It was a long time since Mr. Drake and Dorothy had had such a talk together, or had spent such a pleasant evening as that on which they went into Osterfield Park to be alone with a knowledge of their changed fortunes. The anxiety of each, differing so greatly from that of the other, had tended to shut up each in loneliness beyond the hearing of the other; so that, while there was no breach in their love, it was yet in danger of having long to endure
Like gold to airy thinness beat.”
But this evening their souls rushed together. The father’s anxiety was chiefly elevated; the daughter’s remained much what it was before; yet these anxieties no longer availed to keep them apart.
Each relation of life has its peculiar beauty of holiness; but that beauty is the expression of its essential truth, and the essence itself is so strong that it bestows upon its embodiment even the power of partial metamorphosis with all other vital relations. How many daughters have in the devotion of their tenderness, become as mothers to their own fathers! Who has not known some sister more of a wife to a man than she for whose sake he neglected her? But it will take the loves of all the relations of life gathered in one, to shadow the love which, in the kingdom of heaven, is recognized as due to each from each human being per se. It is for the sake of the essential human, that all human relations and all forms of them exist—that we may learn what it is, and become capable of loving it aright.
Dorothy would now have been as a mother to her father, had she had but a good hope, if no more, of finding her Father in heaven. She was not at peace enough to mother any body. She had indeed a grasp of the skirt of His robe—only she could not be sure it was not the mere fringe of a cloud she held. Not the less was her father all her care, and pride, and joy. Of his faults she saw none: there was enough of the noble and generous in him to hide them from a less partial beholder than a daughter. They had never been serious in comparison with his virtues. I do not mean that every fault is not so serious that a man must be willing to die twenty deaths to get rid of it; but that, relatively to the getting rid of it, a fault is serious or not, in proportion to the depth of its root, rather than the amount of its foliage. Neither can that be the worst-conditioned fault, the man’s own suspicion of which would make him hang his head in shame; those are his worst faults which a man will start up to defend; those are the most dangerous moral diseases whose symptoms are regarded as the signs of health.
Like lovers they walked out together, with eyes only for each other, for the good news had made them shy—through the lane, into the cross street, and out into Pine street, along which they went westward, meeting the gaze of the low sun, which wrapped them round in a veil of light and dark, for the light made their eyes dark, so that they seemed feeling their way out of the light into the shadow.