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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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Him she submitted, no less do I in doing and suffering as He wills!”

It has been said a woman’s heart is complex, but this one’s was not now.
It lay open, as a book, before her lover-husband. He saw no idol there
but himself. Had there ever been hidden remembrance of some girlish love,
some secret scar left by a romance, both burning and brief, it would have
been opened or effaced now.

As she beheld her consort, this time more loved, if possible, than ever
before, knightly, courtly and tender, alert and strong to help, lavish
in caressing, she not only felt conquered, but filled with desire to
surrender to the uttermost; for she joyed to place this man on the
throne of her being next after God, supremely lord over all. So together
they moved amid the flowers of Beulah-land, under the glorious lights
of married love. She all compensated for the pangs the trying hour
brought; he thrilled, as he ascended higher and higher from lover love to
husband love, to that holy delight that comes to a man beginning to feel
fatherhood, the gift of the woman his heart has enthroned. For a little
time both were too happy to speak, so they let their thoughts wing their
way upward to the eternities where hopes eternally blossom. She presently
signaled him to draw close to her, then his clasped hands lay on her
heart, and their lips met. She said nothing, yet by a sign-language well
understood by each, plainly entreated him to tell her over and over, more
and more, his inmost thought, that her heart knew full well already.

She heard his heart’s beatings, then she whispered: “Don’t be anxious;
all is well, for all is as He that loves us wills.”

“Oh, Miriamne, I loved you never as now; God bless you! bless you! bless
you!”

She interrupted him again. “The crisis is coming, and I thought perhaps I
might not survive, Cornelius, but if I do not—”

Her words were silenced by an impassioned kiss.

She continued, “I dreamed, last night, that I saw the shadow of a cross,
but on it a woman’s form.”

“Oh, beloved, do not think of it!”

“I do. I must! I understand it all.”

Pity now silenced her.

“Oh, Miriamne!” he cried anon, as he saw her descending into the vale of
agony, from which he could not hold her back. He dare say no more. He
feared to voice his thoughts, lest his fears become ponderous and huge,
once they found escape in the garb of words.

Just past midnight the dispatched courier arrived, bringing twain of the
most-skilled physicians of Jerusalem.

Cornelius watched them with an interest beyond words. His heart sank
down and down again, as he saw them in serious consultation. Unable to
restrain himself, he seized the elder, and drawing him hastily aside,
demanded an opinion. The grave old man only shook his head, saying: “We
may save one.”

“One? One!

“Which? What?”

“Young man, be quiet; do not let thy emotions disturb the patient or the
nurses. Prepare for the worst.”

The husband seized the wrinkled hand of the aged practitioner, and then
flung it from him, crying: “It must not be! It shall not be!” Instantly
he rushed toward the couch, but the two men of healing intercepted him.
Then the elder one said: “We must be obeyed, or else we will give no
commands! Shall we go or stay?”

What a revulsion came! It seemed to Cornelius as if these two men
of skill were angels, and flinging his arms about them, he hoarsely
whispered: “Save, save! Stay and save! All I have I give you, only save
her!”

Quietly they led him to the adjoining apartment; then charged him, as
he hoped for any good to his wife, not to re-enter her chamber until
sent for. Reluctantly he consented, not daring to do otherwise and yet
believing in his very soul that in this hour of peril the bestowment of
love’s caresses on the invalid would be better than any skill of the
stranger. He withdrew to the arch on the roof, where unmolested he could
pray. But his meditations were full of miserable sights. He thought of
the Egyptians in their feats of Osiris, leading to sacrifice the heifer
draped in black; then of Rizpah defending her relatives; then of the
monument in Bozrah, with the mother holding her dead Son. He thought,
amid the latter meditations, of himself creeping about that monument, in
the night, until he came to another, on which he deciphered the name,
“_Miriamne_.” The imagination gave him a shock, and he gave way to it
exhausted. An hour or so after he was awakened from a sort of stupor by
the younger of the physicians, who, standing by his side, addressed him:

“Sir Priest, thou mayst come now; but as thy profession teaches, nerve
thyself to confront any fate, good or ill.”

“How’s my wife?” exclaimed the stricken man, leaping from his couch and
approaching the speaker, that he might devour with his eyes the thought
of the one he questioned.

The emotionless features of the man accustomed to confront human
suffering softened a little to pity. The quick eye of the missioner
discerned the change, then he cried:

“What, dead!”

“No; if thou wilt but control thyself, thou mayst see her for a little
while; there’ll be a change soon.”

The man of healing had done and said his best, but that was bad enough.
He had tried to comfort, but the exigencies were beyond human powers. “A
change soon!”

Hard, mocking words. Apology for bad news! Stepping-stone to saying
the worst is at hand; words so often used by the man of healing when
his art is defeated! How like a funeral knell breaking the heart
has come, again and again, to tingling ears those terrible sounds:
“In—a—little—while—there’ll—be—a—change!” Cornelius felt all their
stunning force, and was instantly by the side of Miriamne. What a change
met his hungry eyes! The fever had died away; fever, that blast from the
shores of Death’s ocean, had passed, because there was nothing longer
for it to attack. The tide was ebbing. She lay silent, pale and haggard;
motionless, except as to a feeble breathing. The husband would have
encircled her with his arms. It was love’s impulse, but science, the
men of healing, restrained him. There was a little wail just then, and
he glanced around with a look of joy. The nurse had brought the babe
close to him, turning away her own face to hide her tears, but holding
the little one out as if trying to say: “This shall compensate.” Then
again the grief-stricken man turned to the physicians and whispered, in a
half-fierce, half-terrified way: “She’ll live—she’ll be better now.”

The aged man, slowly adjusting the paraphernalia of his profession
preparatory to departure, replied: “Few survive the Cæsarean section. It
was a dire necessity.”

“Lord, behold whom Thou lovest is sick,” moaned the young chaplain, as he
knelt by the couch and buried his face in its disordered covering. So the
tide of life ebbed at midnight, leaving a stranded wreck at Bethany, and
the Christmas chimes turned to dirges.




CHAPTER XLII.

THE MOTHER OF SORROWS TRIUMPHANT AT LAST

Are we not kings? Both night and day.
From early unto late,
About our bed, about our way,
A guard of angels wait!
And so we watch and work and pray
In more than royal state.
Are we not more? Out life shall be
Immortal and divine;
The nature MARY gave to THEE,
Dear JESUS, still is THINE;
Adoring, in THY heart I see
Such blood as beats in mine.—A. A. PROCTOR.


Hundreds were assembled within the “_Temple of Allegory_,” and other
hundreds, unable to effect an entrance, tarried around about it.
The knell of Miriamne, the Angel of the Mount, had called the vast
congregation together from Bethany, from the country round about and from
the City of Jerusalem.

There were many signs of subdued sorrow, but the intensive expression
of grief common in the East was absent; neither was there any of the
paganish blackness, which sometimes characterizes Christians’ funerals,
manifest. Though Miriamne was dead, her sweet, trustful, cheerful spirit
still survived and still ruled.

The knights of Jerusalem, led by the Hospitaler, were present, the latter
to direct the services, by request generally extended.

After a “grail” song by his companions, and at its last words, “_I
shall be satisfied when I awake in His likeness_,” the Hospitaler began
discoursing.

“Men and women, death, the leveler, makes us all akin; therefore all of
us feel impoverished by the departure of the angel who shone upon us here
from the form that lies yonder. Miriamne Woelfkin, daughter of a knight,
consort of a Gospel herald, devoted friend of womankind, disciple of
Jesus, was gifted with almost prophetic insight and power of alluring
unsurpassed in our day. Hers was the power of a burning heart entranced
of a superb ideal, and therefore was it the power of immortal influence.
She will live not more truly in the life she died to give than in the
lives she lived to save. She was an unique woman, but only so because of
her superior womanliness. Being dead, she reaches the reward generally
denied the living, full appreciation. Her career was in part a parallel
of her choice exemplar’s. You have heard how the Mother of our Lord sung
her ‘_Magnificat_’ out of a heart as free as a girl’s, yet as proud as
that of a woman’s glowing in the prospect of honoring maternity. But
the last note of her rapture died on her lips full soon, and she never
after in this life rose to such measure of joy. God permitted her life
to pass through a series of suppressions and griefs, doubtless that she
might exemplify the sad side of woman’s career. The histories of women,
mostly written by men, are marred by the conceits of their writers, and
are at best but obscure pictures. The man with the pen lacks insight
as to the being, whose life is so largely an expression of heart and
soul. The lordly writer clothes his heroes in the light of his fevered
imagination, depicting with bold stroke the mighty deeds of stalwartness;
but he sees few heroines in his horizon. Those he does see are beyond his
power of analysis. He falls to actual worship of his masculine demi-gods,
perhaps as a partial atonement for his failings toward the fine and
noble characters whose traits are too spiritual for his thought-limits
or vocabularies. The generality of those who discourse concerning women,
do it in a patronizing way, and feel to praise themselves as paragons
in doing justice in this, even by halves. The queenship of Mary is
constantly disputed, and so her lot is more closely linked with that of
her sex. As she received the royal gifts of the Magi, holding them as a
sacred trust for Him to whom her life was utterly devoted, so woman, the
bearer and nurse of the race, gives all that she has without stint to
others. Her life is a suppression; all bestowing; her reward the joy she
has in the lavishness of her bestowals. Hers is the joy of the fountain
that sings because it flows.

“But recently ye saw the Jewish priests deposit on his mount, after a
custom constant since Moses, the ashes of the red heifer. They burned
their sacrifice with red wood. Red pointed to the blood that can only
atone for sin. But underneath all lies a deep lesson. ’Twas the female
instead of the male thus offered, and her ashes gave potency to the
waters of purification. I read this hidden truth: the sacrifices of
the gentler sex work out the purification of the race. As the moss in
the heart of the stone, I see this truth lying in the heart of the
ceremonial! As Christ’s cross precedes the cleansing of regeneration, so
woman’s cross is the means by which the decays of life are offset by new
created beings. By the bier of the wondrous comforter of others, I may
surely appeal to those who hear me and loved her to seek with quickened
ardor to offer the pain-assuaging myrrhs to those grand souls who go
along the way to life’s crucial glories. I’d have such justice done as
would cause all women to cease pitying themselves because they are such,
and go about rejoicing that God gave them the superlative privileges of
womanhood.”

There came forth a loud cry, with moanings, from the part of the temple,
called the “Mother’s Pillow,” where the honored dead lay.

“Miriamne, oh, Miriamne, you brought me through Gethsemane to your
Calvary!”

A silence almost oppressive fell on the assembly. It was the silence of a
pity too deep for words.

Then spake the Hospitaler, in words as invigorating as a herald of God’s
should be, and yet as soothing as a mother’s to her child in pain:

“Christ, who loved the young man who was very good and yet not perfect,
loves thee, for He is unchanging in His mercy. Hear me, an old man,
stricken with the years that have schooled, and one who has experienced
the bitterness of widowerhood after loyal, full loving. God’s hand is on
thee. He is schooling thee to carry on the work begun by thy wondrous
consort now asleep.”

“Oh, Miriamne, Miriamne! alone in the dark, I move through Gethsemane
toward thy Calvary!”

Again the silence of pity was broken by the voice of the knight.

“Remember how David of the White Kingdom was called and furnished for his
kingship. ‘He chose David, also, His servant, and took him from the sheep
folds, from following the ewes great with young. He brought him to feed
Jacob, His people, and Israel, His inheritance.’

“Missioner-shepherd, God calls thee to a ministry of love, for those
whose trials thou hast now been taught, in part, to measure. You have
heard how Hadadrimmon, the fabled god of the harvest, ever comes, bearing
sheaves, with tears.

“Thus speaks the prophet:

“‘In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the
mourning of Hadadrimmon.

“‘And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house
of David apart, and their wives apart.’

“Young man, God is giving thee a crown in David’s royal line.

“Once more I turn to her who was thy Miriamne’s exemplar and queen. Let
me tell you all of the last hours of Mary, that you may find instructive
parallels. I’ll read from my treasured book of traditions:

“After the ascension of Jesus, our Mary dwelt in the house
of John upon Mount of Olives, and she spent her last days in
visiting places which had been hallowed by her Divine Son; not
as seeking the living among the dead, but for consolation and
for remembrance and that she might perform works of charity.

“In the twenty-second year after the ascension of the Lord, she
was filled with an inexpressible longing to be with her Son;
and, lo, an angel appearing with the salutation, ‘Hail, Mary,
I bring thee a palm-branch, gathered in paradise; command that
it be carried before thy bier, for thou shalt enter where thy
son awaits thee.’ And Mary prayed that it be permitted that
the apostles, now widely scattered under their great commission
to gospel the world, be gathered about her dying couch; also
that her soul be not affrighted in the passage through the pale
realm of death. The angel departed; the palm-branch beside
her shed light like stars from every leaf; the house was
filled with splendor, and angel voices chanted the celestial
canticles. The Holy Spirit caught up John as he was preaching
at Ephesus, and Peter, offering sacrifice at Rome, and Paul,
from his place of labor, Thomas, from India, while Matthew
and James were summoned from afar. After these were called,
Philip, Andrew, Luke, Simon, Mark and Bartholemew were awakened
from their sleep of death. These holy ones were carried to the
Virgin’s home on clouds bright as the morning, and angels and
powers gathered round about in multitudes. There were Gabriel
and Michael close beside her, fanning her with their wings,
which never cease their loving motions. That night a supernal
perfume of ravishing delightsomeness filled the house, and
immediately Jesus, with an innumerable company of patriarchs
and holy ones, the elect of God, approached the dying mother.
And Jesus stretched out His hand in benediction as He did when
ascending from the world, long before at Bethany. Then Mary
tenderly took the hand and kissed it, saying: ‘I bow before the
hand that made heaven and earth. Oh, Lord, take me to Thyself!’
Thereupon Christ said, ‘Arise, my beloved; come unto me.’ ‘My
heart is ready,’ she replied; a few moments after: ‘Lord, unto
thy hands I commend my spirit.’ Then having gently closed her
eyes, the holy Virgin expired without a malady; simply of
consuming love, permitted now by the loving Creator to melt
the golden cord binding spirit to body. And triumphantly amid
mourners who rejoiced exceedingly in spirit, the body of this
Queen of the House of David was entombed amid the solemn cedars
and olive trees of Gethsemane. Now, this happened upon the day
that the true Ark of the Covenant was placed in the eternal
temple of the new heavenly Jerusalem, as they say; and the
saying is good, for surely, in her heart, this saintly woman
kept the law; the divine manna as well. Even more, she was the
fulfillment of God’s covenant that a woman should bear the
masterers of sin.”

The speaker then knelt; all heads were bowed; he spread out his hands
as in benediction, but spoke not. Yet all in the silence were blessed,
for the manifestation of Christ was there. After the benediction the
companion knights chanted an old grail psalm, repeating again and again
the stately words:

“_I am the resurrection and the life._”

As they sang their eyes were turned upward in a rapture as of men who saw
a glorious appearing; and indeed they had a vision of splendor; but they
saw it within, not without.

“There are angels hovering round,” reverently whispered Mahmood to his
camel. He was too full to keep silent; too distrustful of his wisdom to
confide his thoughts to a human being. But the thought of the old Druse
was as exalted as that of the Hospitaler, for the latter exclaimed, as
the congregation slowly moved out to the strains of the organ:

“Methinks I hear the beatings of mighty wings! Not far away is Gabriel,
the ‘angel of mothers’ and of victories! Yea, verily, I believe that the
spirits of Adolphus, Rizpah, Sir Charleroy and Ichabod are ministering
nigh us!”

Many looked up through their tears fixedly, as if they felt what the
knight had said in their souls.

Then they laid the body of Miriamne in a new-made tomb nigh the Garden of
Olives, not far from the burial-place of Mary the mother of Jesus.




CHAPTER XLIII.

A COFFIN FULL OF FLOWERS AND A GIRDLE WITH WINGS.

“Behold thy mother!”—JESUS TO JOHN.


Two travelers journeyed slowly along Mount Olivet, pausing anon to
observe the flower-dells between them and Mount Zion, or to contemplate
the wilder prospects where the wilderness of Judea edged close up to the
hills they traversed. As the travelers passed, the natives looked after
them with curiosity; for the garments of the former, though dust-covered,
were those of personages above the ranks of the common people; also of a
fashion that betokened them strangers in that vicinity.

One of these men was a youth, stalwart and comely; the other was
gray-haired and bent as if by the weight of years, though a closer view
suggested premature blasting, rather than senile decline.

“Winfred, before entering Bethany, we’ll to the ‘Hill of Solomon,’ the
site of Chemosh, the black image of the Roman Saturn.”

Thereupon the twain turned away from the village and soon came upon a
company of revelers, each wearing a crown of autumn fruits, and all
gathered about a platform crowded with hilarious dancers.

“Saturnalia!” exclaimed the elder.

“The worship of Saturn ceased ages ago, did it not?”

“Of the image, yes; but the folly, little changed, continues.”

“This is strange enough; and yet it’s a relief to meet a few happy people
in this land of solemn faces; even if those happy ones do joy like fools.”

“They celebrate the passing of summer-heat and the coming of the rains
of autumn. Say not fools; they are trying to be glad about something
good, somehow coming from some one somewhere above them. Perhaps God can
resolve scraps of thanksgiving out of it all.”

“Theirs is the laughter of wine! the laughter of the goat-god, Pan, whose
face scared his mother and whose voice scared the gods!”

“We’ve a persistent custom here, son; and men do not play the fool for
generations after one manner, at least, without cause.

“These attempt to press into the court of Pleasure to cajole her; all
men do that; these have chosen merely an old way. They cling to the myth
of Saturn, the subduer of the Titan of fiction. They say that deity,
dethroned in the god-world, fled to Italy, where he gave happiness and
plenty through life, and the freedom of air and earth after death, which
latter he made to be only a little sleep.”

“That was not more than a mock golden-age; it never came, I think.”

“But very alluring to those that long for it; they dance half-naked,
typifying the primitive times when men had fewer cares, because fewer
wants.”

“Can one laugh hard fates out of countenance, and make his troubles run
with a guffaw?”

“The devotees of Saturn were wont to offer their children in his
altar-fires, and so ever more it happens; he that bends to the
materialistic solely, kindles altar-fires for his posterity.”

“After to-day what comes to these, peace?”

“Nay, a year all dark and colorless; then another spasm called a feast—a
brief lightning-flash revealing the darkness.”

“And so the years come and go; one generation of madmen, then another;
death the only variety?”

“Nay! I’d have you look upon pleasure of sense deified, taking its
pleasures under the shadows of Chemosh, for a purpose. You remember we
read together, under the palms at Babylon, how the holy Daniel saw in
vision the four winds of heaven striving on the sea?”

“I remember the prophet’s reverie or revel.”

“The four winds and the sea! the meaning, opened, is conflict on every
hand on earth! Out of the follies and turmoils David’s White Kingdom will
emerge at last. Listen to the words of the inspired seer:

“‘Behold one like the Son of Man! There was given Him a dominion and a
glory that all people should serve Him; an everlasting dominion!’

“It is coming; my poor faith, amid the conflicts and revels of man,
hears the voice of God crying through the night, as in Eden’s dark hour:
‘_Where art thou?_’ My last lesson to my son awaits us at Bethany; let’s
be going.”

Ere long Cornelius Woelfkin and his son Winfred stood silently, and with
uncovered heads, before, but a little apart from, a stately marble shaft
that rose up amid the olive trees of Gethsemane. It was night, and they
were alone. The father motioned the son back, and alone glided under the
shadowing trees, toward the pillar. There the elder one threw himself
down on the earth, close beside the monument; the youth, deeply moved,
but unwilling to intrude upon the scene of sacred, silent grief, stood
aloof. In a small way, there was a repetition of the grief of the Man
of Sorrows, who there, ages before, yearned in His humanity over a lost
world, over those from whom His heart was soon to part for life. To be
sure, the cross of Cornelius Woelfkin was infinitely less galling, less
heavy than that borne by his Master; and yet it was as heavy as he could
bear, and hence the pitifulness of his grief.

Who can lift the curtain from his thoughts? The years roll back and
memory’s pictures pass through his brain, at first in joyful train. The
lovers in London; the betrothal at sea; the wedding at Jerusalem; the
ecstatic consummation in years of marriage. Then the painful, almost
awful separation by death, that never to be forgotten Christmas time.
And then, twenty years with leaden feet carrying the lone-hearted man
so painfully slow toward death’s portals, for which he longed with
unutterable yearning. “Oh, Miriamne, Miriamne, let me come,” he cried.
The youth, hearing the agonized utterings, was instantly by his father’s
side. But the old man, still oblivious to all but his sorrow and his
memories, moaned on with deepening fervor.



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 39 of 40)