“ The sendees of Angels and Men in a wonderful order.”

THERE is an evil City. Long ago men drove from its streets the fair angel, Peace. There are but two angels that they summon still, Life and Death, and them they summon rudely, nay, clutch and drag and use outrageously, the angels being patient. The air is hot and troubled in that place : so madly throb the hearts and brains of men, so madly runs the tide between the two, the air can but burn and throb in unison. The very babe draws in sorrow with the breath of life, and is burdened in his cradle with an anguish not his own.

There are places in the City where the evil is less apparent, where the strongest men have pushed and crowded, thrust out broad shoulders, planted sturdy feet, until their weaker brethren have given way and left them in possession of the lion’s share. There, within barriers, have they set up palaces ; there they walk " in purple and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day ; ” there they have made the air heavy with perfumes until the drowsy senses are unconscious of its quivering ; there, last of all, have they set up in their midst the fair white statue of a woman carved in stone. And when a child asks, “ Who is that fair woman so white and still ? ” they answer, " Behold, my child, it is the angel Peace, who loves us and has come to dwell among us.”

But yonder, the men who have been driven out herd between the barriers and the City wall, sore straitened for space in which to stretch their limbs, or air to breathe into their lungs that they may fill them and cry out that they too are men. There are hovels and filthy rags and hunger ; there the air beats most madly by reason of the crowding, and for perfume there is stench. In that quarter men have no tools, no skill, no rare white stone to carve out images, no space to set them in. Sometimes, those upon the barriers’ edge look over and catch a glimpse of the great marble Peace, and go and tell the others that they have seen an angel. And the others mock them and answer bitterly, “ Ay, an angel ! A marble angel! And does gazing on a marble angel fill your empty stomachs ? ”

But in the heart of the City, breaking down the banders for a space, there stands a House. Men call it by many names, but as for me, I will call it the House of God. And the foundations of the House lie after the manner of a Cross. Its long beam fills the barriers’ breach, its arms stretch equally on either side. And under the wide-arching dome hovers, on even pinions, the angel Peace; warm, living Peace, how different from the white stone woman in the square ! Beneath her wings the air within the House is still.

The House is strongly built. " Come,” say men, “ let us go out and dig about the House of God and undermine the walls, and when it topples over we can make the barriers whole again.” And others cry, “ God have a House and we go roofless! Tear it down ! ” So, all day long, they ply their picks and spades and fill their little barrows, and go home well content. “ You shall see,” they say, “ the foundation is riddled through and through. The very weight of the great superstructure and the next puff of wind will end the matter.” So men swarm ever about the House of God, and when storms come they curse Him, and, rushing in, take shelter in His House. And the House stands firm.

The mystic Tree put forth three buds after this manner:

On a day, Life the angel, he who of all the angels suffers most and knows not his Master’s secrets, drew near the City’s gates. And the heart of Life was heavy by reason of a burden that he bore warmly in his bosom. Then one overtook him who was of his own kin, and they held converse together.

“ Thou goest slowly, O my brother Death. Thou art in no haste to do thy day’s errand in the City.”

“ Nay,” answered Death, “ I but keep to the appointed times. When the hour strikes, I go to meet one by the Altar of the House. But till the hour strikes, I am free.”

“ Who goes to-day ? Is it the old high priest ? ”

“ Ay, the old high priest. He will go gladly.”

“ Alas, alas,” moaned Life, “ my poor fair babes, I have brought you to an evil City, in an evil hour. And will there be none righteous left ? ”

“ He is not wont,” said Death, “ to leave Himself without a witness, even in this place.”

Then Life thrust his hand into his bosom and showed what he bore there : three tiny babes, who lay like rose petals on his broad white palm, two maids and a man child.

“ Take them, O my brother,” he besought, “ let them sleep more soundly on thy bosom than they have slept on mine. Where shall I find a nurse of babes tender as Death ? Surely thy strong arms will not be overweighted by one poor old man and three little babes. Bethink thee of the evil City ! To leave them there were to throw lilies in a trough of swine ! ”

But Death shook his head. “ No word was sent,” he said. “ Whatever men may do, angels must needs obey. Go your way, my brother.”

It was high noon when Life, passing along a narrow street on the hither side of the barrier, lifted a door latch and entered in. The room was plain and bare. A fire burned on the hearth, and was yet too feeble to make the whole room warm. Food was on a table, but it was a meagre loaf, too small to satisfy the mouths that longed for it. A man sat there, and little children leaned against his knees. His tools and working blouse lay beside him on the floor. He was pale and worn. Almost from his cradle he had toiled early and late, and never yet had known the meaning of the word enough. Within an inner room a woman lay on a hard, narrow couch and waited patiently, for a message had come that she should have a visitor that day. Then, as she opened wide her eyes, she saw in the fullness of his beauty the great angel Life, who laid his gift in her bosom and was gone. The woman took the gift, and by reason of it and the mystery of mother love, poverty was riches, sorrow was joy, despair was hope. And she called out to her husband, and when he came she showed him what she had. The man’s eyes filled with tears. He turned away his head, but not before she saw them.

“ Yes,” she said, “my husband, who knows better than I how heavy the burden is already ? ”

“No,” he made protest, “my tears are for you and them. What right has a slave to take a wife and children with him into slavery ? ”

“ Not so,” she answered. “ Who can tell what blessing this new year and this new babe bring with them ? ”

And she lifted the child and bade him say, “ Welcome, my little son.” And he repeated after her, “ Welcome, my little son,” and added to himself, “ May He who sent you send the wherewithal to keep you.” And it was so. Through the years that came there was hunger in that house, but not famine—cold, but not death. And He who made the babe considered him, lying in his cradle, and He gave him two gifts : sympathy, that he might feel the sorrows of his brethren; and song, that be might comfort them.

Before the sun was set, Life’s second burden lay on silken cushions in a bed of ivory. The chamber was great and lofty, and the carven creatures of the roof looked down on rich adornments. The little bed stood on a dais beside a greater one, both shadowed by the same canopy. The hangings were of velvet, with lilies and a passion-flower vine done in a needlework of gold and gemlike colors. The same device of flowers showed not only in embroideries, but was carved in ebony and ivory, was wrought out in all the smithwork, whether of silver or of gold, and was blazoned on the rainbow panes of painted windows.

There was something very still beneath the purple of the great bed’s coverlet; a woman’s body it was, no more ; for a hand that meant all kindness had held a potent sleeping draught to the pale lips, and so set wandering, for a while, the weary soul, against the coming of the master of the house. She matched well with her token flower, for of all creatures she was most like a lily, but broken at the root; a sweet white length along the ground. But the little maid shone like a rosebud among that white and sadcolored purple, and no world - wonder jewel of the place was half so fair. And the great angel stood beside her loath to part. Then a servant carried word to the master, and he made haste to go up into his wife’s chamber, where they brought him the babe upon its cushions.

“ What,” he cried, “ a girl ! A girl to me! I ’ll warrant there have been a score of sons this day born to beggars, — and a girl to me ! ”

Then they besought him : “ Let not my lord be angry. Life may pass this way again, bearing your heart’s desire. It were best not to anger him. Besides, the child is fair and likely to thrive.”

“ She would be a fool else,” he sneered. “ Who would not thrive, born heiress to the greatest wealth, the greatest name, in all the City ! Well, keep her safely till her brother comes.”

But Life, still lingering in the room, liked not the words and drew his great wings about the baby’s head. He did not choose that she should hear, and standing there, he spoke and said, “ ' The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.’ ”

The man turned and went out peevishly. He was not used to angels and their sayings. And Life went no more to that house. But his brother went there, and when he left, two left with him, one gladly and one bitterly. And the little maid was in sole possession of the lands, the gold, and the great name.

It was black midnight when the angel came to the laying down of his last burden. He had drawn forward his soft wings and folded them to shield his bosom from the bitter cold, and as he passed along the ragged pavement he left red marks behind him. In the midmost evil of the City there was a plague spot called the Kennel, and they who dwelt there were for the most part like beasts, knowing not good from evil, knowing not that there is good and evil, conscious only that there is a something, pain, which means one’s daily life, and that there is another something, pleasure, costly and hard to come by, paid for with heart’s blood. Even Life, the angel, grew sick and faint in the Kennel, and how might a babe endure what daunted an angel ? Yet so the order ran. Crouched beneath a wall he saw a ragged heap, and knew this was the place. He drew forth the babe and bent his head and kissed it on the mouth. And the warmth of Life’s tears and the warmth of Life’s kisses met on the little face together — and his day’s work was over.

Now in the heap of rags there was a heart, and in the heart there was that which was greater and stronger than the heart was, so that the heart must needs give way and break. Even as she felt the child against her breast, the head that had never known soft lying lay at rest, and the body that had known cold knew cold no more, and the little babe rolled helpless on a thing as senseless as the stones beneath.

There came a time when the man child knew himself to be a man, and, weary with the sorrows of his people, he went up into the House of God. It was an hour when the angel Peace had left her place beneath the dome and walked the many aisles. Some knew her and followed, but for the most part men and women turned their poor, painburning eyes upon the angel and saw her not. But when the boy met her, her majesty and beauty smote his brain and he desired her madly. And Peace, looking into the young, eager eyes, loved him and withdrew herself from him. After that, there was no day but that he went up into that place to woo Peace, and it was a stormy wooing. Many a time he caught not so much as her shadow on the wall, and he would cry: “ O Peace, are you, too, pitiless ? Is your heart no softer than the marble statue men have made ? O Peace, I de-

sire you not for myself, but for them, my people. Do you never hear them crying, here in the House of God ? If you would walk with me but one hour, between the barriers and the City wall, and see them in their helpless agony, you would never after shut yourself here in this safe, still House. What right have you, O Peace, to such a broad, warm bosom, who will not pillow there one aching head, or to those strong, tender arms, who will not lift a suffering child ? What right have you to eyes so steadfast that they might calm a madman’s fury to reason, but will not?” So he railed at Peace, and would have plucked her by the very wings and dragged her out into the streets that so the sight of her might heal his brethren.

But Peace was patient, and one day she said, “ Come hither, look into my eyes.” And for a whole day’s space he looked into her eyes. Then she said: “ Do you love this people better than He who made them or even better than I who am His angel ? Does your heart yearn for them as mine does, that has yearned for ages ? Is it my fault or theirs, that they have made their streets broad enough for thousands and too narrow only for the feet of Peace ? There is but one place now where I may meet them, and do I not keep tryst here forever ? Go, bring them here to me and see to what aching head, to what suffering child, to what maddened brain, I shall refuse to minister. There is a voice here that has long been silent, there is a body here that waits a soul. Breathe your soul into it, take unto yourself its many tongues. Make yourself persuasion, so you shall become my servant and interpreter, and in the years to come, it may be, now and then, one may stop and listen.”

So they made him chief Musician in the House, and when the doors of the four sides were open, the voice of the great organ poured out toward the four corners of the City.

On a day, the Musician walked in the Kennel. There he saw a sight, a vision, beauty’s self. A girl stood by a halfchoked fountain. Her bare white feet were like twin lilies on the stones, but no lilies are so fair as were her bare white arms. As for her mouth and eyes — what must be mouth and eyes whereon Life’s kiss had met his tears ? The loveliness smote into him like light and pierced his soul; and the soul, so happily aroused, perceived and knew as eyes may not. And the words of the song came to the Musician, so that he spoke aloud, “ ‘ As a lily among thorns so is my love among the daughters ; ’ ” for he already loved her.

He made his way to her, he touched her hand. His hand, his eyes, his lips, his heart said, “ Come.”

And she laughed at him for answer.

Again he said, “ Come.”

Again she laughed at him, and laughing, she was gone.

And the horrors of the place made his heart sick to leave her there, “ a lily among thorns.”

But he could not stay. It was the hour when it was his duty to make the House sweet with music. Turning, he went his way thither, and sorrow wrapped him more closely than his garments. He mounted to the loft. He opened wide the windows that looked toward the Kennel’s reek and dissonance. It was toward evening; the streets below were full of dusky shadows. The lamps of the great House but served to change darkness to dimness. Yet into the windows of the high loft a white light came. He raised his face up toward the light, he stretched his arms over the keyboard’s checkered black and white, and there was mingling of flesh and blood and wood and ivory. The tall, mysterious pipes felt the dominance of a soul, and the instrument yielded to the master’s touch, to his every thought. The House thrilled with harmony. Men’s hearts beat all together. A flock of golden singing birds poured out of the organ and fluttered from roof to pavement. And as the flock increased, until even that great space became too narrow for them all, some began to take their flight out of the high windows, Kennelwards. The darkness spread; the white light was gone; the House was still. The Musician’s head fell in very weariness upon the keyboard. Had she heard ? Had his winged messengers flown so far, or had they dropped, spent, before they reached her ? Had she heard, — or hearing, had she heeded ? After that, every day, the Musician searched in the Kennel, but in vain. Every day, he sent his golden singing flock out of the windows, but he knew not of their flight. He would have been glad to have gone the world over, after her, but that he could not do. He had made vows to Peace, to be her faithful servant to the end, and Peace would not release him from his vows. He was bound to the organ. He could only send his birds. He sat disconsolate and considered his sturdy feet, which might not bear him according to his own will. And a thought came to him, and he prayed, “ Let the strength of youth and of desire, which I lay down, be given to the organ, for her sake, that its birds may fare forth, whither I may not, and lure her up out of the Kennel.” And the Musician caused himself to be bound to the organ with a fetter which none might loose, that, should his will give way, the steel might hold. But a bird flew out of the organ loft into the morning light, and when the Musician, in the pauses of his music, turned and looked down toward the people, he saw — her. Every day he saw her. What mattered fetters now to the master of the golden birds ?

The Musician was sitting on his bench. His gaze was outward through the window. He was at rest. A foot stumbled on the stair. One in a servant’s livery, holding a purse of gold, stood by him and said : “ My mistress is ill at ease. She prays you to come and comfort her with music.”

“ That I cannot do,” pushing the gold aside. “ Bid her come here to me, and when I play to-night I will have thought of her in my heart.” But the message angered the servant’s mistress. And because she was a willful lady, she would send and send ; and because she was a proud lady, she would never go to listen when he played for all and not for her alone; and because she was a lady who had never known a desire ungranted, the desire grew and grew and filled a heart that had been empty and asleep. So that, at last, in spite of pride and willfulness, she went herself to the Musician. She was a proud lady and a fair, indeed. Her gleaming hair, her garments rich with gold and costly dyes, were very bright against the dusky background of the loft.

The Musician and the Lady looked long at each other. He, born on the barrier’s hither side, was ignorant of the customs of her world ; and, as for her, she followed her own will. Then she questioned him. Why had he refused to go to her ?

“ I may not leave this place,” he said. And he thrust forth his feet so that she saw the fetter.

“ Why are you bound ignobly ? Are you prisoner or slave ? ”

“ A prisoner, lady.”

“ And your captor ? ”

The Musician smiled and answered, “ Love.”

The Lady’s heart went hot within her. She turned and went down the stair in anger. For she, who had all the world to choose from, had chosen the Musician for herself. Therefore she was angry for the fetter and for the Musician’s answer, and angrier still for that Love deals hardly with his servants.

That was a strange time. Each day the Musician poured his love, his soul, his strength into the great organ, which poured them out again and so called the Girl out of the Kennel to the House. Sometimes, she even turned her face up toward him above the pointed arch of the high Altar’s baldachin. How beautiful it was ! And each day the Lady climbed the stair, and sat and talked to him, and tried to fill him with her own discontent. For now she too must needs serve Love, and his hardness filled her with rebellion. So the Musician loved the Girl who loved him not, and the Lady loved the Musician who loved her not.

One day he missed the Girl; she came neither morning nor evening, nor the next morning nor evening, nor the next, nor many a bitter morning nor evening. And the Musician’s heart went near to breaking. The organ’s voice sounded but faintly; there seemed something gone out of the City’s life. Evil things peered at him through the windows and beckoned, — beckoned, till his heart was sick. Had not Peace come and barred the opening with her wide wings, his life would have ended on the stones below. But she strengthened him. “ Call,” she said, “ persuade. How can you tell how far your message may be borne. Your only hope of ever reaching her lies in the doing of your daily task, which is to call all men to the House of God.” And the Lady came. It had not taken her a glance’s time to learn that he was in sorrow. She did not rest until she had drawn from him ail the story of the other, of his love for her, and of his high purpose which had so failed. The poor proud Lady ! It was hard for her not to cry out. There was another, Kennel-reared, who was more beautiful than she, and might be loved where she was not. She went back to her house, and there she wandered restlessly in its wide chambers. And, at last, Love subdued in her all else but the old rebellion for him she loved.

Why that hard, wageless service! Was he never to have the common pleasures of other men, — never even the poor satisfaction of that other’s face ? He whom she loved, never to have his own will? Nay, then, he should have it! She whom he slighted would be kinder to him than that hard master who repaid his faithfulness with sorrows. She would go herself, search for that other until she found her ; and that other, willing or unwilling, should be his. Though it were her own death, she would bestow his heart’s desire upon her love. Why else did the blood of kings run in her veins, but that she should give gifts royally ?

The Lady went to say “ good-by ” to the Musician, and it saddened him. He felt so much alone now in the loft, and he had come to love this strange, fair Lady as his friend.

He said, “ Whither go you? ”

She pointed out of the window.

“ Then, when I look out of my window, I will think of you and wish you home again. Maybe, some day, one of my birds may find you.”

“ May it be so.” And when his head was turned she bent quickly down and laid her lips upon the organ’s keys, where his hand must fall, and left him.

The Lady covered her bright beauty as well as might be with sad-colored garments. And except that she took certain jewels with her, she left all her wealth behind. First, she crossed the barrier and made her way into the Kennel, which had strange sights and sounds for one, kinswoman to the king. And when she made inquiry there, they mocked her.

“ Had this one seen the Girl ? ”

“ Yes, but an hour ago.”

“ Had that one seen her ? ”

“ Why, such an one bad died during the last plague time.”

Her brain had been turned, but that at morning and at evening the golden birds of melody had come from the organ loft, speeding toward the City wall. The Kennel would have missed the golden birds, Kennel though it was.

One day, she chanced upon a narrow lane, and following it, it brought her to a small postern in the wall, where sat an old man counting money in a bag. Him she questioned.

Where does this door open out ? ”

“ Into the Pleasure Garden.”

“ What Pleasure Garden ? How can there be a Pleasure Garden here ? ”

“ It was made for such as you,” he said. “ It would go ill with us without our Pleasure Garden.”

“ Who go there ? ”

“They who can pay the price. Can you ? ”

“ Have any passed in of late ? ”

“ They pass in — they who can pay the price — day and night.”

“ Saw you such an one, a woman, very beautiful, with bare white arms and feet, and lips and eyes the fairest ever opened in the City ? ”

“ The fairest ever go this way. How may old, dull eyes like mine tell one fair woman from another ? You are fair, yourself.”

“ Quicken your sight with this,” drawing a jewel from her bosom.

The old man laughed. “ My eyes could find beauty in a hag for such a bribe. I do remember such a woman passed, so many days ago.”

“ Then I will pass.”

“ But can you pay the price ? ”

“ Have I not paid it ? Is not such a jewel enough ? ”

“ Not for such as have more jewels. Have you more ? ”

And not until the old man had gotten from her all her jewels would he let her pass through the postern of the wall.

That was a wild place. The pleasures there were very strange. The paths were labyrinths which led into other labyrinths. There was no night there and no day, yet light and darkness. The earth brought forth no natural, wholesome herbage, and nourished no fair, kindly beasts. And yet there were both flowers and fruit and birds and beasts and fishes in the garden, but none might tell the one distinctly from the other. There were palaces there, and bowers and fountains, and gold and gems, and beauty of mankind and womankind. Some feasted, and some laughed, and some told others that they loved them ; and beside all these were others learned in strange, deep knowledge. There was in the garden some semblance of all things that are in the world — save three — and a thousand curious things that are not. And the three things that the garden lacked were these : music and little children and happiness. None there would answer any question that she put. There was no mocking of the Kennel like the silent mocking of the Pleasure Garden. The Kennel with its filth and noise was rest compared with the Pleasure Garden. So she questioned and searched and toiled, and all she did came to nothing, until, at last, she fell, too weary to seek to rise, and waited for the end.

The Musician, with his hands resting upon the organ keys, made a prayer, “ For her sake let life go out of me into the organ, that it may sound even where she is.” In the night the Musician’s sight went from his eyes. And a bird flew out into the morning light, flew on and on, out of the City, even to the Pleasure Garden, and passed over the head of one who lay there, to whom its master never thought of sending it. But when she heard the faint, sweet sound and saw the golden gleam, she knew it meant deliverance. She sprang to her feet, she followed it, she ran, she stumbled, she endured pain unspeakable, but she kept the bird in sight, and when it vanished she was free. The solid earth was under foot, the sky was overhead. It was a Desert place, but she had won clear of the hateful Pleasure Garden.

She journeyed in the Desert. And they who pass the Pleasure Garden and cross the Desert are very weary. There was an angel who had his dwelling thereabouts, and he sheltered her, albeit he is a stern angel. When her weariness had passed somewhat, he led her forth and brought her by ways unknown to a low hill, at whose foot lay a black pit. The angel said to her, “ What do you see ? ”

“ I see the black mouth of a pit, fearful and very wide.”

“ What more ? ”

“ I see a narrow plank that spans it.”

“ What more?”

“ Nothing.”

And at times he asked, “ Do you see anything besides the pit and the bridge? ”

Then once, as she looked out, she saw a figure at the foot of the hill, moving toward the bridge, as if to cross.

“ I see a woman ! ” she cried out.

“ Yes,” said the angel, “ it is the woman you have sought so long.”

With that she trembled and made haste and fell, and hastened on again, and so came herself to where the bridge began. The angel was close behind her, and the other woman had begun the crossing. Just as she reached the narrow plank the angel bade her look once more. As she looked she saw the frail thing bend beneath the other’s weight and knew, should she set foot upon it, both would fall into the unknown depth. And it was for this she had left all behind, had battled through the Kennel, the Pleasure Garden, the Desert. The other was within reach and she might never reach her. It was all in vain, her labor, her love, her sacrifice.

The stern angel said, “ Sit down and watch her.”

“ Shall I never find her, then ? ”

“ Truly, I do not know.”

“ Why did I never come upon her in the Pleasure Garden ? ”

“ Because she was not there.”

“ Bnt I had word of it from the old man at the postern.”

“ He lied ; it is his business. Would you have given him your jewels otherwise ? ”

“ How came she then in the Desert? ”

“ Many paths lead from the City to the Desert. There is one so hard none tries it of his own free will. One loved her and drove her thereto. Now do not speak. Sit down and watch.”

The other woman toiled on. Her steps were so slow that it seemed each one would be her last. When midway, she stopped and swayed and struck out with her arms. The end had come. She on the brink felt death at her own heart.

Then, suddenly, there came a faint, sweet sound, a gleam overhead that passed swiftly as an arrow and settled down just before the swaying creature on the bridge. Her outstretched hands touched the bright thing, which used its strong, wide wings with steady strokes, and, led by it so, she won her way over, and, safe, passed out of sight upon the other side.

That same day, the Musician, playing upon his instrument, had made this further prayer, " If need be, let my very life flow into the organ, for her sake.” And, suddenly, one stood behind him. And the Musician felt his head grow very heavy, and it sank upon broad shoulders. And he felt his arms grow powerless until two strong hands supported them, and then — the great organ was hushed, but with its last note a strong, bright bird flew swiftly out of the loft’s window, out over the City, over the Pleasure Garden, across the Desert, until it found her whom it sought upon the bridge, while Death bore from his longtime prison the blind Musician.

At a day’s close, two women made their way wearily up to the House. Meeting within the doors, they looked into each other’s eyes. One was of princely blood and one beggar-born, but each recognized the other as of the high kinship of the Desert, and so they loved, and went into the House hand in hand, and sat themselves down together. It was very silent in the House, — but in the women’s hearts there was that music which is memory.

Thus it was with those three buds in their flowering.

Caroline Franklin Brown.