Sometimes he remembered the days when the child knew no sorrow, and when grief came not near her, when she was brighter than the sun which she could not see and sweeter than the songs which she could not hear, when she was joyous as a bird in its narrow cage and fretted not at the bars which bound her, when she laughed as she braided her hair and came dancing out of her chamber at dawn. And remembering this, he looked down at her knitted face, and his heart grew bitter, and he lifted up his voice through the tumult of the storm, and cried again on the God of Jacob, and rebuked Him for the marvellous work which He had wrought.
If God were an almighty God, surely He looked before and after, and foresaw what must come to pass. And, foreseeing and knowing all, why had God answered his prayer? He himself had been a fool. Why had he craved God’s pity? Once his poor child was blither than the panther of the wilderness and happier than the young lamb that sports in springtime. If she was blind, she knew not what it was to see; and if she was deaf, she knew not what it was to hear; and if she was dumb, she knew not what it was to speak. Nothing did she miss of sight or sound or speech any more than of the wings of the eagle or the dove. Yet he would not be content; he would not be appeased. Oh! subtlety of the devil which had brought this evil upon him!
But the God whom Israel in his agony and his madness rebuked in this manner sent His angel to make a great silence, and the storm lapsed to a breathless quiet.
And when the tempest was gone Naomi’s delirium passed away. She seemed to look, and nothing could she see; and then to listen, and nothing could she hear; and then she clasped the hand of her father that lay over her hand, and sighed and sank down again.
It was even as if peace had come to her with the thought that she was back in the land of great silence once again, and that the voices which had startled her, and the storm which had terrified her, had been nothing but an evil dream.
In that sweet respite she fell asleep, and Israel forgot the reproaches with which he had reproached his God, and looked tenderly down at her, and said within himself, “It was her baptism. Now she will walk the world with confidence, and never again will she be afraid. Truly the Lord our God is king over all kingdoms and wise beyond all wisdom!”
Then, with one look backward at Naomi where she slept, he crept out of the room on tiptoe.
NAOMI’S GREAT GIFT
With the coming of the gift of hearing, the other gifts with which Naomi had been gifted in her deafness, and the strange graces with which she had been graced, seemed suddenly to fall from her as a garment when she disrobed.