“Christa’s well enough without it,” said Ann, a little shortly.
She thought more coldly of Christa since she had come up to a higher level herself.
“Well, I only meant about Christa that I think I made a mistake,” said Bart slowly.
“How a mistake?” she asked.
It was a very hard question to answer. A moment before and he thought he had seen what the mistake was and how to speak, but when he tried, all that manifold difficulty of applying that which is eternal to that which is temporal came between his thought and its expression.
He could not know clearly wherein his difficulty lay; no one had taught him about the Pantheism which obliterates moral distinctions, or told him of the subjective ideal which sweeps aside material delight. He only felt after the realities expressed by these phrases, and dimly perceived that truth lies midway between them, and that truth is the mind of God, and can only be lived, not spoken. For a while he lay there in the darkness, trying to think how he could tell Ann that to his eyes all things had become new; after a little while he did try to tell her, and although the words were lame, and apparently contradictory to much that they both knew was also true, still some small measure of his meaning passed into her mind.
“God is different from what I ever thought,” he said; “He isn’t in some things and not in others; it’s wicked to live so as to make people think that, for they think they can get outside of Him, and then they don’t mind Him at all.”
“How do you know it?” she asked curiously.
“I saw it. Perhaps God showed me because I was so hard up. It’s God’s truth, Ann, that I am saying.”
The room was quite dark again now; the chirping of the crickets outside thrilled through and through it, as if there were no walls there but only the darkness and the chirping. Ann sat upon a wooden chair by the stove.
She considered for a minute, and then she said, with the first touch of repentance in her heart: “Well, I reckon God ain’t in me, any way. There isn’t much of God in me that I can see.”
“I’ll tell you how it is if I can.” Toyner’s voice had a strange rest and calm in it. He spoke as a man who looked at some inward source of peace, trying to describe it. “Supposing you had a child, you wouldn’t care anything about him at all if you could just work him by wires so that he couldn’t do anything but just what you liked; and yet the more you cared about him, the more it would hurt you dreadfully if he didn’t do the things that you knew were good for him, and love you and talk to you too. Well now, suppose one day, when he was a little fellow, say, he wanted to touch something hot, and you told him not to. Well, if he gave it up, you’d make it easier for him to be good next time; but suppose he went on determined to have his own way, can’t you think of yourself taking hold of his hand and just