The fact that there were moments in which Bedient smoldered helplessly in a world of possible women is significant in the character of one destined to fare forth on the Supreme Adventure. It is true, he was preserved in comparative purity though he roamed unbridled around the world. Perhaps it was the same instinct which held him apart from men in their lower moments of indulgence. He could linger where there was wine until the dregs of the company were stirred by the stimulus. All delight left him then, and he found himself alone. His leaving was quite as natural as the departure from a stifling room of one who has learned to relish fresh air.... It was during his Japan stay that Bedient pleased himself often with the thought that somewhere in the world was a woman meant for him—a woman with a mind and soul, as well as flesh. If the waiting seemed long—why should he not be content, since she was waiting, too? He would know her instantly. The slightest errant fancy of doubt would be enough to assure him that she was not the One....
Send a boy out on a long journey (even to Circe and Calypso, and past the calling rocks of the sea), but if his mother has loved into his life, the rare flower of fastidiousness, he will come back, with innocence aglow beneath the weathered countenance. It is the sons of strong women who have that fineness which makes them choice, even in their affairs of an hour. A beautiful spirit of race guardianship is behind this fastidiousness.... Miraculously, it seems to appear many times in the sons of women who have failed to find their own knight-errants. Missing happiness, they have taken disillusionment from common man; yet so truly have they held to their dreams, that ever their sons must go on searching for the true bread of life.
A FLOCK OF FLYING SWANS
One day (it was before he knew David Cairns) Bedient picked up the Bhagavad Gita from a book-stand in Shanghai. It was limp, little, strong, and looked meaty. As he raised his eyes wonderingly from a certain sentence, he encountered the glance of the fat old German dealer.
“Will this little book stand reading more than once, sir?” Bedient asked.
“Ja—but vat a little-boy question! Ven you haf read sefen times the year for sefen years—you a man vill haf become.”
Bedient had been through the Song of the Divine One many times before he heard of it from anyone else. He had liked to think of it as a particular treasure which he shared with the queer old German, sick with fat. Now, it was the old Japanese sage who had turned the young man’s mind to the comparative moderns—Carlyle, Emerson, Thoreau, and several others—and it was with a shock of joy he discovered that almost all of these light-bringers had lived with his little book. So queerly things happen.... However, the Bhagavad Gita gave him a brighter sense of the world under his feet, of a Force other than its own balance and momentum, and of its first fruits—the soul of man.... In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth—that morning star of Hebrew revelation was not at all dimmed; indeed, it shone with fairer lustre in the more spacious heavens of the Farther East.