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I Am Sent
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Then I turned and said to Eve,
"Mother, one couch next to Lona is empty: I know I am unworthy, but may I not sleep this night in your chamber with my dead? Will you not pardon both my cowardice and my self-confidence, and take me in? I give me up. I am sick of myself, and would fain sleep the sleep!"
"The couch next to Lona is the one already prepared for you," she answered; "but something waits to be done ere you sleep."
"I am ready," I replied.
"How do you know you can do it?" she asked with a smile.
"Because you require it," I answered. "What is it?"
She turned to Adam:
"Is he forgiven, husband?"
"From my heart."
"Then tell him what he has to do."
Adam turned to his daughter.
"Give me that hand, Mara, my child."
She held it out to him in her lap. He took it tenderly.
"Let us go to the cottage," he said to me; "there I will instruct you."
As we went, again arose a sudden stormful blast, mingled with a great flapping on the roof, but it died away as before in a deep moan.
When the door of the death-chamber was closed behind us, Adam seated himself, and I stood before him.
"You will remember," he said, "how, after leaving my daughter's house, you came to a dry rock, bearing the marks of an ancient cataract; you climbed that rock, and found a sandy desert: go to that rock now, and from its summit walk deep into the desert. But go not many steps ere you lie down, and listen with your head on the sand. If you hear the murmur of water beneath, go a little farther, and listen again. If you still hear the sound, you are in the right direction. Every few yards you must stop, lie down, and hearken. If, listening thus, at any time you hear no sound of water, you are out of the way, and must hearken in every direction until you hear it again. Keeping with the sound, and careful not to retrace your steps, you will soon hear it louder, and the growing sound will lead you to where it is loudest: that is the spot you seek. There dig with the spade I will give you, and dig until you come to moisture: in it lay the hand, cover it to the level of the desert, and come home.--But give good heed, and carry the hand with care. Never lay it down, in what place of seeming safety soever; let nothing touch it; stop nor turn aside for any attempt to bar your way; never look behind you; speak to no one, answer no one, walk straight on.--It is yet dark, and the morning is far distant, but you must set out at once."
He gave me the hand, and brought me a spade.
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