Not only was he saved from the spiritual defeat of which he was on the verge, by being summoned instantly from the subjective into the objective world; but the rescue of the deer became a beautiful and holy symbol of life itself, and so revealed and illustrated life’s main end “the help of the helpless,”—that he was at once elevated from a region of struggle and despair into one of triumph and hope. He remained in it until he fell asleep. He awoke in it on the morrow. From that high plane he did not again descend so low as he had been. The courage that had been kindled and the purposes which had been crystallized by the joy of this rescue and the gratitude of the deer remained permanently in his heart. He lived in dreams of other acts like this, in which the objects saved by his strength were not the beasts of the field, but the hunted and despairing children of a heavenly Father.
The fawn became to him a continual reminder of this spiritual struggle and victory, for he kept it in his cabin, made it a companion, trained it to follow him about his work, and finally presented it to Pepeeta.
There were many beautiful things to be seen in the winter woods; snow hanging in plumes from the trees, the smoke of the cabin curling into the still air, rabbits browsing on the low bushes, the woodsman standing in triumph over a fallen tree; but when, on the days of her visits to the exile, Pepeeta entered the clearing and the deer, perceiving her approach, ran to greet her in flying leaps, bounded around her, looked up into her face with its gentle eyes, ate the food she offered and licked the hand of its mistress—David thought that there was nothing more beautiful in the world.
“The loves that
meet in Paradise shall cast out fear,
And Paradise hath room for you and me and all.”
At last—the springtime came!
The potent energy of the sun opened all the myriad veins of the great trees, wakened the hibernating creatures of the dens and burrows from their protracted sleep, caused the seeds to swell and burst in the bosom of earth, and sent the blood coursing through David’s veins, quickening all his intellectual and spiritual powers.
And then, the end of his exile was near! In a few weeks he would have vindicated the purity of his purpose to attain the divine life, and have proved himself worthy to claim the hand of Pepeeta!
All the winter long he had plied his axe. Once more, now that the snow had vanished, he set fire to the debris which he had strewn around him, and saw with an indescribable feeling of triumph and delight the open soil made ready for his plow. He yoked a team of patient oxen to it and set the sharp point deep into the black soil. Never had the earth smelled so sweet as now when the broad share threw