The Works of Fiona Macleod, Vol. IV, The Divine Adventure, Part II

II

Thus it was that on a midsummer morning we set out alone and afoot, not bent for any one place, though we said we would go towards the dim blue hills in the west, the Hills of Dream, as we called them; but, rather, idly troubled by the very uncertainties which beset our going. We began that long stepping westward as pilgrims of old who had the Holy City for their goal, but knew that midway were perilous lands.

We were three, as I have said: the Body, the Will, and the Soul. It was strange for us to be walking there side by side, each familiar with and yet so ignorant of the other. We had so much in common, and yet were so incommunicably alien to one another. I think that occurred to each of us, as, with brave steps but sidelong eyes, we passed the fuchsia bushes, where the wild bees hummed, and round by the sea pastures, where white goats nibbled among the yellow flags, and shaggy kine with their wild hill-eyes browsed the thyme-sweet salted grass. A fisherman met us. It was old Ian Macrae, whom I had known for many years. Somehow, till then, the thought had not come to me that it might seem unusual to those who knew my solitary ways, that I should be going to and fro with strangers. Then, again for the first time, it flashed across me that they were so like me--or save in the eyes I could myself discern no difference-the likeness would be as startling as it would be unaccountable.

I stood for a moment, uncertain. Of course, "I muttered below my breath, of course, the others are invisible; I had not thought of that."  I watched them slowly advance, for they had not halted when I did.  I saw them incline the head with a grave smile as they passed Ian. The old man had taken off his bonnet to them, and had stood aside.

Strangely disquieted, I moved towards Macrae.
"Ian," I whispered rather than spoke.
"Ay," he answered simply, looking at me with his grave, far-seeing eyes.
"Ian, have you seen my friends before?"
"No, I have never seen them before."
"They have been here for--for--many--days."
"I have not seen them."
"Tell me; do you recognise them?"
"I have not seen them before."
"I mean, do you--do you see any likeness in them to any you know?"
"No, I see no likeness."
"You are sure, Ian?"
"Ay, for sure. And why not?" The old fisherman looked at me with questioning eyes.
"Tell me, Ian, do you see any difference in me?"
"No, for sure, no."

Bewildered, I pondered this new mystery.  "Were we really three personalities, without as well as within?"

At that moment the Will turned. I heard his voice fall clearly along the heather-fragrant air-ledges.

"We, too, are bewildered by this mystery," he said.

So he knew my thought. It was our thought. Yes, for now the Soul turned also; and I heard his sunwarm breath come across the honeysuckles by the roadside.

"I, too, am bewildered by this mystery," he said.

"Ian," I exclaimed to the old man, who stared wonderingly at us; "Ian tell me this: what like are my companions; how do they seem to you?"

The old man glanced at me, startled, then rubbed his eyes as though he were halfawakened from a dream.
"Why are you asking that thing?"
"Because, Ian, you do not see any likeness in them to myself.  I had thought--I had thought they were so like."

Macrae put his wavering, wrinkled hand to his withered mouth. He gave a chuckling laugh.
"Ah, I understand now. It is a joke you are playing on old Ian."
"Maybe ay, and maybe no, Ian; but I do want to know how they seem to you, those two yonder."
"Well, well, now, for sure, that friend of yours there, that spoke first, he is just a weary, tired old man, like I am myself, and so like me, now that I look at him, that he might be my wraith. And the other, he is a fine lad, a fisher-lad for sure, though I fear God's gripped his heart, for I see the old ancient sorrow. in his eyes."

I stared: then suddenly I understood.
"Good-day, Ian," I added hurriedly, "and the blessing of Himself  be upon you and yours, and upon the nets and the boats."

Then I moved slowly towards my companions, who awaited me.   I understood now. The old fisherman had seen after his own kind. The Will, the Soul, which for the first time had journeyed outside our common home, had to take upon themselves bodily presences likewise.  But these wavering images were to others only the reflection of whoso looked upon them.  Old Ian had seen his own tired self and his lost youth.  With a new fear the Body called to us, and we to him; and we were one, yet three; and so we went onward together.


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