Robert Falconer

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They are blind and they are dead:

We will wake them as we go;

There are words have not been said;

There are sounds they do not know. We will pipe and we will sing-- With the music and the spring, Set their hearts a wondering.

They are tired of what is old:

We will give it voices new;

For the half hath not been told

Of the Beautiful and True.
Drowsy eyelids shut and sleeping! Heavy eyes oppressed with weeping! Flashes through the lashes leaping!

Ye that have a pleasant voice,

Hither come without delay;

Ye will never have a choice

Like to that ye have to-day:
Round the wide world we will go, Singing through the frost and snow, Till the daisies are in blow.

Ye that cannot pipe or sing,

Ye must also come with speed;

Ye must come and with you bring

Weighty words and weightier deed: Helping hands and loving eyes, These will make them truly wise-- Then will be our Paradise.

As Robert read, the sweetness of the rhythm seized upon him, and, almost unconsciously, he read the last stanza aloud. Looking up from the paper with a sigh of wonder and delight--there was the pale face of Ericson gazing at him from the bed! He had risen on one arm, looking like a dead man called to life against his will, who found the world he had left already stranger to him than the one into which he had but peeped.

'Yes,' he murmured; 'I could say that once. It's all gone now. Our world is but our moods.'

He fell back on his pillow. After a little, he murmured again:

'I might fool myself with faith again. So it is better not. I would not be fooled. To believe the false and be happy is the very belly of misery. To believe the true and be miserable, is to be true--and miserable. If there is no God, let me know it. I will not be fooled. I will not believe in a God that does not exist. Better be miserable because I am, and cannot help it.--O God!'

Yet in his misery, he cried upon God.

These words came upon Robert with such a shock of sympathy, that they destroyed his consciousness for the moment, and when he thought about them, he almost doubted if he had heard them. He rose and approached the bed. Ericson lay with his eyes closed, and his face contorted as by inward pain. Robert put a spoonful of wine to his lips. He swallowed it, opened his eyes, gazed at the boy as if he did not know him, closed them again, and lay still.

Some people take comfort from the true eyes of a dog--and a precious thing to the loving heart is the love of even a dumb animal.6 What comfort then must not such a boy as Robert have been to such a man as Ericson! Often and often when he was lying asleep as Robert thought, he was watching the face of his watcher. When the human soul is not yet able to receive the vision of the God-man, God sometimes--might I not say always?--reveals himself, or at least gives himself, in some human being whose face, whose hands are the ministering angels of his unacknowledged presence, to keep alive the fire of love on the altar of the heart, until God hath provided the sacrifice--that is, until the soul is strong enough to draw it from the concealing thicket. Here were two, each thinking that God had forsaken him, or was not to be found by him, and each the very love of God, commissioned to tend the other's heart. In each was he present to the other. The one thought himself the happiest of mortals in waiting upon his big brother, whose least smile was joy enough for one day; the other wondered at the unconscious goodness of the boy, and while he gazed at his ruddy-brown face, believed in God.

For some time after Ericson was taken ill, he was too depressed and miserable to ask how he was cared for. But by slow degrees it dawned upon him that a heart deep and gracious, like that of a woman, watched over him. True, Robert was uncouth, but his uncouthness was that of a half-fledged angel. The heart of the man and the heart of the boy were drawn close together. Long before Ericson was well he loved Robert enough to be willing to be indebted to him, and would lie pondering--not how to repay him, but how to return his kindness.

How much Robert's ambition to stand well in the eyes of Miss St. John contributed to his progress I can only imagine; but certainly his ministrations to Ericson did not interfere with his Latin and Greek. I venture to think that they advanced them, for difficulty adds to result, as the ramming of the powder sends the bullet the further. I have heard, indeed, that when a carrier wants to help his horse up hill, he sets a boy on his back.

Ericson made little direct acknowledgment to Robert: his tones, his gestures, his looks, all thanked him; but he shrunk from words, with the maidenly shamefacedness that belongs to true feeling. He would even assume the authoritative, and send him away to his studies, but Robert knew how to hold his own. The relation of elder brother and younger was already established between them. Shargar likewise took his share in the love and the fellowship, worshipping in that he believed.

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