ページの画像
PDF
ePub

human shape : his back was towards them, and they were advancing unperceived, when they heard him smite his breast and cry aloud, “ Woe is me! woe is me! I must never die again, and yet I am perishing with thirst and hunger."

Pallid, as the reflection of the sheeted lightning on the heavy-sailing night-cloud, became the face of Cain ; but the child Enos took hold of the shaggy skin, his father's robe, and raised his eyes to his father, and listening whispered, “ Ere yet I could speak, I am sure, O my father, that I heard that voice. Have not I often said that I remembered a sweet voice? O my father! this is it:" and Cain trembled exceedingly. The voice was sweet indeed, but it was thin and querulous, like that of a feeble slave in misery, who despairs altogether, yet can not refrain himself from weeping and lamentation. And, bebold ! Enos glided forward, and creeping softly round the base of the rock, stood before the stranger, and looked up into his face. And the Shape shrieked, and turned round, and Cain beheld him, that his limbs and his face were those of his brother Abel whom he bad killed! And Cain stood like one who struggles in his sleep because of the exceeding terribleness of a dream.

Thus as he stood in silence and darkness of soul, the Shape fell at his feet, and embraced his knees, and cried out with a bitter outcry, " Thou eldest born of Adam, whom Eve, my mother,

my son ?

brought forth, cease to torment me! I was feeding my flocks in green pastures by the side of quiet rivers, and thou killedst me; and now I am in misery.” Then Cain closed his eyes, and hid them with his hands; and again he opened his eyes, and looked around him, and said to Enos, “ What beholdest thou ? Didst thou hear a voice,

Yes, my father, I beheld a man in unclean garments, and he uttered a sweet voice, full of lamentation.” Then Cain raised up the Shape that was like Abel, and said :-“ The Creator of our father, who had respect unto thee, and unto thy offering, wherefore hath he forsaken thee?” Then the Shape shrieked a second time, and rent his garment, and his naked skin was like the white sands beneath their feet; and he shrieked yet a third time, and threw himself on his face upon

the sand that was black with the shadow of the rock, and Cain and Enos sate beside him ; the child by his right hand, and Cain by his left. They were all three under the rock, and within the shadow. The Shape that was like Abel raised himself up, and spake to the child : " I know where the cold waters are, but I may not drink, wherefore didst thou then take away my pitcher ?” But Cain said, “ Didst thou not find favour in the sight of the Lord thy God ?" The Shape answered, “The Lord is God of the living only, the dead have another God.” Then the child Enos lifted

up

his eyes and prayed; but Cain rejoiced secretly in his

66 who

heart. “ Wretched shall they be all the days of their mortal life,” exclaimed the Shape, sacrifice worthy and acceptable sacrifices to the God of the dead; but after death their toil ceaseth. Woe is me, for I was well beloved by the God of the living, and cruel wert thou, O my brother, who didst snatch me away from his power and his dominion.” Having uttered these words, he rose suddenly, and fled over the sands : and Cain said in his heart,

“ The curse of the Lord is on me; but who is the God of the dead? and he ran after the Shape, and the Shape fled shrieking over the sands, and the sands rose like white mists behind the steps of Cain, but the feet of him that was like Abel disturbed not the sands. He greatly outrun Cain, and turning short, he wheeled round, and came again to the rock where they had been sitting, and where Enos still stood; and the child caught hold of his garment as he passed by, and he fell upon the ground. And Cain stopped, and beholding him not, said, “ he has passed into the dark woods,” and he walked slowly back to the rocks; and when he reached it the child told him that he had caught hold of his garment as he passed by, and that the man had fallen upon the ground : and Cain once more sate beside him, and said, “ Abel, my brother, I would lament for thee, but that the spirit within me is withered, and burnt up with extreme agony. Now, I pray thee, by thy flocks, and by thy pastures, and by the quiet rivers which thou lovedst, that thou tell me all that thou knowest. Who is the God of the dead? where doth he make his dwelling ? what sacrifices are acceptable unto him? for I have offered, but have not been received; I have prayed, and have not been heard; and how can I be afflicted more than I already am ?

The Shape arose and answered, “O that thou hadst had pity on me as I will have pity on thee. Follow me, Son of Adam! and bring thy child with thee !”

And they three passed over the white sands between the rocks, silent as the shadows.

109

ALLEGORIC VISION.

A FEELING of sadness, a peculiar melancholy, is wont to take possession of me alike in spring and in autumn. But in spring it is the melancholy of hope : in autumn it is the melancholy of resignation. As I was journeying on foot through the Appennine, I fell in with a pilgrim in whom the spring and the autumn and the melancholy of both seemed to have combined. In his discourse there were the freshness and the colors of April :

Qual ramicel a ramo,
Tal da pensier pensiero
In lui germogliava.

But as I gazed on his whole form and figure, I bethought me of the not unlovely decays, both of age and of the late season, in the stately elm, after the clusters have been plucked from its entwining vines, and the vines are as bands of dried withies around its trunk and branches. Even so there was a memory on his smooth and ample forehead, which blended with the dedication of his steady eyes, that still looked—I know not, whether upward, or far onward, or rather to the line of meeting where the sky rests upon the distance.

« 前へ次へ »