It was at some hour of light—sunset or sunrise, or it might have been in the blending of the mornings and the evenings in that confusion of mind which takes no heed of time—that Toyner first began to know himself. Then it was not of himself that he took knowledge; his heart in its waking felt after something else around and beneath and above him, everywhere, something that meant light and comfort and rest and love, something that was very strong, that was strength; he himself, Bart Toyner, was part of this strength, and rested in it with a rest and refreshing which is impossible to weakness, however much it may crave.
It came to him as he lay there, not knowing the where or when of his knowledge—it came to him that he had made a great mistake, as a little child makes a mistake in laughable ignorance. Indeed, he laughed within himself as he thought what a strange, childish, grotesque notion he had had,—he had thought, he had actually thought, that God was only a part of things; that he, Bart Toyner, could turn away from God; that God’s power was only with him when he supposed himself to be obedient to Him! Yes, he had thought this; but now he knew that God was all and in all.
There came to him, trooping with this new joy of knowledge, the sensuous sight and sound and smell of many things that he had known, but had not understood, before. All the spring-times through which he had walked unconscious of their meaning, came to him. There was a sound in his ears of delicate flowers springing to light through dewy moss, of buds bursting, and he saw the glancing of myriad tiny leaves upon the grey old trees. With precisely the same sense of sweetness came the vision of days when autumn rain was falling, and the red and sear leaf, the nut, the pine-cone and the flower-seed were dropping into the cold wet earth. Was life in the spring, and death in the autumn? Was the power and love of God not resting in the damp fallen things that lay rotting in the ground?
There came before him a troop of the little children of Fentown, all the rosy-cheeked faces and laughing eyes and lithe little dancing forms that he had ever taken the trouble to notice; and Ann and Christa came and stood with them—Christa with her dancing finery, with her beautiful, thoughtless, unemotional face, her yellow hair, and soft white hands; and Ann, a thousand times more beautiful to him, with her sun-brown tints and hazel eyes, so full of energy and forethought, her dark neat hair and working-dress and hardened hands—this was beauty! Over against it he saw Markham, blear-eyed, unkempt and dirty; and his own father, a gaunt, idiotic wreck of respectable manhood; and his mother, faded, worn, and peevish; with them stood the hunch-backed baker of Fentown and all the coarse and ugly sons of toil that frequented its wharfs. There was not a child or a maiden among those he saw first who did not owe their life to one of these. With the children and the maidens