We Two; a Novel

Author: Edna Lyall

Chapter XLII. A New Year’s Dawn

And the murky planets, I perceived, were but cradles for the infant spirits of the universe of light . . . . And in sight of this immeasurability of life no sadness could endure . . . . And I exclaimed, Oh! How beautiful is death, seeing that we die in a world of life and of creation without end! And I blessed God for my life upon earth, but much more for the life in those unseen depths of the universe which are comprised of all but the Supreme Reality, and where no earthly life or perishable hope can enter. Richter

For many weeks Erica had scarcely a conscious interval. Now and then she had been dimly aware that Brian was in the room, or that Aunt Jean, and Mrs. MacNaughton, and her many secularist friends were nursing her; but all had been vague, dream-like, seen through the distorting fever-mist. On night, however, she woke after a sleep of many hours to see things once more as they really were. There was her little room with its green-paneled walls, and its familiar pictures, and familiar books. There was Aunt Jean sitting beside the fire, turning over the pages of an "Idol-Breaker," while all the air seemed to be ringing and echoing with the sound of church bells.

"Auntie," she said, "what day is it?"

Aunt Jean came at once to her bedside.

"It is New Year’s day," she said; "it struck twelve about five minutes ago, dear."

Erica made no comment though the words brought back to her the sense of her desolation brought back to her, too, the remembrance of another New Year’s day long ago when she had stood beside her father on the deck of the steamer, and the bells of Calais had gayly pealed in spite of her grief. She took the food her aunt brought her, and promised to go to sleep once more.

"I shall have to wake up again in this misery!" she thought to herself. "Oh, if one could only sleep right on!"

But God sometimes saves us from what we have most dreaded; and when at sunrise Erica woke once more, before any recollection returned to her mind, she became conscious of One who said to her, "Lo, I am with you always! Behold, I make all things new!"

Streaks of golden light were stealing in between the window curtains. She lay quite still, able to face life once more in the strength of that Inner Presence; able to endure the well-known sights and sounds because she could once more realize that there was One who made even "the wrath of man to praise" Him; who, out of blackest evil and cruelest pain, could at length bring good. Presently, passing from the restfulness of that conscious communion, she remembered a strange dream she had had that night.

She had dreamed that she was sitting with Donovan in the little church yard at Oakdene; in her hand she held a Greek Testament, but upon the page had only been able to see one sentence. It ran thus, "Until the times of the Restitution of all things." Donovan had insisted that the word should rightly be "restoration." She had clung to the old rendering. While they discussed the distinction between the words, a beautiful girl had all at once stood before them. Erica knew in an instant who it must be by the light which shone in her companion’s face.

"You are quite right," she had said, turning her beautiful eyes upon him. "It is not the mere giving back of things that were, it is the perfecting of that which was here only in ideal; it is the carrying out of what might have been. All the time there has been progress, all the time growth, and so restoration is better, wider, grander than anything we could dream of here!"

And, as she left them, there had come to both a sort of vision of the Infinite, in sight of which the whole of earthly existence was but as an hour, and the sum of human suffering but as the pin prick to a strong man, and yet both human suffering and human existence were infinitely worth while. And over them stole a wonderful peace as they realized the greatness of God’s universe, and that in it was no wasted thing, no wasted pain, but order where there seemed confusion, and a soul of goodness where there seemed evil.

And, after all, what was this dream compared with the reality which she knew to exist? Well, it was perhaps a little fragment, a dim shadow, a seeing through the glass darkly; but mostly it was a comfort because she was all the time conscious that there was an infinitely Better which it has not entered into the heart of man to conceive.

Brian came in for his morning visit with a face so worn and anxious that it made her smile.

"Oh!" she said, looking up at him with quiet, shining eyes, "how I have been troubling you all these weeks! But you are not to be troubled any more, darling. I am going to get better."

And with a sort of grateful, loving tenderness, she drew his face down to hers and kissed him.

"Where is Tom?" she asked presently, beginning for the first time to take an interest in the world again.

"Tom has gone to Oakdene for a day or two," said Brian. "He is going to be Donovan’s private secretary."

"How glad I am!" she said. "Dear old Tom, he does so deserve to be happy!"

"They want you to go there as soon as you are well enough to be moved," said Brian.

"I should like that," she said with a touch of her old eagerness of manner. "I want to get well quickly; there is so much work for us to do you know. Oh, Brian! I feel that there is work which HE would wish me to do, and I’m so glad, so glad to be left to do it!"

Brian thought of the enormous impetus given to the cause of secularism by Raeburn’s martyrdom. The momentary triumph of bigotry and intolerance had, as in all other ages, been followed by this inevitable consequence a dead loss to the persecuting side. Would people at length learn the lesson? Would the reign of justice at length dawn? Would the majority at length believe that the All Father needs not to be supported by persecuting laws and unjust restrictions?

Yet it was not these thoughts which brought the tears to his eyes it was the rapture caused by Erica’s words.

"My darling will live, and is glad to live!" he thought. "Who could bear witness to the truth so well? Who be so sweet a reconciler?"

"Why, Brian! Brian!" exclaimed Erica as the great drops fell on her hand lying clasped in his.

And there was that in tone and look and touch which made Brian more than content.


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Chicago: Edna Lyall, "Chapter XLII. A New Year’s Dawn," We Two; a Novel, ed. Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915 and trans. Evans, Sebastian in We Two; a Novel Original Sources, accessed May 31, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GXQ52HCR1MMABEK.

MLA: Lyall, Edna. "Chapter XLII. A New Year’s Dawn." We Two; a Novel, edited by Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, and translated by Evans, Sebastian, in We Two; a Novel, Original Sources. 31 May. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GXQ52HCR1MMABEK.

Harvard: Lyall, E, 'Chapter XLII. A New Year’s Dawn' in We Two; a Novel, ed. and trans. . cited in , We Two; a Novel. Original Sources, retrieved 31 May 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=GXQ52HCR1MMABEK.