The Three Taverns Part 11

Not you . . . Not you . . . Why should you be afraid?

Give all your little fears, and Martha's with them, To me; and I will add them unto mine, Like a few rain-drops to Gennesaret."

"If you had frightened me in other ways, Not willing it," Mary said, "I should have known You still for Lazarus. But who is this?

Tell me again that you are Lazarus; And tell me if the Master gave to you No sign of a new joy that shall be coming To this house that He loved. Are you afraid?

Are you afraid, who have felt everything -- And seen . . . ?"

But Lazarus only shook his head, Staring with his bewildered shining eyes Hard into Mary's face. "I do not know, Mary," he said, after a long time.

"When I came back, I knew the Master's eyes Were looking into mine. I looked at His, And there was more in them than I could see.

At first I could see nothing but His eyes; Nothing else anywhere was to be seen -- Only His eyes. And they looked into mine -- Long into mine, Mary, as if He knew."

Mary began to be afraid of words As she had never been afraid before Of loneliness or darkness, or of death, But now she must have more of them or die: "He cannot know that there is worse than death,"

She said. "And you . . ."

"Yes, there is worse than death."

Said Lazarus; "and that was what He knew; And that is what it was that I could see This morning in his eyes. I was afraid, But not as you are. There is worse than death, Mary; and there is nothing that is good For you in dying while you are still here.

Mary, never go back to that again.

You would not hear me if I told you more, For I should say it only in a language That you are not to learn by going back.

To be a child again is to go forward -- And that is much to know. Many grow old, And fade, and go away, not knowing how much That is to know. Mary, the night is coming, And there will soon be darkness all around you.

Let us go down where Martha waits for us, And let there be light shining in this house."

He rose, but Mary would not let him go: "Martha, when she came back from here, said only That she heard nothing. And have you no more For Mary now than you had then for Martha?

Is Nothing, Lazarus, all you have for me?

Was Nothing all you found where you have been?

If that be so, what is there worse than that -- Or better -- if that be so? And why should you, With even our love, go the same dark road over?"

"I could not answer that, if that were so,"

Said Lazarus, -- "not even if I were G.o.d.

Why should He care whether I came or stayed, If that were so? Why should the Master weep -- For me, or for the world, -- or save Himself Longer for nothing? And if that were so, Why should a few years' more mortality Make Him a fugitive where flight were needless, Had He but held his peace and given his nod To an old Law that would be new as any?

I cannot say the answer to all that; Though I may say that He is not afraid, And that it is not for the joy there is In serving an eternal Ignorance Of our futility that He is here.

Is that what you and Martha mean by Nothing?

Is that what you are fearing? If that be so, There are more weeds than lentils in your garden.

And one whose weeds are laughing at his harvest May as well have no garden; for not there Shall he be gleaning the few bits and orts Of life that are to save him. For my part, I am again with you, here among shadows That will not always be so dark as this; Though now I see there's yet an evil in me That made me let you be afraid of me.

No, I was not afraid -- not even of life.

I thought I was . . . I must have time for this; And all the time there is will not be long.

I cannot tell you what the Master saw This morning in my eyes. I do not know.

I cannot yet say how far I have gone, Or why it is that I am here again, Or where the old road leads. I do not know.

I know that when I did come back, I saw His eyes again among the trees and faces -- Only His eyes; and they looked into mine -- Long into mine -- long, long, as if He knew."

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