Christina walked home without difficulty, but the next day did not
leave her bed, and it was a fortnight before she was able to be out
of doors. When Ian and she met, her manner was not quite the same as
before. She seemed a little timid. As she shook hands with him her
eyes fell; and when they looked up again, as if ashamed of their
involuntary retreat, her face was rosy; but the slight embarrassment
disappeared as soon as they began to talk. No affectation or
formality, however, took its place: in respect of Ian her falseness
was gone. The danger she had been in, and her deliverance through
the voluntary sharing of it by Ian, had awaked the simpler, the real
nature of the girl, hitherto buried in impressions and their
responses. She had lived but as a mirror meant only to reflect the
outer world: something of an operative existence was at length
beginning to appear in her. She was growing a woman. And the first
stage in that growth is to become as a little child.
The child, however, did not for some time show her face to any but
Ian. In his presence Christina had no longer self-assertion or wile.
Without seeking his notice she would yet manifest an almost childish
willingness to please him. It was no sudden change. She had, ever
since their adventure, been haunted, both awake and asleep, by his
presence, and it had helped her to some discoveries regarding
herself. And the more she grew real, the nearer, that is, that she
came to being a PERSON, the more she came under the influence of his
truth, his reality. It is only through live relation to others that
any individuality crystallizes.
"You saved my life, Ian!" she said one evening for the tenth time.
"It pleased God you should live," answered Ian.
"Then you really think," she returned, "that God interfered to save
"No, I do not; I don't think he ever interferes."
"Mr. Sercombe says everything goes by law, and God never interferes;
my father says he does interfere sometimes."
"Would you say a woman interfered in the management of her own
house? Can one be said to interfere where he is always at work? He
is the necessity of the universe, ever and always doing the best
that can be done, and especially for the individual, for whose sake
alone the cosmos exists. If we had been drowned, we should have
given God thanks for saving us."
"I do not understand you!"
"Should we not have given thanks to find ourselves lifted out of the
cold rushing waters, in which we felt our strength slowly sinking?"
"But you said DROWNED! How could we have thanked God for deliverance
if we were drowned?"
"What!--not when we found ourselves above the water, safe and well,
and more alive than ever? Would it not be a dreadful thing to lie
tossed for centuries under the sea-waves to which the torrent had
borne us? Ah, how few believe in a life beyond, a larger life, more
awake, more earnest, more joyous than this!"
"Oh, I do! but that is not what one means by LIFE; that is quite a
different kind of thing!"
"How do you make out that it is so different? If I am I, and you are
you, how can it be very different? The root of things is
individuality, unity of idea, and persistence depends on it. God is
the one perfect individual; and while this world is his and that
world is his, there can be no inconsistency, no violent difference,
between there and here."
"Then you must thank God for everything--thank him if you are
drowned, or burnt, or anything!"
"Now you understand me! That is precisely what I mean."
"Then I can never be good, for I could never bring myself to that!"
"You cannot bring yourself to it; no one could. But we must come to
it. I believe we shall all be brought to it."
"Never me! I should not wish it!"
"You do not wish it; but you may be brought to wish it; and without
it the end of your being cannot be reached. No one, of course, could
ever give thanks for what he did not know or feel as good. But what
IS good must come to be felt good. Can you suppose that Jesus at any
time could not thank his Father for sending him into the world?"
"You speak as if we and he were of the same kind!"
"He and we are so entirely of the same kind, that there is no bliss
for him or for you or for me but in being the loving obedient child
of the one Father."
"You frighten me! If I cannot get to heaven any other way than that,
I shall never get there."
"You will get there, and you will get there that way and no other.
If you could get there any other way, it would be to be miserable."
"Something tells me you speak the truth; but it is terrible! I do
not like it."
She was on the point of crying. They were alone in the drawing-room
of the cottage, but his mother might enter any moment, and Ian said
It was not a drawing toward the things of peace that was at work in
Christina: it was an urging painful sense of separation from Ian.
She had been conscious of some antipathy even toward him, so unlike
were her feelings, thoughts, judgments, to his: this feeling had
changed to its opposite.
A meeting with Ian was now to Christina the great event of day or
week; but Ian, in love with the dead, never thought of danger to
One morning she woke from a sound and dreamless sleep, and getting
out of bed, drew aside the curtains, looked out, and then opened her
window. It was a lovely spring-morning. The birds were singing loud
in the fast greening shrubbery. A soft wind was blowing. It came to
her, and whispered something of which she understood only that it
was both lovely and sad. The sun, but a little way up, was shining
over hills and cone-shaped peaks, whose shadows, stretching eagerly
westward, were yet ever shortening eastward. His light was gentle,
warm, and humid, as if a little sorrowful, she thought, over his
many dead children, that he must call forth so many more to the new
life of the reviving year. Suddenly as she gazed, the little clump
of trees against the hillside stood as she had never seen it stand
before--as if the sap in them were no longer colourless, but red
with human life; nature was alive with a presence she had never seen
before; it was instinct with a meaning, an intent, a soul; the
mountains stood against the sky as if reaching upward, knowing
something, waiting for something; over all was a glory. The change
was far more wondrous than from winter to summer; it was not as if a
dead body, but a dead soul had come alive. What could it mean? Had
the new aspect come forth to answer this glow in her heart, or was
the glow in her heart the reflection of this new aspect of the
world? She was ready to cry aloud, not with joy, not from her
feeling of the beauty, but with a SENSATION almost, hitherto
unknown, therefore nameless. It was a new and marvellous interest in
the world, a new sense of life in herself, of life in everything, a
recognition of brother-existence, a life-contact with the universe,
a conscious flash of the divine in her soul, a throb of the pure joy
of being. She was nearer God than she had ever been before. But she
did not know this--might never in this world know it; she understood
nothing of what was going on in her, only felt it go on; it was not
love of God that was moving in her. Yet she stood in her white dress
like one risen from the grave, looking in sweet bliss on a new
heaven and a new earth, made new by the new opening of her eyes. To
save man or woman, the next thing to the love of God is the love of
man or woman; only let no man or woman mistake the love of love for
She started, grew white, stood straight up, grew red as a
sunset:--was it--could it be?--"Is this love?" she said to herself,
and for minutes she hardly moved.
It was love. Whether love was in her or not, she was in love--and it
might get inside her. She hid her face in her hands, and wept.
With what opportunities I have had of studying, I do not say