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   Chapter 24 No.24

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 10017

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


TO the opinion of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Markland made no dissent. She was, also, favourably impressed with Mr. Willet, and looked forward with pleasure to making the acquaintance of his mother and sisters.

On the following morning the carriage was ordered, and about eleven o'clock Mrs. Markland, Aunt Grace, and Fanny, were driven over to "Sweetbrier," the fanciful name which Mr. Ashton, the former owner, had given to the beautiful seat, now the property of Mr. Willet.

The day was cloudless, the air cool and transparent, the sky of the deepest cerulean. These mirrored themselves in the spirits of our little party. Mrs. Markland looked calm and cheerful; Fanny's thoughts were drawn out of herself, and her heart responded to the visible beauty around her. Even Aunt Grace talked of the sky, the trees, and the flowers, and saw a new charm in every thing.

"I presume we shall not meet Mr. Willet," she remarked, as the carriage drove within the elegant grounds of their neighbour.

"He probably goes to the city every day," said Mrs. Markland. "I believe he is engaged in business."

"Yes; I think I heard Edward say that he was."

"Our visit might be a pleasant one in some respects," observed Mrs. Markland, "if he were at home. To him, we are not entire strangers."

"I see him in the portico," said Fanny, leaning toward the carriage window. They were now in sight of the house.

"Yes, there he is," added Aunt Grace, in a pleased tone of voice.

In a few minutes the carriage drew up at the beautiful mansion, in the portico of which were Mr. Willet and his mother and sisters, waiting to receive them. The welcome was most cordial, and the ladies soon felt at home with each other.

Flora, the youngest sister of Mr. Willet, was a lovely girl about Fanny's age. It did not take them long to know and appreciate each other. The mind of Flora was naturally stronger than that of Fanny, partaking slightly of the masculine type; but only sufficient to give it firmness and self-reliance. Her school education had progressed farther, and she had read, and thought, and seen more of the world than Fanny. Yet the world had left no stain upon her garments, for, in entering it, she had been lovingly guarded. To her brother she looked up with much of a child's unwavering confidence. He was a few years her senior, and she could not remember the time when she had not regarded him as a man whose counsels were full of wisdom.

"Where have you been for the last hour?" Mr. Willet inquired of the young maidens, as they entered, arm-in-arm, their light forms gently inclined to each other.

"Wandering over your beautiful grounds," replied Fanny.

"I hardly thought you would see them as beautiful," said Mr. Willet.

"Do you think that I have no eye for the beautiful?" returned Fanny, with a smile.

"Not so," quickly answered Mr. Willet. "Woodbine Lodge is so near perfection that you must see defects in Sweetbrier."

"I never saw half the beauty in nature that has been revealed to my eyes this morning," said Fanny. "It seemed as if I had come upon enchanted ground. Ah, sir, your sister has opened a new book for me to read in-the book of nature."

Mr. Willet glanced, half-inquiringly, toward Flora.

"Fanny speaks with enthusiasm," said the sister.

"What have you been talking about? What new leaf has Flora turned for you, Miss Markland?"

"A leaf on which there is much written that I already yearn to understand. All things visible, your sister said to me, are but the bodying forth in nature of things invisible, yet in harmony with immutable laws of order."

"Reason will tell you that this is true," remarked Mr. Willet.

"Yes; I see that it must be so. Yet what a world of new ideas it opens to the mind! The flower I hold in my hand, Flora says, is but the outbirth, or bodily form, of a spiritual flower. How strange the thought!"

"Did she not speak truly?" asked Mr. Willet, in a low, earnest voice.

"What is that?" inquired Mrs. Markland, who was not sure that she had heard her daughter correctly.

"Flora say that this flower is only the bodily form of a spiritual flower; and that, without the latter, the former would have no existence."

Mrs. Markland let her eyes fall to the floor, and mused for some moments.

"A new thought to me," she at length said, looking up. "Where did you find it, Flora?"

"I have believed this ever since I could remember any thing," replied Flora.

"You have?"

"Yes, ma'am. It was among the first lessons that I learned from my mother."

"Then you believe that every flower has a spirit," said Mrs. Markland.

"Every flower has life," was calmly answered.

"True."

"And every different flower a different life. How different, may be seen when we think of the flower which graces the deadly nightshade, and of that which comes the fragrant herald of the juicy orange. We call this life the spiritual flower."

"A spiritual flower! Singular thought!" Mrs. Markland mused

for some time.

"There is a spiritual world," said Mr. Willet, in his gentle, yet earnest way.

"Oh, yes. We all believe that." Mrs. Markland fixed her eyes on the face of Mr. Willet with a look of interest.

"What do we mean by a world?"

Mrs. Markland felt a rush of new ideas, though seen but dimly, crowding into her mind.

"We cannot think of a world," said Mr. Willet, "except as filled with objects, whether that world be spiritual or natural. The poet, in singing of the heavenly land, fails not to mention its fields of 'living green,' and 'rivers of delight.' And what are fields without grass, and flowers, and tender herb? If, then, there be flowers in the spiritual world, they must be spiritual flowers."

"And that is what Flora meant?" said Mrs. Markland.

"Nothing more," said Flora; "unless I add, that all flowers in the natural world derive their life from flowers in the spiritual world; as all other objects in nature have a like correspondent origin."

"This comes to me as an entirely new idea," said Mrs. Markland, in a thoughtful way. "Yet how beautiful! It seems to bring my feet to the verge of a new world, and my hand trembles with an impulse to stretch itself forth and lift the vail."

"Do not repress the impulse," said Mrs. Willet, laying a hand gently upon one of Mrs. Markland's.

"Ah! But I grope in the dark."

"We see but dimly here, for we live in the outward world, and only faint yet truthful images of the inner world are revealed to us. No effort of the mind is so difficult as that of lifting itself above the natural and the visible into the spiritual and invisible-invisible, I mean, to the bodily eyes. So bound down by mere sensual things are all our ideas, that it is impossible, when the effort is first made, to see any thing clear in spiritual light. Yet soon, if the effort be made, will the straining vision have faint glimpses of a world whose rare beauties have never been seen by natural eyes. There is the natural, and there is the spiritual; but they are so distinct from each other, that the one by sublimation, increase, or decrease, never becomes the other. Yet are they most intimately connected; so intimately that, without the latter, the former could have no existence. The relation is, in fact, that of cause and effect."

"I fear this subject is too grave a one for our visitors," said Mr. Willet, as his mother ceased speaking.

"It may be," remarked the lady, with a gentle smile that softened her features and gave them a touch of heavenly beauty. "And Mrs. Markland will forgive its intrusion upon her. We must not expect that others will always be attracted by themes in which we feel a special interest."

"You could not interest me more," said Mrs. Markland. "I am listening with the deepest attention."

"Have you ever thought much of the relation between your soul and body; or, as I would say, between your spiritual body and your natural body?" asked Mrs. Willet.

"Often; but with a vagueness that left the mind wearied and dissatisfied."

"I had a long talk with Mr. Allison on that subject," said Fanny.

"Ah!" Mrs. Willet looked toward Fanny with a brightening face. "And what did he say?"

"Oh! a great deal-more than I can remember."

"You can recollect something?"

"Oh yes. He said that our spiritual bodies were as perfectly organized as our material bodies, and that they could see, and hear, and feel."

"He said truly. That our spirits have vision every one admits, when he uses the words, on presenting some idea or principle to another-'Can't you see it?' The architect sees the palace or temple before he embodies it in marble, and thus makes it visible to natural eyes. So does the painter see his picture; and the sculptor his statue in the unhewn stone. You see the form of your absent father with a distinctness of vision that makes every feature visible; but not with the eyes of your body."

"No, not with my bodily eyes," said Fanny. "I have thought a great deal about this since I talked with Mr. Allison; and the more I think of it, the more clearly do I perceive that we have spiritual bodies as well as natural bodies."

"And the inevitable conclusion is, that the spiritual body must live, breathe, and act in a world above or within the natural world, where all things are adapted to its functions and quality."

"In this world are the spiritual flowers we were speaking about?" said Mrs. Markland, smiling.

"Yes, ma'am; in this world of causes, where originate all effects seen in the world of nature," answered Mrs. Willet;-"the world from which flowers as well as men are born."

"I am bewildered," said Mrs. Markland, "by these suggestions. That a volume of truth lies hidden from common eyes in this direction, I can well believe. As yet my vision is too feeble to penetrate the vail."

"If you look steadily in this direction, your eyes will, in time, get accustomed to the light, and gradually see clearer and clearer," said Mrs. Willet.

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