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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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Rizpah questioned:

“Wilt stay with me a little while, my only—?” thereupon she sobbed and
was relieved.

“Stay? Yes, always! But when, the burial?”

“At once! It’s the plague and the law requires promptness. O Death, thou
didst do thy bitterest for Rizpah!”

Rizpah soon rose up and began to busy herself about the bodies.

“Mother, tell me how to aid you.”

“Yea, as I need. Thou and I wilt carry them to the cave of entombment.”

“But will there be no funeral rites?”

“I’ll perform such; keeping vigil as Rizpah of old. My children were
crucified, as were hers. All mankind turned from us in our stress, and so
they died in want.”

“But, mother, the watching would kill you!”

“Thou dost comfort me, now. Oh, I’d be overjoyed, if I only knew for
certainty that death would court me at my vigil.”

Softly Miriamne spoke:

“Sir Charleroy is at Bozrah.”

“Now thou makest Bozrah seem afar. Oh, the garments of people may brush
together passing, but still to all things else the passers be eternities
apart,” replied quickly, and yet with cool self-possession, Rizpah.

“Death, that cools the pulses, also subdues the asperities. I could not
hate an enemy if I met him amid his dead,” persuasively responded the
maiden.

“Imperious, fanatical, stubborn Charleroy! changeable in all but his
determination to make conquest of the faith of others. Then, I can not
ask his pardon for my serving God. Liberty came to Egypt because the
mothers of captive Israel were faithful. So says our Talmud.”

“Sir Charleroy respects at least, fidelity.”

“Then ’tis well to have me die. He never did me justice to my face; let
him embalm me in honey after I’m dead, as Herod did the wife he murdered.
It’s a way of some husbands. But we must be moving, daughter; I’ve
prepared two biers. The plague is a stern messenger, nor leaves room for
any dallying.”

And Bozrah witnessed a strange, sad spectacle. Two roughly constructed
burial couches; on each a body, and two women, the one aged, the other
youthful, both bowed with grief, slowly bearing the biers away, down to
the tomb-hill. The elder directed; and so they went; first a little way
forward with one body, then returning to advance the other. There were no
mourners following; the passers-by offered no help; the women of the city
drew their doors shut, and the children playing in the streets, when they
beheld this funeral procession, fled away with subdued exclamations.

The ancient Rizpah, watching her dead on their crosses, was standing that
time in her valley of “dry bones;” her imitator, Rizpah de Griffin, was
now walking through that same valley. Both made pitiable by desolation.
Neither was able to hide her dead from her sight by looking for the hope
of the blessed resurrection. Their loving had been fierce enough, but
the soul-reviving Spirit of the prophet’s vision was not yet seen to be
in the valley for them. The two Rizpahs were “mothers of sorrow,” but
followed no cross that had on it besides “death,” “victory.” They went
with tears, but not held by a love that triumphs in “leading captivity
captive.” These ancient Jewish mothers may be put in striking contrast
with the Davidic Queen Mary, who wept from the Judgment Hall, past the
cross, past the tomb, up to the chamber of Pentecost, from which she
viewed the transports of the Ascension of her Son, her Saviour, her King.




CHAPTER XXX.

THE “KNIGHT OF ST. MARY” AND RIZPAH AT THE GRAVE OF THEIR SONS.

“Courage, for life is hasting
To endless life away;
The inner fires unwaiting,
Transfigure our dull clay.”

...

“Lost, lost are all our losses;
Love set forever free;
The full life heaves and tosses
Like an eternal sea;
One endless, living story;
One poem spread abroad,
And the sun of all our glory
Is the countenance of God.”—GEORGE MCDONALD.

“I am ascending unto my Father and your Father, and to my God
and your God.”—JNO. xx. 17.


The Teutonic knight was standing in silent contemplation of a pile of
ruins, from the center of which rose a number of stately columns like so
many mourners about a grave. These were all left of a stately old temple.
Art had done nobly here once; now desolation was master, even the name of
the structure being forgotten. The priest approached, questioning within
himself as to how he would address Sir Charleroy, when they met. As he
drew nearer, he thought here are two temples in decay. There came to his
mind out of the distant past a vision of Sir Charleroy as he was when he
stood erect, ruddy-cheeked and every wit a man by his bride’s side, the
time of the wedding at Damascus. The priest, contrasting the man before
him, now aged and solemn faced, with what he was then, thought “of the
two ruined temples, the man is the sadder one. A quarter of a century
slipping over a life, though with noiseless feet, generally leaves its
tracks; if pain and passion have been the companion of the years, havoc
is wrought.” Solemnly, and in measured tones, the priest’s meditations
having given him free utterance, he spoke, quoting the words long before
sadly pronounced by the Savior concerning Jerusalem’s holy place:
“_Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up._”

Sir Charleroy slowly, very slowly, turning his eyes upon the speaker,
observed him from head to foot, but uttered not a word.

Again the priest spoke: “Time has so changed both knight and priest, that
they forget themselves; nor is it therefore wonderful, they should not
remember each other.”

“Father Adolphus! Miriamne’s work?”

“What matter whose act if we see God back of the actor. I’ve a message
from on high!”

“Why, thou dost astound me!”

“Methinks no man more needs astounding. May righteousness enter the gates
opened by wonder, and so move thee into Rizpah’s home and thine; death is
there!”

“Is there? has been! When love was slain, I shut out its bleeding form
with the mourning robes of a long forgetfulness.

“There are hopes that die to live no more; so there are homes which
bereft of their household Penates are doomed to grim ruin forever. See
these giant dwellings. They tell it all.

“Thou art a Christian, I believe; but like the disciples, Cleopas and
Luke, with eyes holden; not discerning the Lord.

“Just as some, having embalmed the body, looked into the tomb at a napkin
only, seeing merely the place where He lay. Though puzzled that the
grave’s seal was broken, they were still blind to the miracle of a new
dawn, simultaneous with the unclasping of night’s grim arms. They had
heard of the resurrection to be, yet they reasoned that the Promiser was
surely dead. Love alone, in the person of Mary Magdalene, most loving
because most forgiven, overleaped all doubts, disappointments and fears,
to hie away in the thinning darkness, in an utter abandonment to her
trust in the words of Him, to whom her heart was given. That was love
indeed.”

“Oh, priest, ’tis so. A woman; a woman; leading in religion! I do not
much bepraise her, for she, being a woman, easily could believe, where
men doubted.”

“It would have been cruel to have crossed her faith, would it not, Sir
Charleroy?”

“Yes, on my soul, yes!”

“Then go to the bier of thy boys. Let love overleap all obstacles.”

“But let me rest, priest. I’ve had the full draught of trouble’s cup. I’m
quit of further conflict.”

“Thou believest? Listen:

“To whom also he shewed himself alive after His passion by many
infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the
things pertaining to the kingdom of God——

“Christian Cross-bearing knight, hear me! The suffering Savior could
never have revealed Himself, as the Almighty, Risen Christ, if there had
been no cross. By what He suffered He had gain of power. Thy wrinkles,
disciplines and all such like, fit thee now to minister in the chamber of
death; even where now of all places on earth, thou art needed.”

“But my case is so peculiar, my home so unnatural!”

“Is there no balm in Gilead, Sir Charleroy? If thou and she have been
great sinners, He’s a great Savior, and more, a patient one. Hast thou
thought how He lingered near His followers in an overplus of love, lured
from the triumphs of heaven, to personally deal, all comfortingly, all
encouragingly, peculiarly with individuals? For thirty-three years in
the flesh he wandered about, doing good, healing all those oppressed
of the devil; but the finest hours of all His life lay in those forty
days between the resurrection and the ascension. Well might He say to
Mary: ‘Touch me not,’ when in love, she fain would have retarded Him by
sentimental fondling. Listen now:

“‘I have not yet ascended: Go to my disciples, say to them: I ascend
unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God!’ He was making a
sublime accent along golden steps, and the number of those steps were ten
and two, even as the number of Israel’s tribes.”

“I do not comprehend this mysticism, though the word-frame is beautiful.”

“Then know it. On the cross, Immanuel cried: ‘It is finished!’ Glorious
salvation’s work was finished; but then He lingered still to bless,
especially His friends. Count the steps. He appeared first to Mary
Magdalene, out of whom he had cast the seven devils and who doubtless
clung to the Savior, her only hope, her only deliverance from the awful
realities of the tragedy in her soul. Thy Rizpah was never so ill as
Magdalene, yet surely she is worthy as much tenderness.”

“Secondly. Jesus appeared to His mother; love’s appearing. I see her
now, in mind, by the record here unnamed—left in the sacred privacy of
her grief; too stricken to minister, but close to the triumph, because
all needful of its blessing. I see a third step—Jesus, by special
appointment, meeting the backsliding fisherman of Tiberias, now gone away
to his nets, persuading himself he had done and suffered enough, even as
does Sir Charleroy to-day.”

“I’ve been called Pilate. Go on. Call me Peter; I can bear it.”

“Fourthly. The Christ joined Luke and Cleopas, the Greek proselytes, now
doubters; but the chill of their misgivings was burned away in hearts
inflamed, while they journeyed to Emmaus.”

“Now call me Luke-Cleopas, priest. I’ve the chill of the doubts, I’m
sure.”

“Fifthly. He came to His own little church-of-the-upper-room, to breathe
on it peace and to display His all-convincing body; then He waited a week
for a special unfoldment to Thomas, the all-doubter, leaving him filled
with all faith.”

“Oh, that He’d come to Sir Charleroy!” said the knight.

“He does, but the knight’s eyes are holden, and he starves while toiling
for fish in a dead sea. Listen to these words by the shore of Tiberias:

“‘Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered
him, No.

“‘And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and
ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it
for the multitude of fishes.

“‘Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst
ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

“‘Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish
likewise.’

“Oh, Sir Charleroy, cast in the net on the right side, then come and
dine.”

“But I’m an odd man; not like others.”

“He that is All Fullness later appeared to multitudes of every clime, the
representatives of the Church universal, ever full of odd people; again
to the apostle of good works, James, called the pillar of faith. The
tenth appearing was at Bethany, as the blesser and promiser to all. After
that he showed himself to Paul, proof that he was a returning Christ,
and, last of all, to John on Patmos. This the John that was care-taker of
Mary, the mother; John, the all-loving. I read each page of the glowing
Apocalypse as a love-letter from heaven to a mother, from a Son who
carries eternally within His glorious heart the image of the woman great
chiefly for her great love of Him. She loyally followed Him to the grave;
He lovingly followed her beyond it. When he set John to picturing heaven
as a virgin-bride and His Church as a woman clothed with the sun, Christ
had surely the choicest of women, Mary, in His heart.”

“And the Heart of Heaven might well lovingly remember the mystical Rose,”
quoth the knight.

“As heaven loved Mary, so should noble men love ‘bone of their bone,
flesh of their flesh,’ _as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for
it_.”

“Thou wert never wed, good priest?”

“No; perhaps ’tis well so. I’ve had a work in helping those who were wed
unhappily, to peace; forgetting, in serving their need, my own joy.”

“Then thou hast no idea of what it is to deal with a Rizpah as a wife.”

“I know she’s a woman; a marvel in her fidelity to her children. She
may have infirmities, but there was a woman, bowed grievously for
eighteen years, fully restored by one kind touch of the man, Jesus, ever
all-pitiful and tender toward women.”

“But that one was willing to be healed.”

“No; she was trying to hide, but the Savior called her out, just to heal
her.”

“Now, then, let me cross swords at close quarters, since thou dost press
me. I ask thee, as a Christian priest, wouldst thou have me tolerate the
sins of heresy in my own home? Remember, Jezebel, she beguiled Ahab,
her daughter, Athaliah, and her husband, Jehoram, also, into gravest
transgressions. So God’s people were led, little by little, to the groves
of Astarte. I think I’ve a good parallel: Jezebel was the daughter of a
priest, so this Rizpah of Bozrah. With her hot temper, pride of exalted
birth, and a mouthful of arguments; a man meets such a woman as a pigmy,
to crouch, or as a knight, to resist.”

“The name Jezebel means ‘chaste.’ Her pious namers must have respected
chastity once. Her practices were all loyalty to Ahab and her children,
though her theories may have been odious. All that is recorded of them,
which engenders hate for her memory, is the hatefulness of the way she
pressed her creeds upon others, the Jews. Which the more like Jezebel—Sir
Charleroy or Rizpah?”

“But Rizpah was ardent to lay our love, and our children on her altar.
Like the women who brought their jewels to Aaron to be transmuted into
the golden calf! I could only protest, and I did.”

“Did not the men of Egypt and Israel first proclaim the worship of Apis?
Were not the women merely following their lords? There are many women who
defile their jewels because, with contempts that turn their hearts to
ashes, their lords do not, as they should, wear both the wives and the
jewels on strong and loyal hearts.”

“Oh, I perceive! Rizpah has been parading to thee her family troubles. A
true woman would have rather given herself to nest-hiding.”

“Thou hast not hidden thy nest, but, like a wandering bird, fled it.”

“She never asked my aid; she left me in London.”

The knight was charging blindly, and defeated.

“It was not for her to crave, but for thee to lavishly bestow. She
left thee? What better could Abigail have done than turn her beautiful
countenance and good understanding away from churlish Nabal, who lived
chiefly to gloat about the cross on which he had placed her?”

“Does the sacrist advocate divorce?”

“No! No rupture of the tie sealed in heaven; but when by recriminations
a home becomes a living burial, a hell, then two houses are better than
one. I feel here keenly, knight. My mother had a monstrous man, my
father, in wedlock. He left her to battle single-handed for her little
ones. Her patient, sad face comes ever before me. Oh, how she eschewed
all other men, though courted by worthier than he; how she strove to hide
my father’s faults and taught us, his children, to try to respect him! I
was but a youth when he died, but I tell thee I dared not look upon his
coffined face lest I should curse him, then and there!”

The knight cowered as if from a malediction.

“There, there! for heaven’s sake pause, Sacrist! Abashed at home, lashed
by the teacher of the faith I’ve suffered to defend, I’ll be driven to
flee to the wandering Bedouin, or to death!”

“They say Lucifer, unable to commit suicide, plunges headlong into the
abyss when thwarted in any design.”

“Call me Lucifer; another epithet!”

“There are no black gulfs into which thou canst flee from the memories
which conscience points to when duty is contemned.”

“Is it the priest’s purpose to harass my soul?”

“No; but rather to lead it back to its peace that thou didst leave long
ago. There is only one way of return, that a very _Via Dolorosa_. Mary
along it walked with her son, her God and Savior, to the cross and the
resurrection! By the cross God gives, we go to our glory.”

“I’ve tried my best to be a loyal, Christian knight. Give me, at least,
that award.”

“I can not praise justly; I dare not flatter; I must in all faithfulness
say thou hast yet to learn the alphabet of loyalty, as interpreted
by that glorious pair, Mary and the Christ—the triumphant Eve, the
triumphant Adam. Thou hast been following afar off, nearer the flickering
of Judas’ illusive lantern than to Him who pleaded amid His griefs,
all self-forgetting, with His Roman guards to let His little band of
followers depart unharmed. The woman whom thou exaltest as the queen of
hearts is, after all, not thy pattern. Judas and Mary are in lasting
contrast; he all treason, she fidelity’s choicest fruit. It is well to
see to it to which one is the nearer. Oh, Gethsemane, garden of touching
contrasts! There love was most grossly interpreted by the shrines of
_Baaltis_; there most grandly interpreted by love’s sublimest offering
that night the Saviour agonized. There twice the enemy of man did his
almost worst; once by the rites of the groves, once in the wracking
temptations of the Man of Sorrows. The arch-fiend was baffled, and then
the ingenuity of hell was taxed to one last, most terrific and dastardly
assault. What thinkest thou was the climax? The last effort to blot out
the hope of man was made through betrayal by a kiss; the finest sign of
affection befouled by treason! When the wedded betray each other, alas,
for the world!”

Sir Charleroy surrendered now, exclaiming:

“Oh, Father Adolphus; again I see there is a mist on my knightly cross!
I’m unworthy to wear the sign. It has been an emblem of death; I see it
now an emblem of life and love.”

“Will the knight look on the dead faces of his sons?”

“Yes, yes! In the name of God, yes! Lead me as a child, for I’m nothing
more.”

The knight was in the throes of transformation. He and the priest walked
side by side, mostly in silence, broken anon, only by questions of Sir
Charleroy’s, like these:

“Am I worth saving? Shall I ever become able to fully sound and truly
express, in life, the depths of all thou hast told me? And Rizpah! what
will Rizpah say or do?”

The old priest answered ever:

“‘Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ Himself
shall give thee light!’”

The lone burial cave was reached. Nigh the two biers stood Rizpah and
Miriamne and but a little way off Sir Charleroy and the priest. The
maiden, with surprised joy, saw the two men, but Rizpah, busy with her
thoughts, never lifted her eyes. The latter drew a slab away from the
entrance of the tomb and then moaned: “Better I’d never been a mother.”

Father Adolphus seized the opportunity to say in deep, entreating tones:

“‘I will ransom them from the power of the grave: I will redeem them from
death.’”

The mother supposing it was some kindly neighbor, still unnoticing any
thing but the speaker’s voice, moaned on, sitting nigh the tomb-door,
between the dead, a hand on each.

Then the old shepherd drew nearer, saying:

“Sisters of Israel, only believe. Beyond this stony gate there is an
eternal home fairer than any dream. There all broken homes shall rise in
joy, their treasures reunited and happy.”

Now Rizpah rose, and observing the speaker silently for a moment, she did
not seem offended at the priest’s presence. Misery had overcome, at least
for the time, her prejudice. Presently she exclaimed:

“My family reunited in heaven? Ah! that can not be, and if it were so,
what joy to ever repeat the bickering, blamings and wrongs of this poor
miserable life?”

“Thou wilt know as thou art known there and see eye to eye,” said the
missioner.

“Oh, if it could be only so!”

“Wouldst like it so?”

“Yes, by the grave of my darlings, I swear it! I loved them with my life
madly. All the love I had was concentrated in them. I knew when I began
idolizing them that I had loved before full well my husband and daughter.
I knew this, because the love I withdrew from them rushed forth to the
boys. But my idols are dead, and now if my love do not dry up, it will
hunger, feed on me myself, then turn to ferocity wolf-like.”

“Perhaps a husband restored may fill and enlarge thy heart. There never
was a great sorrow but there stood near it a great joy,” spoke the priest.

“Ah, he is stubborn, I, perhaps, proud. Immensity is between me and Sir
Charleroy.”

“Hast thou not yet had enough of pride’s dead sea apples?”

“Alas! why ask me?”

“If thou art ready for a better day, he may be.”

“Ready? I’ve always been. What I did for conscience sake and these
children is done. What he did to me he only can undo, as far as the past
can be undone.”

Then Miriamne waved her hand to her father, unseen by Rizpah,
entreatingly, as if to say: “Come, but not too quickly, a little nearer.”

Sir Charleroy complied and not as a laggard, for Rizpah seemed changed
from what she was in London. He now saw her as in those golden early days
at Gerash. But the truth was, the change was chiefly in himself.

“Rizpah!”

“Sir Charleroy de Griffin!” replied the woman addressed deliberately, and
apparently emotionlessly, as she fixed her eyes upon the knight. Then her
eyes turned toward the tomb, seemingly inviting his to follow there their
course. She stepped back and glanced from man to tomb, by the glance
saying more plainly than words:

“That is thy work. Thou didst open that grave in my pathway.”

The knight stood by her side and put forth his hand to clasp hers, but
with a respectfulness that betokened the cavalier and one not quite
certain of his welcome.

Then spake Father Adolphus:

“Remember Damascus, both of you. Come, Miriamne,” he continued, drawing
the maiden aside, “I’ve a giant’s grave to show thee.”

The priest and the maiden moved to a turn in the road and passed behind
the crumbled wall of a Roman palace.

“But, Father Adolphus, where now? What of the giant’s grave?”

“Be content, girl. I mean the grave of mad love grown to mad hate. It
will be made and deep enough by thy parents, but they can best make it
alone.”

And Miriamne fell upon her knees in silent, grateful prayer; a great
burden that had borne her down for years seemed lifted from off her.
The Miserere that had wailed through her life so long now changed to an
Easter anthem.

Father Adolphus after a time recalled her by a single question:

“Dost see the fierce woman and the vultures fleeing away before the
coming of our Christian Mother of Sorrows?”




CHAPTER XXXI.

THE ROSE, QUEEN OF HEARTS IN THE GIANT CITY

“Around thy starry crown are wreathed
So many names divine!
Which is the dearest to my heart
And the most worthy thine?”

...

“‘_Mother of sorrows_,’ many a heart,
Half broken by despair,
Hath laid its burden by the cross,
And found a mother there.
‘_Mary_,’ the dearest name of all,
The holiest and the best,
The first low word that Jesus lisped
Laid on His mother’s breast.”—A. A. PROCTOR.


There had come a great change to the home of the De Griffins at Bozrah,
without and within. Shrubs and vines grew about the old stone house
in profusion, birds sang contentedly at its casements, and kittens,
undisturbed, played around its doors. These were tokens of the new inner



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