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Evangelist. Willingly; though my power in behalf of others is only lent me from on high: but I will give you this ticket of recommendation, a few of which I keep for deserving applicants. And now that you are advancing so far on your road I will take my leave, bidding you God speed, and wishing you a safe and prosperous journey.
Paul. We part from you with regret, and thank you kindly for your friendly encouragement.
I saw then that he gave them the kiss of peace, and they separated. Both looked wistfully after him, and would fain he had continued longer in their company, but expressed their hopes of possibly meeting with him again before their travels were ooncluded.
Then said Luke to his companion,—" I wish my young sister could have come with us."
Paul. Did she feel any inclination to come on pilgrimage?
Luke. Yes, I think in her heart she did; but her aunt, Mrs. Indulgence, would not hear of it, thinking her not old enough, or strong enough, for so arduous an undertaking, and she being naturally rather timid, was persuaded to remain at home. But she made me promise, if I had opportunity, to write
ARROWS OF THE ENEMY. 11
and inform her of my welfare; for she is much attached to me, and we have never before been parted for any length of time, as you know.
Paul. Her aunt's, was, perhaps mistaken kindness; but time must remove one, and possibly both objections.
Now I perceived that they were within a few steps of the gate, and Luke said to his fellow,—" I pray you knock, for I feel in a tremble, and afraid I am not worthy to enter here, though I strongly desire it."
"Nay, good brother," said Paul, "have you so soon forgotten what our friend Evangelist said? Neither of us can expect or presume to get in by our own merits! And in the Holy Book we are told to ' work out our salvation with fear and trembling.' Be not discouraged, then; but as you wish it, and my hand is perhaps the steadiest, I will be the first to knock."
Whereupon he raised his arm for that purpose, but quickly withdrew it with an exclamation of surprise and pain, being suddenly struck in the wrist by an arrow from an unseen hand. "An enemy hath done this!" cried he; "it is one of the ' darts of the wicked.'" But, casting his eyes on the ground, he saw growing, at the foot of the gate, an herb called the "balm of meekness," some leaves of which he and Luke plucked, and applied them to the wound, which almost immediately began to heal; and while thus employed another arrow flew close by them, but missed its aim. Luke then took courage, and knocked, when a sweet voice was heard saying, "Fear not, my grace is sufficient for thee;" and presently the gate was opened to them by a dignified Person, with an aspect and manner so holy and benevolent that it inspired them with mingled awe and admiration. He inquired their names, and from whence they came, and they told him; then asked he if they met with any one on their way?
"Yes," said Paul, "we met one Evangelist, who was kind to us, and gave us his company for a space."
"And he it was," said Luke, "who guided us to this gate."
"But," said the Man, "how may I know that ye speak truly? for in this land are many impostors."
But this he said to prove their tempers, and how they could brook suspicion, for his superior discernment enabled him easily to distinguish truth from falsehood.
ADMITTANCE WITHIN THE GATE. 13
Paul answered humbly, that Evangelist gave them a certificate; and, turning to Luke, asked him to shew it (as to him it was given).
Luke felt for it in the folds of his vest, where he had placed it when received from the good Evangelist: he searched, but it was not there. A blush of shame suffused his countenance, which, though unmixed with guilt, might to some observers have borne its appearance. "Careless and thoughtless that I am!" cried he; "I cannot find it."
Whilst, with downcast eyes, he was considering how he could have lost it, suddenly he espied it partly hidden under the leaves of the herb, where, while stooping down togethej (his thoughts intent on his suffering companion), it had doubtless fallen unheeded from his bosom; he caught it up joyfully and presented it to the keeper, who quickly perused it, and with a gracious smile bade them enter, which they did with gladness. Then he brought them into a pleasant summer-house adjoining the gate, where he desired them to tarry awhile; "for ye have walked far," said he, "and are 'weary, and I will give you rest.'" They willingly obeyed, for they were quite weary on arriving at the gate, the kind keeper of which also invited them to sup with him. They did so, and never had they tasted food so refreshing. Their entertainer, observing Paul's wrist, asked if he had hurt it? He told him it was struck by an arrow, just as they were about to knock for admittance; but they could not tell by whom it was shot.
"Did ye not," said the other, "observe a high wall at a short distance from the road?"
They said they believed there was one, though they did not notice it particularly.
"On the other side of it," replied the keeper, " is the abode of an old and inveterate enemy of pilgrims, and from thence he privily shoots at all whom he sees approach, or in some way endeavours to deter them from entering here; and so he will continue to do, for he is eager for his prey, 'as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.'"
"How thankful should we feel," said Paul, "that we have escaped him, and are safe in this sanctuary! But does he often succeed in entrapping those who arrive as close at the gate as we were?"
"His cunning," answered the keeper, "is equal to his malice, and the nearer his victims advance to the gate, the more is he bent on turning them from it."