And the vast, solemn globe, heedless of what lit here or there upon its breadth, or took up this or that life in its little freckling cities, or between the imperceptible foldings of its hills,—only carrying way-passengers for the centuries,—went plunging on its track, around and around, and swept them all, a score of times, through its summer and its winter solstices.
AFTERWARDS IS A LONG TIME.
Old Mr. Marmaduke Wharne had come down from Outledge, in the mountains, on his way home to New York. He had stopped in Boston to attend to some affairs of his own,—if one can call them so, since Marmaduke Wharne never had any “own” affairs that did not chiefly concern, to their advantage, somebody else,—in which his friend Mr. Titus Oldways was interested, not personally, but Wharne fashion. Now, reader, you know something about Mr. Titus Oldways, which up to this moment, only God, and Marmaduke Wharne, and Rachel Froke, who kept Mr. Oldways’ house, and wore a Friend’s drab dress and white cap, and said “Titus,” and “Marmaduke” to the two old gentlemen, and “thee” and “thou” to everybody,—have ever known. In a general way and relation, I mean; separate persons knew particular things; but each separate person thought the particular thing he knew to be a whimsical exception.
Mr. Oldways did not belong to any church: but he had an English Prayer-book under his Bible on his study table, and Baxter and Fenelon and a Kempis and “Wesley’s Hymns,” and Swedenborg’s “Heaven and Hell” and “Arcana Celestia,” and Lowell’s “Sir Launfal,” and Dickens’s “Christmas Carol,” all on the same set of shelves,—that held, he told Marmaduke, his religion; or as much of it as he could get together. And he had this woman, who was a Friend, and who walked by the Inner Light, and in outer charity, if ever a woman did, to keep his house. “For,” said he, “the blessed truth is, that the Word of God is in the world. Alive in it. When you know that, and wherever you can get hold of his souls, then and there you’ve got your religion,—a piece at a time. To prove and sort your pieces, and to straighten the tangle you might otherwise get into, there’s this,” and he laid his hand down on the Four Gospels, bound in white morocco, with a silver cross upon the cover,—a volume that no earthly creature, again, knew of, save Titus and Marmaduke and Rachel Froke, who laid it into a drawer when she swept and dusted, and placed it between the crimson folds of its quilted silken wrapper when she had finished, burnishing the silver cross gently with a scrap of chamois leather cut from a clean piece every time. There was nothing else delicate and exquisite in all the plain and grim establishment; and the crimson wrapper was comfortably worn, and nobody would notice it, lying on the table there, with an almanac, a directory, the big, open Worcester’s Dictionary, and the scattered pamphlets and newspapers of the day.