Already the new mighty rhythm caught them whirling into s.p.a.ce, each soul more and more _en rapport_ with the universal world-soul. Into their hearts, with the lift of wings and a happy bird-like song, it stole subconsciously; the formulae of doctrine which change and shift were giving place to inner experience, and inner experience cannot be destroyed, since it is formless, acknowledging no boundaries, obedient to no creed. Form was dying, life was being born. . . .
He watched the tumbling plover, the sea-gulls grandly sailing, the soaring lark; the floating thistledown went past along the careless wind; he saw his un-thinking daughter's natural, happy dancing, one and all interpreting this message of the air, this promise of liberty that brimmed his deep heart and his uneducated mind. The huge simplicity of the naked Downs made him see existence singularly as a whole; across the open sweep before him the air came sweetly, blowing the tangle of artificial living into easy rhythm and dancing everywhere.
He saw the accidental barriers between creed and sect and nation blown away. A new spiritual unity took their place, a synthetic life, the parts highly specialised, as with birds, yet the whole in perfect harmony. The day of special, exclusive dispensations had disappeared, and this organic spiritual unity, with its new religion of service, lifted the people as with mighty wings.
'Dance on, my child! dance on!' he cried, 'it makes me see things whole!'
He watched her light, flying movements against the sea of yellow gorse, the hair like a saffron scarf upon the wind, her radiant face shining and laughing with the blue of endless s.p.a.ce behind it. She did not heed his words; she danced away again; she seemed one with the tumbling plover, the sailing sea-birds, and the drifting thistle-down. She danced with the Spring, and the air was in her heart.
The spirit quickened in him as he saw her. His consciousness, he knew, was but a fragment of an immense and deeper consciousness, of limitless scope and powers; this greater self made affirmations to which no mere intellect would dare to set the boundaries. With the air there was a return of joy, belief and wonder into a world that has too long denied all three. Intellect might stand aside a little longer, watching cautiously, like Mother, the flights of intuition, that flashing bird of fire that strikes and vanishes; but science, hitherto destructive chiefly, must enter a new field or be discredited. It must become constructive, it must examine spiritual states. The barrier between the organic and the inorganic was already breached.
'Dance on! My heart flies dancing with you!'
With you! Rather with everything and every one! For he had this curious inspiration, as though all his past condensed now into a single moment-- that a new att.i.tude, due to the subliminal consciousness becoming consciously organised with its myriad and mighty powers, was stealing down into the hearts of men from the air. Since its outstanding characteristic was a fuller understanding, a natural sharing, a deep, instinctive sympathy, it involved an actual realisation of spiritual unity that intellect alone has never yet achieved, and never can. It was no flabby, Utopian, idealistic brotherhood he saw, but a practical, co-operative life based upon those greater powers, and upon that completer understanding lying, hid with G.o.d, in the subliminal regions of humanity. Experienced hitherto sporadically, only, he saw in what his heart called the promise of the air, their universal acceptance and development. . . . In a second of time, this all flashed into him as he watched the dancing little human figure on the gigantic landscape. And after it, if not actually with it, rose that unaccountable, uneasy, half-terrible emotion of deep-seated pain he had known before--the shudder . . . He trembled, tried to sing. Then the gorse p.r.i.c.ked him where he lay. He turned to make himself more comfortable. He wriggled. The attempt to sing tickled his throat and he coughed.
He sat up, feeling in his pockets for a pencil and paper. For the first time in his life he felt he must write. 'I must give it out,' he mumbled to himself. 'It's so wonderful, so simple. I must share it. I must tell it to others--to everybody.' He actually made some notes.
'Ah,' he thought, as he read them over a few days later, 'they're no good. I don't _quite_ understand them now, to tell the truth.'
He sighed. 'I'm only muddled,' he decided, 'just a Man in the Street bewildered by a touch of inspiration that blew into me!'
He lay watching Joan for a little longer, dancing in the middle distance still. The zest of a bird was in her, the toss, the scamper.
Lithe, spinning, sure, her movements interpreted the air far more clearly than his thoughts could compa.s.s it in words. Her song came to him with the breeze. He watched her, then waved the packet of sandwiches above his head. He was hungry. They ate their lunch, and spent the rest of the day exploring the great s.p.a.ces round them.
It was evening when they got home; they heard the random sweetness of the thrush's song among the laurels on the lawn; a nightjar was churning in the dusk beyond; there was a subdued and tiny chattering of the swallows in the eaves. They found Mother among the flower-beds, wearing her big garden-gloves. Wimble took her in his arms and kissed her.
'It's come, Mother, it's come,' he whispered against her cheek.
'And, d'you know?--you've been with us all day long.'
She looked up, peaceful and happy, a smell of garden earth about her, and the glow of the sunset in her eyes. 'Have I really, Joe dear?' she said.
'How lovely!' And then she added: 'I believe it is; yes, I believe it is.'
Next morning Wimble woke very, very early--close upon three o'clock.
He peered out of the window a moment. The dawn, he saw with a happy sigh of wonder, was just beginning to break. The gleam of light fell upon Mother's face; and the singing of a lark high up in the clearing air came to him. At the same moment Mother moved in her bed close by; her heavy breathing was interrupted. He listened. She was talking in her sleep, though the words were indistinguishable. He waited, thinking she might get up and walk. Her eyes, however, did not open; she lay still again.
He slipped over to tuck the blankets more securely round her.
'Bless her!' he thought. 'She's asleep! Her surface consciousness is merged with her deep, safe, wise subconsciousness----' And his thought broke off abruptly. It had suddenly occurred to him that the sleep-walker and the migrating bird both found their way unerringly in the darkness, both obedient to inner guidance. He stood still an instant, looking down upon her face in the pale morning light.
'Who, what guides the redwing over hills, and vales, and seas?' he whispered. 'Who, what guides the sleep-walker amid the intricacies of Maple furniture?' He chuckled to himself. It was odd how the comic Aquarian lecture cropped up in his memory like this once more.
He bent down and kissed her lightly on the cheek, then went back to bed.
Mother still mumbled in her sleep--' Flow, fly, flow,' he seemed to catch, 'it's coming, coming . . . '
'It's the bird returning to her heart,' he whispered to himself.
Deep down inside her being something sang; outside, the carolling of the lark continued, blithe and joyous in the breaking dawn. As he fell asleep, the two sounds were so curiously mingled that they seemed almost indistinguishable. . . .
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