« AnteriorContinuar »
of pilgrims, so lately travelling together in affectionate concord, reduced to only the original two whom I had seen set out from their native Town of Trouble, in the morning of Life and Hope !
In dreams one cannot judge of the lapse of time, but to me it appeared that all these sad events passed before my eyes, one after another, more quickly than the actors in a tragedy make their several exits from the stage : and possibly it may have appeared no longer to those who were gone, after they passed into the caverns, but not before. And soon, thought I, the curtain must drop on the two remaining performers in this drama, who pursued their melancholy way, each endeavouring to give consolation to the other; and thus, by sympathy, lightening in some degree their mutual woe. Luke was the most dejected of the two.
“ Alas!” cried he, throwing his arm round the neck of his first and last fellow-traveller, should also be taken from me, I fear that despair would overwhelm me as much as if I had sunk to the bottom of the Slough of Despond' at the commencement of our pilgrimage.”
“ But you must try not to give way to it, dearest brother,” said Paul ; " for we ought not to
if you PAUL AND LUKE AGAIN ALONE !
as those without hope.' Is there not a promise that through the grave and gate of death we shall pass to our joyful resurrection ?"
Luke. Your counsel is always dictated by kindness as well as wisdom, and that we are still together is my chief earthly comfort; but how long may this last? You had ever more strength of mind than I, and therefore would be likely to bear being left alone at the last with more fortitude than I should. But I fear I am an ungrateful being, for, till lately, my journey through this Land of Imperfection has been replete with mercies; and the earth could not be, as it is, a place of probation, if our sojourn in it were to pass like one long summer's day. No one can or should expect it.
Paul. Any more than we can expect the sea to look every day as bright and calm as we now and frequently see it, when only yesterday how black, rough, and stormy it was ! Nothing (as we then remarked) to relieve the eye but the white, dazzling wing of the sea-gull, soaring between the dark, roaring waves and the still darker clouds; yet did we neither of us imagine that it was never to clear up any more.
Thus did the pilgrim friends discourse, till the sombre colouring of their thoughts began to infect my own mind with its gloomy hue. I was, therefore, relieved and gratified when I found that poor Luke's fearful anticipations were, like those of his departed sister, premature; for, by a merciful casualty, the citation to appear in the caverns of Death was given them simultaneously as well as suddenly.
Both were taken thither together, and methought I entered with them. On finding themselves inside, the darkness was so intense that they could not at all see each other. An icy chill struck to their very bones, and their teeth chattered audibly. They walked close together, linked by the arms, lest they should lose one another, for the damp slippery ground seemed to descend, and they feared to fall into some pit.
“And is this to be the termination of all our travels?” exclaimed Luke.
I thought his spirits were again sinking into despondency, but I was mistaken; he bore up against that feeling more bravely than when on the outside of the cavern. They were obliged to grope
way cautiously, unknowing whither they went, and fearing at every step to tread on some noisome reptile.
In answer to his companion's last remark, Paul desired him to look steadily forward; to which the
CAVERNS OF DEATH.
other replied, " that when his eyes were wide open he could see no more than when they were shut.”
“ But try once more," reiterated Paul, “ and look right a-head."
He did so, and presently could discern the glimmer of what appeared to be a far-distant star. Faint as was its light, this gave them some hope, and they kept it constantly in view, till by-and-by, as they advanced, it seemed to become larger and clearer. On proceeding further they also saw, a good way off on their left, a dull, flickering, lurid flame, apparently on the ground, and at the same time each thought he perceived a slight smell of sulphur. They fancied it like the mouth of a volcano; however, neither of them feeling any wish to examine it more particularly, they kept on their course, though, with rather a shuddering sensation, inclining to the right. And now the light in front of them so evidently increased that Paul judged it must be an opening from the vast cavern wherein they were imprisoned.
“Oh, that it may be so !” exclaimed Luke,
In a short time, as I saw in my dream, the doubt became a certainty. “You are right, indeed!" cried Luke, in the first tone of joy I heard him utter for a long time. And he was not disappointed, for at last I saw them arrive at the opening. But in what words can I describe their delight at the sudden change it presented to the sight! No wonder it had looked brilliant, even from the distance at which they had first beheld it, foron emerging from the dismal caves the glorious sunshine almost blinded their eyes. Just before them stood a magnificent golden gate, and along the top of it were wreaths, whose leaves and flowers were formed of emeralds, amethysts, opals, and sapphires, wrought by no mortal hand. Beyond this gate, which, being of an exquisitely transparent pattern, could easily be seen through, appeared the most beautiful trees and plants, unlike any they had ever hitherto seen, and emitting odours which far surpassed the fragrance of earth's rarest flowers and shrubs. The ear as well as the eye was also charmed by sounds of the most enchanting music.
• Surely this is the garden of Eden!” exclaimed Luke; “ but its gates are shut!”
" They are the gates of Paradise," responded a voice, the sweetest they had ever heard, “and shall be opened to you, if you can shew your title to admittance."
They looked up, and an angel stood before them! In a tremor of joyful hope they produced the