Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > Ten Degrees Backward > CHAPTER IX THINGS GREAT AND SMALL
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
The time of our engagement was a very happy time for me. It was so heavenly to be continually with Fay, and not to feel myself bound in honour to dissemble my love. And the more I saw of her the more devotedly I loved her. Surely there never was anybody so gay and loving and light-hearted as she.

When Frank came down from Oxford at Christmas, he added to the general hilarity, and welcomed me as a brother with an unconscious condescension which amused as much as it gratified me. He, Fay and I, formed a Triple Entente, from which everything that appertained to middle age was excluded. So that I was not only happy for the first time in my life—I was also young.

There was only one drawback to my perfect bliss—one crumpled rose-leaf in my bed of roses, and that was my consciousness of the fact that Fay and Annabel did not appreciate one another as thoroughly as I could have wished. Of course I could see the reasonableness—one might almost say the inevitableness—of this. In the first place, I could not disguise it from myself that my marriage, even to any one as completely adorable as Fay, was something of a blow to Annabel, who had ruled so long and so undisputedly over her family circle. Ever since she had been old enough to take the reins, she had taken them and had grasped them firmly; neither I nor my father before me had ever dared to lay so much as a restraining finger on them: therefore it must have been terribly hard for her to find herself equalled—in some things even superseded—by a girl nearly thirty years her junior. It was not in human nature to avoid, however silently, resenting this, and Annabel, though one of the best and wisest women that ever lived, was nevertheless quite human.

On the other hand, I could not fail to see that Annabel\'s admirable behaviour in accepting the situation as she did was utterly lost upon Fay. Annabel was really behaving splendidly, and Fay was totally unconscious of it. With (I am bound to admit it) the hardness of youth, Fay was absolutely blind to Annabel\'s suffering; but at the same time she was quick to perceive and to resent any curtness of manner or sharpness of speech which were really only the outward symptoms of that suffering. I own I was disappointed at this, but it could not be helped, and I decided in my own mind to make up to Annabel in every way that I could for Fay\'s lack of appreciation, of my sister\'s sacrifice, until the time came—as it surely would come when they grew to know each other better—when Fay would learn to love Annabel as I loved her. That Annabel would ever learn to love Fay as I loved my darling was obviously beyond the realms of possibility, for surely no human being ever loved another as I loved Fay; but I felt sure that as the child grew older and Annabel recognised the beautiful and endearing qualities which were hidden under the bewitchingly frivolous and off-hand manner, she too would recognise Fay\'s charm and reverence her character. At any rate, I felt it would not be my fault if these, my two dearest, failed eventually to love and appreciate one another; for I meant to make it the object of my life to bring them to a fuller mutual understanding, and to enable each to see and admire the good qualities of the other.

So I was confident that the one crumpled rose-leaf would soon be ironed flat again, and that the one tiny cloud was only a passing summer one.

There was another thing, too, which made me very happy at that time, and filled my already brimming cup of joy to overflowing.

One morning the wife of one of my labourers stopped me in the village.

"Beg pardon, Sir Reginald," said she, "but my boy, Willie, has twisted his back, and the pain be something fearful. Something fearful it be."

"I am sorry for that, Mrs. Jackson," I said, "very sorry indeed. How did he do it?"

"By doin\' what he ought not, Sir Reginald, him bein\' a boy and climbin\' on to one of the big ricks in the rick-yard and tumblin\' off."

"Has Dr. Jeffson seen him?"

"Yes, Sir Reginald, that he has, but he don\'t seem to know what to do to do him good. And Willie has taken it into his head that if you\'d come and lay your hands on him, like as you did on the young lady at the Rectory, you\'d stop the pain and make his back all right again, if it wouldn\'t be too much trouble."

This request naturally caused me some astonishment. It had not occurred to me that my gift of healing was a permanent possession. I had imagined that my earnest prayer to God and my intense love for Fay had made me, for that one occasion, a channel of the Divine Grace. Then I remembered how St. Paul had said that among the diverse gifts of the Spirit of God one is the gift of healing; and how Mr. Henderson—who undoubtedly had himself been endowed with this gift—had said that he believed it had been entrusted to me also. Therefore I acceded to Mrs. Jackson\'s request, and accompanied her to her cottage.

Willie was lying in the parlour on a horse-hair sofa, groaning with pain.

"Well, my boy," I said, "I am sorry to hear you have hurt yourself. Is there anything that I can do for you?"

"Thank you for comin\' to see me, Sir Reginald," replied the child, pulling at his forelock in the absence of a cap; "I feel sartain that if you\'ll lay your hands on me, like as you did on Miss Wildacre when her was so bad, I\'ll get rid o\' this dreadful pain, and be able to get about again."

"I\'ll do what I can, Willie," I said, sitting down beside the sofa; "but you must remember that I cannot cure you myself. There is only one Person who can cure you, and that is Christ. I have no power—neither has the doctor any power—except what Christ gives us. He may choose to cure you by means of the doctor\'s medicine or by means of my prayers; but whichever it may be, remember it is Christ\'s doing, and not ours. We are only the means that He chooses to make use of."

"But some folks do seem to have what you might call the gift o\' healin\', Sir Reginald," said Mrs. Jackson. "My mother was a Scotchwoman, and she said there was allus healin\' in the touch of a seventh son. Many and many a time has she seen it for herself, and in the place where she came from folks \'ud send all over the country for a seventh son if they was in pain."

If Mrs. Jackson had said this to me a year earlier, I should probably have laughed at it as an ignorant superstition. Now, I saw no improbability in it at all. I have learnt that that is the way with many old wives\' tales: behind the superstition there lies a scientific truth, but during the march of the centuries the truth has been lost, while the superstition has remained. For instance, in many country places there is a tradition that to carry a potato in one\'s pocket is a cure for rheumatism, and modern medical science has discovered that one of the best cures for rheumatic affections is the juice of the potato. Again, it was a superstition of our great-grandmothers that if a cat sneezed it was a premonition that colds were coming to all the household; now we know that colds are infectious, and can be caught from animals as well as from human beings. In the same way, doubtless, most of the superstitions about plants had their origin in knowledge of the medicinal properties of those plants, and the old idea that a maid could make herself beautiful by bathing her face in dew on a May morning was, after all, nothing but a testimony to the beneficial effects on the complexion of early rising and soft water.

What the "seventh son" had to do with the matter—or whether he had anything to do with it at all—I do not pretend to say; but the tradition about him is a proof that through all ages there have been certain persons endowed with a soothing and a healing touch, with a certain fulness of vitality which they could impart to their fellow creatures.

Then one is faced by a difficulty as to how much or this power is natural and how much is supernatural, which to me is no difficulty at all, as I simply decline to differentiate between the two. To me everything in life is natural because everything is supernatural: there is really no difference. The only difference I can discover—which is, after all, only a superficial one—is between the usual and the unusual.

I have waded through countless books on the workings of the subconscious mind—on the powers of the subliminal self—on the depth of that mysterious thing we call personality—until my faith has staggered before the demands made upon it. I found myself asked to believe in impossibilities which would shake the credulity of a child—to swallow camels which were too huge for the most efficient digestion. So I humbly confessed that I had not sufficient faith to accept these transcendental doctrines, and turned instead to the older and simpler and more practical explanation of natural and spiritual phenomena as set forth in the Four Gospels.

I do not aspire to the transcendental knowledge of the modern mystic, nor to the blind and childlike faith of the pure materialist. Such things are beyond me. To me, it is as inconceivable that the soul should save and satisfy itself out of its own fulness as that the body should create and form itself out of the floating atoms of a mechanical cosmos. The only satisfactory answer that I have ever found to the Riddle of the Universe is the answer of the Living Christ. St. Paul had prepared for himself a complete curriculum of necessary knowledge when he said: "I am determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

So in the question of healing; when one realises that the only Healer is Christ, it becomes a mere matter of detail whether He chooses to use as His instrument the skill of a physician, the self-conquest of the patient, or the power of a natural healer: just as in old times it was a mere matter of detail whether He anointed with clay the eyes of the blind, or laid His hand on the sick person, or spake the word only. It was not the hem of the garment that healed, it was Christ Himself. The hem was only the chosen channel of His Divine Power.

I knelt down beside Willie Jackson\'s sofa, and laid my hands upon him as I had laid them on Fay, at the same time lifting up my soul in prayer that the boy\'s pain might cease and his injury be cured. Again I felt the Blessed Presence in the room, and the wonderful Power rushing through me, and when at last I rose from my knees, Willie exclaimed that the pain had gone.

And so it had for that day, but I had to lay my hands upon him in prayer twice again before it disappeared altogether, and the doctor pronounced him perfectly cured. Why this was I cannot explain, and have never attempted to explain. It was enough for me—and quite enough for Willie—that in three days\' time he was absolutely well. We left explanations to those less simple souls who worship the Law rather than the Law-Giver.

But my healing experiences did not end here. Ponty, who was a martyr to rheumatism, asked me to treat her as I had treated Willie Jackson, which I did, with marked success. Her pain disappeared, and her limbs grew much more supple. Gradually it became quite a custom in the village for any one in pain or sickness to send for me, and I helped them as far as I was able. Sometimes my ministrations were absolutely successful, sometimes only partially so; but I do not think they ever failed to bring a certain amount of relief to the sufferers. Again I do not attempt an explanation: I only know that it was so.

People often ask me whether I consider this gift of healing a natural or a spiritual gift. My answer is that there is no fundamental difference between the two, since "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." But of this I am sure, that it is not a gift bestowed upon every one alike, and those who have it not should not therefore conclude that they are farther from the Kingdom of Heaven than are those who have it. We are expressly told that there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit, and it is not for us to choose which gift shall be ours.

I remember discussing this one day with Blathwayte when we were walking home together from rabbit shooting.

"Although I agree with you, Reggie," he said, "that it saves a good deal of needless confusion when once we realise that what we call the natural and the supernatural are in reality one, and that the distinction between them is purely artificial, that does not explain why you are more successful at some times than at others. Christ\'s Power is always the same."

"No, Arthur, it isn\'t, because He has chosen to limit His Power by our faith. Remember \'He could do no mighty works there because of their unbelief.\' When I fail, it may be that either I or my patient is lacking in faith at the time."

Arthur nodded. "That may be so. Faith is always the one condition that He imposes."

"And there may be another reason," I said slowly, "though it is one which I find rather difficult to put into words. I think that we human beings are very apt to confuse two things which in God\'s eyes are essentially different: I mean Prayer and Magic. They are both mysterious connections with the Unseen Powers through the mediums of a form of words, by which we induce those Powers to act in accordance with our own desires. I think I may say without injustice that most people who believe in either or both of them regard them as a spiritual form of wirepulling."

Arthur smiled. "I fancy you are not far out there, old man."

"I am not an authority on these matters," I continued; "I am only airing my own perhaps worthless opinions; but I do honestly believe that there is such a thing as Magic, and that the earlier races of mankind knew far more about it than we do; and by Magic I mean the power to move or control by some mysterious ritual the great forces of Nature."

"You believe that this really can be done?"

"I do. Whether it is right to do it is another matter, and one on which I do not feel competent to express an opinion. But that it can be done—and has been done—I have no doubt whatsoever. If Man was made in the image of God, then surely some of the power of God is inherent in him, even if he does not know how to wield it properly. My only doubt is whether it is safe for him to try to wield it, as long as his ignorance of it is as great as it is in the present stage of human history."

"They knew more about it in ancient Egypt," Arthur said.

"And in earlier civilisations even than that," I added. "I believe that in those far-away days men practised the rites and the mysteries which brought them into contact with, and by which they controlled to some extent, the Principalities and Powers of the vast universe which for want of a better word we call Nature. Then Man—as is unfortunately his habit—fell away from his first estate, and began to worship the Principalities and the Powers instead of the God who made him and them, and then God drew a veil between Man and the Great Powers, so that Man should not be tempted by knowing them to worship them. And that is where we are at present. But even now the veil sometimes wears thin in places, and some stray mortal peeps through and catches faint glimpses of the glories and the grandeurs on the other side."

"Then you do not believe that Pan is............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved