitated on the threshold. Just then the runner galloped up to the open
door, reined his steed, and exclaimed: “Out of sight, out of mind! Death,
like poverty, sifts our friends! Ye can hire mourners cheaper at Bozrah
than at Gerash, and there are none to be had without coins! Gerash is
distant. I had no coins, and was a fool to start, wise to return!” It was
Laconic, and he was gone before any reply was given. Rizpah didn’t even
lift up her head to notice his coming or going.

Miriamne was glad of the circumstance, for the runner gave her words with
which to enter: “A daughter never forsakes.” She spoke thus, very softly.

Rizpah, perhaps not recognizing the voice, moaned on, swaying as she
moaned:

“Mother, mother?”

Rizpah slowly lifted her eyes to the speaker; then, either by a masterful
self-control or because sorrow dazed, she slowly and without emotion,
addressed the maiden:

“Thou here? So, then, my three are safe together, before my eyes, in
death. Thou wert buried years ago.”

Without another word the daughter and sister quietly moved to the forms
lying beside the mother, and knelt down, bowing, her one arm flung over
the corses. Presently she reached out her hand and it met a warm clasp
from her mother. The maiden knew full well that it meant welcome. It
was death’s victory; expressive, unspoken eloquence. There were four
hearts; two still in death; two alive and breaking, but the dead hearts
somehow drew the living ones together and then they beat as one, each
all comforting to the other. Two dead hearts bridged the gulf between
two living ones. There followed the embrace and kiss of peace, and then



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 28 of 40)