I stood on a grassy sward, and at
my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked,
but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled,
and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back
I drew, dizzy at the depth.
Then I saw forms of people moving
single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There
was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding
on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I say that she
was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step and it trod air.
She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry that
I heard. Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters.
All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice
edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling,
and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty
air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.
Then I wondered, with a wonder that
was simple agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could
not. I was glued to the ground, and I could not call; though I
strained and tried, only a whisper would come.
Then I saw that along the edge there
were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were far too
great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these
gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the
green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the
mouth of hell.
Then I saw, like a little picture
of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their backs
turned towards the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes
when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them it disturbed
them and they thought it a rather vulgar noise. And if one of
their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help,
then all the others would pull that one down. Why should
you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call
to go! You havent finished your daisy chains yet. It would
be really selfish, they said, to leave us to finish
the work alone.
There was another group. It was made up of people whose great
desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very
few wanted to go and sometimes there were no sentries set for
miles and miles of the edge.
Once a girl stood alone in her place,
waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called,
and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break
the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go
and rest for awhile, but no one was sent to guard her gap and
over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.
Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink
of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it calledbut nobody
seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way and with
a cry, the child went over, its two little hands still holding
tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed
to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and
she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding
her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken
care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn.
Then through the hymn came another
sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one
full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me,
for I knew what it wasthe Cry of the Blood. Then
thundered a Voice, the Voice of the Lord. And He said, What
hast thou done? The voice of thy brothers blood crieth unto
Me from the ground.
The tom-toms still beat heavily,
the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the
yells of the devil-dancers and the weird wild shriek of the devil-possessed
just outside the gate. What does it matter, after all? It has
gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss
God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame
us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!
For God so loved the world,
not just a few,
The wise and great, the noble and the true,
Or those of favored class or rank or hue.
God loved the world. Do you?