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home-sickness, the longing to be with them once more, filled her soul, and she would pick up some needlework to try if she could by occupation drive her sadness away. But what was the good of knitting more socks? She had enough in the press to last her for a dozen years, and so had her husband. Her hands then sank on her lap, and she again gave way to her sombre thoughts. When there are children in a house such industry might be required, and then it would be a pleasure, and bring its own reward. Well, she might certainly make some for the children of the island, who, for the most part, ran about barefoot, even in winter, so she took up her work once more.
She seldom saw her husband during the day, except at their meals, and in the evening after supper. His superior knowledge had filled her at first with diffidence, but this soon wore away. She still recognised his higher mental cultivation, but he seemed himself to attach very little value to it, and he never pushed it obtrusively forward, nor did he apparently notice the lack of it in his wife. No discord ever rose between them; he seemed perfectly satisfied with her, and always lent a kind and willing ear to her inquiries. When any house in the parish had special need for female intervention, he sought Deena's advice; as a rule, until nine o'clock at night, he would read to her chosen passages from the Bible, or hymns that were distinguished for their poetic beauty. He had a delicate ear for their rhythm and cadence, which he appreciated as a God inspired gift for the purpose of deepening their influence upon the soul.
Deena sat opposite, listening and gazing at him. Often, indeed, she only did the latter; his voice, it is true, reached her ear, but the words failed to enter into her mind. The wavy brown locks clustering round his fair brow gleamed in the lamplight as the reader bent slightly forwards. He was young and handsome, and the girl-wife's heart was moved towards him with admiration and love. Never had she seen human eyes so brilliant, and she thought that she should never again feel home-sickness, or the least discontent, if they would but look on her with a different expression : not kinder or with more openness and interest ; no, but somehow different-different to that which he bestowed on every member of his parish, as brothers and sisters in Christ. But she was not his sister; she was his wife, and she knew that she looked on no man in the world as she looked on him, and she thought that in the same way a man should also look upon his wife. Still, his gaze seemed to pass ever through her and away beyond her into endless space. His eyes and thoughts never rested upon her as a creature of this world, but rather as one called to be his fellow-sharer in eternal joys; and in this anticipation of the future he lived with her, not for the transitory concerns of earth, but for those of that immortal life which he already possessed in the full assurance of faith.
Deena had grown up with her sisters in an honest, respectable family, without any impulse towards high intellectual acquirements, but of sound understanding, and healthy both in body and in soul. She had inherited true human instincts and affections, and her natural and proper feeling told her that there was a void in her life, a something lacking to which she had a right. What it was she did not know ; it vanished in a mist which her powers of thought failed to penetrate. Only she felt a craving within her for something to which she had a rightful claim as a wife, and which had nothing to do with the happiness of the world to come. But what all her self-communing failed to discover, observation at last revealed.
One evening she walked into the cottage of Folger Eckart and Ditya Hylmer. He was a young fisherman, and had scarcely been married a year. She held to her bosom a tiny little girl-baby; they had been admiring, laughing, and playing with it. As Folger threw his arm round Ditya's neck, he drew her close and lovingly to him, and kissed her till she was almost out of breath. Then he said : 'She'll hev a brother afoor a twelvemonth be hout, weänt she?'
a Ditya laughed. 'I reckons soä, if ya be sot on't.' And the lips of both met again.
They had not noticed Deena's presence, and she hastily left the cottage without executing her commission.
But the bright, glowing faces of the pair were stamped on her memory; it was a picture of wedded bliss in the humblest dwelling. The young pastor's wife felt in a moment what it was that she missed, what it was that she longed for and had a right to expect. She did not turn her steps homeward, but towards the downs, and gazed long over the dark rolling waves. The blood rushed to her temples ; she let the wind play over her burning cheeks; then, pressing her hand against her breast, as if to still her heart's wild throbbing, she slowly wended her
The winter was long and monotonous, as usual. A dark, gloomy sky encompassed both land and sea ; not a streak of white glistened on the ground ; snow rarely fell on the island. One could scarcely breathe in the cold, clammy air. There was no sharp frost ; that was prevented by the moist and restless sea-breeze. Sometimes the little houses were plainly to be seen, like gray dice jutting up here and there out of the ground; then the mist hid them for days together, and with its thick, impenetrable wrap turned each dwelling into a Liliputian island. At one moment the old church stood up like a phantom, then faded again from the view. In this appearance and disappearance lay a something mysterious-a ghost-like warning
Daylight no sooner appeared than it again passed away. the few hours when it was possible at night to catch a distant view, the red lamp of the tall lighthouse might be seen in the west, on the little island of Borkum, as on earth's outermost edge. A north-west gale was generally blowing, and at high-water kept the little isthmus between the two sections of the island constantly submerged, so that the dwellers upon them were quite cut off from intercourse with each other. No communication could be kept up with the mainland; no news came from thence. Winter provisions had been laid in; these, with the produce of their nets, sufficed for a meagre uniform supply of daily food.
The only change they knew was to watch at nightfall for the fishermen's return, in order to see that none were missing, but that all had happily escaped the perils of the deep. Even this anxiety was so regular, and of such long standing, that it had come to be only a part of their life's daily routine. It required either a naturally cheerful disposition or true domestic happiness, the eye of Faith bent only upon eternity or a heart gradually seared, to endure such a constant succession of melancholy days without moral deterioration.
But, though not till late in May, spring did come at last to the island, after having made its appearance weeks before in more favoured lands. The wind became softer and more gentle ; from the faint blue sky the sun shed down his rays once more upon the isle. The sea lay calm ; amid the tall waving grass children sported on the downs; here and there on the green streaks of turf might be seen some coloured tiny flower; and the lark's joyous trill resounded through the air. According to the old but ever-appropriate metaphor, even here on this poor sandbank in the Northern Sea, was Earth putting on her bridal robes to be clasped in the arms of Spring, wooing her to love.
It was late one afternoon that Nature thus appeared, beautiful alike in her poverty as in her grandeur, so that even Pastor Remmert felt her charm. They were but earthly things, and yet they swelled the soul as if they had been designed by God to convey a blessed foretaste of eternal joys. The young pastor was slowly pacing the lonely northern beach, meditating his sermon; but even he could not help feeling how delightful it was to breathe the soft, warm air. The re-awakening to life, after the deadness of the long winter sleep, presented itself to him as a summons to lift up his soul in thanks to the Creator for this transitory manifestation of His power and goodness. He threw himself on the sandy down, plucked from its edge a little blue flower, and looked at it with interest probably for the first time in his life ; and he recognised with a new, strange sensation that God had given it this lovely hue in order to charm the eye of man, and that its simple beauty might recall the innocent look of a child.
All at once a slight sound fell upon his ear. He turned and saw his girl-wife close beside him. She had seen him from a distance wandering in this direction, and had followed him. He greeted her kindly :
*You come just at the right moment, Deena ; don't you think with me that the island looks to-day like a peaceful Paradise ?'
She sat down by his side, looked around, and answered :
‘And as if you and I were the only people in it, just like Adam and Eve.'
The remark stirred his imagination; he dilated upon it, describing what, according to Bible story, the first garden of the human race must have been, and filling in from his own conceptions many little details upon which revelation is silent.
Every now and then Deena added to the picture some little
notion of her own, often so impossible, and with such a disregard to the requirements of time, as to draw a smile to his lips, while he tried to make her understand the impossibility of her supposition. It was the first time she had ever seen his smile, and scarcely could she believe it real as she saw it play around his lips. And then, longing to see it again, with all the female wiles of our first mother, Eve, she uttered one silly conceit after another in order to gain her wish.
Then for awhile they sat in silence, gazing into the far distance; the waves of the rising tide came softly in, lulling them with its gentle caress. White sails fitted by on the far-off horizon ; Deena counted them, Remmert did so too. But she made one more than he did, and so counted them with outstretched arm. The result still differed. Then Deena laid hold of his hand, pointing it towards the spot where she perceived the phantom-like sail almost vanishing in the haze. He admitted now that she was right, and their arms sank back together on the warm sandy down. But in the movement her hand remained still clasped in his.
The sun was just touching the distant horizon, and its crimson rays were reflected as a purple streak by the watery mirror. Something came lightly fluttering through the air, a strange visitor, a white butterfly, wafted to the island by the breeze. In a few minutes it was joined by another of the same kind; they fitted about together, parted, met again. At last the winged pair, fluttering in playful guise, mounted together far aloft. ‘Like two souls bound for heaven,' said Remmert Meynolt. Looking after them, Deena exclaimed: 'But, see, they are coming back again to earth.'
Then, with a sudden impulse, she threw her arm round her husband's neck, and kissed him, as Folger Eckert had kissed his wife, Ditya.
He half drew back, yet not entirely, as he said:
"Well, we are in Paradise, you know ; did not Adam and Eve kiss each other?'
“There is nothing said about it in Genesis.'
‘But you told me just now that the Bible is silent about many things that really happened. And they must have done so, because Eve was Adam's wife, created by God for him.'