“If it be within the law of things, if I be at liberty, and the thing seem good for you, my Ruth, you may be sure I will come to you. But of one thing I am pretty certain, that such visions do not appear when people are looking for them. You must not go staring into the dark trying to see me. Do your work, pray your prayers, and be sure I love you: if I am to come, I will come. It may be in the hot noon or in the dark night: it may be with no sight and no sound, yet a knowledge of presence; or I may be watching you, helping you perhaps and you never know it until I come to fetch you at the last,—if I may. You have been daughter and sister, and mother to me, my Ruth. You have been my one in the world. God, I think sometimes, has planted about you and me, my child, a cactus-hedge of ugliness, that we might be so near and so lonely as to learn love as few have learned it in this world—love without fear, or doubt, or pain, or anxiety—with constant satisfaction in presence, and calm content in absence. Of the last, however, I can not boast much, seeing we have not been parted a day for—how many years is it, Ruth?—Ah, Ruth! a bliss beyond speech is waiting us in the presence of the Master, where, seeing Him as He is, we shall grow like Him and be no more either dwarfed or sickly. But you will have the same face, Ruth, else I should be forever missing something.”
“But you do not think we shall be perfect all at once?”
“No, not all at once; I can not believe that: God takes time to what He does—the doing of it is itself good. It would be a sight for heavenly eyes to see you, like a bent and broken and withered lily, straightening and lengthening your stalk, and flushing into beauty.—But fancy what it will be to see at length to the very heart of the person you love, and love Him perfectly—and that you can love Him! Every love will then be a separate heaven, and all the heavens will blend in one perfect heaven—the love of God—the All in all.”
They were walking like children, hand in hand: Ruth pressed that of her uncle, for she could not answer in words.
Even to Dorothy their talk would have been vague, vague from the intervening mist of her own atmosphere. To them it was vague only from the wide stretch of its horizon, the distance of its zenith. There is all difference between the vagueness belonging to an imperfect sight, and the vagueness belonging to the distance of the outlook. But to walk on up the hill of duty, is the only way out of the one into the other. I think some only know they are laboring, hardly know they are climbing, till they find themselves near the top.
THE LEVEL OF THE LYTHE.
Dorothy’s faith in Polwarth had in the meantime largely increased. She had not only come to trust him thoroughly, but gained much strength from the confidence. As soon as she had taken Juliet her breakfast the next morning, she went to meet him in the park, for so they had arranged the night before.