Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
way, by another. I was a fool both times. To have yielded then
would have been an error of principle; to have yielded now would
have been an error of judgment. So I think at this hour, when I look
back to the crisis through the quiet medium of time: I was
unconscious of folly at the instant.
I stood motionless under my hierophant’s touch. My refusals were
forgottenmy fears overcome-my wrestlings paralysed. The
Impossible-i.e., my marriage with St. John-was fast becoming the
Possible. All was changing utterly with a sudden sweep. Religion
called-Angels beckoned-God commanded-life rolled together like
a scroll-death’s gates opening, showed eternity beyond: it seemed,
that for safety and bliss there, all here might be sacrificed in a
second. The dim room was full of visions.
‘Could you decide now?’ asked the missionary. The inquiry was
put in gentle tones: he drew me to him as gently. Oh, that
gentleness! how far more potent is it than force! I could resist St.
John’s wrath: I grew pliant as a reed under his kindness. Yet I
knew all the time, if I yielded now, I should not the less be made to
repent, some day, of my former rebellion. His nature was not
changed by one hour of solemn prayer: it was only elevated.
‘I could decide if I were but certain,’ I answered: ‘were I but
convinced that it is God’s will I should marry you, I could vow to
marry you here and now-come afterwards what would!’ ‘My
prayers are heard!’ ejaculated St. John. He pressed his hand firmer
on my head, as if he claimed me: he surrounded me with his arm,
almost as if he loved me (I say almost-I knew the difference-for I
had felt what it was to be loved; but, like him, I had now put love
out of the question, and thought only of duty). I contended with
my inward dimness of vision, before which clouds yet rolled. I
sincerely, deeply, fervently longed to do what was right; and only
that. ‘Show me, show me the path!’ I entreated of Heaven. I was
excited more than I had ever been; and whether what followed was
the effect of excitement the reader shall judge.
All the house was still; for I believe all, except St. John and myself,
were now retired to rest. The one candle was dying out: the room
was full of moonlight. My heart beat fast and thick: I heard its
throb. Suddenly it stood still to an inexpressible feeling that
thrilled it through, and passed at once to my head and extremities.
The feeling was not like an electric shock, but it was quite as sharp,
as strange, as startling: it acted on my senses as if their utmost
activity hitherto had been but torpor, from which they were now
summoned and forced to wake. They rose expectant: eye and ear
waited while the flesh quivered on my bones.