* * * * *
That night, as Bedient ascended the stairs, a long sigh escaped him. So uncommon a thing was this, that he stopped to reflect. It was like one casting off a worn garment. Some old, ill, tired part of him passed away, and out of the great still house. He did not loathe it, but sped its passing, happily, gratefully.... Then the thought came, “Why do I attract all this beauty of friendship and loyalty?"... All the eager activity of others in his behalf recurred—the gracious image of that Mother of myriad services, before all—and the fragrant essence of a hundred deeds of love for him.... “I must hurry to keep pace, but I can’t—with these infinite favors!” he whispered.
A passion for service surged through him—to pray, and serve, and love and do; to write and give and lift and smile; always to help; to fall asleep blessing the near and the far; to awake prodigal with strength.... Such a spirit of giving brimmed into his life, that his flesh thrilled with the ecstasy of illimitable service.
The material things about him—walls, staircase, even the lamp-globes—were shadowy and unreal in the midst of these mystically glowing conceptions.
The sense of perfect health came to him—a steady, rhythmic radiation; not a tired, weak fibre, but a singing vitality of every tissue, as if it were cushioned in some life-giving fluid—a pure perfumed bloom of health.
Bedient turned upon the stair. He wanted no man-made room, but the night and the hills and the skies.... Bare of head he went forth.
THE SUPREME ADVENTURE
The night was full of sounds, sights, odors, textures—that he had never sensed before. He smelled the wild oranges from the hillsides, and the raw coffee that lay drying on the great cane mats before the native cabins. His limbs seemed lifted over the rocky ways; he loved the dim contours in the starlight, and the breath of the sea that came with the night-wind. The stars said, “Welcome,” and the hills, “All is well.”
Mother Earth was lying out in more than starlight—but not asleep. She was laughing, wise, sweet in eternal youth. Always she had been dear to him, this Flesh Mother. Her storms and terrors she had shown, but never harmed him. He loved her, sea and mountain and plain—God-Mother and the Kashmir border—the highway ride with the lustrous lady and its sunshine—the path through the wood.... What a boy and girl they had been! How he had loved her—and the day—how he had suffered for it!
And now Bedient knelt upon the stones, uplifted his hands to the starlight, and cried in a low voice: “God bless Beth Truba, and help me to bless her at every turning of her life! God bless Beth Truba for the sensitizing sorrow she gave me, without which this hour could not have been revealed to me!”