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   Chapter 6 No.6

The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley — Volume 3 By Percy Bysshe Shelley Characters: 3701

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

THEY kept toiling on, but had known no darkness along The Road of Pain and Hope. Orville's hand sought Michael's, and it opened to draw him closer. "Michael, my brother," he said, "may you tell me why there is no night?"

Michael smiled again when Orville called him "brother" and answered: "Because, my master, on The Road of Pain and Hope there is no despair; but it is always night along The Road without Ending."

"Can you tell me, Michael, my brother," said Orville, "Why my eyes suffer more keenly than all the rest?"

"Because," said Michael, "your eyes, master, have offended most in life, and so are now the weakest."

"But my hands have offended, too," said Orville, "and behold, they are already painless and cured of the bruises."

"Your hands are beautiful and white, master," said Michael, "and were little punished, because they were often outstretched in charity and in good deeds."

They had come to the brink of a Chasm which it seemed impossible to cross, but they hoped, for they knew no despair. Multitudes of people were before them on the brink of the Chasm looking longingly at the other side. A few pilgrims were being lifted, by unseen hands, and carried across the Chasm. Some Power there was to bear them which neither Orville nor Michael understood. Many, however, had waited long, while some were taken quickly. Every hand was outstretched toward the Cross, and it could easily be seen that waiting was a torture worse than the bruises.

"Alas, Michael," said Orville, "it is harder to suffer the wait than the pain."

"Yes, master," Michael replied, "but this is The Chasm of Neglected Duties. We must stay until those we have fulfilled may come to bear us across. The one who goes first will await the other on the opposite side."

"Alas, Michael," said Orville, "you must wait for me. I have few goo

d deeds and few duties well done."

Even as he spoke, Michael's face began to shine and his eyes were melting. Orville looked and saw a little child with great wings, and beautiful beyond all dreaming. Her gaze was fixed on Michael with the deepest love and longing. Her voice was like the music of a harp, and she spoke but one little word:


"Bride! My little Bride," whispered Michael.

Orville knew her, Michael's first-born child, who had died in infancy. He remembered her funeral. In pity for poor Michael, and feeling a duty toward his servant, he had followed the coffin to the church and to the grave, and had borne the expenses of her burial. His friends wondered at such consideration for one so far beneath him.

"Daddy," whispered the beautiful spirit, "I am to bring you across, and master, too. God sent me. And, daddy, there are millions of children who could bring their parents over quickly, if they had only let them be born. It was you and mother, daddy, who gave me life, baptism and Heaven. Had I lived only a minute, it would have been worth it. And, daddy, mother is coming soon, and I am waiting for you both."

Then the beautiful child touched and supported them, and lo! they were wafted across The Chasm of Neglected Duties: Michael, because he followed the command and made his marriage a Holy Sacrament to fulfil the law of God; Orville, because he had shown mercy and recognition of his servant's claim upon him.

Without understanding why, Orville found himself repeating over and over again the words: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Michael heard him and turned to say: "Yes, master, and 'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God'! How well it was for us that we had the heart of a child to plead our cause when we came to The Chasm of Neglected Duties."

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