Puslapio vaizdai

He opened his heart to the old man, and told him the story of his life.- Page 668.

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and daughters of joy looking out from bronze said: “You have sold it for a their windows, all intoxicated with the thought, a dream." mere delight of living and the gladness of Hermas found the Grove of Daphne a new day. The pagan populace of Anti- quite deserted. There was no sound in och-reckless, pleasure-loving, spendthrift the enchanted vale but the pattering of -were preparing for the Saturnalia. But the light winds chasing each other through all this Hermas had renounced. He cleft the laurel thickets, and the babble of inhis way through the crowd slowly, like a numerable streams. Memories of the reluctant swimmer weary of breasting the days and nights of delicate pleasure that tide. A yellow-haired girl laid hold of the grove had often seen, still haunted the his robe as he passed. It seemed as if bewildered paths and broken fountains. At she had plucked him by the heart. the foot of a rocky eminence, crowned

He went out by the Western Gate, un- with the ruins of Apollo's temple, which had der the golden cherubim that the Emperor been mysteriously destroyed by fire just Titus had stolen from the ruined Temple after Julian had restored and reconseof Jerusalem and fixed upon the arch of crated it, Hermas sat down beside a gushtriumph. He turned to the left and ing spring, and gave himself up to sadness. climbed the hill to the road that led to “How beautiful the world would be, the Grove of Daphne.

how joyful, how easy to live in, without In all the world, there was no highway religion. These questions about unseen so beautiful. It wound for five miles along things, perhaps about unreal things, these the foot of the mountains, among gardens restraints and duties and sacrifices—if I and villas, plantations of myrtles and mul- were only free from them all, and could

, berries, with wide outlooks over the val- only forget them all, then I could live my ley of Orontes and the distant shim- life as I pleased, and be happy." mering sea. The richest of all the Why not?” said a quiet voice, andwellings was the House of the Golden swering his thoughts. He turned and saw Pillars, the mansion of Demetrius. He an old man, with a long beard and a had won the favor of the apostate Em threadbare cloak (the garb affected by peror Julian, whose vain efforts to restore the pagan philosophers) standing behind the worship of the heathen gods, some him and smiling curiously. twenty years ago, had opened an easy way “ How is it that you reply to that which to wealth and power for all who would has not been spoken ? ” said Hermas ; mock and oppose Christianity. Deme- “and who are you that honor a poor trius was not a sincere fanatic like his roy- young man with the company of a philosal master ; but he was bitter enough in opher ? his professed scorn of the new religion to “I am a long-time inhabitant here," make him a favorite at the court where the answered the stranger ; “none other than old religion was in fashion. He had reaped the solitary priest of whom, perhaps, you a rich reward of his policy; and a strange have heard ; whom the Emperor Julian sense of consistency made him more fiercely found here when he came to revive the loyal to it than if it had been a real faith. worship of Apollo, a score of years ago. He was proud of being called “the friend I brought the only offering in response to of Julian ;” and when his son joined him- his call for a renewal of sacrifices in this self to the Christians, and acknowledged temple. My gift was a goose, you may the Unseen God, it seemed like an insult remember : it was all that I had, and I to his father's success. He drove the boy thought it not inappropriate. But I have from his door and disinherited him. lived here far longer than since Julian's

The glittering portico of the serene, time. I know all that has passed in this haughty house, the repose of the well-or- grove, the feasts and revels, and the varidered garden, still blooming with belated ous rites of many religions, including that flowers, seemed at once to deride and to in- of the Christian martyr Babylas, whose vite the young outcast plodding along the ruined chapel you see just beyond this dusty road." This is your birthright,” ruined temple of Apollo. But these dusty whispered the clambering rose - trees by shrines interest me very little. They are the gate; and the closed portals of carven transitory. The thing that I care for is


"Tell me," whispered the old man.n.-Page 670.



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the human life that has played here for that the Emperor Hadrian once read his so many years, and that still disports itself fortune here from a leaf dipped in the very pleasantly-believe me, for I know, water. Let us see what this leaf tells us.

summer evenings through these It is already turning yellow. How do you shady walks. Daphne and Apollo were read that?" only shadows. But the flying maidens “ Wealth," said Hermas, laughing, as and the pursuing lovers, the music and the he looked at his mean garments. delight of existence, these are the realities. - And here is a bud at the root that Life is the game, and the world keeps it seems to be swelling. What is that?" up merrily. But you ? You are of a sad " Pleasure," answered Hermas, bitterly. countenance for one so young and beauti- “And here is a tracing of wreaths upon ful. Are you a loser in the game ? " the surface. What do you make of that ? ”

The words and tone of the speaker “What you will,” said Hermas, not even fitted Hermas's mood as a key fits the taking the trouble to look. “Suppose we lock. He opened his heart to the old say, success and fame?” man, and told him the story of his life : Yes,” said the stranger; “it is all writhis luxurious boyhood in his father's ten here. I promise that you shall enjoy house ; the irresistible spell which com- it all. But you do not need to believe in my pelled him to forsake it when he heard promise. I am not in the habit of requiring John's preaching of the new religion ; his faith of those whom I would serve. No such joy in becoming a Christian, and the ex- hard conditions for me. There is only one ultation with which he had welcomed his thing that I ask. This is the season that you trials; his lonely year with the anchorites Christians call the Christmas, and you have among the mountains; the strict discipline endowed it with the pagan custom of exin his teacher's house at Antioch ; his changing gifts. Well, if I give to you, you weariness of duty, his distaste for pover- must give to me. It is a small thing, and ty, his discontent with worship. “ And to really the thing you can best afford to part day,” said he, “ I have been thinking that with: a single word—the name of Him you I am a fool. My life is swept as bare as a profess to worship. Let me take that word hermit's cell. There is nothing in it but a and all that belongs to it entirely out of dream, a thought of God, which does not your life, so that you shall never need to satisfy me."

hear it or speak it again. You will be richer The singular smile deepened on his without it. I promise you everything, and companion's face.

“ You ready, this is all I ask in return. Do you conthen,” he suggested, “to renounce your sent ? ” new religion and go back to that of your * Yes, I consent,” said Hermas, mockfather?

ing. “If you can take your price, a word, “ No; I renounce nothing, I accept you can keep your promise, a dream.” nothing. I do not wish to think about The stranger laid the long, cool, wet leaf it. I only wish to live.”

softly across the young man's eyes. An "A very reasonable wish, and one of icicle of pain darted through them. Every which I conjecture you are about to see nerve in his body was drawn together there the accomplishment. Indeed, I may even in a knot of agony. Then it was all lifted say that I can put you in the way of out of him. A cool languor of delight securing it. Do you believe in magic?” flowed back through every vein, and he

" I have told you already that I do not sank into a profound sleep. know whether I believe in anything. This is not the day on which I care to make professions of faith. I believe in what I

II I want what will give me pleasure.” "Well," said the old man, soothingly, An incalculable time had passed over as he plucked a leaf from the laurel-tree him when his senses began to stir again. above them and dipped it in the spring, He opened his eyes and saw the setting

let us dismiss the conundrums of belief. . sun. He rose and hurried back toward I like them as little as you do. You have Antioch, treading upon air. Already his heard that this is a Castalian fountain, and life had changed ; he was a new man, yet



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“Take this to John of Antioch, and tell him it is a gift from his former pupil."- Page 672.

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