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THE MINISTER’S DREAM-

♦ (I Continued..) “ He was trembling with excitement Kis face was of a ghastly pallor. His voice was that of a person suffering from some terrible shock—labonng under some awful fear.

“‘What has happened, Edward?’ I asked. I had known him when he was a little boy. ‘I am distressed to see you in such a state. Rouse yourstelf; be a man ; whatever has gone wrong can possibly be righted. I have come over to do all that lies in my powet for you. If it is a matter of money—- “ ‘ No, no; it is not money,’ he interrupted ; ‘ would that it were !’ and he began to tremble again so violently that really he communicated some part of his nervousnes to me, and put me into a state of perfect terror. “ ‘ Whatever is it Cawley, out with it,’ : I said ; ‘ have you murdered anybody?* ,• “‘No, it is worse than that,’ he s answered. ? “ ‘ But that is just nonsense,’ 1 de- : dared. ‘ Are you in your right mind* >j do you think ?’ . ■ “ ‘ I wish I were not,’ he returned. ‘ I’d like to know I was stark staring . 1 mad ;it would be happier for me—farj’ | far happier.’ a “‘lf you don’t tell me this minute; M what is the matter, I shall turn on iar| heel and tramp my way home'again* |t|9 said, half in a passion, for what I thought J| his folly angered me. >llfl “ ‘ Come into the house,’ he ea-jH treated, ‘ and try to have patience with *1 me; for indeed, Mr. Morisoh, I am 1 sorely troubled. I have been through j my deep waters, and they have gone clean over my head.’ ” We went into his little study and sat down. For a while he remained silent, his head resting upon his hand, straggling with some strong emotion j but after about five minutes he asked* in a low subdued voice, “ ‘ Do you believe in dreams ? ’ ”■ “ What has my belief to do with the matter in hand ? ” I enquired. “‘ It is a dream, an awful dream, that is troubling me.’” I arose from my chair. s “Do you mean to say,” I askfed, “you have brought me from my business and parish to tell me you have had a bad dream ? ” J I J. “ ‘ That is just what I do mean to say,” he answered. “At least, it-was not a dream —it was a vision; no, I don’t mean a vision. I can’t tell you" what it was; but nothing I ever went, through in actual life was half so real, and I have bound myself to go through it all again. There is no hope fpr me, Mr Morison. I sit before you a lost: creature, the most miserable man on. the face of the whole earth.”

“ What did you dream ? ” I enquired. A dreadful fit of trembling again seized him ; but at last he managed to say, “ ‘ I have been like this ever since, and I shall be like this for evermore—till— till —the end comes.’ ” “ When did you have your bad dream ? ” I asked. “ ‘ Last night, or, rather, this morning,’ he answered. “ I’ll tell you all about it in a minute,’ and he covered his face with his hands again. “ ‘ I was as well when I went to bed, about 11 o’clock, as ever I was in my life,’ he began, putting a great restraint upon himself, as I could see by the nervous way he kept knotting and unknotting his fingers. ‘ I had been considering my sermon, and felt satisfied I should be able to deliver a good one on Sunday morning. I had taken nothing after my tea, and I lay down in my bed feeling at peace with all mankind, satisfied with my lot, thankful for the many blessings vouchsafed to me. I low long I slept, or what I dreamt about at first, if dreamt at all, I don’t know; but after a time the mists seemed to clear from before my eyes, to roll away like clouds from a mountain summit, and I found myself walking on a beautiful summer’s evening beside the river Deldy.’ “ He paused for a moment, and an irrepressible shudder shook his frame. “ ‘Go on,’ I said, for I felt afraid of: his breaking down again. .. “ He looked at me pitifully, with a hungry entreaty in his weary eyes, and continued : .

“‘ It was a lovely evening. I had never thought the earth so beautiful before. A gentle breeze just touched my cheek, the water flowed on clear, and bright, the mountains in the disr tance looked brightand glowing, covered. . with purple heather. I walked on and on till I came to that point where* {is V you may perhaps remember, the path) growing very narrow, winds round the base of a great crag that leads the wayfarer suddenly into a little green amphi-. , theatre, bounded on one side by the river and on the other by rocks that rise in places sheer to a height of a • hundred feet and more.’ ' “‘I remember it,’l said; * a little farther on three streams meet and fall. , with a tremendous roar into the Witches’. Caldron, A fine sight in the winter time, only that there is scarce any, , reaching it from below, as the path you mention and the little green oasis fair/ ; mostly covered with water. 1 ! - - : ; “‘ I had not been there before sinfch’ ! ’ - I was a child,’ he went on mournfully,, ‘but I recollected it as one of the most solitary spots possible, and my astonish'

— ment was great to see a mar. in the pathway with a drawn s>.* o;d in his hand. He did not stir 1 near, so I stepped aside on ihc gm >, Instantly he barred my way. “ ‘ You can’t pass here,’ he said. ’ « t Why not ?’ I asked. “ * Because I say so,’ he answered. “ * And who are you that say so ?’ I inquired, looking full at him. “* He was like a god. Majesty and power were written on every feature, were expressed in every gesture; but O, the awful scorn of his smile, the contempt with which he regarded me ! The beams of the setting sun fell upon him, ’ and seemed to bring out as in letters of fire the wickedness, and hate and sin that underlay the glorious and terrible beauty of his face. «‘ I felt afraid, but I managed to

say: « ‘ Stand out of my way ; the river bank is as free to me as to you.’ “ ‘ Not this part of it,’ he answered ; * this place belongs to me.’ “ < Very well,’ I agreed, for I did not want to stand there bandying words with him, and a sudden darkness seemed to be falling around. ‘lt is getting late, and so I’ll e’en turn back.’ “‘He gave a laugh, the like of which never fell on human ear before, and made reply: “ ‘ You can’t turn back ; of your own free will you have come on my ground, and from it there is no return.’

“* I did not speak; I only just turned round, and made as fast as I could for the narrow path at the foot of the crag. He did not pass me, yet before I could reach the point I desired, he stood barring the way, with the scornful smile still on his lips, and his gigantic form assuming tremendous proportions in the narrow way. “ ‘ Let me pass,’ I entreated, ‘ and I will never come here again, never trespass more on your ground.’ “ 1 No, you shall not pass.’ “ 1 Who are you that takes such power on thyself ?’ I asked. “ * Come closer, and I will tell you,’

he said. “‘I drew a step nearer, and he spoke one word. I had never heard it before, but I knew what it meant, by some extraordinary intuition. He was the Evil One; the name seemed to be taken up by the echoes and repeated from rock to rock arid crag to crag; the whole air seemed full of that one word; and then a great horror of darkness came about us, only the place where we stood remained light. We occupied a small circle walled round with the thick blackness of night “ * You must come with me,’ he said. “‘ I refused; and then he threatened me. I implored, and entreated and wept; but. at last I agreed to do what he wanted if he would promise to let me return. Again he laughed, and said, Yes, I should return; and the rocks and trees and mountains, aye, and the very rivers, seemed to take up the answer and bear it in sobbing whispers away into the darkness.’ “He stopped and lay back in his chair, shivering like one in an ague fit. ‘“Go on,’l repeated again; ‘ ’twas but a dream, you know.’ “ 1 Was it ? he murmured mournfully. ‘Ah, you have not heard the end of it yet’ “ ‘ Let me hear it, then,’ I said * What happened afterwards ?” The darkness seemed in part to clear away, and we walked side by side across the sward in the tender twilight straight up to the bare black wall of rock. With the hilt of his sword he struck a heavy blow, and the solid rock opened as though it were a door. We passed through, and it closed behind us with a tremendous clang; yes; it closed behind us;’ and at that point he fairly broke down, crying and sobbing as I had never seen a man even in the most frightful grief cry and sob before.” The minister paused in his narrative. At [that moment there came a most tremendous blast of wind, which shook the windows of the manse, and burst open the hall-door, and caused the . candles to flicker, and the fire to go

roaring up the chimney. It is not too • much to say that, what with the uncanny story, and what with the howling storm, we every one felt that creeping sort of uneasiness which so often seems like the touch of something from another world—a hand stretched across the boundary line of time and eternity, the coldness and mystery of which makes the stoutest heart tremble. “lam telling you this tale,” said Mr Morison, resuming his seat after a . brief absence to see that the fastenings : of the bouse were properly attended to, “exactly as I heard it. I am not adding a word or comment of my own, nor, so far as I know, am I omitting any incident, however trival. You - must draw your own deductions from ' the facts I put before you. I have no explanations to give or theory to pro- - pound. Part of that great and terrible • region in which he found himself, my ' friend went on to tell me, he penei trated, compelled by a power he could ; not resist, to see the most awful spectacles, the most frightful sufferings. : There was no form of vice that had not there its representative. As they moved along his companion told him ' the special sin for which such horrible punishment was being inflicted. Shud- ' dering, and in mortal agony, he was . yet unable to withdraw his eyes from the dreadful spectacle; the atmosphere . . grew' more unendurable, the sights more and more terrible; the cries, groans, blasphemies, more awful and heart Amending. “ * I can bear no more,’ he gasped at last i ‘ let me go ,!’. ‘‘ With a mocking laugh the Presence beside him answered this appeal; a laugh which was taken up by the lost

and anguished spirits around. ,« * There is no return,’ said the ' pitiless voice, « * But you promised,’ he cried; ‘you promised me faithfully.’ «‘ What are promises here ?’ and the words were as a sound of doom. p Still he prayed and entreated ; he fell dp his, knees, and in his agony spoke words tfaat.seemed to cause the purpose of the Evil one to falter. “‘You shall go,’ he said, ‘on one ‘I fcdhditidn : that you agree to return to Wednesday next or send a cbul<| not do that,’ said my ... <1 could not send my. fellow creature here. Better stop myself than drat’. swfit * Then stop,’ said Satan, with 1 the bjtterestconteropt; and he was turning

■ -V, ".hen the poor distressed soul usked i a minute more ere he made his cho co. ( To be continued.)

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18810307.2.16

Bibliographic details

THE MINISTER’S DREAM-, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 286, 7 March 1881

Word Count
2,051

THE MINISTER’S DREAM- Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 286, 7 March 1881

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