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   Chapter 38 HOME AGAIN.

Warlock o' Glenwarlock By George MacDonald Characters: 7812

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Early the next day, while the sun was yet casting huge diagonal shadows across the wide street, Cosmo climbed to the roof of the Defiance coach, his heart swelling at the thought of being so soon in his father's arms. It was a lovely summer morning, cool and dewy, fit for any Sunday-whence the eyes and mind of Cosmo turned to the remnants of night that banded the street, and from them he sank into metaphysics, chequered with the champing clank of the bits, the voices of the ostlers, passengers, and guard, and the perpendicular silence of the coachman, who sat like a statue in front of him.

How dark were the shadows the sun was casting!

Absurd! the sun casts no shadows-only light.

How so? Were the sun not shining, would there be one single shadow?

Yes; there would be just one single shadow; all would be shadow.

There would be none of those things we call shadows.

True; all would be shade; there would be no shadows.

By such a little stair was Cosmo landed at a door of deep question. For now EVIL took the place of SHADOW in his SOLO disputation, and the law and the light and the shadow and the sin went thinking about with each other in his mind; and he saw how the Jews came to attribute evil to the hand of God as well as good, and how St. Paul said that the law gave life to sin-as by the sun is the shadow. He saw too that in the spiritual world we need a live sun strong enough to burn up all the shadows by shining through the things that cast them, and compelling their transparency-and that sun is the God who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all-which truth is the gospel according to St. John. And where there is no longer anything covered or hid, could sin live at all? These and such like thoughts held him long-till the noisy streets of the granite city lay far behind.

Swiftly the road flew from under the sixteen flashing shoes of the thorough-breds that bore him along. The light and hope and strength of the new-born day were stirring, mounting, swelling-even in the heart of the sad lover; in every HONEST heart more or less, whether young or old, feeble or strong, the new summer day stirs, and will stir while the sun has heat enough for men to live on the earth. Surely the live God is not absent from the symbol of his glory! The light and the hope are not there without him! When strength wakes in my heart, shall I be the slave to imagine it comes only as the sap rises in the stem of the reviving plant, or the mercury in the tube of the thermometer? that there is no essential life within my conscious life, no spirit within my spirit? If my origin be not life, I am the poorest of slaves!

Cosmo had changed since first he sat behind such horses, on his way to the university; it was the change of growth, but he felt it like that of decay-as if he had been young then and was old now. Little could he yet imagine what age means! Devout youth as he was, he little understood how much more than he his father felt his dependence on, that is his strength in God. Many years had yet to pass ere he should feel the splendour of an existence rooted in changeless Life ripening through the growing weakness of the body! It is the strength of God that informs every muscle and arture of the youth, but it is so much his own-looks so natural to him-as it well may, being God's idea for him-that, in the glory of its possession, he does not feel it AS the presence of the making God. But when weakness begins to show itself,-a shadow-back-ground, against which the strength is known and outlined-when every movement begins to demand a distinct effort of the will, and the earthly house presses, a conscious weight, not upon its own parts only, but upon the spirit within, then indeed must a man HAVE God, believe in him with an entireness independent of feeling, and going beyond all theory, or be devoured by despair. In the growing feeblen

ess of old age, a man may well come to accept life only because it is the will of God; but the weakness of such a man is the matrix of a divine strength, whence a gladness unspeakable shall ere long be born-the life which it is God's intent to share with his children.

Cosmo was on the way to know all this, but now his trouble sat sometimes heavy upon him. Indeed the young straight back, if it feels the weight less, feels the irksomeness of the burden more than the old bowed one. With strength goes the wild love of movement, and the cross that prevents the free play of a single muscle is felt grievous as the fetter that chains a man to the oar. But this day-and what man has to do with yesterday or to-morrow? -the sun shone as if he knew nothing, or as if he knew all, and knew it to be well; and Cosmo was going home, and the love of his father was a deep gladness, even in the presence of love's lack. Seldom is it so, but between the true father, and true son it always will be so.

When he came within a mile of Muir of Warlock, he left the coach, and would walk the rest of the way. He desired to enjoy, in gentle, unruffled flow, the thoughts that like swallows kept coming and going between him and his nest as he approached it. Everything, the commonest, that met him as he went, had a strange beauty, as if, although he had known it so long, now first was its innermost revealed by some polarized light from source unseen. How small and poor the cottages looked-but how home-like! and how sweet the smoke of their chimneys! How cold they must be in winter-but how warm were the hearts inside them! There was Jean Elder's Sunday linen spread like snow on her gooseberry bushes; there was the shoemaker's cow eating her hardest, as if she would devour the very turf that made a border to the road-held from the corn on the other side of the low fence by a strong chain in the hand of a child of seven; and there was the first dahlia of the season in Jonathan Japp's garden! As he entered the village, the road, which was at once its street and the queen's highway, was empty of life save for one half-grown pig-"prospecting," a hen or two picking about, and several cats that lay in the sun. "There must be some redemption for the feline races," thought Cosmo, "when the cats have learned so much to love the sun!-But, alas! it is only his heat, not his light they love!" He looked neither on this side nor that as he walked, for he was in no mood for the delay of converse, but he wondered nevertheless that he saw nobody. It was the general dinner hour, true, but that would scarcely account for the deserted look of the street! Any passing stranger was usually enough to bring people to their doors-their windows not being of much use for looking out of! Sheltered behind rose-trees or geraniums or hydrangeas, however, not a few of whom he saw nothing were peering at him out of those windows as he passed.

The villagers had learned from some one on the coach that the young laird was coming. But, strange to say, a feeling had got abroad amongst them to his prejudice. They had looked to hear great things of their favourite, but he had not made the success they expected, and from their disappointment they imagined his blame. It troubled them to think of the old man, whom they all honoured, sending his son to college on the golden horse, whose history had ever since been the cherished romance of the place, and after all getting no good of him! so when they saw him coming along, dusty and shabby-not so well dressed indeed as would have contented one of themselves on a Sunday, they drew back from their peep-holes with a sigh, let him pass, and then looked again.

Nothing of all this however did Cosmo suspect, but held on his way unconscious of the regards that pursued him as a prodigal returning the less satisfactorily that he had not been guilty enough to repent.

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