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   Chapter 19 AN INTERLUNAR CAVE.

Warlock o' Glenwarlock By George MacDonald Characters: 7549

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


And so the moon died out of Cosmo's heaven. But it was only the moon. The sun remained to him-his father-visible type of the great sun, whose light is too keen for souls, and heart and spirit only can bear. But when he had received Joan's last smile, when she turned away her face, and the Ungenial, who had spoiled everything at Glenwarlock, carried her away, then indeed for a moment a great cloud came over the light of his life, and he sought where to hide his tears. It was a sickening time, for suddenly she had come, suddenly entered his heart, and suddenly departed. But such things are but clouds, and cannot but pass. Ah, reader! it may be your cloud has not yet passed, and you scorn to hear it called one, priding yourself that your trouble is eternal. But just because you are eternal, your trouble cannot be. You may cling to it, and brood over it, but you cannot keep it from either blossoming into a bliss, or crumbling to dust. Be such while it lasts, that, when it passes, it shall leave you loving more, not less.

There was this difference between Cosmo and most young men of clay finer than ordinary, that, after the first few moments of the seemingly unendurable, he did not wander about moody, nursing his sorrow, and making everybody uncomfortable because he was uncomfortable; but sought the more the company of his father, and of Mr. Simon, from whom he had been much separated while Lady Joan was with them. For such a visit was an opportunity most precious in the eyes of the laird. With the sacred instinct of a father he divined what the society of a lady would do for his boy-for the ripening of his bloom, and the strengthening of his volition. Two days had not passed before he began to be aware of a softening and clearing of his speech; of greater readiness and directness in his replies; of an indescribable sweetening of the address, that had been sweet, with a rose-shadow of gentle apology cast over every approach; of a deepening of the atmosphere of his reverence, which yet as it deepened grew more diaphanous. And when now the episode of angelic visitation was over, with his usual wisdom he understood the wrench her abrupt departure must have given his whole being, and allowed him plenty of time to recover himself from it. Once he came upon him weeping: not with faintest overshadowing did he rebuke him, not with farthest hint suggest weakness in his tears. He went up to him, laid his hand gently on his head, stood thus a moment, then turned without a word, and left him. Nowise because of his sorrow did he regret the freedom he had granted their intercourse. He knew what the sharp things of life are to the human plant; that its frosts are as needful as its sunshine, its great passion-winds as its gentle rains; that a divine result is required, and that his son was being made divinely human; that in aid of this end the hand of man must humbly follow the great lines of Nature, ready to withhold itself, anxious not to interfere. Most people resist the marvellous process; call in the aid of worldly wisdom for low ends; and bring the experience of their own failures to bear for the production of worse. But there is no escaping the mill that grinds slowly and grinds small; and those who refuse to be living stones in the living temple, must be ground into mortar for it.

The next day, of his own choice, Cosmo went to Mr. Simon. He also knew how to treat the growing plant. He set him such work as should in a measure harmonize with his late experience, and so drew him gently from his past: mere labour would have but driven him deeper into it. Yesterday is as much our past as the bygone century, and sheltering in it from an uncongenial present, we are lost to our morrow. Thus things slid gently back with

him into their old grooves. An era of blessedness had vanished, but was not lost; it was added to his life, gathered up into his being; it was dissolved into his consciousness, and interpenetrated his activity. Where there is no ground of regret, or shame, or self-reproach, new joy casts not out the old; and now that the new joy was old, the older joys came softly trooping back to their attendance. Nor was this all. The departing woman left behind her a gift that had never been hers-the power of verse: he began to be a poet. The older I grow the more am I filled with marvel at the divine idea of the mutual development of the man and the woman. Many a woman has made of a man, for the time at least, and sometimes for ever, a poet, caring for his verses never a cambric handkerchief or pair of gloves! A wretched man to whom a poem is not worth a sneer, may set a woman singing to the centuries!

Any gift of the nature of poetry, however poor or small, is of value inestimable to the development of the individual, ludicrous even though it may show itself, should conceit clothe it in print. The desire of fame, so vaunted, is the ruin of the small, sometimes of the great poet. The next evil to doing anything for love of money, is doing it for the love of fame. A man may have a wife who is all the world to him, but must he therefore set her on a throne? Cosmo, essentially and peculiarly practical, never thought of the world and his verses together, but gathered life for himself in the making of them.

These children of his, like all real children, strengthened his heart, and upheld his hands. In them Truth took to him shape; in them she submitted herself to his contemplation. He grew faster, and from the days of his mourning emerged more of a man, and abler to look the world in the face.

From that time also he learned and understood more rapidly, though he never came to show any great superiority in the faculties most prized of this world, whose judgment differs from that of God's kingdom in regard to the comparative value of intellectual gifts almost as much as it does in regard to the relative value of the moral and the intellectual. Not the less desirable however did it seem in the eyes of both his father and his tutor, that, if it could anyhow be managed, he should go the next winter to college. As to how it could be managed, the laird took much serious thought, but saw no glimmer of light in the darkness of apparent impossibility. An unsuspected oracle was however at hand.

Old servants of the true sort, have, I fancy, a kind of family instinct. From the air about them almost, from the personal carriage, from words dropped that were never meant for them, from the thoughtful, troubled, or eager look, and the sought or avoided conference, they get possessed by a notion both of how the wind is blowing, and of how the ship wants to sail. But Grizzie was capable of reasoning from what she saw. She marked the increase of care on the brow of her master; noted that it was always greater after he and Mr. Simon had had a talk at which Cosmo, the beloved of both, was not present; and concluded that their talk, and the laird's trouble, must be about Cosmo. She noted also that both were as much pleased with him as ever, and concluded therefore it was his prospects and not his behaviour that caused the uneasiness. Then again she noted how fervently at prayers her master entreated guidance to do neither more nor less than the right thing; and from all put together, and considered in the light of a tolerably accurate idea of the laird's circumstances, Grizzie was able not only to arrive at a final conclusion, but to come to the resolution of offering-not advice-that she would never have presumed upon-but a suggestion.

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