The Ethiopian slave Qatim gathered up the broken body of the woman from the filth of the gutter and carried her to his hovel and flung her upon the filthy straw under which he hid the jewels he stripped from her.
“Best springs from strife and
dissonant chords beget
SIR LEWIS MORRIS.
As the sky lightened way down in the east and the faithful turned to prayer, the little old lady sat at her window, taking her hour of rest—her hour of understanding—with hands clasped peacefully in her lap, a little smile at the corner of her whimsical mouth and her snow-white hair fluttered by the breeze of dawn.
Bodily, mentally, spiritually, she was resting, having filched this hour in which, before donning the garish trappings of her toilet, to sit in fine cashmere night attire, covered in camel’s-hair wrap as soft as satin, with her little crimson bed-room slippers peeping from under the hem and her snow-white hair confined by priceless lace; just as she had thrown aside the thoughts and worries which are the outcome of the turmoil and unrest of civilisation, to sit awhile, quietly, with her eyes upon the dazzling peaks which show so clearly when we push aside the nightmare fog we have wrapped about ourselves.
Not for her own relief did she sit at rest, for in that way rest does not come to us; but to the relieving of others by withdrawing from the lights and noises of this tumultuous planet and so obtaining a better perspective of things as they stand spiritually, and a clearer insight into the message of the only book she considered worth studying and committing to memory.
She was no great thinker, this little old lady, neither did she store up the printed thoughts of others to repeat them aptly upon fitting occasions; she invariably mixed up the philosophers and their works; ’osophies simply bewildered her; ritual left her cold, psychology troubled her but little, save only in its practical application to the lives of those she loved. But she knew the book of life, with its tragedies and comedies, humour and crass stupidity, nettles and balm from the first chapter to the last, and could prescribe you a remedy to cure your mental hurt just as easily as she could undress your screaming baby, find the criminal pin and re-dress it for you; and every member of every Church and every disciple of every creed could have fought a pitched battle at her feet and left her unmoved, so long as the sick and sinning crept to her for help and children, rich or poor, in silks or rags, rushed at her coming to cling about her knees.
She had no fixed time for her hour of understanding. At her window in moonlight, starlight or the coming of the dawn; in her gilded armchair in the firelight or the light of the sun; in her rose-garden, in her parks, anywhere, as long as she was withdrawn from noise and strife.