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But she was very happy. Happiness was in the droop of her bowed head, and in her quickened breathing, and in her voice as she told me "yes" and called me her "Brother D-jon" again.
At that I grew impatient. "Pepita," I said, "I want to ask you still another question. May I?"
Her very muteness bade me ask her what I would.
"Pepita," I said very softly, "are you really very keen to be my sister? Because if it makes no difference to you-”
Never before, I think, has all the world been so quiet as it was then. Even the bees ceased their droning. Nothing existed but Pepita and me alone together in the sunny noontide.
She looked up at last, and in her eyes was incredulous surprise, and a little fright, perhaps, and joy. They held such joy as I had never guessed could be.
My eyes must have had their message for her, too, that she could read beyond surmise or doubt. For suddenly her lashes fell. Quick color flooded face and neck and bosom.
"Oh," she said reproachfully, said reproachfully, "why did you make me? I'd never meant to tell you that."
And so they found us-I am not precisely sure where they found us, and should feel no need of going into detail if I did remember-so Don Feliciano and Dona Ceferina found us, when they came, not sitting nurse- and patient-like. I think we were walking under the orangetrees, but I am by no means sure.
At any rate they came upon us unexpectedly, and for the moment I was conscious only of the gentle satisfaction in my fairy godfather's eyes. I forgot there were more than three people in the world, all of whom understood each other perfectly. "We have to thank you," I told him, "for giving us the rarest
and most precious Christmas gift there is."
But there is another world where many millions live penned together under the noiseless sky; a world where impulses and joys and hopes, sorrows and wisdom and all imponderable things, are ruthlessly weighed out upon Convention's balances, and generally found wanting in true weightiness,-le vrai avoirdupois.
Suddenly Dona Ceferina stamped. her foot, and that sententious world. leaped into being with its pinnacles and somber spires, landmarks of Prudence and Caution and Experience, towering high above our heads. All that Dona Ceferina called into being with one impact of her foot upon the solid earth, and then addressed me, speaking the language of that world.
"What does it mean?" she asked.
She looked at me. If ever look had the fabled power to turn men to stone, hers should have had it then. I might as well have been a stone as the helpless thing that stood before her. I could not answer her.
"What does this mean?" she iciano. "This is your doing, Escaasked again, and looked at Don Fellante. I know that. What does it mean, I say?" And poor Don Feliciano could answer her no more than I could. What does anything mean to those who do not understand it?
But pity for my unhappy fellowculprit gave me tongue. He looked so very old and frail and helpless before his wife. I loaned my voice such jauntiness as I could summon from inside me.
"The fact is" a memory flashed to my relief-"The fact is, Dona Ceferina, that one of the men from one of Don Feliciano's houses has run away with one of your muchachas. And now the question rises, what shall be done-"
My jauntiness froze stiff before
the coldness of her look. Don Feliciano rallied in his turn. "The fact is, Ceferina," he began, with a miserable affectation of his customary ease, "the fact is that we have to decide at once what's to be done about it. If you think it would be better, of course we could put the man in jail-”
"This," said Dona Ceferina, "is not a thing to joke about. I ask you again, what does it mean?" She looked at me and looked at Don Feliciano.
Then for the first time she looked at Pepita, standing by herself. "Tell me what this means," she bade her.
There was a long pause then, while we all waited for Pepita's answer. I think Don Feliciano held his breath, as he looked at her and waited. I know I held my own. And Dona Ceferina's foot drummed on the flagstone of the path.
Pepita took her time at answering. But when at last the pause had grown portentous, she drew herself up a little, so that she stood very straight, and came and stood beside me, and laid her hand within my arm, and looked back very levelly at Dona Ceferina.
That domineering lady had her
For another long moment the eyes of the two contended. Then Dona Ceferina's fell. The hardness
melted from her face. She looked up once again, and Pepita's hand slipped from my arm. All at once her face was buried in Dona Ceferina's bosom, and the pair of them were crying! Don Feliciano and I furtively drew together and gripped hands in silence. The matter had gone beyond our province and our ken.
Suddenly Dona Ceferina raised her head and shook the tears impatiently from her eyes. "He's not half good enough for her," she said to us defiantly.
Don Feliciano and I knew she spoke the truth. But there was no use in being too abject, and besides, we both had hopes. So we did not answer her, but merely gripped each other's hands again.
But Dona Ceferina had forgotten us. "My dear, my dear," she was murmuring above Pepita's drooping head.
After that it was very quiet for a long while in the garden and in the town that lay all round about it. The sunlight beat warmly down upon it, the air lay motionless above it, and there was no sound but the eternal murmuring of the ripple on the beach beyond the palms.
But then one expects it to be always rather quiet in the little town called Happiness.
By FLORENCE NEVILL
The mystics are above all differences of doctrine and Church government. It was the love of our Lord that made the supreme inspiration of their lives. They stand out like planets bright with the glow from the sun. The fire of their love for the Christ transcends all their mistakes, burning on, a bright light for all Ages.
The interest awakened by reading the translation of the Franciscan Poet's culminates in the lecture on "the most popular and the most inspired of the poets of the Franciscan. order-the Blessed Jacopone da Todi."
This strange man was converted from a worldly life by the terrible accident that caused the death of his young wife and also the discovery of her grief over his sins shown by the wearing of a hair shirt. The brilliant lawyer gave up his profession, sold all his goods, distributing the money to the poor. With scorn of his former love of the world's applause, he courted the world's contempt, besides living in poverty to atone for his extravagance.
He wandered about like a madman for ten years, doing outrageous acts such as going "on all fours, saddled and bridled like a beast of burden," "appearing at a man's wedding bristling with feathers.
And yet the man was not really mad, he was perfectly aware he was acting like a madman. There was a strange idea in his mind that he would make an impression on the world, for he says, "y brother thinks he will render our name glorious by his magnificence, I hope to do so by my mad
It is not, however, surprising, that when after ten years of this erratic life he asked "to be admitted among the Brothers minor," he was required to give a proof of his sanity.
Jacopone therefore composed two essays, one in Latin and one in Italian. He was then admitted into the Order.
There are exquisite gems from Jacopone's writings given in “The Franciscan Poets.' Listen to this beautiful description representing Christ in search of a wandering soul.
The Angels. "O omnipotent Christ! on what quest are you? Why do you wander thus wretchedly like a pilgrim?"
Christ. "I have taken a bride to whom I had surrendered my heart. I decked her with jewels to win her honour, to my shame she has deserted Me. That is why I wander in grief and woe. I lent her my form and
"In order that all her virtues might be exercised, I wished the soul to have the body as a servant. It would have served her faithfully if she had not spurned it!
"I created for her all creatures, that she might have occasion to exercise her authority. She has made those benefits for which she ought to love Me the motive for her hostility towards Me."
The Angels. "Lord, if we find her and she wishes to return, may we tell her that Thou dost pardon her?"
Christ. "Bid My wife return and not suffer Me to die such a grievous death. For her I would die, so great is the love I bear her.
"With great joy I pardon her, I give her back the ornaments with which I had decked her .... I shall no longer remember all her crimes."
The Angels. "Sinful soul, bride of so great a Spouse, why is thy beautiful countenance so degraded? And why have you fled from Him Who would yield you so much love?"
The Soul. "When I think on His love I die of shame. He had placed
me in great honour, to what depths have I now fallen. O miserable death! how hast thou encompassed me?"
The Angels. "Ungrateful sinner, return to thy Lord. Do not despair: He dies, for love of thee....Do not doubt His welcome, and tarry no longer."
The Soul. "O compassionate Christ! where shall I find Thee, O my Love? Hide Thyself no longer, for I die of grief. If anyone has seen my Lord, may He tell me where he has found Him!"
The Angels. "We have found Him hanging on the Cross, we have left Him dead there, bruised by the blows. He wished to die for thee. He has paid a great price for thee."
The Soul. "As for me, I will lament with a heartfelt lamentation. It is love that has killed Thee, Thou hast died for love of me. O frenzied love, on what wood hast thou hanged Christ!"
Then turn to this terrible realistic picture of eternal punishment.
"Lord," says Satan, "Thou createdst this man according to Thy good pleasure, Thou grantedest him discretion and favour; yet he never kept one of Thy commandments. It is just that he should be rewarded by him whom he has served.
"He knew well what he was doing when he exacted usury, when he gave false measure to the poor.
"In my court he shall have such payment as is just.
"If he saw any company of dames and maidens, he would hasten to them with his instruments and new songs: in this way he seduced young people. In my court I have pages who will teach him to sing."
To the accusations of Satan the guardian angel adds his witness; the sentence is pronounced. The devils carry off the guilty one; they bind him fast by a great chain, and they lead him away harshly to hell. "Come," cries the escort armed with
to meet the
"come pitchforks, damned." All the dwellers of the infernal regions assemble, and the sinner is cast into the flames.
It was a cruel Age and its brutality was reflected in its belief. And yet the love of Christ shone brightly amid this distorted conception of god's justice.
It seems as if it was the consequence of sin in the infliction of cruel punishment that was feared, not the sin that was hated.
According to the mediaeval faith the Christ saved men from the punishment due to them for their sins. There is a great difference in the outlook; we wish to be delivered from the sin, the men of the thirteenth century appear to think chiefly of the consequence, loving our Lord for coming between them and the awful judgment.
Surely the love to Christ is the redeeming touch of that fearful belief in a revengeful God. The love glows through Jacopone's writings.
Listen to this beautiful passage on Divine Love.
"O Love, divine Love! Why hast Thou taken possession of me? Thou seemest to have become enamoured of me to the point of folly? I will give Thee no rest. Thou hast laid siege to my five doors: hearing, sight, taste, smell and touch.
"If I make use of the gate of sight, all that I see is love. In all shapes Thou hast imprinted Thyself, Thou are beneath all colours.......
"If I make use of the gate of hearing to find peace, what do all sounds symbolise to me? Always Thee, O Lord! And all that I hear tells only of love.
"If I make use of the gate of taste, or smell, or touch, I again find Thy image in all created things. Love, I am filled with the desire to escape Thee!
"Love, I flee, in order to release my heart from Thee. I see that Thou
dost transform me, and makest me to become a love so like Thee that I no longer dwell in my own heart, and I can no longer find my way back there.
"If I perceive in a man some evil, or vice, or temptation, I transform myself and nter into him; I penetrate to the depths of his frief. O boundless Love, what a miserable soul hast Thou undertaken to love!
"O dead Christ! lay Thy head upon me, draw me from the sea to the shore. Here Thou makest me to languish at the sight of Thy wounds. Oh! why hast Thou suffered them? Thou hast desired them in order to save me."
But the great treasure Jacopone has bequeathed to all Time is the wonderful poem, the Stabat Mater. The exquisite understanding of the Blessed Virgin's suering for her son is supreme in religious poetry for pathos and reverent feeling.
The Virgin's suffering for her son is given with wonderful reverence of feeling; then the note is struck of our own love and sorrow over our Lord. We ask the Virgin to share our suffering, for is not the Christ our brother? Is He not in His death, Humanity crucified; the eternal protest against evil, against wrong, shown forth on the cross. We are crucified with the Christ, in every suffering for the cause of true freedom for the everlasting right against the passing wrong. The victory of the Cross is ever being acted on the earth.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the translators of the Franciscan Poets' for bringing such an interesting account of Jacapone to our notice. The essays containing his life and selections from his writings are the most attractive in the book. There are gems taken from the thoughts of this wonderful man.
This is a very true saying:
"Science is a holy study, it is a vessel in which gold of the highest standard can be refined.
But a conventional theology has been the huin of many."
May we not echo the great man's thought? For does not conventionality make slaves of us all, when we yield to its standard?
Surely, the fervent love and unswerving faith of the Mystics are their gifts to all Ages. We have a wider outlook, a broader charity, a faith that has risen to an ideal of God that does not tally with an eternal and fiery hell or to believe that the Christ died to save us from His Father's wrath.
Yet the Mystics' faith and love to our Lord shine brighter than their terrible creed of a flaming hell. Yes, it outshines hell and brightens the unkonwn with love. O strange contradiction! O Love, that conquers and lives on forever. Our limitations pass away but Love remains.