These then are some of the talks we have held together, that Other One and I. But I must say this, that he will not always come for being called. I sometimes call to him and get no answer; sometimes he cries out beside me suddenly in the air. He seems to have a life of his own, quite distinct from mine. Sometimes when I am fretted and vexed, he is quietly joyful and elate, and then my troubles die away, like the footsteps of the wind upon water; and sometimes when I would be happy and contented, he is heavy and displeased, and takes no heed of me; and then I too fall into sorrow and gloom. He is much the stronger, and it matters far more to me what he feels than what I feel. I do not know how he is occupied—very little, I think, and what is strangest of all, he changes somewhat; very slowly and imperceptibly; but he has changed more than I have in the course of my life. I do not change at all, I think. I can say better what I think, I am more accomplished and skilful; but the thought and motive is unaltered from what it was when I was a child. But he is different in some ways. I have only gone on perceiving and remembering, and sometimes forgetting. But he does not forget; and here I feel that I have helped him a little, as a servant can help his master to remember the little things he has to do.
I think that many people must have similar experiences to this. Tennyson had, when he wrote “The Two Voices,” and I have seen hints of the same thing in a dozen books. The strange thing is that it does not help one more to be strong and brave, because I know this, if I know anything, that when the anxious and careful part of me lies down at last to rest, I shall slip past the wall which now divides us, and be clasped close in the arms of that Other One; nay, it will be more than that! I shall be merged with him, as the quivering water-drop is merged with the fountain; that will be a blessed peace; and I shall know, I think, without any questioning or wondering, many things that are obscure to me now, under these low-hung skies, which after all I love so well. . . .
It certainly seems, looking back to the early years, that I have altered very little—hardly at all, in fact! The little thing, whatever it is, that sits at the heart of the machine, the speck of soul-stuff that is really me, is very much the same creature, neither old nor young; confident, imperturbable, with a strange insouciance of its own, knowing what it has to do. I have done many things, gathered many impressions, ransacked experience, enjoyed, suffered; but whatever I have argued, expressed, tried to believe, aimed at, hoped, feared, has hardly affected that central core of life at all. And I feel as though that strange, dumb, cheerful self—it is always cheerful, I think—had played the part all along of a silent and not very critical spectator of all I have tried to be. The mind, the reason, the emotion, have each of them expanded, acquired knowledge, learned skill, but that innermost cell has lain there, sleepless, perceptive, dreaming head on hand, watching, seldom making a sign of either approval or disapproval.