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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThomas Wingfold, Curate - Volume 3 - Chapter 13. Remarks
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Thomas Wingfold, Curate - Volume 3 - Chapter 13. Remarks Post by :wordsworth Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :2080

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Thomas Wingfold, Curate - Volume 3 - Chapter 13. Remarks

VOLUME III CHAPTER XIII. REMARKS

Polwarth closed the manuscript, and for a time no one spoke.

"The man who wrote that book," said Wingfold, "could not have been all out of his right mind."

"I must confess to you," returned Polwarth, "that I have chosen some of the more striking passages--only some of them however. One thing is pretty clear--that, granted the imagined conditions, within that circle the writer is sane enough--as sane at least as the Wandering Jew himself could well have been."

"Could you trust me with the manuscript, Mr. Polwarth?" said the curate.

"Willingly," said Polwarth, handing it to him.

"And I may carry it home with me?"

"Certainly."

"I shall take right good care of it. Are there any further memorials of struggle with unbelief?"

"Yes, there are some; for mood and not conviction must, in such a mind, often rule the hour. Sometimes he can believe; sometimes he cannot: he is a great man indeed who can always rise above his own moods! There is one passage I specially remember in which after his own fashion he treats of the existence of a God. You will know the one I mean when you come to it."

"It is indeed a treasure!" said the curate, taking the book and regarding it with prizing eyes. In his heart he was thinking of Leopold and Helen. And while he thus regarded the book, he was himself regarded of the gray luminous eyes of Rachel. What shone from those eyes may have been her delight at hearing him so speak of the book, for the hand that wrote it was that of her father; but there was a lingering in her gaze, not unmixed with questioning, and a certain indescribable liquidity in its light, reminding one of the stars as seen through a clear air from which the dew settles thick, that might have made a mother anxious. Alas for many a woman whose outward form is ungainly--she has a full round heart under the twisted ribs!

Why then should I say alas? Were it better that the heart were like the shape? or are such as Rachel forgotten before the God of the sparrows? No, surely; but he who most distinctly believes that from before the face of God every sorrow shall vanish, that they that sow in tears shall reap in joy, that death is but a mist that for a season swathes the spirit, and that, ever as the self-seeking vanishes from love, it groweth more full of delight--even he who with all his heart believes this, may be mournful over the aching of another heart while yet it lasts; and he who looks for his own death as his resurrection, may yet be sorrowful at every pale sunset that reminds him of the departure of the beloved before him.

The curate rose and took his departure, but the light of the gaze that had rested upon him lingered yet on the countenance of Rachel, and a sad half-smile hung over the motions of the baby-like fingers that knitted so busily.

The draper followed the curate, and Polwarth went up to his own room: he never could keep off his knees for long together. And as soon as she was alone, Rachel's hands dropped on her lap, her eyes closed, and her lips moved with solemn sweet motions. If there was a hearing ear open to that little house, oh surely those two were blessed! If not, then kind death was yet for a certainty drawing nigh--only, what if in deep hell there should be yet a deeper hell? And until slow Death arrive, what loving heart can bear the load that stupid Chance or still more stupid Fate has heaped upon it? Yet had I rather be crushed beneath the weight of mine, and die with my friends in the moaning of eternal farewells, than live like George Bascombe to carry lightly his little bag of content. A cursed confusion indeed is the universe, if it be no creation, but the helpless unhelpable thing such men would have us believe it--the hotbed mother of the children of an iron Necessity. Can any damnation be worse than this damning into an existence from which there is no refuge but a doubtful death?

Drew overtook Wingfold, and they walked together into Glaston.

"Wasn't that splendid?" said the draper.

"Hath not God chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty?" returned the curate. "Even through the play of a mad-man's imagination, the spirit of a sound mind may speak. Did you not find in it some stuff that would shape into answers to your questions?

"I ought to have done so, I dare say," answered the draper, "but to tell the truth, I was so taken up with the wild story, and the style of the thing, and the little man's way of reading it, that I never thought of what I was full of when I came."

They parted at the shop, and the curate went on.

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