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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 33
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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 33 Post by :zsaddique Category :Long Stories Author :Arthur C. Benson Date :May 2012 Read :1218

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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 33

CHAPTER XXXIII.

I came to myself very gradually and dimly, with no recollection at first of what had happened. I was lying on my back on some soft grassy place, with the air blowing cool over me. I thought I saw Amroth bending over me with a look of extraordinary happiness, and felt his arm about me; but again I became unconscious, yet all the time with a blissfulness of repose and joy, far beyond what I had experienced at my first waking on the sunlit sea. Again life dawned upon me. I was there, I was myself. What had happened to me? I could not tell. So I lay for a long time half dreaming and half swooning; till at last life seemed to come back suddenly to me, and I sat up. Amroth was holding me in his arms close to the spot from which I had sprung.

"Have I been dreaming?" I said. "Was it here? and when? I cannot remember. It seems impossible, but was I told to jump down? What has happened to me? I am confused."

"You will know presently," said Amroth, in a tone from which all the fear seemed to have vanished. "It is all over, and I am thankful. Do not try to recollect; it will come back to you presently. Just rest now; you have been through strange things."

Suddenly a thought began to shape itself in my mind, a thought of perfect and irresistible joy.

"Yes," I said, "I remember now. We were afraid, both of us, and you told me to leap down. But what was it that I saw, and what was it that was told me? I cannot recall it. Oh," I said at last, "I know now; it comes back to me. I fell, in hideous cowardice and misery. The wind blew shrill. I saw the cliffs stream past; then I was unconscious, I think. I seem to have died; but part of me was not dead. My flight was stayed, and I floated out somewhere. I was joined to something that was like both fire and water in one. I was seen and known and understood and loved, perfectly and unutterably and for ever. But there was pain, somewhere, Amroth! How was that? I am sure there was pain."

"Of course, dear child," said Amroth, "there was pain, because there was everything."

"But," I said, "I cannot understand yet; why was that terrible leap demanded of me? And why did I confront it with such abject cowardice and dismay? Surely one need not go stumbling and cowed into the presence of God?"

"There is no other way," said Amroth; "you do not understand how terrible perfect love is. It is because it is perfect that it is terrible. Our own imperfect love has some weakness in it. It is mixed with pleasure, and then it is not a sacrifice; one gives as much of oneself as one chooses; one is known just so far as one wishes to be known. But here with God there must be no concealment--though even there a man can withhold his heart from God--God never uses compulsion; and the will can prevail even against Him. But the reason of the leap that must be taken is this: it is the last surrender, and it cannot be made on our terms and conditions; it must be absolute. And what I feared for you was not anything that would happen if you did commit yourself to God, but what would happen if you did not; for, of course, you could have resisted, and then you would have had to begin again."

I was silent for a little, and then I said: "I remember now more clearly, but did I really see Him? It seems so absolutely simple. Nothing happened. I just became one with the heart and life of the world; I came home at last. Yet how am I here? How is it I was not merged in light and life?"

"Ah," said Amroth, "it is the new birth. You can never be the same again. But you are not yet lost in Him. The time for that is not yet. It is a mystery; but as yet God works outward, radiates energy and force and love; the time will come when all will draw inward again, and be merged in Him. But the world is as yet in its dawning. The rising sun scatters light and heat, and the hot and silent noon is yet to come; then the shadows move eastward, and after that comes the waning sunset and the evening light, and last of all the huge and starlit peace of the night."

"But," I said, "if this is really so, if I have been gathered close to God's heart, why is it that instead of feeling stronger, I only feel weak and unstrung? I have indeed an inner sense of peace and happiness, but I have no will or purpose of my own that I can discern."

"That," said Amroth, "is because you have given up all. The sense of strength is part of our weakness. Our plans, our schemes, our ambitions, all the things that make us enjoy and hope and arrange, are but signs of our incompleteness. Your will is still as molten metal, it has borne the fierce heat of inner love; and this has taken all that is hard and stubborn and complacent out of you--for a time. But when you return to the life of the body, as you will return, there will be this great difference in you. You will have to toil and suffer, and even sin. But there will be one thing that you will not do: you will never be complacent or self-righteous, you will not judge others hardly. You will be able to forgive and to make allowances; you will concern yourself with loving others, not with trying to improve them up to your own standard. You will wish them to be different, but you will not condemn them for being different; and hereafter the lives you live on earth will be of the humblest. You will have none of the temptations of authority, or influence, or ambition again--all that will be far behind you. You will live among the poor, you will do the most menial and commonplace drudgery, you will have none of the delights of life. You will be despised and contemned for being ugly and humble and serviceable and meek. You will be one of those who will be thought to have no spirit to rise, no power of making men serve your turn. You will miss what are called your chances, you will be a failure; but you will be trusted and loved by children and simple people; they will depend upon you, and you will make the atmosphere in which you live one of peace and joy. You will have selfish employers, tyrannical masters, thankless children perhaps, for whom you will slave lovingly. They will slight you and even despise you, but their hearts will turn to you again and again, and yours will be the face that they will remember when they come to die, as that of the one person who loved them truly and unquestioningly. That will be your destiny; one of utter obscurity and nothingness upon earth. Yet each time, when you return hither, your work will be higher and holier, and nearer to the heart of God. And now I have said enough; for you have seen God, as I too saw Him long ago; and our hope is henceforward the same."

"Yes," I said to Amroth, "I am content. I had thought that I should be exalted and elated by my privileges; but I have no thought or dream of that. I only desire to go where I am sent, to do what is desired of me. I have laid my burden down."

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CHAPTER XXXIV.Presently Amroth rose, and said that we must be going onward. "And now," he said, "I have a further thing to tell you, and that is that I have very soon to leave you. To bring you hither was the last of my appointed tasks, and my work is now done. It is strange to remember how I bore you in my arms out of life, like a little sleeping child, and how much we have been together." "Do not leave me now," I said to Amroth. "There seems so much that I have to ask you. And if your
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