Beneath the canopy of that same sky the dead were lying. Across the seas a breeze of spring was stealing about the graves, as now it played about his face.
What was his part towards them—to mourn, and fill his life with useless melancholy? To forget, and turn his face towards the future?
Forget . . . ?
’There are times’—he found himself repeating mechanically the words which, a few hours before, he had spoken to Elise—’when I long for the power to reach out for the great truths—hidden in space—and in the silence of the night.’
Suddenly his brow grew calm. The baffled, questioning look left his eyes, and he smiled strangely.
Closing the door, he turned back to his desk, and taking the pen, looked for a full minute at the paper before him.
‘To My Unborn Son.’
He gazed at what he had written as though the words had appeared of their own volition.
‘To My Unborn Son.’
With a far-away dreaminess in his eyes he dipped his pen in the ink and commenced to write:
’Somewhere beyond the borders of life you are waiting. I cannot speak to you, nor look on your face, but the love of a father for his child can penetrate the eternal mysteries of the unknown. To those who love there is no death; and in the hearts of parents, children live long before they are born.
’My son, this letter that I write now to you will lie hidden and unseen by other eyes until the time when you alone shall read it. I shall be changed by then: like the world, I may forget; but you, my son, must read these words, and know that they are truth—truth as unchangeable as the tides of the sea, or the hours of dawn and sunset.
’Civilisation has murdered ten million men.
’The human mind cannot encompass that. It is beyond its comprehension, so it is trying to forget.
’Ten million men—murdered.
’Read these words, my son, written in the hush of night, when men’s souls stand revealed.
’Nearly six years ago there came the war. History will prove this or that responsibility for it, but the civilisation that made war possible is itself responsible. The nations sprang to arms; but soon, by that strange destiny which seems to guide mankind, the issue was one not of nations against nations, but of Humanity against Germany. Do not ask me how the land of Goethe, Schiller, and Beethoven became so vile. I only know that Germany was the champion of evil, and on Britain and France men’s hopes were rested.
’America held aloof. When this is read by you, my son, you will have known the noble thrill of patriotism, the pride of race and citizenship. But it is because of that that you must read what I write now about the country I love best.
’Less than any other nation, America is to be blamed for the war. Her life was separate from the older world, and the spoils of victory made no appeal. Yet this great Republic, born of man’s desire for freedom, remained silent even when the whole world saw that the war was one of Justice against Evil. Men, like myself, were blind, and fed the flames of ignorance with ignorance. Others knew we were not ready, and called upon us to prepare; and others made great fortunes while Youth went to its Cross.