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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 9
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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 9 Post by :Prd2BHawn Category :Long Stories Author :Arthur C. Benson Date :May 2012 Read :658

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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 9

CHAPTER IX.

Now before I go on to tell the tale of what happened to us in the valley there were two very curious things that I observed or began to observe.

The first was that I could not really see into the girl's thought. I became aware that though I could see into the thought of Amroth as easily and directly as one can look into a clear sea-pool, with all its rounded pebbles and its swaying fringes of seaweed, there was in the girl's mind a centre of thought to which I was not admitted, a fortress of personality into which I could not force my way. More than that. When she mistrusted or suspected me, there came a kind of cloud out from the central thought, as if a turbid stream were poured into the sea-pool, which obscured her thoughts from me, though when she came to know me and to trust me, as she did later, the cloud was gradually withdrawn; and I perceived that there must be a perfect sacrifice of will, an intention that the mind should lie open and unashamed before the thought of one's friend and companion, before the vision can be complete. With Amroth I desired to conceal nothing, and he had no concealment from me. But with the girl it was different. There was something in her heart that she hid from me, and by no effort could I penetrate it; and I saw then that there is something at the centre of the soul which is our very own, and into which God Himself cannot even look, unless we desire that He should look; and even if we desire that He should look into our souls, if there is any timidity or shame or shrinking about us, we cannot open our souls to Him. I must speak about this later, when the great and wonderful day came to me, when I beheld God and was beheld by Him. But now, though when the girl trusted me I could see much of her thought, the inmost cell of it was still hidden from me.

And then, too, I perceived another strange thing; that the landscape in which we walked was very plain to me, but that she did not see the same things that I saw. With me, the landscape was such as I had loved most in my last experience of life; it was a land to me like the English hill-country which I loved the best; little fields of pasture mostly, with hedgerow ashes and sycamores, and here and there a clear stream of water running by the wood-ends. There were buildings, too, low white-walled farms, roughly slated, much-weathered, with evidences of homely life, byre and barn and granary, all about them. These sloping fields ran up into high moorlands and little grey crags, with the trees and thickets growing in the rock fronts. I could not think that people lived in these houses and practised agriculture, though I saw with surprise and pleasure that there were animals about, horses and sheep grazing, and dogs that frisked in and out. I had always believed and hoped that animals had their share in the inheritance of light, and now I thought that this was a proof that it was indeed so, though I could not be sure of it, because I realised that it might be but the thoughts of my mind taking shape, for, as I say, I was gradually aware that the girl did not see what I saw. To her it was a different scene, of some southern country, because she seemed to see vineyards, and high-walled lanes, hill-crests crowded with houses and crowned with churches, such as one sees at a distance in the Campagna, where the plain breaks into chestnut-clad hills. But this difference of sight did not make me feel that the scene was in any degree unreal; it was the idea of the landscape which we loved, its pretty associations and familiar features, and the mind did the rest, translating it all into a vision of scenes which had given us joy on earth, just as we do in dreams when we are in the body, when the sleeping mind creates sights which give us pleasure, and yet we have no knowledge that we are ourselves creating them. So we walked together, until I perceived that we were drawing near to the town which we had discerned.

And now we became aware of people going to and fro. Sometimes they stopped and looked upon us with smiles, and even greetings; and sometimes they went past absorbed in thought.

Houses appeared, both small wayside abodes and larger mansions with sheltered gardens. What it all meant I hardly knew; but just as we have perfectly decided tastes on earth as to what sort of a house we like and why we like it, whether we prefer high, bright rooms, or rooms low and with subdued light, so in that other country the mind creates what it desires.

Presently the houses grew thicker, and soon we were in a street--the town to my eyes was like the little towns one sees in the Cotswold country, of a beautiful golden stone, with deep plinths and cornices, with older and simpler buildings interspersed. My companion became strangely excited, glancing this way and that. And presently, as if we were certainly expected, there came up to us a kindly and grave person, who welcomed us formally to the place, and said a few courteous words about his pleasure that we should have chosen to visit it.

I do not know how it was, but I did not wholly trust our host. His mind was hidden from me; and indeed I began to have a sense, not of evil, indeed, or of oppression, but a feeling that it was not the place appointed for me, but only where my business was to lie for a season. A group of people came up to us and welcomed my companion with great cheerfulness, and she was soon absorbed in talk.

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CHAPTER XIII.But when I saw Cynthia, as I presently did, she too was in a different mood. She had positively missed me, and told me so with many endearments. I was not to remain away so long. I was useful to her. Charmides had become tiresome and lost in thought, but Lucius was as sweet as ever. Some new-comers had arrived, all pleasant enough. She asked me where I had been, and I told her all the story. "Yes, that is beautiful enough," she said, "but I hate all this breaking up and going on. I am sure I do not
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CHAPTER VIII.These are only some of the many talks I had with Amroth. They ranged over a great many subjects and thoughts. What I cannot indicate, however, is the lightness and freshness of them; and above all, their entire frankness and amusingness. There were times when we talked like two children, revived old simple adventures of life--he had lived far more largely and fully than I had done--and I never tired of hearing the tales of his old lives, so much more varied and wonderful than my own. Sometimes we merely told each other stories out of our imaginations and hearts.
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