And is it not a first-fruit of this knowledge, that the thoughts of those who are plunged into the fires of a pure devotion fly upwards as surely as the sparks? Nothing but the dross, the grosser earthly part is purged away by their ever-chastening sorrow, which is, in truth, a discipline for finer souls. For did there ever yet live the man or woman who, loving truly, has suffered, and the fires burnt out, has not risen Phoenix-like from their ashes, purer and better, and holding in the heart a bright, undying hope? Never; for these have walked bare-footed upon the holy ground, it is the flames from the Altar that have purged them and left their own light within! And surely this holds also good of those who have loved and lost, of those who have been scorned or betrayed; of the suffering army that cry aloud of the empty bitterness of life and dare not hope beyond. They do not understand that having once loved truly it is not possible that they should altogether lose: that there is to their pain and the dry-rot of their hopes, as to everything else in Nature, an end object. Shall the soul be immortal, and its best essence but a thing of air? Shall the one thought by day and the one dream by night, the ethereal star which guides us across life’s mirage, and which will still shine serene at the moment of our fall from the precipice of Time: shall this alone, amidst all that makes us what we are, be chosen out to see corruption, to be cast off and forgotten in the grave? Never! There, by the workings of a Providence we cannot understand, that mighty germ awaits fruition. There, too, shall we know the wherefore of our sorrow at which, sad-eyed, we now so often wonder: there shall we kiss the rod that smote us, and learn the glorious uses and pluck the glowing fruits of an affliction, that on earth filled us with such sick longing, and such an aching pain.
Let the long-suffering reader forgive these pages of speculative writing, for the subject is a tempting one, and full of interest for us mortals. Indeed, it may chance that, if he or she is more than five-and-twenty, these lines may even have been read without impatience, for there are many who have the memory of a lost Angela hidden away somewhere in the records of their past, and who are fain, in the breathing spaces of their lives, to dream that they will find her wandering in that wide Eternity where “all human barriers fall, all human relations end, and love ceases to be a crime.”
The morning after the vessel left Dartmouth brought with it lovely weather, brisk and clear, with a fresh breeze that just topped the glittering swell with white. There was, however, a considerable roll on the ship, and those poor wretches, who for their sins are given to sea-sickness, were not yet happy. Presently Arthur observed the pretty black-eyed girl—poor thing, she did not look very pretty now—creep