The evangelist began to reply, but was interrupted by David, who now burst out in a sudden exclamation of joy and gratitude. He had been too busy with reflections and memories to participate actively in the conversation, for this startling incident had disclosed to him the whole slow and hidden movement of the providence of his life towards this climax and opportunity. He was profoundly moved by a clear conviction that a divine hand must have planned and superintended this whole web of events, and had intentionally led him from contemplating the tragic issue of his sinful deeds and desires, to this vision of the good he had done in the better moments of his life. This strange coincidence, to a mind like his, could leave no room for doubt that the hand of God was on him, and that, after all, he had been neither abandoned nor forgotten. The lumberman had been sent at this critical moment to save him! There was still hope!
With that instantaneous movement in which his disordered conceptions of life invariably re-formed themselves, the chaotic events of the past shifted themselves into a purposeful and comprehensible series, and revealed beyond peradventure the hand of God.
And as this conclusion burst upon him, he broke into the conversation of Mantel and the lumberman with the warmest exclamations of gratitude and happiness.
They talked a long time in the quiet night, asking and answering questions. The two friends besought the evangelist to accompany them to their rooms, but he said:
“I have given you my message and must pass on. My work is to bear testimony. I sow the seed and leave its cultivation and the harvest to others.”
THE GREAT REFUSAL
“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful.”
Too busy with their own thoughts to talk on the way home, on entering their rooms Mantel threw himself into a chair, while David nervously began to gather his clothes together and crowd them hastily into a satchel.
“What’s up?” asked Mantel.
“I’m off in the morning.”
“Which way are you going?”
“There is only one way. I am going to find Pepeeta.”
“Do you really expect to succeed?”
“Expect to! I am determined!”
“It’s a sudden move.”
“Sudden! everything is sudden. Events have simply crashed upon me lately! When I think of the fluctuations of hope and despair, of certainty and uncertainty through which I have gone in the past few hours, I am stupefied.”
“And I never go through any! My life is like a dead and stagnant sea—nothing agitates it. If I could once be upheaved from the bottom or churned into a foam from the top, I think I might amount to something.”
“You ought to quit this business, Mantel, and come with me. I am going to find Pepeeta, take her back to that quiet valley where I lived, and get myself readjusted to life. I need time for reflection, and so do you. What do you say? Will you join me? I cannot bear to leave you? You have been a friend, and I love you!”