“What an ugly thing the inside of this person seems to be!” he said. “But then, whose thoughts and emotions would not render him a laughing-stock if they could be seen? If everybody looked, to his fellow, as he really is, or even as he looks to himself, mankind would fly asunder, and think the stars hiding-places not remote enough! How many men in the world could walk from one end of the street they live in to the other, talking and acting their inmost thoughts all the way, and retain a bit of anybody’s respect or love afterwards? No wonder Heaven is pure, if, our spiritual bodies are only thoughts and feelings! and a Hell where every devil saw his fellow’s deformity outwardly manifested would be Hell indeed!
“But that can’t be. Angels behold their own loveliness, because doing so makes them lovelier; but no devil could know his own vileness and live. They think their hideousness charming, and, when the darkness is thickest about them, most firmly believe themselves in Heaven. But the light of Heaven would be real darkness to them, for a ray of it would strike them blind!”
Helwyse was too prone to moralizing. It shall not be our cue to quote him, save when to do so may seem to serve an ulterior purpose.
“I would like to hear the story that fellow is so exercised about,” muttered his pursuer. “How do I know it doesn’t concern me? That violin-box he carries is very much in his way; shall I offer to carry it for him, and, in return, hear his story? If the music soothes his soul as much as the box moderates his gestures—”
Here the man abruptly turned into a doorway, and was gone. On coming up, Helwyse found that the doorway led in through a pair of green folding-doors to some place unseen. The house had an air of villanous respectability,—a gambling-house air, or worse. Did the musician live there? Helwyse paused but a moment, and then walked on; and thus, sagacious reader, the meeting was for the second time put off.
When he reached his hotel, he had only half an hour to dress for dinner in; but he prepared himself faultlessly, chanting a sort of hymn to Appetite the while. “Hunger,” quoth he, “is mightiest of magicians; breeds hope, energy, brains; prompts to love and friendship. Hunger gives day and night their meaning, and makes the pulse of time beat; creates society, industry, and rank. Hunger moves man to join in the work of creation,—to harmonize himself with the music of the universe,—to feel ambition, joy, and sorrow. Hunger unites man to nature in the ever-recurring inspiration to food, followed by the ever-alternating ecstasy of digestion. Morning tunes his heart to joy, for the benison of breakfast awaits him. The sun scales heaven to light him to his noonday meal. Evening wooes him supperwards, and night brings timeless sleep, to waft him to another dawn. Eating is earth’s first law, and heaven itself could not subsist without it!”
So Balder Helwyse and the cook feasted gloriously that afternoon, in the back pantry, and they solemnly installed the partridges among the constellations!