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George MacDonald.

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terrified the man, so unaccustomed was he to such from the
mouth of his master — 'See that there is enough for Miss Mars-
ton as well. She has had nothing all night. Don't let my
lady have any trouble with it. — Stop," he cried, as Mewks was
going, '* I won't have you touch it either ; I am fastidious this
morning. Tell the young woman they call Jemima to come
here to Miss Marston."

Mewks slunk awav. Jemima c;inie, an was compelled to yield, and the silent tears fiowed
freely. Letty, too, was overcome — more than ever she had
Ix'in by music. She wjls not so open to its infiuences as Mary,
but her eyes were full, and she sat thinking of her Tom, far
in the regions that are none the less true that we can not see
them.

A mood had taken shajie in the mind of the blacksmith,
and wandered from its home, seeking another country. It is
not the ghosts of evil deeds that alone take shape, and go forth
to wander the earth. Tx't but a mood be strong enough, and
the soul, clothing itself in that mood as with a garment, can
walk abroad and haunt the world. Thus, in a garment of
mood whose color and texture was music, did the soul of Joseph
Jasi)er that evening, like a homeless ghost, come knocking at
the door of Mary Marston. It was the very being of the man,
praving for admittance, even as little Abel might have cre])t
up to the gate from which his mother had been driven, and,



456 MAEY MARSTOK

seeing nothing of the angel witli the flaming sword, knocked
and knocked, entreating to be let in, pleading that all was not
riffht with the world in which he found himself. And there
Mary saw Joseph stand, thinking himself alone with his violin ;
and the violin was his mediator with her, and was pleading and
pleading for the admittance of its master. It prayed, it wept,
it implored. It cried aloud that eternity was very long, and
like a great palace without a quiet room. ** Gorgeous is the
glory," it sang; ^^ white are the garments, and lovely are the
faces of the holy ; they look upon me gently and sweetly, but
pitifully, for they know that I am alone — yet not alone, for I
love. Oh, rather a thousand-fold let me love and be alone, than
be content and joj^ous with them all, free of this pang which
tells me of a bliss yet more complete, fulfilling the gladness of
heaven ! "

All the time Joseph knew nothing of where his soul was ;
for he thought Mary was in the shop, and beyond the hearing
of his pleader. Nor was this exactly the shape the thing took
to the consciousness of the musician. He seemed to himself
to be standing alone in a starry and moonlit night, among
roses, and sweet-peas, and apple-blossoms — for the soul cares
little for the seasons, and will make its own month out of
many. On the bough of an apple-tree, in the fair moonlight,
sat a nightingale, swaying to and fro like one mad v/ith the
wine of his own music, singing as if lie wanted to break his
heart and have done, for the delight was too much for mortal
creature to endure. And the song of the bird grew the prayer
of a man in the brain and heart of the musician, and thenco
burst,, through the open fountain of the violin, and worked
what it could work, in the world of forces. '^ I love thee ! I
love thee ! I love thee ! " cried the violin ; and the worship was
entreaty that knew not itself. On and on it went, ever begin-
ning ere it ended, as if it could never come to a close ; and the
two sat listening as if they cared but to hear, and would listen
for ever — listening as if, when the sound ceased, all would be
at an end, and chaos come. again.

Ah, do not blame, thou who lovest God, and fearest the
love of the human ! Hast thou yet to learn that the love of



A CATASTROPHE, 457

the human is love, is divine, is but a lower form of a part of
the love of God ? When thou lovest man, or woman, or child,
yea, or even dog, aright, then wilt thou no longer need that I
tell thee how God and his Christ would not be content witli
eacli other alone in tlie glories even of the eternal original love,
because they could ^reate more love. For that more love, to-
getlier they siifFered and patiently waited. He that lovetli not
his brother whom he liatli seen, how shall he love God whom
lie hath not seen ?

A sob, like a bird new-born, burst from Mary's bosom. It
broke the enchantment in which Joseph was bound. That en-
chantment liad j)osse5sed him, usurping as it were the throne
of his life, and displacing it ; when it ceased, he was not his
own master. He started — to conscious confusion only, neither
knowing whore he was nor what he did. His limbs for the mo-
ment were hardly his own. How it happened he never could
tell, but he brought down his violin with a crasli against the
piano, then somehow stumbk-d ami all but fell. In the act of
recovering himself, lu* heard the neck of his instrument part
from the body with a tearing, discordant cry, like the sound of
the ruin of a living world. He stood up, understanding now,
holding in his hand his dead music, and regarding it with a
smile sad as a winter sunset gleaming over a grave. lUit >rary
darted to him, threw her arms round him, laid her head on his
bosom, and burst into tears. Tenderly he laid his broken vio-
lin on the ])iano, and, like one receiving a gift straight from
the hand of the CJodhead, folded his arms around the wonum —
enough, if music itself had been blotted from his universe I
His violin was broken, but his being was made whole ! his
treasure taken — type of his self, and a woman given him in-
stead !

'^ It's just like him ! " he murmured.

He was thinking of him who, when a man was brought him
to be delivered from a jioor i)alsy, forgave him his sins.



20



458 MARY MARSTOK

CHAPTER LVII.

THE END OF THE BEGINNING.

Joseph Jasper and Mary Marston were married the next
summer. Mary did not leave her shop, nor did Joseph leave
liis forge. Mary was proud of her husband, not merely because
he was a musician, but because he was a blacksmith. For, with
the true taste of a right woman, she honored the manhood that
could do hard work. The day will come, and may I do some-
thing to help it hither, when the youth of our country will
recognize that, taken in itself, it is a more manly, and there-
fore in the old true sense a more gentle thing, to follow a good
handicraft, if it make the hands black as a coal, than to sjDend
the day in keeping books, and making up accounts, though
therein the hands should remain white — or red, as the case
may be. Not but that, from a higher point of view still, all
work, set by God, and done divinely, is of ecpial honor ; but,
where there is a choice, I would gladly see boy of mine choose
rather to be a blacksmith, or a watchmaker, or a bookbinder,
than a clerk; Production, making, is a higher thing in the
scale of reality, than any mere transmission, such as bu3ing
and selling. It is, besides, easier to do honest work than to buy
and sell honestly. The more honor, of course, to those who are
honest under the greater difficulty ! But the man who knows
how needful tlie prayer, ^' Lead us not into temptation," knows
that he must not be tempted into temptation even by the glory
of duty under difficulty. In humility we must choose the
easiest, as we must hold our faces unflinchingly to the hard-
est, even to the seeming impossible, when it is given us to do.

I must show the blacksmith and the shopkeeper once more
— two years after marriage— time long enough to have made
common people as common to each other as the weed by the
roadside ; but these are not common to each other yet, and
never will be. They will never complain of being cUsillusion-
nes, for they have never been illuded. They look up each to
the other still, because they were right in looking up each to



THE EXD OF THE BEGIXXIXG. 459

the other from the first. Each was, and therefore each is and

will be, real.

" . . . . The man is honest."
''Therefore he will be, Timon.''

It was a lovely morning in summer. The sun was but a
little way above the horizon, and the dew-drops seemed to have
come scattering from him as he shook his locks when he
rose. The foolish larks were up, of course, for they fancied,
come what might of winter and rough weather, the universe
founded in eternal joy, and themselves endowed with the best
of all rights to be glad, for there was the gladness inside, and
struggling to get outside of them. And out it was coming in
a divine i)rofusion I How many baskets would not have been
wanted to gather up the lordly waste of those scattered songs !
in all the trees, in all the flowers, in every grass-blade, and
every weed, the sun was warming and coaxing and soothing
life into higher life. And in tho.-e two on the path through
the fields from Testbridge, the same sun, light from the father
of lights, was nourishing highest life of all — that for the sake
of which the Lord came, that he might set it growing in heartiJ
of whose existence it was the very root.

Joseph and Mary were taking their walk together before
the day's work should begin. Those who have a good con-



Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldMary Marston. A novel → online text (page 39 of 40)