“Good-night,” he said, and stroking their great flanks with his kind hand, left them to their well-earned repose. On his way to the house he stopped to bathe his face in the waters of a spring brook that ran across the yard, and then entered the kitchen where supper was spread.
“Thee is late,” said the woman who had watched and waited, her fine face radiant with a smile of love and welcome.
“Forgive me, mother,” he replied. “I have had another vision.”
“I thought as much. Thee must remember what thee has seen, my son,” she said, “for all that thee beholds with the outer eye shall pass away, while what thee sees with the inner eye abides forever. And had thee a message, too?”
“It was delivered to me that on the holy Sabbath day I should go to the camp in Baxter’s clearing and preach to the lumbermen.”
“Then thee must go, my son.”
“I will,” he answered, taking her hand affectionately, but with Quaker restraint, and leading her to the table.
The family, consisting of the mother, an adopted daughter Dorothea, the daughter’s husband Jacob and son Stephen, sat down to a simple but bountiful supper, during which and late into the evening the young mystic pondered the vision which he believed himself to have seen, and the message which he believed himself to have heard. In his musings there was not a tremor or a doubt; he would have as soon questioned the reality of the old farm-house and the faces of the family gathered about the table. Of the susceptibility of the nerves to morbid activity, or the powers of the overdriven brain to objectify its concepts, he had never even dreamed. He was a credulous and unsophisticated youth, dwelling in a realm of imagination rather than in a world of reality and law. He had much to learn. His education was about to begin, and to begin as does all true and effective education, in a spiritual temptation. The Ghebers say that when their great prophet Ahriman was thrown into the fire by the order of Nimrod, the flames into which he fell turned into a bed of roses, upon which he peacefully reclined. This innocent Quaker youth had been reclining upon a bed of roses which now began to turn into a couch of flames.
AND SATAN CAME ALSO
“It is the little
rift within the lute
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.”
At the moment when Stephen was sounding the horn to summon the young mystic to his supper, a promiscuous crowd of loafers with chairs tilted against the wall of the village tavern received a shock.
They heard the tinkle of bells in the distance, and looking in the direction of this unusual sound, saw a team of splendid coal-black horses dash round a corner and whirl a strange vehicle to the door of the inn.