Ah, victory won, but not by race!
Ah, victory by a sweeter name!
To blend for ever in embrace,
Unconscious, swift, the two streams came.
One instant, separate, side by side
The shining currents seemed to pour;
Then swept in one tumultuous tide,
Swifter and stronger than before.
O stream to south! O stream to east!
Which bears the other, who shall see?
Which one is most, which one is least,
In this surrendering victory?
To that green point of sunny land,
Hemmed in by mountains stern and high,
I called my love, and, hand in hand,
We watched the streams that hurried by.
It was a turning-point in Mercy’s life when she met Parson Dorrance. Here at last was a man who had strength enough to influence her, culture enough to teach her, and the firm moral rectitude which her nature so inexorably demanded. During the first few weeks of their acquaintance, Mercy was conscious of an insatiable desire to be in his presence: it was an intellectual and a moral thirst. Nothing could be farther removed from the absorbing consciousness which passionate love feels of its object, than was this sentiment she felt toward Parson Dorrance. If he had been a being from another planet, it could not have been more so. In fact, it was very much as if another planet had been added to her world,—a planet which threw brilliant light into every dark corner of this one. She questioned him eagerly. Her old doubts and perplexities, which Mr. Allen’s narrower mind had been unable to comprehend or to help, were now set at rest and cleared up by a spiritual vision far keener than her own. Her mind was fed and trained by an intellect so much stronger than her own that it compelled her assent and her allegiance. She came to him almost as a maiden, in the ancient days of Greece, would have gone to the oracle of the holiest shrine. Parson Dorrance in his turn was as much impressed by Mercy; but he was never able to see in her simply the pupil, the questioner. To him she was also a warm and glowing personality, a young and beautiful woman. Parson Dorrance’s hair was white as snow; but his eyes were as keen and dark as in his youth, his step as firm, and his pulse as quick. Long before he dreamed of such a thing, he might have known, if he had taken counsel of his heart, that Mercy was becoming to him the one woman in the world. There was always this peculiarity in Mercy’s influence upon all who came to love her. She was so unique and incalculable a person that she made all other women seem by comparison with her monotonous and wearying. Intimacy with her had a subtle flavor to it, by which other flavors were dulled. The very impersonality of her enthusiasms and interests, her capacity for looking on a person for the time being merely as a representative or mouth-piece,