Irene the Missionary
To a young person of Irene Grant’s studious and imaginative nature, it was probably a developing and educating providence that she had grown up in the bookish tranquillity of a country parsonage.
At all events, she had reason to be thankful that the loneliness and quietude of her girlish life had led her to pass much time in her father’s library, and to read there more of history than most young ladies know. The result of this poring over Plutarch, Rollin, and the Classical Dictionary was that now, as she sailed through the Ægean, with the sable mountain shores of Ionia on one hand, and the many-hued, abrupt Cyclades on the other, she saw far more than was visible to the naked eye. She saw races and kingdoms and glories of famous ages; she saw the grace and splendor and power of Hellas and Persia and Rome; she saw the sublime past brooding over the beautiful present.
Ever since she had sighted the Old World it had been a magic voyage. All the way from Gibraltar to Smyrna, in the dear old bark Sultana, and then from Smyrna onward hither, in the steamer Imperatore, it had been a cruise through the marvelous, the venerably ancient, the sublimely illustrious. The young woman — this rather unusual young woman—was in a continual tremor of enthusiasm. I mean what I say: it was no pretense of interest and excitement; it was honest and profound feeling. Even her sedate friend, Mr. Wesley Payson, veteran Orientalist and zealous classical scholar as he was, occasionally smiled at the emotion which she showed when he pointed out to her some site which great deeds or thoughts had made honorable forever.
“ Halicarnassus!” she had exclaimed, looking reverently up the deep, solemn bay, at the head of which once stood the mother of historians. “ Was Halicarnassus there ? ”
“ Yes, and truly,” he replied. “ There Herodotus was born, and Dionysius. It is very impressive to be reminded of it. What does the world not owe to those narrators of the origins of the two greatest of uninspired peoples! ”
Then he watched with grave and kindly interest to see how steadily and reverently she gazed toward the seat of the vanished city, shrouded among the funereal mountains of the Ionian shore.
“We are such butterflies! ” she said at last. “ I am such a mere fleeting insect compared with these names which will last so long ! ”
It was the old complaint of the individual human entity over its own unimportance and ephemerality. Mr. Payson remembered with sympathy that in his youthful days he had often secretly indulged in like bemoaning.
“ Everything here is so old and so great,” Irene continued, turning to him with a smile, — a smile which was sad, and which yet apologized for being sad. “The mountains look like giants who will live forever. And we are so little,— the very steamer is so little. It seems as if these headlands and islands might step out and trample it into the sea. ”
“ The Maker of these great scenes must be very great,” said Mr. Payson, with a beautiful expression of loving reverence. “ I would, Irene, that my dear friend, your wise and devout father, could have looked upon this majesty. He would have found a noble joy in it.”
The young lady turned slightly away, leaned her elbows on the high bulwarks, and pressed one hand against her face. It was evident that her father had been taken from her, and not long since. When she removed her hand and lifted her eyes once more toward the Asian mountains, she had an air of enforced composure and resignation which was full of tragic dignity. A young man who stood not far off, furtively but earnestly gazing at her, thought that he had never seen a more noble and touching expression.
It must be explained that, even in her ordinary moods, she was handsome enough to attract notice. Her figure was a little above the usual womanly height, rather slender than otherwise, and very graceful in carriage. Her eyes and hair were dark brown; her features fairly regular, and the face a plump oval; her complexion a clear, healthy, medium brunette, without color. Her smile came infrequently, and as it were shyly, but it curled her upper lip in a peculiarly engaging way, and it was not only arch but very charming. Her dress was a plain black traveling suit, with trimmings which indicated a late bereavement. In short, she was so attractive that the young gentleman above mentioned felt drawn to approach her traveling companion and engage him in conversation.
“ I see that you are an American,” he said. " Will you allow me to introduce myself as a countryman ? My name is DeVries, — Hubertseu DeVries, of Albany.”
“Dear sir, I am delighted to see you,” replied Mr. Payson, shaking hands with a cordiality which evidently surprised the other. " Are you related to Mrs. Killian DeVries? Her son ? I am most happy to meet you. I stayed at your mother’s godly house last summer for two weeks. I was at the meeting of the American Board of Foreign Missions, and I had the good fortune to be her guest. She told me — I remember it now — that she had a son in Europe. What a providential circumstance that I should be led to find you! You must be my guest in Syria.”
But we will pass over the dislocated and wandering conversation of a first interview, and state at once that DeVries promptly became an intimate acquaintance. of the Payson party. In twelve hours he learned all their simple histories, and told them something of his own unimportant adventures. It appeared that Mr. Payson had been for twenty years a missionary in the Levant, and that Mrs. Payson was but a late addition to his sedate circle of interests.
“I had striven for a long time to follow the example of a far worthier than I,” he said, referring of course to St. Paul. " But,” he added with a smile, " the brethren in Syria thought it would be better for the mission if I would take a wife, I neither assented nor refused. But, as I had not once been home, I agreed to ask for a year’s absence, leaving that other matter in the hands of Providence. It was well — it was every way well—that I did so. It was best for me, although I had no right to claim that. I was led to meet and to admire and to seek a person who has greatly increased my happiness, and who is dearer to me than any other visible object in this most beautiful earth. But I am talking of myself,” he subjoined, with his sweet, child-like smile, tinted now with an expression of apology. “It is a very unworthy subject, even for myself ”
“ No, you were talking of Mrs. Payson,” replied DeVries. " And that is not an unworthy subject.”
“We are one,” said the missionary, still smiling. “ I am thankful for it, but I must not prattle about it. We are all like children, bragging of our own toys. To keep my tongue off from mine requires a struggle. Up to a certain point I think the Arab is right in begging your pardon if he has to mention his wife. His defect is that he does it in a spirit of scorn for woman, instead of modesty as to his own affairs and belongings.”
It is difficult to say whether DeVries, a handsome fellow of not more than twenty-six, was most puzzled or amused by this simple-hearted devotion, which found it difficult not to boast of a wife who was well past thirty, whose comeliness was already a little too plump and matronly, whose amiable discourse was shy and hesitating almost to stammering, and who was so doubtful of her own power to interest that she frequently broke off her sentences with an apologetic giggle. Mrs. Payson was clearly a very earnestly good and very sweettempered lady, with a strong instinct toward caring for others at the expense of her own repose and comfort. But she was not the kind of creature—so our pretty and wealthy young gentleman thought—to excite a husband to sinful vainglory. He decided that the subject was to be dropped, not merely as a forbidden one to Mr. Payson, but also as an uninteresting one to himself.
“ And you are taking out Miss Grant as a missionary,” he said, turning to a more alluring topic. “ It is too bad.”
“ How so? ” asked the clergyman, with a gentle glance of surprise.
DeVries colored as the young do when they become conscious that they have committed a blunder. “ Excuse me,” he apologized, " I spoke absent-mindedly. But, really, is n’t she too young to be buried away in these savage lands? I want to say, too nice; but then I don’t mean to insinuate that you are not nice.”
“ No, — no, — no,” slowly returned the missionary, with touching solemnity, his eyes meanwhile resting on the coast of sublime mountains. " We are none of us too good or too fair to labor for the Maker of this most beautiful world.”
“ Exactly ! ” DeVries bowed, with both politeness and embarrassment. " I admit that, of course. And yet ” —
“ I understand you,” said the missionary. " She is very young and very engaging. She would be a grace and a pleasure to any society. It seems at first glance wrong to drag such a fair and happy young thing from civilization down to the companionship of semi-barbarism. But consider what she comes for, what her errand is in these regions. However, I will not enlarge upon the worthiness of mission work; I presume that you will concede, that. She conceded it. I did not urge it upon her. Far be it from me to lay such a duty upon any young head! The dear child came with the full purpose of her own sweet soul. So I trust.”
He paused, sighed deeply as if over some painful recollection, and then proceeded: " Moreover, this is her retuge; this venture is her flight from sorrow, — from deep sorrow enhanced by poverty. I must tell you a little of her story. It will explain to you how she came to leave her native land, and how I was brought to share the responsibility of her great step. She is a child of my old college room-mate and dear friend, John Grant. He was my best earthly friend. Let me tell you what a friend he was: he was my guide to Calvary. I passed twenty years of my life without a knowledge of the Saviour of men,” he added, with an expression of self-reproach which almost amounted to horror. " That these eyes ever looked up to the cross is owing, under Heaven, to John Grant. Do you think,” he asked fervidly, his grave, light blue eyes filling with tears, — " do you think that I, under inexpressible and eternal obligations to that precious, departed friend, would do one thing or say one word which would lead his child to take up a load which, for aught I knew, might be too great for her ? I did not dare to counsel her. I neither said come, nor stay. I left it all with the Master of all. I laid it before him incessantly with secret prayers, and I am not ashamed to say with tears. She was his creature. What right had I to say what she should do? Well, she came. I hope and venture to believe that it is for the best.”
DeVries was profoundly awed. Here were thoughts, here was a life of beliefs and feelings, with which he had naught whatever to do, and which seemed sublimely and even fearfully above him. He remained gravely silent, as men are apt to do who see quite another world open, and who feel that they are not worthy to enter therein.
“ Ah, my poor friend! ” resumed Mr. Payson, after a pause of reminiscence. “What a struggling, anxious, sorrowful life he had of it at the last! It is wonderful how even the choicest gold of earth must be tried for its more complete purification. But I am intruding this subject upon you.”
DeVries, who felt reverentially subjugated by the topic, as well as compassionately interested in it, begged him to go on.
“ I shall be short,” said the missionary. " Grant lost his health, and as a consequence lost his parish. It seems cruel thus to abandon a pastor who has fallen in watching his sheep. But let us not judge. I do not perhaps know how much another pastor was needed. It was all done in my absence; and in my absence, too, he died. There was no money. He had had five mouths to fill, and he had sought to educate his three girls thoroughly, and so had laid up nothing in this world. I reached home to find him in his grave, and his family in sore destitution.”
He paused a moment, as if dwelling upon sorrowful scenes, not to be rehearsed. The piteous suppression, the decorous reserve of his manner of narration, made it the more affecting.
“ I hope something was done for them,” said DeVries, with the impatience of strong sympathy.
“ Kind friends, who became informed of their case, came to their aid,” replied Mr. Payson, still keeping back much,— his own help. “ The mother has now a position, the matronship of a hospital, for which she is fitted admirably. When I last heard from her she was evidently finding consolation in her labors. Thanks be to that mercy which has turned the curse of toil into a blessing! ”
“ I am glad that Miss Grant is with you,” said the young man, looking up with reverence, and with a strange sense of gratitude also, into that worn, grave, sweet countenance.
“ I hope and I trust that it will be for her good and for the good of many. The mission has rarely been endowed with so fine an intellect. I do not speak of her conversation. She is young and shy. But there is the making of a scholar in that girl; and a woman who can educate her sex is needed among us; educated women are the great need of Syria.”
“ And what has become of the two sisters? ” inquired DeVries, who could not hear enough about these Grants.
“ They are still at school, — the one eighteen, the other sixteen. They are being supported while they study and ripen for teachers.”
DeVries wondered if they were as pretty as Irene, and if he should ever meet them. He would have been glad to win some interest from Miss Grant herself, but in the sanctity of her chosen career she seemed removed from him, and almost beyond his ambition. Yes, somewhat to his surprise, and perhaps a little to his annoyance, it appeared to him that this poor clergyman’s daughter was above him, and had been so adjudged by one of the saints who are to judge the earth.
It is curious how formidable a person may be to other people without suspecting it, and while, in fact, holding them in awe.
Any one who has the least knowledge of human nature will divine that Irene Grant was much more afraid of Hubertsen DeVries than he could be afraid of her. I think that country youth is almost always shyly humble, or else shyly defiant, in the presence of city youth.
I suspect also that in our American society there is no young gentleman so grand and so redoubtable in the eyes of a poor girl as the young gentleman who has a great deal of money. No matter for native dignity, for conscious worth of character, for noble or even sacred purposes in life. They all seem to fail, alas, and to hide diminished countenances, in presence of a fact which appeals to the natural desires and strong needs of feminine nature. Money is power, and therefore aristocracy; moreover, it means decoration, beautifulness, and the gratification of vanity; finally, it shields one from bitter labor and the world’s roughnesses and scorns. Even when a girl does not distinctly state to herself any one of these things, and will not harbor a purpose to appropriate whatever fortune walks incarnate into her presence, she finds it difficult not to be vaguely oppressed by it. Society aids the magic; elder ladies cast meaning glances; young comrades whirl around the golden candlestick; the drift is toward the glitter.
I wish it to be perfectly understood that Irene was merely afraid of her wealthy young traveling companion. She had not a desire nor even a thought of fascinating him. On the contrary, she had a painful belief that even to interest him, to make his time pass agreeably, was beyond her power.
But this embarrassment in his society, this despondent shyness which almost amounted to aversion, rapidly melted away under his persistent gentleness and courtesy. DeVries had been affected by the pathos and simple eloquence of Mr. Payson in rehearsing the sorrows of the Grant family. The imagination and magnanimity of youth had been aroused in him. He had day-dreams on the subject. He pictured himself as belonging to John Grant’s parish, and as preventing him from being turned away homeless. He had plans in his head for endowing the orphans, and for relieving the widow from her enforced toil. As to Irene there present, he longed to be a consolation to her, and was tenderly glad when he could make her smile. He was so kind, and above all he was so delicately courteous, that she marveled at his sweet manners, and marveled too why he should be so good to her. The result was that in a day’s acquaintance she not only lost her sense of embarrassment and her shy defiance, but gained confidence to prattle with him as unconstrainedly as if he were an old friend.
The motley deck-load of passengers, consisting largely of Moslem pilgrims bound to Mecca, and of Christian pilgrims bound to Jerusalem, was an inexhaustible source of amusement and conversation, and afforded small adventures which seemed very great to this novice in travel.
“It is like Noah’s ark, leaving out the animals,” she said, glancing over the variously vestured huddles of humanity.
“Yes, the descendants of Shem and Ham and Japhet are here,” replied DeVries, whose favorite science was ethnology.
At this moment a dwarfish old pilgrim, with a long silver beard and a wonderfully white, wilted visage, his lean little figure attired from head to foot in sheep-skin raiment, stepped up to the young man, bowed down almost to the deck, and made him an address in some hyperborean tongue.
“What does he say?” exclaimed Trene, her brown eyes sparkling with wonder and curiosity.
“I wish I knew,” answered DeVries, looking about him for an interpreter.
A slight, dark man, badly dressed in European costume, raised his hat, and asked, " Parla Lei l'Italiano?” (Do you speak Italian?)
“Si, signore,” said the young man.
Irene glanced at him with respect and admiration. Her education and the opinion of the society in which she had been reared caused her to reverence learned people, and such she held linguists to be. Moreover, she had studied Italian a little; and she thought it the most beautiful of all languages, and looked with envy upon those who could speak it.
“I have been in Russia,” explained the swarthy man, handling the lingua Toscana like one foreign to it, at least in its purity. " This pilgrim says that you look like the prince to whom he belongs, and he wants to know if you are the prince’s son; for he says the prince has a son who is traveling, and he thinks he is going to Jerusalem.”
Irene understood the word principe and the word figlio, and she guessed therefrom the meaning of the sentence. She looked up at DeVries again with a smile of satisfaction. He was tall and blonde and handsome, and surely he had a very noble bearing. It was quite natural that he should be taken for the son of a Russian prince; and to the young lady who leaned upon his arm it was somehow very agreeable.
“Tell him, if you please, that I have not that honor,” said the American. “Many thanks for translating.”
There were a few words in Russian between the dark man and the milkyfaced patriarch. Then the latter turned to DeVries and uttered another lengthy discourse, speaking to him directly and with a composed volubility, as if he could not believe in any barrier of language.
“ He apologizes for speaking to a prince,” explained the interpreter. “ He says he hopes that you will get to Jerusalem and see his young lord, and that he will see him also.”
The patriarch listened with turned face to the strange speech, shook his capoted head sadly over his failure to comprehend, and then, with another wonderfully low salutation, moved away. The patience in his ancient, withered face, as he took his stand by the bulwark, and settled his pale - blue, eyes southward, — this simple, ignorant, longsuffering patience of waiting for the sight of the Holy City, — was something truly pathetic.
“ What wide countries he has traversed, of which he knows nothing! ” said DeVries. “ Will he ever get back? ”
“ He has perhaps come as far as I have, or something like it,” sighed Irene. “ He may be a Siberian.”
“ And will you ever get back? ” asked the young man, bending upon her a look of pity.
She shook her head. That woful query had been in her mind, but she did not wish to talk of it, and perhaps could not.
“I don’t want you to shake your head and purse up your lips,” he insisted. “ I want to know plainly what you think and feel about it.”
She smiled archly. She was determined not to be frank and serious on this subject. Solemn speech about it might end in crying before twenty nationalities.
“I have settled on the very day,” she said. “ When I have done twentyfive years’ work here, when I am a grave, middle-aged lady with a white frontlet,
I will go home and attend a meeting of the American Board. You shall be there, and subscribe liberally, especially for the Syrian mission.”
“I won’t do it,” he replied. “If you will turn round and go back this year, I ’ll come down with something handsome.”
” Oh, no; you know I can't,” she said, turning more serious. “ Can’t you understand that I don’t want to talk of it? How shabby, too, for me to be prattling about myself when I have such a world around me, — such a strange world of scenery and people! Look at the old Russian! He is still gazing toward Jerusalem. I begin to think that a people with such enthusiasm will get there some day.”
“ They reached Jerusalem once,” observed DeVries. “ They may reach it again.”
“ I don’t remember that they ever reached it.”
“ The Skythians,” explained the ethnologist. He was on his favorite science now, and could not help talking of if. It must be remembered, moreover, that he had a high respect for Miss Grant’s intellect, and that he wished to secure her respect and admiration for himself, even at the risk of seeming pedantic.
“ Herodotus,” he continued, “ says that the Skythians who pursued the Kimmerians out of Europe penetrated as far as the frontiers of Egypt. It is almost certain, in my humble opinion, that the Skythians of Europe were Sklavonians. The later Greek writers say that in their time the Skythians or Skoloti of Herodotus were called Sklabenoi. What is that but Sklavonian? ”
Irene was at least as much Confounded by his scholarship as will be the ordinary ignorant believer in the Turanian origin of the Skythians. She looked up at him with pretty, reverential surprise, and judged that he could answer any query which she knew enough to propose.
“ And the man who translated for you? ” she asked. “ I thought he stammered a little in Italian. What is he? ”
“A Maltese, — a descendant of the Carthaginians,” said the ethnologist. “ Don’t you believe it? The Arabic of Malta is the same with the Arabic of Tunis, and they are neither of them pure Arabic. They are quite as much like Hebrew; and Hebrew, as we know from the Phœnician inscriptions, was the Punic tongue; it was the language of Canaan, spoken by the Jews as well as by most of their neighbors,”
“ How much more interesting the East is for knowing its history!” said Irene, full of a bookish girl’s gratitude for such lessons, and not in the least, questioning their soundness. “I should think you would stay here for years and investigate everything.”
“I mean to investigate something. I am going to Philistia to dig up the old Philistines.”
“ What! to prove that they were not nine feet high? Oh, Mr. DeVries! You might be in more useful business.”
“ You are thinking of the Anakims,” he smiled, glad to have her scold him; it seemed so intimate. “ Please excuse me for being so particular and sensitive about my pet subject, and for being so long-winded as I shall be. I am like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner; I know the man who must hear me, and the young lady also. No, I don’t propose to settle the stature of the Anakims, who were quite another people from the Philistines, though for a time under their rule. What I want to decide is whether the Philistines proper — the race sometimes called Cherethites — were of European origin. Some German scholars are now of that opinion. There is a little proof of it. It seems to be reasonable to identify them with certain broods of pirates and invaders who appear on the Egyptian monuments as making landings from their ships on the coasts of Egypt and Palestine. Those broods, it is supposed, came from Crete, from the Grecian islands in general, and even from continental Hellas. What if I could dig up ruins, pottery, ornaments, and inscriptions, showing that the little people which enslaved Israel and slew Saul was a colony of the. same people which destroyed Ilium! Why, there is a possibility that young warriors who fought against Hector may have fought as middle-aged men on Mount Gilboa, The idea sets my imagination in a blaze, and positively keeps me awake of nights. I want to prove it.”
“ Oh, dear, I wish yon could; I hope you will!” answered Irene, enthusiastically. She too loved the Greeks, and wanted to trace them into Bible history, which she also loved.
Then there was a cry of interest on the densely populated forecastle of the steamer. Hands were seen pointing over the shining sea, which stretched placidly southward, and the word land was repeated from mouth to mouth in many languages.
“It is Rhodes,” called Mrs. Payson, who was tottering eagerly toward them through the motley groups, now likely to fall upon a sprawling Christian, and now to crush a true believer. She came up, out of breath, smiling in her amiable, shy way, and a little spasmodic about the corners of the mouth. “ It is really the famous island of the Colossus,” she added, and then giggled a little, as if apologizing for her enthusiasm. “Mr. Payson says so,” she added, quoting her husband, a common habit with her.
“ Oh, why does n’t he come on deck and see it!” exclaimed Irene, rustling toward the cabin gangway in such haste that she nearly upset a Cossack’s dinner of black bread crumbed in a wooden bowl of water.
“Don’t call him,” begged the considerate wife, reverent of her lord’s slightest occupations, — a wife of the old school. “ He is talking Hebrew with a Jewish rabbi. He never misses a chance to practice Hebrew. But be will go on shore with us.”
“ Oh, on shore! " cried Irene. “ Among the knights! ”
“ And among the Romans ! ” echoed DeVries.
“And the Greeks!” laughed Irene. “ Perhaps you will find a Philistine, Every day is more wonderful than the last.”
“ And the to-morrow more wonderful than all.”
“ I should think you were both mad,” said Mrs. Payson, confounded by what she had perhaps never known, the animal spirits of youth.
“ It is much learning which has made me mad,” returned Irene, quoting Scripture with freedom, as ministers’ children do.
Here she looked at DeVries, and they both laughed again, sorely puzzling serious, amiable Mrs. Payson. Then they mounted settees, the young man holding the girl by the arm, and strained their eyes over the glassy, gleaming sea, and pointed out to each other a low mound of hazy azure.
That afternoon of Irene’s in Rhodes, could it only have been preserved and put away like choice wine, would be such a draught of happiness as any of us might rejoice to purchase. It was a gladness merely to look around upon the little magic cup of a harbor, illustrious with memories as numerous as its ripples of bright sea-water, and crowded with spectral galleons and argosies. How eloquently the small surges babbled of ancient freedom, commerce, art, and valor, as they tossed along the sides of lateensailed coasters, or foamed against the base of ruinous moles and fortifications!
It was a sort of pocket haven, quite wonderfully small for its age and glory, and quite surprisingly bare of anything that deserved the name of shipping. Irene could scarcely believe that here memorable navies had sheltered themselves, and that here valiant men and great captains had won at least imperishable renown. The common notion that the Colossus bestrode the whole of that straitened entrance seemed hardly an extravagance. Black, venerable, weather-beaten stones, dislocated by unnumbered tempests and adversities, received their feet at the landing-place. Lean, yellow, ragged Jows cringed and whined to them for alms, and supple, fawning, smiling Greeks offered them bronze coins and statuettes. Mr. Payson distributed a few piastres among the mendicants, gently waived away the hawkers of doubtful antiquities, and led on into the depopulated, silent little city. Irene had never before seen nor imagined such an architectural wilderness. Its bareness of men and its tomblike stillness were inexpressibly solemnizing and pathetic. When the begging and the huckstering had fairly dropped away from the travelers, they were as much alone as if they had been threading a country lane. And yet they were in a solidly built street of a capital which had for ages teemed with life and movement and riches, and had more than once been dreaded for its warlike power.
It seemed to Irene that she was walking through a cemetery. She felt as if it would be indecorous and unfeeling to tread here with hasty feet. Almost unconsciously she lagged behind Mr. and Mrs. Payson, accompanied only by DeVries. “ How can they go so fast! ” she said to him. “ I wish they would n’t. ”
“ We shall not lose them in the crowd,” he smiled.
“ It is pitiful,” she continued, glancing about. the untenanted, sombre streets. “ I want leisure to pity this forsaken city. I have hardly ever in my life seen anything so mournful.”
“ What a government it must be that can reduce such a country to such a condition!” was the comment of the male republican. “How much longer will the civilized world have patience with it? ”
Irene, who was not a voter and a statesman, remained in her mood of sentiment. “ Oh,” she said, “ shall you ever forget this day? ”
He looked at her, thought she had a very lovely poetical expression, and replied, “ I shall have more than one reason for remembering it.”
He supposed that she would understand his allusion, and his heart beat a little quicker than usual, veteran young beau as he was. But Irene was meeker and more innocent than he thought, and did not easily divine a compliment, or suspect a flirtation. Moreover, the sight of ruin was newer to her than to him, and had not yet lost any whit of its melancholy magic. In reply to his speech she sighed, “Yes, indeed,” and continued to gaze about the decayed city. Her air of tender and reverent possession brought DeVries back to a sympathy with fallen Rhodes.
“ It reminds one of a bit of Persian poetry,” he said. “The spider spins his web in the palaces of Kaiser, and the owl stands sentinel on the towers of Afrasiâb.”
“ How could a Persian write anything so beautiful! ” exclaimed Irene.
“ They have had misfortunes and glories enough. It is a noble race, which has suffered unnumbered calamities, as well as done great deeds.”
At this moment they heard a call in front, and perceived that their companions were awaiting them.
“We are about to enter the Street of Palaces,” said Mr. Payson. “ You will see, over many of the gate-ways, the blazonries of the grand masters and the chiefest nobles of the Order of St. John. They were earnest men, great in soul and deed; they spent their lives for the faith in which they believed. No doubt they had their errors of doctrine and of practice; but the world is a nobler world because they lived. I would that the Christianity of to-day had more of their self-sacrifice and singleness of purpose. Even their enemies and the haters of their religion reverenced them. Three centuries and a half ago they were driven forth by the Turk, and yet he has left their carved blazonries undefaced.”
A gently curving street, of considerable length and perhaps twenty-five feet in width, stretched before the sight-seers. On either side of it rose a massive wall of noble mansions, all the more dignified because their hewn masonry was gnawed by time and blackened by neglect, and clothed as it were in solemnity by their uniform aspect of desertion. Excepting two or three open doors and a few shattered window-shutters flying ajar, there was not a sign of inhabitation. The chance passer-by, or the doleful creatures of the wilderness, might have entered in and dwelt, without disturbance. One was tempted to say, ” These are palaces built by Jinns for the abode of the princes of the air.” They could hardly have been more destitute of all sign of humanity if they had stood in the midst of a desert. The ancient, well-worn, dust-mantled street was also a solitude; as far as eye could reach there was not a man nor even a beast visible. Down upon this scene of desolation looked the lordly blazons of the knights and grand masters, as if the ghosts whom they memorialized held full possession of all.
“ Don’t you half wish that you had lived in those days ? ” said Irene to DeVries.
“Just now I quite wish it,” he replied.
They were bewitched, as young Americans are apt to be, by the spectacle of nobility in ruins.
“ You would have had nothing to do here, Irene,” said Mrs. Payson. “The knights were bachelors, I believe. Ladies had no career under them.”
“ I don’t see that their bachelorhood would have hindered. I could have been a nurse in the hospitals.”
” You are to be a nurse, I trust, in the great hospital of souls,” remarked Mr. Payson. “ We can all be nurses in that, wherever we are. It is a hospital which covers the earth.”
“Ah, yes, I am satisfied,” the girl answered.
DeVries could not help feeling aggrieved over her expression of satisfaction. He was a little aggrieved, too, by Mr. Payson’s devout conversation, which was perpetually flashing in like a chariot of fire between him and Irene, and lifting her beyond his own possibilities of soaring. Once more he said to himself that it was a shame such a lovely girl, so attractively rich in personal charms and intellect and feeling, should be rapt away into the desert of mission-ground. There was one comfort under these trying circumstances: the young lady occasionally looked to him for sympathy with her emotions concerning the earthly great and beautiful; it indicated a chance that they might yet come to a broad and satisfactory understanding with regard to — to things in general.
Slowly, and for the most part in silence, they wandered on through the Street of Palaces. At the upper end its monotony of solitude was broken by the advent of a muleteer driving an overladen donkey, whose tiny hoofs fell noiselessly on the unclean pavement. The presence of these two creatures, the sole reminders and survivors of a once flourishing activity and pomp, made the wasteness and mournfulness of the princely avenue more striking than ever.
“ What a contrast! ” said Irene. “ Is he carrying food for the ghosts? ”
“ I will send a fire on them that dwell carelessly in the isles,” quoted Mr. Payson. “ Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle, thou whom the merchants of Sidon have replenished.”
Emerging from the palatial desolation, they came upon lofty, venerable ramparts, shaken and tarnished by centuries of the hostility of nature. It seemed strange and almost unearthly to discover a wall of defense around such a city of death. Was there peril that an army of ghosts from the outside would deliver an assault and drive out the inhabiting spectres? Along the summit of the fortifications were scattered ponderous globes of granite, the cannon-balls of perished ages, as if in preparation against supernatural forlorn hopes. It required but a slight effort of the imagination to see, aloft there, gleaming suits of mail and the red-cross banners of the Hospitalers. Only, with them mingled irrationally the great shields and plumed helms of heavyarmed Greeks who fought against the dull batterings and clanking assaults of Demetrius Poliorcetes. It was an incongruous picture of too many heroisms and too many departed cycles.
“ To think that the knights remembered the Greeks as we remember them! ” said Irene. “ Oh, the world has lasted very long.”
“ And it will last when we are gone,” commented Mr. Payson. “ We are bubbles on the surface of an ocean. We vanish, and it remains.”
De Vries admired the man and respected his solemn meditations, but rather wished that he would keep them more to himself, at least when Miss Grant was in company. He almost felt jealous of this middle-aged, married, devout gentleman because of his obvious influence over the mind and feelings of that attractive young person.
The four paused for a moment to look out through the arched gate-way upon the sun-burnished, magical lands beyond. The two Turkish soldiers who guarded it were squatting in the vaulted alcove which served them for quarters. All was silence and solitude before and behind the travelers. It seemed as if they stood in the portal of some enchanted city. There was a doubt if they had a right to pass through it.
“ We need not be afraid, Irene,” smiled Mr. Payson, guessing at the feeling within her, for he was a many-sided man and very sympathetic. “ The dead and the living alike have no objection to your making a pilgrimage. You and Mr. DeVries can take a run up to that green hill yonder, and see what you can discover. The young always imagine that just beyond them there is something wonderful. As for Mrs. Payson, who looks like the hart that panteth for the water-brooks, she had better stay with me in the shadow.”
The two juniors set forward On their Lilliputian adventure. Once outside of the solemn city and away from her almost equally serious guardians, the youthful blood in Irene broke forth in a cry of joy and in a gleeful run toward the verdant acclivity. DeVries ran also, heartily ghul to see this jet of human frolic in her, and wishing that he could race her clean out of her missionary hood. They went nearly two hundred yards in this style, really making something like a struggle of it, laughing and panting like children.
“ Oh, dear! I can’t go a step further,” gasped Irene, coming to a walk. " Besides, what will they think of me? ”
“ Never mind,” counseled DeVries, the worldly creature!
“ Oh, but I do mind. However, they won’t reprove. Mr. Payson is the most cheerful good man that ever was. You would n't guess it, but he is really fond of a joke, and he loves to see child’s play. Only, I don’t want them to fear that I am too kittenish for a missionary. I don’t want to trouble them.”
“ I don’t see how they can criticise,” said DeVries, looking at her with undisguised admiration.
Her brown eyes were very bright, and her usually pale complexion was hot with color, and she was really beautiful.
“Oh, see !” she exclaimed, all absorbed in the sublime sweetness of landscape and ocean.
They were on the brow of the gracious eminence. Only a little below them, at the base of a gentle and sunny slope, was the miniature city of silence, surrounded by its sombre and time-stricken ramparts, and lifting against the sea its few domes and minarets. Beyond stretched the great splendor of the Mediterranean, gleaming without limit into southern distances, a silver sheet of eternal summer. On the left, and only twelve or fifteen miles away, towered the huge black promontory of Southern Caria, a noble sweep of stern, bare, infinitely picturesque mountains, striding fiercely into the waves, as if in menace of the beautiful island. In the opposite direction rose the long green slopes of Artemira, the pine-clad highlands of Rhodes, and the parent of its coolest breezes and brightest rivulets.
“ I don’t wonder that the knights fought hard to keep such an Isola Felice,” said Irene.
“ Would n’t you like to live here? ” asked DeVries, with pointed emphasis. The beauty of the scene and the intoxicating fact of sharing its beauty with this charming girl had quite turned his sagacious head for the moment, and made him feel that they two could make of Rhodes a Paradise.
“ I am going to a lovelier land,” was the uncomprehending, but still discouraging response.
With a little sense of pique the young man drew himself up to his full height, and resumed a study of the landscape. Indeed, he was able within a minute or so quite to forget his impulse toward a Rhodian Eden, and to discourse of the glorious spectacle around him as became a man of the world and a scholar whose forte was ethnology.
Irene gazed longest at the magnificent Asiatic coast, and especially at the iron-browed cape which reached out toward the island.
“ I think that the old Rhodians must always have been afraid when they looked toward that grim main-land,” she said. “ Who lived there in the most ancient times? ”
DeVries smiled at her confidence in his antiquarian knowledge, and replied, with an air which was an imitation of one of his university professors, “ The brazen shielded Carians sought refuge there after they had been driven from the Cyclades and the seas by Minos.”
“How glibly you say it off!” she laughed. “ But who, exactly, were the brazen-shielded Carians? ”
“Oh, dear!” he replied, becoming serious again, as such a subject demanded. “ If you only knew and would tell me, I would fall down and worship you. I could settle the great controversy as to whether they were Hamites or Europeans. ”
“ And why don’t you dig there, as well as in Philistia? ”
“ I want to. I want to dig everywhere. The whole of Asia Minor ought to be excavated. But I must attend to the Philistines first.”
“I do hope you will find a very long inscription, and be able to read every word of it.”
“ I would rather find such a thing than find a great hoard of money.”
“Ah, you don’t know what it is to need money. I am sometimes foolish enough to have reveries about discovering treasure.’’
“ I wonder if she would drop missionarying,” thought DeVries, “ if I should offer her my fortune, and myself, of course, with it.”
But he was not prepared to utter the proposal. It takes many such random thoughts to make a set purpose. I suppose that a young man often feels that he wants the pretty girl who happens to be near him, without at all wanting to give his life and love in payment for the possession. Still, with all his vagueness of feeling and intention, DeVries was sufficiently interested in Miss Grant to catechise her concerning herself.
“ Do you think you will like it in Syria ? ” he asked. “ Do you think that after a year or two you will be glad at having gone there?”
“ I have n’t looked so far,” she replied, shaking her head energetically, as if to expel the idea of a possible regret to come. “ I must go, and, for all I can see, I must stay. Besides, I have seriously decided to go, and to make Syria my place of work. I don’t think I shall repent. I want to be there. 1 believe I shall like it. Why should n’t I ? I love the society of such people as Mr. and Mrs. Payson. I love that man dearly. We are under great obligations to him. You could hardly guess how much he has done for my mother and my sisters and myself. We should be in a very unhappy case, I fear and believe too, but for him. Besides, I love him for himself; he is perfectly sweet and lovable; everybody loves him. And it is a kind of excellence that I am accustomed to. You must know that I am a minister’s daughter, and have been brought up among clergymen and grave people. Well, I shall be surrounded in Syria by just the society that I know best, and shall he scarcely more apart from other society than I was in my native village. Then there will be my work, — I hardly know what, hut good work. What I feel most is separation from my mother and sisters. We never were broken up before,” she added, struggling to keep her voice clear. “ But in a year or two, perhaps,” and her face brightened again, “ I may be able to get one of them out to me. Then why should n’t I be contented ? ”
“ I see,” answered DeVries, with something like a sigh. “ I presume you will be contented.” And he had a great mind to add, " I am sorry for it,” — this selfish young gentleman with a sympathetic imagination.
“ Well, we have looked as long as we must, perhaps,” resumed Irene, who had drunk in the landscape all the while that she talked of herself. “ We can see the home of the brazen-shielded Carians again from the steamer. I like that fine-sounding adjective. Only they ought to have been iron-shielded, like their mountains. Let us go back.”
“ We will imagine that we are the army of Suleyman charging the city,” said DeVries. “ But we will spare the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Payson.”
“ Yes, but I am not going to run. One run in this sun is enough. Who would imagine that it was winter? ”
They rejoined their companions, and then the four climbed the ramparts by a disjointed stair-way of stone, and sat down upon the huge granite cannon-balls to overlook the famous little city. There was some dreamy talk again about the Rhodian ages of gold, and then a burst of indignation over the beggarly Ottoman present. It was easier, by the way, to realize the latter than the former, so much mightier are the senses than the imagination.
“ Let us depart,” said Mr. Payson at last. “ The steamer leaves in an hour. We should n’t like to see it sailing away from us.”
Erelong they were plowing southeast-ward, leaving behind the green slopes of Artemira and the sombre battle-fronts of Caria, and catching dim sight toward evening of the lofty coasts of Lycia, the land of Glaucus and Sarpedon.
“ Do you remember the beautiful story in the Iliad?” said Mr. Payson to his young people. “ After Sarpedon had been slain by Patroclus, his father Zeus caused Apollo tenderly to wash the body, and then had it borne by Sleep and Death to its native Lycia. It seems to me a most touching parable of the care of the Great Master for his fallen children. He gathers them up from their fields of battle, cleanses and purifies the poor wounded souls, and has them carried by his angels to their own country. Oh, those Greeks, those marvelous Greeks! I think that they were often inspired, like the Hebrew prophets, to say things greater than they knew. Probably, too, every religion, however false and fallen, has some reflections, some feeble reminiscences, of the true one.”
“ I think, Mr. Payson,” said Irene,
“ if you had no Bible, you would make a Bible out of the Iliad.”
“Perhaps I should, my dear,” he smiled. “ I should have to have one. But what a poor Bible it would be, with its fighting and thieving deities! It is very hard there to disentangle the true from the false. Thank God for the clear light of the Scriptures!”
“That is a very curious story about Sarpedon being the son of Zeus,” observed our ethnologist. “ I suspect it to mean that there was already a Pelasgian or Hellenic colony in Lycia. It was a mixed people. Sarpedon the son of Zeus represents the Hellenic element, and Glaucus the aboriginal race.”
Then there was an abstruse discussion concerning prehistoric times, ending of course with a spiritual “ application ” by Mr. Payson, to all which Irene listened with deep interest, as became a bookish and good girl.
Four hundred miles of sea were traversed before they set foot on land again. It was the sweetest of weather, although the season was winter. The unclouded sunshine and the brisk purity of the always gentle breeze reminded of magic voyages toward Isles of the Blest. There was never movement enough to disturb the poorest sailor among that diverse multitude of passengers. If at any time the vessel keeled a few inches to leeward, the watchful capitano had a carronade or two rolled to windward, and restored a perfect equilibrium. The Orientals who strewed the deck smoked and slumbered and ate and cooked at their ease. A cheerful murmur of all the tongues that went forth astonished from Babel always filled the air from forecastle to taffrail.
Not the least persistent of these prattlers were the female satellites of a pasha who was on his way to some Asiatic province. They had a low, improvised tent, gayly patched up out of Turkish rugs and carpets, under which they crawled on their hands and knees, or sat cross-legged by the hour and smoked bubbling nargilehs, generally keeping their waxy features veiled, but sometimes forgetting that stifling decorum. It was surprising how little interest they seemed to take in the many-tongued, various-vestured array of humankind about them. They did not bestow a second glance of curiosity, nor perhaps a first, upon Jew or Greek, Arab or Muscovite. So long as they had their pipes and coffee, and their idle communications concerning harem matters, they appeared to care for naught beside. From childhood they had been accustomed to see a hundred types of race and costume From childhood they had been drilled to believe that women should confine themselves to purely womanish affairs.
Not so with our young lady from a land where man and woman alike are as free as perhaps it is best for them to be. Every one of these picturesque fellowbeings was to her an object of curious and almost audacious interest. They were entertaining and absurdly queer and irrationally unaccountable. They were foreigners ; no matter if they were under their native skies, they were foreigners: she alone, the American citizen, was a native and possessor everywhere. What were these singular creatures bent upon, and did they even know where they were going? Had they definite purposes in their strangely attired noddles, and were those desires and plans really of a sane nature? She had (though she laughed at it) the Anglo-Saxon feeling that only the Anglo-Saxon knows fully what he is about, and that the other denizens of earth are grown children who need Anglo-Saxons to direct their ways. Something of this sort she smilingly confessed to Mr. Payson.
“You are not so far wrong, at least in this part of the world,” he said. “ If you could understand the talk of these Orientals, you would be pained by their ignorance and shallowness. I would almost as lief listen to the observations of dogs about their bones, or of ducks and geese about their puddles. Just imagine the lower animals with the gift of speech. How tired we should get of their restricted and egotistic communications! Who would like to answer all the questions of a cat? It is not much better here. God has removed wisdom and knowledge from the East. It has turned its back upon him, and he has withdrawn from it his light, — the intellectual light as well as the moral. Its counsels are turned into foolishness.”
Thus in constant sight-seeing, improvingly interpreted to the soul by Mr. Payson, two Hesperidean days fled away. Then Cyprus rose out of the deep in long slopes of yellow and green, terminating in a lofty, wide-stretching crest of blue and purple highland. At the bead of a shallow bay, with no haven but an open roadstead, lay the scattered, shabby little town of Larneca, its deplorable circumstances visible a cannonshot out to sea, and offending even the olfactories of those who set foot on shore.
Here our quartette of travelers landed, and spent two hours in discovering the well-known. It was a woful exposure of poverty, filth, sickliness, and depopulation. Nearly every human being whom they met was in rags, and stained to a ghastly yellow with malaria. DeVries looked about him in vain for a Cyprian maiden who would be fit to welcome the sea-born Aphrodite.
“ It makes me furious,” he said. “ This island once contained nine kingdoms. It had a great population — some say three millions — under the Venetians. The Turk would ruin Paradise, if he had it. In fact, he has ruined the earthly paradise.”
Irene walked by his side without reply. She was cast down by this spectacle of wretchedness, and perhaps a little withered by the malarious atmosphere.
“ Would n’t you like to see green, flourishing New England?” he asked, recurring to an old subject, though he knew that it pained her.
“ Oh, don’t speak of that again,” she begged. “I am sometimes very homesick. I must n’t be.”
They were quite confidential by this time, as two young Americans are apt to be when they meet familiarly in strange regions, especially if they are of opposite sexes. Irene had begun to cling a little to DeVries, and to entrust him with a knowledge of her emotions, much as if he were an elder brother.
How could she well help it? He showed an interest in her, sought to surround her with little comforts, and clearly wanted her to be happy. I doubt whether anything is more surely fascinating to a right-minded young woman than the respectful, obliging good-will of a young man who is strong enough to protect and wise enough to counsel. Very grateful also is the flattery of perceiving that one has been judged worthy of such honorable favor; and so, before we know it, we are entangled in the delicate snares of vanity, thankfulness, confidence, and perhaps love.
“ I shall see you from time to time,” DeVries resumed, perceiving that she could not talk of her own expatriation, at least not in desolate, malarious Larneca. “ I shall stay a year in Syria, and perhaps more. It won’t do to dig in the hot plains during the summer, and I shall probably look you up on Mount Lebanon. ”
Irene was glad and grateful to hear this, and impulsively said so.
“ Thank you,” he replied, and really was thankful. Perhaps there would have been further talk of this ensnaring nature, but just then the Paysons turned short upon them, and terminated the dialogue.
“ My wife has had enough of Cyprus,” observed the missionary. “ How is it with you two young people? ”
“ It’s very easy to have enough of this badly perfumed place,” answered DeVries. “ I think we are quite ready to go aboard.”
“ To-morrow we shall be in a lovelier land,” said Mr. Payson. " We shall be in the country of countries. There is nothing like Syria.”
It was morning, but not yet sunrise, when our party came on the deck of the Imperatore to gaze upon the coast of Syria, and to watch for their haven, the city of Beirut.
“ Do you see?” demanded Mr. Payson, with an air of elation and love, waving his hand toward an immense wall of sombre mountain which barriered the whole coast. “ I have traveled far and seen many glorious things, but nothing anywhere more stately than that. There is the great chain of Lebanon, stretching eighty miles or more north and south, and rising two miles in height from the very edge of the sea. It is the sublimity of loveliness.”
“ Why did n’t Jehovah give it to his own people?” marveled Mrs. Payson, who idealized the chosen race, and had read the novels of Charlotte Elizabeth.
“ I have often thought of that myself,” replied her husband, with his curious smile, half-shrewd and half-childlike. ” Why, indeed, should Israel have been excluded from this goodliest of mountains by the Phœnicians? However, my dear, they did help to build the Lord’s house, and they taught Europe its letters. Something fine was surely due them.”
Meantime, Irene and DeVries were gazing in silence upon the magnificent panorama of shadowy mountain bars, sweeping beyond the view both to north and south, crowned along the summits with a dim paleness which was snow, and rolling down into mellow obscurities which were forests of pine, mulberry, orange, and olive. In a few minutes a shimmering radiance stole softly over the depressions of the lofty crest, streamed broadening along vast saddles and hollow ways of upland, ripened into gold where it edged the loftier peaks, and meanwhile slowly tinted the western slopes with faint violet and rose. In a little while the lavish sun of the East had risen over Lebanon, and was pouring its dazzling wealth athwart the Mediterranean. Tender miracles of illumination and iridescence were wrought all over the mountain. The alpine visage changed swiftly; delicate sweet colors slid after each other down its long declivities; bright ridges, sable valleys, and then villages came into view: it was a sublime waking from sleep, a glorious resurrection. “ I don’t wonder that the old peoples of these lands worshiped the sun,” said DeVries. “ What transformations and marvels they saw it work daily! Just imagine Punic mariners returning from far away, to be greeted by this glory on their own mountain. It is n’t strange that they should look no higher for a deity.”
“ It was more godlike than an image of Moloch,” Mr. Payson conceded. “ But, alas, they had the image of Moloch also. Why should the early men have departed so quickly everywhere from the idea of an invisible divinity? ”
DeVries, young as he was, had learned to doubt with courtesy; he merely said, ” Do you hold that that was their original belief? ”
“ Yes, I believe it; I believe it firmly. Oh, I know that I cannot prove it; there are so few things that can be proved! But have you read your Plutarch carefully? You will find in the life of Numa that he permitted no idols in the temples, and that the Romans had none before his time, and none for long afterward. How many idols do you discover among the remains of the hunting tribes of North America? Zeus was the firmament, and I cannot suppose that the old Pelasgians tried to image him in stone or clay; I must believe that they simply looked upward when they cried Heaven — Father! Well, it is easy to come to the end of one’s proofs, I admit. They lie, of course, back of history, and back of archæology also.”
“ It will always be a debatable question,” said DeVries, who did not assent, but did not wish to dispute.
“ Yes, and not essential to salvation,” added the clergyman. “ Thanks be to the Giver of truth that he has made his truth so simple, — so much simpler and more comprehensible, than his infinite self! But I do wrong to draw off your attention from Lebanon. You had better be looking at the wisdom of the Creator than hearing me babble forth my ignorance. ”
They were thrumming swiftly over the glassy sea toward the illimitable mountain, and could begin to distinguish an undulating lowland which crept out from its base.
“ That is the cape of Beirut,” explained Mr. Payson; “ and that yellow spot on its northern edge is the city. It sits in the seat of the gods, and is far from worthy of it. I am often reminded of a beggar in king’s raiment.”
As they drew nearer to the great landscape picture, it gained distinctness and delicacy of finish, while losing little or nothing of its vastness. The broad peak of Mechmel receded behind brother mountains, but Sunneen, ten thousand feet in height, came forward with wondrous majesty, and beyond it towered Keneasy and Jebel ed Druz. There was scarcely as yet any certain verdure; the Alpine colors had only changed from faint violet and purple to sunny brown and pale rose; but the ghostly sweetness of the varying tints was something magical. The night was passing away from its high resting-place with a fitful glory which reminded one of the old simile of a dying dolphin. Tender lights of liquid gold, diluted as it were with silver, clothed the juttings and crests and highperehed villages.
Far below, the diminutive tawny city, built solidly out of cream-colored limestone and surrounded by a venerable, blackened wall, rose swiftly out of the waters. Erelong it seemed very beautiful, as well as very picturesque, to the eyes which surveyed it from the sea. Its position alone lent it a striking charm. Behind it lay a semicircle or amphitheatre of gardens, dark green with the rich gloss of orange and mulberry groves, through which glinted dots of yellow, the fronts of stone dwellings. Further back was a mass of verdure not yet distinguishable as a forest of pines; and behind all rose the gracious sublimity of the dells and spurs and crests of Lebanon.
“ I shall not regret that I have come,” said Irene, her eyes full of wonder. “ I shall be very, very willing to stay.”
DeVries had a feeling that her content was a wrong to himself, and immediately shook hands ironically, saying, “ Just my sentiments.” “What do you mean? ” stared the young lady, completely puzzled by college wit.
“I always did like the idea of living in the earthly paradise,” he explained; “and now that I 've found it, I propose to stick by like a martyr ! ”
Irene understood now, and endeavored of course to laugh, but looked so abashed that he grieved for her.
“ I am sorry I tried to be funny,” he said. “ It’s an old vicious habit which I have nearly broken. You must n’t think that I believe you don’t sacrifice anything,” he added. “ Of course it’s a sacrifice to leave friends and relatives. You ’ll forgive and forget, won’t you? ”
“ I’ll forgive,” promised Irene, “but I won’t forget. Your fun is a lesson.”
“ I protest against your remembering it.”
“ I think she had better,” put in Mr. Payson. “ Young people must learn to digest good-natured jokes, and missionaries in Syria must learn to hear that they are not martyrs. But there is the Nahr el Kelb,” he added, pointing to where the mountain cliffs strode boldly into the sea. “ The ancient Lycus foams down through that black ravine. There is the road, hewn in the rocks, along which unnumbered armies have marched, and where Titus led away the captives from Jerusalem. A little way up the gorge are the triumphal tablets of Egyptians, Assyrians, and Romans. What a cemetery of empires this Orient is! And of faiths, also ! Each of those conquerors returns thanks there, on the stone of Lebanon, to his own god.”
DeVries quoted, —
Blowing a noise of tongues and deeds,
A dust of systems and of creeds.' ”
“ It is an almost inspired verse,” said Mr. Payson. “ But there is one creed which will outlast those stones. There is only one.”
“ The mountain is turning white,” observed Irene. “ I expected to see something evergreen.”
“ Lebanon — leben —curds,” interpreted the missionary, “ It is the Milk Mountain. At present we see chiefly the light limestone faces of the cliffs and the terraces. But the raiment of Lebanon has two colors, like changeable silk : from below it is white, but from above it is green.”
After an hour or so of this eager sightseeing, — this throbbing approach to the sublime present of nature and the sublime past of man,—they found themselves motionless in the roadstead of Beirut. There was a moment of swaying tranquillity, and then the East deluged them with its turmoil. Gay skiffs gathered swiftly about the steamer, bringing a horde of bright-garmented boatmen and porters, who set up such a loud and seemingly fierce clamor as if they meant to carry the vessel by boarding and put all the passengers to the edge of the scimitar.
“Did you ever hear such screeching? ” smiled Mr. Payson. “I sometimes think that the Syrians must have inherited part of their language from the jackals. Nevertheless, the Arabic is a noble tongue; and these poor people only want to work,”
Presently the deck was invaded by these deafening laborers, seizing hungrily on pieces of baggage with their dark, lean fingers, and scolding each other furiously as impudent interlopers. On every side there was an uproar of bargaining, conducted in fragments of twenty lingoes. Wild strivings at English, crumbled up with bits of French and Italian, reached the understandings of our Americans.
“ Me take you to best albergo,” yelled a gaunt, brown youth in a greasy red fez and begrimed white raiment. " Me always show signori to albergo.”
“Go shore! Go shore! ” bawled a white-bearded man in blue cotton, with a vehemence which seemed to say, Now or never!
Then a swarthy person in ill-fitting European clothing slid up to DeVries and murmured confidentially, “Come with me, English gentlemen. Don’t you notice those Arab noisy fellows. I take you to Hotel d’Europa. I am the commissario. " " You may safely go with this Italian,” said Mr. Payson. “ He is the agent of the principal hotel, and it is a very comfortable abode. In a day or two, as soon as I get into my house, I shall send for you. You must not say me nay. I desire to make return for your mother’s hospitality.”
DeVries accepted the offer with sincere thanks, partly, it is to be suspected, on account of the graces of Miss Grant. Then he bade good morning to the missionaries, longing much, by the way, to bestow a significant pressure on the hand Of the junior one, but deciding under her serious, innocent gaze that it would be best to omit that audacity. Next he pointed out his belongings to the commissario, got into one of the gay skiffs, and rippled shoreward.
“What a lovely young man! ” said Mrs. Payson. “I shall be so sorry to part with him.”
“ He is profoundly kind-hearted,” replied her husband. “ He is more considerate of other people’s opinions and feelings than youth generally knows how to be. I have seen repeatedly that he did not agree with my views of life, and that he would not argue with me for fear of giving me pain. Such a young man must have better than our arguments. He must have our aspirations for his good.”
Irene remained silent. Was she too shy to speak of the perfections of the departing one? Or was she spiritually occupied in his behalf according to Mr. Payson’s devout suggestion ?
Then a skiff appeared with messengers from the mission, — a dark, grave, pensive young man in blue broadcloth, and a grinning old fellow with a long, stiff whisk of gray mustache.
“There is Butrus,” said Mr. Payson joyfully. " Irene, that is one of our chiefest helpers and ablest native scholars. And there is my old cook, Yusef. Well, I am glad to see the friends once more, and glad to be here.”
Erelong the travelers, with their multifarious luggage, were on their way to the landing-place.