Read THE AGE OF FABLE : CHAPTER XII of The Seeker, free online book, by Harry Leon Wilson, on


The time of the first sorrow was difficult for the boy.  There was that first hard sleep after one we love has gone ­in which we must always dream that it is not true ­a sleep from which we awaken to suffer all the shock of it again.  Then came black nights when the perfect love for the perfect father came back in all its early tenderness to cry the little boy to sleep.  Yet it went rapidly enough at last, as times of sorrow go for the young.  There even came a day when he found in a secret place of his heart a chastened, hopeful inquiry if all might not have been for the best.  He had loved his father ­there had been between them an unbreakable bond; yet this very love had made him suffer at every thought of him while he was living, whereas now he could love him with all tender memories and with no poisonous misgivings about future meetings with their humiliations.  Now his father was made perfect in Heaven, and even Grandfather Delcher ­whose aloofness here he had ceased to blame ­would not refuse to meet and know him there.

Naturally, then, he turned to his grandfather in his great need for a new idol to fill the vacant niche.  Aforetime the old man in his study upstairs had been little more than a gray shadow, a spirit of gloom, stubbornly imprisoning another spirit that would have been kind if it could have escaped.  But the little boy drew near to him, and found him curiously companionable.  Where once he had shunned him, he now went freely to the study with his lessons or his storybook, or for talk of any little matter.  His grandfather, it seemed, could understand many things which so old a man could scarcely have been expected to understand.  In token of this there would sometimes creep over his brown old face a soft light that made it seem as if there must still be within him somewhere the child he had once been; as if, perhaps, he looked into the little boy as into a mirror that threw the sunlight of his own boyhood into his time-worn face.  Side by side, before the old man’s fire, they would talk or muse, since they were friendly enough to be silent if they liked.  Only one confidence the little boy could not bring himself to make:  he could not tell the old man that he no longer felt hard toward him, as once he had done, for his coldness to his father; that he had divined ­and felt a great shame for ­the true reason of that coldness.  But he thought the old man must understand without words.  It was hardly a matter to be talked of.

About his other affairs, especially his early imaginings and difficulties, he was free to talk; about coming to the Feet, and the Front Room, and being washed in the blood, and born again ­matters that made the old man wish their intimacy had not been so long delayed.

But now they made up for lost time.  Patiently and ably he taught the little boy those truths he needed to know; to seek for eternal life through the atoning blood of the Saviour, whose part it had been to purchase our redemption from God’s wrath by his death on Calvary.  Of other matters more technical:  of how the love that God of necessity has for His own infinitely perfect being is the reason and the measure of the hatred he has for sin.  Above all did he teach the little boy how to pray for the grace of effectual calling, in order that, being persuaded of his sin and misery, he might thereafter partake of justification, adoption, sanctification, and those several benefits which, in this life, do either accompany or flow from them.  They looked forward with equal eagerness to the day when he should become a great and good man, preaching the gospel of the crucified Son to spellbound throngs.

Together they began again the study of the Scriptures, the little boy now entering seriously upon that work of writing commentaries which had once engaged Allan.  In one of these school-boyish papers the old man came upon a passage that impressed him as notable.  It seemed to him that there was not only that vein of poetic imagination ­without which one cannot be a great preacher ­but a certain individual boldness of approach, monstrous in its naïve sentimentality, to be sure, but indicating a talent that promised to mature splendidly.

“Now Jesus told his disciples,” it ran, “that he must be crucified before he could take his seat on the right hand of God and send to hell those who had rejected him.  He told them that one of them would have to betray him, because it must be like the Father had said.  It says at the last supper Jesus said, ’The Son of Man goeth as it is written of him; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed; it had been good for that man if he had not been born.’

“Now it says that Satan entered into Judas, but it looks to me more like the angel of the Lord might have entered into him, he being a good man to start with, or our Lord would not have chosen him to be a disciple.  Judas knew for sure, after the Lord said this, that one of the disciples had got to betray the Saviour and go to hell, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.  Well, Judas loved all the disciples very much, so he thought he would be the one and save one of the others.  So he went out and agreed to betray him to the rulers for thirty pieces of silver.  He knew if he didn’t do it, it might have to be Peter, James, or John, or some one the Saviour loved very dearly, because it had to be one of them.  So after it was done and he knew the others were saved from this foul deed, he went back to the rulers and threw down their money, and went out and hung himself.  If he had been a bad man, it seems more like he would have spent that money in wicked indulgences, food and drink and entertainments, etc.  Of course, Judas knew he would go to hell for it, so he was not as lucky as Jesus, who knew he would go to heaven and sit at the right hand of God when he died, which was a different matter from Judas’s, who would not have any reward at all but going to hell.  It looks to me like poor Judas had ought to be brought out of hell-fire, and I shall pray Jesus to do it when he gets around to it.”

However it might be with our Lord’s betrayer, there was one soul now seen to be deservedly in hell.  Through the patient study of the Scriptures as expounded by Grandfather Delcher, the little boy presently found himself accepting without demur the old gentleman’s unspoken but sufficiently indicated opinion.  His father was in everlasting torment ­having been not only unbaptised, but godless and a scoffer.  With a quickening sense of the majesty of that Spirit infinitely good, a new apprehension of His plan’s symmetry, he read the words meant to explain, to comfort him, silently indicated one day by the old man: 

“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

“What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?

“And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.”

It hurt at first, but the young mind hardened to it dutifully ­the big, laughing, swaggering, scoffing father ­a device of God made for torment, that the power of the All-loving might show forth!  If the father had only repented, he might have gone straight to heaven as did Cousin Bill J. For the latter had obtained grace in his last days, and now sang acceptably before the thrones of the Father and the Son.  But the unbaptised scoffer must burn forever ­and the little boy knew at last what was meant by “the majesty of God.”