Read CHAPTER LIV. of Paul Faber‚ Surgeon, free online book, by George MacDonald, on ReadCentral.com.

NOWHERE AND EVERYWHERE.

Faber sprung upon Niger’s back, and galloped wildly through the park.  His soul was like a southern sea under a summer tornado.  The slow dawn was gathering under a smoky cloud with an edge of cold yellow; a thin wind was abroad; rain had fallen in the night, and the grass was wet and cool to Niger’s hoofs; the earth sent up a savor, which like a soft warp was crossed by a woof of sweet odors from leaf-buds and wild flowers, and spangled here and there with a silver thread of bird song ­for but few of the beast-angels were awake yet.  Through the fine consorting mass of silence and odor, went the soft thunder of Niger’s gallop over the turf.  His master’s joy had overflowed into him:  the creatures are not all stupid that can not speak; some of them are with us more than we think.  According to the grand old tale, God made his covenant with all the beasts that came out of the ark as well as with Noah; for them also he set his bow of hope in the cloud of fear; they are God’s creatures, God bless them! and if not exactly human, are, I think, something more than humanish.  Niger gave his soul with his legs to his master’s mood that morning.  He was used to hard gallops with him across country, but this was different; this was plainly a frolic, the first he had had since he came into his service; and a frolic it should be!

A deeper, loftier, lovelier morning was dawning in Faber’s world unseen.  One dread burden was lifted from his being; his fierce pride, his unmanly cruelty, his spotless selfishness, had not hunted a woman soul quite into the moldy jaws of the grave; she was given back to him, to tend, and heal, and love as he had never yet dreamed of loving!  Endless was the dawn that was breaking in him; unutterably sweet the joy.  Life was now to be lived ­not endured.  How he would nurse the lily he had bruised and broken!  From her own remorse he would shield her.  He would be to her a summer land ­a refuge from the wind, a covert from the tempest.  He would be to her like that Saviour for whom, in her wandering fancy, she had taken him:  never more in vaguest thought would he turn from her.  If, in any evil mood, a thought unkind should dare glance back at her past, he would clasp her the closer to his heart, the more to be shielded that the shield itself was so poor.  Once he laughed aloud as he rode, to find himself actually wondering whether the story of the resurrection could be true; for what had the restoration of his Juliet in common with the out-worn superstition?  In any overwhelming joy, he concluded, the heart leans to lovely marvel.

But there is as much of the reasonable as of to us the marvelous in that which alone has ever made credible proffer toward the filling of the gulf whence issue all the groans of humanity.  Let Him be tested by the only test that can, on the supposition of His asserted nature, be applied to Him ­that of obedience to the words He has spoken ­words that commend themselves to every honest nature.  Proof of other sort, if it could be granted, would, leaving our natures where they were, only sink us in condemnation.

Why should I pursue the story further? and if not here, where better should I stop?  The true story has no end ­no end.  But endlessly dreary would the story be, were there no Life living by its own will, no perfect Will, one with an almighty heart, no Love in whom we live and move and have our being.  Offer me an eternity in all things else after my own imagination, but without a perfect Father, and I say, no; let me die, even as the unbelieving would have it.  Not believing in the Father of Jesus, they are right in not desiring to live.  Heartily do I justify them therein.  For all this talk and disputation about immortality, wherein is regarded only the continuance of consciousness beyond what we call death, it is to me, with whatever splendor of intellectual coruscation it be accompanied, but little better than a foolish babble, the crackling of thorns under a pot.  Apart from Himself, God forbid there should be any immortality.  If it could be proved apart from Him, then apart from Him it could be, and would be infinite damnation.  It is an impossibility, and were but an unmitigated evil.  And if it be impossible without Him, it can not be believed without Him:  if it could be proved without Him, the belief so gained would be an evil.  Only with the knowledge of the Father of Christ, did the endlessness of being become a doctrine of bliss to men.  If He be the first life, the Author of his own, to speak after the language of men, and the origin and source of all other life, it can be only by knowing Him that we can know whether we shall live or die.  Nay more, far more! ­the knowledge of Him by such innermost contact as is possible only between creator and created, and possible only when the created has aspired to be one with the will of the creator, such knowledge and such alone is life to the created; it is the very life, that alone for the sake of which God created us.  If we are one with God in heart, in righteousness, in desire, no death can touch us, for we are life, and the garment of immortality, the endless length of days which is but the mere shadow of the eternal, follows as a simple necessity:  He is not the God of the dead, or of the dying, but of the essentially alive.  Without this inmost knowledge of Him, this oneness with Him, we have no life in us, for it is life, and that for the sake of which all this outward show of things, and our troubled condition in the midst of them, exists.  All that is mighty, grand, harmonious, therefore in its own nature true, is.  If not, then dearly I thank the grim Death, that I shall die and not live.  Thus undeceived, my only terror would be that the unbelievers might be but half right, and there might be a life, so-called, beyond the grave without a God.

My brother man, is the idea of a God too good or too foolish for thy belief? or is it that thou art not great enough or humble enough to hold it?  In either case, I will believe it for thee and for me.  Only be not stiff-necked when the truth begins to draw thee:  thou wilt find it hard if she has to go behind and drive thee ­hard to kick against the divine goads, which, be thou ever so mulish, will be too much for thee at last.  Yea, the time will come when thou wilt goad thyself toward the divine.  But hear me this once more:  the God, the Jesus, in whom I believe, are not the God, the Jesus, in whom you fancy I believe:  you know them not; your idea of them is not mine.  If you knew them you would believe in them, for to know them is to believe in them.  Say not, “Let Him teach me, then,” except you mean it in submissive desire; for He has been teaching you all this time:  if you have been doing His teaching, you are on the way to learn more; if you hear and do not heed, where is the wonder that the things I tell you sound in your ears as the muttering of a dotard?  They convey to you nothing, it may be:  but that which makes of them words ­words ­words, lies in you, not in me.  Yours is the killing power.  They would bring you life, but the death in him that knoweth and doeth not is strong; in your air they drop and die, winged things no more.

For days Faber took measures not to be seen by Juliet.  But he was constantly about the place, and when she woke from a sleep, they had often to tell her that he had been by her side all the time she slept.  At night he was either in her room or in the next chamber.  Dorothy used to say to her that if she wanted her husband, she had only to go to sleep.  She was greatly tempted to pretend, but would not.

At length Faber requested Dorothy to tell Juliet that the doctor said she might send for her husband when she pleased.  Much as he longed to hear her voice, he would not come without her permission.

He was by her side the next moment.  But for minutes not a word was spoken; a speechless embrace was all.

It does not concern me to relate how by degrees they came to a close understanding.  Where love is, everything is easy, or, if not easy, yet to be accomplished.  Of course Faber made his return confession in full.  I will not say that Juliet had not her respondent pangs of retrospective jealousy.  Love, although an angel, has much to learn yet, and the demon Jealousy may be one of the school masters of her coming perfection:  God only knows.  There must be a divine way of casting out the demon; else how would it be here-after?

Unconfessed to each other, their falls would forever have been between to part them; confessed, they drew them together in sorrow and humility and mutual consoling.  The little Amanda could not tell whether Juliet’s house or Dorothy’s was her home:  when at the one, she always talked of the other as home.  She called her father papa, and Juliet mamma; Dorothy had been auntie from the first.  She always wrote her name, Amanda Duck Faber.  From all this the gossips of Glaston explained everything satisfactorily:  Juliet had left her husband on discovering that he had a child of whose existence he had never told her; but learning that the mother was dead, yielded at length, and was reconciled.  That was the nearest they ever came to the facts, and it was not needful they should ever know more.  The talkers of the world are not on the jury of the court of the universe.  There are many, doubtless, who need the shame of a public exposure to make them recognize their own doing for what it is; but of such Juliet had not been.  Her husband knew her fault ­that was enough:  he knew also his own immeasurably worse than hers, but when they folded each other to the heart, they left their faults outside ­as God does, when He casts our sins behind His back, in utter uncreation.

I will say nothing definite as to the condition of mind at which Faber had arrived when last Wingfold and he had a talk together.  He was growing, and that is all we can require of any man.  He would not say he was a believer in the supernal, but he believed more than he said, and he never talked against belief.  Also he went as often as he could to church, which, little as it means in general, did not mean little when the man was Paul Faber, and where the minister was Thomas Wingfold.

It is time for the end.  Here it is ­in a little poem, which, on her next birthday, the curate gave Dorothy: 

    O wind of God, that blowest in the mind,
      Blow, blow and wake the gentle spring in me;
    Blow, swifter blow, a strong, warm summer wind,
      Till all the flowers with eyes come out to see;
      Blow till the fruit hangs red on every tree,
    And our high-soaring song-larks meet thy dove ­
  High the imperfect soars, descends the perfect Love.

    Blow not the less though winter cometh then;
      Blow, wind of God, blow hither changes keen;
    Let the spring creep into the ground again,
      The flowers close all their eyes, not to be seen: 
      All lives in thee that ever once hath been: 
    Blow, fill my upper air with icy storms;
  Breathe cold, O wind of God, and kill my canker-worms.