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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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the life of the silent Mary.”

“Well said! Now filled with that belief, herald the White Kingdom!”

“I’ll help Miriamne, encouraging, upholding her; for the rest I’ve
learned to lean and follow.”

“I’m a column of dust, not a pillar of fire; and dust, alas, to dust
returns. There is much to do here, more than I shall be able to compass.
I’ve hitherto but vaguely taught the meaning, power and blessings of
motherhood.”

“I think more than vaguely.”

“The sun rises in the east. I think we’ve sunrise, but the depth, height
and breadth have not been sounded nor measured yet. Shall we go toward
the west wing?”

“Yea, lead, though I’m charmed in this presence.”

“I’d lead to the ‘_Rest of the Aged_.’”

“To the retreat with door like a castle? What are those amazon forms in
armor?”

“The Peri?”

“I bid them welcome in Miriamne’s name, having learned that she is
serious as well as cunning in weaving the manna-bearing garlands of every
myth about her ideals. Say on.”

“They say there is beneath the Caucasian mountains a wondrous city
builded of pearls and precious stones, in which dwells a race of
surpassing beauty of person. I’ve utilized the tradition.”

“Oh, the fabled Peri; but I’m mystified.”

“They also say,” continued Miriamne, “that Dives, a wicked genus, wages
constant war against the Peri, hoping to possess the treasures of the
Peri capital, but that they successfully repel him and make their
happiness secure. I have a similitude of the Peri city.”

“In truth, I wonder now. What fitness for such an allegory here?”

“I think I have come near to a profound truth. Listen; here at the west,
I have planned to show what makes approaching age a terror.”

“There are many evils which fall upon man’s declining years.”

“Judge me if my philosophy is faulty. I see ever that the fear of being
left poor and also old here haunts most lives. This fear is the parent
of avarice, and avarice is a serpent of glowing head and deadly sting.
It robs society and individuals of the two choicest jewels, plenteous
benevolence and serene hopefulness. You will find that most of the
wrongs from man to man arise from hearts made cruel by the rigors of
avariciousness. If we could stay that master passion, all streams of
benevolence would rise to their flood, and hoarding, now a seeming
necessity, most frequently a curse, become the occupation solely of a few
monomaniacs.”

“Miriamne’s philosophy is as invulnerable as a knight’s hauberk, but how
can you make it a general practice?”

“Oh, very easily. I’ve planned to endow our Temple of Allegory so that it
may not only teach but also do beautiful things. I’d have it a Pool of
Bethesda, stirred continuously to meet every human need.”

“Miriamne will have a vast following; the masses believe in loaves and
fishes!”

“True, avarice prompts some to a mean faith, but I seek to slay avarice
and blast the love of money, that root of all evil.”

“‘Enthusiast!’ a gainsaying world will cry.”

“And the cry of the world will be then, as often before, a burning lie!
So be it. I’m holding up the truth, the royal truth of Christianity. I’ll
hold it up while I have breath, and leave that truth, if God gives me
grace, as the beacon light on our hill to glow until all Christendom puts
on a charity as multiform and broad as the needs of humanity.”

“But there is a large and needy world.”

“I have a rich Father; the earth is His and the fullness thereof. The
only difficulty is in securing from His stewards an accounting and a
beginning of payment.”

“This, Miriamne, sounds like the dream of a poet. I’ll not waken you from
your beautiful trance, but still the rough fates of life as it is, and
the very common commonplace confront us.”

“What a world this would be if all mankind was as one family, realizing
universal brotherhood!”

“This, too, is the dream of the poet, Socialism; Astarte’s devotees
practiced it in the past.”

“Now, I’ll say silence! You speak of heathen socialism. Whatever its
form, lust was its corner stone, and a barbarous selfishness, which
limited it to those of each tribe or clan, its best expression! I speak
of a vastly finer, grander creed! I look out and forward to a day when
all shall know the Lord; a day when law shall be love and love shall be
law. Then earth shall be an Eden, with plenty for all, such plenty as
Divine bounty bestows. Christianity means the bringing in of that day;
the ‘Precious Gift’ was an earnest of all needed gifts from on high.
When that day comes we shall understand why the Pentecostal fire came to
all hearts in the time when all worshipers were thanking the All-Giver
for the bounties of the harvest. Then avarice shall cease from the earth,
and men, no more harassed by it, learn to practice all bountifulness in
youth and mid-life, and also serene restfulness when their powers of
bread-winning are paralyzed by the burdens of years. All will be noble,
therefore none indolent. There will be no beggars, for charity will run
before want, ever glad to serve those that can not serve themselves. Then
those who wear the glory-crowns of gray will be nourished reverently and
gladly, not as if they were useless paupers; not with a niggardly service
which seems to be constantly saying, ‘How long are you going to live!’
There will be no more worriment, no more crowdings of each other, no more
dishonesty among men! It is, I say, the constant fear of coming, in the
day when the heart is beating the last strokes of its own funeral march,
to doled charity or to nothing, that makes men pile up gain in dishonor
and hoard it with miserly grasping. Do you remember that Mary returned
from ministering to Elizabeth to sing her ‘Magnificat’ with these
prophetic strains:

“‘His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. He
hath filled the hungry with good things. He hath holpen His servant
Israel.’

“From the song she went to humble, painful ministries in behalf of all
the world. Mary supplemented the wondrous work of her Son and King, all
the way bearing as best she could her part of His cross; all the way her
quivering heart pierced by the sword that finally slew Him. She saw His
bloody tears turning to crown jewels as He ascended from Olivet, and
with unfaltering faith knelt among His earthly followers that she with
them might receive her crown of flame. That room was the highest point
of outlook on earth. It was the place of supreme beneficence; the place
where God gave Himself up freely for His followers and established the
memorial-superlative of the ages. Thither they hasted that they might
learn how all-receiving comes from all-giving, that they might realize
the measure and splendor of perfect charity, which is perfect love.”

“Miriamne, whence do you get such wondrous insights?”

Then the young wife turned aside to her “own little mountain,” as she
called a secret praying place in the chapel. She quickly returned, and
handing a manuscript to Cornelius, said:

“Read, please, of Pentecost.”

He complied:

“Then they that gladly received His word were baptized; and the same day
there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship,
and in breaking of bread and in prayers.

“And fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done by
the apostles.

“And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

“And sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as
every man had need.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking
bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and
singleness of heart,

“Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added
to the church daily such as should be saved.”




CHAPTER XLI.

A CHIME AND A DIRGE AT CHRISTMAS TIME.

“Oh, not alone, because his name is Christ;
Oh, not alone, because Judea waits
This man-child for her King—the star stands still!
Its glory reinstates,
Beyond humiliation’s utmost ill,
On peerless throne which she alone can fill,
Each earthly woman! Motherhood is priced
Of God, at price no man may dare
To lessen or misunderstand.
...
The crown of purest purity revealed
Virginity eternal, signed and sealed
Upon all motherhood.”—HELEN HUNT.

“In sorrow thou shalt bring forth.”—Gen. iii. 16.

“Thou shalt be saved in child-bearing.”—Tim. ii. 15.


Hundreds of willing hands, directed by Miriamne, were engaged in
preparations for fitly celebrating the feast of the Nativity at Bethany.
There was cheerful expectation everywhere in the village, and the Temple
of Allegory was smiling and glowing by day and by night with flowers and
lights.

“Miriamne, look forth! There approaches our domicile a company of
singing maidens, wearing holly wreaths and bearing a kline! What can it
mean?”

An instant of wonderment ready to echo the chaplain’s question possessed
Miriamne, then with a glow of satisfaction on her pale face, she cried:

“I know it all! The maidens of our fraternity have been declaring for a
month past they’d have me this Christmas at our Temple on the Hill, if
they must needs carry me thither!”

“And they knew you were drooping? Who told them? Not I.”

“Love has quick eyes, and my sisters love indeed!

“But, Miriamne, you surely will not risk your life, so precious to all,
by going forth to-day?”

“The holly, over-canopying the couch they bear, says to me: ‘Yea, go.’ I
told them the secret of the holly, and how those ancient Romans, thinking
their deities largely sylvan, cherished this shrub, so persistently
evergreen, in the belief that it afforded a safe and certain abiding
place for their gods in bitter, biting days of winter. The maidens
remember their lesson.”

And shortly after, all went forth toward the temple, the physically weak
but spiritually strong woman borne by her followers in a sort of triumph,
and Cornelius leading; the latter, that day was one of the happiest,
proudest men in all Syria. He rejoiced and exulted in being companion of
a woman such as Miriamne was.

Miriamne entered the temple to find a vast congregation awaiting her.
There was a ripple of excitement, a deep murmuring of satisfied voices
almost reaching the proportion of a masculine outbreak of applause,
as she appeared. Contentment was depicted on all faces, on many real
happiness. Neither was it transitory; there was a throbbing of gladness
running back and forth, rising higher and higher, until it finally broke
out into an impromptu “_Gloria in excelsis!_” Then followed a scripture
lesson:

“And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men
and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day
of the seventh month.

“And he read therein before the street that was before the water-gate
from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those
that could understand; and the ears of the people were attentive unto the
book of the law.”

And now the attention of all was drawn to the sound of footsteps in the
throbbings of a march, keeping time to the tones of the organ and the
flourishings of cymbals. Nigh an hundred Syrian maidens, wearing girdles
and crowns of evergreen, moved with graceful evolutions from the temple’s
east entrance and quickly formed in a crescent nigh to Cornelius and
Miriamne. They paused in their progress but still kept time with their
feet and swinging cymbals. Then the crescent was broken; those in the
center standing in lines that made a cross; those at either end grouping
as stars.

“Sisters, we’d hear the fitting song of this day,” said Miriamne.
Forthwith the gathered company of garlanded maidens began to retire,
but in perfect order, the two star groups passing along as the company
making the cross went, so preserving the form of the tableau, until the
exits were reached. As the procession went forth the temple bell tolled
solemnly, and the maidens sang, accompanied by organ-notes which died
away finally like the sigh of tired waves on a beaten strand. Cornelius
was silent, though his eyes were like the eyes of a child awakened from a
dream of wonderland.

Miriamne penetrating his thoughts remarked:

“Is Cornelius weary of questioning?”

“I listen as to autumn winds in a scared flight through weeping forests,
instead of to Christmas exultations!”

“The singers are of my ‘Miriamne Band,’ as they call themselves, in honor
of the sister of Moses, Israel’s greatest law giver.”

“Methinks all here are mystics in thought and poets in expression!”

“Then so was God. We are but reproducing His lessons! Remember now how
the Egyptian Pharaoh once commanded that all the male children of his
Israelitish captives be put to death, to the intent that eventually all
the females should become the prey of his people.”

“Miriamne journeys far from Bethlehem.”

“The mother and the sister watched the ark in which the infant Moses was
given to the cruel mercies of the Nile.”

“I remember, but there come no carols from the bullrushes.”

“Yea, finer than from the reeds of Pan. Listen; the ark, emblem of God’s
covenant, carried the law. The mother and sisters, by the ministries of a
love which never faltered, frustrated wily Egypt, saved themselves, their
male companions, and finally their whole race. When God embalms a history
it is well to look into it for germs of mighty portent.”

“But thinking of this distant and bitter history, we are kept from
Bethlehem, Miriamne.”

“So the Red Sea and the wilderness preceded the Promised Land. You
remember there were fears and tears before Miriam and her mother saw
their babe safely adopted at the palace; so there were pains and toils
to Mary along the way from Bethlehem’s manger to Bethany’s mount of
Ascension.”

The words of Miriamne were broken off by a strain of the organ that was
very like a moan of the distressed.

“Look yonder!”

The chaplain did as bidden, following a motion of his wife’s hand, and
saw the folds of a huge black curtain slowly rising from in front of one
of the temple alcoves.

“Woman’s sorrow is tardily lifted!” exclaimed his wife; then there came
to his ears words of human voices, which were joining in the almost
human-like moanings of the organ;

“In Rama was there a voice heard;
Lamentation and weeping and great mourning;
Rachel weeping for her children,
And would not be comforted,
Because they are not.”

“Rachel and funeral dirges seem still distant from the songs of the
angels in Judea!”

“Rachel is here likened to Mary by the Apostle Matthew.”

“I liken Rachel to Miriamne: for the former Jacob served fourteen years
which, for the love he bore her, seemed but a few days. Cornelius could
have done as much for Miriamne.”

“My knightly spouse goes from Bethlehem himself toward Bethany. Go back
now.”

“I listen; lead me.”

“At Rama, the site of the tomb of Mary’s son, the converted publican,
St. Matthew, told how death began its cruel hunt of the Virgin’s loved
Child at His very cradle. Sorrow envies joy; death battles life, and ever
more woman’s love, the choicest rose of life, has been crossed by the
destroyer of human happiness; that is human hatings.”

“But how is Rachel so like Mary?”

“A common agony and common needs make all women akin.”

“I accord great homage to the woman who taught one so selfish, gnarled
and rugged of soul as Jacob was to love so deeply, as he was taught to
love by her, and yet almost infinitely I separate her from our Rose and
Queen.”

“Rachel died a martyr in maternity and therefore is worthy of place
among the regal women of earth. She was one of that line of women who
gave their lives for others. The line survives, and suffers through
the years; all-worthy, but not fully honored. Saint Matthew touched an
all-responsive chord when he voiced the Divine pity for all motherhood,
by placing the sorrows of Rachel and of Mary side by side. The plain man
unconsciously soars to the plane of the prophets and poets when he is
moved by human need or Divine justice.”

“The lesson is irresistible, but still I’m waiting for the celestial
melodies that awakened the shepherd the night of the Nativity!”

“My partner shall get by giving. Here is a parchment given me years ago
to read for my mother’s consolation after the death of my brothers. Read
it, thou, to the matrons and maidens when the chantings cease.”

After a time there was silence! the hush of expectation, for that
gathering was wont at times to wait for words of blessing from the
missioners, as the hart for the rivulet at the beginnings of the rain.

“Read!” whispered Miriamne, “but not as the tragedian! Read as a father
and lover, both in one.” The young man complied, and these were the words
of the parchment:

“There was a man named Jehoikim who, impressed of God thereto,
offered a lamb in sacrifice. As he slew it his heart was
touched with tenderness, and he would have staid his hand,
but God gave him strength to perform the command. After this
a daughter, called Mary, was born to him. Whenever he looked
upon her gentle face he remembered the bleating lamb, and was
certain that some way his child was to be a sacrifice to God.
And it was so; for she bore a Son to whom she gave all the
wealth of a mother’s love, but at last He was offered for man’s
sin upon a felon’s cross, the agony He felt reaching the heart
of his mother. As the Son gave Himself up for the world, so
she gave herself up for her Son. She was sustained through it
all by a conscience void of offense, and by the ministry of
angels. Alone to the world, she had no solitude, for though her
espousal to God had no human witness, even as Eve’s to Adam had
none, and both were inexperienced, God was at her nuptials, as
He is ever with those who purely give themselves to Him.”

Then the wife wept and was silent.

“My darling, what so moves you? I’ve never experienced such a Christmas.
You make the feast as solemn as the holy supper.”

There came no answer; but ere the husband could turn to seek a reason it
came in a cry from the audience, and a thronging from all directions
toward where the missioners were.

“Miriamne has fallen!”

“’Tis a swoon?”

“No, ’tis death!” There were surgings back and forth, voices suggesting
helps, voices filled with stifled sobs, and voices of fright in the
trebles of hysteria.

The sick woman was borne by strong men to her domicile, and then began
the tension of waiting. The young chaplain was entering the valley
of poignant pains by sympathy’s pathway, bound by that mystic chain
whose links are in the words: “These twain shall be one flesh.” Herein
is a mystery often repeated; the man’s grief was supplemented by a
consciousness of vague pains passing along unseen lines from the woman to
himself. Slowly Miriamne recovered consciousness; but still she hovered
on the confines of woman’s supreme hour, the hour when great fear haunts
great hopes, great weakness yields to miraculous influxes of power, and
great joy, in company with unutterable yearnings, moves along under the
shadows and by the gulfs of greatest perils. About her gathered a group
of matrons of her sisterhood, pressing to serve their beloved.

One whispered to another: “Her face is unearthly, like Mary’s as we saw
it in the ‘Assumption’ to-day.”

The one that heard the words answered with a sob. The voice of pain
called the drooping woman quickly from her semi-stupor to ministry,
and opening her eyes she tenderly murmured to the woman that sobbed,
“Remember what he said: ‘Women of Jerusalem, weep not for me; but weep
for yourselves and children.’ If I go ’twill be all well; yes, by His
grace, all well with me. Let all your pity follow the pilgrims of our
sex who tarry to painfully journey through years of trial, unrequited.”

A little later Cornelius was hastily summoned by one that sought him,
from the shadows of an arch of the roof, whither he had gone for a few
moments’ solitude, in which to plead, as only can a man who writhes in
the fear of having his life torn in two.

“Miriamne asks for her husband.” He heard the words and was by his
consort’s side instantly. Her eyes were closed, but taking her pale hand
tenderly in his he impressed a kiss on her brow. She opened her eyes full
upon him, with a gaze of undying love.

“You kissed my brow, the first kiss as a lover. Then you said it was
given in the spirit of reverential admiration. Has marriage ever changed
the thought?”

“Never!”

“If I should leave you, do you think you could tell others how to love
so?”

“Oh, I can, surely; if I can do any thing, alone!” And then came to
him the silence of a dumb grief. She saw his agony and pitied him, yet
serenely she spoke:

“Go onward, beloved, in the way of the prophet’s vision; the power of
Christ be with you; the life of Mary is an open book; speak to, work for
those most needing, then will you have your constant Pentecost with the
ever present ‘Grail.’”

Cornelius pressed the hand he held tenderly; he could not speak.

“Repeat to me the beautiful words concerning the Harvest Feast which you
heard out of Moses at the service that so blessed you at Jerusalem,” she
continued again. Then, mastering his voice, he complied:

“And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God with a
tribute of a freewill-offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give _unto
the Lord thy God_, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:

“And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and
thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite
that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the
widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath
chosen to place His name there.”

When he finished the words he hid his face in his hands.

“Thou art weary, my good master,” spoke a Jewish mother present. “Go now
and rest. I’ll watch.”

Quickly, gently, firmly he waved her away, as one unwittingly trying to
draw him from the gates of heaven.

“It is not usual,” she persisted, “for a man to serve this way; then thou
hast other and more important duties, our holy missioner!”

He found voice to speak, and needed to restrain himself from indignant
tone. It seemed as if it were impiety now, so great his love, to speak
of any duty as higher than that he had toward this one woman, more to
him than all the world beside. “No; if I were on the cross she would be
there, another Mary; if I am now in torture I’d be no Christian if I did
not emulate Him who, amid crucial agonies, between two worlds, cried as
inmost thought of His heart, ‘_Behold thy Mother!_’”

He felt Miriamne’s hand pressing his, and drawing him closer to herself.

“Cornelius, I’m leaning now as never before upon my husband’s loyal
heart!”

It seemed to the man as if she were nigh to crying: “My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me!” and as if to answer his own thought he exclaimed:

“He will be Father, I as a mother, Miriamne, my Miriamne!”

Grief had made him an interpreter. It was as he thought, the heart of the
young woman, woman-like, had been groping about for mother-love. Memory
had been busy, but had sent the heart of the woman back from groping amid
the graves of Bozrah all weary, to nestle and rest on the breast of him
that gave mother-love, and promised all else that loyal heart ere gave.

But all was not gloomful; the clouds were shot through and tinted by some
light-rays.

“What if our forebodings prove untrue?”

Hope’s question was as a north wind to a desert noon.

Once the man bashfully questioned his spouse, with broken sentence that
was half signs.

“Does Miriamne feel aught of reproach toward the great love, seemingly
not far from utter selfishness, which enchanted to this peril?”

“Could Madonna reproach God when she felt the heart-piercing sword? To



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 38 of 40)