his knowledge and love of his profession, his activity,
his tender heart—especially to women and
children, his keen intellect, and his devising though
not embodying imagination, if any man could get on
without a God, Faber was that man. He was now
trying it, and as yet the trial had cost him no effort:
he seemed to himself to be doing very well indeed.
And why should he not do as well as the thousands,
who counting themselves religious people, get through
the business of the hour, the day, the week, the year,
without one reference in any thing they do or abstain
from doing, to the will of God, or the words of Christ?
If he was more helpful to his fellows than they, he
fared better; for actions in themselves good, however
imperfect the motives that give rise to them, react
blissfully upon character and nature. It is better
to be an atheist who does the will of God, than a
so-called Christian who does not. The atheist
will not be dismissed because he said Lord, Lord,
and did not obey. The thing that God loves is
the only lovely thing, and he who does it, does well,
and is upon the way to discover that he does it very
badly. When he comes to do it as the will of the
perfect Good, then is he on the road to do it perfectly—that
is, from love of its own inherent self-constituted
goodness, born in the heart of the Perfect. The
doing of things from duty is but a stage on the road
to the kingdom of truth and love. Not the less
must the stage be journeyed; every path diverging
from it is “the flowery way that leads to the
broad gate and the great fire.”
It was with more than his usual zeal of helpfulness
that Faber was now riding toward Owlkirk, to revisit
his new patient. Could he have mistaken the symptoms
of her attack?
Mrs. Puckridge was anxiously awaiting the doctor’s
arrival. She stood by the bedside of her lodger,
miserable in her ignorance and consequent helplessness.
The lady tossed and moaned, but for very pain could
neither toss nor moan much, and breathed—panted,
rather—very quick. Her color was white
more than pale, and now and then she shivered from
head to foot, but her eyes burned. Mrs. Puckridge
kept bringing her hot flannels, and stood talking
between the changes.
“I wish the doctor would come!—Them
doctors!—I hope to goodness Dr. Faber wasn’t
out when the boy got to Glaston. Every body in
this mortal universe always is out when he’s
wanted: that’s my experience.
You ain’t so old as me, miss. And Dr. Faber,
you see, miss, he be such a favorite as have
to go out to his dinner not unfrequent. They may
have to send miles to fetch him.”
She talked in the vain hope of distracting the poor
lady’s attention from her suffering.