The Way of All Flesh HTML version

Chapter 21
Strange! for she believed she doted upon him, and certainly she loved him better than
either of her other children. Her version of the matter was that there had never yet been
two parents so self- denying and devoted to the highest welfare of their children as
Theobald and herself. For Ernest, a very great future--she was certain of it--was in store.
This made severity all the more necessary, so that from the first he might have been kept
pure from every taint of evil. She could not allow herself the scope for castle building
which, we read, was indulged in by every Jewish matron before the appearance of the
Messiah, for the Messiah had now come, but there was to be a millennium shortly,
certainly not later than 1866, when Ernest would be just about the right age for it, and a
modern Elias would be wanted to herald its approach. Heaven would bear her witness
that she had never shrunk from the idea of martyrdom for herself and Theobald, nor
would she avoid it for her boy, if his life was required of her in her Redeemer's service.
Oh, no! If God told her to offer up her first-born, as He had told Abraham, she would
take him up to Pigbury Beacon and plunge the--no, that she could not do, but it would be
unnecessary--some one else might do that. It was not for nothing that Ernest had been
baptised in water from the Jordan. It had not been her doing, nor yet Theobald's. They
had not sought it. When water from the sacred stream was wanted for a sacred infant, the
channel had been found through which it was to flow from far Palestine over land and sea
to the door of the house where the child was lying. Why, it was a miracle! It was! It was!
She saw it all now. The Jordan had left its bed and flowed into her own house. It was idle
to say that this was not a miracle. No miracle was effected without means of some kind;
the difference between the faithful and the unbeliever consisted in the very fact that the
former could see a miracle where the latter could not. The Jews could see no miracle
even in the raising of Lazarus and the feeding of the five thousand. The John Pontifexes
would see no miracle in this matter of the water from the Jordan. The essence of a
miracle lay not in the fact that means had been dispensed with, but in the adoption of
means to a great end that had not been available without interference; and no one would
suppose that Dr Jones would have brought the water unless he had been directed. She
would tell this to Theobald, and get him to see it in the . . . and yet perhaps it would be
better not. The insight of women upon matters of this sort was deeper and more unerring
than that of men. It was a woman and not a man who had been filled most completely
with the whole fulness of the Deity. But why had they not treasured up the water after it
was used? It ought never, never to have been thrown away, but it had been. Perhaps,
however, this was for the best too--they might have been tempted to set too much store
by it, and it might have become a source of spiritual danger to them--perhaps even of
spiritual pride, the very sin of all others which she most abhorred. As for the channel
through which the Jordan had flowed to Battersby, that mattered not more than the earth
through which the river ran in Palestine itself. Dr Jones was certainly worldly--very
worldly; so, she regretted to feel, had been her father-in-law, though in a less degree;
spiritual, at heart, doubtless, and becoming more and more spiritual continually as he
grew older, still he was tainted with the world, till a very few hours, probably, before his
death, whereas she and Theobald had given up all for Christ's sake. THEY were not
worldly. At least Theobald was not. She had been, but she was sure she had grown in