Reinstern by Eloise O. Randall Richberg

REINSTERN

BY
ELOISE O. RICHBERG

CINCINNATI
The Editor Publishing Company
1900
Copyright
The Editor Publishing Company
1900.

REINSTERN.

On, and on, and on! For interminable hours had we been rushing headlong over yellowish-brown plains, punctuated here and there by willow-fringed streams; past huge water-tanks standing guard over dreary little cabins already cowering before the approach of fierce wintry assaults; past forlorn specimens of unkempt and altogether hopeless humanity, who straggled away toward invisible habitations beyond the horizon, or, swaddled in accumulated filth and ragged shawls, squatted in solemn stolidity 2by the roadside for a vanishing glimpse of fleeting civilization.

From profitless window-gazing, to that supposedly restful twist invariably assumed by the weary woman-traveler; from contemplation of barren and boundless distance without, to closed eyes and anxious retrospection, within; from the sterility of facts present, to the incomparably cruel suggestions of merciless imagination, involving the health, happiness, even the life of loved ones left behind;—till, gradually, Creation resolved itself into a jumble of indefinable sounds and fancies;—a rumbling, jolting, wheezing dizziness:

A crash and lurch brought every would-be-dozer to his feet, the train suddenly ceased moving, and apprehensive of danger, we promptly responded 3to the peremptory call: “All out here!” to find ourselves on a wide springy platform surrounding a station-building quite unlike any previously observed; in an atmosphere laden with the perfume of—was it pine-woods—newly mown hay—violets—lilies or jasmine?

It seemed rather a mixture of many delicious odors. Fertile fields and wooded hills stretched away before us; men, women and children in ideal peasant costumes moved gaily about, chatting together, singing, dancing over the velvety sod, or leaping and swinging from the supple boughs while pelting each other with blossoms or gathering the luscious fruit which was everywhere temptingly abundant.

Through the shrubbery, glimpses 4of rock-built and vine-covered homes told of individual prosperity; flowering mosses outlined the roadways; and luxuriant hedges, also in full bloom, divided the grounds one from another; fountains and myriad birds filled the air with happy melodies.

Hand in hand, a dark-eyed lad and a fair-haired lassie approached, saluted, and simultaneously asked in voices perfectly attuned, “Guides for the city?”

Urban instincts immediately awakened and asked, “How far is it, and how much—by the hour?”

Again, gracefully and respectfully saluting, they replied, “This is the Center; the Fields are to the right and left; our services are paid by the government.”

Slightly disconcerted at such unexpected 5hospitality, but also convinced that our reputation as workers for the elevation of mankind had preceded us, and rather self-exalted thereby, we said, affably enough; “Very well; let the young lady show us about.” With an indulgent smile, they explained, “We always help each other.” (“Born twins likely,” being our mental comment.)

“These buildings near the Depot, for the convenience of producers and consumers, are the Supply Stations, whence are shipped the government products from fields and factories.

“Producers are supplied at cost, non-producers at a small advance. The general Store-houses are farther down this, the Poplar Valley, but also on the line of public travel.

“The Mother-fields are to the 6right, in the Maple-valley, while the Father-fields fill the Elm-valley, to the left.

“Yonder, where the hill-side appears checked with different tints, are the Schools of Natural History.”

“Schools?” we interrupted, quite prepared to exploit the superiority of certain educational institutions farther east, in the organization and regulation of which we had offered several valuable suggestions: “How many schools have you?”

“They vary according to our needs; one for every ten students, from four to twenty years of age.”

We neglected to dilate upon the immense advantages of our systems. We may have been intoxicated by the invigorating atmosphere, the beautiful scene, or the chanting and enchanting guides.

7We did, however, venture to ask, deprecatingly, “Do you study only Natural History?”

With a merry laugh, they answered, “Indeed! That is much, we think: To learn of the birth, growth, development and decay of Nature’s products, from the tiniest manifestation of life—animal, vegetable and mineral—to man’s perfect evolution, from this physical form into spirituality.

“We, children, learn only the rudiments of each change, the Scientists and Philosophers make it their life work.”

“And live and die poor, here as elsewhere?” we facetiously suggested.

“Indeed, no!” they answered again, with a merry peal of laughter at so dire a possibility. “We have 8no ‘poor’ as you call them. The government is the friend of everyone.”

With a skeptical sniff, and a suspicion that we were in the heart of one of those “Ideal communities,” of whose birth, growth and early collapse we had read, we asked:

“Where are the other schools, or are those enough for your population?”

“On Bald Hill, toward the east—you can see the brick buildings and scaffoldings—are the schools for Mechanics; where those who are so fitted by heredity, learn the use of tools and machinery.”

“The children of mechanics, must then follow their father’s calling?”

“Not necessarily: If a carpenter-man does not wish to raise carpenter-children, he seeks a wife among the farmers, philosophers, professions or 9wherever his preferences tend. Their united desire calls to their home souls harmonious, in development with their intentions.

“Your people have not yet learned this law—in Natural History;” with a roguish twinkle, “it is taught in our lowest grades.”

“Taught to children?” we asked horrified at this depravity.

“To little children. Your people ignorantly imagine marriage and birth a game of chance, attended by much nonsense and immorality; in which parents may draw anything from a blank or a monstrosity to a saint. You are here to learn the beautiful truth;—or as much of it as you are capable of grasping.”

Their conversation seemed so illy fitted to their years, that we asked their age.

10“Fifteen and eighteen years of this incarnation, while you are nearly fifty; but, in Eternity, we are your seniors and can teach you to crush the shell by which Earth-children have surrounded themselves.”

“You speak of ‘Earth-children;’—are you not of them?”

“No; this is Reinstern. You have been brought to us to learn the possibilities of your people.”

“Isn’t Reinstern in the western part of the United States?” we asked, greatly mystified.

“It is a planet as yet undiscovered by your astronomers, who waste lifetimes searching with telescopes for what the inner vision will readily disclose when you allow the real self to predominate.”

“This is a flimsy dream, after 11all,” was our immediate conclusion, which though unexpressed, was quickly answered.

“No; you are not dreaming; but thoroughly awake, at last. Upon your planet, generation after generation have been given over to materialism and hypocrisy; till Life, which is only embodied in Love and Truth, is nearly extinct; it is, in your best, torpid.

“Again and again have Teachers and Physicians from a higher plane of existence been clothed in your Earth-garb, and lived among you that your eyes might be opened.

“You have either persecuted or shunned them, but occasionally, after their departure, dully recognizing their mission and superiority, have worshipped their materialization; giving no heed to their precepts.

12“It is now feared, among the sister-planets, that Earth will lose her spirituality, which is her life, and become, again, a nonentity among the spheres; a mass of corruption which must, eventually, return to its original state of floating matter, to be elsewhere utilized.

“As all progress in humanity is accomplished through loving effort for the good of others, Reinstern is now making a vigorous attempt to elevate your people; to teach them the great truth that soul-life is one with Universal life, and must be allowed its only expression, Love; not love in the corrupt sense, received by most of your people, which is not Love at all, but only a low grade of selfishness. True Love seeks the good of all, and thereby, wins the best for self. This 13too is selfishness; but such is a duty. The Father has clothed us in individuality, that we may, through our own exertions, become stronger in virtue; unless we avail ourselves of the opportunities he supplies, we are ungrateful and unworthy.

“Our bodies are self-built Temples in which to worship, not the outward manifestations of His power, but His Spirit of Love, which, though all-pervading, all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving, must ever be invisible to finite eyes.

“According as we truly worship and enjoy all within human possibilities, recognizing His presence in every blessing, we live; if we ignore Love’s voice, we are committing suicide, crowding out of the physical, Life; hastening the decay,—individual, national 14and planetary, which inevitably follows injustice and unkindness. This decay manifests itself in your ill-health, moral and physical.”

“Do Reinstern people all speak English?” we asked, rather quizzically, after this broadside of philosophy.

“You have been magnetically prepared for this experience, and psychically understand all that is presented: this is in the hands of the electrical students,—is one of their object lessons.

“Were it possible for you to come here unattended and unheralded, you would see, hear and understand nothing, as our language resembles your thought communication. We are not so advanced in spirituality as in many other planets, the inhabitants of which float in the atmosphere at 15will, conversing at all distances as freely as you with your family around the breakfast table. With such the physical is quite subordinate to the spirit; but we are much above your plane and do not appear materialized in your eyes.

“Your spirit is, for the time, magnetically maintained by those who are striving for the salvation of Earth from annihilation.

“You will carry your experience back to your people, and devote your life to their uplifting. The physical life of those fortunate Earth inhabitants who have been found susceptible to our efforts, will be greatly prolonged by our people, that all possible good may be accomplished.”

After a few minutes—or hours, of riding,—or was it floating? we found ourselves in Maple Valley.

16Would that we were sufficiently gifted to paint that wondrously beautiful scene! to portray the glories of human life among the Good, the Pure, the True, the Happy! It were then indeed an object lesson to all of Earth’s sorrowing people.

To the left, lay broad fields of grains and grasses, bending timidly before the fervent caress of August zephyrs; gardens of unfamiliar fruits and vegetables stretched before us; to the right rose tier after tier of grassy knolls dotted with low, spreading shrubbery; while farther up the slope, ideal groves of magnificent Maples, seemed beckoning to the pleasure-lovers.

Perfectly developed humanity supplied the Highlights for the fascinating picture. The grassy knolls 17swarmed with babyhood, whose rosy-cheeked mothers in gay colored, tunic-like garbs, busied themselves among the rustling foliage;—pruning, training, planting and cultivating.

One could hardly believe that work, considered by us as too laborious,—nay—positively injurious for womankind, was being accomplished by this band of merry-makers.

When we could distract our attention from the bewildering scene, the guides were saying: “These fields are tilled and the crops harvested by the mothers of the Yearlings, as you see.”

“Who owns or controls the fields and pays for the labor?”

“It is government land.”

“—and the government?”

“—is officered by citizens who 18have outlived the parental term and successfully graduated into full citizenship three or more children.”

After our mumbled comment, “A premium on parentage, at last,” we asked: “Who takes care of the ‘Yearlings,’ as you have called them?”

“Their mothers;” with a puzzled look at each other—“with a little help from the Applicants after noon.”

“Women doing farm work and baby-tending? That seems incredible;” we exclaimed.

With a peal of happy laughter that proved contagious, and a quickly executed, waltz-like whirl of amusement, they preceded the explanation: “Until children pass their first birthday, they accompany their mothers daily to these fields, to roll about on the sod, dig in the soil or sleep in 19their baskets, while their mothers plant, prune, graft, harvest or cultivate according to the season; meanwhile, the Applicants are attending to the house and preparing for the noon home-coming; after which they share the Yearling duties.”

“Who are the Applicants?”

“Young men and maidens, who desire to marry, after having passed with honor through several departments of Education and Preparation; and, by the State Records, have proved their ability to provide for the material and spiritual needs of a family; and have received, from the Board of Public Health their Certificates of physical fitness, are granted the Applicant’s degree.

“This entitles them to assist and relieve Fathers and Mothers in their 20home and field duties, until they pass their twenty-fifth birthdays and have selected life partners. If they can then show records of at least one year’s satisfactory administration of such duties, the Government issues their Marriage-license.

“This is, in every family, a period of great rejoicing; each licensed child being then honored by visits and gifts from all relatives and friends; and, if he or she happens to have merited special recognition from the city or State, by any act of peculiar heroism or self-sacrifice, the Officials add a generous tribute.

“In some notable cases, the bride or groom must build a house in which to store the Ante-wedding presents.”

“You make as much of the license-granting as of the wedding?”

21“The public is not expected to take cognizance of the wedding day. It would be regarded on Reinstern, as grossly immodest and cruel, to call general attention to the exact hour wherein the young couple are legally empowered to exercise the marital privileges. It is the culmination of the most sacred desires of the human heart.”

As with curtained eyes, they bowed modestly before us, we felt unaccountably ashamed of our crude practices, though but dimly comprehending the mystic purity of which we were thus vouchsafed a brief glimpse.

“Shall we tell you more of the fielding system?”

“Is there more?”

“You have heard but the beginning. 22While the mothers and applicants are thus busied, the fathers are caring for the three-year-olds, the Buds, in the Elm-valley,—”

“—and the two-year-olds are at home with the servants?”

“We have no servants; there is no dominating or servile class; all try to serve the same Divine Will, as interpreted by the Higher Self.

“Our oldest citizens are advisers in time of doubt; being more highly developed and able to read the Truth more clearly through the delicate material veil they will soon discard.”

“Death can have no terrors for them?”

“What you term ‘Death’, the change to the next higher plane of materiality, is, with us, but the passing of night-time; we anticipate the glories of the approaching dawn.

23“You are to see this change before you leave us. You asked of the two-year-olds, or, as we know them, the Restless. They are in the charge of the recently married women, who thus acquire a practical knowledge of the motherhood to which they aspire.

“They, also have field and garden duties, not so absorbing or laborious as those of the parents, for two reasons: The Restless need rather more attention than the Yearlings; and the young wives themselves require more leisure for study and preparation.”

“But who earns the living for the family?”

Again the waltzing whirl of suppressed amusement, before they said gravely: “Parents are the highest priced laborers in the land; mothers 24and fathers receiving equal honors, salaries and privileges.”

“It is all very beautiful—very—too beautiful to be true.”

“It is true; and its simplicity brings its realization within the reach of all. It must be realized by Earth: You have the conditions, everything, except the will to accomplish the change. All blessings are yours to take. You are only self-blinded; and by your bigotry, are in danger of blood-poisoning.

“Bathe your eyes in Truth; open them to His everlasting and all-powerful Love, and wash away the putrefaction that threatens your Eternal welfare, your planet’s existence.”

A radiant light enveloped them, an invisible choir flooded the air with celestial harmonies; we bowed ourselves, 25reverently, before an unseen but overpowering presence, and covering our faces answered, fervidly: “With Thy help, Lord, we will.”

“After the third year?”

“The recently married men receive the graduating Buds into the Youth’s department, and devote their first year to them; their work is also in the open air and completes the Field course.

“After these young benedicts promote a class of Youth, they receive their full certificates of Fatherhood. They are then of age, as you would call it.”

“Are not many of these young people unfit for the responsibilities, the custody of children, the field work or—”

“You have forgotten that marriage-licenses 26are granted only after the Applicants are fully qualified. Our Committee on Generation thoroughly investigate every case.”

“The five-year-olds?”

“Are taken in groups of ten, by teachers, who, during the following two years, instruct them in the first principles of birth, growth and change as presented by plant and animal life in field, forest, garden and home: This includes much you would classify as rudiments of Physiology, Chemistry, Astronomy, Psychology, Paleontology, Arithmetic, Language, Geography, History and Agriculture, besides Cleaning and Cooking. It is accomplished however without books or tablets, and, much of it outside the class-rooms.

“Flowers, fruits, vegetables and 27grains; birds, fish, reptiles and many other forms of animal life, are germinated and developed to maturity; nurtured and experimented upon; but ever to the benefit of the life involved.”

“Are your teachers men or women?”

“Both; always in pairs; the government believing that by constant and familiar association, only, can the present standard of purity and liberty be maintained.”

A strain of flute-like music interrupted us. “A sick call,” explained the guides. “You see the flags floating from occasional nursery knolls; they locate ailing babes, and demand attention from any passing mother; while every staff-whistle is distinctive and quickly recognized by the mother whose offspring has special need of 28her presence. Knowing this, each is free from that harrowing anxiety experienced by Earth mothers, who must watch constantly over their teething or otherwise ailing little ones; or suffer untold agonies with apprehension, during an absence; thus poisoning the nourishment, in preparation, which Nature intends to serve as a cure for every infantile ill.”

“But it seems positively cruel to force mothers with sick children into the field.” We were really indignant about it.

Again those merry children laughed in great glee at our innocence: “Reinstern mothers are forced to—nothing; they are their own sovereigns. They have fitted themselves for their positions, and their responsibilities are the greatest possible—the 29reproduction of the race. Their salaries are generous, and continue without interruption or diminution throughout the parental term.”

“How long is that?”

“Never more than fifteen years, though contingent upon the age of marriage. The term limit, in years, is from forty to forty five.”

“How do parents invest their earnings?”

“According to individual tastes and preferences. As with you, many have beautiful homes, with extensive grounds, indulge in Art Galleries, Libraries, Theaters, or Conservatories, while others devote the later years to special sciences or enter the School of Physicians.”

“Then even this hygienic regime entails occasional illness?”

30“Accidents will always attend immaturity and inexperience; Infinite Wisdom alone can insure perfect harmony; but our physicians are also a salaried class, who teach as well as heal. Ill health which incapacitates members of his families for daily usefulness, is recorded against the physician; and a succession of such reports count to his discredit, even to the extent of depriving him of his diploma. In such cases, he, through the advice of the sages, seeks a less responsible avocation, or one for which he is better qualified.

“We do not, like you, bribe our doctors to neglect their patients or retard their cure.

“Our medical course is in three departments: Chemistry, Magnetism and Materia Medica. The first concerns 31the elements and combinations forming the physical body of man. Magnetism teaches the application of these principles and elements to the upbuilding and repairing of the body, while in Materia Medica we are taught to locate and extract these required principles from the animal, vegetable and mineral world. We hope to be physicians, after a time.”

This wish was uttered with a deep joyousness that told of a riper understanding than is expressed when the Earth-born youngster, during a brief cessation from banister-sliding or somersault-turning, exclaims, “I am going to be a doctor—a lawyer—or a policeman,” and yet there was an enthusiasm that was almost a parallel.

“You have not mentioned lawyers.”

32“We have none; yours are an outgrowth of dishonesty and cruelty; a finger pointing to dissolution.

“Your law is a demoralizing human rule, through the enforcement of which you would compel mankind to do what should be in accordance with his ardent desire. If he disobeys your petty law, you inflict penalties;—even daring to shorten his physical existence. From the effects of this treatment, he, like you, must suffer for ages to come, so seriously is his growth retarded.

“We, on the other hand, feel deeply humiliated by any act of wrong among our people, which demands public notice; it reflects upon the moral atmosphere of the community.”

“Do your people never, in anger, disappointment or unusual depression 33or excitement, injure others, or trespass upon their rights?”

“Occasionally;” they admitted, sadly.

“And the punishment?” We were most curious to learn the treatment of evil among the good.

“If it be fully proved, before the officials, one has committed a really flagrant offense, he is uniformed in red, as a symbol of materialistic domination, and sent to the School of Philosophy, where the Sages meet for discussions. Your Socrates was a philosopher of their class. There, he has the best possible atmosphere in which to recognize and correct his faults.

“During this term of reformation, his parents, if still in the flesh, usually wear mourning, from choice, in 34recognition of their own shortcomings during his conception or earlier years.”

“How long is this term of punishment?”

“Not punishment; development; we consider it the Second Childhood. The time varies from one to six months of your counting.

“We have only one bad case on our records,” they added proudly.

“Are you allowed to state the facts?”

“It is of public record and History: A father knocked down his own son—because he kicked him.”

“Kicked his father?”

“Yes; poor little fellow!”

“Surely the boy should be punished;—not the father?”

After a startled glance of indignation, 35which quickly faded into pity, they continued:

“Children inherit all physical tendencies from their physical parents. In the case under discussion, the lad received vicious inclinations from the father, who had, however, so controlled his temper as to successfully pass all ante-marriage tests.

“Had he taught that son by example the self-discipline he so well understood, the boy would never have disgraced us.

“Through whose neglect was the boy injured? Clearly the father’s. The mother was also considered at fault, to this extent:

“Through a mistaken charity, a desire to shield her beloved from criticism, she had endured, without complaint several outbreaks previous 36to the one reported; for this she resigned, temporarily, her maternal rights and colors. Our future generations must be protected at any cost.”

“Then she finally delivered him over for the sake of the future?”

“The offense was committed in the field and was reported by the Agent, as it should have been by whomever witnessed the relapse.

“All feared the most disastrous effect upon our community. You may not fully understand that such manifestations act as carrion, attracting from lower atmospheres those ravenous thought-creatures, bred by evil-doers, and called by some of your inspired writers, ‘Elementals’, who swarm around unhealthy humanity, endangering the welfare of every sensitive organism within their reach, 37in their senseless frenzy to prolong a shadowy and useless existence.

“Bereft of filth, they gradually lose their electrical vitality and power to harm; and finally disintegrate into crude matter.

“This father was uniformed in red and delegated to the School of Philosophy for one entire season. There he was also subjected to the influence of most refining music, and his reformation was complete; for we have not a more patient and conscientious father or husband in the city.

“He was restored to his paternal colors and is a much better man than ever, for his victory over the parasites that were sapping his life.”

During the conversation, we had been slowly traversing the length of the valley, noting as we passed, 38elastic health and unalloyed happiness upon every side. Most strongly were we impressed by the vigorous girlish beauty of the matrons, who were at regular intervals, as fondly absorbed in their nursing darlings, as the most devoted of Earth mothers.

During these brief intervals, when the Nursery knolls were thronged with mothers, attention was called to occasional workers, who though resting, like the others, from their field labors, were busily writing in small volumes suspended from their girdles.

“Government Agents who keep the Time accounts that the mothers may not be harassed or disturbed; they only of all the field workers are not parents.”

“Why, if salaried and free, are they timed?”

39“Time is an important factor in determining the value of the crops; seasons differ in the amount required, as with you.

“The sod and soil must at times be too cold and damp for these tender human germs.

“We need every variation of temperature, and are, by this close companionship with nature, able to absorb the physical elements which give us strength and endurance; by this very course, we are enabled to preserve a youthful vigor to which Earth-folk are strangers. During the time of physical growth we court every opportunity for absorbing Force; this, assimilated, we may in later years live according to our tastes and preferences, as we have then the power to attract and adjust whatever may be required for recreation.”

40We suddenly became conscious of an uncomfortable rumbling and jarring, similar to the sensations we had experienced during the Earth-life, from which we had till now seemed so widely separated; as this confusion ceased, we heard in those sweet tones we were rapidly learning to love:

“We will dine now, if you wish;” and simultaneously felt ourselves borne rapidly through space and finally into a large, airy apartment—an ideal dining room.

We had hardly taken cognizance of its many beauties, before we were again attacked with the jolting, rocking, lurching consciousness of Earth-life, and became dimly aware of harsh voices unpleasantly near us.——

Our guides announced us simply as “Voyagers from Earth,” in response 41to which the matronly queen who presided, greeted us cordially, directing us toward capacious easy chairs which nearly surrounded the room.

After several ineffectual efforts to rise above the haunting spectres of our former life, we were dully conscious of being addressed by the host, as follows:

“Your Earth People are in their ignorance robbing you of this opportunity; being greatly disturbed over your absence from the body, which they have discovered notwithstanding our efforts to hold their attention elsewhere.

“The one poor harassed soul, less gross than the rest, upon whose instincts we have relied for your safe return, has yielded to their importunities sooner than we anticipated, and 42has now resorted to Prayer. An earnest Prayer to the Father from a sincere and faithful heart is a Power we can not safely combat.

“You must now return; but we will try to raise you again from the depths, when you are in the quiet of your own home, alone, and the prospects are favorable.”

Deeply disappointed and violently struggling against the power that would thus wrench us from the happy haven into which we had drifted, we heard—O, so faintly, as from a great distance——

“Rest easily, Earth-child; you are doing yourself only harm. All will be made clear in the Good Father’s own time.”

Then the horrible whistles, the jolting of the train, and an indignant voice saying:

43“Didn’t you see her shiver? Such a fuss over nothing! She is coming to, all right. Better keep your bottle for those that need it. Some doctors think that brandy will start or stop the universe.” This last in an undertone.

We opened our eyes very reluctantly, to find a red-faced, wrinkled and be-whiskered man bending over us, with a breath strongly indicative of the contents of a bottle held threateningly near.

Pushing it angrily away, we exclaimed in a far-from-Reinstern-like tone:—

“Why are you meddling with our affairs? We did not want to come back yet; we have not seen the father’s field;—not even had dinner—and things looked so attractive!”

He shook his head with a professional 44air, and murmured: “Not right yet;—better,—decidedly better.”

Then we sat up as straight as a clothes-pin, and glaring at the passengers about our seat rudely demanded:

“Just trot right off about your own affairs, now, all of you; you have treated us shamefully, and,” we sniveled and wept a little at this point, “we don’t even know your names.”

The conductor now interposed: “Madam, you fainted, and but for the kindness of this physician,—”

“Kindness of fiddlesticks!” we interrupted, “we were out of town, off on a voyage,—visiting friends,—and should have returned in good time, if—”

The doctor hastily returned to his post, while the others with horror-stricken 45faces, as promptly retreated.

Resourceless before their suspicions, we relinquished all intentions to elucidate, and added, simply:

“Who thought we were all right if left alone?”

Whereupon a mild-mannered miss of probably sixteen well-invested summers, turned toward us to say, modestly:

“I’ve seen people that way before; Aunt Sophronia often is; I don’t understand it; but you didn’t look a bit dead.”

“Dead!” we ejaculated; “We’d like to die that way often, every day or two. You must have some common sense.”

Then we straightened up our traveling cap, and stared savagely at the outside panorama of brown fields, 46while we tried to imagine a life of love, truth, justice, charity;—among idiots.

Later, we convinced our fellow-passengers of our sanity, by expressing our grateful appreciation of their solicitude; how could they know?—and assurance of our complete recovery.

47

LOVE’S DESTINY.

49Where the gray crag kisses the virgin sky,
And the fledgling eagles half-famished cry,
Where the sun’s kind glance warms the cloud to tears,
And the snow-bank clings to the earth for years;
Where the lichens starve and the sad winds mourn,
There, a host of cupids at eve were born.
They came tumbling out from their rocky nest,
Nor regretful wailed for the rugged breast;
But astride the crest of a stream as blue
As the star-lit sky; with their arrows true,
Downy, sun-tipped wings and the briefest legs,
Just like dear young ducklings released from eggs.
They are fluttering, splashing in frolic gay,
Whirling here and there in the misty spray;
Now, anon, down dizziest steeps they glide,
All demurely, roguishly, side by side;
In their path, huge bowlders await, but see!
With a somersault they are passed in glee.
50Through a rock-bound glen next they gurgling go.
’Neath caressing, whispering branches, low,
For a splashing romp, undisturbed by fear,
In a broad lake, billowy, deep and clear;
But they’re nearing, blindly, the crumbling edge
Of a ragged, cruel and treacherous ledge;
While those countless myriads are hurrying in,—
Crowding, racing, chasing from brim to brim:
Hark! With hands clasped over an aching breast,
A poor Soul moans, “Come to me, Love, and rest;
Long and patiently have I watched for you:
Fill my heart and home with yourselves so true.”
Do you hear them chant, in their rapturous glee,
“Never tires Love, Soul; we are not for thee.
We must on and on, like the water blue;
Bravely wait, work, hope, till your Love finds you.
Danger waits below; you are tempting Death;”
She is calling, still; for, with bated breath,
Has she watched, benumbed, while a sportive elf
Laughing wildly, recklessly, cast himself
From their midst, to the surging depths below;
And she moans, “Dear Love, I shall miss you so.”
“Love but laughs at dangers; fear not;” they say,
“Fancy not he dies: We all live for aye.”
51Right over they tumbled;—she peers down to see—
Not death;—but mad revels of exquisite glee:
Joyous myriads whirled in the dashing spray!
       ·       ·       ·       ·       ·
Think ye not love dies in an hour—a day;
’Tis his dim, dull shadow, o’er which men weep,
When a sun-cloud gives to the shadow, sleep;
But Immortal love, ever close beside,
Through life’s midnight hours will undimmed abide.
Watch and pray, lone Soul, for the love that lasts;
Sighing not o’er shadows another casts;
Lest a passion-cloud should engulf your way,
Till you, helpless and hopeless, drift astray.