Edward Maitland.

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to range themselves before him, as he seated
himself on a grass-covered mound. And
then the little voices burst with tremendous
energy Into the old nursery rhyme, which



BY AA'D BY. 119

dates from the days when men could mount
into the air only by tying themselves to a
huge bag of gas."''

* It may not be worth preserving for its own sake —
what nurser}- rhyme is ? But time is only too ready to
drop things into obHvion ; so here it is.



Balloon ! Balloon ! Balloon !

Go up and hunt the sky ;
Then come and tell us soon

What you have found on high.

So many things we want to know,

AVe cannot see down here :
Where hides the sun when day is done,

Where goes the dried-up tear?
And when our laughter dies away,
Who stores it up for future day ?

Balloon ! Balloon ! Balloon !

Tell us of what the stars are made,
WTiat are their children like ?

We're always told they're good as gold,
And never sulk or strike.

But ar'n't they often giddy found,

With always rolling round and round ?



120 ' BY AND BY.

"■ ' Now what is it you want to know ?' he
asked, when they had finished.

'' ' If there are any animals in heaven.'
" ' Certainly there are/ he replied, with the
utmost seriousness. 'One of the principal
delights of the angels is in tenderly tending

Balloon ! Balloon ! Balloon !

What is it makes the thunder peal ?

Where are the old gods gone ?
We used to think 'twas they who drink

The clouds when rain is done.
But don't you often quake with fright
So far from earth to be at night ?

Balloon ! Balloon ! Balloon !

We know what you have got to say,

You've told us oft before :
That if would we the old gods see,

We must our best adore :
And shines the sun, perpetual day,
'Tis only we who turn away.

Balloon ! Balloon ! Balloon !

Go up and hunt the sky ;
Then come and tell us soon

What you have found on high.



BY AND BY. 121

them. They regard them as the Incipient
intelHgences of higher natures, and only a
few steps below their own children.'

'' ' And are there any baby angels ?' in-
quired a little girl. She w^as sister of the
lad who had spoken first, and listened with
awe to his account of the Above.

" ' Certainly,' he said ; ' why not ? Would
not this be a very poor world were there
nothing but grown men and women in it, no
tiresome children, no beautiful birds, no noble
horses, no sleek cats, no dear affectionate
dogs ? Ah, they are not worse off up there
than we are down here, you may be sure.'

" One of the older boys here asked him
whether the beings he spoke of possess any
specific gravity, or are altogether independent
of gravitation.

''He replied that doubtless they V2xy from
us in density and weight, as they live at so
different an elevation in the atmosphere ; and
that in some respects they hold the same
position towards us as fishes of the sea,
inasmuch as they do not require a solid
element to rest upon, and can sustain them-



122 BY AND BY.

selves at different elevations. They inhabit
mainly, he said, the junction of the atmos-
phere with space, and breathe the pure ether
of the latter : but are endowed with an appa-
ratus whereby they can secrete the fluid
necessary for breathing when they wish to
descend into the atmosphere. He delighted,
he said, to note the resemblances between
things there and here.

'' One of the lads said he supposed that
every one was much more perfect up there
than in this world. To this Criss said : —

" * I do not understand. What do you mean
by more perfect? All God's worlds must be
perfect.'

*' ' But not the people in them .^' suggested
one.

" ' Hush, hush,' exclaimed Criss, ' we can-
not call anything imperfect unless we know
the end it was designed to fulfil, and that it
falls short of fulfilling that end.'

*' ' He talks as if they were all real for him,'
said another. ' Come, Carol, tell us, do you
ever use the clouds as a bed, and go to sleep
and dream when you are lying on them ?'



BY AXD BY. I2S

" ' Oh, yes, often and often,' he returned ;
' but these things are as real for me as you
all are. Call them what you will, they are
forces external to myself, and which make
me conscious of their existence by operating
upon my senses just as you yourselves do.
Please do not call their existence into ques-
tion. Fancy my having to try hard to per-
suade them of the existence of you my school-
fellows ! It would seem just as absurd to me ;
and they have too much sense to require it.
Surely it is but a barren, superfluous sort of talk
that consists in our questioning each other's
existence. We, too, who have the microscope,
telescope, spectroscope, and such things, to
make perpetual revelations to us of worlds I
otherwise invisible! If it seems odd to you
that I should have experiences which you have j
not, you should remember that you have expe-
riences which I have not. The difference be- j
tween us in this matter is only such as exists/
between a man who has an ear for music and;
one who has none, or one who has a keen
eye for colours and one who is colour-blind.
It is all a question of sensitiveness.' " /



124 BY AND BY.

Here old Mrs. Wilmer interrupted Bertie's
narration to remark that in saying this the
boy did not do himself justice. He should
have adduced the case of his own Israelitish
ancestors as a proof that some races are
endowed with a vividness of spiritual per-
ception which others are incapable of com-
prehending.

" I myself heard him," said my father,
joining in the conversation, "soon after the
trip he made with us to the seaside, de-
scribing to a group of little children some of
the games and recreations with which, he
said, the angels amuse their leisure hours.
You would have thought he was actually
gazing upon the scenery of the ideal world,
as he described the particulars, so well did
he make his audience realise it too. Had I
been a painter I could have drawn a picture
from his description, so vivid and graphic was
it. There were rows above rows of angelic
beings, attired in colours undreamt of by our
rainbows, ranged along the sides of tall cliffs
which, in the form of a vast amphitheatre,
overhung an expanse of ether which lay at



BY AND BY. 125

their feet, and stretched out and melted away
in the distance Hke an ilHmitable sea. I
thought at first he was going to describe
somethins: Hke the scene at Lord's at one of
the cricket-contests between our ancient
national schools of Harrow and Eton, where
the rows upon rows of exquisitely-dressed
women ranged round the ground, resemble a
circular embankment of beautiful flowers.
But he went on to describe this expanse as
being of various hues, streaked in some parts
with tints of tender blue, and ruffled as if
Avith a lio^ht breeze, and in others white and
glassy, or of a delicate green, and the whole
scene wondrously beautiful even to the eyes of
the angelic multitude. But it was not to gaze
on a scene of still life that the celestial hosts
were thus assembled. Some of the younger
angels had been busying themselves in
fabricatinor a number of vessels of various
characters and forms, and they and their
friends had met to witness a contest of speed
between them. Some of those vessels con-
tained ingeniously-devised machinery- con-
cealed within them. Others were provided



126 BY AND BY.

with wide-expanding wings to catch the pul-
sations of the surrounding ether. And others
were impelled by the young angels them-
■selves ranged in ranks upon them, and
impelling them by their own physical strength.
And now and then during the race would be
seen some little craft without visible means
of propulsion, making such rapid way as to
outstrip all competitors ; and then a shout
would arise, as the spectators surmised that
something unfair was being done ; and then
from beneath the keel which was hidden in
the element, the owner would emerge, shaking
the ethereal particles from his wings, and
making the welkin ripple to his merry
laughter, for such method of propulsion was
not within the conditions of the contest. I
could have gazed long upon the enchanting
scene, as he raised it before me ; but the
bright and happy crowds of the celestial
population, and the fairy forms darting over
the luminous expanse, were in a moment all
dispelled ; for one of the youngsters suddenly
broke the rapt silence with which we had
been listening, by clapping his hands and



BY AND BY. 127

exclaiming, ' I know ! Yachts !' And after
this Criss would not utter a syllable further."

It was with considerable impatience that
the Avenils had listened to these recitals of
Bertie and Wilmer. When they were con-
cluded, Mr. Avenil said to my father —

" We must turn him over to you, Wilmer,
to make a poet of him. He will grow up a
dreamy and unpractical man, and utterly
unable to turn his fortune to good account."

" I think," pleaded Bertie, " the skill he
has acquired as an aerialist, indicates a suffi-
ciently practical turn for all useful purposes."

'' You aeronauts," returned Mr. Avenil,
'* are too apt to judge the affairs of earth by
those of the air. You know little of any-
thing more substantial than the currents of
wind and differences of atmospheric density
and temperatures. Yours is a pursuit that
generates a disposition to drift rather than to
act.

Bertie laughed heartily at the idea of de-
preciating his vocation upon moral grounds ;
and remarked that those who know what it



128 BY AND BY,

is to drive an aeromotive at the rate of a
hundred and fifty miles or more an hour,
through mist and darkness and tempest,
cleaving the- ice-cloud, and dodging the light-
ning, would hardly recognise the criticism as
founded in justice. He added, that he, too,
should be glad to see the boy in training
for some definite career.

" A rich man," remarked Mr. Avenil,
*' ought to find his occupation in the employ-
ment of his wealth. An income derived
from investments, which require no care on
the part of the owner, tends to make a man a
mere desultory vagabond, unless he have
some strong bias of his own to direct him.
I should like to see young Carol, as the pro-
prietor of a large landed estate, devoting his
money to the improvement of agriculture, by
the application of science in all its available
branches."

" You read Poet in his every word and ex-
pression," said Wilmer, '' and would turn the
Poet into a Farmer !"

*' He certainly is an enthusiast," said the
younger Avenil, " but his enthusiasm takes



BY AND BY. 129

anything but an analytic turn. His marvel-
lous aptitude for languages, coupled with his
locomotive propensities, convinces me that he
will find his chief eno:rossments amono^ men
rather than among things."

There was good ground for Charles's re-
mark. Criss had availed himself of the
advantages afforded in the National Schools,
to attain a facility of expression in many
languages, which enabled him to converse
freely with the nations of the various countries
he had visited with Bertie ; particularly the
Arabic, which, for his origin's sake, Bertie
had urged upon him. Bertie said that the
boy seemed to acquire them almost by sheer
force of sympathy. It was a heart — not a
head — faculty. The possession of it would
be sure to encourage his love of travel.

My father suggested that it was only part
of the larger faculty of expression. The boy
possessed language and insight. Travel
would give him information and ideas. He
ought then to turn his leisure to account as
an author.

The elder Avenil demurred to this.

VOL. I. 9 .



130 BY AND BY,

" The world and science," he said, " are
the same everywhere ; so that time spent in
travel is for the most part time wasted.
Accustom him to regard a piece of land as
his own, — no matter whether he cultivates it
or builds a town upon it,- — and he will soon
learn to love it, and devote himself to its im-
provement."

"■ The boy is a bird — a bird of passage ;
and you would chain him to a clod !" ex-
claimed Bertie.

" The boy is an Israelite and a poet, and
may be a prophet," said my grandmother, of
hieropathic tendencies. " You are all thinking
of the material, and forgetting the spiritual.
Put him, with all his endowments of soul and
body, into the land of his forefathers, and
who knows but that he may successfully de-
vote himself to reviving the ancient glories of
his race, so long overshadowed by its lust for
gold. Though restored to the Holy Land,
Israel has yet to be restored to the Divine
favour. You may deem me superstitious, but
there is something in his connection with those
jewels, as well as in himself, that to me be-



BY AND BY. 131

speaks him of royal destiny. You were quite
right to make him learn Arabic, Bertie."

They were all struck by this remark, coming
as it did from one who dwelt apart from the
world of the present, in a region of exalted
sentiment, absorbed in theoloofical studies.
and making her chief companions the Sacred
books of the ancient religions. Unobserv-
ant, however, and indifferent, as she was in
reeard to things around her, there was one
portion of the earth that was ever present to
lier mind, with an overwhelming interest.
It was Judaea, the ever - memorable Holy
Land. In much the same way, as the reli-
gious system once known as Romanism was
long kept alive by its offspring and supplanter
Protestantism, so was Judaism kept alive by
Christianity long after it would otherAvise
have perished by natural decay.

The prophecies of the ancient Jewish
patriot poets respecting the future resusci-
tation of their country's greatness had taken
deep hold of old Mrs. Wilmer's mind, and
she had viewed with exultation the return of
the Jews to Palestine, and the vast influx of

9—2



132 BY AND BY.

wealth and power with them into that country^
/ under the commercial influences of the Suez
Canal, the Euphrates railroads, and the con-
stitution of the Empire of Soudan or Central
I^frica.
The whole of the circumstances attending;
the restoration were unusual. The financial
embarrassments of the decayed Moslem Em-
pire had led to the sale of Palestine to a
company of Jewish capitalists. The pur-
chasers had little difficulty in acting upon the
patriotism and commercial eagerness of their
people, and inducing large numbers of wealthy
houses to migrate thither, or at least to
'establish branch houses in the capital. The
barren places in the surrounding districts
were replenished with rich earth brought by
sea from the Egyptian Delta, or the Tufa
beds of Vesuvius and Etna, and liberally
spread on the terraced hills of the new Jeru-
salem ; and the whole desert tract of the
lower Jordan and Dead Sea was filled with
water up to the level of the Mediterranean,,
and made navigable, by a canal cut through
the sandy wilderness from El Arish.



BY AND BY, 133

The Ancient Court of the Sanhedrim was
re-estabhshed, but on a purely secular basis,
as the nature of the times dictated. By this
were the home affairs of the country regulated;
its foreign relations being controlled by a com-
mittee of the Jerusalem Stock- Exchange, a
puissant institution in these days of the al-
most universal supremacy of wealth.

Powerful and prosperous as the Jewish
community in Palestine had become, it wanted
yet one thing to complete its ambition. The
adjoining countries of Arabia and Syria were
willine to withdraw altosfether from their alle-
giance to the Sultan, and unite as one people
with the Jews, but they could not abandon
their allegiance to the principle of personal
government. The expulsion of the Sublime
Porte from Constantinople, and its withdrawal
from the Golden Gate of the Holy City, had
utterly destroyed its prestige with these popu-
lations. But these events were themselves
the result of causes which are easily traceable
to a period so far back as the twentieth or
even the nineteenth century. It was then,
that the vivacious, brilliant, and long domi-



134 BY AND BY.

nant Celtic race had finally succumbed to the
patient, thorough, and conscientious Teuton.
It was then that the silent, studious German,
backed by the moral force of our own Anglo-
Saxons at home and in North America, laid
the first round of the political edifice of that
modern civilisation, whose subsequent stages
have included the absorption by Germany of
Austria proper ; the reconstitution of the
Sclavonic confederacy, and consequent re-
duction of Russia within moderate dimensions
by the withdrawal of her southern populations ;
the re-establishment of the " Holy Roman
Empire," with Hungary as a royal appanage^
i in its own ancient capital on the Bosphorus ;
I and the waning of the Turkish dominion,
I through its inability to retain its hold upoa
I its border provinces.

I My elder readers, who have all history,
ancient and modern, at their finger-ends,,
must forgive the recapitulation of these de-
tails as not Irrelevant to our story.
I There was no king In Israel ; and a king
of Israel w^as the "roc's ^'g'g'' of my grand-
mothers imagination. In such a potentate



BY AND BY. 135

she saw the sole possible supplanter of the
Grand Turk, whom she regarded as the
Anti-Christ, the sole symbol of empire power-
ful enough to draw the peoples surrounding
her beloved Jerusalem under the shelter of
its wings. And it is not a little remarkable,
that what with her was purely a religious sen- 1
timent, had become, for astute politicians, a'
master-key to the solution of the principal
remaining Eastern Question. i\s I have
already stated, the populations of those
countries retain all their ancient immemorial
attachment to the personal principle both in
religion and politics. They have not followed
the northern races in their recognition of
abstract right and wrong apart from the
will of an individual. With us, wherever an
individual is invested with power, it is for the
sake of concentrating vigour and responsibility
in a single executive ; ourselves, the people,
being the beneficiaries and judges. With
the semi-Semitic races, on the contrary, the
ruler is the master, not the servant, of the
people. We have long passed the stage in
which people held strong convictions respect-



136 BY AND BY.

ing mere forms of government. Together
with other dogmas we have got rid of the
dogma of monarchy and the dogma of re-
pubHcanism. Whatever form of government
Ibest combines the Hberty of the individual
1 with the general security for any people, is
approved of by us. As the genius of races
and peoples varies, so will these forms vary.
The detail must be a matter of experience
for all, not of dogma for any.

We have, thus, learnt to recognise the
sanctity of Individuality in Races, as well as
in persons. And there was no inconsistency
in the statesmen of the great and highly-
civilised republics of Europe, America, and Au-
stralia desiring to see a monarchy established
in the East, having its throne in Jerusalem.
The fact that such a result was desired by
the leading Jews themselves, who were on
the spot, was deemed a very strong argument
in its favour ; for, trained as they had mostly
been, in our free communities and institutions,
they were naturally favourable to a continu-
ance of the state of things under which they
had flourished, and grown rich enough to re-



BY AND BY. 137

acquire the land of their forefathers, and raise
it to such an eminence among the nations of
the earth as it had never before attained or
imao^ined — an eminence based on material
wealth. Without a king, however, they were
unable to avail themselves of the readiness
of the populations inhabiting the regions ex-
tending southwards from the Caspian Sea and
the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, to make one
nation with them ; for those populations were
essentially and intensely anti - democratic.
With a king, this object so desirable to us as
well as to them, would at once have been ac-
complished ; and we should have had a strong
and friendly power to guard our main connec-
tions with our allies in India and Japan, and
our dependencies in China, on the one side ;
and on the other, to keep in order the rest-
less and still semi-barbarous empire of Central
Africa.

So they were all struck by Mrs. Wilmer s
remark. But it was not in the same way
that they were struck by it. To Bertie it
was simply preposterous.

" My little Criss a king !" he exclaimed.



138 BV AND BY.

*' I am sure that it is no kinodom of this
world that lie would care to have, any more
than a farm. Mis heart is above the
clouds."

" He cannot spend his money there," said
Mr. Avenil.

" By the wa\'. have you ever, j\Ir. Great-
head, taken him to the Holy Land in an)'
of your vo)'ages ?" asked Mrs. Wilmer.

*' Once only," returned Bertie, " and then I
was so alarmed at the attention his looks
attracted, and also at meeting the diamond
merchant, that I hurried away without com-
pleting the enquiries I was making about his
family. I hardl)' know why. but I have a
suspicion that that merchant knew more
about the real history of those jewels than
he was willino- to tell us, and I thouoht it
best to leave well alone. Did I ever tell
)'ou that I have seen them since we parted
with them ?"

" Indeed !"

"It was on the occasion of my going to
Bornou, the capital oi Central Africa, on a
commission connected with the cotton trade,



BY AND BY. 13^

that I was invited to witness a religious
ceremonial at the court of His Majesty the
Emperor of Soudan. You must know that
though the country professes Christianity,
the royal family have never abandoned the
rite of circumcision. This is inflicted on its
members in infancy, the rite of baptism being
deferred until the seventh year. The ordi-
nary' and orthodox usage on the former
occasion, is to bind the principal crown
diamonds on the pit of the royal infant's
stomach, there to be worn for nine days.
The jewels in question are regarded with a
peculiar and superstitious reverence, as coming
directly from King Solomon, and they are
combined in an oval form as a tiara, and
called the Talisman of Solomon. But the
crown jewels had for several years been
missing, and were not forthcoming on the
occasion of the first rite being performed on
the heir-apparent. It was said that they had
recently been recovered, and there were great
public rejoicings in consequence : for the
people are still excessively superstitious, in
spite of their having Christianity and the



I40 : BY AND BY.

Bible. And it was determined to rectify the
omission at the first ceremony, by using them
at the baptism in the same way that they
ought to have been used at the circumcision.

*' Well, I found that this famous and sacred
Talisman of Solomon consisted of no other
than the jewels belonging to Criss, and which
we had sold for him."

" Curious," observed Mr. Avenil ; " I won-
der whether it was a lie of the Emperor's, or
whether they were really the crown jewels
which we had. If so, they must have been
stolen."

" At any rate," said Bertie, " the Empe-
ror's readiness to give a large sum of money
for their recovery, without asking any ques-
tions, shows that he had strong misgivings
respecting the validity of his own title to
them."

'' I don*t like one remark which you made,
Mr. Greathead," said my grandmother. '' In-
stead of saying these people are superstitious
in spite of their having Christianity and the
Bible, say they are religious owing to their
having them."



BY AND BY. 141

*' I was anticipating a somewhat different
remark from you, my dear ]\Irs. Wilmer,"
said Mr. Avenil. " I thought you were about
to claim the throne of Central Africa, at
least, for the lad. At any rate, I hope you
all agree with me that this stor}' must be
kept from him. It would foster his propen-
sity for dreaming, which to me is really
alarming, and one that requires correction by
vigorous treatment."

" He must know all when he comes of age,"
said Mrs. Wilmer, with energy. " His duty
and mission in life may depend upon it."

" Well, well," said Mr. Avenil, " whatever
the future may contain for him, it is clearly
our business to make a man of him first, and.
not a visionar}'."



CHAPTER X.




T was no small gratification to Bertie
to be able to relate to the Avenils
anything concerning his beloved
foster-child that might tend to dis-
-abuse them of the notion that he was a mere
visionary. One possessing Criss's acute sym-
pathy with humanity could not, he thought,
iDe liable to the charge, no matter how he
might love to cultivate solitude and medita-
tion in the intervals of his activity. During


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Online LibraryEdward MaitlandBy and by : an historical romance of the future (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 13)