A double craving devours our human hearts—for solitude and for companionship. As there are hours when we thirst to be alone, there are others when we hunger for the touch of a human hand, the glance of a human eye, a smile from human lips. Even gross, material things like food and drink lose half their flavor when taken in solitude. Pepeeta needed friends and found them.
We never know how small a part of ourselves that fraction may be which we have taken for the whole! We come to know ourselves by struggle and endeavor, more than by thought and meditation. We have only to do our work each day in hope and trust. We can only find rest in effort. It is not in repose, but in activity—not in joy, but in sorrow, that the soul comes to its second birth. Pepeeta needed labor and suffering, and they were sent her.
She accepted all that followed her supreme decision without a question and without a murmur for many months, and then—a reaction came! The draughts upon her physical and emotional nature had been too great.
WHERE I MIGHT FIND HIM
“Attempt the end,
and never stand to doubt,
Nothing’s so hard but search will find it out.”
During several months of loneliness and sorrow a great change had been taking place in the mind of the patient sufferer, of which she was only vaguely conscious.
Purposes are often formed in the depths of our souls, of which we know nothing until they suddenly emerge into full view. Such a purpose had been slowly evolving in the heart of Pepeeta.
The strain which she had been undergoing began at last to exhaust her physically.
Her vital force became depleted, her step grew feeble, the light died out of her eyes, she drooped and crept feebly about her room. The determination which she had so resolutely maintained to live apart from her guilty lover slowly ebbed away. She was, after all, a woman, not a disembodied spirit, and her woman’s heart yearned unquenchably for the touch of her lover’s hand, for the kisses of his lips, for the comfort of his presence.
This longing increased with every passing hour. Fatigue, weariness, loneliness, steadily undermined her still struggling resistance to those hungerings which never left her, till at last, when the failing resources of her nature were at their lowest point, all her remaining strength was concentrated into a single passionate desire to look once more upon the face which glowed forever before her inner eye, or at least to discover what had befallen the wanderer in his sin and wretchedness.
Slowly the diffused longing crystallized into a fixed purpose, to resist which was beyond her power. Having nobly conquered temptation while she had strength, and yielded only when her physical nature itself was exhausted, she gathered up the few possessions she had accumulated, sold them for what they would bring, and, with a heart palpitating wildly, broke every tie she had formed with the life around her and turned her face toward the little village where her happiness and sorrows had begun.