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 Two years had passed since their marriage. Nacha had taken up the management of her mother's house, and was proving skillful at a task which her sister's flight to a distant province with her new husband greatly simplified for her. For Monsalvat her devotion knew no bounds. With Nacha beside him he scarcely needed eyes; but he could not reconcile himself to his uselessness. If he had only been able at least to go on working for the poor and the oppressed! He had to content himself with gathering together the children of the neighborhood and teaching them whatever he could, without the use of his sight. It annoyed him not to be able to teach them to read; for he believed that if ever the world was to be made new it would be through love, and through books! Of these last he gave as many as he could afford to the boys and girls who showed promise of making good use of what he taught them.
The presence of this blind man was a strange note in the little middle class boarding house. The students all felt a deep and affectionate veneration for him. Many of them became his friends, and not a few his true disciples. They read to him, and together they discussed articles and books; but these young people liked best to hear him talk of that vision which never ceased to shine in his darkness. At times his words flamed with the passion for justice within him. At others they seemed to pour out quietly and evenly like so many beams of that light in which, to his listeners, beauty and truth was revealed.
Since he had come there to live, gross words and vulgar anecdotes had vanished as if by magic. At the long dinner-table there seemed now always to be something to talk about; for the students shared their day's experiences and discoveries with Don Fernando, and the ideas they had found interesting grew and became animate as they discussed them with their blind host.
When they sat together in the evening, talking and dreaming of new forms of beauty which might come into being on the earth, there would come a hush as the blind man spoke of his gods: Life and Love, and Mankind. His fervent words sowed faith in the young hearts of his hearers.
So the days passed, and the night in which he lived was no longer tragic as at first; but sweet, peaceful, and alive with familiar voices. For him there gleamed little familiar stars in the depths of that all-enveloping darkness.
Weeks and months passed; and the last days of July arrived in a tragic year, feverish days when War stepped into the scene and claimed every conversation wherever a group gathered. The sirens of the newspaper buildings gave the news which set moving through the city crowds sick with dread, bewildered, obsessed by images of war, delirious. Newspaper headlines, infected by the general madness, grew to enormous size, quivering before the eyes of their troubled readers; and the familiar world was clad in the te............
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