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  The Dawn of A To-morrow Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter IV

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He was a young man with an eager soul, and his work in Apple Blossom Court and places like it had torn him many ways. Religious conventions established through centuries of custom had not prepared him for life among the submerged. He had struggled and been appalled, he had wrestled in prayer and felt himself unanswered, and in repentance of the feeling had scourged himself with thorns. Miss Montaubyn, returning from the hospital, had filled him at first with horror and protest.

"But who knows--who knows?" he said to Dart, as they stood and talked together afterward, "Faith as a little child. That is literally hers. And I was shocked by it--and tried to destroy it, until I suddenly saw what I was doing. I was--in my cloddish egotism--trying to show her that she was irreverent BECAUSE she could believe what in my soul I do not, though I dare not admit so much even to myself. She took from some strange passing visitor to her tortured bedside what was to her a revelation. She heard it first as a child hears a story of magic. When she came out of the hospital, she told it as if it was one. I--I--" he bit his lips and moistened them, "argued with her and reproached her. Christ the Merciful, forgive me! She sat in her squalid little room with her magic--sometimes in the dark--sometimes without fire, and she clung to it, and loved it and asked it to help her, as a child asks its father for bread. When she was answered--and God forgive me again for doubting that the simple good that came to her WAS an answer --when any small help came to her, she was a radiant thing, and without a shadow of doubt in her eyes told me of it as proof--proof that she had been heard. When things went wrong for a day and the fire was out again and the room dark, she said, `I 'aven't kept near enough--I 'aven't trusted TRUE. It will be gave me soon,' and when once at such a time I said to her, `We must learn to say, Thy will be done,' she smiled up at me like a happy baby and answered:

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`Thy will be done on earth AS IT IS IN 'EAVEN. Lor', there's no cold there, nor no 'unger nor no cryin' nor pain. That's the way the will is done in 'eaven. That's wot I arst for all day long--for it to be done on earth as it is in 'eaven.' What could I say? Could I tell her that the will of the Deity on the earth he created was only the will to do evil--to give pain--to crush the creature made in His own image. What else do we mean when we say under all horror and agony that befalls, `It is God's will--God's will be done.' Base unbeliever though I am, I could not speak the words. Oh, she has something we have not. Her poor, little misspent life has changed itself into a shining thing, though it shines and glows only in this hideous place. She herself does not know of its shining. But Drunken Bet would stagger up to her room and ask to be told what she called her `pantermine' stories. I have seen her there sitting listening--listening with strange quiet on her and dull yearning in her sodden eyes. So would other and worse women go to her, and I, who had struggled with them, could see that she had reached some remote longing in their beings which I had never touched. In time the seed would have stirred to life--it is beginning to stir even now. During the months since she came back to the court--though they have laughed at her--both men and women have begun to see her as a creature weirdly set apart. Most of them feel something like awe of her; they half believe her prayers to be bewitchments, but they want them on their side. They have never wanted mine. That I have known--KNOWN. She believes that her Deity is in Apple Blossom Court--in the dire holes its people live in, on the broken stairway, in every nook and awful cranny of it-- a great Glory we will not see--only waiting to be called and to answer. Do _I_ believe it--do you--do any of those anointed of us who preach each day so glibly `God is EVERYWHERE'? Who is the one who believes? If there were such a man he would go about as Moses did when `He wist not that his face shone.' "

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The Dawn of A To-morrow
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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