Chapter IX

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‘‘OUR reading was a little dull yesterday; we will choose something brighter to-day,’’ said Louis Ramirez to Manuelita the next afternoon as they took their seats again on the remado.

‘‘Here is Fénélon's Telemachus. All of his writings have a great charm for me, he was such a saintly man.’’

‘‘I think I have heard you tell Father Kino that you knew him.’’

‘‘Yes, I saw him and heard him preach quite often. I was in Paris during Louis XIV. and Bossuet's persecution of him.’’

‘‘Will you not tell me about it?’’

‘‘Some time after he became Archbishop of Cambray he was drawn into the Quietist controversy, of which Madame Guyon was the leader, a species of mysticism and religious

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ecstasy, insisting upon self-renouncement, and what they called, an internal worship of God, an annihilation of the body and mind, and a perfectly quiescent, contemplative passivity, from which the name Quietists was derived. When Bossuet thought it popular and Madame de Maintenon approved it, he was her friend and supporter, but when Louis XIV. grew jealous of her increasing influence, and Madame de Maintenon decided against her, she was thrown into the Château de Vincennes. Then Fénélon with his true generosity and fidelity would not desert her; he published his Maxims of the Saints, in which he sought to distinguish between true and false mysticism. Louis and Bossuet induced the Pope to condemn this work of Fénélon's, which he did very reluctantly.’’

‘‘What did Fénélon do?’’

‘‘Why, behaved beautifully, and all the world admired and loved him the more. He said that as a son of the church he must bow

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in submission to its superior authority, and when the Pope ordered it he read a recantation together with the Holy See's condemnation from his own pulpit in Chambray.’’

‘‘I would not have done it if I thought I was right,’’ she said earnestly. ‘‘It was weak.’’

‘‘Oh, no, my child, a priest's duty above all else is obedience to his superiors, above all to the 'Holy See.' He of course thought he was right, trusted to his own judgment when he wrote his Maxims, but as his superior decided against him he had no choice but obedience. I heard him, and I shall never forget his noble face and expression, his dignified bearing when he concluded by saying that notwithstanding the humiliation of their pastor he hoped the flock would grow in grace before God, let it be remembered of us that a pastor has believed it to be his duty to be more docile than the least sheep of his flock, and that he has put no bounds to his submission.’’

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‘‘I cannot help thinking it was weak, and how sorry it makes one to feel that it was necessary.’’

‘‘No, my child, it was not weak in him; a soldier's judgment may be better sometimes than his commander's, and yet his first duty is obedience. How much more a soldier's of the Holy Church. And do not think, my child, that great men are not sometimes very weak; few men live though the first period of manhood without yielding to some temptation,’’ and he spoke with much feeling.

When Manuelita had read the first chapter she closed the book and laying it on the table beside her said, ‘‘It is poetic and exquisite.’’

‘‘Yes, he was truly the inventor of poetic prose: he speaks to the heart as well as to the intelligence—his expressions are so in harmony with his pure and elevated sentiments.’’

‘‘I fear this afternoon that it is with me as with Calypso: my mind is not in accord with all this beautiful harmony and exquisite sympathy

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of nature. Will you not tell me something more of Fénélon?’’

‘‘Certainly, my child. I loved him, and I love to tell about him. All my boyish enthusiasm when in Paris seemed to centre in him: he was truly called the 'Apostle of Love,' for, like the beloved St. John, he summed up the whole of Christianity in the few words 'little children, love one another;' his pure loving soul impressed itself upon all he said. Knowing how the king felt towards him he had not intended to publish Telemachus, but his servant copied it and gave it to the press: its publication was prohibited in France, and it was reprinted in Holland. He has only been dead six years; he died just after I left the college of Salamanca.’’

‘‘Was he like Pascal, did he also love above his station?’’ she asked gently.

Poor child, he thought, how truly with you it is from the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh. ‘‘I do not remember to

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have ever heard that he did; he entered the church when he was only nineteen years of age.’’

‘‘Was he happy?’’

‘‘We must hope so, my child; he had that tranquillity of the soul which must be as near an approach to happiness as man ever knows.’’

‘‘But I would like to know that he had loved some one and was truly happy in his love.’’

‘‘Ah, child, love holds one in such close captivity—it takes possession of the heart and soul and body, and absorbs every other feeling—it does not leave energy or time for anything else. Think how much the world would have lost without Fénélon's great genius, his eloquence and beautiful life and writings.’’

‘‘But he might have been happier,’’ she persisted.

‘‘I think not, my child; we read that the old monks tried to root love out of the earth, and I fear they were right.’’

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‘‘Oh, no, no,’’ she said, ‘‘the love that begins in the heart and grows there deeper and deeper, day by day, and lasts till death, is so beautiful, it cannot be wrong.’’

‘‘Oh, child, what are you doing?’’ he said almost fiercely; ‘‘do not think so much of this, it is a fever that consumes your strength; it will kill you. Love lives and strengthens by its emotions, its desires, its illusions. Conquer them, child, strive to forget them or they will destroy you. 'Celui qui passe par la porte de la désillusion est mort deux fois.' I must leave you, my child,’’ he said, rising hurriedly and leaving the remado. His misery was too great to be longer even outwardly controlled; he must escape, his soul was shaken to its depths, and every moment seemed to lessen his self-control.

Going out to his favorite haunt, beneath an old tree, where he had had more than one conflict with his soul, he threw himself prone upon the insensate earth. Of what use had been to him all the discipline of his early life?

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The most practical axioms of conduct that had gone with him all his life were so useless now; his heart was desolate and life was very bitter to him: he had been here five years and had hoped to accomplish so much. It was a great segment in the little circle of his mortality, and what had he done with it? He had fallen under the spell of a woman's bright smile and gentle voice, and his life for usefulness as well as for happiness was threatened with destruction. Once it came to him to go out into the world again and seek to win her love, but she would despise him, and he would despise himself: vain, hopeless, none knew better than himself that she did not love him and never would. Oh, how wicked, how fallen he thought himself, to have permitted such a thought to have found entrance into his heart!

The bright, vivid life of May, which is full summer time in this latitude, was all around him; how much life and glory there was in nature, even here in this American desert:

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the spring rains had caused the grass to put forth its tiny blades until they now tapestried the earth, the wildlings of the hillsides were in luxuriant blossom, full of colour and charm and mystic language, but to enjoy all this the heart must be in accord with generous nature, and to see, or to love them the heart must be at rest with itself; and this black-robed brother who lay prostrate in its midst was too full of wretchedness to be conscious of aught save the misery with which this terrible passion threatened him. How it sickened his soul, this constant struggle. Did his duty lie in flight? With Father Kino ill, this was impossible.

Long and hard he struggled to put her beautiful face and soft, gentle voice from his mind, but upon every wave of memory it came to him again; how tender and sisterly her manner had been to him of late, and how hard he had struggled to reconcile himself to it, and to wean her from the passion which he saw was filling her whole soul and consuming

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it with a burning fever; how she would at first shrink from him and avoid him for some days, and then fearing that she had offended him, all the old sisterly tenderness would return, and her manner grow more confiding, and her little attentions to him make his heart more desolate than ever! Its recesses became a solitude like the veil of the old Jewish temple which was entered only once a year, but which he dared not now enter at all, for sin and suffering both awaited him upon its very threshold. How strange that the chords of this tender human heart, which had remained mute and senseless to the daily and hourly temptations of the brilliant society which he had frequented in France and Spain, should respond here, in such earnest throbs, to the touch of this beautiful desert wildling! He whose great anxiety and longing had always been for intellectual growth, for spiritual life and work, now felt himself under the dominion of a passion stronger than life itself, a passion which

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threatened his destruction, soul and body. A golden sunset filled the land, a pomp of gold and purple, a mockery of kings, shone on the mountain's lofty summits, the mountain shadows slowly lengthened, the sun went down behind, and soon defined the twilight hour: the shadows of evening closed around him and still he lay here, himself the broadest. darkest shadow in the full reflection of the rising moon.

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