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"If it were not I, it would be "Inasmuch as God remained far another. If it were no other, it would away, entirely out of reach, man in the be some thing. There always has to course of time devised the arrangebe either some person or some thing— ment that God should keep on earth a for bishop.”
delegate at large who would always be "Of course." El Greco bowed, with within reach. The ash-can was to be his deep, glowing eyes and warm, per- emptied on the delegate. The dele suasive smile, as if this road of travel gate would notify God.” was familiar enough to his mind.
The bishop remained courteously “ "Lately," pursued the bishop, who, grave and courteously silent. having once taken a topic in hand, "That, of course," continued El liked to leave his mark upon it to show Greco, with a deferential change of that he had dignified it with his atten- tone and his charm of graciousness, tion"lately I have been going over understanding and honoring the the subject again, not so much as to bishop's silence that is your prob
“ the different kinds of men who have lem of the church in the world. What been bishops in the world as to the concerns me is the same problem as it unbelievable things which have been reappears in my department of human bishops. In the long apostolic suc- affairs: why do we empty, love to cession of the race, in the unbroken empty, try to empty, our ash-cans on laying on of hands, I smile a little one another?” foolishly when I feel laid upon me, as "But your problem enters my world, his present-day spiritual successor, the too,” objected the bishop, relieved to horns of the sacred beetle!"
be free to reënter the conversation. “In other words,” exclaimed El “It is a very daily part of my world, a Greco, in joyous agreement, "human very human part." The bishop turned nature has always needed some one or his face quietly toward El Greco. some thing to go to solemnly and "It is about the worst part of mine," finally-beetle, Bacchus, or Buddha." avowed El Greco, giving the rug a
“Always," assented the bishop. repudiative kick—“people with noth“That is the one human road toward ing seriously the matter who consult the immortal.”
me because it gives them a chance to "In other words,” pressed El Greco, empty the ash-can! Who gladly pay with an air of swift, sweeping logic, twenty, forty, a hundred dollars, if “all man's religions have been his at they can leave the contents poured tempts to empty his ash-can on God!" over me.
I should charge more. I The bishop drew back in silence. ought to say, 'This is going to be Long since he had learned to make nasty to wash off; some of it will never allowances for El Greco's personal wash off; so long as I live I shall see views and for a wounding rawness of
your stains on me. I have been of no utterance in him, which at times made particular service to you for your ailof words spectacles and exposures like ment; my bill for your can-but you
— joints of meat in the market-house; for will get the bill!”
! he was a great surgeon of speech also. The bishop muttered sorrowfully:
El Greco took eager advantage of "I can't even make out a bill; I the bishop's silence.
don't get a cent!"
El Greco roared with amusement cerns every one has come up unexand delight.
pectedly, here is the question: this “And perhaps,” he said, flicking the emptying of ash-cans—is it a primitive ash of his cigar into a little antique trait which grows weaker? Is it a
? bronze bowl placed conveniently at his modern trait which grows stronger? elbow, “there is small choice between Is it one of the traits which last on and our ash-cans."
on, varying little to our observation?" "Yours could n't be more deplor- "I have my views on the subject," able sometimes," declared the bishop proffered the bishop, with his scholar's in a voice of patience and a growl. equipment in ideas, the scholar's
"Why-why-why," ΕΙ Greco delight in ideas. reasoned urgently-"why do we aim "Let me first state mine," proto tell things? Why do we? Not tested El Greco, laughing, "especially things which give pleasure; that is as I am operating in my own ward. easily understood. If we give pleas- You are not expected to give way ure, we are valued accordingly, and it as a bishop, but you are expected to be is natural to wish to be of value. But polite as a person. Every one gives things which do not give pleasure way to a surgeon, without any
a our trials, vexations, annoyances. politeness. Why do we empty these on other peo- “I believe it a primitive trait which ple when we know that our doing so has grown weaker, but which we parwill make them withdraw from us, ticularly notice now because it is dread us? And why in particular, changing its direction dangerously after we have poured our trouble into toward us. That is, the ancient empthe ear of a fellow-creature and have tying of the human ash-can on God is witnessed his distress at the predica- dying out of human nature. Civilizament we have placed him in—why are tion testifies that the moral dirt of the we relieved, why are we the happier, at earth is being less and thrown at the the sight of his unhappiness? Why skies with faith that it will reach the that, in the name of kindness and skies and be received there. Also, , decency?”
every kind of delegate on earth is dis"In the name of unkindness and appearing. There are fewer kinds of indecency!"
delegates, and fewer ash-cans are being The bishop rose and, taking from its carried to any delegate of any kind. rack a long, flashing, splendidly fig- But-and here is the great point-the ured brass poker, straightened a cor- universal ash-can fills as before, and ner of the fire.
man, to make up for his loss of the
habit of emptying it at the skies or at $ 3
the delegate, empties it on his most El Greco next spoke as one who convenient fellow-being.” would beguile a companion to go with “No! no! no!" objected the bishop, him a few steps farther to some point lest his silence seem to be his assent. whence they could command a wide “But I must finish; I am your guest. view of a splendid country.
El Greco, then, partly from habit and “Now that this subject which con- partly under pressure of the bishop's cerns me and concerns you and con- impatience, spoke with the precision
and decision of his manner in a lecture. ized race to-day lives religiously more "It is time to block this new road of in the green pasture of man's virtues error and weakness in the race.
and less in the mire of his sins." be done. After years of toleration of “Bishop,” sniffed El Greco, sarchimneys and furnaces pouring their castically, “the virtues in their green smoke into the atmosphere, blanket- pastures never pray. They kneel on ing the sun, blackening the earth, we the pleasant sod-and boast. It is have taught chimney and furnace to only the broken human reed growing in dispose of smoke. We have now at the mire that sways in prayer.” last taught even a gun to fire without "I disagree with you absolutely,” either smoke or ash, as the most protested the bishop even to violence.
. modern and most efficient of guns.
“I believe the unbroken reed prays Then teach a human being to consume also and prays well. Which, if either, the contents of his ash-can. Discover prays better, the broken or the unin human nature some resource of
broken, God knows. But I do not mind that will make the human ash- believe that the best traits of human can self-disappearing in the most nature should be dumb or denied or modern and most efficient of human forced toward the background in rebeings.
ligion any more than they are dumb "It can be done; undoubtedly Nature or denied or forced into the background has put the power there. It is for us in human affairs. In practical everyto lay our finger upon that power, force day business we put them forward as its development, make it work. I rest the basis of our confidence; then let my whole confidence in the scheme them be put forward as the foundation of things, in their natural balance, of faith. The bridge of our hope of their indestructible equilibrium, up- immortal things has too long been the on the axiom that man is equal to black bridge of forgiven sins. It his lot, and therefore equal to the bear would better be the old pagan's ing of his burdens and the doing of bridge between earth and heaven over his work. If he had not been equal to which he walked, the bridge which was his lot on the planet, he would not now the rainbow. So be it with the great be on the planet. He is here still and arch of what is beautiful in us!" he is here as a partial failure because he The bishop, partly from habit and has never made use of more than part partly from El Greco's facial contorof his powers.”
tions of disapproval, spoke as from the "I agree and I disagree.” The pulpit to a congregation of moral bishop would no longer be restrained, strivers: courtesy to guest or no courtesy. “Yet never before in the history of The unforeseen course of the discus- our race have we so laid our burdens sion aroused him, and he struck back upon one another. But why? Bein defense of his churchly office. "A cause the one new virtue developed great change has taken place in man's by the race in modern times is symreligious life. He has gradually turned pathy as the widening sense of brotherthe brighter side of his nature toward hood. This growth of generosity has God, having too long kept turned to- brought with it a growth of selfishness.
. ward Him the darker side. The civil- The modern willingness to bear one
another's burdens has developed a ceived it to be his right, believed it to modern willingness to let others bear have become his duty, to draw her, as them. We now see even nations try- the sharer of his life, into all its struging to throw their burdens upon one gles.
gles. These turned out to be the another, whole nations crying for ordinary difficulties of ordinary respectsympathy. Not one of them would ability: discords which sound in all have done that in the Middle Ages; human affairs however respectable, no other nation would have listened, unforeseen things which upset no other nation have cared. I doubt innocently, clashes with business assowhether the cave-men discouraged one ciates. “Reputable strifes merely,” another with talk of how poor a place emphasized the bishop, "which some the world is to live in: they were too times are so much harder to bear than busy for discussion. And I doubt sins, since religion does not help us in whether the cave-woman carried the the race of selfishness, and the cross of story of her domestic problems into the Christ is not a refuge for bad temper. next cave: she herself might have gone "That is, the young man shifted his into the other cave-woman's ash-can. burdens to the bride to be, the bride But the modern woman!"
shifted them to her mother, the mother
shifted them to her bishop—left the 84
roses, left trouble. The daughter reThe bishop was sitting beside his mains faithful to her pledge, but has writing-table, over which his reading- already deserted in desire. Love relamp shed its close personal radiance. leases her, conscience binds her. She Near stood a vase of hothouse roses. is unhappy, she is ill. The mother The bishop as a man loved roses that calls upon the conscience of her bishop are red, and these were red roses. He to decide what they should do. lifted the vase and brought it forward “The church does not act in such an to the edge of the table as though to affair. The day may come when it identify it as the object which drew the will. That is my hope, that the church lightning of his rebuke.
will try to intercept such troubles from “I have it here in my library this the lives of the young. I should favor very day. These roses! They were a change in the marriage ceremony: brought here privately this afternoon. every young couple standing before the What else was brought, what else was altar should, in the society of the left, you do not see.
But I see. I see, future, give the natural pledge not to and forget the roses. Forget what lay their burdens idly and selfishly they are in themselves, to think of upon one another; each will have them only as thorns to peace of mind,” burdens enough. For the miserable, and the bishop passed into a story the overburdened, are not very agreewhich gave point and poignancy to able people in this world, and they are the theme of the evening.
not very useful people,” declared the They were delicately nurtured, deli- bishop with candor which spared not. cately balanced people, a mother and "The human race has not been wholly a daughter; he called no names, of successful, but what success it has course. The daughter became en- comes from its happiness. Then progaged. The young man at once con- tect happiness in the young as their first usefulness, and in the old as their This little gutter had burst," said the last usefulness."
doctor with pity. The bishop suddenly smote the “When it was all over, I made an communicative young lover without appointment for her to come to my charity or conscience:
officecome at six o'clock. On pur“Why did he not keep his troubles pose I continued my writing to observe to himself after becoming pledged in what would happen. She could not marriage? That is why so many ties wait for me to be ready to listen, began which are delightful to us when slight whether I was ready or not, to tell me become intolerable when intimate: what a hard day it had been for her. some concealed thing is brought out “You killed your husband,' I said. and laid upon us after we are lashed 'He returned from work hungry, tired, together. What right had he? Bah! staggering beneath his own load in life, I have no patience with him, to slide needing rest, asking for a little peace in his man's burden to the shoulders of the one spot in the world where he a young girl because she loved him!” could hope to have it and had a right The bishop passed into silence. to expect it.
to expect it. You gave him no rest, The doctor after an interval began to allowed him no peace. Sat beside him speak in a very low voice, a rather sad and loaded all your troubles on him. voice.
No wonder he put on his hat and went His story had no hothouse roses; its out with no dinner. No wonder he got symbol might be the dinner-pot. drunk. No wonder he stayed drunk.
A few days previous there had No wonder he broke down. No wonwalked slowly into the hospital a hus- der he died half-way through life. band and wife. He had examined the “ 'I had you come here at the hour man, an inoffensive fellow, organically you were used to unload on him. sound, hardly past middle age, his From force of habit you unloaded on countenance a hundred years old, his If you did that every day, you'd eyes a thousand—as old as trouble, either kill me or I might kill you.” weariness, weakness. He was silently The doctor's voice had no mercy on saying that he would keep his story the woman. from every one in the hospital. It could not be done. Whenever his wife
$ 5 appeared for her daily visit about six The men rose. o'clock, the truth came out. He grew The bishop went to a window and restless, pleaded by look not to be left lifted aside the rich lace, lifted the alone with her. After each visit he heavy silk of purple hue, and looked had less of life left in him; she had more out at the snow, piling itself upon his life in her. The nurse was then window-sills, upon the naked boughs instructed to remain in the room of a much-loved little tree growing outduring the visits.
side, an orphan of the woods. He "We began to protect him as far as came back to the fireplace and threw we could. It was too late. You may on a fragrant log and watched the have seen a little gutter set to drain too flames lap themselves about it and large a roof, to gather into itself to a shower of sparks fly upward. He downpour whenever the storm came. threw on another and watched that.