One can do with probabilities in prosperity, when to most of us careless ones it seems no great matter whether there be a God or no? When all the world’s wheels seem to roll smoothly, as if of themselves, and one can speculate with a confused curiosity as to the nature of the great far cause that moves them; but in grief—in the destitute bareness, the famished hunger of soul, when “one is not,” how one craves for certainties! How one yearns for the solid heaven of one’s childhood; the harping angels, the never-failing flowers; the pearl gates and jeweled walls of God’s great shining town!
They may be gone; I know not, but at least one certainty remains— guaranteed to us by no outside voice, but by the low yet plain tones that each may listen to in his own heart. That, with him who is pure and just and meek, who hates a lie worse than the sharpness of death, and loves others dearer than himself, it shall be well.
Do you ask where? or when? or how? We cannot say. We know not; only we know that it shall be well.
Never, never shall I reach Barbara’s clear child-faith; Barbara, to whom God was as real and certain as I; never shall I attain to the steady confidence of Roger. I can but grope dimly with outstretched hands; sometimes in the outer blackness of a moonless, starless night; sometimes, with strained eyes catching a glimpse of a glimmer in the east, I can but feel after God, as a plant in a dark place feels after the light.
And so the days go by, and as they do, as the first smart of my despair softens itself into a slow and reverent acquiescence in the Maker’s will, my thoughts stray carefully, and needfully back over my past life: they overleap the gulf of Barbara’s death and linger long and wonderingly among the previous months.
With a dazed astonishment I recall that even then I looked upon myself as one most unprosperous, most sorrowful-hearted.
What in Heaven’s name ailed me? What did I lack? My jealousy of Roger, such a living, stinging, biting thing then; how dead it is now!
Barbara always said I was wrong; always!
As his eyes, in the patient mournfulness of their reproachful appeal, answer again in memory the shrewish violence of my accusation on the night of the ball—the last embers of my jealousy die. He does not love me as he did; of that I am still persuaded. There is now, perhaps, there always will be, a film, a shade between us.
By my peevish tears, by my mean and sidelong reproaches, by my sulky looks, I have necessarily diminished, if not quite squandered the stock of hearty, wholesome, honest love that on that April day he so diffidently laid at my feet. I have already marred and blighted a year and three-quarters of his life. I recollect how much older, than me he is, how much time I have already wasted; a pang of remorse, sharp as my knife, runs through my heart; a great and mighty yearning