The Seeker
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The Seeker


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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Seeker, by Harry Leon Wilson, Illustrated by Rose Cecil O'Neill This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: The Seeker Author: Harry Leon Wilson Release Date: May 8, 2005 [eBook #15797] Language: english Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SEEKER*** E-text prepared by Suzanne Shell, Project Gutenberg Beginners Projects, Carla McDonald, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( My Dear, Bernal is saying good-bye! (See page 331) THE SEEKER BY HARRY LEON WILSON Author of "The Spenders" "The Lions of the Lord," Etc. ILLUSTRATED BY ROSE CECIL O'NEILL 1904 TO MY FRIEND WILLIAM CURTIS GIBSON "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?" —Holy Writ. "John and Peter and Robert and Paul— God, in His wisdom, created them all. John was a statesman and Peter a slave, Robert a preacher and Paul was a knave. Evil or good, as the case might be, White or colored, or bond or free, John and Peter and Robert and Paul— God, in His wisdom, created them all." The Chemistry of Character. CONTENTS BOOK ONE—The Age Of Fable CHAPTER I. How the Christmas Saint was Proved II. An Old Man Faces Two Ways III. The Cult of the Candy Cane IV. The Big House of Portents V. The Life of Crime Is Appraised and Chosen VI. The Garden of Truth and the Perfect Father VII. The Superlative Cousin Bill J. VIII. Searching the Scriptures IX. On Surviving the Idols We Build X. The Passing of the Gratcher; and Another XI. The Strong Person's Narrative XII. A New Theory of a Certain Wicked Man BOOK TWO—The Age of Reason CHAPTER I. The Regrettable Dementia of a Convalescent II. Further Distressing Fantasies of a Clouded Mind III. Reason Is Again Enthroned IV. A Few Letters V. "Is the Hand of the Lord Waxed Short?" VI. In the Folly of His Youth BOOK THREE—The Age of Faith CHAPTER I. The Perverse Behaviour of an Old Man and a Young Man II. How a Brother Was Different III. How Edom Was Favoured of God and Mammon IV. The Winning of Browett V. A Belated Martyrdom VI. The Walls of St. Antipas Fall at the Third Blast VII. There Entereth the Serpent of Inappreciation VIII. The Apple of Doubt is Nibbled IX. Sinful Perverseness of the Natural Woman X. The Reason of a Woman Who Had No Reason XI. The Remorse of Wondering Nancy XII. The Flexible Mind of a Pleased Husband XIII. The Wheels within Wheels of the Great Machine XIV. The Ineffective Message XV. The Woman at the End of the Path XVI. In Which the Mirror Is Held Up to Human Nature XVII. For the Sake of Nancy XVIII. The Fell Finger of Calumny Seems to be Agreeably Diverted XIX. A Mere Bit of Gossip SCENES BOOK ONE—The Village of Edom BOOK TWO—The Same BOOK THREE—New York CHARACTERS ALLAN DELCHER, a retired Presbyterian clergyman. BERNAL LINFORD} ALLAN LINFORD } his grandsons. CLAYTON LINFORD, Their father, of the artistic temperament, and versatile. CLYTEMNESTRA, Housekeeper for Delcher. COUSIN BILL J., a man with a splendid past. NANCY CREALOCK, A wondering child and woman. AUNT BELL, Nancy's worldly guide, who, having lived in Boston, has "broadened into the higher unbelief." MISS ALVIRA ABNEY, Edom's leading milliner, captivated by Cousin Bill J. MILO BARRUS, The village atheist. THE STRONG PERSON, of the "Gus Levy All-star Shamrock Vaudeville." CALEB WEBSTER, a travelled Edomite. CYRUS BROWETT, a New York capitalist and patron of the Church. MRS. DONALD WYETH, an appreciative parishioner of Allan Linford. THE REV MR. WHITTAKER, a Unitarian. FATHER RILEY, of the Church of Rome. List of Illustrations "'My dear, Bernal is saying good-bye!'" "She could be made to believe that only he could protect her from the Gratcher" "They looked forward with equal eagerness to the day when he should become a great and good man" "He gazed long and exultingly into the eyes yielded so abjectly to his" THE SEEKER BOOK ONE—THE AGE OF FABLE CHAPTER I HOW THE CHRISTMAS SAINT WAS PROVED [back to Table of Contents] The whispering died away as they heard heavy steps and saw a line of light under the shut door. Then a last muffled caution from the larger boy on the cot. "Now, remember! There ain't any, but don't you let on there ain't—else he won't bring you a single thing! "Before the despairing soul on the trundle-bed could pierce the vulnerable heel of this, the door opened slowly to the broad shape of Clytemnestra. One hand shaded her eyes from the candle she carried, and she peered into the corner where the two beds were, a flurry of eagerness in her face, checked by stoic self-mastery. At once from the older boy came the sounds of one who breathes labouredly in deep sleep after a hard day. But the littler boy sat rebelliously up, digging combative fists into eyes that the light tickled. Clytemnestra warmly rebuked him, first simulating the frown of the irritated. "Now, Bernal! Wide awake! My days alive! You act like a wild Indian's little boy. This'll never do. Now you go right to sleep this minute, while I watch you. Look how fine and good Allan is." She spoke low, not to awaken the one virtuous sleeper, who seemed thereupon to breathe with a more swelling and obtrusive rectitude. "Clytie—now—ain't there any Santa Claus?" "Now what a sinful question that is!" "But is there?" "Don't he bring you things?" "Oh, there ain't any!" There was a sullen desperation in this, as of one done with quibbles. But the woman still paltered wretchedly. "Well, if you don't lie down and go to sleep quicker'n a wink I bet you anything he won't bring you a single play-pretty." There came an unmistakable blare of triumph into the busy snore on the cot. But the heart of the skeptic was sunk. This evasion was more disillusioning than downright confession. A moment the little boy regarded her, wholly in sorrow, with big eyes that blinked alarmingly. Then came his last shot; the final bullet which the besieged warrior will sometimes reserve for his own destruction. There could no longer be any pretense between them. Bravely he faced her. "Now—you just needn't try to keep it from me any longer! I know there ain't any——" One tensely tragic second he paused to gather himself—"It's all over town! " There being nothing further to live for, he delivered himself to grief—to be tortured and destroyed. Clytie set the candle on the bureau and came to hover him. Within the pressing arms and upon the proffered bosom he wept out one of those griefs that may not be told—that only the heart can understand. Yet, when the first passion of it was spent she began to reassure him, begging him not to be misled by idle gossip; to take not even her own testimony, but to wait and see what he would see. At last he listened and was a little soothed. It appeared that Santa Claus was one you might believe in or might not. Even Clytie seemed to be puzzled about him. He could see that she overflowed with belief in him, yet he could not make her confess it in plain straight words. The meat of it was that good children found things on Christmas morning which must have been left by some one—if not by Santa Claus, then by whom? Did the little boy believe, for example, that Milo Barrus did it? He was the village atheist, and so bad a man that he loved to spell God with a little g. He mused upon this while his tears dried, finding it plausible. Of course it couldn't be Milo Barrus, so it must be Santa Claus. Was Clytie certain some presents would be there in the morning? If he went directly to sleep, she was. Hereupon the larger boy on the cot, who had for some moments listened in forgetful silence, became again virtuously asleep in a public manner. But the littler boy must yet have talk. Could the bells of Santa Claus be heard when he came?