Slowly I toiled upward, for the way was steep, and the hot sun poured upon my head by day, and the damp chilly dews of the night clung to my garments, making them oft cold and heavy about me, while my feet stumbled ever and anon upon the mountain pathway. The hill was called the Hill of Life, and I was not alone, for many others travelled along the same way, with the same end in view, for we had all received an invitation to see the King in His Beauty.
I was tired—very tired, for life had not been all sunshine, and I yearned with a great yearning to reach my journey's end; and often I had fainted by the way did not the thought of the peace and rest awaiting me cause me to hasten my steps and press forward.
I passed one that was blind upon the way, and he stumbled in his darkness, and I heard, him cry, "Someone take my hand, I cannot see! The King has called me, and yet I stumble: will someone help! "but I passed on and left him, for I was already late, and I was very weary, and I did only what many others did, for what was this blind man to me?
I came to one crouching beside the pathway, and as she crouched thus, she hid her face in the folds of her mantle, crying, "Alas, I am fallen, fallen!" and the travelers gave her a wide berth, and hurried by, and she raised her head for one moment as I approached her, and I met those sad, stricken eyes, and their anguish smote upon my heart, and I stayed my steps for a brief moment,— but what was she to me, why should I stay? My heart was very weary—and I passed quickly on my way, and I heard her voice as it died away in the distance, and it cried, "No one has pity!"
And I came to where the way grew very steep and rugged, and right across my pathway one lay upon his face, and groaned, and his tones were those of despair and utter helplessness. "My feet slipped," he cried, "when I thought not, and my besetting sin hath overtaken me; woe is me, I shall never see the King!" I put my fingers in my ears, and ran, for surely this did not concern me; he had walked faster than I, and had out-stripped me in the way, and had well-nigh reached the goal, and yet he had fallen; he must bear his own sorrow.
And now the shadows were falling upon the mountains, and the deep valleys, up out of which I had come, were full of the dark night mists, but I had reached the portals of the Home door, and my heart was glad, for, just a moment, and I should hear the voice of the Master welcome me in, and mine eyes should see the King in His Beauty. With hands which trembled with joy, I knocked upon the portals, and slowly the great door swung back upon its hinges, and there stood One, tall and silent, with a calm stern face, but he did not bid me enter, and with those eyes fixed upon me, my knees trembled, and, I said, "I have come to see the King, may I not enter?" "Nay, He is not here," said the porter; "did you not see Him by the way? go back again and find Him."
Slowly and with bent head I descended the pathway up which I had come, a strange pain and disappointment at my heart, for after all, had I not missed Him by the way?
And after many days of weary travel I came to where he lay who had fallen by the wayside, and still he cried out in his anguish; but somehow this time I could not pass him by, and leaning down, I put my arms about him and lifted him up, saying, "Come, my brother, I, too, have missed Him, let us seek Him together." And he wept with joy, and clung to my garments like a little child; and so we two passed on together.
By-and-by, we came to where she lay whom I had passed by and left to her shame and sorrow, and I looked into the eyes of my companion, and we understood each other; so we took her hands and we whispered, "Arise, sister, we will seek Him together." And she arose and dried her tears, and drew her mantle around her; then we three passed on, hand in hand, to find Him.
And we came to him who groped his way in darkness and cried aloud for some hand to lead him, and with common consent we stayed our steps and gathered around him. We took his hands, saying, "Let us be sight for you, my brother, and we will seek Him together." And as we spoke, a voice like the sound of many waters, and yet so close, spake, saying, "My children, here am I."—And I turned to see Him. Mine eyes beheld a Light, a Form, a Glory—and I awoke, but I knew that in my dream I had found The King in His Beauty.